The hovercraft ride back to our sleeping quarters was long and quiet for the most part. Peeta sat next to me, Rue and Thresh directly across from us. The boy from district 3 sat next to Peeta. I learned earlier that his name is Arnold.
"So what di you guys do today?" asked Rue with a big smile.
"I sunbathed." Said Thresh. I was forced to stifle a laugh. His skin is already so dark. Rue giggled anyway.
"I had to trump around all day with those jerks." Muttered Peeta.
"I know! That was pointless. In real life I would never do that." Added Arnold.
"What did you do Katniss?" asked Rue with her hands placed firmly on her knees. Her childish posture reminded me of Prim.
"I ran through the woods and climbed a tree." My response seemed boring compared to Thresh's joke and Peeta's complaint.
"I climbed trees too!" chirped the little tribute.
"I think we're here." Says Arnold when the hovercraft begins to slow and descend. My hands burn from climbing up and down that oak tree for take after take. Apparently I'm not the best actress and the director made me do the same thing like five times. I came close to punching him in the jaw. I wasn't surprised to see Peeta flowing through his parts like no body's business. He knows how to work the crowd, and he sure does know how to act.
"Well we can't go to bed just yet." Said Rue as she hopped up from her seat. "I overheard the director talking about how they had to scan our bodies or something like that." Scan our bodies?
The hovercraft gently landed on the ground. Some capitol attendants appeared to help us out of the hovercraft. I couldn't exactly tell where we were. Everything is too dark. The only light I see is light coming from the hovercraft.
"Follow me to the visualization laboratory." Says one of the attendants.
"Is that where you're going to scan our bodies?" squeal Rue jumping out from behind Peeta. The attendant doesn't respond, but just keeps marching foreword into the darkness. I feel my gut begin to turn with anticipation.
"Where are the other tributes?" asks Thresh.
"You are the last to arrive." Says the attendant. I realize now that she's a woman. Their clothes do a very good job of keeping their appearance gender neutral and they must have some sort of device that they speak through because she sounds like a robot when she talks.
"Why is it so dark?" asks Arnold sounding slightly scared. Once again there is no response. The knot in my gut tightens.
"So you don't talk much do you?" asks Peeta. The attendant doesn't respond.
We walk for about ten minutes along a cobblestone path before the cobblestone is replaces with hard metal. Dimly lit lights line the walls. So we're in a hallway now?
"Prepare your eyes." Says the attendant.
"Prepare our eyes?" we all seem to ask in unison as she opens a door to my left. Bright light pours into the hallway and I'm nearly blind. I feel the tears sliding down my cheeks when my hands fly up to cover my scorched eyes from the intense light.
"She told you to cover your eyes." Says a familiar voice. My hands find the wall quickly and I'm forced to lean on it.
"Of course those pathetic tributes wouldn't think fast enough to cover their eyes." Says another familiar voice.
"Holy fuck!" calls out Thresh somewhere behind me. Thankfully I'm not the only one who didn't cover their eyes quick enough.
"If you don't try to open your eyes you won't get used to it." Who is there? I force my hands away from my eyes. It hurts terribly but I open my eyes slowly. I see the white floor, and my feet. The pain is almost unbearable before it disappears. I blink several times to make sure that this is true. The painful light is no longer painful, now it's just normal light. I turn around to see the others still crumbling in pain.
"Open your eyes!" I tell them. "The pain will stop if you just force yourself to open yours eyes."
"Look at fire girl taking the leadership role." I immediately realize who that is. Cato.
Peeta has to force his hands away from his eyes as well. It takes him a few seconds but he manages to open his eyes just long enough for the pain to disappear. He goes through the same action I did, blinking as if it's not true, then looking back at the others. Arnold has now open his eyes as well.
"What is that?" asks Peeta as his head spins back around to face me.
"I don't know. That was too weird though." Says Thresh. His large hands now rubbing his eyes in disbelief that the pain could disappear that quickly. Rue just walks past us into the white room.
"It's about time you people got here." Says the first voice again. I turn around to see all of the other character tributes sitting along the white walls in white plush waiting chairs similar to ones I think I saw at a capitol train station, but I'm not sure.
"What is this?" asks Peeta.
"Just take a seat lover boy. It's not you're turn yet." Says Clove. I realize now that the first voice was her. "They aren't even done scanning Glimmer yet."
"Scanning?" I almost don't recognize my own voice.
"You know. The visualization step. Are you stupid?" spits Clove. "What did you think we're going to do our own stunts and get cut in half or have an arm chopped off for real?" The thought hits me as soon as she utters her last sentence. I guess I never thought about that part. "They scan us in our hunger games apparel then whenever they need to dismember someone or throw them off a cliff the use a computer generated model of us and cut it up instead."
"That's very clever." Adds Arnold.
"Okay then what was that light?" demands Peeta.
"Haven't you ever been defloratized?" says the female tribute from four.
"Do you think the district twelve scum has ever been cleaned Kayla?" jokes Cato with a snear.
"What's defloratized?" Peeta asks.
"It's an ultraviolet light that destroys harmful bacteria and also fries electrical devices like microphones or small cameras." Says Arnold from behind me. I almost forgot he was here. "It also cleans off a layer of dead skin. It can be pretty painful to the eyes when contact is first made."
"Where were you when this started?" says Thresh with a glare at Arnold.
"Tributes please have a seat." Says a new attendant. I think this one is male. "The visualization chamber is ready for the next tribute." Peeta, Rue, Thresh, Arnold and I all take a seat as the girl from district four, Kayla I think is what Cato called her, gets up and follows the attendant out of the room. This is going to take a while.
To my surprise after sitting in the waiting room for a while I realized that the attendants were going by no specific order as they escorted tributes to the visualization chamber… wherever that is. Whoever volunteers first gets to go.
One by one the room empties until no one is left besides Thresh, Peeta, Cato, and myself. Rue has been in the visualization chamber for thirty minutes now so the attendant should be coming in any minute now.
"So who do you think is going to win?" My head shoots up from mu knees at the sound of another person's voice. Nearly no words have been spoken at all since I've arrived.
"What? Are you worried?" asks Thresh. His voice sounds hard and insincere.
"No. I'm just curious." Says Cato. "I mean, I know I'm the number one choice to win, but every once in a while in the games someone gets lucky and end up winning when they should have died."
"Well what does it matter to you?" interrupts Peeta. "If you win you get showered with praise from the capitol and your district, if you lose no one will know where you are."
"What are you saying?" yells Cato obviously disgusted by Peeta's words. "I've trained my whole life for this and I don't give a shit if it's fake or not I still plan on winning."
"You're pathetic." Spits Thresh. Immediately after Thresh says this a capitol attendant enters the room.
"Me! Get me out of here!" says Peeta as he hops to his feet and begins to cross the room over to the attendant. He stops midway though as if he's in thought. "I'm sorry Katniss, you must be dying to get out of here too. Do you want to go?"
"No it's fine Peeta. You go. I'm okay where I am. I'll see you at…" I suddenly realize I don't know where we'll be staying. "…Wherever it is that we'll be staying. Go on." I smile to assure him I'm fine.
"Well okay. As long as you're fine." He shyly returns my smile.
"Pathetic. Lover boy just hurry up." Groans Cato with his hands plastered to his face with annoyance. Peeta just rolls his eyes and exits with the attendant.
"Why don't you two just shut up and fuck already?" asks Cato but it comes out more like a statement. "This baby shit is pathetic."
"He's not being pathetic he's being a real friend, but I'm sorry I know it must be hard for you to understand what a real friend it." I shoot back at him.
"He doesn't want to be your friend he wants to be your boyfriend!" yells Cato.
"Then what's your problem with that? Why do you care? Stay out of my business!" I shriek back at him. It really isn't any of his business what Peeta is to me or what Peeta wants to be to me.
"I don't care. It's just annoying. That's all."
"Then just leave me and my friends, all of them, alone." I say to him. Cato's gaze raises from the floor to meet mine. I glare back at Cato in disgust. How could he just force his way into my business and insult Peeta like that? Peeta is a great person and was only making sure that I was okay. "I should have killed you when I had the chance." The words pour from my mouth like water. Cato's eyebrows raise. I can also hear Thresh sit up in his chair.
"When did you have the chance to kill me?" asks Cato, his eyes slowly narrowing at me. When did I have the chance to kill him?
"Wouldn't you like to know." That's right. Lead him on.
"It was when you were hiding in that tree weren't you?" Bingo.
"Yeah. I could have dropped on you and slit your throat right there." I say coldly expecting him to back down, but he does nothing but smile.
"Wow fire girl. I didn't know you had it in you." He says with a smirk.
"Well there's a lot of-"
"Maybe it's because you don't have it in you." His venomous voice cuts me off before I have a chance to speak back. "If you did have it in you, you would have killed me."
"I'm through talking with you Cato." I say calmly as I face the wall. I can't help but feel defeated.
"Admit it. You wouldn't be able to kill someone." I stay focused on the wall. "Admit it." He repeats.
"I don't have to admit anything to you." My eyes stay on the wall. The room falls silent for a few moments.
"Well then I'll just have to prove it to you." I feel Cato's gaze drilling into the side of my head.
"I'll prove it to you when I win." I can sense Cato's expression change.
"I thought you didn't care about winning this?" I turn to face Cato. His face twisted into another sick smirk.
"I don't care about winning this." I tell him. "I care about proving you wrong and getting home to my sister."
"Next tribute." Says the attendant. I didn't even hear him walk in.
"You want this one, Katniss?" asks Thresh.
"No. I'm fine." I couldn't let Cato have another mental victory over me. "You go."
"Okay then." Thresh then stands up and exits the room. Cato and I just continue to glare at each other. His face disgusts me. He must try real hard to look handsome so the cameras like the way he kills innocent people. His features are so grotesque. His square jaw, his sharp nose, those damn blue eyes…. He's a monster.
"We can settle this in the arena tomorrow." States Cato.
"That we shall." I lean back in my seat and cross my legs triumphantly. "That. We. Shall."