Fallen from Grace (Hunger Games)

68th Hunger Games

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7. Roof

    Liam trained at the archery station again. Emily stayed at the climbing stations. She had a feeling in her gut that her only means of escape was to climb on anything and everything. From the rock wall, nets, and the center’s trees, Emily practiced until her muscles shook.

    By the end of the day, she was sore and felt as if lifting a spoon would break her. While she and Liam waited at the elevator for their turn, the redhead looked over where the Capitolites and mentors always gathered to watch the tributes and noticed one of the mentors studying her. She couldn’t quite remember his name or which district he was from, but Emily remembered a couple of moments from his Games. It was enough for her to know to completely avoid him in any way possible.

    Emily looked away and stayed close to Liam for comfort reasons when Liam looked down at her then toward the mentor staring at them. Her best friend put his arm over her shoulder, his hand cupped over her shoulder when the elevator door opened and went inside.

    “That guy was really creepy . . .” she commented.

    “At least he’s not our mentor,” Liam chuckled and rubbed the goosebumps from her arm.

    “True,” Emily joined his chuckle and brushed her crimson red hair from her eyes. “Can you imagine?”

    “I’d rather not,” he shook his head. “I remember his Games and just from looking at him it looks like it took a toll on him somehow. Don’t want to know HOW.”

    The elevator doors opened and the two immediately went to their rooms to go and shower off the sweat off of them. Oh geez, even lifting her arms to wash her hair hurt. Her muscles were screaming for her to drop her arms. Dang it, she should have gone for something else. Now she’d be hurting when she’d get in the arena. 

    Easy kill . . .

    Wonder what she would do tomorrow. Maybe she should learn how to make a net. Emily hopped out of the shower and dressed into a casual comfortable attire before she joined everyone else in the dining room. “You’re a decent shot, Liam,” Phox commented and bit into some chicken.

    “I’m alright,” Liam shrugged.

    Phox looked up at Emily as she joined them. “You have one more day to learn a weapon, Emily,” Phox told her immediately, not even going to bother that she learned more than Liam had in the last two days. But weapons were a must, especially for them.

    “I know . . .” she nodded and filled her plate.

    Liam stared at her, knowing well she didn’t respond well to stern lectures, even though he spoke the truth. It was life or death he hinted at, after all. The man poked his toe at her leg, trying to sooth her without having the table witness their uncomfortable closeness.

    “She’s really fast,” Liam commented. Emily looked up at him and Phox turned his head to Liam. “She’s stealthy too. If she had a knife in her possession she could easily take me down in a fight.”

    “Is that true?” he asked, not to Emily but to her partner. Phox had learned that they were both incredibly modest and only seemed to speak the honest truth about each other rather than themselves.

    “Yeah,” Liam nodded. “She can fight too. Hand-to-hand combat. I’ve seen her break a couple legs and wrists before back home.”

    Phox raised his brows and looked to Emily with a surprised expression plastered on his face. “You can fight? And you didn’t say anything about it?”

    “I’m . . . I’m alright,” she shrugged and kicked Liam under the table. He bit his bottom lip and his eye twitched from the impact with her foot.

    “If you’re as good as Liam says you are, you better learn how to handle a knife. It’ll save your ass in that arena,” he instructed. “So you better put in some time tomorrow before you’re all gathered for your private session. And show the judges what you can do tomorrow. There’s always a downside to scores here and you have to figure out which one will give you an advantage,” Phox reminded her.

    Right . . . she had to show the Gamemaker and their team what she can do and evaluate her . . . and she only had however many hours to learn a new skill before being thrown into the pack of rabid dogs . . .

    She already knew she had to do something to earn sponsors. She only wished the tributes were given more time to train so she could master a weapon. It was only fair since the Careers had been illegally training since they were of age. It just wasn’t fair. Emily felt sick thinking of how little time she had left before she was thrown in the arena with the others . . .

    With Liam . . .

    And expected to kill him; to completely ignore her long friendship with him and throw away her humanity all for the sake of wealth and fame . . .

    And survival . . . their most prized trophy to give . . .

    Emily felt sick to her stomach and nudged her untouched plate away from her. “I’m not hungry . . .” she muttered and pushed away from the table. Liam had his eyes on her and watched her walk off from the table but chose not to follow after her. She needed to be alone.

    The redhead went up the elevator and up the roof, the doors smoothly opened and Emily saw the bright lights of the glimmering city. Wind whipped her hair around, a soothing and clean taste in the air. It smelled better than back home. That was a plus. She walked further in and looked up at the stars. The lights made it much harder to see the stars, only the brighter ones could barely be seen. Emily missed the dimly lit streets of District 8 and the view of the stars. The tribute looked over the edge of the balcony down at the wandering citizens of the Capitol. They looked so small . . .

    Wonder how much it would hurt if she jumped . . .

    It would be over sooner . . . she wouldn’t have to worry about being murdered in the arena . . . or by a natural disaster caused by the Gamemakers . . . she could take her own life she knew was coming and she wouldn’t have to fear if her next breath was her last . . .

    Emily took a step against the railing, then another. She swung her leg over, followed by the next and sat on the stone on the fence as she looked down at the ant-sized people below. Her hands hooked to keep her from falling, her heart beat violently against her chest, and she felt as if her lungs trembled. 

    Just let go . . .

    Just let go and it would all be over . . .

    One . . .

    Two . . .

    “You know there’s a force field around this tower to stop tributes from committing suicide, right?” a voice called out to her.

    Emily jerked away and froze in place when she was pulled back from the edge and back behind the stone fence. The redhead struggled out of his grip and aggressively pulled their arms off of her. She turned to her interrupted her, all to find a young boy with red hair and dark green eyes just barely taller than her stare at her. Where did he come from!? Had he been watching her? Why did he bother to save her?

    She stared at the boy’s face and recognized the boy. Abraham Rose from District Seven. Last year’s Hunger Games victor. “Bad day . . .?” he asked when the silence and her staring became uncomfortable.

    She blinked and lowered her eyes to the ground and ran her hand through her dark red hair. “Guess you can say that . . .” she muttered.

    Abraham let out a quiet sigh and took out a silver canteen and unscrewed the cap, stretching his arm out offering her whatever he had in the finely decorated bottle. Emily swallowed the lump in her throat and meekly took it from his hand. “It helps calm the nerves,” the boy shrugged.

    Emily looked up at the boy, a young man of fifteen and broken from the Games. Just like a majority of the mentors she had seen in the Training Center. She nodded and looked down at the canteen and took a swig without taking a whiff of what was in it. It was a quick and small gulp, but it was strong and burned her throat as it went down. She cough and covered her mouth not to seem rude.

    “It’s like that the first time.”

    She nodded and returned his booze. “Why stop me anyway . . .?” she asked.

    Abraham took a swig of the strong liquor and screwed the cap back on with a shrug. “I don’t know . . . Maybe you have a chance? Maybe just giving up without even trying isn’t worth the jump?”

    “Someone from District 8 having a chance?” she coldly chuckled. “I doubt it . . .”

    “You have mentors that won too . . . they managed somehow . . .”

    With luck . . .

    “Got any advice?” she asked. “My mentor hasn’t been helpful in the slightest for me.” He had more hopes for Liam and it was obvious. So he’d give more advice to the one with more of a chance and leave the weakling in the dark.

    “Find a weapon that’s easy to practice with. Do you know how to fight?” he asked.

    “A little . . .” she answered modestly. “I’ve been told a knife would work better with what I can do.”

    “Then try using a knife. I don’t know what you can do, but your guy might be right.”

    “You think?”

    “He wouldn’t be suggesting it if her didn’t THINK it’d help you,” he rolled his eyes at her.

    She guessed . . .

    Emily nodded and turned away from him. “Hey.” She turned back to him. “If worst comes to worst and you’re going to go up against someone you know you can’t handle. Throw the damn thing if you managed to get a knife on you. Just let go of it once your hand is in line with your eyes.”

    The tribute blinked at him a couple times and nodded with a forced slight smile. “Thank you.”

    She turned away again and entered the elevator back down to her floor. Practice the knives in the morning and hope she’d get the hang of it before her turn . . . She only had a couple of hours to impress the Capitol . . .

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