Title: Jessica vs Elizabeth
“Oh, Lizzie, isn’t it romantic?” Jessica squealed.
Elizabeth gaped at her twin. “They’re expecting us to kill each other.”
“Yes, but we get new clothes and we’re paired with a boy!”
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
Notes: I am going to post this, unbeta’d as it gets written for NaNoWriMo2017. I will post a clean, edited (hopefully coherent) version when it is finished, but if you want to see the raw, error-laden process of my word-vomit, here it is.
15319 / 50000 words. 31% done!
Given Elizabeth’s outbursts, the training was cancelled in the morning, which meant they moved on to the part Jessica was most looking forward to: the makeover before the interview.
Two meeting suites had been converted, one for the boys, one for the girls. In each there was a row of makeup chairs, and along the walls were dress racks brimming with the hottest new fashions.
While some boring official person with a clipboard had called out the order in which they would be made up or dressed, Jessica had prowled the clothing racks until she found the most perfect dress imaginable. It was a deep and royal purple, with rhinestones along the spaghetti straps, elegant feathers along the neckline and a large satin bow at the waist, from there it puffed out in graceful layers of taffeta.
It was the most breathtakingly beautiful dress Jessica had ever seen. She thought it would look perfect against her tanned skin and light hair. It crossed her mind that Lila, or any of the other Unicorns, would also love to wear it. After a moment’s thought, she took the dress off the hanger and threw it in the corner, under a couple of makeup cases.
Jessica’s name was called out and she went to a makeup chair. She was at the end, so to one side was a wall. Elizabeth was at the other end. Jessica assumed that she had been placed there to limit her interactions with other tributes, and to make it easier to drag her out of the main door when she inevitably had to be sedated again.
On Jessica’s other side was Sandra Ferris. Jessica scowled at her, and Sandra gave her standard “I don’t understand” look. For the first time since yesterday, Jessica felt a glimmer of her original goal when she heard about the games. She wanted to look pretty and kill everyone. And Sandra Ferris was the top of the list.
Jessica’s makeup artist arrived. “Well, aren’t you just pretty as a picture?” She said to Jessica. “We’re going to have fun making you look even prettier.”
Jessica beamed in delight. “And when you’re done, can you make sure you write ‘DISTRICT 12’ along my jawline in purple? It’s kind of my signature.”
Across the room, Elizabeth wrapped the cord of a curling iron around the neck of her makeup artist. Grace Oliver, who was in the chair next to her, jumped up and said she would wait until Elizabeth was done.
Jessica turned her attention back to the mirror and watched herself become ever more beautiful than usual.
With her makeup elegantly applied, and her hair curled into soft spirals, Jessica was ready to slip into her wonderful purple dress. She was sure to look spectacular. She paused for a moment to watch her sister headbutt a security guard, and thrust a hot curling iron in the face of a stylist. She was inspired and alarmed in equal measure.
She moved on before Elizabeth could notice her watching and turn her violence on Jessica. When she reached into the corner where she’d hidden the dress, she found it empty. Lila! she thought. It could be any of the Unicorns really, they could all spot purple fabric from ten miles away, it was one of the membership requirements, but Jessica suspected her best friend for this. Even when they were allies, she didn’t really trust Lila.
If I were Lila, where would I hide the dress? Jessica wondered.
In her suite maybe? Lila was wealthy, and with her surname in this venue, she could easily have gotten a bellhop to run an errand for her, while everyone was focussed on getting made up or not being murdered by Elizabeth.
Well, there was nothing for it, Jessica would have to go to Lila’s suite and get it back. She was going to look terrific in that dress, and Lila would just have to wear something else.
Jessica waited until Elizabeth attempted to bite the ear off her stylist, and slipped from the room in the ensuing chaos. She crossed the lobby and took the elevator to floor 11. Lila’s suite was laid out exactly the same as Jessica’s. Jessica had taken the best bedroom, and she had no doubt Lila would do the same, even if she was sharing with Bruce Patman, so she crossed the living area to the bedroom.
She flung open the doors of Lila’s closet and set about ransacking it. While there were plenty of beautiful clothes in there, there was no sign of the wonderful purple dress. Jessica rummaged in drawers, and slammed them closed in frustration when she found nothing of use in them.
“Jessica? What on earth are you doing?”
Jessica jumped at the sound of an irritated voice behind her. She turned and gave Lila a winning smile. “Lila! What are you doing up here?”
“They only have Mac and L’Oreal downstairs, and you know I only wear Chanel makeup. Anything less brings me out in hives.” Lila sighed in irritation. “What are you doing up here?”
Jessica bristled at Lila’s accusatory tone. She wouldn’t be up here sneaking around if Lila hadn’t stolen her dress. “I think you know exactly why I’m here, Lila Fowler!”
“Of course I do. You’re sneaking around, trying to find a weakness so you can betray me in the arena.”
“I would never do that!” Jessica snapped, offended by the idea that she would betray Lila… in that particular way. Of course she’d hide a dress and then steal it back. But those were two very different types of betrayal.
“You’re stood right here, doing it. Did you find anything, you little snoop?”
“I can’t believe you’d accuse me of–”
“Would you two shut up? Some of us are trying to sleep!” Bruce Patman appeared in the doorway, wearing what appeared to be Batman pyjamas, with the branding changed to reflect his surname.
Even sleepy and dishevelled, Bruce Patman was one of the cutest boys in the whole middle school. He kind of reminded Jessica of her older brother. She gave him a flirtatious smile. “Hi, Bruce. I thought I’d have seen more of you since we’re both in the Hunger Games.”
Bruce waved that away airily. “Oh, I’m sure father will have this sorted any day now. I’m not worried about the Hunger Games.”
“If I were you,” Lila said, “I would worry. Even if you’re not scared of anyone else in the games, Elizabeth has killed almost every security guard our fathers have hired, and she’s maimed anyone else.”
Again, Jessica felt proud of her sister, but at the same time she hated her for stealing all her glory. This was the kind of tribute Jessica had wanted to be. It wasn’t fair. Elizabeth got all of the attention all of the time. Jessica was going to have to do something drastic to get the same kind of attention.
There was only one thing for it.
She launched herself at Lila and knocked her to the floor. Jessica climbed on top and wrapped her hands around Lila’s throat, squeezing the life from her. Lila hit out at her, fists feebly bouncing against Jessica’s forearms. Jessica could hear Bruce protesting for a moment, but he quickly fell silent and ran away. She wondered if she was actually going to kill Lila now – she hadn’t thought about that aspect of it, just simply that she should do something violent, like Elizabeth, and to a fellow tribute, rather than security people.
Lila was making little choking sounds now – just like Roberta Manning had after Jessica caught her sneaking out of Steven’s bedroom – and she probably didn’t have much time left.
Suddenly Jessica found herself dragged away from Lila by two strong security guards. Lila scrabbled away, one hand on her bruised throat, gasping and wheezing. At first it was just indistinct squeaks, but eventually Lila was able to form works.
“I’m going to kill you, Jessica Wakefield,” Lila promised.
“Not a chance, you spoilt brat!” Jessica taunted as security dragged her away from Lila’s room.
Jessica was escorted back to the elevators, down to the lobby and back to the makeover area. As she entered the room the first thing she saw was Sandra Ferris – wearing Jessica’s beautiful purple dress!