The Stone Cries Out



I don't know what the last thing I saw was before my mind gave in to sleep: it could've been the darkness, it could've been the sky, and it could've been the faint outline of her silhouette.

But the very first thing I hear is the crash upon the ground.

And I wake up to the others screaming, a cry tearing past my throat; watching the roaring swarm of insects hurling themselves at us. Without thinking, I break out into a run, forgetting the girl despite she was the one who caused this—she outwitted us but there's no time for me to hold my ground and kill her when she flies to the earth.

I'll have to murder her later.

The buzzing is louder than my heartbeat and I run, feeling small yet sharp stings delving into my skin and it's hot, just burning the skin with an inflamed rage. I feel the flesh swell and turn red. I keep my eyes focused, trying to remember where the river was, where it's cool and wet and will ward them off. God, it's so fucking hot!

Why is it so hot?

The days aren't so normally bad, even at their worst. But I'm suffocating, air trapped in my windpipe and trying to swallow it but it's just stuck; an empty weight that hangs there to hurt me.

I push through brush, heat sticking all over me and I can't breathe. The world tilts and spins. I find myself tripping over my feet and there's too much of everything all around me.

Fire burns and there's the sound of caws, wings flapping about my ears and drowning me in the sound of frantic wind. I hit something solid. Feel bark beneath my fingertips but I look up and it's not a tree, it's not anything—everything is black and horrifying and all I can feel, really feel, is scorching flame burning me alive.

I keep running and my legs are numb. But I can't stop. My mind is wracked with the unknown and familiar at once. I see images of the forest, this giant green blur, and in the midst of the thick wood, I catch faint but believable sights of my family, my mother laughing and my father smiling, my grandmother brushing my hair from my head when it got too long.

But then they scream and I don't know what to do and I feel helpless and I hate it more than I've ever hated anything.

The day is turning to night but the night turns to day in the same split second. I want to tear my hands into my skull to stop the burning, this agony that's on me, refusing to let go. My legs continue on their own, trying to find safety—dammit, where the hell is that blasted river?!

My body slams into more solid things, scraping my skin. I cry out in sharp relief when a breeze hits the broken skin. My blood is on fire, too, too hot.

I dare to look at the sun—

Fuck, everything is orange!

It dawns on me, that, literally, there's an orange glow bathing every detail of the world. It moves too fast for human eyes then it slows to a crippling crawl. My mouth is dry, tongue sticking heavily to the roof of my mouth.

Suddenly I'm drowning. Even in the hideous orange light, the sun cracks through and I find myself in water, the scum and dirt and liquid coldly darting past my teeth and into my lungs. Somehow, the cold is too relieving for me to even care that I'm probably going to die in the most blatantly ironic way possible.

Then there's black.

For a flicker of a second, I panic.

Finally: I don't care.

I breathe in deeply, filling my chest and diaphragm. Muscles twitch and my head spasms with a blindingly sharp blow. Pain rides through my body, my ribs suddenly aching and I curse myself for sucking in air so quickly. I should've breathed slow first.

I open my eyes wide, confused, and I sit up, ignoring the ache that lances my side. The midday sun hovers overhead. I almost let out a sigh from the coolness that passes through the forest. It's not as hot.

But brows shoot up in surprise though when I catch someone coming through the underbrush. Holding a handful of leaves and a container for water, Peeta's eyes meet mine.

"You're awake now."

He says it nonchalantly, no emotion evident at all.

I only stare, uncomprehending.

"The hell happened?"

He suddenly smiles a little, unguarded and quiet, "Long story."

"We got time."

He kneels in front of me, hand outstretched, palm up. He's offering me the leaves, I think, but then his fingers curl in. He's motioning for me to give him my arm.

I don't.

He doesn't say anything or even grunt, nothing; he just grabs my wrist, not ungentle, and begins to remove the leaves. They scrape the skin but it only stings on a minor note. "We got attacked by tracker jackers."

I wait for him to continue, eyeing him intently.

"We didn't see it coming, of course," he says, "It all happened so fast."

"The hallucinations…" I murmur. "How long have I been out?"

"Three, almost four days,"

Damn. She's long gone by now. It'll take forever to find her again.

"Where are the others?" I can't help but notice the urgency in my voice. I don't quell it.

He pauses here, eyes not on me, focusing on the bandaging. I almost hit him so he can tell me. I hate waiting. And I don't like the way he looks down.

"I don't know where…" he waits again, "I don't know where Marvel and…Clove, are. I haven't seen them."

I swallow hard. "Where's Glimmer at?"

He looks pained, even though only his eyes break, "…I found her on the ground."

She didn't make it.

I'm filled with a sudden anger. I don't know why, yet the fact I don't know where they are, or how they are, and that Glimmer is dead. My face is controlled in a stern expression. Peeta notices this, drawing back.

He doesn't say anything, only looks to his right.

I break the silence, needing to hear it, "So, you saved me."

His answer is nearly inaudible, but it's louder than anything I've heard, "Yes."

Having had enough traumas to the head, I lay back on the soil with a soft thump. I stare at the sky for a while, the boy a statue at my side.

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