I look back at the wall of fog extending in a straight line as far as I can see in either direction. A terrible impulse to flee, to abandon Peeta and save myself, shoots through me. It would be so simple, to run full out, perhaps to even climb a tree above the fog line, which seems to top out at about forty feet. I remember how I did just this when the muttations appeared in the last Games. Took off and only thought of Peeta when I’d reached the Cornucopia. But this time, I trap my terror, push it down, and stay by his side. This time my survival isn’t the goal. Peeta’s is. I think of the eyes glued to the television screens in the districts, seeing if I will run, as the Capitol wishes, or hold my ground.
I’ll admit that I thought it, too. I just don’t know if I’d have it in me to slow myself down to help another person survive, at risk of getting myself killed. So I think it’s totally normal for Katniss to think this, as a natural born fighter. But I love that she keeps her word and stays with Peeta.
The left side of his face has sagged, as if every muscle in it has died. The lid droops, almost concealing his eye. His mouth twists in an odd angle toward the ground. “Peeta—” I begin. And that’s when I feel the spasms run up my arm.
Whatever chemical laces the fog does more than burn — it targets our nerves. A whole new kind of fear shoots through me and I yank Peeta forward, which only causes him to stumble again. By the time I get him to his feet, both of my arms are twitching uncontrollably. The fog has moved in on us, the body of it less than a yard away. Something is wrong with Peeta’s legs; he’s trying to walk but they move in a spastic, puppetlike fashion.
WHAT THE it also paralyzes you?! How the fuck are they going to get out of this? From a Gamemaker’s standpoint, I don’t really see how this is entertaining, because if the fog is meant to debilitate them, then they don’t really get to put up a fight, which is what the Capitol wants to see, right? It’s like they just want to kill them immediately.
“It’s no good. I’ll have to carry him. Can you take Mags?” he asks me.
“Yes,” I say stoutly, although my heart sinks.
I just, I’m sorry, but it’s really not helping, having to carry these people around. They’re having a hard enough time with their own bodies! I can’t see this lasting much longer.
Finnick’s back by my side, Peeta hanging over him. “It’s no use,” I say. “Can you take them both? Go on ahead, I’ll catch up.” A somewhat doubtful proposal, but I say it with as much surety as I can muster.
I can see Finnick’s eyes, green in the moonlight. I can see them as clear as day. Almost like a cat’s, with a strange reflective quality. Maybe because they are shiny with tears. “No,” he says. “I can’t carry them both. My arms aren’t working.” It’s true. His arms jerk uncontrollably at his sides. His hands are empty. Of his three tridents, only one remains, and it’s in Peeta’s hands. “I’m sorry, Mags. I can’t do it.”
What? Finnick what are you saying? I mean I totally get that you can’t carry two people at once when your body is already not working very well, but so what does that mean now? Finnick?!
What happens next is so fast, so senseless, I can’t even move to stop it. Mags hauls herself up, plants a kiss on Finnick’s lips, and then hobbles straight into the fog. Immediately, her body is seized by wild contortions and she falls to the ground in a horrible dance.
I want to scream, but my throat is on fire. I take one futile step in her direction when I hear the cannon blast, know her heart has stopped, that she is dead.
WHAT THE FUCK, NO, I KNEW THAT THEY COULDN’T CARRY MAGS AROUND FOREVER, BUT I DIDN’T WANT THIS!!! I WANTED THE OPPOSITE OF THIS.
And now I really feel for Finnick. For all we know, they had it worked out that if it were between them, Finnick would be the one to live. I just can’t imagine how Finnick must have felt, by basically saying that he couldn’t keep Mags alive. That he had to let the other victor from his district die so that these two District 12 victors could live, at least for a little longer.
And Mags, man. This woman. I have all the feelings for her. Of course things are probably different when you’ve lived as long as she has, but that still can’t be an entirely easy thing to do, at least not for the average human being. But the way she decides, in the split-second, that of course she is dead weight, and these other three victors are much, much younger, and stand a much better chance of winning than she does. I just, I respect her so much more now because of this, and I really am sad about her dying.
Maybe it’s my eyes playing tricks, or the moonlight, but the fog seems to be transforming. Yes, it’s becoming thicker, as if it has pressed up against a glass window and is being forced to condense. I squint harder and realize the fingers no longer protrude from it. In fact, it has stopped moving forward entirely. Like other horrors I have witnessed in the arena, it has reached the end of its territory. Either that or the Gamemakers have decided not to kill us just yet.
Maybe they were satisfied that they had killed another tribute. They met their dead tribute quota! Or they made it into some kind of safe zone?
But there’s another sensation, of drawing out. I experiment by gingerly placing only my hand in the water. Torturous, yes, but then less so. And through the blue layer of water, I see a milky substance leaching out of the wounds on my skin. As the whiteness diminishes, so does the pain.
WHAT so the salt water cures them of their acid rain fog burn strokes?
And then, of course, there’s Mags. I still don’t understand what happened there. Why he essentially abandoned her to carry Peeta. Why she not only didn’t question it, but ran straight to her death without a moment’s hesitation. Was it because she was so old that her days were numbered, anyway? Did they think that Finnick would stand a better chance of winning if he had Peeta and me as allies?
I really, really, hope we hear Finnick talk about this.
I wonder what happened to the awl. Mags must’ve either dropped it or taken it into the fog with her. Anyway, it’s gone.
NO NOT THE AWL TOO!!! :( I’ll miss you, awl.
In just the short time it takes to cross to the edge of the jungle, I become aware of the change. Put it down to years of hunting, or maybe my reconstructed ear does work a little better than anyone intended. But I sense the mass of warm bodies poised above us. They don’t need to chatter or scream. The mere breathing of so many is enough.
I touch Finnick’s arm and he follows my gaze upward. I don’t know how they arrived so silently. Perhaps they didn’t. We’ve all been absorbed in restoring our bodies.
During that time they’ve assembled. Not five or ten but scores of monkeys weigh down the limbs of the jungle trees. The pair we spotted when we first escaped the fog felt like a welcoming committee. This crew feels ominous.
He’s just five yards from the beach when he senses them. His eyes only dart up for a second, but it’s as if he’s triggered a bomb. The monkeys explode into a shrieking mass of orange fur and converge on him.
OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE PEETA DO YOU HONESTLY ENJOY MAKING THINGS DIFFICULT FOR YOURSELF
I throw my knife at the oncoming mutt but the creature somersaults, evading the blade, and stays on its trajectory. Weaponless, defenseless, I do the only thing I can think of. I run for Peeta, to knock him to the ground, to protect his body with mine, even though I know I won’t make it in time.
PEETA, KATNISS, NO, OH MY GOD SWBFVIE
She does, though. Materializing, it seems, from thin air. One moment nowhere, the next reeling in front of Peeta. Already bloody, mouth open in a high-pitched scream, pupils enlarged so her eyes seem like black holes.
The insane morphling from District 6 throws up her skeletal arms as if to embrace the monkey, and it sinks its fangs into her chest.
WTF PEETA’S FRIEND FROM THE CAMOFLAUGE TRAINING?!