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.
23170 / 50000 words. 46% done!
After their interviews, the tributes were called into the training room one final time for some an announcement. To make life easier, Elizabeth was handcuffed to a wall and had six security guards armed with dart guns trained on her.
Mr Fowler and Mr Patman had arrived to make the final announcements. On catching sight of her father, Lila squeaked “Daddy!” and got a vague smile and a nod in response.
Once they had the room’s attention, Mr Patman spoke. “Now children, for many of you this will be your last night alive. Because some of you are likely to panic, we plan to sedate you all so you can sleep tonight, once you are sedated, you will have your trackers implanted. One of you will be more used to being sedated than others,” he said with a pointed look in Elizabeth’s direction.
“While you are asleep we will transport you to the arena, and you will awake each in a separate room underneath it. You will have time to get up, washed and changed before you are required to get into your pod to be raised up onto your stand for the official start of the Hunger Games”
Mr Fowler took over for the next part. “We have to make it very clear to you that you may not jump off your stand before the timer has counted down to zero and the games officially begin. If you step off even half a second early, the bomb beneath it will detonate and tiny bloody bits of you will be scattered all over the arena – leaving nothing large enough to bury. Think of your parents, they want a nice funeral.”
Mr Patman took over, with a pointed look at his son. “If you decide to sleep through the games, and not get into your pod, the room will explode and kill you.”
“If you stay on it for longer than thirty seconds after the official start of the Hunger Games, then again, the bomb will detonate. Again, think of your parents,” Mr Fowler said. “Immediately after each death, a cannon will sound. The trackers are send signals to the main control room, so we will know of your death as soon as it happens.”
Elizabeth’s free hand shot up. “Mr Fowler, what happens if I beat someone’s brains against the stands? Will it explode?”
Everyone shuffled further away from Elizabeth, but Lois perked up her ears for the answer.
Messrs Patman and Fowler conferred for a moment before Mr Fowler replied. “To be honest, we don’t know, so if you want to risk it, go ahead.”
Even Elizabeth paused at that idea.
“There will be a cornucopia, a large metal horn-like structure filled with weapons,” Mr Patman said. “It will be up to you whether you want to go in there.”
Elizabeth grinned and nodded at this. Subtly, Winston met Lois’ eyes and gave a very small nod.
“Mr Fowler and I have spent some time engineering disasters in the arena – so if you don’t start killing each other, the arena will start killing you.”
This time Lois raised her hand. “What kind of things can we expect in the arena?”
Mr Patman chuckled and wagged a finger at her. “Now, fat girl, that would be cheating. And it’s not like you’re going to win.”
“I beat your son at the bike-a-thon earlier this year,” Lois pointed out. “Didn’t he tell you?”
Both Bruce and his father flushed in shame, and Mr Patman moved on quickly. “Once in the arena, your job is to kill each other. Or die, depending on your aspirations. When we have one sole victor, we will air lift them out of the arena, and we will have a big party to celebrate.”
Every single Unicorn put their hand in the air. “Will there be new dresses?” Jessica called out, not waiting to be picked.
“Of course. Or tuxes for the boys,” Mr Fowler said.
“I bet not in my size,” Lois said.
“Well, no. You’re not going to win. We can’t have a fat victor,” Mr Patman said. “But the odds are in our favour – as long as you, or the gangly boy with the red ears and the stupid questions, don’t win, all is well.”
“Now, unless there are any more questions, we’re going to administer the sedatives, and tomorrow you will wake up under the arena.”
Before falling asleep, Jessica’s last thought was, “I really thought there’d be more parties and flirting.”
Sandra thought, “I really am clever for coming up with the Hunger Games.”
Winston thought, “I hope I can trust Team Life tomorrow.”
Lila thought, “I really hope Melissa comes through for me.”
Lois thought, “They can and will have a fat victor.”
Elizabeth thought, “I can’t wait to start killing.”
Elizabeth woke up to a persistent loud beeping and flashing lights. At first she didn’t know where she was, but then it came back to her. She was in a room underneath the arena. There was a large digital clock on the wall, counting down an hour in glowing red digits.
Once she jumped out of bed, the alarm stopped and the lights stopped flashing. Elizabeth took stock of her surroundings. Very minimalist: a small bed, a wash cubicle in the corner, and a glass tube – presumably the loading pod – in the opposite corner, and a table opposite the bed. On one end of the table, neatly folded and stacked, were the clothes she was due to wear; on the other end was a jug of water and a glass, but no food. Elizabeth had never really understood why the Hunger Games were so called, the movie hadn’t explained it very well, but if she was supposed to go into the arena without food, then that sort of made sense.
Elizabeth quickly washed and showered, keeping one eye on the clock at all times. She could only imagine how slowly her twin was moving. Jessica was not a morning person. Elizabeth hoped she was up though, it would be disappointing if Jessica stayed in bed and exploded. Elizabeth wanted to kill Jessica herself, for all the years of betrayal and lies and nonsense she’d had to put up with.
She dressed in the Hunger Games uniform – a skin-tight all-in-one bodysuit of a strange black material that seemed lightweight, but also protective. Down the arms and the legs were single stripes of red. On the left breast pocket, Elizabeth’s name was embroidered in silver. She looked very pretty in it, and the dark colours would hide the blood spatter. She paused for a moment to pity fat Lois Waller, who would not look as good as all the other thin people in her uniform. Elizabeth smiled, she might be a murderer, but she was also still a saint. She would bet anything that Jessica hadn’t given a thought to anyone else’s plight this morning.
With fourteen minutes left before she was due to get in her pod, Elizabeth weighed up the pros and cons of drinking all the water available to her. She didn’t want to slosh as she ran, but at the same time, she didn’t want to get dehydrated.
She frowned. If it was called the Hunger Games, then thirst was implied too. She ended up drinking the lot.
Soon the time came to step into her pod. As it slid shut, and she was encased in the glass tube, Elizabeth felt a shiver of… what? Fear? Anticipation? She wasn’t sure. She was looking forward to the games. She had spent twelve years putting up with Jessica’s schemes and betrayals, and she was sick to death of being the good twin, the one everyone depended on. She was also cross that so many people wanted to kill Jessica – it wasn’t fair. Elizabeth had earned the right to kill her after all the stunts she pulled – stolen babysitting jobs, stolen acting roles, stolen time with celebrities, lies about boys, lies about their mother’s illness, lies about being related to NFL players – Elizabeth was just tired of it all.
But at the same time, gnawing at the back of her mind were the times when Jessica had come through for her – when Jessica had saved her from the carnival ghost who was trying to kill her, or when Jessica had saved her from the evil mask that tried to take over her soul.
Although, come to think of it, that was only two times out of several hundred – and both times Elizabeth had been in trouble, it had been because Jessica had promised to spend time with her, and then left her alone so she could spend time with Lila.
Screw that selfish witch!
The pod raised up, and Elizabeth eagerly looked upwards – she couldn’t wait to see the arena.
For a few moments, there was nothing but blue sky above her, but as she neared the top she was able to see more – snowy mountains in front of her, trees surrounding the clearing they were in. The starting setup was much like the movie, they were arranged in a grassy clearing, forming a perfect circle around the cornucopia.
The tributes were arranged boy-girl by districts, so on one side of her was Todd and the other was Rick, Jessica’s partner. Beyond Rick she could see her sister, also looking lovely in her Hunger Games uniform, but Elizabeth noticed that the Unicorns had purple stripes down the side, instead of red.
“Five!” A synthetic voice announced the countdown to the start of the games.
Elizabeth smiled when she realised that she was directly opposite the mouth to the cornucopia – that surely was not chance. That was the gamemakers, Mr Patman and Mr Fowler, choosing her as their beautiful, dangerous victor, she was sure. Jessica would not have such an easy time reaching the mouth of the cornucopia, being slightly to the side, the direct route from her stand would take her to the side of it, not the mouth. For once, luck was not on Jessica’s side.
Elizabeth had already decided that she definitely was going to get weapons. The rest of the contestants were no threat to her – except for maybe Lois Waller, but Elizabeth had heard Mr Patman last night, “We can’t have a fat victor,” so she wasn’t too worried. People seemed to love Elizabeth, she would be showered in sponsorship.
Elizabeth stared intently at the weapons – she could see the glint of metal, but it was hard to tell what was in there. Probably swords, maybe throwing stars, some knives, she hoped. Those were the weapons she had inflicted the most damage with so far, and only a fool would not provide them for her.
There was the sound of an explosion, and behind the garish purple metal cornucopia, Elizabeth saw the spatter of an exploded body shower over the area.
“DENNY! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Even across the large area, Janet Howell’s piercing voice carried well.
Denny had been out of her field of vision, so it was impossible to know if he tripped or deliberately ended his life to avoid spending his last few… days, hours, minutes? – the end of his life anyway – as Janet Howell’s boytoy. Elizabeth suspected the latter.
Elizabeth leaped off her stand and headed straight for the weapons cache. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw her sister make a break for the cornucopia too. Elizabeth pushed herself harder and was pleased when she pulled ahead of Jessica.
Across the clearing, Elizabeth could see Lois Waller and Winston Egbert gathering items scattered on the ground. She ignored that for the time being. She suspected they had a plan, but it was probably a low-level “grab supplies and hide” plan – after all, they were B-players. Elizabeth was more concerned with people like Jim Sturbridge and her sister, who had threatened actual violence.
The cornucopia was shockingly dark after the bright sunlight, and Elizabeth had to blink several times to adjust. The inside was stacked with every weapon Elizabeth could possibly want. She quickly made a decision to set up camp inside there, and kill anyone foolish enough to follow her in.
But first things first: she grabbed a sword for her right hand and a knife for her left, and whirled, ready to protect her new home for as long as it took to kill everyone.
As she turned, Jim Sturbridge pelted into the cornucopia yelling, “Die, silly girl! Die!”
Elizabeth thrust out her sword and let his own momentum impale him on it. “Your skit for the Sixth Grade Follies was truly awful!” She jerked her foot up to his middle and kicked him off her sword, sending him staggering backward. A geyser of blood spouted from the wound, spattering Elizabeth across the face and chest. Jim fell to the ground and started scrabbling backwards, his terrified eyes fixed on Elizabeth. “There was no script, no direction, no talent and no parts for girls! How does it feel to know you’re going to be murdered by a girl?” Elizabeth strode forward and thrust her sword through his chest.
Jim gasped several times, blood flying from his mouth. He managed to choke out half a sentence. “Mr Davis said…”
Elizabeth twisted her blade and Jim fell silent. “When I win,” she assured his corpse, “Mr Davis is the top of my kill-list.”
“And there’s the sound of the first cannon, Johnny,” Beau Dillon said from his place at the commentary desk with Johnny Buck. The two were sat at a large glass desk, with still images from the Hunger Games showing on the screen behind them, rotating every twenty seconds. The Hunger Games themselves were being transmitted live, with the commentators in the corner of the screen.
“My Elizabeth gets the first kill for the inaugural Hunger Games!” Beau continued.
“Don’t call a twelve year old yours, Dillon, Hollywood is creepy enough without you adding to it on live commentary,” Johnny Buck replied. “Honestly, no surprise that Elizabeth would get the first kill, she is very committed to a high body count.”
“And also not surprising that fat Lois and nerdy Winston are hiding from Elizabeth by the cornucopia. Those kids should have done a Denny Jacobson, rather than even try,” Beau said.
Johnny put a finger to his ear. “Actually, Beau, I’m just getting word from our tech team that Denny’s death was accidental. Having reviewed the footage, upstairs have agreed that he sneezed and lost his balance.”
“Still, no great loss. Now, let’s see who Elizabeth kills next.”
Lois edged along the cornucopia, praying that everyone else in Team Life had stuck to the plan. Because of the district numbers they had been assigned, Lois was the only person on the left of the cornucopia, and although she had seen the others running as they planned, she wasn’t sure that they hadn’t run off into the relative safety of the woods. She had to hope they were still here, but she had to act like they’d left her – it was the only way to be safe.
Jim Sturbridge had barrelled past them, screaming about how he was going to kill Elizabeth, and then abruptly went silent. Seconds later there had been a cannon fired. It made Lois glad that nobody in Team Life had thought to try the same thing.
Lois had managed to grab several items on her sprint across the clearing: a drawstring bag that contained nothing; a rock; and an empty water bottle. She quickly dropped the bottle and the rock into the bag and tied it up tightly. She took a step away from the metal wall behind her, and gave it an experimental swing. Not too bad. Some more heft would help, but it was better than nothing. There were no rocks close enough to add to the bag, they were all scattered further afield, and Lois wasn’t about to risk her life for them.
Around her, Lois was surprised by how many people were still lingering. Janet Howell, Kimberley Haver and Sandra Ferris were sifting through the stuff left in the open, and discarding most of it because it was neither cool nor flattering. Tom McKay, who had been halfway to Jim’s side when the cannon sounded, seemed lost and confused, and was just standing by himself.
Todd Wilkins and Ken Matthews were following after Janet and co, picking up anything they discarded, but there honestly wasn’t much killing going on. None, actually. Lois saw Dylan sneak up behind his brother with a rock, then stop, sag, drop the rock and walk away. Without Elizabeth, this would be a slow process.
She peeked around the edge of the cornucopia, and for a few seconds she saw no-one on the other side, then there was a quick flash of brown hair and red ears – Winston! So at least she wasn’t completely alone in her attempt to take out Elizabeth.
Suddenly, Amy Sutton came flying across the grass screaming, “I’m going to kill you!” She headed straight for Winston, and half a second too late Lois realised that – against all odds – Jessica had stuck with Team Life and was going to be murdered by Amy for it.
Winston, Lila, Rick and Jessica scattered, running straight across the mouth of the cornucopia. With an inhuman scream, Elizabeth launched herself out at them and landed on Lila. Elizabeth screamed again and raised a dagger, ready to bring it down on Lila’s throat – that’s when Lois struck. She ran forward swinging her makeshift morning star, and timed it perfectly to deliver a sharp uppercut to Elizabeth’s jaw.
Elizabeth flailed backwards and fell to the ground. She tried to get up, but immediately fell – clearly shaken by the vicious blow. Lois grabbed Lila by the shoulder of her jumpsuit and dragged her out of the way.
Lois looked up and saw that Jessica and Amy were engaged in a brutal battle, fists flying, legs kicking – as she watched, she saw Jessica lunge forward and take a chunk out of Amy’s neck with only her teeth. Blood sprayed out in a torrent all over Jessica, staining her face, hair and uniform. Amy gave a few feeble gurlgles, then fell on top of Jessica, still bleeding.
“I’ve always hated you!” Jessica screamed, as she pushed Amy’s dead body off her. “This is the most interesting you’ve ever been, you boring nerd with stringy hair!”
“Oh god,” Lila murmured from the ground. “One twin’s as bad as the other.”
Above them, a cannon sounded.
“You killed my best friend!” Elizabeth screamed in fury, scrambling towards Jessica.
“I’m supposed to be your best friend!” Jessica screamed back.
Winston ran over to them, bumping into Lois in his haste. He grabbed Lila by the other shoulder. “Time to go!” The both dragged Lila to her feet and took off running.
Elizabeth noticed immediately and dropped her feud with Jessica to launch herself after them. When Lois looked back, she could see that Elizabeth was moving quite well for a potentially concussed person. “Faster!” she urged Lila and Winston.
Lila shook herself free from them – Lois just had enough time to think it was typical of Lila’s selfishness that she would allow herself to be saved by them, but then drop them as soon as they slowed her down – and she grabbed Kimberley Haver, who was just ahead of them.
Lila dragged her along and threw her in Elizabeth’s path. Calling after her, “That’s what you get for not returning my luminous yellow mini-skirt!”
Kimberley turned back to Lila and gave her an incredulous look. “That wasn’t me! That was Tamara Chase!”
Lila gave a helpless “same difference” kind of smile, and joined Lois and Winston in their escape. “All the seventh graders look the same to me,” Lila gasped as the three of them took off into the woods.