Fallen from Grace (Hunger Games)

68th Hunger Games

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17. Fear

    Emily made sure to stay as far away from the water as she could possibly manage. She stayed close to the wall and watched the water for any sign of life moving under the surface. The mutt spared her, the reason she didn’t want to stick around to find out. Emily blew the whistle quietly and in short breaths so the Careers wouldn’t notice her and go looking for her. There hadn’t been any cannon fire since the Four Career’s death, so she didn’t have a doubt in her mind that he was alive.

    She let out another quiet and short whistle when she heard someone running close by. She stopped in her place and pressed herself to the wall underneath a manhole, hiding in the dark and waited. The tribute had stopped just around the corner, they panted for air and began to walk again, that time slower and quiet but still small enough for her to hear the tapping of water when the weight of their feet touched the ground.

    “Emily . . .?”

    Her body immediately felt energized when she heard his voice. She pulled herself off the wall and looked around the corner to find Liam. The moment he saw her, recognizing her red hair in the dimly lit tunnel, he ran to her and embraced her tightly. She couldn’t find her voice, it was even hard to breathe. Not because his hold around her was hard and tight, but because she was still rigged with fear. She wrapped her arms around him, her hands balling a fistful of his shirt and nuzzled her head into his chest.

    “Why did you move?” he asked.

    “I—I—I didn’t . . .” she mustered.

    Liam let go and looked down her, taking her face in between his hands and took a good look at her. “What happened?”

    “Can we—can we get out here?” Emily asked quickly. “Before . . . before the Careers . . . and the mutt comes back?”

    He could only stare at her for a moment before he looked up at the latter and nodded. “Yeah. “Yeah, quickly.”

    She nodded and grabbed hold of the bars and climbed as quickly as her trembling body would allow her. When she was within reach of the lid, she pushed it open with her shoulder and then moved it out of the way with her hands when it was halfway open. Emily climbed out of the sewers and stood away as she held herself, Liam climbed out after her and closed the lid over the manhole. Once he turned around, he saw the blood all over her.

    “Oh my god! Em, what the hell—?” he began and stopped himself and finally noticed how hard she shook and how horrified she appeared. “Hey . . .” Liam tried again with a quieter and more soothing tone and gently took her face. “Okay, take in some deep breaths,” the man instructed. Emily did as she was told, taking in a breath from her nose and exhaled a shaky sigh through her mouth. Again with a lungful, and again. “Okay . . . whenever you’re ready . . .”

    She nodded and took his hands, her palms tingled so badly she had brush her thumb against her cheek for a moment to check if she held his hands. Emily dropped her eyes from his as she collected her thoughts. “I—” she began and choked on a lump in her throat and shook her head, mentally lecturing herself to keep it together and not break down again. Her body convulsed from choking on her words and exhaled a breath one last time. “Okay . . . I—I was in the hole you told me to stay in . . . I didn’t move though,” she shook her head. “But then everything went dark—and—and the walls started spinning and I was spat out from the wall into the water. The Careers were there . . .” Emily stopped and took in a deep breath, “They found me.” Her green eyes traveled up a bit to his chest, but from the look of them it appeared she wasn’t mentally there. The light in her eyes had dimmed as she remembered what she had seen. “They found me. I tried to fight them off . . . I managed to take down half of them, but then . . . I was pinned down . . . he was going to kill me . . .” her voice shook. “And then it took him . . .”

    She had stopped for a long while, Liam bent his knees so he could look her in the eyes. “What took him?” he asked calmly.

    Emily’s body trembled and shook her head when she truly looked at him, her hands squeezed around Liam’s tightly and swallowed back her nerves. “A mutt . . . this . . . this HUGE crocodile mutt thing . . . it took him . . . and it ate him,” she finally said, her tone much higher than usual.

    “Okay, hey, shhh. It’s okay. You’re alright,” he comforted her. Liam slid his hands from her face and tenderly took her hand. “Let’s find somewhere to hide. We’re out in the open and we don’t want to be seen.”

    Emily nodded and followed him as he lightly pulled her to a building close by. She was in too much shock to travel far and needed to calm down before they should go somewhere further away. Liam closed the door behind him and pulled her into a corner away from the windows and doors, keeping his eyes on her as he walked backwards. He slowed to a halt and sat down, lightly tugging her to join him on the floor. She responded and sat in front of him, but she was as quiet as a lamb. He didn’t push her to speak some more, but he remained by her side to be emotional support for her.

    Liam slowly reached toward her and lightly caressed her cheek. Emily’s eyes looked up to him with wide eyes welling up with tears. She held them back as much as she could until it spilled, and that was when she finally broke. Her shoulders trembled and Liam scoot toward her, collecting her body and held her close to him as she sobbed. “I can’t take it anymore . . .” she cried.

    “I know . . .” he muttered in her ear.

    “What did we do to be here . . .?”

    “I don’t know . . .” Liam shook his head and ran his fingers through his wife’s hair.

    Emily couldn’t take the madness. The violence. The blood. The fear. She couldn’t take in the reality they were stuck in. She wanted nothing more than to go back to District Eight. She wanted to go home . . .

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