My face hits something hard as I fall out from the mirror. There's a sickening crack and blood and bits of teeth fill my mouth, and I almost pass out from shock. I welcome the pain. It reminds me I'm real again.
Dim orange light reveals a row of toilet stalls. Guttural whisperings echo from the mirror.
"You've lost him."
"It doesn't matter."
"He was our best."
"We'll replace him."
I shrink back against the wall, become one with the shadows under the sink. Whatever their words, I know they'll come for me. They always do.
It was going on noon when I found the Lucky Seven saloon. It was a dingy place on the edge of Tucson, the kind of hole you didn't go to so much as end up at, but I was tired and hungry, and I needed a drink.
In the parcel of land once known as North America, ravaged by drought, storms, floods and war, a new country is born. It is called Panem, and in it lives a teenager faced with an impossible decision. There are few other options. The government has seen to that. Every year, two children from each of the 13 districts are chosen to participate in the Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death. Your name is called. You go...unless someone volunteers to go in your stead.