A/N I am so so so sorry. I can't believe how long I have prolonged this chapter. I'm a terrible person for doing this (ducks from hurtling objects). Oh God... Well here it is!
"Well this is uncomfortable."
The mowed grass sways with the swirling winds, the sun slowly disappearing from the converging clouds. The puffy clouds form into stormy gray ones, and I know for a fact from my days of hunting that rain will be coming soon. Usually because of the way the Capitol is situated in between vast mountains, storms rarely come past the fortress. And if the occasional whirlwind comes through, the Capitol uses its technology to annihilate it. How odd that the Capitol would allow this one to come through.
Despite the steadily developing squall, Finnick Odair and Peeta both are playing dodgeball with a deflated spongy toy one of the Avoxes had thrown at Finnick earlier, after he had tried a very splashy cannonball into the pool us victors all share, and had caused several Avoxes to leave us alone, indifferent to my desperate pleas for them to not leave me alone with the two idiots.
The same two idiots are now lounging on the chairs beside me, breathless from their fight. Peeta and Finnick are both soaked head to toe, because right after Finnick had yelled, "CANNONBALL," Finnick had to come out and push a very surprised Peeta in. Along with a very angry Katniss.
I sit huddled in my towel, the bathing suit I changed into uncomfortably clinging to my body. Peeta flashes me a smile as I shake out my wet hair like a dog. Finnick smirks at me, and his eyes flit away and land on a petite brunette girl victor walking towards us, oblivious.
"Hey Annie," Finnick says, a touch of raw emotion cracking his voice. Her sea green eyes flash and abruptly she turns around, shaking her head and murmuring under her breath. Finnick stares after her, but then quickly masks his emotions when he sees me watching him, so a fake grin is plastered on his face.
"What's uncomfortable kitty kat?" I groan at the nickname Finnick had first greeted me with. I may even like Catnip better.
"My name is Katniss. Not kitty kat!"
"What ever keeps you asleep at night, kitty kat," Finnick smirks, then winces once he realizes what he said. Not even legendary Finnick Odair can keep away from the nightmares.
The quick change of emotion that flickers over his face evokes the memory of what Finnick had said that rattled me the most.
"What do you think of all this? President Snow making us live in Victor's Lane?" Peeta comes to my rescue after a long uneasy pause.
Finnick just smiles a tight fake grin, and pops another sugar cube into his mouth. "I know it's just one of those Capitol's tricks," Finnick waves Peeta off. "Soon you'll find out the Capitol controls everything. You try to get used to it." I glance at Peeta and raise my eyebrows, wondering if he caught the hidden meaning in his words.
Soon you'll find out the Capitol controls everything. You try to get used to it.
"Earth to Katniss," Finnick snaps his finger in front of me, arousing me from my memory.
I swat his hand away, and seek Peeta's instead. He intwines his hand in mine, and I smile inwardly. I can always count on his friendship.
An uproar of wind and resounding thunder tumult around us. I hold my hand up to block any debris flying around.
"Let's get out of here!" I push Peeta and Finnick roughly into the roofed platform beside the pool that leads to the District Victor Enrolling Building, made specifically for us, the moving victors, to sign into and recieve the keys to our new homes. Rain begins to fall in icy sheets, battering down on the ground with loud splattering sounds. Peeta shields my face from the blasting wind and hurriedly rushes towards the steel closed doors in the front of the building. But his prosthetic leg, that he has yet to get used to, twists and suddenly he jerks out of my sight and his back falls harshly to the ground, a broken cry echoing across the empty streets where the victors and Avoxes have been leaked out into the receiving building.
"Peeta!" I grab ahold of his arm before any damage can be done to his head. But I'm too late, and his head lolls to the side, his body completely limp. Desperately, I search for anyone to help me carry him inside, when I feel a firm, but cold hand press against my shoulder.
"I'll bring him in, Katniss. You need to get home, before the storm can stop you. It's fine," Finnick says distantly, an almost cool touch seeping in. I'm about to shake my head no, but abruptly I feel compelled to follow his directions. I nod twice, slowly, before sloshing off into the direction of my home in Victor's Lane, situated at the very end of Victor's Lane, near the top of the slope. When I have already reached the brass door knob, and am reaching out to turn it, I realize what had just happened.
Why did you just let go of Peeta? You don't trust Finnick that much, do you? I ask myself. Cursing from my sheer stupidity, I pivot quickly into the opposite direction, intending to confront Finnick directly, and order him to let me bring Peeta back myself. But a booming thunder clap reverberates high in the sky, and the rain begins to poor rapidly, a deluge of water seeping towards me in the streets. If this storm gets any worse, you won't be able to go anywhere at all. Frustrated with the complication at hand, I groan and rest my forehead against the freshly painted oak doors. Now it's your fault if Peeta dies, because you left him alone... But not completely isolated. No, he has Finnick to help him. But is the notorious Finnick Odair really to be trusted? Are any of us that have survived through the Games able to be counted on? I have not yet decided.
Now that I have prevented myself from reaching Peeta, I may as well enter my new house and not stand out here in the freezing cold, with only a bathing suit and sandals on. I insert my key in the lock and fumble with the knob with my wet hands. The strong wind snatches the door out of my hand and slams it against the wall. It takes almost all my strength to close it against the pressure of the tempest, and as soon as I close it the rain begins to come in a pounding downpour, beating noisily against the windows, as if trying to follow me in.
The lights are dim, with only the most obvious things visible. I trace the wall with my fingertips, searching for any light switches. Luckily, I find one right away and flick it on, instead of crashing through the house blindly. The mansion seems much more isolated and mammoth than it had been before, despite the fact right next to me lives a fellow victor, with only a small square garden and courtyard in between. The spacious living room is cleared out with only the couch Haymitch had been lying on earlier, a rectangular coffee table, a dusty lamp, the crackling fireplace, and the silent as stone television. A small urn filled with unnaturally scented roses is placed in the middle of the table. Beside it lays a white sheet of paper. I lean closer to see what secrets it holds.
The paper is a laid out plan for the design of the mansion, with each secret passage and hidden corridor marked in. It also shows that each corridor and hidden door is sealed closed, with no way to enter. So you remember where you are at all times, is written on the corner in neat script. I scrutinize the map for other noticeably important things. The only rooms that are open is the office where President Snow sat, the living room I am now in, three of the bathrooms, three of the bedrooms besides the one Peeta and I are to share, a dining room, the small library in the back, the filled kitchen, and several other small unconcealed rooms that are easy to be found.
The roses. The plan for the mansion. The storm that the Capitol had let in. All of it leads to something I'm missing just right out of my grasp, a message that is crucial. Why else would I feel they are all connected? Maybe you're just imaging the whole thing. You're just tired from finding out you are living here instead of District 12. The eerie quiet of the dark house seems to overwhelm me, and I decide to just run up the staircase and go to the hallway that leads to the massive bedroom to take a warm bath. Afterwards, I could make some hot chocolate in the kitchen, and hope the storm has cleared a bit.
I dart up to my room and quickly change out of the bathing suit and comb out my hair with my fingers. I stand in the tiled shower stall completely naked, the warm spray splattering all over my chilled body. I begin to press random buttons to try and discern what does what, but it backfires on me and copious amounts of strong fragrances and scented oils spurt out at me, my mouth suddenly occupied with foul tastes. I spurt out the stuff and quickly rinse myself off and step out onto the mat right outside the shower stall. The mat blow-dries me entirely, and smooths out my hair. I finger the loose strands into my trademark dark braid, while programming an outfit of my taste. The outcome is sturdy leather boots, jeans, and a warm long sleeved shirt. I also pick a thick coat with a nice hood. I notice the silver mouthpiece by my bed, and decide to order a steamy mug of hot chocolate. The hot liquid burns my tongue, but I drink it down all the way before stopping. Hmmmm. Yummy.
I think I deserve a bit of pampering after my time in the Games.
The red drapes reveal a window that shows a full panorama of the shining Capitol. Trees that are planted on the perimeter of the house sway in the rough winds. Not a soul wanders out in the open streets with a storm like this. There's a clap of thunder, and I catch a glimpse of lightning striking one of the pads the Capitol has laid out in case of an emergency storm or fire. The ground seems to shake, as if the very storm was as strong to cause an earthquake. I've never experienced an earthquake, but I once watched a Capitol special on natural disasters and how Panem had been created from all the destruction.
My mind seems to wander from the television program to District 12, and soon after Prim and Gale. I wonder how Prim and my mother are coping with how I had just gotten out of the Games and won't see me for another few months. I hope they are now living in the Victor's Village, where I was supposed to live. I picture Prim watching the television nonstop, just waiting for a glimpse of my face. Most likely there are hidden microphones and cameras placed in here. Maybe I'm even being featured on screens right now, despite the fact that I'm hardly being entertaining. And then there's Gale.
He must be angry with the whole world right about now.
I imagine his smoldering face, his features turned into a raging glare. I hear his tirade about how unfair the whole thing is, that the Capitol is just manipulating us once again. I bet he's in the forest right now, trying to figure out how to get me back home.
Which may very well be impossible.
I refill my cup with more hot chocolate and tread silently downstairs. I pass by several other hallways, and each one is blocked off by either copious amounts of tape or plastered shut. The kitchen is as cluttered and bright as I remember, with no obvious alterations. Really there is no need for the countless baking supplies, all you have to do is order a dish from the expensive venue and with a press of a button your food appears. The thought of the bizarre Capitol citizens using the device every day makes me want to throw up with disgust.
Frantic for a diversion, I cross into the living room where I plop down onto the cozy couch. I switch the lamp light on and wrap a fuzzy pink blanket around my shoulders before I feel the need to just cry. To let all the pain and abject misery of going through the Games out. I unleash a small choked sound from my throat, when the pull is so great I just let the sobs go. My whole body is racked with uncontrollable tremors. The whole system is unfair! How could sweet Prim live in this terrible world? If the Capitol thinks they are just going to rob me of my future without a fight they are wrong! My heart longs for Prim's comforting gaze that is filled with innocence. I even miss my mother's steady arms that would wrap around mine, finally being there with the family and helping out. Gale's strong and safe presence that is always watching my back, always keeping me safe. I yearn for District 12, despite the way it's never been a kind place to me. But it's my home, and it will never be replaced by the Capitol in a thousand years.
I hastily wipe the streaming tears away and try to settle down. I know I'll never be able to sleep, unless I wish to be plagued by memories of the Games. So instead I grab the remote and activate the wide screen television. The black screen lights up and a blue haired, purple skinned reporter appears, talking about the windstorm. In the background I see tall skyscrapers alit with sparkling lights and drizzling rain showering over. I'm intrigued so I turn up the volume.
"Sources say that the Capitol is spicing up the special night which the victors are arriving with a special orchestrated storm! All of the Capitol citizens are now having parties at their homes with the lights turned off, having fun with this new experience! Why, you ask? Well who wouldn't want to have fun with this new fiery trend? This was inspired by none other than the girl on fire! Congratulations to Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark for being the victors of the 74th Hunger Games! May the odds be ever in your favor!" Her squeaky Capitol accent is cut off when I extinguish the power of the television.
A new fiery trend? A new volatile way to cause death and repel the loyalty of the Districts more likely. The Capitol couldn't get any more stranger and grotesque. I'm surprised they haven't invented a machine that creates tornadoes where they can be swept up in the air. What fun.
I lean back into the couch and press my back into the firm pillows, trying to relax. I close my eyes and try to avoid thinking of Rue's lifeless body or Cato's bloody demise...
I hear a loud crack outside the window. I jump up from the sofa and stare at the wild motion outside. Then I notice something odd. I creep closer to the window and through the opaque glass I discern the barely noticeable outline of a figure.
I scramble from the window and turn off the lamp light with a soft click. My pulse quickens and adrenaline courses through me. This must be an effect that happens after the Games. You always watch your back and never trust anyone. Anything remotely close to danger comes out as threatening. But who would be out here on a night like this? I'm just hallucinating. I'm not really hearing the heavy tread of footsteps slap across the pavement outside of my house. It's not real at all.
But my instincts say otherwise.
I decide to go into the kitchen and see if there are any knives that I could use as a weapon. I'm probably just overreacting, but it's better safe than sorry. I pull open random drawers and search for any knives that might look menacing. In the bottom of the large countertop is a small drawer that contains an impressive array of knives. Some of them are dull butter knives, but one has a wicked curved edge that looks pretty sinister. I take that one and another less masterly knife and stick in my boots, just in case.
Tiptoeing has always been a speciality of mine. All those years of hunting illegally in the forest outside of District 12 has become handy. When you're looking for prey in the forest, you have to be careful for twigs that snap loudly and the crunch of leaves. But here in carpeted hallways with dim lighting it's a snap.
The living room bares no sign of disturbance besides the blankets tossed to the side of the room. But there is something eerie about the whole thing. Then I get that queer feeling that something or someone is watching me. Slowly I move my head to the side and stare at the window in shock. My jaw drops and my eyes almost bulge enough to fall off my head.
Because directly outside the window is a pair of eyes.
That are staring right at me.
And I recognize them.
A/N I would say I'm sorry for ending it right there, but I'd be lying...
So The Hunger Games movie is coming out in four days. FOUR DAYS! I know, it's crazy, it seems like just yesterday they had casted Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, our beloved heroine. What is your most anticipated moment of The Hunger Games movie? The interview between Caesar Flickerman and Peeta? The moment Peeta tells Katniss he's loved her since he first heard her sing that valley song on the first day of school? Katniss finally killing Cato with her arrow? I think I'm most looking forward to the part where Katniss sings the lullaby to Rue. Because that's the point in the story where she decides to take revenge on the Capitol for taking away such an innocent soul. It's where she decides to fight.