Pain flooded through my body. I was as sure of that as I was sure that Katniss Everdeen was a mutt.
But everything else was a question. After what they did to me in that room...I couldn't even tell what was real, and what wasn't.
Not only that, but they had tortured me constantly even after that day. I was so used to pain; and the sound of my own scream. I was just as familiar with Johanna's, whom they tortured as well, through electricity. But, to her credit, she refused to yield.
Suddenly, the door of my cell opened, but there were no Peacekeepers there. It was suspicious, but I curiously walked there. No sooner, a wall of glass blocked my exit. I rolled my eyes; of course there was something to restrict me. But why take out the steel?
Suddenly, the steel wall that separated Johanna and me disappeared, replaced with glass. I saw that her door that been replaced with glass as well, but I was too busy taking in her appearance. Her hair was shaved, for one; but she also looked ill, bruised and covered in scabs.
"Johanna!" I yelled. She raised an eyebrow.
"Hi," she snapped. "Don't watch."
"The glass means they're about to show us something horrible. So don't watch."
"Thanks for the tip."
Someone opened the doors of the cells opposite us. I recognised one of them. He was Darius, the old Peacekeeper from District 12. I didn't recognise the other one; it was a young woman. I vaguely remembered the guards talking about 'the redheads', and it occurred to me that these two must've been it.
The Peacekeepers attached them to some electrical machines. Then the torture began.
They started with the girl.
"Lavinia, breathe in, because it's one of your last," he growled. "Now. What are the rebels planning?"
Lavinia could only make these horrible animal noises, and I realised two horrible facts: she was an Avox, and she was the Avox that was waiting on Katniss and I during the first and second Games. So of course, she couldn't answer. She had no tongue. She couldn't speak.
"What were the rebels planning?!" Lavinia didn't- couldn't- answer.
Then the Peacekeepers turned on the machine, and set the voltage; they activated it, and Lavinia shivered violently, trying to scream, then limply falling dead. They had used too much voltage, and her heart had stopped immediately.
"NO!" I yelled, trying to look away.
Suddenly, Peacekeepers entered the cell and grabbed me. They turned my head so I was forced to watch.
I was almost hoping that the same would happen for Darius; that he could have a quick death.
"What were the rebels planning?" they asked him again. He couldn't answer of course; he was an Avox. "What were they planning?!"
But no: they had learnt their lesson, and lowered the voltage. He was shocked; electrocuted, whatever your preferred term is. But he didn't die. They just kept electrocuting him and he could just make these horrible animal noises, trying to talk; trying to scream, trying to plead with them. But he could do none of those.
It took days to finish him off. It wasn't just electrocuting; cutting parts off, beating him. They kept asking him about what the rebels were planning, like he could actually answer them. But he couldn't, which led to more torture and abuse...He couldn't even scream. He could only make a mixture of these animal noises.
Finally, he lay down dead.
I remembered him from District 12. He wasn't so bad, even as a Peacekeeper. It was horrible that he had died.
The Capitol was going to pay for this...
A few days later, I heard something out of the ordinary. It was an alarm.
"SECURITY BREACHED," it warned. Meanwhile, a TV appeared in front of me.
It was broadcasting Finnick.
"President Snow used to sell me...my body, that is," he began flatly. "I wasn't the only one. If a victor is considered desirable, the president gives them as a reward or allows people to buy them for an exorbitant amount of money. If you refuse, he kills someone you love. So you do it."
That, now that is horrible. Finnick was forced into prostitution? I'd always thought that his parade of lovers in the Capitol genuinely loved him; apparently not. And for Snow to sell him, to force him, to threaten to kill his loved ones if he refused...Snow barely qualified as human. And the fact that he wasn't the only one: who else could have been doomed to this life?
"I wasn't the only one, but I was the most popular. And perhaps the most defenseless, because the people I loved were the most defenseless. My patrons would make presents of money or jewelry, but I found a much more valuable form of payment. Secrets. So many of them were about you, President Snow."
I leaned towards the TV.
"President Coriolanus Snow...such a young man when he rose to power, such a clever one to keep it. How, you ask? One word. That's all you really need to know. Poison." He was revealing the secrets of how Snow kept his Presidency; poison. He went on to explain Snow's political rise, and how he used poison to kill his enemies, or even worse, allies who had become potential threats. Himself, drinking from the poisoned cup to deflect suspicion. But antidotes don't always work. They say that's why he carries roses everywhere...to cover the smell of blood from the wounds that will never heal.
Suddenly a team of people began overriding the security measures on my cell.
"SECURITY BREACHED," the alarm warned. The cell door unlocked and opened. I couldn't recognise most of them; just one. Gale.
I stepped out, and the rebels took hold of me. I saw that they had freed Johanna, and beside her another two women. I recognised one as Enobaria, the Career tribute from District 2 during the Quarter Quell. The other one I vaguely recognised as someone from District 4; she had brown hair and covered her mouth when she saw me. Why, I don't know.
"Come on," the rebel in the front said. He was clearly the leader. "Do you want to get caught?"
The four of us rushed after him. 3 of the rebels flanked the back, and a few more at the front. Peacekeepers swarmed us; the rebels cut them down. In a few minutes we were out of the prison block, and a hovercraft was in the sky, ready to pick us up. Once we were safely out of shooting range, I sat beside Gale.
"Why-why did you rescue me? Us?" I asked him.
"Would you prefer it if we didn't?" he said sarcastically. "To leave you to rot in that horrible, Capitol-"
"It's not that I'm not grateful, or anything," I said quickly. "I'm just wondering why."
"Johanna was an essential part of the rebels' plan, and not to mention she's a great fighter," Gale started. "Annie for Finnick."
"Annie?" I asked him.
"Yeah- you know, the brunette from District 4," he explained. I nodded.
"They're...together?" I asked Gale. "Annie and Finnick."
"He's been going out of his mind with worry for her," Gale laughed. "He'll be so glad he's back. Anyway, where was I? Enobaria was protected by the Victors' Immunity-"
"What 'Victors' Immunity'?" I asked him.
"Oh. A term for the Mockingjay; all the victors will be granted immunity, no matter what their actions, bla bla bla," he said, rolling his eyes.
"Mockingjay?" I asked him. He waved his hand.
"Oh, you have a lot of catching up to do, don't you? We'll explain it all later. And you, we rescued you for Katniss, of course."
Anger pulses through my veins at the mention of her name. That mutt, that evil slave of the Capitol...Katniss Everdeen...
"Of course," I said. "And why would she want me? To kill me?"
Gale raised his eyebrows. "This is a joke, right?"
"What? No," I said, surprised.
"You're kidding, right? Oh look, here we are," he said. The hovercraft descended.
"District 13?" I asked him. He nodded.
"Everyone, out!" the leader yelled and everyone piled out of the hovercraft, and sprinted. I just followed the others, not knowing where I was going, but trusting that District 13 was somewhere around here and that was where we were headed.
We descended underground into the district. TVs were set up everywhere, and they were playing something, a video. A mockingjay was catching fire.
"You need to go the hospital wing, my friend!" Plutarch said as he greeted us. "All of you do. So shoo."
The hospital wing, it turned out, wasn't very far. Once I was there, they assigned me to a bed, attached a morphling drip to me and before I knew it, I was fast asleep.
When I woke up, the nurses were there, along with Plutarch. I made small talk with them, while they asked after my health. Normally, I would say I was fine, but this time I only shrugged. Then, then I saw her.
She entered the room, joy on that mutt face...she walked towards me...
This girl killed your family, she destroyed District 12, your home...she tried to kill you....
There was only one thing left to do.
My hands locked around her throat. I squeezed that fragile little neck...As hard as I could...I needed to crush her...destroy her, like she destroyed my home and my family...
I saw red. I just saw something I needed to kill...that mutt that destroyed everything I cared about...
A needle plunged into my neck and everything went black.
When I woke, I was still in the hospital wing.
No one was there, but I heard voices outside the ward. I recognised the voice speaking- Plutarch.
"-that the Capitol has been subjecting him to a rather uncommon technique known as hijacking. Beetee?"
Then I heard Beetee's voice. "I'm sorry. But I can't tell you all the specifics of it. The Capitol's very secretive about this form of torture, and I believe the results are inconsistent. This we do know: it's a type of fear conditioning. The term 'hijack' comes from an old English word that means 'to capture', or even better, 'seize'. We believe it was chosen because the technique involves the use of tracker jacker venom, and the 'jack' suggested 'hijack'."
They believe I was...hijacked? What was hijacking, anyway? How could they blame it on this? What Katniss did was completely her actions, and they shouldn't blame it on hijacking.
They talked for a little while more, about me, hijacking, or whatnot. I couldn't really be bothered to listen. All that mattered was that...that the world knew the truth about Katniss Everdeen.
She was a mutt.
She tried to kill me.
She destroyed District 12 by causing the fire.
That fire killed my family.
It was all her fault...