Fallen from Grace (Hunger Games)

68th Hunger Games

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18. Run

    Liam and Emily slept peacefully for a couple hours and woke up when they heard another cannon fire. Then the anthem began to play throughout the arena. It was late at night, so they slept for a little while. Liam and Emily crawled closer to the window and looked up at the sky to see who else had died recently. The face of the Four tribute appeared first. Then the boy from Five. And then the girl from Ten.

    Three deaths in one day. That must have been enough for the Capitol to survive on for another day or so.

    Liam mumbled numbers in his head, counting the deaths from day one to the present day. “We’re in the top ten . . .” he said.

    Emily looked toward him, completely baffled by his words. There was ten of them left? No, that couldn’t be right. Emily counted the ten from the first day. Then the one the next day. Then the three today . . . No, he was right. There was ten of them left.

    “So all the Careers except one of the Fours is alive, right?” he asked her.

    She nodded.

    “So that’s five of them. Then there’s us. That’s seven. Who else is still alive?” he asked.

    Emily glanced up at him for a moment and thought of the numbers and faces she remembered. “Umm . . . I think the boy from Three is still alive . . . then there’s the other Five . . . and I’m positive Seven still has a living tribute . . .” she answered.

    Liam leaned back against the wall and laid a hand over his stomach with a sigh. “We need food . . .” he sighed.

    “The Careers must have eaten them all, they keep wandering around the arena.”

    “It’s been a week and they could always go back and forth when they run out on the days’ worth,” he reminded her. “Were you thinking of stealing from them?” he furrowed his brows at her, he never said anything about stealing from the Careers that was all Emily.

    She pursed her lips and hesitated to answer for a couple of moments before she finally said: “It’ll take some time to hunt for animals and we know for a fact the food at the Cornucopia is safe.” Liam looked rather skeptical and Emily added on, “They’re always wandering off, so we can take what we need when they disappear and go. Besides, we don’t have any more weapons. The knives we had is under rubble and you left your archery equipment back there too.”

    She saw it in his eyes. He knew she was right. They needed weapons. They could fight, but even if they could they would have to fight against five tributes that trained all their life for the Games. They needed something to heighten their chances.

    “You’re starving and so am I. For all we know, the wolf meat we ate was what made me sick and it nearly effected you.”

    “Yeah . . .” he sighed and pressed his hands to his face. “It’s night time, so they’ll be asleep soon.”

    “Shouldn’t we get the stuff in the daylight when they’re out running around?”

    “Careers are normally the heaviest sleepers ever,” he rolled his eyes. “They lived a more spoiled life compared to the rest of us and didn’t have to be afraid of a lot of shit. And considering each other them are useful to one another, they’ll all feel safe around each other. The only think that might wake them up is if one of them had to go to the bathroom and alert the others.”

    Emily pursed her lips at him, completely disagreeing with having to do that while they slept. And any chance of them waking up was what worried her. With them walking away in daylight, at least they’d be able to see them leave and go from there. “Are you hoping the dark will give us an advantage?”

    Liam nodded and stared at Emily. “Besides, it’ll be a lot easier to hide your appearance.”

    “You’re talking about my skin tone, aren’t you?” she narrowed her eyes at him.

    “You’re REALLY pale, Em . . .” he chuckled.

    “Won’t my incredibly pale skin make it easier to see me in the dark? I’ll look like a floating head,” she mocked.

    “Maybe you can scare the Careers thinking you’re a ghost?” Liam laughed.

    Emily smacked his arm, which Liam cringed away with a smirk before he pulled her to him and kissed her cheek. She chuckled playfully and lazily pushed him to get him away from her, but he only fought back and showered her with kisses. “You’re an asshole.”

    Liam mocked a gasp. “Language.”

    “Shut up,” she rolled her eyes.

    “You hardly ever curse, I have to make fun of you,” he said with a smug look on his face and kissed her nose.

    “Ruuuuuuuuuude,” she wrinkled her nose at him then kissed the tip of his nose.

    Liam let out a quiet sigh, closed his eyes, and leaned his forehead against hers. His arms still wrapped around her while Emily sat comfortably in his lap. That natural pull was there, it was always there it hurt to ignore it. He brushed his hand to her cheek and into her hair, tangling his fingers in her red locks. She opened her eyes and saw the way he stared at her. There was no denying it . . . Emily had tried to understand how much she loved him and tried to measure it to his affection for her, and there was no doubt that she was there. She didn’t want to keep her promise to make it out alive.

    She wanted the words she said in her interview to be true. Emily couldn’t go home without him. They were always there for each other since they met. They were each other’s spouses like they were meant to be. So they should die together. As much as he wanted her to live, she just didn’t want to believe he had to be out of the picture and out of her life to make that happen. It didn’t feel right to her . . .

    Her body burned like fire and she knew he could feel the heat and the agonizing pull between them, so Liam moved away from her. Emily blinked in confusion as he got to his feet and offered his hand to pull her up. She hesitated for a moment and took his hand before they walked up to the roof and hopped over from roof to roof that they could both manage to reach until they saw the Cornucopia right in the middle. Emily didn’t notice before but golden horn was in a plaza like court with buildings all around it from one hundred yards away. The electric fence wasn’t there anymore; assuming it was picked up when the corpses were collected on the first day.

    Liam squinted his eyes as he stared at the Cornucopia in hopes of seeing the Careers, but he only shook his head. “I can’t see them,” he said.

    “So what do we do?” Emily asked.

    He let out a sigh and crossed his arms over his chest as he lowered himself to the ground and leaned against the wall of the ledge. “Stay here and do what you planned,” Liam answered.

    Emily pursed her lips and sat beside him and rest her head on his shoulder. “And now we wait . . .”

    Liam pursed his lips and nodded, “And now we wait.” He then took her hand and intertwined their fingers.

    Emily leaned her head back against the ledge and stared up at the artificial stars just above them. She thought of times when she and Liam stared at the stars on the roof of his apartment building and connect the stars making up figures of their own for fun. She missed the real crystal clear twinkle of the stars, the sight of the Milky Way when the lights of District Eight went out for curfew, and that warm and fuzzy feeling of other worlds that those stars carried.

    Worlds where the Hunger Games didn’t exist. Where children weren’t pulled away from the people they loved and forced to play a part in a reality show for the mere entertainment of the rich and insensitive . . .

    “Worst honeymoon ever . . .” Emily commented.

    That comment alone would tear the Capitol apart . . .

    Liam rolled his eyes and rubbed the back of her hand with his thumb. “It would have been boring anyway if we weren’t here.”

    Emily gently smiled and kept her eyes on the sky. “How would you want it to go?” she asked.

    “Well . . .” Liam began and nuzzled his cheek against the top of her head. “On our days off we’d walk around District Eight looking for a place of our own.”

    She lightly laughed. “Somewhere kind of nice?”

    “Maybe close to the school?” he shrugged.

    “You’re recalling the one time I got lost?” she lightly chuckled.

    “Well, yeah,” he smiled. “I wouldn’t want the kids getting lost getting back home from school and work,” the man began.

    Emily kept quiet as the words hung in the air. Kids . . . he knew she wanted to be a mother to make up the love she was denied in her earlier years. She was considered a part of Liam’s family for years and she felt like a part of their family, so she knew what it felt like to be loved. And she wanted nothing more than to love someone with the same blood that flowed through her veins. Liam had talked about it before with her, and at those times Emily had thought it was about the girls he had dated before.

    That was never the case . . . creating a family of his own with anyone else was never a part of the picture in his mind . . .

    “How many?” she asked.

    “How many did you always say you wanted?” he asked and looked down at her.

    Emily pursed her lips and wiped a stray tear from her eyes. “Two . . .” she answered, her voice shaky. Her temperature began to rise and she could feel herself ready to cry again. “A boy and a girl . . .” she continued. Children she would never have or ever meet. The future she always wanted had shattered to a million pieces the moment she heard her name . . .

    She could feel the sadness in Liam’s eyes without having to look up at him, he kissed her head and pressed his cheek to her head and squeezed her hand. “I would have been okay with two . . .” he choked. “Mind explaining?”

    He already knew . . . and Emily knew what he tried to do. He wanted the Capitol to know what they had done and how much they had to sacrifice in order to entertain them. Liam wanted to make the people feel guilty. But Emily knew it wouldn’t affect them at all . . . it was just a tragic love story that they would forget in a year . . .

    Emily brushed a curl behind her ear and closed her eyes. “Because I never had any siblings . . .” she answered. “Because you grew up with two brothers and I saw how much fun you guys had with each other . . . I would have wanted my kids to have fun with me too, but I would want them to have someone to play with . . . someone to grow up with and go to each other for comfort when I’ve been too strict and ‘unfair’,” she chuckled at the last bit.

    Liam chuckled along with her. “To be fair, my brothers treated you like a sister too.”

    She lightly smiled at the reminder. “I know . . .”

*****

    The two of them had fallen asleep out of sight behind the ledge and woke up when the sun shined on their eyes. They would peek down to the Cornucopia to check on the status of the Careers and lowered back down to wait a bit longer.

    “You collect the food, you’re faster and I can last longer in a fight,” Liam informed her.

    “Got it. Should I get a bunch of packs or get one big one?”

    “I think a big one is our safest bet. I’ll carry a handful of weapons for us too if there are any we’re any good at.”

    “I really hope there’s a bow and arrow for you,” Emily pursed her lips. “You only trained to use that.”

    “Yeah . . . I probably should have done something else.”

    “Probably . . .” she nodded and checked over their shoulders again. The Careers had just finished eating and stood up. “They’re leaving . . .”

    Liam peeked over the ledge too and Emily lowered back down. He stared down at them until they disappeared around the corner. He then crawled to the other side of the building as quietly as he could and kept watch on where they were going when he gave Emily the thumbs up. She got on her feet and went downstairs, jumping every three steps and made a quiet landing until she reached the first floor. Liam followed after her and they checked over their shoulder for any sign of the Careers coming back.

    Then they reached the last building, nothing but bare land from them to the Cornucopia. Nowhere else to hide except for the golden horn itself. One hundred yards away . . .

    Liam looked around the corner and listened carefully for any sound, but it was completely quiet. “Alright . . . we’re good . . .” She nodded and made a run for it. Liam followed just behind her to watch their backs. All she could hear was her breathing and her heart pulsing in her ears.

    Huff . . .

    Huff . . .

    Huff . . .

    Huff . . .

    Sixty yards . . .

    Fifty yards . . .

    Forty . . .

    Thirty . . .

    Almost there. Got to go fast. Got to be quick.

    Emily yanked an abandoned pack from the ground and turned to the mouth. She immediately saw a bow in the back corner of the horn and took that first. Once Liam was within sight, she tossed it to him with the quiver and began searching for food that would last them a couple days. Liam caught his rightful weapon and took a sword and some throwing knives before stuffing them in his pack and went out to keep watch for them.

    Water, iodine, snare wire, apples, a whole small chicken, oranges, and bananas. Emily stuffed as much as she could into the pack and had difficulty closing the pack. She constantly looked over her shoulder to check on Liam and he gave her the thumbs up every time as she did her part of the mission.

    Then she heard something on the roof of the horn. Emily froze in her spot and Liam immediately pointed an arrow to whatever made the noise. “Liam . . . you didn’t see any Career’s, right?” she asked.

    “Yes . . .”

    Emily stared at him as she carefully approached him with the pack on her back and held the sword Liam handed her. “Let’s go . . .”

    He nodded and took her hand. The made sure to stay out of sight if the Careers were to come back from the same side they walked to and ran to the other side of the arena. Emily constantly looked back behind them to see what it was that they heard, but nothing caught her eye. What was it they heard?

    BOOM

    Nine left . . .

    They reached the other side and hid inside the first building, they gulped for air and collapsed to the ground covered in sweat. Emily pulled the pack from her shoulders and dug through it search for the water bottles she snagged and handed a bottle to him. “Thanks,” he sighed and unscrewed the cap.

    “It’s nothing . . .” she hugged and leaned her head back on the wall. Liam handed her the bottle and she drank from it too.

    “How many bottles did you get?” he asked.

    “Six? Well, five now. I got some iodine too.”

    “You’re a beautiful life-saver . . .”

    Emily lightly chuckled and shook her head. “Please . . .” she said as if she were rolling her eyes.

    Her eyes shot open when she heard something scurry outside. They both looked at each other and slowly got up on their feet as quietly as they could and peeked out the window. Hordes of large animals as big as dogs scurried around the streets and scratched at doors and windows. One came up to them with red eyes and scratched at their window. The horrible sound its nails made formed goosebumps up and down Emily’s body until the glass cracked. They backed away from the door and that was when the other creatures stopped in their place and looked toward them.

    “I think we have a rat problem . . .” Emily’s voice shook.

    The rat mutts screeched and the horde of them headbutt the door and some at the window. That was their cue to run like hell and get somewhere safe. They then run up the stairs before the rats broke through the window.

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