Sorry it's late again
Chapter 33: Cole
A couple of hours before sundown the canon goes off.
“Who do suppose that was?” Jed asks.
“Probably someone in the swamp how couldn’t swim any longer or something.” Stella shrugs. “Let’s hope it’s one of the Careers.” Fuchsia frowns. “Sorry.” She mutters.
When the Capital seal appears the girl from 2 is the first to be shown. So Chase is still alive.
“Allaya.” Fuchsia’s face is a cross between surprise and a little sadness. Guilt crosses Stella’s remembering how she used her body as a raft.
“Was that her?” She asks.
“Yeah. She was pretty cool, tough like most 2 girls are but she wasn’t blood thirsty. Just in it to win it.”
“Aren’t we all.” Jed sighs. A sad silence falls as they remember only one of them will win as the boy from District 11 is revealed to be the mystery cannon. That brings us two steps closer to a victor.
Dread knots my stomach as I’m reminded I can only bring one victor home. That victor has to be Jed, there’s no other option, but I’ll never forgive myself if I let Stella die.
“We should settle down for night.” Jed says climbing the tree behind them.
“But I can’t climb trees, not with my bad ankle.” Fuchsia protests. Stella rolls her eyes.
“Well we can’t stay on the ground.” She says, following Jed.
“Hey! You can’t leave me vulnerable down here.” Fuchsia snaps. They two girls bicker for a minute or two until Jed puts a hand up.
“Stop it! One of us will stay on the ground with Fuchsia while the other keeps watch here.” I’ve never heard him speak with so much authority.
“I’ll take the first watch.” Stella says, eyeing Fuchsia suspiciously.
“Then I’ll stay with Jeddie.” She grins patting the ground next to her; he smiles and sits down there. When Stella’s high enough to be out of ear shot she leans her head close to his and says. “Thanks for saving me back there. If hadn’t had come along I don’t know what would’ve happened.” Red fills Jed’s cheeks as he murmurs:
“Oh, it was nothing.” I turn away, this scene making me feel quite uncomfortable for some reason.
I’m still not completely sure if she can be trusted, after all she is a Career and her mentor Cashmere has set out to make “life very hard for you and your little tributes”. But I don’t think she’ll be trying anything soon, if she is planning to cross them it won’t be until her ankles better, which gives me plenty of time to make my mind up. Plus if they do run into any trouble she can still fight well so she’s a good asset to the alliance. Whether she can be trusted or not I don’t like the way she’s almost flirting with Jed and the way he acts like a smitten school boy around her.
As the time for the switch over draws near I browse our inventory. A lot of important items were lost when the Backpack was washed away and with the Cornucopia gone the only place they can get them from now is sponsors. A lot of it seems to food, things like jerky and dried fruit, but there are also items like rope, sleeping bags and knives. The Capital must really like Stella and Jed because this is the most sponsors I’ve seen District 7 have! And it’s nearly doubled in the last few hours since Fuchsia joined them, so the public must believe she can be trusted. I’ll wait until these items are really needed before I send them. In the next few days the prices of sponsor gifts will soar so sponsors will be less willing to help.
As I make my way down to meet Torey I spot Cashmere walking towards me. I expect to get another threating confrontation about Jed stealing Fuchsia away from the Careers or something. But instead she gets into the elevator with me silently, not even looking at me. I would like to stay this way but I need to know where we stand now that there’s an alliance between our tributes.
“So…now that we’re part of an alliance we’ll have to work together.” I say. She turns to me, trying to keep a straight face but there’s a look in her eye I can’t quite place, it’s like she’s trying to hold something down that’s brewing inside her.
"Yes, I guess we will."
When we get out she darts off towards her and they whisper together excitedly. I nearly bump into Torey whose standing in front of the doors with her arms crossed across her chest, looking even more serious than usual.
“What’s wrong?” I ask. She glances at Cashmere and Gloss who are grinning like a Career who’s found a very sharp sword. They look at us, then burst out laughing.
“We’ve got a problem.” She says as calmly as ever as she gets up gesturing me to follow. We go into the TV Room next to the Social Area. In the Social Area almost every chair is filled with a mentor or sponsor, some talking intensely about strategy while others gossip and negotiate sponsor deals. But the TV Room is almost empty.
“It’s Fuchsia, isn’t it?” I growl, knowing deep down something wasn’t right about her.
“Yes, but it’s hard to explain so I’ll show you.”
The TV room is made up of four huge TV screens, one on each wall. The north side shows the stats of each tribute according to a panel of “experts” who discuss the Games in the upper right hand corner of the screen, the betting odds for each tribute on the left. The south side is a Capital gossip show where the Games and rumours behind the scenes are hotly discussed. The west side is the live footage with Caesar Flickerman commentating. The east side holds the most important TV of all: the on demand reruns. Here mentors can browse through what’s been going on in the Games away from their tribute. The TV room gives mentors a 360 degree view of the Games along with what the Capital think.
Torey takes the remote to the east side TV and brings up the menu, selects Fuchsia McQueen, day two, 15:00-16:00. We take a seat and watch as the screen is filled with the image of Fuchsia standing next to a severed rope as the rest of the Careers run towards her.
“WHERE’S THAT DISTRICT 7 PUNK ?! I HEARD HIS VIOCE!” Kayden yells, ready to fight, his axe held high.
“Jed’s gone, Kayden.” Fuchsia says confidently, but there’s a flicker of fear in her eyes as Kayden narrows his eyes.
“Did you let him go?” He asks barley able to control his fast building rage. She doesn’t answer.
“YOU DID DIDN’T YOU?!” He screams gabbing her by the neck and slamming against the tree!
“Kayden! Please calm down…” says Allaya trying to pull him away. He shakes her off.
“GET OFF ME! JED IS MY KILL! THIS YEAR WAS SURPOSSED TO BE MY YEAR, I’M THE ONLY ONE WHO SHOULD HAVE VICTORS RUNNING THROUGH MY VIENS! BUT HE’S RUINING IT, HE’S TAKING THE SPOTLIGHT AWAY FROM ME, FROM THE FLINTS AND POINTING AT HIS STUPID FAMILY! I SHOULD BE ALL ANYONE'S TALKING ABOUT! NOT HIM! NOT HIM! NOT HIM!!!” He slams her into the tree with every “not him”, as if he’s holding him and not Fuchsia. His eyes have completely glazed over. It looks like he’s going to kill her!
“I know, that’s why I let him go.” She croaks. He stops and frowns, loosening his grip. “What do you mean?”
“You want to be the one who kills him, to show you’re better than him and you’re the star of the show, right?” She says a sly look spreading across her face.
“Yeah.” He answers impatiently.
“Well don’t you want to do it in the most dramatic way possible? Make him suffer for what he’s done and show everyone how good you are.” A sadistic smile spreads across his face.
“Then you want to kill him in a fight. Not have him hanging down like a human piñata.” She says.
“But I could have just cut him down and made him fight!” He tightens his hold slightly. “YOU TOOK AWAY WHAT COULD ME MY LAST CHANCE TO DESTROY HIM!” He reaches down, holding her to the tree with one hand and picks up his axe, despite the protests of the others.
“WAIT! WAIT! PLEASE! I CAN FIND HIM AND BRING HIM TO YOU!” Fuchsia suddenly blurts out, pure fear and panic clinging to her voice. He holts again. “You’ve got two minutes to explain what the hell you’re talking about.
“Remember how we said we’d go to the pyramid because there might be something good there and we’ll see tributes from miles around. Well next time I see Jed I’ll convince him to go to the pyramid, that way we don’t have to spend all our time hunting him, he’ll come to us. Just imagine the priceless look on his face when he sees you there. Everyone will be talking about what you’ll do to him when he gets there.” She says, pausing before each sentence as if she’s improvising a performance.
“Do you really think you could fool him into listening to you?” The girl from 4 butts in, not sounding sceptical.
“Course I can, Torrent. I’ve been pushing his buttons ever since that day in training; it’ll be like persuading Haymitch Abernathy to have a drink.” She answers, that sy look reappearing. Kayden thinks about this for a while, he releases her.
“Alright. We should reach the pyramid in four days. If he’s not there in six, you’re dead, even if we’re not a team anymore by then I’ll find you and kill you.” He says, his face centimetres away from hers.
I sit there in utter complete shock, my blood frozen in my veins. How could I trust that girl even for a second?!
“The good news about this is that she’ll have to keep him alive until then.” Says Torey, exiting the recording.
“Yes, but only so she can betray him by handing him over to a psychotic, deluded Career who lusting for his blood.” I reply, feeling the fear Jed should be feeling right now.