Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Fat Games

Katishness surveyed the swaying shadows of the smurfberries in the no-man's zone, that ugly gash in the land dividing District 12.5 from District 12.4999. A jagged barbed wire fence straddled the center of the gash. It was supposed to be electrified, but it hadn't been for years. The electric fences of Capitol One never stopped crackling. Legend had it that birds, bats and careless children, sizzled and popped from dawn to dusk. Such was the privilege of the ruling class. And speaking of birds ...
A Jabberjaw was stuck in one of the smurfberry gorses. It honked and stuttered in a grotesque Curly imitation.
"Nyuck! Nyuck! Nyuck!"
A genetically modified abomination, created during the Uprising in the labs of Capitol One. The Jabberjaw wasn't dangerous, just extremely irritating. Some had mated with wild Jib Jabs, producing offspring resembling Shemp. A few resembled Curly Joe. No one spoke of this.
Katishness extended her long, slender fingers into her quiver. And removed an ancient weapon. A Jart. Cruel in its efficiency. Efficient in its cruelty. You threw it like a big-ass dart. This she did.
Swiftly, it cut the air. Thuck! In microseconds, its spike protruded from the Jabberjaw's shiny bald head.
"Hey Moe!" it cried. Then fell.
Sprawled on its back.
Dead? No.
Its legs began kicking. Hideously, the Jabberjaw began running on the dusty ground in a circle. Like the hands of a clock. Or legs. A bleeding clock with feathers and a Jart sticking out of its head.
At last, the ghastly reflex stopped.
She stooped to pick it up. Dead at last ...
"Nyuck! Nyuck!"
Running again. Running.
OK, now it was dead.
Food on the table tonight.
Distantly, from the distant village beyond the distant hills, a single note cut the air. E Flat.
The Reeting.
It was the call to the Reeting, all reet.
"Damnit!" she cursed.
The Reeting.
The cruelty of it. The cleverness.
To put it in Young Adult Fiction terms, after Apocalypse One, Apocalypse Two, the Al Gore Years, the Zombie Years and the improbable return of Disco, Planet Earth was pretty much screwed. Capitol One arose from the ashes. A city on a hill somewhere in what used to be Utah. (Actually, the city was flat. Perfectly sea level. They just called it "a city on a hill." Let's not dwell on that point.) A city ruled by ruthless elite who worshiped junk food, old John Waters movies, and polyester.
Under their pudgy-but-iron fists, what was once the United States and Canada became "PanAm," a country taking its name from a defunct airline of the 20th century because the uniforms were so kicky.
The rulers of PanAm had no taste. The rulers of PanAm were fat.
Not just, oh-I-gotta-lose-a-few-pounds fat.
Get-the-chainsaw-and-cut-a-new-door-in-the-trailer fat.
And they demanded that everyone under their rule be fat as well.
More than a century ago, the 13 and 1/2 districts rebelled. People began eating sensible food and (according to Capitol One propaganda) made themselves throw up. The Uprising rose up! And was quickly put down.
The rulers' response was ruthless.
After a rain of death and destruction, the rulers of Capitol One kicked the districts to the curb. After that, they did some really bad stuff.
To keep the districts in their place, they created the Fat Games.
Every year, from now until the end of time, two representatives from every subject district would be selected by random lot. Children, under the age of 18. This isn't a ripoff of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," but more of a kooky coincidence.
Each year, the lucky children gather at the Fat Games.
An eating contest, of course. The rules are simple.
Eat. Keep eating. If you stop eating, you die.
If you die, you lose.
The child who keeps eating after all the other children stop wins.
Honor, glory and more sugar to the district of the winning child!
And hello, before you know it...
Katishness is standing in the Village Square. (Which is more of a rhombus, but let's not dwell on it.) A crowd of Village Idiots is standing there with her. This is a big damn deal. Whole lotta standing going on, OK?
And that includes the purple-haired Squinky Everglee. The coiffed and fluffed-up shill of Capitol One. The vacuous, all-you-can-eat fashion plate.
Katishness gapes in horror.
As Squinky stands at a podium plucking a name from a fishbowl.
"And the winner is ... Spankbottom Everclear!"
Her sister.
"Hey wait a minute ..."
Like a dumbass, Katishness said that outloud.
"Oh, we have a substitute! Hooray, hooray for the substitute!"
"No, no, no. You're the one saying 'substitute.' I didn't say that. For the record. I love my sister and all. She's really irritating, sure. But I love her. On the substitute level? No. No way."
But the crowd of idiots was applauding and nobody heard.
"Katishness Everclear will be competing in the Fat Games as tribute for District 12.5"
Hooray hooray.

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