In the twelfth chapter of Mockingjay, well, that was unexpected. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to read Mockingjay.
Today I might lose both of them.
I try to imagine a world where both Galeâ€™s and Peetaâ€™s voices have ceased. Hands stilled. Eyes unblinking. Iâ€™m standing over their bodies, having a last look, leaving the room where they lie. But when I open the door to step out into the world, thereâ€™s only a tremendous void. A pale gray nothingness that is all my future holds.
I meanâ€¦Collins canâ€™t be that ruthless, right? Killing BOTH Gale and Peeta? Wellâ€¦ok, I would probably high five her for doing it. NOT BECAUSE I WANT THEM DEAD, MIND YOU. I would just find it surprising because who does that sort of thing.
Sooooooooooooo she wonâ€™t do it. Right? Right???
â€œDo you want me to have them sedate you until itâ€™s over?â€ asks Haymitch.
Well, at least someone asked her first this time around.
Heâ€™s not joking. This is a man who spent his adult life at the bottom of a bottle, trying to anesthetize himself against the Capitolâ€™s crimes.
While we donâ€™t know all the details of what happened to Haymitch, I feel much more confident that we understand whatâ€™s made him the way he is, why heâ€™s so bitter and cynical and FULL OF HATRED and probably just listens to Nine Inch Nails really loud in his room and stuff.
â€œI want to go to the Capitol. I want to be part of the rescue mission.â€
BOOYAH. ON THE VERY NEXT PAGE. I knew sheâ€™d do this.
â€œHow long ago did they leave? I could catch up. I couldâ€”â€œ What? What could I do?
Haymitch shakes his head. â€œItâ€™ll never happen. Youâ€™re too valuable and too vulnerable. There was talk of sending you to another district to divert the Capitolâ€™s attention while the rescue takes place. But no one felt you could handle it.â€
Again, thanks for asking Katniss first. These people are so respectful of her desires! But Katniss then begs Haymitch to at least let her help with something while the mission is going on and HE AGRESS. Soâ€¦.sheâ€™s not going? OK, I MAY HAVE TO ADMIT MY PREDICTION WAS WRONG.
While Haymitch is off to find something for Katniss to do to help out, Katniss heads next door to speak with Finnick. (HOW DARE YOU WAKE THE SLUMBERING FINNICK. HOW DARE YOU.)
As I explain our situation, his initial agitation mysteriously ebbs. â€œDonâ€™t you see, Katniss, this will decide things. One way or the other. By the end of the day, theyâ€™ll either be dead or with us. Itâ€™sâ€¦itâ€™s more than we could hope for!â€
Oh, Finnick. You are the best. I meanâ€¦shit, heâ€™s got a great point. I donâ€™t think Collins is going to kill either Gale or Peeta or Annie, but still, it might end the dread and terror these two experience because of that. (A side note: This mission will only take half a day? Man, these people move quick.)
Haymitch arrives to tell Katniss and Haymitch that there is something they can do to help the rescue efforts. If they can film some footage for District 13, Beetee can attempt to air it and distract the Capitol while the rescuers are attempting to get Peeta and Annie.
â€œWhat we really need is something so riveting that even President Snow wonâ€™t be able to tear himself away. Got anything like that?â€ asks Haymitch.
Oh, this is gonna be good, isnâ€™t it? But what does Katniss have that we donâ€™t already know? Itâ€™s not like sheâ€™s hiding something from the general public.
HOW WRONG I WAS.
Her interview on camera, led by the gentle questioning of Cressida, is focused entirely on Peeta. I completely forgot that Katniss never once shared how she actually met Peeta, how so many years ago he was beat by his mother so that he could give her loaves of bread.
I donâ€™t know how true it is, but Katniss surprised me by saying that what Snow has done to Peeta has actually backfired. Sheâ€™s actually even more motivated to destroy the Capitol.
â€œPresident Snow once admitted to me that the Capitol was fragile. At the time, I didnâ€™t know what he meant. It was hard to see clearly because I was so afraid. Now Iâ€™m not. The Capitolâ€™s fragile because it depends on the districts for everything. Food, energy, even the Peacekeepers that police us. If we declare our freedom, the Capitol collapses. President Snow, thanks to you, Iâ€™m officially declaring mine today.â€
BAM. THERE IT IS. Poetic and thoughtful AND BADASS. I donâ€™t know if Snow is going to believe it, but itâ€™s a good message to send to Panem.
As Finnick moves to take my seat before the camera, Haymitch tells him, â€œYou donâ€™t have to do this.â€
â€œYes, I do. If it will help her.â€ Finnick balls up his rope in his hand. â€œIâ€™m ready.â€
FINNICK. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO. Were we prepared? We were never prepared at all.
â€œPresident Snow used toâ€¦sell me…my body, that is,â€ Finnick begins in a flat, removed tone. â€œI wasnâ€™t the only one. If a victor is considered desirable, the president gives them as a reward or allows people to buy them for an exorbitant amount of money. If you refuse, he kills someone you love. So you do it.â€
â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦..I CANNOT EVEN. I CANNOT. Oh my god, Finnick. Oh, holy shit. It explains so much. THIS IS SO AWFUL.
But this isnâ€™t what Finnick wants to share. He decides to share what his companions and lovers paid him with: secrets.
Finnick begins to weave a tapestry so rich in detail that you canâ€™t doubt its authenticity. Tales of strange sexual appetites, betrayals of the heart, bottomless greed, and bloody power plays. Drunken secrets whispered over damp pillow-cases in the dead of the night.
If a bad haircut can lead to hours of gossip, what will charges of incest, back-stabbing, blackmail, and arson produce? Even as the waves of shock recrimination roll over the Capitol, the people there will be waiting, as I am now, to hear about the president.
WHAT. WHAT. WHAT. ARE YOU SERIOUS.
â€œAnd now, on to our good President Coriolanus Snow,â€ says Finnick. â€œSuch a young man when he rose to power. Such a clever one to keep it. How, you must ask yourself, did he do it? One word. Thatâ€™s all you really need to know. Poison.â€
OH MY GOD WHAT
Finnick goes back to Snowâ€™s political ascension, which I know nothing of, and works his way up to the present, pointing out case after case of the mysterious deaths of Snowâ€™s adversaries or, even worse, his allies who had the potential to become threats. People dropping dead at a feast or slowly, inexplicably declining into shadows over a period of months. Blamed on bad shellfish, elusive viruses, or an overlooked weakness in the aorta. Snow drinking from the poisoned cup himself to deflect suspicion. But antidotes donâ€™t always work. They say thatâ€™s why he wears the roses that reek of perfume. They say itâ€™s to cover the scent of blood from the mouth sores that will never heal. They say, they say, they sayâ€¦Snow has a list and no one knows who will be next.
ASKLD;FJAD A;KSLDF A;SKLDF;LAKSFJ. Ok, itâ€™s not vampirism, BUT THIS IS A SUITABLE ALTERNATIVE. Mouth sores from POISONING HIS COMPETITORS. I would have never guessed that.
â€œIs that what happened to you?â€ I ask Haymitch.
â€œNo. My mother and younger brother. My girl. They were all dead two weeks after I was crowned victor. Because of that stunt I pulled with the force field,â€ he answers. â€œSnow had no one to use against me.â€
Oh, Haymitch. My gosh, this whole chapter is full of so much institutionalized tragedy. The things these characters have been forced to go through because of the Capitol is terrifying and inhuman and, frankly, inconceivable. My own privilege as an American citizen means that this kind of horror is inconceivable to me. Itâ€™s not that I havenâ€™t been the victim of oppression in my lifetime, because I have. But what Collins has created here is so much more systematic and violent and terrifying than pretty much anything I have ever experienced, and I never really thought about that until now.
Unfortunately for Katniss, after all of this activity and revelation, her and Finnick are left with nothing to do except wait. Itâ€™s the most unbearable wait I could imagine: Did they succeed in their mission? Were there any casualties? At three in the afternoon, they wait in Special Defense and watch Beetee as he takes over the Capitol airwaves. Unsurprisingly, the majority of the footage used is that of Finnickâ€™s tell-all confession and, truthfully, itâ€™s probably the best idea if they want to create a distraction, at least one large enough to help the rescue mission.
Beetee takes the time to explain the mission as best as he can to Finnick and Katniss.
It seems to have involved knockout gas distributed by the ventilation system, a power failure, the detonation of a bomb in a government building several miles from the prison, and now the disruption of the broadcast. Beeteeâ€™s glad we find the plan hard to follow, because then our enemies will, too.
How are they pulling all of this off so quickly? I suppose we know that District 13 has the know-how and the technical skill to do this, but the rate at which they do it is surprising to me. I think itâ€™s interesting that Collins doesnâ€™t give us a perspective on the events in the Capitol, though, especially since I expected Katniss to tag along.
Itâ€™s just around midnight or so when Haymitch calmly arrives and announces that the rescue party has arrived. Itâ€™s one of the more powerful scenes in the entire book; Finnick simply cannot even comprehend the possibility that Annie has returned to him.
Weâ€™re sideswiped by a gurney bearing an unconscious, emaciated young woman with a shaved head. Her flesh shows bruises and oozing scabs. Johanna Mason. Who actually knew rebel secrets. At least the one about me. And this is how she has paid for it.
THEY SAVED JOHANNA. Oh my god my heart is going to explode.
Through a doorway, I catch a glimpse of Gale, stripped to the waist, perspiration streaming down his face as a doctor removes something from under his shoulder blade with a long pair of tweezers. Wounded, but alive.
YES. YES! GALE MADE IT!
â€œFinnick!â€ Something between a shriek and cry of joy. A lovely if somewhat bedraggled young womanâ€”dark tangled hair, sea green eyesâ€”runs toward us in nothing but a sheet. â€œFinnick!â€ And suddenly, itâ€™s as if thereâ€™s no one in the world but these two, crashing through space to reach other. They collide, enfold, lose their balance, and slam against a wall, where they stay. Clinging into one being. Indivisble.
Simply stunning. I am so happy for him.
Boggs, looking a little worse for wear but uninjured, finds Haymitch and me. â€œWe got them all out. Except Enobaria. But since sheâ€™s from Two, we doubt sheâ€™s being held anyway. Peetaâ€™s at the end of the hall. The effects of the gas are just wearing off. You should be there when he wakes.â€
PEETA!!!!!!! HE MADE IT!
Peetaâ€™s awake alredy, sitting on the side of the bed, looking bewildered as a trio of doctors reassure him, flash lights in his eyes, check his pulse. Iâ€™m disappointed that mine was not the first face he saw when he woke, but he sees it now. His features register disbelief and something more intense that I canâ€™t quite place. Desire? Desperation? Surely both, for he sweeps the doctors aside, leaps to his feet, and moves towards me. I run to meet him, my arms extended to embrace him. His hands are reaching for me, too, to caress my face, I think.
My lips are just forming his name when his fingers lock around my throat.