In the remaining hours before nightfall, I gather rocks and do my best to camouflage the opening of the cave. It’s a slow and arduous process, but after a lot of sweating and shifting things around, I’m pretty pleased with my work, The cave now appears to be part of a larger pile of rocks, like so many in the vicinity. I can still crawl in to Peeta through a small opening, but it’s undetectable from the outside. That’s good, because I’ll need to share that sleeping bag again tonight. Also, if I don’t make it back from the feast, Peeta will be hidden but not entirely imprisoned. Although I doubt he can hang on much longer without medicine. If I die at the feast, District 12 isn’t likely to have a victor.
I make a meal out of the smaller, bonier fish that inhabit the stream down here, fill every water container and purify it, and clean my weapons. I’ve nine arrows left in all. I debate leaving the knife with Peeta so he’ll have some protection while I’m gone, but there’s really no point. He was right about camouflage being his final defense. But I still might have use for the knife. Who knows what I’ll encounter?
Here are some things I’m fairly certain of. That at least Cato, Clove, and Thresh will be on hand when the feast starts. I’m not sure about Foxface since direct confrontation isn’t her style or her forte. She’s even smaller than I am and unarmed, unless she’s picked up some weapons recently. She’ll probably be hanging somewhere nearby, seeing what she can scavenge. But the other three… I’m going to have my hands full. My ability to kill at a distance is my greatest asset, but I know I’ll have to go right into the thick of things to get that backpack, the one with the number 12 on it that Claudius Templesmith mentioned.
I watch the sky, hoping for one less opponent at dawn, but nobody appears tonight. Tomorrow
there will be faces up there. Feasts always result in fatalities.
I crawl into the cave, secure my glasses, and curl up next to Peeta. Luckily I had that good long sleep today. I have to stay awake. I don’t really think anyone will attack our cave tonight, but I can’t risk missing the dawn.
So cold, so bitterly cold tonight. As if the Gamemakers have sent an infusion of frozen air across the arena, which may be exactly what they’ve done. I lay next to Peeta in the bag, trying to absorb every bit of his fever heat. It’s strange to be so physically close to someone who’s so distant. Peeta might as well be back in the Capitol, or in District 12, or on the moon right now, he’d be no harder to reach. I’ve never felt lonelier since the Games began.
Just accept it will be a bad night, I tell myself. I try not to, but I can’t help thinking of my mother and Prim, wondering if they’ll sleep a wink tonight. At this late stage in the Games, with an important event like the feast, school will probably be canceled. My family can either watch on that static-filled old clunker of a television at home or join the crowds in the square to watch on the big, clear screens, They’ll have privacy at home but support in the square. People will give them a kind word, a bit of food if they can spare it. I wonder if the baker has sought them out, especially now that Peeta and I are a team, and made good on his promise to keep my sister’s belly full.
Spirits must be running high in District 12. We so rarely have anyone to root for at this point in the Games. Surely, people are excited about Peeta and me, especially now that we’re together.