Day Ten: Darkness
As soon as we heard a door slam shut further down the hallway, Asita and I began to scramble. She swiftly put out the fire, attempting to clear all the smoke and embers. As she did that, I snatched every single supply, whether it was hers or mine, and shoved it into the backpacks we possessed. We would have to sort out which supplies were mine and which were hers later.
As we rushed about, hearing the tributes close in room by room, I stumbled and grabbed a painting above the fireplace for balance. Instead of it falling and making a loud racket, it swung open slightly. I peered inside and saw that it was a small, square compartment surrounded by brick.
"Over here," I whispered as I started to push myself onto the mantle with my right arm.
"I thought we agreed that if someone found us in here we would hide in the bureau," Asita argued as she looked into the small, cramped space.
"You can hide in there if you want, but this seems a little more discreet," I murmured as I tried to heave my legs up.
"You don't have to be so condescending about it," she mumbled as she helped get my legs into the small space.
"I was just speaking in your native tongue," I snapped as I helped her in.
She dug her nails into my arm in response and I let out a hiss.
"Oops," she said innocently as she put the supplies on my feet and pulled the frame closed.
It was pitch black and not a single speck of light was escaping into the compartment. Asita was extremely close, practically sitting on my stomach, and my legs were scrunched against (what I assumed) were one of her breasts.
"Don't get the wrong idea," she whispered.
"Being in complete darkness with you on top of someone? I bet no one has ever thought of anything but your lovely personality."
I heard her open her mouth to reply, but the door to the room was slammed open.
"We could be a little more discreet, you know," someone shrilled immediately afterwards.
"Why? They can't run anywhere without us seeing or hearing," another person responded.
I could feel Asita's entire body tense and she stopped breathing.
"Yes, but then we give them time to prepare. Do you ever think a hunter has caught an animal by tramping through the woods swinging its weapon to and fro while singing a song?"
"I'm not singing," the partner responded, "I just want to get this over with. I want to find the tributes, kill them, and move on to the next ones."
"You're so impatient babe," the girl laughed.
I heard something slam open and then shut.
"No one in the bureau," the guy called out.
I snickered slightly and Asita pinched my thigh in response. I stopped, not knowing whether it was in her usual snide way or if it was out of fear.
After several minutes, the girl exclaimed, "No one in this room, just like every single other one. Can we please try another floor?"
"Once we are through searching this floor. We have to be thorough."
"You know what else is thorough? Not stomping around like an elephant," the girl snapped as they departed.
Once I thought for sure they were gone, I began to move but Asita held me in place. We sat there for several minutes, waiting in silence.
She slowly pushed open the frame and looked out. She shuffled out and I followed. The two had trashed the room, flipping over almost every piece of furniture.
Asita immediately walked out of the room and I glanced behind me at the supplies still in the compartment. This was the first time she had left me alone with her supplies. She had always made a point of taking them with her if she needed to use the restroom or something. My mind screamed at me to take them and make an escape.
I grabbed both bags and dropped to the floor. Then a painful reminder made itself known through my legs and I collapsed. I let out a groan and laid there while the pain subsided.
Within a minute, Asita was back and she closed the door behind her.
"I went out and shut every door that they had opened in this hallway and the next two over. If they come back, hopefully we will have some warning," she stated as she turned around.
"Are you okay?" she exclaimed and rushed over to me.
"Forgot I was crippled," I joked as I pushed myself into a sitting position.
"You're not crippled," she snapped, "but you can't just leap down, put all your weight on your legs, and expect for it to end up ok."
She let out a frustrated sigh and began to rummage through the backpack, "You snapped some stitches on your right leg, which means I need to redress it."
She finished unwrapping my right leg and began to weave out the broken stitches.
I watched her fuss over my wound, feeling the sting of guilt at the thought of robbing her blind. Here she was, upset and scared and I was just going to make a run for it. That would have been no better than Ace.
"You know, you're quite motherly," I said bluntly.
"Motherly," she laughed loudly, "Are you kidding me? I dislike people in general and don't baby anyone. God, I'm never having children."
"When your basic instinct is to check and take care of my wounds, it means you're considered motherly."
"That's different," she murmured as she wiped blood away, "I'm just repaying the favor. Without you, I'm pretty sure I would have died yesterday."
"You act like a total bitch. Actually, you are a bitch to a lot of people. But, from what you've told me, you're the one who took care of your siblings. You made sure they had clothes to wear and food to eat. You did whatever it took to keep them safe and made sure they didn't end up like all the other orphans in all the other districts."
"And why exactly are you telling me all this?" she sighed as she wrapped the wound back up.
"I'm reminding you that you're not just the girl who sleeps with men to get what she wants. Just because Apollo came in here and flipped over every piece of furniture doesn't change the fact that you're a sister who takes care of her family."
She looked up at me and her eyes looked slightly misty for a second as she said, "Thanks."
"There are eleven of us left. The odds are that you're going to have to deal with him at some point and, when you do, you got to remember what you're fighting for. You can't let whatever he says or you think change your resolve."
Her eyes steeled themselves over as she laughed, "First, we need to make sure you can stand the next time you run across any tribute."
"I can stand," I huffed, "I just can't run very well."
"Oh yeah, standing in one place will really be a great tactic during battle. In fact, I bet the other tribute will be so confused that they'll just start running around you in circles."
"Maybe you can help distract them by breaking a nail or skipping around naked," I snapped back.
Pain shot through my leg as I felt a hard pinch. I jumped slightly and glared at her.
"Come look at this," Cami yelled.
I raised my sword and dashed out of the room I was currently inspecting. I raced around the corner and caught the large door right before it shut. I pulled it open and stepped into the room, ready to chase a fleeing tribute.
"Isn't this so amazing?"
I let out a groan and put my sword away. Although I had to admit the room was impressive, it wasn't exactly what I was hoping for.
"I thought we said it was ok to split up as long as we only alerted each other when we needed the other."
"No, we said we would only call out to the other if there was something they needed to see. I thought you needed to see this."
I looked at Cami, searching for her usual smirk. All I saw was awe and curiosity as she gazed around the room.
Well, a room wasn't the word I was looking for. We were currently in a large area that was probably as tall as the entire mansion that we were in. Dark archways cascaded forwards and rows of benches made their way to the front. Windows filled with color lined the sides and there seemed to be pictures in them.
"I didn't know the Gamemakers could make something so beautiful," Cami sighed as she walked between the benches.
"I think it's more creepy than pretty," I muttered as I stepped into a red light.
"We don't have any cathedrals in District One," she commented, "I've only ever seen them in books and old movies."
She scowled at me as she responded, "When I was little I did. In fact, the first things I ever took from other kids were books."
"How precious," I snorted as I took a seat on one of the benches.
"Laugh all you want. I think this is stunning."
She walked up the isle towards the largest window in the front of the cathedral. It was mostly a red and orange background with purple shapes spread throughout it.
"What is that?" I said aloud.
"It looks likes," Cami mumbled as she got closer to it, "Body parts. A man surrounded by different body parts. What the hell…"
"Can we leave now," I grunted, "This place is giving me chills."
"You don't think anyone could be hiding here?" she asked.
"It depends on what you are looking for."
A gravelly voice echoed against the stone walls and I jumped to my feet.
"That's not a tribute," I immediately said, glancing around the room.
"There are many things one can find here. Faith… Hope… Themselves…"
Cami appeared beside me, swords in hand.
"Everything is hidden in the darkness."
Cami tapped my side and pointed towards the front. A figure in a deep violet robe walked out of the shadows and into the light that was streaming in between an archway.
"Sorry, I'm not here to have a spiritual experience," Cami growled as the figure walked into the shadows again.
"This place isn't meant for any set religion. It is simply a place of tranquility where one can make peace. Whether that is with one God, many gods, or themselves is up to the individual."
"Why would anyone want to make peace here?" I asked.
"Many find it comforting to do so before…" the figure continued as it lit two torches on both sides of an altar.
"Before?" Cami inquired.
"Before death," the figure finished as it turned towards us.
Suddenly, torches were lit that were hanging on the walls and the entire room brightened.
This entire mansion had running water, electric lights, and not to mention a secret high-tech laboratory beneath it. This room was seriously still using torches?
"You're not going to kill us," Cami hissed as she began to walk up the aisle.
"Of course not," the figure rasped, "Like I said, this is a place of tranquility. I am simply a servant who watches over and helps those find the harmony they seek."
"Oh, so you're saying that screwed up stained glass window has nothing to do with mass murder and everything to do with peace!" Cami laughed.
"Although this place is one open to many beliefs, I still have my own. The one who runs this house can create life. He can take the dead and raise them. He takes the sinful and makes them perfect, on the outside as well as inside."
I followed Cami and stood beside her as she stopped right in front of the altar. The figure was huddled, placing different flowers and plants upon it.
"Oh gosh, I forgot I was talking to a mutt for a minute. A mutt who believes another mutt is god because he can make an army of mutts. This is just too much," Cami ranted.
"If you are going to be so vastly negative and chaotic, I am going to have to ask you to leave this sanctuary."
"Cami," I muttered, "We should just get out of here and keep looking for tributes. We're wasting time."
"Sorry," she snickered as she turned towards me, "I just find it amusing that the Gamemakers wasted money and time making this nut job."
A glint caught my eye as the figure spun around and I shoved Cami to the ground. A knife went flying by where she had been previously standing and I gawked at the figure that stood before me. I couldn't tell whether it was a man or woman, but it was ancient. Lines creased its face and its bones were protruding sharply from its skull.
The only lively thing about it was its dark eyes as it screeched out, "I will not let you defy this place with your hatred!"
As quickly as the torches were lit, they went out again. The room was back to being filled with darkness, except for the light from the stained glass windows.
"We need to get out now," I barked as I pulled Cami to her feet.
Another knife flew out of the darkness, this time from where we entered. I dodged it and began to race down the aisle. A flurry of knives erupted from all different directions. The mosaic colors splashed against my vision as I reached the end. A yell of agony sprang from my throat as a knife lodged itself in my arm. I yanked the heavy door open and felt Cami brush past me.
One last knife left the figure's hand as I slammed the door shut.
I slipped to the ground and swiftly yanked the weapon from my body. I gritted my teeth and groaned as I looked at Cami.
"What is your problem!" I yelled, "I know you like to antagonize people but a mutt is still a mutt!
Cami felt along the cut that sliced across her entire right cheek. The blood smeared slightly and she looked at it as if it was sweat.
"We're fine," she shrugged as she wiped the blood on her leg.
"Yeah, I know we're fine now," I huffed, "but that was just plain stupid! We could have easily died."
"No we wouldn't have. At least I wouldn't have," she stated.
"Listen," Cami smirked, "In case you didn't get the memo, I'm this year's victor. Not only have I been through hell and back, but I'm the biggest threat left in this game now that Lucian is dead."
"Do you hear yourself?" I gawked.
Cami let out a laugh as she began to walk down the hallway, "Of course I do. It doesn't matter if the games end in one day or one week. I'm getting out of here alive. I'm untouchable."
I stood up and slowly began to follow behind her as I applied pressure to my wound. If Cami honestly believed that, she was delusional. She sounded just like… Lucian.
It hit me so suddenly I almost tripped over my feet. For the past day I thought Lucian's death hadn't affected Cami in the slightest. It turned out it was almost the opposite. Now that he was dead, she had almost become him. The only difference is that she didn't want to hunt down every tribute.
She just expected them to die, one way or another. I was included in that list. We weren't really allies anymore. If a knife had been hurdling towards me, she wouldn't have shoved me out of the way…
This meant one of two things. That stunt back there was because she thought she was invincible or she wanted that mutt to take care of me for her.
A chill went down my spine as I realized it could very well be both.
"No tributes died today," I said as I watched Char start to move.
"I know. The cannon fire would have woken me up," she mumbled as she stretched her limbs.
I gazed into the fire as she began to wake herself up. Today had been what I would call the best day in the arena yet. For the first time, we weren't being chased by Careers, muttations, or even the arena. Today was the first day we hadn't had some sort of life or death situation. All we really did was take turns napping and eating.
Did this count as a vacation? Did they do vacations in the Hunger Games?
Usually, I would have said something of that effect to Char. Usually, I would have been hooking up with some hot girl. Usually…
I sighed with content at the memory and I heard Char stop fussing with the supplies.
"Please, for the love of all that is holy, tell me you did not just orgasm."
I let out a hearty laugh at the thought of doing that with Char standing right behind me.
"No, I always make sure I masturbate when you're not around… Or in a deep sleep."
"That's disgusting," Char groaned as she sat down next to me.
"Men have needs, end of story," I shrugged.
"Yes, you've made your needs known ever since you opened your mouth at the Training Center," she laughed.
"Remember when you threated to put your foot so far up my butt you could see it in my stomach," I reminisced.
"Only because you were trying to hit on me just like you did with every girl," she replied.
I laughed again, just enjoying the company. The past few days hadn't been that great between us. It's probably because there has been so much going on and so much panic, but we hadn't been 'us'. I know we hadn't cracked a real joke in forever and I almost felt like we were slipping. We hadn't talked about it, but we were getting closer and closer to the end. I was finding it hard to know where we stood with each other.
When we entered this, it I was this macho guy and she was this pampered tom boy. Now, we were both so different. I found myself thinking before I acted and watching our every move. Char had gone from being taken care of (whether she wanted to admit it or not) to being an equal partner. We were both real contenders in this game and it was scary to think about what would happen when…
"Remember when you made that joke about me and the dead female mutt," I blurted out to stop myself from finishing my train of thought.
"When I told you not to have sex with it?"
"If that had happened today instead of… however many days ago it was; I probably would have had sex with it."
"That's so crude," Char snapped.
"At the very least, I'd feel her up."
Char let out another laugh and I smiled.
"I'm glad we're friends."
"You know, I'm pretty satisfied with it too," she smirked.
I gazed at the floor and watched as the shadows danced across it. As much as I was thinking and joking about sex, it wasn't what I found myself thinking about the most. I kept thinking about home. I liked to imagine what my family was doing every second of the day. I tried to imagine them all glued to the television, but sadly I was painfully realistic about it. Both Mom and Dad were always keeping themselves busy. I don't see why that would change just because I was in the Hunger Games. They had both always made it known they knew one of us could get reaped. My oldest brother, Eric, was probably doing something that involved him. Even the two siblings I was close with, Chase and Arianna, were probably trying to watch the absolute minimal. I know that if one of them were in here, I wouldn't be able to take it. There's no way I could just sit and watch for hours on end as they went through this.
I readied myself to ask her what she thought her family was doing, when I heard something. A soft humming sound met my ear. I listened closely and realized it was a merry little tune.
"Who the hell hums in the Hunger Games?" I asked, looking at Char.
She looked at me in confusion, but realization colored her face when she heard it as well.
"Hide?" she asked.
I nodded and stood up. We quickly began to pack our supplies and I attached the claws to my hands. I swung a pack over my shoulder and Char picked up the metal ball.
Suddenly, the doors flew open. I looked in the archway and saw a small child standing there.
"I found you!" she squealed.
I felt my feet lift of the floor and I yelled in surprise, "Wha-"
Blinding pain spread through my body as I heard the little girl trill, "Tag!"
Char let out a scream and my head was slammed into the ceiling. I looked down and saw the little girl was giggling as she made certain hand motions.
"The hands!" I managed to groan.
Char swiftly began to spin her rope around and flicked it towards the girl. It encircled one of her arms and she gave a hard pull. The girl's arm pulled away and I felt the pain leave as I plummeted to the ground. I screamed in agony when I hit the floor as the pain became almost unbearable.
I looked up and saw a chair was thrown straight at Char, hitting her in the head. I tried to stand up, but the pain was immobilizing if I even attempted to move my arms.
I saw the girl was standing above me now, her brows furrowed.
"I'm bored with this game," she stated.
"Great," I gasped.
I knew Char and I weren't going to catch a break. I should never have even thought that today would be peaceful and relaxing.
"Oh I know!" she squealed, "We should have a tea party! I love tea parties!"
She began to prance away as she sang, "I'll make the invitations and everyone can dress up! All my new playmates can come! Oh, it will be so much fun!"
I heard the door click shut and I called out, "Char?"
"I'm here," she replied as she stumbled towards me.
"I can't get up," I heard myself whimper, "My arms…"
"Dislocated," she interrupted, "I've seen it happen before in District Ten. This is going to hurt."
"Just do it," I gritted.
I shut my eyes and let the pain wash over me as she gripped my left arm. Without even counting down, she forced my bones back to the appropriate places and I involuntarily barked. I heard her move over to my right side. She barely touched the arm and it felt like a thousand needles were being stabbed into my body.
"Stop," I gasped, overcome by the sudden pain.
"This isn't right," she immediately said, "It's not dislocated but…"
I used my injured, but still functional, arm to prop myself up against an end table. I struggled to stay conscious as my right arm flopped lazily to my side. Char was right, my arm wasn't dislocated. Instead, it was twisted at such an angle that my elbow was pointed inwards slightly.
"She broke it, somewhere in this region," I murmured, motioning to the area between my elbow and shoulder.
"What do we do?" Char asked. I could hear the panic rising in her voice.
"We make a sling and put my arm in it," I stated, "Can you make one?"
"Yes… I think I can," she replied shakily as she grappled at our knapsack.
I worked through the pain to pull my zipper down. I slowly extracted my broken arm from the sleeve of the suit, groaning every second of the process.
"Use the sleeve," I murmured as I watched shadows dance across my eyes.
I could feel her cutting away at the fabric and heard the ripping of something else. After a few minutes, Char lightly moved my broken arm into her makeshift sling.
"You're shaking," I groaned as she lifted me onto a nearby couch, "and bleeding."
She raised her hand to her scalp and felt her wound.
"Just a scratch," she replied as she forced a laugh.
She didn't meet my gaze.
"It's my turn to take watch. Go to sleep before you pass out from the pain."
"Either way I'll be out. Plus, they only hurt when I, you know, use them," I joked.
She slinked over to the fire and sat down. My thoughts were clouded and I felt exhausted after that incident. For some reason, I couldn't grasp why Char was panicking. It seemed stupid to me because I was fine.
Then I got it. I wasn't fine. I was surprised I hadn't realized it the second I hit the ground. There were eleven tributes left. I couldn't move one arm and the other was barely functional. I couldn't fight, eat, or even move properly by myself. Char was panicking because, in the flick of a wrist, I was useless. I went from her ally to her liability in seconds.
Before I could truly comprehend my own thoughts, another wave of exhaustion crashed into me. Panic was rising up, filling every part of me. My mind flitted to home and how I was supposed to get there. How was I supposed to do anything? The panic turned into darkness.
Then the nothingness swallowed me whole.
"Interesting," I whispered as I examined the creature before me.
Late this afternoon, one of my traps was set off. I left the inner room in the attic and found some sort of doll caught in a tangle of wires. It looked at me with empty, glass eyes as I cut it down. However, as soon as it was free, it sprang to life and attempted to escape. It ran into another trap and we went through the same scenario. However, this time, when it hit the floor I grabbed both of its arms and dragged it to the back room. I strapped it down onto a table and have been taking it apart ever since.
I placed its right arm back on the table and stepped towards the window. In the time passing since I exacted my revenge on Apollo, I had all but disappeared from the games. I spent days wandering the underground laboratory, minding my own business for the most part. I had made it out with an excess amount of time and missed whatever massacre occurred. I searched the mansion and made a crude layout of it. I used this layout to determine the safest place to create a base of operations and located this attic space. I then created several traps and waited, depleting almost all of my supplies as the days went by.
I gazed out the window and spotted the attic space across the courtyard. Pink curtains hung from it and I could see a small figure dancing about.
There seemed to be some sort of little girl who resided in this manor. Whether she was a doll or not I had not deducted, but it did not matter. She was not a tribute so she was not my concern.
I glanced at the doll that was now in pieces. She had no obvious wiring or mechanics. Slicing through her shell was just cutting up wood. It was as if she worked by magic.
That was impossible and illogical, but I could not find anything indicating she was robotic or organic. She was, in all actuality, a life-size wooden doll that could move.
I walked to the entrance of the small room and pushed the door open slightly. I squeezed through the doorway and between two wooden crates. I swiftly collected the remaining wire from the used traps and brought it back with me into my shelter.
"I wish you could talk," I stated as I shut the door behind me, "Then I could ask you questions."
The doll's head lolled slightly towards me. No emotion was spread across its face.
"Would you like to hear something amusing?" I asked.
I didn't wait for a response as I continued, "Before I entered these games, I was looking forward to toying with the tributes. Psychological warfare has always been my game, but I was excited to be able to inflict physical harm. I wanted to know how they would respond to both stimuli at the same time. It was simply an experiment I would conduct on my way to victory."
The doll gazed at me with a look that told me it was not amused.
"I haven't gotten to it yet," I scolded as I began carving a doodle into the table with a knife.
"The amusing part is I have not conducted this experiment on a single person. I used psychological attacks on several tributes. I used it on Devon, and therefore Ruth, before the games even started. I used it on almost every Career. I even used it on Admyer and Winnifred to make sure they would not attack me. However, even with all this manipulation and harm, I did not once inflict any physical wound to any tribute myself. Unless you count the trap that killed Oceana, but I didn't even get to talk to her before that happened."
I picked up the doll's leg and began to saw through it as I stated, "Isn't that most amusing, Miss Dolly?"
Miss Dolly gazed at me in what I assumed was confusion, although I could not tell since her face was painted on.
"I have bestowed you with the name Miss Dolly. I find it quite fitting."
"You know," I continued, "We have several factors in common. We both do not show emotion. We both do not feel emotion. We're both above that."
I examined the severed leg, still seeing no circuitry.
"You are obviously wondering why I have not sliced your head open to find an electrical system. The reasoning is that if your main processor is in your skull, you still need to be able to communicate with your limbs. Perhaps it is in your torso."
I stepped away from the table and moved to the window again.
"You will most likely look down on me for saying this, but it is nice to have someone to talk to. Oddly enough, I have been feeling lonely since I left the Careers. Even after the death of Thomas, the Careers were adequate when it came to socializing. That and I was extremely focused on ruining Apollo."
I turned towards Miss Dolly and smiled, "I know I broke him, just like he broke me. But, do not worry, I'm fixed. Thomas, he brought out a side of me that was best left dormant. After leaving the Careers, I thought through the emotions I was feeling and they dissipated. I am fully back to who I was before I met Thomas."
I walked back to Miss Dolly and began to play with her chestnut hair.
"Which means I can conduct my experiment. Thomas was a skilled inventor and had a passion for experiments and research. Even though he never had the heart to perform my experiments himself, he understands some things need to be done. Plus, it doesn't hurt knowing I'm going to enjoy it."
I slowly began to saw along Miss Dolly's hairline.
"Apollo will be hunting me down for revenge. As will Leith, Ruth, and Asita. Cami will look for me because she dislikes me and the two from five will come find me because they are curious creatures."
I let out a small cackle as I forced back her scalp, "I believe that gives me plenty of test subjects. Test subjects who will walk into my traps blindly. Oh, and do not fret. If they do not find me, I will certainly find them."
I examined her skull, disappointed by the lack of wiring.
Darkness cloaked the room as a cloud covered the moon. Wherever they go, I will be waiting. The second they step into the dark, they will be trapped.
Hey guys! So here's the next chapter, I really hope you enjoy it :D I know, no deaths but I decided to take these first two chapters to really make sure everyone knew how the tributes were doing and where they were at after that massacre. Don't worry, blood will be flying pretty soon ;) which actually makes me really sad, because at this point I don't want anyone to die ever xD would you guys be upset if we had eleven victors this year xD
Anyways, jot down a review if you would be so kind to and I'll see you soon!