a/n [Takes place after the reading of the card for the 75th Games.]
Everyone has that place in there heart where everything is exactly perfect to his or her perspective. The air is tainted with a mixture of your favorite scents that shouldn't work well together but they do. Where the ground beneath you is as hard or soft, or as smooth or furry as you want it. The sky is bright with clouds that look like shapeless blobs to everyone but you. Where the sun is neither too bright nor too dim. Where you could play or think or profession anything you like. Where a spark of happiness is waiting to be ignited. Sadly, I have yet to find that place. And I don't think I will ever reach a place of such bliss.
How can one feel happy when there is no more reason? When all need is gone? Do you just stop and die right there? Surely no one would care, but there is still a need for survival. That is a need I have fulfilled all the way. And I never plan on becoming behind the task to face the problem ahead of you. Right now the task is simple: advance, abscond, stand in place. That has always been the task. The only difficult part of the task is deciding when each part must be taken out. And each part must be taken out with a plan so thoroughly thought out and planned and cheated. That is the plan right now.
Advance. Win. Deprive others of their loved ones and come back to no one. Abscond. Fail. Don't even bother trying, and let the weapon enter my heart. Stand in place. Learn my toll. Decide the best decision and follow through without flaw. Yes, that is the one. I will observe, and hope I play my cards right. In a few months, when I'm called up to the stage and sent to the capital, I will stand in place. Winning is no longer an option. Winning has never been an option, though. Winning is just how everything turns out. Some lose and some win. I just happen to win. But now I will be against others who have the odds entirely in their favor as well.
"Johanna Mason!" the small woman calls out, her high voice echoing off the quiet streets. My head jerks from my somewhat peaceful rest in the chair I refused to believe was as comfortable as it was. I blink my eyes a few times before stretching slowly and making most of the district wait even longer. I continue to stretch anyway though; it's not my fault the stupid capital lady took five minutes to pull out the slip of paper that everyone already knew contained my name.
The peacekeepers step towards me, but I continue to take my time. I know they won't use force; they need a female tribute from District 7. Finally one grabs my arm to lightly haul me up while I was twisting my neck around. I oblige and step forward, but take small, slow steps up to center stage. When I do reach 7's escort, Tiffany Tarot, she huffs in annoyance in my face before marching off to choose the male tribute. I look over at the other victors that 7 has had in the past 75 years. There's Brent Cardinal with the red hair and gentle brown eyes; he was my mentor not so many years ago. Next to him is Fletcher Tanner, the victor from about thirty years ago. Last is Blight Burbank, the middle-aged man who won the game by just hiding and waiting for the others to die off. Only one other victor has come from 7, but she's dead now.
I turn to the audience only to see them with eyes fixated on Tiffany. Stupid old Tiffany who has been the escort for over thirty years, but still looks like age twenty. Her green hair and equally colored eyes, dress, shoes, make-up (yes, even lipstick), and nails make me want to barf. The color is so repulsive it looks like barf. At last her eerily filed fingernails find a slip of paper that seems decent enough to read. So she does. Once in her mind, the second out loud, she reads the name, "Blight Burbank!" into the microphone. He makes his way to the stage with his limp that seems to never fade. When Tiffany tells us to shake hands I decide my options, and choose to agree. His hand feels warm in mine, his eyes kind but afraid. I'm afraid that my eyes look no different. Yippee, I've reentered the games.
I sit with my feet on the headrest and my head hanging below the seat of the chair. Finnick looks at me quizzically, but I shrug it off. For some reason Haymitch told us to come to this room, sorry, closet. It was big for a closet, I'll admit that, but it wasn't that roomy. Almost immediately I figured out that there were no cameras in the room, which would make sense because this is Haymitch we're talking about. Right now Finnick and I were sitting in two of the chairs provided for whatever reason. The third was still unoccupied since Haymitch has insisted to never show up anywhere on time. Soon I was wiggling my feet quite dramatically to pass the time. I stopped though when my foot got a bit to close to Finnick's head, and he fell out of the chair trying to dodge it. I kept back my laughter, but a smile still spread on my face, making Finnick huff in arrogance.
Then the door opened to reveal a not as drunk as usual Haymitch. As he made the way to his seat he pushed my feet downward, causing me to turn so my head was where it should be. I glared at him, but he ignored me, which just turned my glare harder. "Listen up, kids," Haymitch starts. I open my mouth to comment, but he continues before I get the chance. "Right here, right now, we're going to start the planning for a rebellion." Then he waits to see our reactions. Finnick's is basically overly shocked. I just look bored. In truth, my insides are squirming with excitement.
"Sign me up," I tell him.
"You're already signed up," Haymitch informs me. Then he turns to Finnick. "Both of you."
Finnick just nods after a few seconds of a thinking state that must have taken out all he has. "What do we do?" he asks.
"Simple," Haymitch answers. "Just keep the boy and girl alive."
Great, so here I am, standing on a stupid silver plate in the middle of a stupid lake in the middle of a stupid jungle. To top it all off I had to protect a stupid girl by teaming up with the District 3 idiots if I wanted to go home alive. Really, my mood just couldn't get any better. I looked at the tributes on either side of me. To my right was Nuts, just perfect. To my left was Chaff from District 11. I sighed and counted trees in the background until the minute had passed and we could run for supplies. Well, in this case it was more like swim for supplies, but at the moment that seemed like a minor detail. Truthfully, I was running for a few feet before I even broke surface and had to swim the rest of the way.
When I got the Cornucopia the bloodbath had already started. I wasn't the first one there, I wasn't that good at swimming, but some people hadn't even left the plates. Like Nuts for example. With a quick glance around the Cornucopia I realized there were only weapons. I sighed, and grabbed a couple without really looking to see if I grabbed the blade or handle or whatever. A spear flew over my head and grabbed that, too.
Somehow I managed to grab Nuts and Volts, and head over to the jungle. The trees were closer together than I had first thought. Not entirely trusting them to care for themselves I dragged the 3 tributes with me as far as I could go. It didn't help that Blight just trudged along. Does he care anymore? Eventually I had to stop. When I did, Nuts fell to the ground from exhaustion, and Volts sat down at the base of the tree at my feet. This is as far as the rebellion plan took us. Next step: meet up with Finnick, Mags, Katniss, and Peeta. That is if they were all still alive. No, I had to reach them before someone dropped dead. Well, maybe if the girl dropped dead… No, she was the stupid star of the rebellion. So I had to advance. But right now I was just so tired.
I unwounded the wire that was supposedly going to help us. I wanted to believe it, I really did, but this seemed like such a stretch. And Volts acted like he was in on some secret. This was more than just a coil of wire. After about ten minutes the girl offers that she takes the coil. I'm not one to argue with that so I hand it to her. Not a second after, the wire bunches up around our hands and the end curls at our feet. Someone has cut the coil. And by the looks of it, they aren't too far away. I share a look with Katniss when I realize she's going to make a run for it. Probably wants me to follow her too. I think for a second. Advance, abscond, stay in place? Stay in place.
But not entirely, because I need to act now or die. Or more likely have the girl die. I know that the latter is unacceptable. Without really thinking I take the coil and hit it against the girl's head. She walks around in a dizzy matter making more noise than she would if she were running away. I can't have that. Easily I push her down and position myself over her, ready to take out her tracker so the gamemakers can't find her. The plan fails when she tries to sit up. I huff in annoyance and position myself over her chest so that my knees pin down her shoulders. I grab her wrist to pull her arm straight, and dig the tip of my knife in the same spot where I was injected with the tracker. But that isn't the only goal here.
I have to make her look dead so that the Brutus and Enobaria wouldn't get to her any more than I had. I twisted the knife clockwise, waited, and then repeated in the other direction. Once I was sure that the tracker had run out with her blood I sat back to examine my work. Sure, there was a lot of blood, but she didn't look like she was on death's doorstep. I wiped some blood off of her arm and onto her face. There, now she looked almost dead.
The footsteps were much, much closer now. Almost upon me. I already knew to abscond; there was no second opinion on that. But before I exited the clearing I took one last look at the girl from 12. The second that the two Careers entered the clearing I was gone. Where had I gone? I don't know, all I knew was that I couldn't stop running from that place. No matter where I ran I would be in danger. This was the Hunger Games after all.
I don't know how much time passed, but the next thing I know I'm on the ground and the sky is lit up with amazing colors. I close my eyes for what I wish will be the last time. I deserve to die now, anyway.
When I wake up the water is already to my chest. My eyes blast open at the sudden coldness, and adrenaline takes over my tired body. I was sitting in a chair made of hard metal. I wince at the thoughts of last night's torture. Never in m life had I hated the capital more. Each and every hair was ripped from my head. It was in small clumps, big enough to hurt greatly, but small enough so that they could keep this up for another hour. My screams echoed through the white room with blood stained tiles. When the torturers had finished I was thrown against the chair with no mercy. Not like I expected any. A new cut formed on my scalp and I slowly wept myself into unconsciousness.
They must have set me up into the chair over night. Or maybe it was morning, I didn't know any more. All I knew was that the water was now about to close over my nose so I jerked to a standing position. The water was coming in fast, through jets hidden in the walls I think. Soon I'm forced to swim, but currents take me under and pull me up without any conscious duty on my part. Then the electric currents entered my body. I was reminded of that night in the arena (or was it day?); where that was Beetee's plan to kill off Brutus and Enobaria. So maybe this was it, the capital was killing me off. But I knew better than that, they would want to keep me alive until I tried every type of torture they could think of. In the room next to me Peeta screamed. I wonder what they were doing to him? I didn't have much time to ponder the thought because I blacked out when the water was filled with more electric currents.
My breaths are shallow, my lungs are going to explode any second now. Scratch that, they already have gone out and by some miracle I'm still alive. Or am I? I open my eyes. Yes, I am alive. The stupid military woman is yelling at me to do more push-ups. If she thinks this is so easy, why isn't she doing them too? Though right now my brain is too injured to answer my own question. On my tenth or something push-up I lower myself and collapse on the rough ground. The curses escape my mouth instantly. Slowly, but hesitantly, I lift myself back up to get onto the running exercises. Just one more hour and I'll be in my private session. I wince; this reminds me all to much of the sadistic games. The newfound hatred pushes me to go even farther.
In the room outside of the training I wait patiently for my turn. Okay, maybe I'm not that patient, but can you blame me? Finally, it's my turn.
The room is very similar to the other training areas I've been in. This will be cake. I take off at a slow pace; shooting the fake peacekeepers that dare get too close. I smile as one falls off its stand into the street below. Even though it's all fake, I enjoy killing the dummies. After a while of walking around killing fake people I'm filled with anxiety. When are they going to target my weakness? After another minute I'm wondering if they think my weakness is patience or something, when the water rushes in from the street in front of me. It reminds me of the capital and I turn to run.
I only cover a few feet before the water rushes in from every direction around me. Even coming from jets many feet above the ground. My body starts to shake as I realize I'm trapped. The water reaches my feet and I can no longer hold it in. I crumple to the ground with my scream echoing around me.
A cat. It reminds me of the hideous one that lives in the Everdeen apartment. Katniss showed me it once. A flower. I remember the field of multicolored ones from my Games. I shake. Maybe looking at pictures in the ceiling isn't the best of ideas. A squeak reaches my ears and I flinch. They really need to oil the door. I turn my head slowly to see Katniss entering the room. Her hands are behind her back. She takes them out and I see a small white bundle. My eyes narrow in confusion. She places the bundle in my hands, and I smell a slight nature scent. I bring the white pack to my nose and yes; the smell of pine is coming through the sack. My eyes close in a minute of bliss.
Bliss. I find myself escaping to the little happy place that has been hidden from my eyes for years. The trees block most of the sun, but the warmth reaches my skin. I breathe in the pine and mint and a smell that is familiar but I can't quite recall the name. Wait, cinnamon I think it's called. Music is ringing through my ears. It's a piano. I find that I like the sounds a piano makes. I walk, I don't where, but I need to find the person playing the piano. The music leads me into a clearing. I smile widely at the bright birds flying from tree to tree. I fall back into the damp grass. This is that blissful place I've always thought about. Well you know what? It's even more wonderful then I ever could have imagined. It's my own bittersweet bliss.