As everything blows up around me, trees erupt into flame, soil blows up every which way like there were bombs planted under there. But I don't think about that now. All I can think of is Katniss. Terror plants itself inside me, blooming around and strangling my heart.
I don't know where she is, but I just run in a direction, trying to get to her. "Katniss! Katniss!"
I just want her to answer me. I don't know what happened to cause this shift in the arena, but I need to know that whatever it was isn't hurting her. I keep running, a pain starting in my real leg, and my artificial leg is starting to jam up, but I keep running, screaming her name. Then I'm tackled from behind and brought down.
I roll around, and manage to buck off… "Johanna?"
Then I see her hands caked in blood and I jump on top of her, slamming her shoulders into the ground, "Where is Katniss? Where is she?"
She struggles against my hold, "I don't know. I took out her tracker you lovesick dumb ass, and now she's finally done what she needed to do, and we have to get to the hovercraft and get the fuck out of here!"
Confusion seeps into my anxiety and anger, "What are you talking about?"
She takes advantage of my confusion and wiggles her arms out of my hold, shoving me off of her, "The rebellion, Peeta. The one that Katniss is the head of. The one me, Finnick, Beetee, your mentor… nearly everyone you know is a part of. And the rebellion is on, Peeta. It's just come to a huge landing. Katniss just blew up this place, which we've been waiting for days to happen. Now we need to find the hovercraft."
She stands, and I do too. She starts running, and I follow her, screaming over the explosions as we go, "What about Katniss?" While also thinking about her words, I knew it.
"Stop asking me about her, for God's sake! She is fine as far as I know. She's probably already on the hovercraft." We keep running, and it takes all I have, the only thing keeping me going, is the desperate hope that Johanna is really leading me in the right way, and that her words that Katniss is already safe are true.
We keep running, and I'm looking around trying to search the trees and then –
I slam into Johanna, knocking us both to the ground. She's up and standing stone still, staring into the sky and I push myself onto my knees as I see what she's looking at. A smile takes over my face, as relief sinks in, "The hovercraft! Johanna, it's the hovercraft, and they came from the direction Katniss was in, so they must have her and now they'll get us."
She pushes her hands back at me, saying, "Shhhh."
Slowly, I push myself up, the smile falling from my face as confusion seeps in, "What? Why? I thought this was good news."
She shakes her head, "No. Peeta… I don't think that's our hovercraft." It turns slightly in direction, and we see the side of it, which, for some reason makes her sure, and she turns to face me, "Definitely not the one we need." She grabs my arm and pulls, "Come on!"
So we're on the run again, this time not chasing a hovercraft but running from one. I know Johanna doesn't want to hear anything I have to say about Katniss, plus I don't have that much breath with me as I pant while we sprint, but I wonder where she is. My heart skips a beat when I think that they could have her. They might have her, and they won't spare her life.
We run side by side, not with any direction, except for trying to get away from the hovercraft. It's spotted us and has been following us, gaining on us as we run through the trees. I keep going, one foot after another. Real foot, fake foot, real foot, fake foot. "Do you think we can actually outrun them?" I ask Johanna.
But she doesn't answer, and when I turn to look at her, she's not next to me. I come to a stop and turn around, seeing her about twenty feet back, face first on the ground, pushing herself up, screaming at me, "I tripped. Keep going, Peeta! Go!"
Except the hovercraft is coming to a stop right above her, the bottom opening. I can't leave her there. Did we become friends in this arena? I wouldn't say that. But I would say that she helped keep Katniss safe, and that's the most I would ask of anyone. I would say she's a tough girl who has earned respect.
And I would say that I can't just let the guy climbing down from that hovercraft take her. I run to her and grab her arm, helping her up. As soon as she's on her feet, she shoves at me, "I told you to keep going!"
"And I'm not someone who can just leave you here to be taken for god knows what!" The Peacekeeper, followed by several more, are now dropping from the ladder, and this time it's me who grabs her arm, "We have to go. We'll get out of here together."
We're running again, but this time we're being followed by huge Peacekeepers, yelling at us to stop. Both of us are breathing so heavily, that the only thing I can hear over the labored breathing is the pounding feet of the men behind us.
We're now going in the direction of the beach, and Johanna puts on a burst of speed, gasping, "We'll get out from the trees, and maybe we'll be able to see the other hovercraft!"
As soon as our feet hit the sand, Johanna slows down, and we watch as another hovercraft flies in the opposite direction. Quietly, she says, "Shit."
We can hear them come up behind us, and I feel dread take over. I whisper words that I hope could make her last moments somewhat funny, as I feel they are something she might say to someone in the face of death, "It's been real, Johanna."
She even manages to come up with a dark laugh, "Peeta, we should hope this is the end. It won't be."
Arms grab me from behind, the same with her, and it's like the arms were made from sheer steel, and they don't budge as much as I try to struggle. It seems the hovercraft has followed us as we've been running, because within moments, my hands are on the ladder and are glued down, and I'm being taken up, right after Johanna.
All of my muscles are strung tight, and I'm terrified of what I'm going to find in store for myself up there, and, even worse, what will be in store for Katniss if she's up there. When we get pulled up, someone immediately picks up Johanna and carts her away, and I try to reach for her, but a Peacekeeper grips me by the shoulders and throws me down, smashing me onto the floor.
"What do you know?" He screams at me while pain reverberates down my spine.
I try to look around the room and while they drag away Johanna, the next one they pull up the ladder is an unconscious Enobaria and there's no one else. Katniss must have been rescued. She's safe. She's safe.
I only have a moment to feel the relief before another man comes up in his Peacekeeper uniform and one of them comes up and grabs my arm and the one holding me down takes a hold of the other, together, they drag me up and strap me onto a table. Then a scream that I know is Johanna's ripples through the air, and these two are in my face again, yelling.
"Where is Katniss Everdeen? Where is she?" One of them who is in my viewpoint asks.
Struggling against their restraints, I grunt out, "I don't know."
A doctor comes out of a different room and walks toward us, and the Peacekeeper above me slams his elbow into the side of my face, asking, "Are you sure you don't know?"
I see stars and manage to take in a few breaths as I can feel the bruises already start to form, "I don't know where she is." Before he can beat me anymore, I add on, "And even if I did, I would rather die than tell you."
Then the doctor appears in front of me, and shakes his head, "You quite possibly will wish you were dead soon."
He hold up a shot with clear liquid filling in in front of my eyes, when his face clicks in my memory. "Dr. Cavanaugh," I gasp out when the Peacekeeper takes a tight hold on my arm, "Dr. Cavanaugh, it's me, Peeta." It's dumb, useless, and I know he knows who I am, but he was the one who made me my artificial leg. He was the one who taught me how to use it, who patched me up after the Games last year.
Then he injects something into my arm that makes it feel like liquid fire is spreading through my veins. Twisting in agony, pulling desperately at these damn restraints, Dr. Cavanaugh looks at me through his glasses, "Now, where is Katniss?"
Didn't they hear me? Don't they know I wouldn't say anything of the sort even if I knew? But then the fire in my blood gets to my head and before I scream with the pain, it turns to something new. It feels nice, like my entire body is fizzling, resting on bubbles. My mind is going fuzzy, and suddenly, I want to tell them everything I've ever known.
The doctor stands over me once more, "Is there anything you want to tell me about the whereabouts of Katniss Everdeen now?"
Bright lights appear in front of my eyes and everything is good. Everyone is happy, and I hear my own voice sound light when words just start to slip out of my mouth. "Katniss Everdeen lives in the Seam. Have you looked there? She lives with her mom."
Then the Peacekeeper with the really quite blindingly white uniform is back, and he raises the butt of a – woah is that a gun? – "What are you doing?" I hear myself ask.
All he does is glare at me. Really, did I do anything wrong? I don't think so. But why is he mad? What's going on? I feel hands on my arm again and then there's another pinch feeling from another injection. Then there's nothing.
I come to in flashes, hearing words, sounding like I'm under water, and then I feel like I'm moving, but I know I'm not moving myself. Finally, with my head feeling like it's too heavy to even lift, I open my eyes. Dr. Cavanaugh is walking with his back to me, and on the other side of my little medical cot thing is a man in a suit.
The reason I feel like I'm moving is because I'm being wheeled around while still strapped into this thing. I concentrate on what they're saying when the man in the suit asks, "You're sure he doesn't know anything?"
The doctor answers, "I'm absolutely positive. I injected him with the serum, and he let nothing slip. Have you spoken to Dr. Beggary about Johanna Mason? Does she know anything?"
Johanna. Is she okay? The man in the suit shakes his head, "She's not talking. The serum was given to her, and she was immediately loopy. Started going on about her house in District Seven and Beggary had her knocked out to just get her mouth to stop running."
Cavanaugh nudges his head in my direction, "What are we going to do with him? He's virtually useless. He doesn't know anything."
Yes, what are you going to do with me? The man in the suit looks back at me and meets my wide eyes, and gives me a slow, evil grin that makes my stomach twist painfully. "Oh, President Snow still has some plans for him."
So there we have it. Catching Fire comes to a close, and I want to thank everyone who has followed it, and especially everyone who reviews it. My version of mockingjay, to be named Real or Not Real, will have it's first chapter posted on September first. Stay tuned!