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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 13)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(13) by James Dashner
  • Thomas suddenly sucked in a breath on reflex, not realizing he’d been holding it. He just didn’t understand what lay before him. It was a massive abscess under the ground, so huge it seemed to defy natural law. How could that roof not just cave in?

    He looked over at Teresa, whose eyes were wide and glistening in awe.

    “I’m sure you have many, many questions,” McVoy said. “And we can answer them, one at a time. Things are going to be different for both of you from now on. You’re going to know a lot more, and you’re going to be very, very busy.”

    “Busy doing what?” Teresa asked.

    Chancellor Anderson chose to answer that one.

    “You’re going to help us build this place.”

    224.10.14 | 2:34 p.m.

    A few minutes later, they were sitting in a small conference room around a table with Ms. McVoy, Dr. Paige, and Mr. Ramirez, who had yet to say a single word. The chancellor had excused himself, but not before reiterating how excited he was to bring Thomas and Teresa to the next level. He assured them that Ms. McVoy would take as long as they needed to answer their questions.

    The thing was, Thomas wasn’t sure he could sort out his questions. After the massive scale of the cavern he’d just stood over, the small room felt almost claustrophobic. And now, gathering his thoughts—it seemed like an incredible feat.

    “Okay,” McVoy said, her hands folded gracefully on the table in front of her, “as you can imagine, what you just saw is the culmination of several years’ worth of developments. I couldn’t possibly go over everything in one sitting. But let’s do this: ask me your questions, and let’s see where that takes us. How does that sound?”

    Thomas and Teresa both nodded.

    “Great. Teresa, why don’t you go first?”

    “What is that place?” she asked, the first and most obvious question.

    McVoy nodded as if expecting those exact words. “What you saw is one of two natural caverns we found in this area that we then expanded significantly to house what we plan to build inside.”

    “And what’s that?” Thomas asked.

    “A maze. Two mazes, actually. Like I said, there are two caverns.”

    “Why?” Teresa asked. “Why in the world are you building two mazes?”

    “As a testing ground. As a controlled environment to stimulate a long list of reactions, both physical and emotional, from our test subjects. We couldn’t risk these locations being in the open air, and not just because of the obvious reasons like the decimated landscape and the potential for Crank invasions. The world is a dangerous, dangerous place at the moment. But just as importantly, we need a closed testing area so we can effectively control the stimuli.”

    Thomas heard all this but found it hard to believe. Or maybe just too much to process at once.

    “Thomas?” McVoy said. “Do you want to ask the next question?”

    “I…” He searched for words. “It’s just so crazy. A maze? Two mazes? What are you going to test inside them? Who are you going to test?”

    “It’s complicated, like I said. But basically we need a large-scale environment that we can control with no outside influence. Our doctors and Psychs think this is a perfect environment to get what we need.” She leaned back and sighed. “But I’m rambling. The simple answer is this: We’ll be continuing to do what we’ve already begun. We’ll be testing immunes, studying their brain function and biology, figuring out how they can live with the Flare virus without succumbing to its effects. In short, we’re trying to find a cure, Thomas. We’re trying to prevent all this unnecessary death that now surrounds us.”

    “What did you mean about us helping you to build the place?” Teresa asked.

    “Exactly that,” McVoy replied with a genuine smile. “We’ve decided to use you and Thomas, as well as two other children your age, to assist us. Perhaps others. But the four of you are just so…beyond what we’d expected from people so young. We’re going to utilize that. As I’ve said before, we’re pragmatic people with limited resources. We don’t plan to waste your talents. The planning, design, execution of these mazes…it’s all going to be tricky.”

    Thomas’s shortage of words continued. He just sat there, stunned. Teresa was quiet as well, maybe feeling the same.

    “You do want to help us, don’t you?” McVoy asked.

    Dr. Paige, who had been quiet throughout the afternoon, chimed in here. “It’s an honor and a fantastic opportunity, you guys. I know things are dire in the world right now, but this project could even be fun for you. A challenge. We have a lot of faith in you both. And in the others as well. Aris and Rachel are their names.”

    After a long silence, McVoy said, “Well? What do you think?”

    Thomas knew they had no choice in the matter. And that it might be a lot of hard work. But the whole idea was exciting. And something new to take up his days.

    “Of course,” he said, barely able to contain his happiness.

    “Yes,” Teresa added, sounding more serious.

    McVoy stood up, then shook both Thomas’s and Teresa’s hands. “This will be a fun project. You’re becoming more a part of WICKED every day!” She said it as if it were the biggest compliment she could give.

    As they left the conference room and headed back to their rooms, winding through the hallways, stairs, and elevators of the complex, McVoy’s parting words echoed through Thomas’s mind. A part of WICKED.

    He wasn’t sure how he felt about that.

    Dr. Paige told Thomas that he had the rest of the day off to rest, relax, and think about things. He lay on his bed and stared at the ceiling. What he really wanted to do, though, was hang out with Teresa, to talk through it all. His mind spun with the life-changing things he’d heard and seen that day, and he needed Teresa’s help to process it all.

    He looked at his door. It was closed, as always. And for as long as he could remember, it automatically locked upon closing. But he couldn’t remember the last time he’d tried it. For months, maybe even a year or two, he’d just always assumed it was locked and didn’t bother. Well, now he had a reason to give it a shot.

    He rolled out of bed and went to the door. Slowly, he reached out, as if it might electrocute him upon touch. He grabbed the handle and turned.

    The door popped open.

    Thomas pushed it closed and ran back to his bed, his heart thumping in his ears. He looked around, wondered about the many, many ways they kept tabs on him. Cameras, microphones, sensors, who knew what else—some were in plain sight, some he couldn’t see at all. The fear he suddenly felt wasn’t rational—all he’d done was open the door a crack and then close it. WICKED had treated him well, for the most part. He hadn’t even seen Randall in a long time. Why the sudden chill icing his bones?

    They watched his every move—he was sure of it. Maybe that was why they’d stopped locking the doors. For all he knew, they wanted him to leave, to observe him, to see what happened. Or it was possible that his obedience in staying put all these years was what had ensured his rise to the top along with Teresa and those other two kids. Could that be it?

    It took a while, but his heart finally calmed, and the sweat that had dampened his face and arms evaporated. He stared at the door, pretending, even to himself, that what would happen next was actually up for debate. It wasn’t, and he knew it. Something would have to strike him dead to prevent him from exploring.

    But he had to be smart about it. He would wait until nighttime.

    The fear turned to pure anticipation.

    The hours dragged.

    He desperately wanted to sleep so that he’d be rested for his planned excursion, but it took forever to finally doze off, and then dinner came and ruined it. He ate, rested, finally fell asleep again.

    He came awake with a start to a darkened room. Worried he’d wasted the entire night, he quickly checked the time—just a few minutes past midnight. He took a quick shower to wash away the grogginess, got dressed, then found himself standing in front of his door again, hesitant, full of doubts. He could ruin everything by wandering the hallways. Ruin the chance to work on WICKED’s crazy, insane project to build giant mazes underground. Ruin his chance to be with Teresa and others.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire