It was my 13th birthday. I woke up eager that day to see what kinds of gifts I'd get that day, if I got that ice cream cake I always wanted, which friend would come to the party and if I'd make new friends from people they brought along. I switched on the tv for some summer morning cartoons, and there was just another bad episode of Spongebob Squarepants on tv. Suddenly, my mom ran into the room and changed the channel to the news. "Hey!" I protested. "Sweetie you'll get to watch all the cartoons you want later" she replied, her eyes still fixed on the screen. Not wanting to sound like a spoiled brat, and I guess wanting to act a bit more maturely, I made a white lie, "I meant that you didn't say happy birthday at all mom"
She just waved her hand to pipe down as the volume went up. "And new information on the serial kidnapping. The missing children count has gone up to 14 as a pair of 14 year old twins had disappeared from a skating park. Jack and Roxanne Mercer had left Friday afternoon to go practice some skateboarding when an eyewitness claims to have seen men in suits walk up to them, and then the brother and sister walk off with them. Authorities advise to keep an eye on your preteen children and your teenagers until this case is solved. The suspected kidnappers are believed to target children between the ages of 12 to 18.."
My mother looked over at me, and I already knew why. "No mom, I won't talk to strangers when I go over to Kelly's house today". Apparently that wasn't enough, as she said "Maybe I'll have her parents drive her over to our place instead. I can't risk you Jared". Well this sucks, I wanted to have some time alone with Kelly, maybe ask her out when we were alone at her place. But no matter, I had my ways of getting out for a while. The day went on relatively quickly as noon approached, and the doorbell rang. Upon approaching the door, I had this gut feeling that maybe I shouldn't open it. Most of our good friends knocked three times, they didn't really ring the doorbell. "Did the doorbell ring, sweetie?" my mom said. Well I cna't risk her testing me.
"Yeah, but I can't answer it right now" I fibbed as I went and hid in the living room near the door. My mom went and opened the door and before she could say anything to greet the visitors, they asked her a question. "Hello there, we were wondering if you knew anything about the serial kidnapping case. We're askng because - oh where are my manners, my name is Detective Jim and this is my partner in the investigation Chris. We were asking because we checked the police records and saw that your son Jared is 13, and we recall him being an outgoing young man. We've seen him long before this series of crimes have happened and when we checked the records we just matched the faces together."
My mother simply greeted herself, then told them that no, she didn't know much about the kidnapping related to me or any relatives. She was then asked to sign some strange papers, they didn't look official to me. Chris (who was behind Jim) took off his sunglasses to clean them off a bit, I noticed his eyes lock on to me. He put the glasses back on and whispered something to Jim, who turned around and although his head was still facing my mother, I knew his eyes were on me too. They said goodbye and left, when a few minutes after the familiar knocks sounded.
I went up and answered the door and before me was Kelly. Her dirty blonde hair and dorky, cute glasses were the first thing that caught my eye, and she came up to give me a hug. "Happy birthday Jared!" she said to me as her parents walked in and said the same. My mom told us we could go into the next room and talk a bit as they talked amongst themselves. Kelly hopped up onto the couch and lied down as she put her hands behind her head. "So didya hear about all those kidnappings? They've gotta be saving those kids up for something don't you think?" she blurted out. I thought about it and I guess it's true. You don't just kidnap so many people between certain a certain age range for the hell of it. "Yeah, it's a bad time to be young in this neighborhood."
And with that we finished the conversation, and I pulled out my PS3. We played motorstorm for a while, and the fact that Kelly was better than me didn't really surprise me, she was more of an inside person than I was and was most likely playing games for the majority of her life. She was terribly good at minecraft hunger games and strategy games because of this. I, however, was more adventurous. I loved parkour, and taking walks in forests I stumbled upon. The northwest was a good place to be for people like me. Thought I tend to surprise people, because although I look athletic I'm actually just a nerd on the inside. I never really fit in with the athletic types anyways.
Though I was having fun with Kelly, nobody else came. I'm not sure why, and my mom was spending most of the day trying to contact the other invited guests. Some of them picked up and told her that they didn't want to risk their kids getting kidnapped if they followed me out into the streets or forests, and some just gave a more acceptable excuse such as "she's sick" or "grounded". But hey, that works for me. More time alone with Kelly. I was going to get into the dating conversation with her when suddenly, she had these sort of bedroom eyes and a smile on her face. She told me to try and convince my mom to let us go out to the corner store, that she wanted to show me something. I'm down with that.
I asked my mom that Kelly and I wanted some doritos, and sure enough we didn't have any. I asked if we could go get some and after some white lies she gave in. Bingo.
I gave Kelly the nod and as she slipped on her sandals flats I lagged behind a bit because I was trying my shoes on. As I was trying to catch up with her, I thought I heard some walkie talkie static behind me and I turned around. I barely caught a glimpse of something turning the corner before Kelly called out to me so I could hurry up. That was odd..
We made it to the corner store, where we just nabbed some doritos like we said. We decided to linger for a while though, and she started talking to me about what an adventure would be like. "Just.. something, something that I can do so I don't have to waste my time with the same old shit I live every day. Something meaningful. I'm honestly tired of just being the normal me, I want to be the different me". I could get where she was coming from, but she was getting really repetitive. Also, I didn't want to get nabbed by whatever the hell's out there kidnapping kids so I tell her we should hurry back to my place.
She snapped out of it and gave a slightly embarrased yes before getting up. Halfway back, I thought about asking her then. It's quiet, kinda peaceful.. "Hey Kelly, I was wondering.." But suddenly a car pulled up and the windows darted downwards, our faces getting sprayed with some sort of gas. I was getting dizzy and seeing colors, and so was Kelly as I saw her barely being able to stand upwards. With what little thoughts I could produce I realized we were about to get kidnapped. "Kelly" I slurred out as I pushed her out of the way so she wouldn't get further drugged. I barely made out her figure falling behind some bushes into the foilage. A hand cupped my mouth and dragged me into the vehicle. I blacked out.
I suddenly woke up and I saw myself still in the vehicle, but not in the familiar part of town. Hell, this wasn't familiar at all, it was like a desert of sorts. "Rise and shine, Jared" the voice said as a man turned around. It was Jim. I was both surprised and not surprised. Surprised because I'm kidnapped, but not surprised because, well they're men in suits wearing sunglasses, what do you expect? "So what we didn't say to your mom earlier is that we've been watching you do parkour and whatnot, you seem pretty able-bodied and the sorts. We told her to just sign some papers confirming we did a routine check at your place to ensure 'that potential victims were identified' but what she really signed was a paper of consent." Paper of consent? "For what?" I asked, and Chris spoke up, his head tilting upwards as he spoke. "You're going on a plane straight to a deserted location"
I scoffed in confusion, what? "What about Kelly?"
"She's the reason we're acting quickly and just gonna work with 16, she got away and is most likely tattling to mommy as we speak" he said. I sigh in relief a bit, she's safe. "Where are you taking me? What for?" I ask. "You ask too many questions" Jim answers as he puts the glass window up to tune me out. Over the speakers though, he gives me his last answer to my question. "Just underground entertainment, and you're gonna star in it."
I sit patiently as I think about how to escape. If I can find a small town that we pass by, I could hop out and save for the small wounds I'd get from the force, I'd just start screaming bloody murder so I can get rescued by someone. Yeah, that's a good idea. I scoot over to the side of the car, and position my hand onto the door handle. Surely enough, we approach a small town. As we pass by a plaza, I pull on the handle but it doesn't budge. SHIT! Child safety lock!
"Nice try" I hear Jim say as he tosses another container of gas into the back seat. God damn it.. so.. close..
A few hours later
I sit up, I'm in a nice bed. A hotel room by the looks of it, and I have a uniform sitting at the foot of the bed. I'm naked down to my underwear, gross. I get up and look around, then out the window. Looks like a rich city, fancy street decorations everywhere and a polished sidewalk. A polished fucking sidewalk! But I need to focus, I'm not supposed to be here. I'm supposed to be back home with my parents in my modern family life.. not here.
Maybe if I sneak out? I walk up to the doorknob and try opening the door, but it's locked from the outside. What is this, the world's nicest prison? I try nudging it open, but then I think about air vents, like in those spy movies. It could work, but.. then it might not, I'm kinda claustrophobic and sometimes lots of weird shit goes through air vents. Maybe if I just sit tight.
I at least have a tv, and I switch it on. "Another kidnapping has occured in a small Oregon neighborhood. 13 year old birthday boy Jared Hempsey had left with witness Kelly Gardener to the corner store when Kelly claims that a car drove up to them and blasted them with a strange gas, in which Jared pushed Kelly away and she managed to escape. Authorities are still looking into this case.." Well, everyone knows I'm gone now. Poor Kelly.. she must be losing it. I sit there in silence as I eye the uniform. It looks athletic, with a spandex long sleeved shirt with my name on the back and athletic pants with some socks and tennis shoes. I pick up the shirt and put it on when a disc falls out from it, and I pick it up as I finish adjusting the sleeves on my shirt.
I observe it and pop it into the tv, and a rich looking person in his 50's appears on the tv. "Hello, and welcome. You've been chosen for the annual test of survival. Your disappearance from your social life is currently insignificant due to it being seen as a strange kidnapping that we will soon pin on an already registered sexual predator as we have in the past. Please feel free to get dressed or just listen as I explain the rules. Rule number one, no cheating. Rule number two, obey rule number one. Rule number three, the winner will return home as the only survivor of the kidnapping, and will not speak of this. And lastly, rule number 4. Have fun, and win!"
And with that the little movie ends. That's.. descriptive. But then a female british voice emerges from the tv, "Please wait as you are picked up by your master" and a logo bearing two c's tucked into each other starts spinning like a screensaver. I get dressed and think up a plan to get away, if this room is a jail cell from the inside, I might just outrun my "master" and lock him in here, then I'm home free and I can run away. It's all too easy, these cocky rich guys are never gonna get me to play.. this test of survival crap. So I sit patiently. It's scary for me, being kidnapped.
You never know if you're just a hostage or a potential murder victim. If you'll travel the world doing dirty deeds or stay cooped up in one place for your whole life serving just one person. You don't know the people taking you, they're strangers and you never know what a person is capable of until they do it.. I just wanted to spend time with Kelly and now look at where I am.. about to do god knows what. I have to get away, I won't be a part of their sick game.
I hear the door swing open, and right away I know my plan would backfire, Jim has a gun and Chris is waiting outside. They're my masters? Wait.. so does that mean this is like a dog fight? Different people just pick up random kids to do the test? My eyes go wide and my body just starts moving for me. Just like that, my hopes of escaping are crushed and I know I'm forced to comply with them. I'm scared, I'm shaking. What if I die? They said that the winner leaves as the only survivor of the kidnapping, that means something happens to the others.. What's going to happen to me..
I'm blindfolded, and then taken into what smells and feels like an elevator. I only hear my own breathing as I realize that I'm alone in here. Suddenly, it stops and the elevator doors open. "Take three steps forwards and stay where you are" I hear a voice say over some speakers. It feels musty and damp down here, but I hear some sort of natural environment around me. Suddenly, my blindfold just slides off and I see a bunch of human figures standing around. What?
Then, suddenly, I react to them all moving frantically around the area. I don't notice what's happening at all until I'm beat down from behind, and I feel my head getting swung at. Something cuts at my hands as I block the attacks from what feels like a weapon, when suddenly I start to go unconscious.. though I'm not dying.. I only remember two things as i black out, something slicing the head off of my attacker, and the voice over the speaker saying "And the first kill of the games has just gone down!"
I piece it all together now. I remember.. I recieved a strange question on omegle, the spy mode ones.. It simply read
"What if the hunger games was an undergrond event in real life..
And kidnapped kids were the tributes?"