Born eighteen years ago in the glorified district of gold and silver, his parents named him Marvel. A blessing, a curse that they bestowed him with the hopes that he would one day become one in the most literal sense.
(A curse, then. He was not much of a marvel. Reasonably smart, fair enough face, pretty decent with his spears. But a marvel? Hardly.)
And so he was never quite enough. Sometimes he felt that his father was watching him for any sign of Hunger Games brilliance, as if he would suddenly be revealed to be a born genius with say, spiked maces.
(The thought actually appealed to Marvel; huge, heavy, and - well, look at those spikes. He dropped one on his trainer’s toe the first time he attempted to use it. Shame - he could have been disabled him for life if the mace had been a little heavier.)
His mother, too, though significantly less after she mysteriously fell ill with a horribly hoarse throat, my. Shame, shame. She had such a pretty voice too, always twittering on about - well, what else? - the Hunger Games.
(And then suddenly, she was gone, quiet and pale and so, so quiet - oh wait, didn’t I say that already? Oh yes, she was quiet then.)
That was Marvel, born in the district referred to as the ass-kisser. I’ve heard they call us that - there’s spite, not truth, behind it, of course. Young Marvel never cared.
But - well. Nothing special. Shame, shame, shame.
One day, Chrome Everett is found in the sewers. In the dark, stinking, rotting sewers, the only part of District One that isn’t polished to a sheen. His body had apparently drifted along the sewers until at one point, it had gotten stuck in a particularly clotted part of the pipes. The poor man tasked with cleaning out the sewers screams when he finds the body, hand half-translucent with decay waving gently in the stream of filthy water. Hi, hi there. I’m dead; would you mind getting me out of here? Can’t breathe.
It takes a full day to pull his corpse out of the sewers, eighteen hours of sloshing around in stinking water and tugging at the softening limbs of the once-beautiful boy. The question of how he died is solved once his body is laid out under the harsh light of the Peacekeepers’ Hall - his torso is marred with a series of cuts and slashes, far too many to count.
It’s murder. Clear as glass, as the delicate glass slippers District One manufactures.
His funeral is hasty, but still luxurious in the way District One is always. A coffin of shining metal, glimmering feathers carved along the edges. And of course, flowers; lilacs and white lilies, apparently the deceased’s favorites. All very poetic, all very beautiful. Such a shame that Chrome’s hair is red, his cheeks is red, and his eyes are little more than stinking holes.
Needless to say, it’s a closed-coffin ceremony. Possibly the first in fifty - oh, maybe fifty-four? - years. Such a shame; his shroud was quite, quite elegant.
Chrome Everett Jr., the Head Peacekeeper writes down at her desk after the funeral, the sickly-sweet of the lilies still burning her nostrils. She will never get used to the smell of District One, so different from the dust and blood that makes up Two.
Eighteen years old, son of Chrome Everett Sr. and Glow Everett. Was training for the Hunger Games, was ranked first in the training center. Well-liked by most of his peers, but had a nasty habit of losing his head during practice bouts. Alcohol made him vain. Love made him stupid.
She gets the information, unnecessarily detailed, from his shaky-eyed classmate, hands washed clean like a good boy. Seems to wash under his fingernails, the Head Peacekeeper thinks approvingly before filing the report away.
It does not end there.
Less than a week later, Ace Lloyd is found close, very close to where Chrome was found. Her body is just within the sewers, enough for the youngsters of District Two - all too much excited by talk of blood and violence - to spot with a daring peep.
The triplets come screaming, voices soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto, a chorus of screams of mommy mommy look! A murderer! Blood, blood, like the big boys and girls get to spill! Mommy mommy could I do that too, maybe?
Maybe a hundred, maybe a hundred and nineteen? Once again the murderer has had much more fun with his knife than should be recommended. Savage, fierce stab marks have destroyed her face, but in a way they’re artistic - artistic in the way that any human resemblance is gone, scored away in the violent strokes that ripped across the girl’s bronzed and blushed cheeks.
Again the funeral is lavish, the flowers sweet, the people polite. This time they don’t even bother primping the corpse - again it’s a closed-coffin ceremony, the likeness of the deceased carved onto the top of the coffin in rather hasty, but still beautiful curves. The shroud isn’t quite as pretty, this time just snowy white like an angel’s.
People start getting nervous, if they weren’t before - but the peacekeepers don’t particularly care. It’s the districts, and hey, most of them are leaving District One pretty soon, rebellion’s the reason. Plus, Reaping day draws close, and they work hard to prepare for it. For what is Panem without the Hunger Games? Bread and circuses they wanted, and we can manage the latter quite well, thank you very much.
This time the report is left to Peacekeeper Hunter, a young man with light hair standing up all over his skull. He’s given express orders to ‘hush it down’ and ‘write as little as you possibly can’, and that he does without a complaint. Peacekeepers are nothing if not for their blind willingness to obey, after all.
Ace Lloyd, the files say in his neat, somewhat cramped handwriting. Seventeen years old, daughter of Paragon and Gloria Lloyd. Ranked fifth in the training center. Friends - Dazzle Johannes, Lucent Christopher, Chrome Everett Jr(deceased).
Cause of death: Suicide by cutting wrists.
No one notices the blatant lie until a few years later, and by then, it’s far, far too late.
Three - and four. Halo and Light Misera, aged twelve and fifteen. Apparently loved by all who knew them, and those who didn’t as well.
Mom, where’s Halo? Their mother remembers the older one asking her. I’m sure he’s asleep, darling. Tomorrow’s the big day, you know. I wonder who’ll volunteer this year? Perhaps that Masterson boy, or maybe that boy, whose sister won the games a few years ago? Shame Chrome died, I was looking forward to his debut on the big screen. Sweetie, did you know? Cashmere volunteered for my friend, and I’ve always been a fan after that.
Seriously, mom. I think I hear Halo screaming -
The young girl’s footsteps rang out, tap-tap in the district of gold and riches and blarney. I’d like to call her Gretel, though, Gretel Misera, looking for her lost Hansel, skipping down the path to the wicked witch’s cabin. Knife in hand, ready to cut through all that stood in her way.
She was good with that knife, just not good enough.
Morn of the Reaping, they’re found near the mansions, pale and shredded - very literally. And yes, people heard screaming too, last night - but wasn’t that from the training center, some tribute-to-be cramming in more practice for the Games? They always do get rather into it… But I see no problem, as long as they make sure that horrible steely smell doesn’t make it out of that building! There’s a certain limit to what we can do with perfume, you know. By the way, did you hear? They’re coming out with Finnick Odair’s line this October, personally tested and approved by him - yes, oh, but isn’t truly gorgeous - meh, I like Enobaria better, now that’s sexy for you -
The Miseras are temporarily put aside as Glimmer d’Arah and Marvel Masterson set off for victory and fame. Death? Oh, yes. Everyone’s so excited for their blood and tears, for their eventual death, that they neglect the ones that are reeking up a stench from right under their nostrils.
Poor little Hansel and Gretel, asleep forever in their cute little coffins of oak. At least they got a golden blanket each, to wrap around what flaps of skin they had left.
The train rolls off on the short journey to the Capitol. Marvel is as perfectly groomed as ever, that clean freak.
And as for Marvel -
She’s good, he guesses. Or maybe a bit on the loner side. Just the sort that wouldn’t survive the Games. Then he thinks; do psychos survive the Games?
Marvel quickly banishes the thought. He’s not here to survive. If he wanted to survive, he’d never have Volunteered. All he wants now is -
Hey, hey. No peeping, pretty face. This is a story, remember? Read on - ooh, what exactly did Marvel want to do?
He’s covered in diamonds. Real diamonds, sparkling with a furious fervor that Marvel could never hope to copy. The glitter of the stones cover the boy up; all that the audience remembers later is the brilliantly bright light from District One’s chariot.
But what they remember better is the blaze that went up from District Twelve, the two young tributes hand-in-hand with their cloaks of fire wrapped around them.
Surely I don’t have to elaborate here - surely everyone remembers Katniss Everdeen?
Marvel almost dies even before the games started, that’s how bad his shaking is. Insides quaking, the edges of his lips trembling up, he waits anxiously on his plate and worries himself nearly to death.
How, how, how -
How am I going to kill all these tributes the way I want to? This is such a fast-paced game to the death, and these people, they want to survive. How stupid, how idiotic of them. Enjoy life while you can, I say.
The baker boy, the lover boy - I heard you let her go, he says. I heard you tell her to run. So you really do love her, it was just for show like you told us. It’s okay, I’ll let you go. But goddamnit Cato.
Glimmer kicks him in the ribs and tells him to shut up, but Marvel’s just pissed that Cato lost him his chance.
Goddamnit goddamnit goddamnit Cato, it’s not everyday you can torture a couple in the Hunger Games.
The Career pack breaks up, and Marvel wipes the blood from his fingers. He’d have loved to kill more people if he could’ve but well - Glimmer’s dead, and Cato and Clove are traveling together. Not to mention, either of them could split his skull before he got a knife across their ankles.
Peeta Mellark, he whispers.
I’m after you.
Will she scream?
It wasn’t Cato. It was never Cato. Although Clove had a helping hand.
Marvel treks through the woods. Surely someone knows about him now, he thinks, but he doesn’t care.
It’s a drug, he thinks, and he’s hopelessly pulled in. He’s sick, he’s crazy; a poor excuse of a human being. He doesn’t mind. he’s seem some druggie Victors, and they barely seem human either.
Oh wait, do I even want to win? What are the benefits?
The girls look at him and Marvel smiles, grins, his lips stretch up and well, technically, this is a smile, but -
Dear little bird.
He draws his hand back and lets go, all his feverish strength behind the throw. He hears the arrow puncture his skull before he sees the spear strike the tiny tribute’s stomach. What he does see is the blood, bright red and streaming down over his face, soaking the little girl’s shirt.
Not a bad last moment, ha! Is what Marvel thinks.
He lies there for a few minutes. For some strange reason his body refuses to separate with his mind, and Marvel lies there staring at the sky for quite some time. His vision is broken by cracks that cover his word, and the red that filters the light entering his eye. Or is it the opposite?
But more than that, Marvel listens.
Katniss Everdeen screamed her loss, and well, shame shame shame she couldn’t have screamed everything else as well.
Katniss Everdeen wins the 74th Hunger Games, and manages to take Peeta Mellark home with her. It’s over quickly, a flash of blades and flames and red, red, red.
Rebellion, District Thirteen. Turmoil. Everything’s turned upside-down and sideways over, no time to think and even less to think back.
So it’s quite a bit before anyone discovers the secret attic that leads into the sewers; not too far from where Chrome, Ace, and the Miseras were discovered. A quick investigation proves the stains on the walls are indeed blood, and indeed those of Chrome, Ace, and the Miseras.
They don’t have to look hard for the murderer. How kind of him.
What a methodical boy, thinks the policeman - not Peacekeeper - as he reads the journal.
Marvel details his whims and wants, his crimes, driving some of his readers to quietly excuse themselves for the restroom. He ends it with a story, a short story that has no real start or ending, scrawled with half-finished sentences and vaguely artistic phrases.
And he writes over it all with nine bold words.
“Screams. He was so hopelessly, hopelessly addicted to them.”