The Stone Cries Out



With the opening ceremonies now closed, I find myself looking at my ceiling, stark white with faint tinges of blue, probably from the moon outside more than from actual coloring. I can't seem to go to sleep. My brain refuses to shut off, wanting to take in every little detail of surroundings. The quiet is too much but welcoming in a way. I should be used to quiet now, considering how I grew up, although mountains could get rowdy. They'll just collapse when they want to.


You're gone.

I roll over onto my stomach, the satin nice on my skin. It feels almost like water, cooling me inside out. I bury my face into the overstuffed pillow, shutting my eyes—

I see fire flame out fiercely—

I withdraw immediately, her image burned into my mind.

I can't shut my eyes. The darkness just further brightens that fire that fanned out behind her.

I rise and walk to the window, just staring out at the city that hustles through the motions. They have so much on their hands and yet they do the same mundane routines over and over. This never-ending cycle of just enjoying life's riches… is that a life at all? I wouldn't mind being waited on, not in the slightest.

The sun rises to greet me and I glare hostilely.

I've never been unable to sleep before.

My body is always under my control—everything about me is bound to my will and my will alone. Nothing usually makes my body break from routine. It's too grounded in foundations built to structure me into someone who can fight and be alert.

She ruined it all in one night.

I head to the bathroom and turn the shower on; making sure the water is colder than death.

There's too much fire raging in my mind.

I have to put the fire out.

I don't know how long I'm in there for but a knock penetrates my still thoughts.

"Cato, you need to get ready,"

They must've sent Clove to fetch me.

We've only seen our mentor once before the opening ceremonies and once afterward. Since we're from the Academy, our mentors aren't here to actually teach us anything about survival skills. They're here to remind us about certain tactics and techniques that we all learned from the Academy or in past Games based on observation, though the latter isn't usually done.

They're also here to remind us that we have always been the Victors. It's been that way for years.

We're going to win. We always do.

I head out of my room and go down the steps, grabbing an apple from a nearby tray, tossing it lightly from one hand to the other.

I hurl it into the air.

Clove's knife comes streaking through and penetrates it cleanly. It even breaks in half from the force.

"Were you aiming that at my head?" she asks, planting her hands on either side of her hips after she gets up from the couch where she'd been sitting.

"Maybe," I reply, picking up the two halves and tossing one of them to her.

She catches it deftly and takes a bite, smiling up at me. "You're lucky I only have one knife right now,"

"You're lucky we're not in the Games yet,"

Clove punches my shoulder; I punch her back.

We both sit on the couch, gnawing on the apple halves. Our stylists are eating at the table and neither invites us over to eat with them. It's not really that important to any of us to form any kind of bond. We're here to do what we came here to do.

Before they leave, they remind us that we're going to be escorted by them later to where the Training Center is located. We have to be there on time in order to know what we'll be learning. Clove and I grunt out acknowledgment.

As soon as they're gone, we look at each other and I grab another apple, throwing it high.

She smirks at me before her knife is released and the sound of it impacting through the core is nice.

Together, we play our little game.

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