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Книга Mockingjay. Содержание - PART II «THE ASSAULT»

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The scream begins in my lower back and works its way up through my body only to jam in my throat. I am Avox mute, choking on my grief. Even if I could release the muscles in my neck, let the sound tear into space, would anyone notice it? The room’s in an uproar. Questions and demands ring out as they try to decipher Peeta’s words. «And you…in Thirteen…dead by morning!» Yet no one is asking about the messenger whose blood has been replaced by static.

A voice calls the others to attention. «Shut up!» Every pair of eyes falls on Haymitch. «It’s not some big mystery! The boy’s telling us we’re about to be attacked. Here. In Thirteen.»

«How would he have that information?»

«Why should we trust him?»

«How do you know?»

Haymitch gives a growl of frustration. «They’re beating him bloody while we speak. What more do you need? Katniss, help me out here!»

I have to give myself a shake to free my words. «Haymitch’s right. I don’t know where Peeta got the information. Or if it’s true. But he believes it is. And they’re—»  I can’t say aloud what Snow’s doing to him.

«You don’t know him,» Haymitch says to Coin. «We do. Get your people ready.»

The president doesn’t seem alarmed, only somewhat perplexed, by this turn in events. She mulls over the words, tapping one finger lightly on the rim of the control board in front of her. When she speaks, she addresses Haymitch in an even voice. «Of course, we have prepared for such a scenario. Although we have decades of support for the assumption that further direct attacks on Thirteen would be counterproductive to the Capitol’s cause. Nuclear missiles would release radiation into the atmosphere, with incalculable environmental results. Even routine bombing could badly damage our military compound, which we know they hope to regain. And, of course, they invite a counterstrike. It is conceivable that, given our current alliance with the rebels, those would be viewed as acceptable risks.»

«You think so?» says Haymitch. It’s a shade too sincere, but the subtleties of irony are often wasted in13.

«I do. At any rate, we’re overdue for a Level Five security drill,» says Coin. «Let’s proceed with the lockdown.» She begins to type rapidly on her keyboard, authorizing her decision. The moment she raises her head, it begins.

There have been two low-level drills since I arrived in 13. I don’t remember much about the first. I was in intensive care in the hospital and I think the patients were exempted, as the complications of removing us for a practice drill outweighed the benefits. I was vaguely aware of a mechanical voice instructing people to congregate in yellow zones. During the second, a Level Two drill meant for minor crises—such as a temporary quarantine while citizens were tested for contagion during a flu outbreak—we were supposed to return to our living quarters. I stayed behind a pipe in the laundry room, ignored the pulsating beeps coming over the audio system, and watched a spider construct a web. Neither experience has prepared me for the wordless, eardrum-piercing, fear-inducing sirens that now permeate 13. There would be no disregarding this sound, which seems designed to throw the whole population into a frenzy. But this is 13 and that doesn’t happen.

Boggs guides Finnick and me out of Command, along the hall to a doorway, and onto a wide stairway. Streams of people are converging to form a river that flows only downward. No one shrieks or tries to push ahead. Even the children don’t resist. We descend, flight after flight, speechless, because no word could be heard above this sound. I look for my mother and Prim, but it’s impossible to see anyone but those immediately around me. They’re both working in the hospital tonight, though, so there’s no way they can miss the drill.

My ears pop and my eyes feel heavy. We are coal-mine deep. The only plus is that the farther we retreat into the earth, the less shrill the sirens become. It’s as if they were meant to physically drive us away from the surface, which I suppose they are. Groups of people begin to peel off into marked doorways and still Boggs directs me downward, until finally the stairs end at the edge of an enormous cavern. I start to walk straight in and Boggs stops me, shows me that I must wave my schedule in front of a scanner so that I’m accounted for. No doubt the information’s going to some computer somewhere to make sure no one’s gone astray.

The place seems unable to decide if it’s natural or man-made. Certain areas of the walls are stone, while steel beams and concrete heavily reinforce others. Sleeping bunks are hewn right into the rock walls. There’s a kitchen, bathrooms, a first-aid station. This place was designed for an extended stay.

White signs with letters or numbers are placed at intervals around the cavern. As Boggs tells Finnick and me to report to the area that matches our assigned quarters—in my case E for Compartment E—Plutarch strolls up. «Ah, here you are,» he says. Recent events have had little effect on Plutarch’s mood. He still has a happy glow from Beetee’s success on the Airtime Assault. Eyes on the forest, not on the trees. Not on Peeta’s punishment or 13’s imminent blasting. «Katniss, obviously this is a bad moment for you, what with Peeta’s setback, but you need to be aware that others will be watching you.»

«What?» I say. I can’t believe he actually just downgraded Peeta’s dire circumstances to a setback.

«The other people in the bunker, they’ll be taking their cue on how to react from you. If you’re calm and brave, others will try to be as well. If you panic, it could spread like wildfire,» explains Plutarch. I just stare at him. «Fire is catching, so to speak,» he continues, as if I’m being slow on the uptake.

«Why don’t I just pretend I’m on camera, Plutarch?» I say.

«Yes! Perfect. One is always much braver with an audience,» he says. «Look at the courage Peeta just displayed!»

It’s all I can do not to slap him.

«I’ve got to get back to Coin before lockdown. You keep up the good work!» he says, and then heads off.

I cross to the big letter E posted on the wall. Our space consists of a twelve-by-twelve-foot square of stone floor delineated by painted lines. Carved into the wall are two bunks—one of us will be sleeping on the floor—and a ground-level cube space for storage. A piece of white paper, coated in clear plastic, reads BUNKERPROTOCOL . I stare fixedly at the little black specks on the sheet. For a while, they’re obscured by the residual blood droplets that I can’t seem to wipe from my vision. Slowly, the words come into focus. The first section is entitled «On Arrival.»

 1. Make sure all members of your Compartment are accounted for.

My mother and Prim haven’t arrived, but I was one of the first people to reach the bunker. Both of them are probably helping to relocate hospital patients.

 2. Go to the Supply Station and secure one pack for each member of your Compartment. Ready your Living Area. Return pack(s).

I scan the cavern until I locate the Supply Station, a deep room set off by a counter. People wait behind it, but there’s not a lot of activity there yet. I walk over, give our compartment letter, and request three packs. A man checks a sheet, pulls the specified packs from shelving, and swings them up onto the counter. After sliding one on my back and getting a grip on the other two with my hands, I turn to find a group rapidly forming behind me. «Excuse me,» I say as I carry my supplies through the others. Is it a matter of timing? Or is Plutarch right? Are these people modeling their behavior on mine?

Back at our space, I open one of the packs to find a thin mattress, bedding, two sets of gray clothing, a toothbrush, a comb, and a flashlight. On examining the contents of the other packs, I find the only discernible difference is that they contain both gray and white outfits. The latter will be for my mother and Prim, in case they have medical duties. After I make up the beds, store the clothes, and return the backpacks, I’ve got nothing to do but observe the last rule.

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