They'd dragged me through corridors, into a building labeled 'Capitol Jail, for the guilty', and tossed me into a cell that was located in the wing that was called the 'High Security Wing'.
"Wait!" I yelled desperately as they locked the cell door; but being the Capitol, it wouldn't just be a simple lock-and-key lock. Naturally, it had to include a passcode, keycard, fingerprint scanner and security question. There was no way I was getting out of this one.
One of the Peacekeepers glared at me. "Listen, prisoner. You attempted to attack the president; don't deny it. So, of course, those traitors will have to be locked in the High Security Wing. Stop complaining. You landed yourself in here." He secured the cell and locked it. I knew better than to argue.
I heard a scream emitting from the cell beside me. Unfortunately, it was a scream I recognised; the scream of the woman I had been trying so hard to protect back in the penthouse. Johanna. I didn't like her much, but she still was my ally.
I pounded on the steel walls of my cell. "Johanna!" I bellowed.
"No! I'll never tell you! Never!" she shrieked, and that was followed by another ear-piercing scream.
"Johanna," I said.
Suddenly the screaming stopped. I don't know why. But suddenly Johanna's voice quietly said, "Peeta?" Then she yelled in frustration and pounded the walls of her cell. "Argh! They got you too! Wait, it is Peeta, right?"
I nodded before realising that she couldn't see through the steel walls. "Yeah, it's me."
"Is Katniss with you?" she asked.
"No, unfortunately," I said, before the reality of the situation struck me and I yelled in despair. "She-she-"
"Okay, she's not here- that's good," Johanna said. I felt like punching her! Why would that be good?!
"And how is that good?" I growled. Johanna laughed, but even that laugh was strained. Guess that torture must've really gotten to her.
"That means she escaped," she said.
"Yeah...I was watching the footage they showed on TV. She, Finnick and Beetee were taken by a hovercraft, but it didn't belong to the Capitol."
"Yeah, that's good. That means those three, at least, escaped," she said, sighing with relief.
"But where? Are-is Katniss safe?" I asked desperately.
"Oh, I'm sure. They'll take good care of your little Girl-on-Fire," she said, and I heard a little contempt in her voice, like she didn't really think much of Katniss.
"What's your problem with her anyway?" I asked her.
She scoffed. "That's none of your business. And who says I've got a problem with her?"
"Just the way you act when you talk about her."
"You can't even see me!"
"The way you say her name...well, it sure doesn't have anything good in it. So why do you hate her again? She's brave, she's rebellious, she can hunt, she's beautiful, she's-"
"Oh, save it lover boy. She's hardly done anything, and her 'defender of the helpless' and 'I won't listen to anyone' and 'I'm such a rebel' act is really, really annoying. Except that it's not an act, which makes it even worse."
"So, you're jealous of her."
"Ha! She can dream about it, lover boy, she can dream about it."
After that it was kind of awkward and we just sort of stood there in silence, until I said, "Are you okay? I mean...the torture-"
"Fine," she snapped.
"Okay," I murmured.
"It's just so cruel, you know?" her voice rang out, full of hurt as sharp as glass, and defiance. "They're torturing me, electrocuting me...and..."
"I know. The Capitol is cruel isn't it?"
"Yeah. But I won't tell you a thing about the rebelli-" she stopped herself, but it was too late.
"Yeah, that's what Snow was asking me about," I said, then told her of the events at the penthouse. She laughed.
"You elbowed him, then punched him? Must've been a delight to see pain on his bloody face," she said with malice.
"So what was he talking about?" I asked her.
"Oh, right. We didn't tell you and your, um, fiancée," she said, laughing at the last word. "Just afraid you'd blow it."
"We wouldn't have blown it," I said indignantly, crossing my arms.
"Uh-Huh. Anyway, couldn't take any risks. And I'm not telling you about it now. I won't crack but who knows whether you will? Best to not tell you."
"Okay, whatever. But where did Katniss go?" I asked. Protect her until the end, right?
"Can't tell you. Won't tell you. Like I always say, what you don't know can't hurt you. Snow will continue to torture you for information, but hopefully he'll figure out that you really don't know anything," she said.
"So, he wouldn't torture me then, right?"
"I don't know. But once he figures out you don't have any information, he'll use you as a weapon, I guess, to lure Katniss here."
"No, I won't let her be lured," I growled.
She laughed bitterly. "It's not like you have any say in the matter, you know."
Suddenly a male voice on the PA said, "Peeta Mellark to report to for interrogation."
Johanna said, "Ooh," so I figured she must've been wincing. "Bad luck, Peeta. That almost always means torture, but for you, definitely. Snow thinks you have the information he needs, and he means to get it. But you won't be able to tell him anything, because you don't know anything."
"Yeah, I got that. Thanks."
"Well...good luck. May there be as little pain as possible," she murmured.
"Thanks," I muttered back. "So..what now?" No sooner have the words left my mouth than I hear the sounds of the security measures being unlocked, and in a matter of seconds the door whooshes open. I wonder if I can make a break for it, but...no. Firstly, the Peacekeepers are armed, strong and outnumber me. Secondly, even if I could outrun them, I'd get myself hopelessly lost in this place. Thirdly, I would never leave Johanna here at the mercy of Snow, being tortured even more for my disappearance, much as I dislike her.
Two armed Peacekeepers in their white suits entered and grabbed me by the elbows to drag me to the interrogation room. Surprisingly, it's not far- it's just down the hallway. It's a simple square room, with steel walls and a PA system. A stool stood at the middle of the room. The Peacekeepers tossed to another two of them, which were waiting in the room. They handcuffed my hands behind my back and tied my legs to the legs of the stool. Then they stood to the side obediently.
Then I saw something that chilled my blood. One of them was holding a long, fiery whip, with a grim expression. Were they going to use that on me? I panicked internally.
Snow's voice flooded the room through the PA. "Ah, Mr Mellark. Here we are again."
"Look, I don't know anything about-" I began but he interrupted me.
"I'm sure we can move past that. I once agreed with your little...fiancée that we wouldn't lie to each other. It's probably best if you and I could agree on that too," he said, with a false friendly tone.
What agreement? Katniss had never mentioned making an agreement with this...snake. But I couldn't dwell on that now.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
He sighed. "Trying to keep secrets from me is like trying to hide food from a starving person. They will get it eventually."
"I don't know anything about the rebellion, no matter what you say. I'd never even heard about it until you mentioned it!"
"Well then, I suppose that you need a little...persuasion. The Peacekeepers are authorized to do this," he said. "Do what you have to do."
One of the Peacekeepers walked behind me and lifted the whip. I winced. Then the fiery lash seared my back, and every molecule in my body screamed in pain. What...what was the cold, when all I could feel was this pain, this burning sensation?
"I repeat, what do you know about the rebellion?" Snow's voice demanded.
"I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT!" I yelled as the whip burnt my back again. He kept hitting me; again and again, merciless.
"I suppose you will need more persuasion then," he said coldly. "You, you other Peacekeepers. You know what to do."
The first one took a swing at my face. Then he punched me, leaving my nose bloody.
"This is just a little taste of it; are you sure you aren't going to tell me?" Snow taunted.
"I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING!" I yelled. "YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE ME!"
"Peacekeepers, go all," Snow said coldly, and they began beating me up- punches, kicks, even hitting me with heavy objects, like iron or bats, while the first Peacekeeper repeatedly lashed me with the whip.
According to the clock, it was only one hour. But, god, it felt so much longer.
They wouldn't stop. They kept beating me, kicking me, whipping me. With each punch, kick, lash, all I could do was scream, shout, yell...there was nothing to feel, but pain...
"ARE YOU STILL GOING TO RESIST?" Snow boomed.
"I'm-I'm not resisting!" I said, trying not to let my voice break. "I honestly- I honestly don't know anything."
"Very well...we shall continue this interrogation tomorrow. Peacekeepers, take him back to his cell," Snow said, and I sighed in relief.
The Peacekeepers put down their whips or other...weapons...and unlocked the handcuffs and untied my legs. They grabbed my elbows and dragged me back to my cell. It was a miracle I could still walk, the state I was in. I'd need some serious recovery time.
They tossed me into the cell, and I tumbled onto the floor. The one in the front stared at me coldly, unfeelingly, and said, "Unless you want more of this tomorrow, I'd suggest you talk." With that, he closed the door, and activated the other security measures to lock me in.
"Peeta?" Johanna's voice asked.
"It's you, right?" she asked.
"Urgh- yeah- urgh- it's- argh- me," I said.
"Are-are you okay?" she asked hesitantly. "How bad was it?"
I was shocked, despite the pain. The Johanna I knew wasn't exactly the sympathetic type.
"I'll live," I groaned.
"Good," she said crisply.
"But it still hurts," I moaned, lying down on the cold floor of the cell.
"Deal with it," she snapped, and despite everything I had to smile. Now that was the Johanna I knew.
"Wow, thanks for the sympathy," I groaned.
"No problem," she shot back.
There was a silence.
My body was all sore, and my face bruised. My back still burnt from the whip and bumps would definitely appear on my head after all that hitting. My face was bloody, and so was my back. Even my flesh was all burnt.
"Do-do you need some, uh...recovery time?" she asked.
I was happy she understood how it felt to be in pain after that torture...but either being too polite to ask for that time, or too embarrassed.
"Um, yeah, that'd be great," I muttered. I felt her walk to the opposite end of her cell.
I buried my head in my hands, and brought my knees to them. I tried not to let the tears flow, but I only succeeded for a few minutes before they fell quietly into my hands.
This was only the beginning.
The reality of the situation engulfed me in despair. And this time, I didn't even have Katniss.
Where was she?
Was she safe?
How long more would I have to endure this literal torture?
And would we even get out of this war alive?