Gale's last words to me replay in my mind over and over again. The lilt of his speech that is distinctive of the Seam, the underlying roughness, the tone of utter sincerity in his voice—Good luck.
Don't need it, I'd said.
Good luck, anyway, Catnip.
I grip the strap-down bars that hold me in my seat with force I'm surprised I still have, my hands steadily becoming numb from the violent vibrations that pass through the metal alloy. The pressure against my chest is nearly unbearable, and I can only grit my teeth against the pain.
Somewhere along our descent the gravity capacitor had blown. At first it was all weightless anticipation—then, pressure. Deadly pressure. The cabin is bathed in the flickering red emergency lights, and the screams from the other passengers—if they still had wits about them to scream—is deafening. I want to clamp my hands over my ears, I want to scream along with them, but I can't. I can barely keep my hands on the bars. I can barely keep my eyes open.
Everything is going the wrong way.
Gale's last words should have tipped me off. That something bad was going to happen. There was no luck in the Everdeen family. Not the good kind, anyway. Luck didn't help my father when he'd been recalled into active duty. He was a veteran of the First Wars, a family man with a miner's job, and twenty odd years older. That didn't matter the day they'd pulled his name from the draft draw. Fit for the mines meant he was fit for duty. Our good luck left with him when he'd left to go to war once more. My mother's grasp on reality left not soon after the "we're sorry to inform you" letter came through, along with a gray pamphlet that informed us that draftees did not receive a gratuity stipend.
The only good thing left in my life is Prim. My sweet sister. She is the only reason I have to keep going, to try; the only reason I do as I am told to this day. My eyes fill to the brim with tears as my grief, terror and pain finally mix together. It's a disarming cocktail of emotion. A soundless sob wracks my chest and I clench my eyes shut. When the Capitol Army drew her name from the draftee bowl, I knew I had fallen into a nightmare-and, like waking from a nightmare, found myself standing in front of the plucky army stage, taking the open spot in her stead. And here I am... to die any second, no good luck to be found, no goodbyes said. Who will take care of Prim if—when—I'm gone?
I will never hear his voice again.
After all, the odds have never been in my favor.