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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 15)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(15) by James Dashner
  • Minho smiled. “Nice. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There’ll be plenty of other chances to talk. First we wanna just get to know you, maybe show you around a bit. Have some fun. The serious stuff can come in a few weeks or so. When we know you better. Sound good?”

    Thomas and Teresa looked at each other and shrugged. They both turned back and said yes.

    Newt hopped off his stool and went to the door. “Let’s get out of here before we get cabin fever,” he said. “I know a good place to start their tour—let’s go show them Group B.”

    224.10.15 | 2:03 a.m.

    Thomas had never heard the words Group B before, but they definitely piqued his interest. He also noticed a shadow cross over Newt’s face when he said it, and a look of discomfort pass over his friends Alby and Minho.

    Something was weird about it, but that only intrigued Thomas even more.

    Newt led their little group of five down the basement hallway until they came to a small, unmarked door that only came up to Thomas’s waist. It had a latch and padlock, but the lock had been broken long ago, its surface covered in orange rust—this area of WICKED was obviously off the beaten path. Newt bent down and opened the little door, then crawled through. Thomas gave Alby a questioning look, and Alby leaned in to whisper something in his ear.

    “This is sort of like a ritual for us.” Teresa had come close so that she could hear, too. “Newt thinks up reasons to make it happen. See, they have his little sister over there, and when he says he wants to go see her…Well, we learned months ago that you better just go along with it or there’ll be hell to pay. You got me? Family, man. It’s something most of us don’t have anymore. Come on.”

    The trip was a dusty one, involving ladders and grimy passages barely wider than Thomas’s hips. Minho said something about it being a secret escape route from years ago. No one really knew what the original purpose of the building had been before WICKED took over.

    They finally reached their destination, a loft of sorts dotted with dirty windows overlooking a huge barracks full of bunks. And those bunks were full of sleeping kids. Thomas strained his eyes, looking up and down the rows. As far as he could tell—based on hair length and what he could see of the faces illuminated by the scant light—there wasn’t a single boy in the entire room.

    Thomas didn’t know what to think. It was such a contrast to the private rooms in which he and Teresa slept.

    “They call us Group A,” Alby explained. “And this is Group B. We’re all boys, they’re all girls. How Aris and Teresa here fit into all that, I don’t get. I mean, I guess it makes sense to separate us. Who knows.”

    “So you guys live in a place like this?” Teresa asked.

    Minho answered. “Yep. I think I could handle transferring to Group B, though. Someone remind me to put in a request.”

    “Why are we…” Thomas trailed off. The question was obvious, and he suddenly had the absurd feeling that it’d come across as bragging if he asked it.

    “Special?” Alby asked. “That’s what we hope to find out from you.”

    “Looks like you know more than us,” Teresa said in an absent voice. Her mind was spinning, Thomas could tell. He wished he could take a peek inside her brain, see what churned there.

    He looked at Newt. The boy stood silent, looking through a window a few feet down from them. Thomas walked over to him.

    “What’re you looking at?” Thomas asked, even though he knew.

    Newt sniffed, and Thomas noticed for the first time that the boy was crying.

    “You see her?” he said, the tip of his index finger touching the glass. “Far row, third one from the left side.”

    Thomas saw a girl curled up under a blanket, her arms wrapped around a pillow, dark hair spilling out. “Yeah. That your sister?”

    Newt looked at him in surprise. “That’s right. Her name’s Lizzy.” A long pause, during which his head sank until it rested against the window. “At least, it used to be. They may think they have us all brainwashed with our new names, but no way I’ll ever forget hers.”

    “What did they change it to?” Thomas asked.

    “Sonya.” Bitterness filled his voice. “Can you believe that? They renamed her Sonya.” He coughed. Or sobbed. Something. His eyes glistened in the gloom. “And WICKED’s so mean about it. They won’t let me see her, and I’ve had to pretend that I’ve forgotten it all or they…punish me.”

    Thomas was stunned. For the first time since the man named Randall had hurt him, he felt a sudden and shocking anger toward the people behind it all. Toward WICKED. Here stood a boy, a few dozen feet from his own sister, and he couldn’t even pretend to know her.

    “I did as they asked, I stopped using my real name,” Newt continued. “I think I was one of the last holdouts. But hers I’ll never forget. They’ll have to kill me first.”

    “I’m sorry,” Thomas whispered, not sure what to say. His own heart ached thinking of his mom, and just how impossibly hard it would be if she lay in a bed in the barracks below him. How could he not break the glass and go to her? How?

    Newt stood up straight and wiped the tears from his eyes. He appeared to feel no shame whatsoever at letting anyone see him cry.

    “That’s the way of things, Tommy,” he said, his voice not quite steady. “The world outside’s gone to hell. Why should we expect any different in here? At least I can see her there, sleeping peacefully. How many people in this world would chop off their own arm to be able to say that about someone they love who’s dead and gone? It’s just the way of things.”

    He said it as if they’d been friends for years.

    Teresa came up behind Thomas, leaned in against his back.

    “Everything okay?” she asked.

    “Yeah,” he said. “Newt was just showing me his sister down there.”

    “We better not push our luck tonight,” Alby said. “Let’s go get some shut-eye until the wake-up, then do this all over again tomorrow. What do you say?”

    Everyone agreed. As they walked back, a somber silence hung over them, and the journey seemed much longer than before. Thomas had hoped they’d have time to compare what they did and didn’t know, but it looked like that was going to have to wait. Goodbyes were said and ways were parted.

    Thomas made it back to his room without incident, said goodnight to Teresa—quickly, worried someone might appear in the hallway—then went inside and crashed on the bed without getting undressed. He fell asleep far faster than he would have imagined after all that had happened.

    Throughout his shortened night, he dreamed of Newt and Sonya.

    Of Newt and Lizzy.

    The next few days and nights went by in a whirlwind of discovery and exhaustion; Thomas got less than three or four hours of sleep each night. The morning alarm was like a dagger in his skull, and his head never stopped aching throughout the long, long days of schooling. He waited for Dr. Paige or Dr. Leavitt or one of his teachers to comment on his nighttime escapades, or worse, an armed WICKED guard to whisk him away to a holding cell. But no one acted like anything was out of the ordinary.

    On their second night of exploration, they discovered a huge laboratory with foul-smelling vats of steaming liquid, at least two dozen of them. Even in the deepest part of the night, workers in full hazard suits worked among the odd containers, doing all kinds of tests. A few times, Thomas and the others caught sight of what looked like large fish or tentacles moving beneath the steam, breaking the surface of whatever revolting liquid they swam in. The whole thing baffled even Newt, who said he’d been watching the place for months.

    They searched the administrative offices on the third night, even catching a man and woman lingering behind after work hours for some lovey-dovey private time. Alby barely stopped Minho in time from jumping out and scaring the poor couple to death. Thomas almost wished he’d let it happen.

    The fourth and fifth nights were filled with new adventures—more labs, the cafeterias, a giant sports facility that Thomas had never even heard about. They found a hospital room where complicated masklike devices hung over each bed, tubes and wires branching out like the legs of a monstrous spider, studded with all kinds of monitoring equipment. Thomas desperately wanted to stay longer and figure out what the things were for, but Alby got them out of there quick. It was the first time Thomas had really seen him flustered, beads of sweat covering his forehead. Something had struck a nerve.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire