I stare down at my shoes, watching as a fine layer of ash
settles on the worn leather. This is where the bed I shared
with my sister, Prim, stood. Over there was the kitchen
table. The bricks of the chimney, which collapsed in a
charred heap, provide a point of reference for the rest of the
house. How else could I orient myself in this sea of gray?
Almost nothing remains of District 12. A month ago,
the Capitols firebombs obliterated the poor coal miners
houses in the Seam, the shops in the town, even the Justice
Building. The only area that escaped incineration was
the Victors Village. I dont know why exactly. Perhaps so
anyone forced to come here on Capitol business would
have somewhere decent to stay. The odd reporter. A committee
assessing the condition of the coal mines. A squad of
Peacekeepers checking for returning refugees.
But no one is returning except me. And thats only for
a brief visit. The authorities in District 13 were against my
coming back. They viewed it as a costly and pointless venture,
given that at least a dozen invisible hovercraft are circling
overhead for my protection and theres no intelligence to
be gained. I had to see it, though. So much so that I made
it a condition of my cooperating with any of their plans.
Finally, Plutarch Heavensbee, the Head Gamemaker
who had organized the rebels in the Capitol, threw up his
hands. Let her go. Better to waste a day than another
month. Maybe a little tour of Twelve is just what she needs
to convince her were on the same side.
The same side. A pain stabs my left temple and I press
my hand against it. Right on the spot where Johanna Mason
hit me with the coil of wire. The memories swirl as I try to
sort out what is true and what is false. What series of events
led me to be standing in the ruins of my city? This is hard
because the effects of the concussion she gave me havent
completely subsided and my thoughts still have a tendency
to jumble together. Also, the drugs they use to control my
pain and mood sometimes make me see things. I guess.
Im still not entirely convinced that I was hallucinating the
night the floor of my hospital room transformed into a carpet
of writhing snakes.
I use a technique one of the doctors suggested. I start
with the simplest things I know to be true and work toward
the more complicated. The list begins to roll in my head....
My name is Katniss Everdeen. I am seventeen years old. My
home is District 12. I was in the Hunger Games. I escaped. The
Capitol hates me. Peeta was taken prisoner. He is thought to be
dead. Most likely he is dead. It is probably best if he is dead,,,,
Katniss. Should I come down? My best friend Gales
voice reaches me through the headset the rebels insisted I
wear. Hes up in a hovercraft, watching me carefully, ready
to swoop in if anything goes amiss. I realize Im crouched
down now, elbows on my thighs, my head braced between
my hands. I must look on the verge of some kind of breakdown.
This wont do. Not when theyre finally weaning me
off the medication.
I straighten up and wave his offer away. No. Im fine.
To reinforce this, I begin to move away from my old house
and in toward the town. Gale asked to be dropped off in
12 with me, but he didnt force the issue when I refused
his company. He understands I dont want anyone with me
today. Not even him. Some walks you have to take alone.
The summers been scorching hot and dry as a bone.
British Parliament asks Amazon to clarify why it pays $9 million in income tax on $23 billion of UK sales.(May 20 2013) Amazon will be called back to give further evidence to members of the British Parliament "to clarify how its activities in the U.K. justify its low corporate...