First book in the 23 Ways to Be Dead series. By Arti.

Prologue Edit

I remember the Reaping clearly.

It was a crisp spring day, the birds were chattering, the orchirds were in full bloom, and there was new growth. It was beautiful. The Reaping was merely a distraction from the work in the fields that I had to do as a 14 year old boy in District 11.

Everyone knew only two people would be picked out of the 10,000 who lived here. So everyone was still in good spirits as we gathered in the city square. My mother gave my shoulder a comforting squeezer and my father a good-hearted pat on the back as he led my mother and my little sister, Peach, away.

Though it was only 2:00, my stomach growled. I was already hungry for dinner. As we were only a four people family, mine had more food then most. But my parents were kind-hearted people and they tried to spread it around. As a result, I was just as hungry as everyone else. And that was without counting the effort work put on me and my stomach.

"Ladies first!" a bubbly young woman with cascading aqua hair pranced onto stage towards the two balls. I looked at the boys ball. 3 of the slips in it held the name Brent George in my messy scrawl.

The woman swirled around the girls ball, then snatched a slip. "Felicity Free!" she trilled.

The crowd let out a groan and there were screams of horror from the girl's family. I didn't know Felicity well, but she was a small, birdlike kid. She was small for her age and had big brown eyes. She was kind and always gave most of her lunch to the hungry kids at school and most people tried to protect her. Felicity was well cared for and even I couldn't surpress a hiss of rage. She was a 12 year old girl who had taken care of whatever she could in her life. She didn't deserve this.

To her credit though, she didn't cry or wail as much of her family was doing. She walked stiffly up to the stage and sat down. The bubbly woman smiled at her and Felicity managed a small grin back. But I was close enough to see the terror in her eyes.

I was so concerned about Felicity that I didn't notice the lady bouncing over to the boys ball and drawing a name out. I didn't notice the name she read, the gasps of the crowd, the scream that my mother made. In fact, I didn't even hear anytyhing until the woman loudly repeated the name.

"Brent George."

Chapter 1 Edit

I hug Lily one last time. My stylist wasn't the best, but she sincerly cared for me. She did make me that nice suit, the color of the autumn leaves. And her dresses, made of flowers and orange leaves for Felicity were fantastic.

I step onto my plate. My outfit is strange and uncomfortable.

Dark boots go up to my knees and green pants fall over them, to my ankle. My shirt is crips and white, and it seems like something I'd wear to a party.

Not to my death.

I've already accepted I'm going to die. There are kids in there 3 times my size. I'm strong, but not good at fighting and I've never trained with a weapon. I'm not cunning or crafty and I got a 5 in training. I'm to heavy to climb and too small to look menacing. No one but Felicity would ever sit with me. And she had to.

I hope she wins, it would break my heart to see such a sweet kid go down in blood and gore. I know someone in there will take care of her. She's already made an impression on mostly everyone.

Lily walks softly over to my plate and puts something around my neck and steps back. I look down and see my mother's woven grass necklace. The one my father made for her when they found out she was pregnent with me.

I look at Lily. "Thank you."

She smiles but her eyes are deep with sadness. "Good luck. I'll be waiting for you when you do get out."

The implication that she thinks I'll win intensifies the crush I've been nursing on her a thousand times. "I'll see you then."

She touches my hand briefly and it's warm and I almost forget about everything. But then the glass slides down, seperating her from me.

My plate starts to shoot up and the last thing I hear her shout is, "I'll be waiting for you!"

And then I'm in the arena.

Chapter 2 Edit

I blink in the sunlight and look around. Closest to me, is Felicity to my left and the boy from 8 to my right. The other tributes are spaced around a big golden horn. Most of the arena is pine forest. I can see a stream snaking around trees a little ways away and there are a few hills.

Where we're standing, it's mostly dirt and gravel. There's grass and pine needles everywhere else. The air smells crisp and I'm reminded of home. The people of District 7 will like it here as their job is lumber.

The other tributes are also looking around, taking everything in. There's not much sound except for the moving around on the plates and birds calling and the wind in the trees.

It's a nice place to be really, but there's an energy in the air. Whether it comes from the tributes who are planning to kill me or the forest where dangers most certainly lurk, I don't know.

Felicity looks at me and mouths 'good luck'. I smile back and nod. You too...

I sigh and look back at the tributes. Why are none of them moving? I could get away now! But then I'd just die later...

A warning bell is going off in the back of my head and I struggle to remember what set it off. Something about getting off your plate...

I remember what it was just as I get off my metal plate. They told us over and over.

Don't get off your plate until the gong sounds. Or you'll get blown to smithereens.

And then I let out a little squeak and Felicity lets out a scream, "Brent, no!"

But it's too late.

Chapter 3 Edit

I'm blown skyhigh, and it hurts I admit. But I think this is a much nicer way to die then someone jabbing a sword in your gut.

I feel like I can't hold myself together. I think I'm lucky, that maybe I missed stepping on an actual mine, just on the ground somewhere near one. I'm not dead yet, but I'm pretty sure I will be soon. I mean, I've lost my arms and a leg already and a heck of a lot of blood.

I land back on the ground as the gong rings. But to me it just sounds like angels.

I'm not sure if the cameras are on me or the bloodbath I can see happening at the Cornucopia. Probably me. Those people aren't dying. Yet.

Felicity has run over to me. "Brent, Brent!" she shrieks.

"Get out of here! I'm already dying!" I manage to hiss. Her big brown eyes are full of worry and she kisses me on the cheek before darting off.

I look into the sky and, hoping the cameras are on me so I can tell my love ones good bye, say, "Bye guys....I wasn't gonna win anyways." then I manage a weak grin. "I'll be waiting for you Lily."

And then, before I give way to the engulfing blackness, I think I see a glimmer of a star.

End Result of Brent George, Male Tribute of District 11: Failure

Read the next book Bloodbath!!!