A very exciting chapter indeed! HAPPY 50TH CHAPTER HAHAHA!:D
Chapter 50: Caleb
I can’t hurt Marina. The only thing I can do is protect her, that’s always been my job. I know what a protest would mean for me. I know personally how much pain that little remote can bring to me. But I have no choice. I look at the spear in my hands, and know that I won’t use it. I look into Marina’s eyes. “Caleb…we have to.” She whispers.
The dark man has a slight smile on his face. The woman stands with her arms crossed, impatient. “No,” I say, “we don’t.” I turn to face our trainers, “I’m sorry. But I won’t do this, I can’t hurt my sister. I won’t.” I hang my head, waiting for the pain, waiting for the sensation I most dread in the world right now. But it doesn’t come. I raise my head and I see the trainers staring at Marina. She’s holding a club to her own head. I realize what she’s going to do one second after the trainers do.
“No!” growls the man, “That’s against the rules!” he grabs her wrist and shoves her to the ground. “Now, if you’re going to use that club, use it on him.”
Marina looks up at me from the ground where she lays. “Marina, please do it.” I say, because I know that I won’t be able to hurt her in any way.
Marina closes her eyes, grabs the club, and turns to face me. Right before she takes a swing, she whispers to me, “Caleb, climb the cliff.”
And I know. I sense what she’s going to do. In an instant, Marina swings the club so hard that it immediately knocks out the woman trainer standing just a few feet away. I grab a bow from the archery rack beside me and shoot the other trainer’s hand before he has the chance to press the little remote. He shrieks and releases the remote and pulls the arrow out of his hand. And then I hesitate to shoot him again. Somehow I feel that if I kill this man, the Capitol will win. They will get us to kill, just as they want. But my hesitation is costly.
In an instant, the Capitol man has recovered from the shot to his hand. He is here in a second, and all I’ve got to defend myself is a bow and arrows, which will be no use up close. With nothing else left to do, I try to turn and run, but not before I am tackled to the ground.
“All this time I’ve wondered what the issue with you two is that gave me such a bitter feeling,” he explains once I’m pinned down and unable to struggle free. Still, I twist and turn trying to wriggle out of his grasp. “And now I see why. The two of you, especially you, boy, will not follow directions. Now, here’s what we’re going to do…”
But he never has the chance to finish his sentence. While he was so preoccupied with detaining me, Marina has crept up behind him and with a pained grimace, brought her club down on his skull. To my surprise, it makes a sickening crack sound, and the light leaves his eyes. There’s no blood, just a dent too deep in his head for him to be living.
“Oh my God,” Marina lifts a trembling hand to her mouth. Instantly her eyes start to water.
“No, Marina, you had no choice. Don’t worry, you did just right. Listen to me.” I say with startling intensity, trying not to lose her now, “We have to get out now. The security cameras…they must have seen the whole thing. If we don’t leave right away…” I don’t even have to finish my sentence. It’s implied. If we don’t leave right now, something worse than death will surely befall us. I’m certain it will involve an unpleasant visit with President Snow, or worse, our experimentation tables.
We are running now, as hard as we can. Out the door, down the hall, searching for a way out of this long building, which now appears to be a Capitol prison. As we sprint through endless hallways full of holding cells similar to the dark room we arrived in, I don’t even allow myself to peer in and see what kinds of people have been imprisoned there. All I can do is keep a firm hold on Marina’s wrist and run. As I am thinking how surprising it is that we haven’t run into any peacekeepers, we hear the shuffling of what can only be peacekeepers coming down the hall. We’re trapped in a hall of holding cells and a few other doors that are most likely locked. Frantically, we try all the knobs until Marina starts running back the way we came. She reaches another door by the end of the hall, grabs my arm, and pulls me inside in the nick of time. Literally seconds after we are safely concealed, I can make out peacekeeper voices speaking urgently as then come down the hall. Marina has to cover a pale white hand over her mouth to keep from breathing too heavily. I do the same. The room is dark, but I can tell that it’s some sort of place where food for the prisoners is prepared. Marina and I try to disappear behind some boxes and containers of bread and cheese as the voices become audible and the footfalls more urgent.
“We have a situation in the training gym. The NG starters have escaped. They could be anywhere, most likely armed and dangerous.” One man’s voice rings out. A few peacekeepers scoff at this.
“Aren’t they just kids from the last Hunger Games?”
“They didn’t even win!”
“What’s the big deal?” they all protest.
“Stop!” says the leader again, “Don’t any of you dare underestimate these specimen! They were recommended by the President himself to be experiments for the New Generation. As some of the few who know the true brilliance of his plan, it’s our job as his personal squad to bring honor to our Capitol. Detain the NG runaways and we will be rewarded fairly, I’m sure. We’re wasting time, let’s go!”
And with that, they’re gone. What we’ve just heard has made me so incredibly angry I have no idea what I’ll do next. NG starters? Specimen? Experiments? That’s what we are?! I punch into a box of cheese and collapse against the wall. Marina puts a hand on my shoulder.
“Caleb we have to go. We don’t have time to think about what we’ve heard. We need to get back to District Four.” Every noise and breath she makes seems so magnified in the darkness.
“How can we ever get back home, Marina? There’s no way. Face it, pretty soon we’ll have to go back out there and give ourselves up.”
“Now that’s no way to be thinking.” a timid voice speaks from somewhere in the back of the room. Marina actually screams a bit, but then covers her mouth abruptly. I stand up straight immediately.
“Who’s there? Who said that?” We had just assumed we were alone.
“My name is Regina. I’m from District Twelve.” Regina walks up closer to us and I can make out her features. I recognize her as the girl who served us lunch today in the training room.
“I remember you…” Marina speaks up. “How did you get here?”
“You mean serving the prisoners of the Capitol along with being one myself?” she asks with a sigh, “That’s a long, sad story that began and ended with the 50th annual Hunger Games. It doesn’t matter. It’s too late for me anyway. But perhaps you can get out somehow.”
“No…I think it’s too late for us too.” I hang my head.
“There’s a new shipment of peacekeepers going to District Four on a hovercraft today.”
My eyes shine with hope. “When?!” I ask eagerly.
“Five o’ clock.” Regina’s voice is so quiet it’s nearly a whisper. “It’s four thirty now. I can get you to the loading dock…I can get you peacekeeper uniforms from the laundry here in the back. I wash the clothes too.”
“Wouldn’t they recognize our faces?” Marina asks doubtfully.
“No…no one really knows what you look like. The New Generation project is so secretive, even President Snow’s personal squad doesn’t really know your physical appearances.”
“Then how do you know about it?” I ask curiously.
Regina actually smiles a tiny bit. “I manage the security tapes sometimes. They figure I’m so useless I won’t be able to do anything with the information I receive. That’s why I handle all of the prisoners, even the secret ones. Maybe they’re right. I’ve been here for years…without a purpose.”
“Well you’re doing something now. Maybe you can come with us! Back home!” Marina rests a hand comfortingly on Regina’s arm. I’m surprised. I’ve never seen Marina trust anyone this quickly, except maybe Amber, but that was a different story.
So Regina leads us into the back and finds us the right size uniforms, complete with belts, boots, and all. She quickly ties Marina’s hair back into a Capitol braid, and then conceals its obvious dark red color in a white hood and helmet. Regina does the same for me, and even for herself, just in case she is caught helping us to the hovercraft. Not many of the other peacekeepers know her, as she deals mostly with the inmates. Maybe she can come with us, although something about the defeat in her voice tells me otherwise. We catch a glimpse of ourselves into a thin mirror against the wall. We could be peacekeepers heading off to District Four for any ordinary reason. Maybe Regina is right, who will possibly know that we are the runaway New Generation experiments?
The time is now 4:40. We have to get down to the loading dock to make it on time. Just as we are heading to the door to get out into the hallway, loud banging against the door begins. Marina looks at Regina and I with frightened eyes. Regina grabs us surprisingly firmly and heads us around to the back of the room again. The banging continues.
“Open up! On the order of President Snow, if anyone is here open the door immediately!”
“This way!” directs Regina in hushed tones. She then ushers us out of a small door hidden behind a rack of pots and pans and into the bright sunlight of a promising afternoon. I know in my heart that the outcome of the events that proceed today will mean either my escape and hope of a better future, or whatever doom awaits not only Marina and me but Regina, back in that Capitol place of torture.
Check out my fanfiction on fanfiction.net: