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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 6)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(6) by James Dashner
  • “Can I just ask another question?” he said, unable to get that one horrible word out of his head. Killzone.

    “Sure.”

    “What does…killzone mean?”

    Anderson actually smiled at that. “Ah, I’m sorry. I guess I assumed you knew. It’s what we call the brain—the place where the Flare does the most damage. Where it eventually, well, ends the life of those who are infected. And that’s what we’re battling. I guess you could say it’s the battleground for us here at WICKED. The killzone.”

    Thomas was a long way from understanding, but for some reason this explanation made him feel better.

    “So we’re set, then?” Chancellor Anderson asked. “You’re ready to play a role in the important things we’re doing here?”

    Thomas nodded.

    The chancellor tapped a finger on the desk a couple of times. “Fantastic. Then go on back to your room and get some rest. Big times ahead.”

    Thomas felt a little rush of excitement, followed immediately by a shame he didn’t even understand.

    Thomas couldn’t help himself after the same lady had escorted him back to his room. Right before she closed the door, he stuck his hand in the gap to stop it.

    “Uh, sorry,” he said quickly, “but can I just ask you one question?”

    A flash of doubt crossed her face. “That’s probably not a good idea. This…all of this…it’s a really controlled environment. I’m sorry.” Her face flushed red.

    “But…” Thomas searched for the right words, the right question. “That guy…Chancellor Anderson, he said something about big times ahead. Are there many others like me? Are they all kids? Will I finally get to meet some of them?” He hated how much he dared to hope. “Like the girl next to me…Teresa…will I actually get to meet her?”

    The woman sighed, sincere pity in her eyes. She nodded. “There are lots of others, but what’s important now is that you’re doing great in the testing, and meeting the others won’t be too far away. I know you must be lonely. I’m really sorry. But maybe it helps to know that everyone is in the same boat. Things will get better soon, though. I promise.” She started to close the door, but Thomas stopped it again.

    “How long?” he asked, embarrassed at how desperate he sounded. “How much longer will I be alone?”

    “Just…” She sighed. “Like I said. Not much longer. Maybe a year.”

    Thomas had to whip his hand away before she slammed the door on it. He ran over and crumpled onto the bed, trying to hold in his tears.

    A year.

    224.3.12 | 7:30 a.m.

    A knock on his door, early morning. It had become as routine as clockwork. Same time, but not always the same face. Yet he knew who he hoped it to be—the nicest doctor he’d met so far. By a long shot. The same one who’d taken him to see the chancellor two months earlier. Unfortunately, it usually wasn’t her.

    But when he opened the door today, there she stood.

    “Dr. Paige,” he said. He didn’t know why he liked her so much—she just put him at ease. “Hi.”

    “Hi, Thomas. Guess what?”

    “What?”

    She gave him a warm smile. “You’re going to be seeing a lot more of me from here on out. I’ve been assigned to you. And to you only. What do you think of that?”

    He was thrilled—he already felt comfortable with her, even though they’d only met a few times. But all that came out to show his excitement was “Cool.”

    “Cool indeed.” Another grin that seemed as genuine as Ms. Denton’s. “There are a lot of good things on your horizon. Our horizon.”

    He barely stopped himself from saying “Cool” again.

    She motioned toward the rolling tray at her hip. “Now, how about some breakfast?”

    He didn’t know how she did it, but when Dr. Paige took Thomas’s blood, he didn’t even feel the prick of the needle piercing his skin. Usually one of her assistants did the deed, but every once in a while she took care of it herself. Like today.

    As he watched the blood slide down its tube, he asked, “So, what’re you learning about me?”

    Dr. Paige looked up. “Pardon?”

    “With all these tests you run. What’re you learning? You never tell me anything. Am I still immune? Is my information helping you? Am I healthy?”

    The doctor sealed off the vial and took the needle out of Thomas’s arm. “Well, yes, you’re helping us a lot. The more we can learn about how your body, your health…Just by studying you and the others, we’re discovering what to study. Where to focus our efforts on finding a cure. You’re as valuable as they say you are. Every one of you.”

    Thomas beamed a little.

    “Are you just telling me this to make me feel good?” he asked.

    “Absolutely not. If we’re going to stop this virus, it’ll be because of you and the others. You should be proud.”

    “Okay.”

    “Now, let’s get you on the treadmill. See how quickly we can get your heart rate over one fifty.”

    “This drastically changed people’s everyday lives, connecting society in a way that had never…”

    Ms. Landon—a small, mousy lady with perfect teeth—was describing the cultural impact of cellular technology when Thomas raised his hand to get her attention. He was desperately bored. Everyone knew the cultural impact of cellular technology.

    “Uh, yes?” she asked, stopping midsentence.

    “I thought we were going to talk about the invention of the Flat Trans soon.”

    “Did I say that?”

    “I think you did. Anyway, it just seems a little more interesting than…this stuff.” Thomas smiled to take away the sting of his words.

    Ms. Landon folded her arms. “Who’s the teacher here?”

    “You are.”

    “And who knows best what we should talk about each day?”

    Thomas smiled again; for what reason, he had no idea. He liked this lady, no matter how boring she got. “You do.”

    “Very good. Now, as I was saying, you can imagine how much the world changed when suddenly every person in the world was connected by…”

    Ms. Denton had the patience of a snail. Thomas had been analyzing the forty odd-shaped blocks on the table in front of him for over thirty minutes. He’d yet to actually touch one. Instead, he gazed at each separate piece in turn, trying to build a blueprint in his mind. Trying to approach the puzzle the way his teacher had taught him.

    “Would you like to take a break?” she finally asked. “You need to go to your next class anyway.”

    Even her patience could run thin, he supposed. “I can be late. Mr. Glanville won’t mind.”

    Ms. Denton shook her head. “Not a good idea. Once you run out of time, you’ll start rushing things. You’re not ready to rush things. For now, it’s okay to take as much time as you need. Even over several days. Give your brain a solid workout, visualize what you’ve been analyzing while you lie in bed at night.”

    Thomas forced himself to look away from the blocks and leaned back in his chair. “Why do we do so many puzzles anyway? Aren’t they just games?”

    “Is that what you think?”

    “Not really, I guess. Seems like it works my brain more than any of my other classes.”

    Ms. Denton smiled as if he’d just told her she was the smartest teacher in the school. “That’s exactly right, Thomas. Now, off to Mr. Glanville. You shouldn’t make him wait.”

    Thomas stood up. “Okay. See you later.” He started for the door, then turned back to face her. “By the way, there are seven extra pieces—they don’t belong.”

    Impossibly, her smile grew even wider.

    Sample after sample.

    Class after class.

    Puzzle after puzzle.

    Day after day.

    Month after month.

    224.9.2 | 7:30 a.m.

    The knock on the door came precisely at the correct time, maybe a few seconds off. Thomas opened it to find a stranger staring at him. A bald man who didn’t seem very happy to be there. Maybe not very happy to be alive. He had puffy red eyes and a frown that seemed to be reflected in every wrinkle on his wilting face.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire