Fallen from Grace (Hunger Games)

68th Hunger Games


19. Rats

    “They got in!” she cried.

    “Keep running!” Liam yelled back as he hopped every three steps. With Emily’s much shorter legs she could only manage hopping two steps. The scratching and loud and clumsy thuds of bodies hitting the wall as many rats ran up the stairs after Emily and Liam. The redheaded tribute glanced behind them when they ran around the corner down a hallway and saw so many pairs of red eyes follow them. Liam pulled her and quickly opened a door at the end of the hall, Emily skidded to a stop and hit her shoulder against the wall before she ran inside and Liam pushed the door closed as fast as he could, turned the lock, then heard tens or hundreds of rats headbutt the door.

    Emily immediately looked around for things to use to weigh the door until they could find a way out. Liam pushed against the door and planted his feet as firmly to the ground as he could while the mutts on the other side of the door pushed to get inside. The redheaded tribute pushed a heavy desk to the door and slid it in front of the door before running off to get filing cabinet drawers and piled them on top of the writing desk until Liam couldn’t reach for the door.

    “Did you find a way out of here?” he asked her.

    “Just the fire escape,” she answered.

    “Shit . . .” he cursed under his breath and ran his hand through his hair. Emily kept looking around the office room for an escape and began to hyperventilate. “Calm down, Em. Breath. Deep breaths—”

    “Right now is not an appropriate time to try and be calm!” she snapped in a high voice. “Adrenaline makes the brain work faster! Let me work off of that.”

    “Alright,” he sighed, his tone sounded hasty and as fearful as her.

    They quickly walked deeper into the office and opened doors in hope of some kind of secret fire escape. Emily found a closet, probably for a cleaning crew if people even inhabited the arena, and noticed a latter. She furrowed her brows and listened carefully past the scratching and the booms from the door. “Do you hear anything coming from the ceiling?” she asked.

    Liam glanced over at her and then looked up at the perforated metal ceiling just above them. Not a sound of weight, it was perfectly still.  “No . . .”

    The redheaded tribute pulled out the latter and opened up the legs before climbing up to push a piece of the ceiling away and peeked inside. Without a flashlight they would have to crawl inside blind. But from the looks of it it appeared that their source of light were the rooms they would crawl over. Her first worry was whether or not the ceiling would hold Liam’s weight. She turned around and found a little island for them to use to walk on and fear falling.

    “Quickly,” she said and hopped off the latter and moved it to the island she found earlier and opened up one ceiling tile away and crawled up. She tested how much weight the wood panel could endure and pulled herself in. She heard the door break open from the other room and looked down to find Liam climbing into the ceiling after her and kicked the latter away so the rats didn’t try to jump after them. Emily shouldered the pack of food and began crawling forward and Liam carefully followed behind her.

   Scrambling claws manically danced underneath them and their angry hissing grew louder and louder the more they grew confused. They could smell them, they just couldn’t find them. They heard them, but couldn’t see them. Emily crawled carefully ahead until the room underneath them disappeared and found themselves in a small kitchen. There were less rats underneath them, but there were still too many for them to maneuver around.

    Suddenly being in the ceiling didn’t sound so smart. But they were safe for the time being. The wood plank stopped at a dead end and Emily looked back behind her toward Liam. They had to keep moving to get out of there alive. Who knew if the rats would find a way inside the walls. She carefully put her hand against the metal and added more weight little by little and slowly moved to the next tile. She made sure not to put too much of her weight on one tile and moved onto the next once she pulled her leg to her torso. She often looked back at Liam to see how he was doing and saw that he worked a lot more slower than she did compared to her. Often, the metal arched to his weight and they both froze in place before moving again.

    The more rooms they moved over, the less rats hissed underneath them . . .

    She stopped underneath a room with humming machines and dim lighting. Emily searched the grounds and couldn’t see the sight of a rat. But the only problem was that it was a small room and there was no way out. She moved to the side back into the hallway when the tile broke underneath her. She fell through and the corner caught the strap of the pack before she slipped through and she fell to the floor. She landed on her back and the wind got knocked out of her.



    Emily whipped her head to the side and quickly turned around to make a run for it when a large rat jumped on her back and began digging its nails into her back. The mutt pierced its teeth into her back, breaking through her shirt and scrapped its nails against her skin and tearing through like it was paper. Emily whaled in pain, trying to kick it off or pull it by its tail but the sucker had its teeth too deep into her back.

    She could feel her blood run down her back, the mutt’s nails breaking to the muscle. Another tile broke and landed just beside her when Liam landed on his feet with a knife in his hand and stabbed the mutt in the head. It cried out in pain and stopped attacking Emily. Liam pulled it off of her, its teeth pulled right out of her so fast she cried. “Dammit . . .” he hissed under his breath as he helped pull Emily up, making sure not to touch her back.

    Emily swore she felt like she was about to throw up fro the pain, even the air on her back hurt and made her want to pass out. She leaned against the wall for support while Liam tugged the pack from the wall when they heard the scurrying sound down the hall. Seriously!? It was fine that only one had attacked her, but for the chase already!?

    “In here,” Liam opened the door to the electrical room and closed it just behind them. There was a pause for a moment before the door was being rammed. Liam moved back beside Emily and looked down at her. No way of escape now . . . that was it . . .

    The redhead let out a pained sigh and sat down, making sure not to lean back on anything or move once she was on the ground. “So this is it . . .” she muttered.

    Liam pursed his lips and nodded before he sat just beside her. He took her hand and gently squeezed it as they both stared at the door. “This is it . . .”

    The humming of the machine behind them and the angry noises of rats just beyond the door just two feet from them was all they could hear. No comfortable sound of each others’ breathing or no peace and quiet. Their death had to be loud . . .

    “You know what . . .?”

    Emily glanced up at him.

    “I wouldn’t want to go home without you either . . .”

    She dropped her eyes to his shoulder and pressed her forehead against it. He smelled so dirty and sweaty, unlike his usual smell that usually comforted him. But the way his muscles felt and his warmth was enough for her. “Your brothers will be mad at you . . .”

    He lightly chuckled. “They’ll get over it. Besides, someone has to go see mom and dad soon. They’ll be both sad and thrilled to see you too.”

    Emily lightly smiled and moved to press her temple to his shoulder. “I miss them . . .”

    “They absolutely adored you,” Liam smiled. “I miss them too . . .”

    She closed her eyes and let out a deep sigh when they heard a whistling hiss of a noise. She opened her eyes again and looked around in confusion. Painful cries could be heard just outside along with what sounded like couching.



    Emily blinked a few times and merely stared at the door in front of them. The whistling still went on and on for another five minute until all that could be heard was the humming from the electrical machines. She glanced up at Liam and then back at the door. Could they . . . go out now? Was it safe? Liam stood up and creaked the door open. What looked like yellow and brown smoke seeped through the crack and Liam quickly closed the door and waved the smoke away until only the fresh air they breathed could be inhaled.

    “Poisonous gas?” Liam muttered and sat beside Emily.

    And it only killed just two tributes?

    He shook his head and looked down at Emily. “Well . . . we’re stuck here until its livable outside,” he sighed and pulled the pack of food toward them and dug through what they could eat to suppress their starving bellies. “Chicken?” he offered.

    She lightly chuckled and tore a leg from the small chicken. “We’ll have to so it doesn’t go to waste,” she barely shrugged, her back yelling at her again to stop moving. For time being, they were safe in their little hole.

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