Apoch fidgeted in his seat. The small stool of rotten wood that served as the only resting place in his small cell offered no comfort what-so-ever, and though the dull ache it conjured in his lower back was a nuisance, it paled in comparison to the raw pain of self loathing that clouded his mind.
"How could you have let this happen? HOW?!", the sentence rang through his brain like a siren that refused to be silenced.
Leaning forward in his seat, he pressed his clenched fists against his eye sockets, sending a warm pain through the compressed area. Gritting his teeth to the point at which he was sure he heard an audible crack, he found himself unsure of whether the pain he inflicted upon himself was an attempt at drowning out the abusive voice in his head, or whether the voice was attempting to further its deafening punishment in the physical world. All that study, all that preparation, all the times he'd been told about the importance of his role, and yet he'd tripped at the first hurdle. Taking his fists from his bloodshot eyes, he scanned the grey back-room in which he now sat; locked within the depths of District 8's Justice Building. He was certain that orders from the Capital detailing his appropriate punishment would arrive any minute, and for a moment, he took solace in the thought that his time under the crushing weight of his own self hate would most likely soon be over, for it was not in the Capitol's nature to be forgiving.
Gently lifting the tattered sleeve of his faded jacket, he found the lump of the Tracker-Jacker sting had doubled in size since he had last inspected it, though the pain had dulled considerably. The sting's severe narcotic effects were what had gotten him into the awful predicament, and even now, almost 48 hours after exposure to the single insect's venom, he still felt slightly woozy. For as long as he could, he focused on the slowly diminishing effects of the Tracker-Jacker's venom in a vain attempt to block out the thought of his family, his friends, and above all, his failed mission.
Just as he once again began the descent into depression, the iron door to his cell swung open to reveal the black uniform of District 8's muscle bound Peace-Captain. Apoch visibly perked up. "This is it, it'll all be over soon, just stay calm!" he mentally chanted to himself, "This humiliation is almost over."
"Apoch Finch, the capitol's orders have arrived". With that, the Peace-Captain stepped back, allowing the entrance of two peacekeepers into the cell. A quiet smile sat upon Apoch's lips as he was violently hoisted up by his arms and dragged away. Despite the fact that one of the peacekeepers had unknowingly squeezed the Tracker-Jacker bite, sending sudden blinding pain through his upper left arm, he remained calm. Closing his eyes, he accepted his imminent end.
A sudden rush of cool air and sunlight took him by surprise, and before he could so much as open his eyes he felt the peacekeepers release their painfully tight grip, sending him tumbling down a flight of stone steps. A chorus of gasps, linked with the intense pain of landing on his sting did nothing but add to his disorientation. As he desperately tried to focus and make sense of the situation, yet more hands crowded him, though these were gentle and slowly helped him to his feet.
"Released?" he thought, still lost in the moment. Behind him, a sea of sombre teenaged faces stared his way, each sporting a look that he could only read as, "I'm sorry...".
Still unsure of what had transpired, he turned back to face the Justice Building, just as the irritatingly high pitched voice of a young woman rung out across the crowded courtyard.
"HAPPY HUNGER GAMES!" it echoed, "AND MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOUR!"
Apoch's entire body numbed; even the Tracker-Jacker sting faded instantly.