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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 14)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(14) by James Dashner
  • He sighed, angry at the dent in his enthusiasm. Maybe there was a time mechanism and the door would be locked. Oh well. They weren’t going to punish him for opening a stupid door, or even for venturing into the hallway. He could always take a peek and then come back if it felt wrong.

    Something clicked and then the door swung several inches toward him.

    At first he didn’t understand what had happened—he actually looked down at his hands to see if they’d acted on their own and turned the handle. But they were at his sides, palms sweaty. No, someone had opened the door from the other side.

    He leaned his head around the edge of the frame and his heart leapt when he saw a complete stranger staring back at him. A boy about his age. No, not a stranger. The kid just looked different because his blond hair wasn’t covered with a bandage and he was a little older.

    “Hey, I’m Newt,” the boy whispered. “And I know bloody well who you are. Which is why we’ve decided to finally snag you. Come on, I want to show you something.”

    224.10.15 | 12:58 a.m.

    Thomas had never had to think so fast in his life. A thousand things went through his mind in the two or three seconds before he answered Newt. Should he actually go with the boy or slam the door in his face? How could Newt have possibly showed up on the very night that Thomas had discovered his door unlocked and planned to go out on his own? In a place like WICKED, he didn’t believe in coincidences—anything might be a test of some sort. What did this kid want to show him? Was it a trap? Should he invite him into his room and grill him about it? What if—

    “Okay,” he finally said, stepping into the hallway. He closed the door behind him, then quickly checked to make sure it didn’t lock on him. It didn’t. He turned to Newt and asked, “Can we take Teresa with us? She’s right next to me.”

    Newt huffed. “This isn’t a slumber party.” But then he grinned mischievously. “I actually woke her up before coming to you. She’s getting dressed. Nab her and let’s go. We only have an hour or two.”

    Thomas stepped over to 31K and opened the door, still bewildered. None of the doors were locked? Really? When he stepped inside, Teresa was sitting at her desk, fully dressed. She stood up immediately, looking battle ready until it registered that her intruder was Thomas.

    “What…,” she started, but didn’t finish. “Do you know…” That didn’t get completed, either.

    “All I know is there’s a kid named Newt in the hall,” Thomas said to Teresa, “and he says he has something to show us. And I think we should go.” She was by his side and opening the door before he could finish the last sentence.

    “Okay, then,” he said as he followed her into the hallway.

    “Hello again,” she said to Newt, who responded with a friendly nod.

    “We’ve heard about the two of you,” the new boy said, “and those kids Aris and Rachel.” If it weren’t for the kind look on his face, Thomas would have been suspicious of his direct words.

    “What’s going on?” Thomas asked. “Are you sure this is okay? What if we get caught?”

    “Don’t be such a worrywart,” Newt replied. “If they catch us, what’re they gonna do? Lock you up in your room?”

    Thomas knew exactly what they could do—take away the new opportunity with the mazes. He tried to communicate that to Teresa with his eyes. Maybe this was a terrible idea.

    “Good point,” Teresa said, eyeing Thomas back with a look defying him to challenge her. “Let’s go.” She paused. “Wait, where are we going again?”

    Newt laughed through his nose. “First things first. Let’s meet Alby and Minho.”

    With those words, Thomas couldn’t say no.

    Sweat trickled down the back of Thomas’s neck as Newt led them through various halls, through doors, up and down stairwells. Who needed a maze when their very complex served as one? Thomas expected Dr. Leavitt or someone worse to pop out at any minute, catching them in the act. Things had been looking up that day—he really didn’t want to ruin it. But then again, he was having the time of his life. It felt good to take a risk, step out on a ledge.

    They ended up in a dimly lit hall in the basement, where the last door had a sign that said MAINTENANCE.

    “This is our favorite hiding spot,” Newt said, pride in his voice. He opened the door and ushered them into a large dusty room filled with wooden tables and cleaning equipment, boxes, a million other odds and ends.

    “What’s up, gents?”

    The greeting came from Minho—the boy Thomas had met in the hallway during the crazy day of the implants. He seemed a lot happier now than he had then, screaming and yelling like the world had come to an end. Thomas wondered if he even remembered the ordeal.

    “Would you stop saying gents?” another boy said, dark-skinned and older, with the wisest eyes Thomas had ever seen. “It’s not funny, and it’s gettin’ on my nerves.”

    The rebuke didn’t faze Minho in the least. He walked up, a huge smile on his face, and hugged Thomas, then Teresa, the last thing either of them had expected. But Thomas had to admit it felt pretty good. Dr. Paige might be a nice lady, but he hadn’t felt this kind of warmth in years. Maybe not since he’d said goodbye to his mom.

    Teresa seemed as stunned by the situation as he did, but she also had a small grin on her face. They were having fun.

    “You two seem cooler than I thought,” Minho said as he stepped back. “I was expecting a couple of greasy-haired, bucktoothed weirdos quoting Shakespeare and writing out math problems on your hands. You actually look half normal!”

    “Thanks?” Thomas said it as a question.

    The other boy stepped forward and pushed Minho out of the way. “I’m Alby,” he said. “Good to meet you guys. Minho actually for once has a good point. With all the rumors about you highfalutin folks, we didn’t know what to expect. And that’s why we brought you here today. To check you out. It’s nice to see you’re not too bad, by the looks of it.”

    It was Teresa’s turn to say thanks with a question mark. That made everyone laugh and broke the ice a bit.

    “So,” Thomas said, not sure where to begin, “how long have you guys been sneaking out like this? It’s obviously not the first time.”

    “Nope,” Alby replied. “It gets so boring following all their rules, doing everything they tell us to. And yeah, they might know what we’re doing—we’re not idiots. But hey, until they actually come out and tell us to stop, we ain’t stopping.” He turned to Minho and Newt. “Am I right, guys?”

    Minho whooped a cheer and Newt gave a bored thumbs-up.

    “What are all these rumors about us that you guys keep bringing up?” Teresa asked. “And why are we isolated from you? It seems like you three have known each other for years. Thomas and I just met.” She looked at him, and something in her eyes said she’d almost mentioned the mazes but caught herself at the last second. That the mazes should be their secret for now.

    Newt, sitting on a stool by the wall, answered her questions. “Honestly, we don’t know what’s different about you and those other two. The rest of us have been sharing a cafeteria, going to the same classes, and all that for over a year. Way I see it, you’re either way smarter or way dumber than us.”

    “Way smarter, obviously,” Teresa said. Her sassy reply threw everyone off kilter for a beat, but then Alby clapped and laughed, and the ice broke just a little more.

    “Man, I like you guys,” he said.

    “Look,” Minho said, “as much as I’d like to say we’re just being nice inviting you down here, I’m guessing you know we have a reason.”

    “Of course,” Teresa quickly answered.

    Minho nodded, an appraising look in his eyes. “Good. Good. We have ideas. Plans. Nothing solid. Nothing too crazy. But information is king, and we feel like we’re in the dark not knowing you two. Though it’ll be a while before there’s complete trust. Fair enough?”

    “Fair enough,” Thomas replied. “We’ll tell you what we know if you tell us what you know.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire