3:21 PM | LOCATION: DISTRICT 12 | STATUS: NO PROGRESS
After the portal threw Nataly Calderón to a place corroded by poverty and scarcity, it wasn't necessary for her assistant, Yahaira Flores, to tell her where they were. The state-of-the-art locator on her left arm did the work for both of them. Either way, it was the perfect opportunity for the apprentice ambassador to demonstrate her knowledge in the broad field of literature. Yahaira, more excited than scared by the dusty roads they traveled, kept looking at everything around her and hoping to meet Peeta by chance. The apprentice had no idea where they were in Panem's history. They could be in the first book, before the reaping. The portal could also have dropped them in the course of one of the Hunger Games, or even on the eve of the destruction planned by the capitol. The only certainty she had was that, if their search for Inko, Inka, and Katze had brought them here and the humble huts of District 12 were still standing, it could only mean they hadn't reached the third book yet.
Nataly commanded the exploration along the ruin-like paths, unaware that her assistant wasn't helping in the investigation, much less paying attention to what the ambassador was doing. They had already explored 23 different books so far, and in each of them they found the fugitives for a few seconds before they disappeared around a corner or some shortcut they were unaware of. As Nataly made some adjustments to the locator to update the location of Inkspired's mascots, Yahaira spotted the Mellark bakery and her heart jumped. This was the perfect opportunity to meet him in person, since the Inkspired administration didn't allow any writer to enter the stories the way they were doing now. This was an exceptional case, and the reason was none other than the game that Inko, Inka and Katze were leading all the ambassadors to enter. Someone had to find them, someone had to stop them.
Of course exploring these fictional worlds was an added benefit of the coveted quest. Galo Vargas, the website's creator, was offering an award no author could refuse; publishing his book in exchange for returning Inko, Inka and Katze to the site. All the ambassadors, as well as their respective aspirants, were immersed head first in this hunt for the platform mascots. Nataly and Yahaira had an advantage the other ambassadors were unaware of. During their visit to Wonderland, which was the first choice Yahaira advocated for them to explore, the Mad Hatter helped them set a trap on the outside table of his house. To the rhythm of his famous A Very Merry Unbirthday, he distracted Katze long enough for Dormouse to attach a tracking device to one of its legs. The feat didn't last long, for Inko, who was the most perceptive out of the three, discovered the apprentice talking to the white rabbit in a tree not far from where they were celebrating. All three fled and since then they haven't stopped jumping from story to story, using their different outfits and cartoonish appearance to go unnoticed among the different books they enter.
Although Nataly got angry at Yahaira for having revealed their location by intercepting the white rabbit to ask where Alicia was and where he was walking to in such a hurry, the apprentice didn't regret having stopped him. What other opportunity would the aspirant have to talk to her favorite characters?
While Yahaira was lost in the white facade of the bakery, Nataly continued on her path without noticing no one was following her. Yahaira approached the stained-glass window slowly. She didn't mind being disqualified when her eyes gave her the biggest prize she ever imagined; she was watching Peeta through the windows. That surreal image thrilled her, because it meant the harvest of the 74th games had yet to take place. Yahaira rested her hands on the stained glass, widening a smile that betrayed her for being in love with the character. From one moment to the next, Peeta glanced at the shadow standing at the window. Yahaira knew perfectly well she shouldn't intercede in the stories, that's why she hid in the wall so that Katniss Everdeen's future partner wouldn't lose his participation and consecutive victory in the games. Yahaira exhaled. She got sad by thinking that Peeta would be tortured on the order of President Snow. She reminded herself with a lump in her throat as she watched the scenes of his deterioration in the movie. And more than anything else, her memory carried her back to the countless nights she nimbly turned the pages just to find out if he would survive in Mockingjay.
For a fraction of a second, Yahaira lost sight of her purpose, and wondered if she could be able to warn him of what was to come. But how could she do such a thing? How could she explain to Peeta Mellark that he was a character in a literary book and not a real person? How could she tell him that Yahaira read his future? He surely would believe she went crazy, or that she spent too much time at the Hob and now she had gone mad over something she illegally bought there. Gone mad... Her laugh was more than predictable, and that reaction caused Nataly to look back and realize her absence. Yahaira knew she had to follow her, not stay hidden by the window, but Peeta was just a few feet from her. If only she could come closer, look him face to face, tell him that Josh Hutcherson played his role in the movies, that Yahaira crossed her fingers for him from the beginning so that Katniss would choose him, that she always knew he would succeed and that the end of his story with Katniss made her cry for bitter 15 minutes. If only Yahaira could be a character like him and not a person after some rebellious mascots...
The ambassador's relentless gaze cut off all illusion in Yahaira's head, but it wasn't until the locator on Nataly's arm began to vibrate with a high-pitched, uncontrolled sound, that her mini-meeting with Peeta Mellark was already in the past. Yahaira ran after the ambassador, predicting Katze was close. Both of them hurried incessantly, Yahaira wishing she had some special ability from the many characters she knows to get to her destination faster. Finally, the locator stopped when Yahaira and Nataly reached the edge of the district Square. Several peacekeepers rounded up Inko, Inka and Katze in the center. Some inhabitants leaned out to find out what was happening, but they didn't stay more than a few seconds immersed in the curiosity when they preferred to withdraw so as not to be punished equally.
Nataly let out a tired sigh and, turning to the aspiring ambassador, commented:
"Are you not going to say the phrase?"
"The one you've longing to say since we got here; now is a good time to do it."
"Oh... right. Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor!"
Merci pour la lecture!