Why Are They Jealous? Part 2


Laryn Herrera, Writer

Chapter Two: I won’t be coming home 

      I stand there looking down the hallway until a Peacekeeper jabs me in the back with something cold and hard. The muzzle of a gun. 

      “Walk, or I shoot.” My blood turns to ice. If I don’t walk and he really does go through with his threat I wouldn’t have to go to the games. Just the fact that I thought of that sends chills through my body. I have to win, I promised Milly. I told her I would come home and that’s what I plan on doing whether I kill Caspian or not. I took a step forward and then stopped. I turned to face the peacekeeper pointing the gun at me and looked him dead in the eye, or at least I think. His eyes were hidden behind a black helmet, but if I really focused I could make out the outline of his eyes. His Eyes! I have seen them before, but where? I racked my brain until it hit me. This was Tulsee Hardall. He had lived with his parents next door to us until four years ago when his name was called for the reaping. Our old escort had called his name and he hadn’t shown up. Our escort called his name again and waited patiently. After a while, another name was called and the reaping went on as usual. Most villagers think that his whole family ran off into the woods, but they didn’t see what I saw. My mind flashes back to Reaping day, four years back.  There’s this myth spread by Peacekeepers that if you don’t show up to the reaping, they come and search your house. You’ll get shot if you are dead or about to die when they find you. I guess they weren’t myths. After the reaping, I was walking home when two Peacekeepers walked briskly past me and stopped at the Hardall house. Without knocking, one of the Peacekeepers kicked the door and it fell off its hinges. The peacekeeper didn’t have to kick very hard, the door’s hinges were so rusted that when the door fell the hinges snapped in half. I quietly walked past the Peacekeepers and stopped once I got to my house. From my house, you can see into the kitchen window of the Hardell’s. I watched as the Peacekeepers rounded up every member of Tulsee’s family in their kitchen and aimed their guns. Before the bullets started flying one of the Peacekeepers took Tulsee and pulled him out of the circle making him stand a few feet away from his mother. His mother grabbed his hand and squeezed hard. She looked into his eyes and he realized her eyes were watering. 

      “Tulsee I don’t blame you for this, you were just trying to stay alive. It has been a terrible life here in District 2 but you were the stars in my galaxy. I love you, Goodbye.”  with that she faced her husband and closed her eyes. She didn’t even pray. When the bullets hit her, she winced only a little. Tulsee stood there staring at his father who was slumped over with a terrified expression forever frozen on his face. His mother’s hand was limp and cold in his hand. He let her hand fall to the floor. Tulsee froze. A small whimpering voice was calling his name. “Tulsee, Help me.” It was his 6-year-old brother Duscle. Tulsee took a step toward his brother but was stopped in his tracks when one of the peacekeepers pointed the muzzle of his gun at the back of his head. “Try anything and we’ll add your body to the pile.” Tulsee tries to turn away but instead, the Peacekeepers held him on the spot and forced him to watch as his brother slowly died. Tulsee was standing there for almost 45 minutes until Duscle’s chest stopped rising and falling. Duscle was 6 years old and he was already dead. Tulsee took one last look at his family, then he turned and walked out the door with the two Peacekeepers on either side of him. The whole time Tulsee showed no sadness or remorse. This boy just watched his family slaughtered, his brother slowly bleed to death, and he’s calm! Is he really that impersonal? As they were walking away from the house, one of the Peacekeepers turned around and looked at me. I couldn’t see their eyes, but the way they gripped their gun and the position of their body made me turn away from the Hardalls’ house and ran back to my house slamming the door behind me.

      A few hours later, a military vehicle full of Peacekeepers stopped at the Tulsee’s house. About 8 Peacekeepers exited the vehicle each carrying a box of matches. Matches were rare in District 2,  in fact, I don’t think I have ever touched a match in my life. Each Peacekkeper lights a singular match and throws it into the house. This process is repeated many times until the smell of smoke is in the air. Without a look back all 8 of the Peacekeepers walked back to the truck and disappeared into the town. Within seconds after the Peacekeepers left the house was engulfed in flames. The Hardalls’ house was burning with their bodies inside.

I looked away and suppressed a sob. I didn’t know Tulsee or his family very well but no person should have to suffer like that. It wasn’t your family, why do you care? He was avoiding the reaping which was mandatory so he was taken and his family was killed, he deserved it. I had thoughts like this once in a while and they scared me. Can I really be that cruel? I didn’t tell Milly or my mother about what I saw and I can’t remember exactly the alibi I told them except for the fact that I told them the Hardalls were found dead in the woods. A few weeks later I heard people in the town square talking about how they found the Hardalls in the woods, I guess stories really do spread quickly. 

      “Did you hear? They found the Hardall family’s bodies?”

      “Yes! I can’t believe the whole family would try to escape!” 

      “I wonder who or what killed them?”

      “I bet it was a wild animal. Or maybe someone who was holding a grudge against one of them did it!”

      “And then, their house was burned down. Something is going on. Something weird.”

      “We already knew that! Well, I have to get home to the kids so let me know when you learn anything new!”

      “Have a good night!” I heard these kinds of conversations for weeks until people got other gossip to talk about. I looked into Tulsee’s eyes. His eyes looked sad and worn as if he had seen too much. When the Peacekeepers took him away he was 13, which was 4 years ago so he would be about 17 now. 17 was too young for anyone to be a Peacekeeper. I stared into his eyes trying to find the young boy who would run to school every day and always have a big smile on his face entering all of his classrooms. Now that I think about it, on the few occasion that I talked to him he would constantly look over his shoulder and a few times a worried expression would flick across his face when he looked at a certain person. Had he always lived in fear? What was he so afraid of? He jabbed me in the back with his gun again. I started walking, taking small steps, that way I can take in more of my surroundings. I was almost certain I wouldn’t be coming home. Unless I was dead.