Книга Mockingjay. Содержание - 21

The pink and orange block seems to have been dipped in glossy black paint and set out to dry. Paving stones, buildings, even the rooftops are coated in the gel. A large teardrop hangs above the street. Two shapes project from it. A gun barrel and a human hand. Mitchell. I wait on the sidewalk, staring up at him until the entire group has joined me.

«If anyone needs to go back, for whatever reason, now is the time,» I say. «No questions asked, no hard feelings.» No one seems inclined to retreat. So I start moving into the Capitol, knowing we don’t have much time. The gel’s deeper here, four to six inches, and makes a sucking sound each time you pick up your foot, but it still covers our tracks.

The wave must have been enormous, with tremendous power behind it, as it’s affected several blocks that lie ahead. And though I tread with care, I think my instinct was right about its triggering other pods. One block is sprinkled with the golden bodies of tracker jackers. They must have been set free only to succumb to the fumes. A little farther along, an entire apartment building has collapsed and lies in a mound under the gel. I sprint across the intersections, holding up a hand for the others to wait while I look for trouble, but the wave seems to have dismantled the pods far better than any squad of rebels could.

On the fifth block, I can tell that we’ve reached the point where the wave began to peter out. The gel’s only an inch deep, and I can see baby blue rooftops peeking out across the next intersection. The afternoon light has faded, and we badly need to get under cover and form a plan. I choose an apartment two-thirds of the way down the block. Homes jimmies the lock, and I order the others inside. I stay on the street for just a minute, watching the last of our footprints fade away, then close the door behind me.

Flashlights built into our guns illuminate a large living room with mirrored walls that throw our faces back at us at every turn. Gale checks the windows, which show no damage, and removes his mask. «It’s all right. You can smell it, but it’s not too strong.»

The apartment seems to be laid out exactly like the first one we took refuge in. The gel blacks out any natural daylight in the front, but some light still slips through the shutters in the kitchen. Along the hallway are two bedrooms with baths. A spiral staircase in the living room leads up to an open space that composes much of the second floor. There are no windows upstairs, but the lights have been left on, probably by someone hastily evacuating. A huge television screen, blank but glowing softly, occupies one wall. Plush chairs and sofas are strewn around the room. This is where we congregate, slump into upholstery, try to catch our breath.

Jackson has her gun trained on Peeta even though he’s still cuffed and unconscious, draped across a deep-blue sofa where Homes deposited him. What on earth am I going to do with him? With the crew? With everybody, frankly, besides Gale and Finnick? Because I’d rather track down Snow with those two than without them. But I can’t lead ten people through the Capitol on a pretend mission, even if I could read the Holo. Should I, could I have sent them back when I had a chance? Or was it too dangerous? Both to them personally and to my mission? Maybe I shouldn’t have listened to Boggs, because he might have been in some delusional death state. Maybe I should just come clean, but then Jackson would take over and we’d end up back at camp. Where I’d have Coin to answer to.

Just as the complexity of the mess I’ve dragged everybody into begins to overload my brain, a distant chain of explosions sends a tremor through the room.

«It wasn’t close,» Jackson assures us. «A good four or five blocks away.»

«Where we left Boggs,» says Leeg 1.

Although no one has made a move toward it, the television flares to life, emitting a high-pitched beeping sound, bringing half our party to its feet.

«It’s all right!» calls Cressida. «It’s just an emergency broadcast. Every Capitol television is automatically activated for it.»

There we are on-screen, just after the bomb took out Boggs. A voice-over tells the audience what they are viewing as we try to regroup, react to the black gel shooting from the street, lose control of the situation. We watch the chaos that follows until the wave blots out the cameras. The last thing we see is Gale, alone on the street, trying to shoot through the cables that hold Mitchell aloft.

The reporter identifies Gale, Finnick, Boggs, Peeta, Cressida, and me by name.

«There’s no aerial footage. Boggs must have been right about their hovercraft capacity,» says Castor. I didn’t notice this, but I guess it’s the kind of thing a cameraman picks up on.

Coverage continues from the courtyard behind the apartment where we took shelter. Peacekeepers line the roof across from our former hideout. Shells are launched into the row of apartments, setting off the chain of explosions we heard, and the building collapses into rubble and dust.

Now we cut to a live feed. A reporter stands on the roof with the Peacekeepers. Behind her, the apartment block burns. Firefighters try to control the blaze with water hoses. We are pronounced dead.

«Finally, a bit of luck,» says Homes.

I guess he’s right. Certainly it’s better than having the Capitol in pursuit of us. But I just keep imagining how this will be playing back in 13. Where my mother and Prim, Hazelle and the kids, Annie, Haymitch, and a whole lot of people from 13 think that they have just seen us die.

«My father. He just lost my sister and now…» says Leeg 1.

We watch as they play the footage over and over. Revel in their victory, especially over me. Break away to do a montage of the Mockingjay’s rise to rebel power—I think they’ve had this part prepared for a while, because it seems pretty polished—and then go live so a couple of reporters can discuss my well-deserved violent end. Later, they promise, Snow will make an official statement. The screen fades back to a glow.

The rebels made no attempt to break in during the broadcast, which leads me to believe they think it’s true. If that’s so, we really are on our own.

«So, now that we’re dead, what’s our next move?» asks Gale.

«Isn’t it obvious?» No one even knew Peeta had regained consciousness. I don’t know how long he’s been watching, but by the look of misery on his face, long enough to see what happened on the street. How he went mad, tried to bash my head in, and hurled Mitchell into the pod. He painfully pushes himself up to a sitting position and directs his words to Gale.

«Our next move…is to kill me.»


That makes two requests for Peeta’s death in less than an hour.

«Don’t be ridiculous,» says Jackson.

«I just murdered a member of our squad!» shouts Peeta.

«You pushed him off you. You couldn’t have known he would trigger the net at that exact spot,» says Finnick, trying to calm him.

«Who cares? He’s dead, isn’t he?» Tears begin to run down Peeta’s face. «I didn’t know. I’ve never seen myself like that before. Katniss is right. I’m the monster. I’m the mutt. I’m the one Snow has turned into a weapon!»

«It’s not your fault, Peeta,» says Finnick.

«You can’t take me with you. It’s only a matter of time before I kill someone else.» Peeta looks around at our conflicted faces. «Maybe you think it’s kinder to just dump me somewhere. Let me take my chances. But that’s the same thing as handing me over to the Capitol. Do you think you’d be doing me a favor by sending me back to Snow?»

Peeta. Back in Snow’s hands. Tortured and tormented until no bits of his former self will ever emerge again.

For some reason, the last stanza to «The Hanging Tree» starts running through my head. The one where the man wants his lover dead rather than have her face the evil that awaits her in the world.

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