Title: Jessica vs Elizabeth
Summary: “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.
19848 / 50000 words. 40% done!
“Hi, I’m Beau Dillon. You may know me from the emotional movie, Tender Hearts. As it turns out, viewers stuck in a #MAGA world, don’t really give a pimply shit for a pretty white boy’s struggle with cancer, especially when his family has insurance and can easily cover the cost without losing their house, so here I am hosting the inaugural Sweet Valley Hunger Games!”
Beau Dillon, the handsome eighteen year old star, with perfect shiny hair, sparkling eyes and clear white skin, beamed into the camera. “With me is Johnny Buck, who has actually pulled out of the concert at Secca Lake, because his setlist would run past his bedtime.”
Johnny Buck glared at the slight. “Thank you for that rousing introduction, you washed-up has-been! Tonight we get to meet the tributes of the Hunger Games, and Beau and I will be commentating the games themselves.”
“So let’s get right down to it and introduce the District 1 tributes…” Beau said.
“TODD WILKINS AND ELIZABETH WAKEFIELD!” they announced together.
Real Good Time by Alda blasted through the speakers as Elizabeth and Todd made their way to the couches. Elizabeth looked resplendent, despite her broken nose and black eye, with perfectly straightened hair, and rather severe makeup that made her look like a beautiful assassin. Todd Wilkins walked several steps behind her with his head down and his arms wrapped around himself. He looked smart enough in his tux, but his body language radiated fear and panic, which ruined the overall effect.
While most of the tributes had their district written along their jawline in purple, Elizabeth had chosen “KILLER” in red. Todd had chosen “HELP ME”.
“Hello, Elizabeth,” Beau said as they took their seats on the plush purple velvet couches of the studio. “You’re looking just as lovely as when I last saw you.” He turned to the camera. “For those that don’t know, Elizabeth and I worked together on a fundraiser for Sweet Valley’s children’s hospital over Christmas of this year.”
Elizabeth looked blank. “Did we? I’m sorry, it’s just I’ve had so many Christmases this year, there was the one where a carnival ghost tried to steal my soul; or the one where we got some antique dolls that were really princes and we got taken to a magical land; or the Christmas where I wished I’d never been born and Sarah Thomas died; or the one where Jessica and I grew up overnight and were inappropriately romanced by actual adults; or there was the Christmas where Jessica tried to ruin my life by taking credit for my gifts; or the time she tried to ruin my life by – oh, that’s right, stealing my fundraising time with you because she wanted to date you.” Elizabeth gave a giggle. “I really am going to have to kill that witch.”
“That’s the spirit, Elizabeth!” Beau said.
Johnny Buck turned his attention to Todd. “And what about you, Todd? Do you have any people on your hitlist in the arena?”
Todd burst into tears. He sniffled into his sleeves, and his tears smudged the carefully written “HELP ME” along his jawline. “I want my mom,” he cried. “She makes cakes.”
“Way to go, Buck. Maybe you should just stick to singing,” Beau suggested. “Elizabeth, I don’t see you crying. Are you looking forward to the games?”
“Am I looking forward to them?” She repeated with a massive billion megawatt smile. “I’m so excited I literally can’t wait – note my accurate usage of literally there – I have been murdering anyone I can to tide me over.”
“That’s right, I have heard rumours about this,” Beau said. “What’s your kill count standing at right now?”
Elizabeth paused and thought for a moment, sometimes using her fingers to count. “Twelve dead, four in intensive care, and seven who sectioned themselves under the Mental Health Act, rather than continue to be around me.” She paused to smile sweetly in Todd’s direction. “And I’m going to kill every other tribute the minute we get into the arena.”
“I have no doubt about that, Elizabeth. Well, ladies and gentlemen, what do you think of District 1: Todd Wilkins–” absolute silence from the audience “–and Elizabeth Wakefield?” The whoops and cheers nearly tore the roof off.
“I think I have a favourite, Buck,” Beau said in faux-confidential tones. “Now, Elizabeth, is there anything you’d like to say before you leave the stage?”
Elizabeth gave the audience a winning smile. “Well, I would just like to say: thank you Sandra Ferris for starting this wonderful trend of writing Hunger Games words on our jawlines – and thank you for letting us all follow in your trendsetting footsteps!”
Elizabeth and Todd left the stage to thunderous applause, and were quickly replaced by Ken Matthews and Amy Sutton.
“So, Ken,” said Beau. “How do you feel about the games?”
Ken Matthews teared up and turned away from the camera.
Johnny rolled his eyes and then gave Amy a winning smile. “Can you tell us about your Hunger Games experiences so far and what you hope to achieve?”
“I have spent the training sessions stalking Jessica Wakefield,” Amy said. “I have hated her for a very long time.”
“Jessica Wakefield is the identical twin of Elizabeth, whom we just met, correct?” Beau said for the benefit of the audience.
“That’s right, Beau. She is a monster of a human being, a bully, a spoilt brat, she’s lazy and she’s stupid. She always relies on Elizabeth to bail her out, and up until two days ago, Elizabeth always rolled over and did what she said. But now Elizabeth is fierce, and Jessica’s days are numbered, I just hope that I’m the one to kill her.”
“Are you worried that Elizabeth might kill Jessica?” Beau asked thoughtfully.
Amy nodded. “I am. I think there are a lot of people who want – maybe even need – to kill Jessica, but only one of us can do it.”
“And if you can’t kill Jessica, who else are you looking forward to killing?”
“Oh, any and all of the Unicorns: Lila Fowler and Janet Howell in particular, I think. And Jim Sturbridge as well – he’s a bit sexist and stupid.”
“Well, Amy, I certainly hope you get your way.” Beau said, then turned his attention to her district partner. He softened his voice. “Ken, are you ok? Is there anything you want to say?”
Ken nodded. “I don’t want to be here. It’s not fair. Todd and I are the nice guys in school, we don’t want to kill anyone. We were certain that Elizabeth would somehow get the games cancelled.”
Beau nodded sympathetically. “So you have no intention of killing anyone, even if they try to kill you?”
Ken looked miserable. “I don’t know. I’ve been trying not to think about it.”
“Well, Ken, tonight you’re going to have to make a decision, because tomorrow you will be in the arena.” Beau turned to the audience. “Aren’t they wonderful? Give them a hand: Amy Sutton and Ken Matthews!”
Next to the stage were the District 3 tributes, Patrick Morris and Lois Waller. Patrick looked neat in his tux, but Lois was wearing three different dresses, stitched clumsily together and her hair was braided tightly against her skull in a very unflattering style. Unlike everyone else, who walked out to a burst of Alda’s Real Good Time, they walked out to Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls. Lois’ cheeks were flushed, but she kept her head held high.
Once they were seated, Beau immediately turned his attention to Patrick. “So, Patrick, how do you plan to overcome being paired with a fatty?”
Patrick looked thoughtful. “I suppose I’m going to try and outrun her. She’s fat, so she probably can’t run fast, so as long as Elizabeth gets side-tracked by killing her, I’ve got a hope of returning home to play my saxophone.”
Johnny Buck leaned forward. “Ah, so you’re a musician?” He paused. “Saxophones aren’t very sexy though, are they?”
There was a moment of silence, and Beau gave his co-host an incredulous look. “Stop talking,” he said finally. “You cannot interview to save their lives.” He turned to Patrick. “And do you think you’ll have a chance in the games?”
“I think if someone takes out Elizabeth, I could surprise everyone,” Patrick said.
“I exist, by the way,” Lois snapped. “I know you can see me, sitting right here. The camera adds ten pounds, so the home audience can definitely see me. You could talk to me too – fat isn’t contagious.”
Even Beau looked thrown by her attitude. “Uh, yes, um…”
“Lois,” she prompted.
“Yes, Lois. Um… you appear to be wearing three dresses, is there any reason for that?”
“Because I’m fat, Beau, and I need to be body-shamed for it. In Sweet Valley, there are only two dress sizes: ‘perfect’ and ‘kill yourself’. The stylists didn’t realise they had a larger girl in the tributes, so I look like this. But thank you for asking the boy about his plans for the Hunger Games, and the girl about her weight.” She gave him a spiteful smile. “Also, I’m glad Tender Hearts bombed. It was a terrible movie – and who releases a cancer movie at Christmas?”
Johnny Buck gave a great laugh at this, and Beau gave him another warning look.
Beau glared at her. “So, to talk about the Hunger Games, as you insist, do you really think you have a chance of surviving against all of the other thinner, more athletic tributes?”
“Well, I suppose you won’t likely starve to death,” Beau conceded.
“Not just that, gormless pretty boy. Do you have any idea how stupid these kids are? The Unicorns have spent their entire prep time being excited about what dress they’re going to wear tonight, the boys have either made period jokes or cried in the corner about how they’re going to die, and Bruce Patman hasn’t shown up for any training session, because he’s convinced his dad is going to get him out of it. The only person to truly worry about it Elizabeth.”
Johnny Buck beamed at her. “I think I’ve got my favourite now,” he told Beau.
Lois gave him a small but sincere smile. “Thank you. I really like your Buck: Naked album.”
Beau continued to glare as he announced, “And that was musician, Patrick Morris and fat girl, Lois Waller.” There was a smattering of applause.
Next out were Dylan McKay and Sandra Ferris. Dylan looked uncomfortable to be in the spotlight, but Sandra smiled and waved to the audience, looking fabulous in her purple dress. Before she sat down, she tried to swoop in for a kiss with Johnny Buck, he politely stepped away, and Sandra immediately burst into tears, and threw herself down on the couch.
“I’m sorry,” Sandra said, looking up and daintily wiping a tear away – somehow she had managed to cry without smudging her makeup, getting red eyes, or turning blotchy. “It’s just I used to be ugly, and when you rejected me, it brought back all those negative feelings. I think if I could get just one kiss from you, it would make up for all those years of being so ugly and unwanted.”
Johnny held his hands up. “Yeah, no. Not kissing an underage girl. Especially one who resorts to emotional blackmail. Let’s talk to Dylan instead. Dylan, how do you feel about the Hunger Games?”
Dylan looked thoughtful. “Well, I’ve spent my entire life living in my younger brother’s shadow, so I probably haven’t a hope of surviving these games. Tom’s the popular one, everyone likes him. Nobody likes me.”
Johnny rolled his eyes. “You know what? Beau, either you deal with these attention-seeking brats, or we get Lois out here again. I can’t deal with this nonsense.”
Beau took a deep breath, then turned to Sandra. “I hear that you came up with this wonderful trend of writing your district on your face. How did you come up with it?”
Sandra frowned for a moment, then her face cleared. “You know what? I did! I was just sitting in the makeup chair, and it came to me, so I said ‘And when you’re done, can you make sure you write DISTRICT 12 along my jawline in purple? It’s kind of my signature.’”
“YOU LYING PIG!” came a scream from offstage, and the faint sounds of someone being bundled and suppressed.
“District 12? But you’re District 4?” Johnny said.
“That’s what I said. District 4.” Sandra nodded. “It was totally my idea.”
Dylan sighed. “Tom has all the best ideas.”
“Could you not say things like that?” Sandra asked. “Your negativity is triggering my issues. I keep remembering when I was as unwanted as you, and it upsets me.”
Dylan suddenly sat up straighter. “I’ve decided: if I only manage to kill one person in the arena before Tom kills me, it’s going to be you, Sandra.”
“IT’S NOT! I’M GOING TO KILL THAT IDEA-STEALING MONSTER!” came another off-screen scream.
“Well,” said Beau, as Sandra and Dylan left the stage. “Quite a lot of people seem to want Sandra dead!”
“That’s true,” Johnny agreed. “I hope Lois takes her out.”
Belinda Layton and Jim Sturbridge, the tributes of District 5, were next out. Jim ran ahead of Belinda, and moved straight over to Beau’s side.
“Hi, I’m Jim Sturbridge and I’m going to win the Hunger Games!” he bellowed.
“Woah!” Beau exclaimed. “We have a confident one here!”
“Of course I am! Everyone knows that girls are smaller, weaker and deserve to be paid less!” Jim said. “And so far all the boys have been wimps. It stands to reason that you are looking at the winner of the first Hunger Games.” He turned to gesture at Belinda, who was making her way slowly across the stage, tottering on the high heels her stylist had given her. “Look! She can’t even walk.”
Johnny got up and offered his arm to a grateful Belinda, and helped her across the stage. “I’m sorry that took so long. My stylist said I had ‘boy legs’ from all the sport I did, so she put me in heels to make me prettier. I did say that I’ve never been good at wearing heels, but being pretty is very important to me. I had to give away my whole identity to my brother when he was born, and if I’m not pretty and girlish, my family won’t love me, because they have a real boy now.”
“If you want, Belinda,” Johnny said. “You can kick those shoes off, and go barefoot.”
“Really?” But she didn’t even wait for confirmation before slipping her feet out of the shoes.
“Sure. And tell us, what sport do you play?”
“Softball, baseball, basketball, netball, volleyball, dodgeball.” Belinda ticked them off on her fingers. “And to relax I go fishing. Or at least, I will until my brother’s old enough to take my place and–”
“No, Belinda, you’re going to die in the arena. At least your parents have a real boy to take over for you,” Jim interrupted, then turned back to Beau and gestured to Belinda. “She used to be my best friend, back when I thought she was a boy, but now she’s all frilly and girly, it’s not the same.”
Belinda glared at him. “Girly and frilly worked just fine for you when you were dating Sally Holcombe.”
Jim gave Beau a conspiratorial “Women, right?” kind of look. “She had boobs.” He cupped his hands at chest level, just in case anyone missed what he meant.
“And will Sally be waiting for you when you get out of the Hunger Games?” Beau asked.
Jim sobered somewhat. “No. Nobody’s seen Sally since Julie Porter’s birthday party. I really miss her boobs.”
“Belinda,” Johnny said. “What skills do you bring to the Hunger Games?”
“I guess I’m a good all-rounder,” she said. “I’m very sporty, so I think my fitness will put me in good stead against a lot of people who just happen to be thin, despite the fact they eat like pigs. Also, I’m a pitcher in my local softball team, so give me a projectile, and I can probably take off a few heads.”
“And Jim, what about you?”
He looked baffled for a moment. “Well, I’m a guy. I’m stronger and stuff. That’s what Mr Davis said.”
“Well, there you have it: Jim Sturbridge, the boy; and Belinda Layton, the athlete!” Johnny Buck called. “Give them all a round of applause!”
District 6 came next, Brooke Dennis and Tom McKay. Both laid out their agendas quickly.
“I plan to kill literally everyone in the arena, without question,” Brooke said firmly. “When I first joined the school, the only person who was nice to me was Jennifer Wakefield – someone the twins made up. And while I’ve pretended to forgive and forget, I’m honestly not over it and I look forward to ripping out spines and making everyone pay!”
“I just want to hang out with Jim Sturbridge,” Tom said. “I don’t want to deal with silly girls and their nonsense.”
Grace Oliver and Dennis Cookman, also had pretty simple plans.
“I’m going to look after Grace,” Dennis said. “She followed me around when I was being a bully for no reason, and saved my life when I nearly drowned in a highly illogical and improbable cave setup.”
“I just wanted a new dress,” Grace said. “I don’t often have the best motivations in stories.”
District 8, Janet Howell and Denny Jacobson, came next. Janet prissily fussed with Denny’s clothes, and pressed against him like an adoring girlfriend. She announced their plans. “We’re going to get married right after the Hunger Games.”
“Denny, how do you feel about that?” Beau asked.
“Grateful that only one person can survive the games,” he replied.
“What?” Janet shrieked. “But in the movie Katniss and Peeta did, and they lived happily ever after!”
“That’s not how the games work though,” Johnny said. “There can only be one survivor.”
At this point, Janet started screaming that it wasn’t fair, and she wanted to go home, and had to be sedated with the dart gun usually reserved for Elizabeth.
Next came Ellen Riteman and Winston Egbert. Before Beau or Johnny could ask any questions, Ellen jumped in with her own. “Why was Janet screaming? Is screaming cool? Should I be doing it?”
Winston patted her on the shoulder. “She was screaming because she’s just realised that everyone but one is going to die in the games. Remember? We talked about this?”
Ellen shook her head. “I don’t get it. Aren’t we going camping tomorrow?”
“Yes, we are,” Winston said. “But we also have to kill each other.”
“Oh.” After a period of time, she said, “Could you write this down for me? Mom says it’s best to write things down if I’m likely to forget.”
Beau leaned forward. “So, Winston, what are your plans once you get in the arena? Are you going to ditch your imbecile of a partner?”
Winston’s ears turned bright red, as they always did when the focus was on him, but he sat up straight. “My plans in the arena are my own business, but I do think it would be cruel to leave Ellen to fend for herself.”
“Smart move, my friend,” Johnny said. “Play your cards close to your chest.”
After them came Kimberley Haver and Peter DeHaven. Kimberley was the first person to speak. “I think we’re just here to make up numbers. If you think of the hundreds of stories that have been told about Sweet Valley, and not a single book is about me.”
“Don’t you have a Unicorn Club book about you?” Beau asked.
“Yes, but the ghostwriter hasn’t read them. They didn’t really get a good release in Europe. Honestly, I’m frankly indistinguishable from Tamara Chase.” She sighed deeply. “Even he’s had a book about him – and his shtick was ‘Rockin’ Peter’.”
Beau nodded. “Yes, you’re very clearly doomed.”
After that, Kimberley had a hard time hiding her tears, so they were ushered off stage to make way for District 11, Lila Fowler and Bruce Patman.
They both strode towards the couches as if they owned the place – which, technically, they did. Lila looked spectacular in a hot pink mini-dress covered in sequins. Bruce was wearing a tux with a sequinned cummerbund that matched Lila’s dress precisely. He didn’t look particularly happy about this.
“Now this is exciting, Johnny,” Beau said. “Before us are the children of the owners of this venture: Lila is George Fowler’s daughter; Bruce is the son of Hank Patman. I think we’re in for something special when these two hit the arena.”
“Absolutely, Beau. Now I heard that this was Lila’s idea. Lila, can you tell us about your thought process?”
Lila looked taken aback at the question. “Well, to be honest, I didn’t expect to actually be in the games myself. I had seen myself as a spectator, so when my name was picked it was a shock.”
“But it is a captivating movie, Lila. I can see why you’d be so inspired.” Then in a lower tone, Beau added, “Why can’t I get roles like that?”
“Because you’re a terrible actor, with all the stage presence of day-old oatmeal,” Johnny replied. “And Bruce, did you have any part in the creation of these games?”
“Well, no. My dad says I’m not an ‘original thinker’.” Bruce grinned widely. “It’s a compliment, it means I think like everyone else. Like I’m not weird.” He turned his attention to Johnny. “Did you know that people have said we look alike? I even parted my hair on the left today, just like you. We could be twins.”
Johnny feigned a smile. “Well… we’re both privileged white boys with brown hair – but that’s true of everyone except for Tom McKay, who’s a privileged white boy with blonde hair – but aside from that, I’m not seeing the resemblance.”
Beau broke in. “But never mind that, what skills are you bringing to the Hunger Games?”
Bruce looked blank for a very long time. “Well, I’m very handsome and everyone likes me.”
“And you think that will net you sponsors?” Beau prodded.
Again, Bruce looked confused. “Well, being rich and handsome usually solves everything.”
“Lila!” Johnny said, “What about you? What’s your plan for the arena?”
Lila gave him a winning smile. “Well, like any smart tribute, I’m going to keep my plans to myself, but I have several schemes in play. While everyone’s worrying about the Wakefield twins, nobody’s wondering what I’m up to, and that’s how I like it.”
Johnny nodded approvingly. “That’s smart.”
“Although I do plan to kill Jessica – I know so many people want to, but I really feel that I’m the one who deserves to. Yesterday, utterly unprovoked, Jessica attacked me in my room. I know you can’t rely on your friends in the arena, but I really thought she would wait until tomorrow to betray me. Still, she made a mistake. Now I’m ready for her.”
Johnny gave her a warm smile. “So, Lila has plans and schemes, and Bruce, you have… handsomeness?”
The pallor of Bruce’s complexion made it clear that it was dawning on him just how insubstantial his plan was.
They were soon waved of stage to uneven cheers (cheering for Lila, silence or boos for Bruce), and the final tributes were welcomed on stage, Jessica Wakefield and Rick Hunter.
“Jessica,” said Beau. “Now I’ve met your sister and she seems just lovely – and brutal. Are you planning to team up with her and become an unstoppable force, or are you going head to head in a twin deathmatch?”
“Definitely the deathmatch, Beau,” Jessica said. “I know everyone’s very excited about the body count that Elizabeth has racked up so far, but I just want to point out that Elizabeth has only been killing since the Hunger Games were announced. I have killed twice before.”
“Really? Do tell us more,” said Beau.
“Well, the first person I killed was Roberta Manning. That was a great kill, not only did it stop her fooling around with my brother, but it meant that a spot opened up in the Unicorns – a group I desperately wanted to join.
“After that I killed Sally Holcombe. It wasn’t so much that I had a particular problem with her personally – aside from the fact she was kind of pretty and spiteful, but not a Unicorn – I was just itching for a kill again, and she was rude to my friend Belinda Layton.”
“We met her earlier,” Beau offered.
“Yes. Anyway, since then I’ve been plotting to kill Sandra Ferris, who keeps stealing my ideas and taking credit for them – and my brother seems quite into her,” Jessica said.
“Stepping away from the potential incest,” Johnny broke in. “Rick, how are you feeling about the games? Did you know your district partner has killed before?”
“Well, there have been rumours about Jessica for as long as I can remember, and she’s definitely ruthless enough, so I’m not surprised. And she chopped off my finger on the first day of training.”
“She did? Tell us about that.”
“Oh, just the perils of being married to Jessica Wakefield!” Rick said jovially. “We had the same kind of problem during our marriage project. We killed multiple children.”
“Eggs, Bonehead! They were eggs!” Jessica snapped. “Stop pretending you’ve killed people.”
Rick nodded agreeably. “Yes, Airhead is right. They were only eggs. But I think it has laid the groundwork for the violence I’ve come to expect from her.”
“And this marriage project,” Beau said. “Any real-life romance there? Do we have a Peeta and Katniss situation here?”
Rick laughed. “Us? No. Airhead would let me eat the berries, just so she could win.”
Jessica nodded proudly. “I would. I’ll kill anyone – even my own twin – so that I can become the first Hunger Games victor!”
And with that, the interview stage was finished. Beau and Johnny wrapped up the outro, more pop music played, and people back home started to discuss their favourites.
Johnny Buck approached his PA, Rosey. “That Lois girl,” he said. “Give her anything she needs. Sponsor her whenever she wants something. The sky’s the limit, ok?”
Rosey nodded. “I’m on it.”
The same night, the bookmakers released the following odds for the tributes, based on their interviews:
|1:1||Elizabeth Wakefield (District 1)|
|2:1||Jessica Wakefield (District 12)|
|3:1||Amy Sutton (District 2)|
|4:1||Belinda Layton (District 5)
Lila Fowler (District 11)
Sandra Ferris (District 4)
|Jim Sturbridge (District 5)|
|6:1||Brooke Dennis (District 6)||Rick Hunter (District 12)|
|8:1||Janet Howell (District 8)|
|9:1||Dennis Cookman (District 7)|
|10:1||Tom McKay (District 6)|
|12:1||Grace Oliver (District 7)|
|13:1||Winston Egbert (District 9)|
|16:1||Denny Jacobson (District 8)|
|18:1||Kimberley Haver (District 10)||Dylan McKay (District 4)
Peter DeHaven (District 10)
|19:1||Ellen Riteman (District 9)|
|22:1||Patrick Morris (District 3)|
|24:1||Lois Waller (District 3)||Bruce Patman (District 11)
Ken Matthews (District 2)
Todd Wilkins (District 1)