I had serious doubts as to whether I should go to Tex’s meeting. Attending would be indistinguishable from actually doing something to overthrow the Capitol. I would never again be the same person, the risk quotient of my life would be forever greater. Part of me, the part who wanted to rebel against the Capitol, reminds me that I have already been to one of these meetings. I have been the featured speaker. What would be the difference in attending a regular meeting?
I finally decided to go. In the end the only one I have to live for is myself. I am fairly certain Caesar could make it on his own. The Hunger Games have been my catalyst. Watching my peers die for no reason other than the advancement of the Capitol disgusts me. It’s citizens live their lavish life and the districts are kept in fear of the government’s power. Every time a tribute walks through a wood I am afraid I will see my weapons being used against them. That fear, the fear of being a party to these games, is what guides my feet back to the path in the woods.
Caesar, as always is romping through the trees and brush. Occasionally he bursts onto the path, looks for me, and tears back into the wood. I know we are close when he returns to the path deliberately and does not leave it. He walks directly in front of me now, nose to the air and head following every movement in the trees. I almost laugh at the protective stance the large dog has taken. I am confident that no one out here would be intending to harm me.
That changes when the hair on Caesars back starts to stand up. (In any other situation, this would be humorous considering the sheer weight of his fur.) He growls, low and quiet, as he stares at a single spot ahead. He stops ahead of me and I stay behind him. I see rustling in the trees and Caesar takes off for the spot. I am rooted in place as Doom steps out of the woods, looking at me and smiling. Not a moment later he is on the ground with Caesar standing on top of him.
“Are you sure this isn’t a bear? He sure weighs as much as a bear! Get ‘em offa me!”
Caesar is doing his best to stand on Doom while turning circles and sniffing. Just like when he is trying to get comfortable before bed. I cannot help but laugh at the scene the two are causing.
“Caesar, come!” I shout through the laughter and the dog immediately listens. To add insult to injury he attempts to jump off of Doom, causing the poor man to lose his breath once more.
“I really don’t think that dog likes me.”
“Of course not, you like to jump out of the woods and you expect us to believe your name is really Doom.”
“I guess sneaking around on an animal of his size is asking for some sort of repercussion. But Doom is really my name. No jokes there.”
“Sure it is. And I bet your last name is something like Gloom or Death.”
I continued to flirt, shocking even myself, so I didn’t notice when we came upon a small structure in the woods. There was no clearing around it which allowed it to be hidden from the sky as well as the ground. The trees were particularly thick, but to help with camouflage plants had been encouraged to grow on the flat roof of the building. I imagine that from the air one can’t tell the difference between the roof and the forest floor. But the building was too small to be a gathering place of any more than 5 people, at least comfortably, and I was again afraid. Had this all been a ruse? Were there Peacekeepers inside waiting to arrest me?
There weren’t any people inside, so my great relief, but I still had questions. The small building was situated inside as a house. There was a bed and a small kitchen. By first glance a completely innocuous looking abode.
“Where is everyone? I thought this was some sort of meeting?”
“You don’t think we’d just hope no one stumbled upon our clubhouse in the woods do you?”
With that Doom closed the door behind me and pointed to the rug we were standing on. Underneath appeared to be the same flooring as the rest of the building, but with a little fidgeting he was able to produce a handle. Underneath the door was a tunnel for as long as I could see. This wasn’t very far as there were absolutely no lights down there. He chuckled and pointed to the cabinet under the wash basin. There I found a box full of candles and matches. The owner of the cabin would be expected to have these things. I grabbed two and a pack of matched and walked back to the door under the door. Caesar was pacing around the entrance with a worried expression.
“You ready for this Fie?”
“I am. We get to bring Caesar right? I don’t want to leave him here alone.”
“Sure, he shouldn’t have any problem getting to where we’re going.”
We walked in the dark tunnel for several minutes. The tunnel was not some spur of the moment project. The floor was worn smooth and the walls were very straight. Eventually we rounded a bend where there was light coming from a series of bulbs.
“And now the impressive part. This used to be an old mine way back before the Capitol was even a thought in one of Snow’s great grandparents’ heads. I stumbled upon it a few years ago as a kid and started exploring it. When I got involved in the resistance it seemed like the perfect place to hold meetings. Those cars there will take us to the meeting hall.”
We climbed into the train cars, obviously meant to haul rock and not people. We laughed as Caesar put his paws up on the edge but was unable to get himself into the car. Doom got out, and with great effort, was able to push the large dog into the cart. He jumped in after and then we started to move.
“I’ve never taken the cars with so much weight, hopefully things don’t get too scary.” Doom smirked at Caesar has he scratched behind the beasts ears.
The tracks wove up and down for a while, trying to gain speed and momentum, which our weight was happy to oblige. In no time at all we came to a halt in the back of a large room. There were people everywhere. Doom explained that the mine had tunnels spanning all over the mountain, and that there were many entrances from the surface level. All of the paths to the meeting room that weren’t dangerous had a building at the entrance similar to the one we had come through. Someone lived in each of the houses to ensure the secrecy of the tunnel. Each entrance was different and unknown to anyone other than the small group of people who used it to come to meetings. Doom knew of each entrance, but he was the only one. A great mixture of chairs had been collected over the years. Old metal folding chairs and hand-made wooden ones were mixed in with chairs obviously swiped from the factories and labs. There was an old mining machine at the front of the room with stairs leading to it low, flat back. It appeared to be some sort of stage for which the preside of the meetings to stand.
Tex saw us from across the room and easily raised her voice above the ruckus to call to us. A few people glanced at her, but seeing who it was seemed to excuse the loud noise. In minutes we had found our seats. Tex to my right, Doom to my left, and Caesar laying at my feet. I mostly listened to my two friends chat while waiting for the meeting to begin. In moments I would become an official rebel, attempting to overthrow the Capitol.