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The Hungover Games

By LEW GROSSBERGER
The Hungover Games

I wake up groggy and aching. It’s hot and I’m thirsty and nauseous. My foot is asleep and my sacred Mormon undergarment itches like mad under my blue suit.

Where am I? What district am I in? I’m on a platform in front of a crowd…an unenthusiastic one, as usual. Some official is introducing me to them. Oh, lord, I’m gonna have to stand up and say something. The cameras are on me. Come on, Catmitt, wake up, look alive.

This isn’t right. I’ve beaten the other tributes fair and square. I outdebated Bachpack. I put an arrow through Paulron. I hacked Newtnut to pieces with a nail file and poisoned Human Pain with his own pizza. I dropped a radioactive wasp nest on Sanitary (Ha! You should’ve seen him scamper—before he died, swollen up twice his size.) And of course, Rikiperi died after swallowing his own foot.

I crushed them all yet this endless, exhausting game goes on. And I’m spent.

How I want to be back in my lovely mansion in District 1, where I could lie around the pool all day with the servants bringing me hot buttered money to count at my leisure.

But no, I had to volunteer for The Games. Though I can’t remember why, I’m sure it was for noble and selfless reasons, not something small and petty, like ambition.

“Psssst! Catmitt!”

Who’s that crouching behind me? Oh no, it’s the annoying Haymitch, my grouchy, alcoholic coach. Why is Haymitch always bothering me instead of helping me? And why does everyone in this futuristic dystopian world have such dopey names?

“Listen, jerkoff,” says Haymitch. “The plan’s changed.”

“Not again.”

“Shaddup and listen. Now we’re for abortion and against nuking Iran.”

“But I really wanted to nuke Iran.”

“Forget it. Nomination’s sewn up; we’re tacking left for the general.”

My brain reels. I’m gonna have to recalibrate the stump speech yet again. The general? Doesn’t that mean I have to face Oboombah, the Capitol’s champion, in a battle to the death? Why do the Gamemakers keep changing the rules?

Oboombah. That’s trouble. Unlike my previous opponents, Oboombah has skills. Oboombah’s smart and people like him. Except, of course, for The Base. Thank God for The Base. They’re morons and mutants but they have no place else to go but Catmitt.

I have to admit it, though. Oboombah has the advantage. Oboombah could destroy me. Why am I shaking so? Gotta conceal it, look strong for the cameras.

What’s this? Look, a silver capsule floating down on a tiny parachute. It landed near my foot. Help has come! A package from my sponsors, Bain Capital.

I grab it and pop open the capsule. When I see what’s in it, a big, warm feeling of relief spreads inside me. My stress and anxiety are oozing away.

Let Oboombah come. Let him come with all his speechwriters and advisers and his rationality. I’ll be sitting here waiting for him. Let him do his worst.

I fondle the check made out to me for $60 billion, then fold it neatly and put it in my wallet. Catmitt is ready to roll.


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