Excerpt of Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
(Page 2 of 6)
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Theres been next to no rain to disturb the piles of ash left
by the attack. They shift here and there, in reaction to my
footsteps. No breeze to scatter them. I keep my eyes on
what I remember as the road, because when I first landed
in the Meadow, I wasnt careful and I walked right into
a rock. Only it wasnt a rock it was someones skull. It
rolled over and over and landed faceup, and for a long time
I couldnt stop looking at the teeth, wondering whose they
were, thinking of how mine would probably look the same
way under similar circumstances.
I stick to the road out of habit, but its a bad choice,
because its full of the remains of those who tried to flee.
Some were incinerated entirely. But others, probably overcome
with smoke, escaped the worst of the flames and now
lie reeking in various states of decomposition, carrion for
scavengers, blanketed by flies. I killed you, I think as I pass
a pile. And you. And you.
Because I did. It was my arrow, aimed at the chink in
the force field surrounding the arena, that brought on this
firestorm of retribution. That sent the whole country of
Panem into chaos.
In my head I hear President Snows words, spoken the
morning I was to begin the Victory Tour. Katniss Everdeen,
the girl who was on fire, you have provided a spark that, left
unattended, may grow to an inferno that destroys Panem. It
turns out he wasnt exaggerating or simply trying to scare
me. He was, perhaps, genuinely attempting to enlist my
help. But I had already set something in motion that I had
no ability to control.
Burning. Still burning, I think numbly. The fires at the
coal mines belch black smoke in the distance. Theres no one
left to care, though. More than ninety percent of the districts
population is dead. The remaining eight hundred or so
are refugees in District 13 which, as far as Im concerned,
is the same thing as being homeless forever.
I know I shouldnt think that; I know I should be grateful
for the way we have been welcomed. Sick, wounded,
starving, and empty-handed. Still, I can never get around
the fact that District 13 was instrumental in 12s destruction.
This doesnt absolve me of blame theres plenty of
blame to go around. But without them, I would not have
been part of a larger plot to overthrow the Capitol or had
the wherewithal to do it.
The citizens of District 12 had no organized resistance
movement of their own. No say in any of this. They only
had the misfortune to have me. Some survivors think its
good luck, though, to be free of District 12 at last. To have
escaped the endless hunger and oppression, the perilous
mines, the lash of our final Head Peacekeeper, Romulus
Thread. To have a new home at all is seen as a wonder
since, up until a short time ago, we hadnt even known that
District 13 still existed.
The credit for the survivors escape has landed squarely
on Gales shoulders, although hes loath to accept it. As
soon as the Quarter Quell was over as soon as I had
been lifted from the arena the electricity in District 12
was cut, the televisions went black, and the Seam became
so silent, people could hear one anothers heartbeats. No
one did anything to protest or celebrate what had happened
in the arena. Yet within fifteen minutes, the sky was filled
with hoverplanes and the bombs were raining down.
It was Gale who thought of the Meadow, one of the few
places not filled with old wooden homes embedded with coal
dust. He herded those he could in its direction, including
my mother and Prim. He formed the team that pulled down
the fence now just a harmless chain-link barrier, with the
electricity off and led the people into the woods. He took
them to the only place he could think of, the lake my father
had shown me as a child. And it was from there they watched
the distant flames eat up everything they knew in the world.
Excerpted from Mockingjay
by Suzanne Collins. Copyright © 2010 by Suzanne Collins.
Excerpted by permission of Scholastic. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.