Dandelion Crowns and Paper Butterflies

Get Stung

"Listen very closely, Florilene. You are about to hear your third mission, and yet your next to last one."

Miss Paige bends forward to the little girl across the table, as if she is about to whisper a secret to her. Flore involuntarily bends forward, too, so that she can hear them better.

"Do you promise me that you will listen to me, and that you will not tell anyone about what I tell you?"

Florilene nods, her long, red hair bouncing up and down. "I promise, Miss Paige."

"Okay," the older woman says, her voice nothing more than a whisper. "When you are fourteen years old, and you are in the Maze for five nights, you have to find a Griever and get stung. You have to go through the Changing to get an important memory back, which will help you understand the next mission."

Flore feels the colour disappear from her face. She has to get stung by a Griever. That can be deadly, and if not, really, really painful.

Alby has warned her for that. "Make sure you never run into a Griever," he had said. "If that happens, you'll probably wish that you were dead."

And Flore knows that something has to be really bad to want to be dead.

She sees that Florilene pales, too; she probably knows what a Griever is, and what the Changing can do with someone.

Her little voice trembles as she replies: "Y-Yes, Miss Paige. I'll try to do that."

"And remember," Miss Paige says, smiling, "if you do not fulfil a mission, something bad will happen."

Then the dream fades, leaving Flore with a horrible feeling.

"What do you have to do?"

Winston looks at her with a look of horror on his face.

Flore bites her lower lip.

"I have to get stung by a Griever," she says, her voice sounding smaller than ever before.

The fear she felt during the dream has only became worse, because she woke up right after the dream had ended, and she couldn't sleep, anymore. She has never seen a Griever before, but what she has heard about them is bad.

Very, very bad.

Winston looks her in the eyes. Something of despair flashes over his face.

"But it's a Griever! Don't you know how dangerous those are?"

"And don't you know how dangerous the Creators are?" Flore reminds him. "That woman said that if I don't fulfil the missions, something bad will happen to me or my friends. I don't care about what they can do to me, but I don't want them to hurt you, or Tim, or someone else."

Winston deeply breathes in.

"I'm coming with you," he says, straightening his back.

Flore shakes her head.

"No, please, don't," she says. "I don't want you to get hurt. I have to do this by myself."

Turning around, she says to him: "Just cross your fingers for me."

Then she walks away, towards the Homestead, to steal a syringe with Grief Serum.

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