Книга Mockingjay. Содержание - 11

The wherewithal. A general term that somehow includes everything that was needed for him to sound the alarm. The knowledge, the opportunity, the courage. And something else I can’t define. Peeta seemed to have been waging a sort of battle in his mind, fighting to get the message out. Why? The ease with which he manipulates words is his greatest talent. Was his difficulty a result of his torture? Something more? Like madness?

Coin’s voice, perhaps a shade grimmer, fills the bunker, the volume level flickering with the lights. «Apparently, Peeta Mellark’s information was sound and we owe him a great debt of gratitude. Sensors indicate the first missile was not nuclear, but very powerful. We expect more will follow. For the duration of the attack, citizens are to stay in their assigned areas unless otherwise notified.»

A soldier alerts my mother that she’s needed in the first-aid station. She’s reluctant to leave us, even though she’ll only be thirty yards away.

«We’ll be fine, really,» I tell her. «Do you think anything could get past him?» I point to Buttercup, who gives me such a halfhearted hiss, we all have to laugh a little. Even I feel sorry for him. After my mother goes, I suggest, «Why don’t you climb in with him, Prim?»

«I know it’s silly…but I’m afraid the bunk might collapse on us during the attack,» she says.

If the bunks collapse, the whole bunker will have given way and buried us, but I decide this kind of logic won’t actually be helpful. Instead, I clean out the storage cube and make Buttercup a bed inside. Then I pull a mattress in front of it for my sister and me to share.

We’re given clearance in small groups to use the bathroom and brush our teeth, although showering has been canceled for the day. I curl up with Prim on the mattress, double layering the blankets because the cavern emits a dank chill. Buttercup, miserable even with Prim’s constant attention, huddles in the cube and exhales cat breath in my face.

Despite the disagreeable conditions, I’m glad to have time with my sister. My extreme preoccupation since I came here—no, since the first Games, really—has left little attention for her. I haven’t been watching over her the way I should, the way I used to. After all, it was Gale who checked our compartment, not me. Something to make up for.

I realize I’ve never even bothered to ask her about how she’s handling the shock of coming here. «So, how are you liking Thirteen, Prim?» I offer.

«Right now?» she asks. We both laugh. «I miss home badly sometimes. But then I remember there’s nothing left to miss anymore. I feel safer here. We don’t have to worry about you. Well, not the same way.» She pauses, and then a shy smile crosses her lips. «I think they’re going to train me to be a doctor.»

It’s the first I’ve heard of it. «Well, of course, they are. They’d be stupid not to.»

«They’ve been watching me when I help out in the hospital. I’m already taking the medic courses. It’s just beginner’s stuff. I know a lot of it from home. Still, there’s plenty to learn,» she tells me.

«That’s great,» I say. Prim a doctor. She couldn’t even dream of it in 12. Something small and quiet, like a match being struck, lights up the gloom inside me. This is the sort of future a rebellion could bring.

«What about you, Katniss? How are you managing?» Her fingertip moves in short, gentle strokes between Buttercup’s eyes. «And don’t say you’re fine.»

It’s true. Whatever the opposite of fine is, that’s what I am. So I go ahead and tell her about Peeta, his deterioration on-screen, and how I think they must be killing him at this very moment. Buttercup has to rely on himself for a while, because now Prim turns her attention to me. Pulling me closer, brushing the hair back behind my ears with her fingers. I’ve stopped talking because there’s really nothing left to say and there’s this piercing sort of pain where my heart is. Maybe I’m even having a heart attack, but it doesn’t seem worth mentioning.

«Katniss, I don’t think President Snow will kill Peeta,» she says. Of course, she says this; it’s what she thinks will calm me. But her next words come as a surprise. «If he does, he won’t have anyone left you want. He won’t have any way to hurt you.»

Suddenly, I am reminded of another girl, one who had seen all the evil the Capitol had to offer. Johanna Mason, the tribute from District 7, in the last arena. I was trying to prevent her from going into the jungle where the jabberjays mimicked the voices of loved ones being tortured, but she brushed me off, saying, «They can’t hurt me. I’m not like the rest of you. There’s no one left I love.»

Then I know Prim is right, that Snow cannot afford to waste Peeta’s life, especially now, while the Mockingjay causes so much havoc. He’s killed Cinna already. Destroyed my home. My family, Gale, and even Haymitch are out of his reach. Peeta’s all he has left.

«So, what do you think they’ll do to him?» I ask.

Prim sounds about a thousand years old when she speaks.

«Whatever it takes to break you.»


What will break me?

This is the question that consumes me over the next three days as we wait to be released from our prison of safety. What will break me into a million pieces so that I am beyond repair, beyond usefulness? I mention it to no one, but it devours my waking hours and weaves itself throughout my nightmares.

Four more bunker missiles fall over this period, all massive, all very damaging, but there’s no urgency to the attack. The bombs are spread out over the long hours so that just when you think the raid is over, another blast sends shock waves through your guts. It feels more designed to keep us in lockdown than to decimate 13. Cripple the district, yes. Give the people plenty to do to get the place running again. But destroy it? No. Coin was right on that point. You don’t destroy what you want to acquire in the future. I assume what they really want, in the short term, is to stop the Airtime Assaults and keep me off the televisions of Panem.

We receive next to no information about what is happening. Our screens never come on, and we get only brief audio updates from Coin about the nature of the bombs. Certainly, the war is still being waged, but as to its status, we’re in the dark.

Inside the bunker, cooperation is the order of the day. We adhere to a strict schedule for meals and bathing, exercise and sleep. Small periods of socialization are granted to alleviate the tedium. Our space becomes very popular because both children and adults have a fascination with Buttercup. He attains celebrity status with his evening game of Crazy Cat. I created this by accident a few years ago, during a winter blackout. You simply wiggle a flashlight beam around on the floor, and Buttercup tries to catch it. I’m petty enough to enjoy it because I think it makes him look stupid. Inexplicably, everyone here thinks he’s clever and delightful. I’m even issued a special set of batteries—an enormous waste—to be used for this purpose. The citizens of 13 are truly starved for entertainment.

It’s on the third night, during our game, that I answer the question eating away at me. Crazy Cat becomes a metaphor for my situation. I am Buttercup. Peeta, the thing I want so badly to secure, is the light. As long as Buttercup feels he has the chance of catching the elusive light under his paws, he’s bristling with aggression. (That’s how I’ve been since I left the arena, with Peeta alive.) When the light goes out completely, Buttercup’s temporarily distraught and confused, but he recovers and moves on to other things. (That’s what would happen if Peeta died.) But the one thing that sends Buttercup into a tailspin is when I leave the light on but put it hopelessly out of his reach, high on the wall, beyond even his jumping skills. He paces below the wall, wails, and can’t be comforted or distracted. He’s useless until I shut the light off. (That’s what Snow is trying to do to me now, only I don’t know what form his game takes.)

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