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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 9)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(9) by James Dashner
  • “Wow,” Dr. Paige said, looking over from the monitor she’d been studying. “I’d say you’re taking my advice to heart.”

    “What did you do to me?” Thomas mumbled, each word slurred.

    “Oh, now you’re ignoring my advice. I said not to speak.”

    “What…did you do?” he asked again.

    Dr. Paige turned to face him, then sat down on the bed. The shifting of the mattress hurt something somewhere on his body. But it was a dull, distant ache.

    “I think the Psych told you what we were going to do, right?” she asked. “Dr. Leavitt?” She looked around as if to make sure he hadn’t come back into the room. He wasn’t there.

    Thomas nodded. “But…”

    “I know. It sounds horrible. Putting something inside you.” She smiled again. “But you’ve learned to trust me a little, haven’t you?”

    Thomas nodded again.

    “It’ll be so much better for you, for everyone, in the long run. We can measure your killzone activity so much faster and more efficiently now. Plus, you won’t have to come to the lab quite as often to extract data. It’ll all be instantaneous, real-time. Trust me, you’ll be glad we did it.”

    Thomas didn’t say anything. He wouldn’t have, even if he could speak normally. What she said made sense. Mostly. He just wondered why Minho and Teresa had freaked out so much. Maybe their surgeries hadn’t gone as smoothly.

    Dr. Paige stood up from the bed, patted Thomas’s arm. “All right, young man. Time for you to let those drugs pull you back to sleep. You’ll be doing a lot of that in the next couple of days. Enjoy the rest.” She started to walk away, but then turned around and came back. She leaned down and whispered something into Thomas’s ear, but his eyes were already closed and he was fading fast. He caught the words surprise and special.

    Then he heard footsteps and the soft thump of the door as it shut behind her.

    224.10.07 | 12:43 p.m.

    Thomas’s head healed much quicker than he would’ve guessed. Soon he was back in his own room, attending classes as if nothing had changed. Since the day of the operation, he hadn’t seen a trace of Teresa, Minho, or the boy named Newt. Or anyone else, for that matter. Sometimes, as he walked down the hall toward his classes, he heard voices. They were distant enough that he couldn’t quite tell which way they were coming from, but he was sure they were kids. It made him wonder what was wrong with him that others were allowed to interact so much. When was it going to be his turn?

    He wondered about it every day. At times he could explain it away as part of the experiments. Maybe some kids were together and some were alone. Maybe they’d switch it soon.

    A bumpy line above his ear marked where they’d cut him open, but the hair had already grown over it and he hardly thought about it anymore. He figured soon he wouldn’t even be able to feel it. Sometimes he got a deep, resounding ache inside his skull, as if a magical hand had reached in there and squeezed. Whenever he asked Dr. Paige or his instructors about the implant, they simply told him what they’d told him before—it was analyzing his system—and they were always quick to point out how much less frequently he had to have tests done. That was something he did appreciate.

    Dr. Paige constantly reassured him that there were reasons he was so isolated for now, that they wanted to take good care of him, keep him safe. The outside world was a scary, scary place, radiation and Cranks everywhere. And she said they needed to understand the disease better before Thomas interacted with others, that his was a special case—though she never went into much detail. But she brought him books and a handheld entertainment pad so often that he couldn’t doubt her kindness, which reassured him that she wasn’t just making things up to appease him. She always made him feel better about his strange life.

    One day he woke up with a blistering headache and a weighty grogginess like he’d never felt before. It took every last ounce of his willpower to get up and slog through the morning routine. He took a nap in his room at lunchtime and felt like he’d barely closed his eyes when someone knocked on his door. It startled him, but he jumped up to answer it, worried he’d slept through his afternoon class. The movement brought another wave of pain crashing through his head.

    His heart sank when he saw Dr. Leavitt standing in the hallway, the lights shining off his bald head.

    “Oh.” It came out of Thomas’s mouth before he could stop it.

    “Hey there, son,” Leavitt replied, as cheerful as he’d ever been. “We’ve got a big surprise for you this afternoon, and I think you’ll like it.”

    Thomas stared at him, suddenly dizzy. Hearing those words had triggered such a strong moment of déjà vu that he thought he might still be sleeping.

    “Okay,” he said, trying to hide his discomfort. Any change in his daily schedule was welcome. “What is it?”

    Dr. Leavitt had an odd, nervous smile. “We—the Psychs,” the man said through a shifty grin, “have decided it’s time for you to have some interaction with others. We’re, um, going to start you off with Teresa. How does that sound? Would you like to meet her and spend some time with her? Maybe things will go a little better than your first, uh, unofficial meeting.” His smile grew bigger, but it didn’t touch his eyes.

    It had been a long, long time since Thomas had felt anything like what burned inside him at that moment. He wanted to meet Teresa more than anything else in the world.

    “Yes,” he said, “absolutely. I think I’d like that very much.”

    During the walk, that strange déjà vu came over him again, as if he’d made this exact same walk with the exact same purpose before. The man guided him into a small office on his floor, the only furniture a desk with nothing on it, a couple of chairs on either side. The girl named Teresa was already sitting in one of the chairs, and she gave Thomas a very shy smile.

    The feeling hit him even stronger than before, almost making him stumble. Everything about the episode—the room, Teresa, the lighting—felt so familiar that it seemed impossible that it was happening for the first time. Confusion clouded his mind.

    “Have a seat,” Leavitt said, gesturing impatiently.

    Thomas tried to compose himself. He sat, and the man stepped back out into the hallway, pulling the door almost completely shut. “We thought it was time we let you guys have a chitchat,” he said, then added with a quick smile, “Enjoy,” and closed the door. There was another strong wave of familiarity.

    Thomas couldn’t stop staring at where the man had been standing moments before, too embarrassed to turn his attention to Teresa. He felt so awkward—a few minutes ago he’d been excited; now he was two seconds from getting up and running away, baffled by the strange rush of feelings. Finally he shifted in his chair, forcing his gaze to flick to her, and found that she was staring at him. Their eyes met.

    “Hey.” It was the best he could do.

    “Hi,” Teresa replied. She gave another shy smile. A smile Thomas could swear he’d seen at some point before today, in this very room.

    But now wasn’t the time to dwell on what might have happened—he had all the time in the world to think about the weirdness later. He motioned around him. “Why did they put us in here?”

    “I don’t know. They wanted us to meet and talk, I guess.”

    She hadn’t gotten his point—he wondered if maybe that was her attempt at sarcasm. “How long have you lived here?”

    “Since I was five.”

    Thomas looked at her, tried to guess her age, gave up. “So…”

    “So four years,” she said.

    “You’re only nine?”

    “Yeah. Why? How old are you?”

    Thomas wasn’t sure he knew the answer to that question. He figured that was close enough. “Same. You just seem older is all.”

    “I’ll be ten soon. Haven’t you been here just as long?”

    “Yeah.”

    Teresa shifted in her seat, pulled one of her legs under her body and sat on it. Thomas didn’t think it looked particularly comfortable but loved that she seemed a little more at ease. The same was true for him—the more they spoke, the more that disorienting pulse of déjà vu retreated to the background.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire