Tithe.Kathrine Woody, or Kat for short. Perhaps I could be a bit happier and even like my life had I not been living this life. All we ever do is run and hide, and when they find us, we're forced to just give up our people.
Let me start at the beginning. I wasn't even born yet, but I've heard the story enough times to recite it by heart. In the year 2020, everything was great. People were getting good money, we had a stable government, and amazing creations were in the making. But that's before the Invaders came.
No one has ever even seen the Invaders, and the people that do, well, we don't know what happens to them. Anyways, the Invaders came because they want earth. Let me tell you, our military and people of the world put up a pretty amazing fight, but in the end, it was useless. The Invaders had rockets, missiles, more advanced equipment than we could ever even hope for.
Once we finally gave up, the Invaders made a deal with us. A sick deal, I may add. They proposed that, to prevent our enslavement, we send forth one tenth of the world's population every decade, as some sort of tithe.
So, here we are, terrified about everything, and just hoping it's not one of our family members that gets picked.
I fill my sister's plate with mashed potatoes and bread, the only thing we've been eating lately since game is lacking and the townspeople are stingier than ever, since the Decade has arrived. I set the plate in front of her and go to work on eating mine.
Kallie, my sister, has tears brimming in her eyes. I place my hand on top of hers and rub my thumb on her palm.
"It'll be okay, Kallie, I promise," I say. My father sits down in the third seat of our four-seat table. The fourth seat used to be for my mother until she died after eating a poison berry.
The rest of dinner is silent, and Kallie helps me wash and put away dishes. My father sits in his ragged old chair and reads a very much abused book. Our entire house is ragged and very much abused. It's been passed down since the early 2000s. Every single one of the Woody family members have lived in this house, and it has survived at least 10 tornadoes and the Invaders guns; those guns are what caused the little holes all over our house that we have tried to patch up, but it's been consistently hard considering we don't have the resources.
I'd like to say there is one bright side to life, but in perfect honesty, it's a complete square of only dark sides. Life today is black, and we're all hoping for it to somehow get a splash of color, but we all know in our hearts that the only color will be red and that's just from out blood, forced out of us by the Invaders.
I get Kallie tucked into bed, and then I crawl into bed, hoping that tomorrow, none of my family will get picked.
Bright sunlight wakes me up, and I know what today will bring. There's an ancient book from the early 2000s, before the Invaders came, called the Hunger Games. I would compare today, the Choosing, to the Reaping. Most of the town is gathered into the biggest plot of land we can find, and instead of fancy glass balls holding individually written names, we have a list that someone will read. Usually, the unimportant people will be sent as the Tithe.
Unfortunately, my family is extremely unimportant. About the only thing I can do is scream and fight, which in a society like ours where we try to find some kind of order in the everlasting chaos, my violent tendencies don't really help in my favor.
Our town is one of the smaller provinces of what used to be Georgia. Bigger places like Stonewalk, which used to be Los Angeles in California, has a great population. Usually they have more people getting chosen as the Tithe, and our tiny town of Crossroads gets much, much less people.
I try to mentally prepare myself as I pull on my clothes and faded leather jacket. I slip into my boots and sit on the edge of my bed, rubbing my fingers against my temples. Kallie starts getting ready, and I hear her sniffles as she pulls on her clothes.
At 2, we head towards the Pit, which is just a big dirt area that the whole 300 something people in this town can easily fit in. Today, there's a big wooden box that Farren Dillon and his little group of arrogant men, the closest thing this town has to a form of government, will stand and read off of the list.
People are already gathered around, talking fast and casting grim looks to the sky. Kallie and I melt into the crowd, and our dad goes to talk to some guy named Bob.
"Kat?" Kallie asks hesitantly.
"Yeah?" I say, tearing my gaze from Farren Dillon who looks especially villainous today.
"Do..." She pauses. "Do you think I'll get picked?"
I pull her into a hug and press my lips to the top of her head. I whisper into her hair, "I'll kill them before they can get their hands on you.
Farren Dillon get's his microphone and taps it, sounds coming from the hidden speakers.
"Hello, friends," Farren says. He smiles. "As you all know, today is Choosing today. Before we read the names, I'd like to go over procedure. Once your name is called, please gather to the right of this wooden stage, and keep quiet. After the 50 names are called, we will all back away from the Chosen and you will await the Invaders arrival. They will then connect their tube to the ground, and take you all in." He says this like we don't know what we're doing. Well, I guess some of us don't since some of them weren't born yet, but still
"Let's begin," he says. "Okay, Bryan Applebee."
The list proceeds like that starting with A and ending with W because no one here has a last name that starts with X, Y, or Z. If I am called, or my sister or father, we will be the last person called.
Name after name is called, and all the while, I'm terrified.
"Brittney Vaughn." W is next.
I suck in a deep breath.