• Home
  • Directory
  • Popular
  • Authors
  • Series
  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 19)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(19) by James Dashner
  • Thomas took a step backward, the others moving right with him.

    “But then, you see,” John Michael continued, his eyes a little wilder, his demeanor a little more ruffled, “then I caught the Flare. The…damned…Flare. I fought so hard to help our fellow humans.” His head drooped and tears trickled down his cheeks. “It’s not fair that I should be the one to catch it. Soon I’ll be living with…” His gaze found its way past them, through them, and focused on the cages on the other side of the tunnel. The pits.

    “But then…No,” he said. “No, we won’t allow such an undignified ending for me. Not for me. Not for the man who started the Post-Flares Coalition, fought for its survival, preached its importance. Would you throw someone like that into those pits? I ask you, now. Would you?”

    The man was becoming hysterical, staring straight at Thomas. “Would…you?”

    Thomas shook his head adamantly, finding himself more afraid now than he had been all day.

    John Michael moved a half step closer to the group, a shuffle that was slightly off balance. His whole face glistened with tears.

    “I’m not here to ask you any favors,” he said. “I’m here to tell you there’s no choice in the matter. It’s your…obligation to help people like me. Help future people like me. Do you understand?” He emphasized the last sentence with a heart-wrenching sadness.

    The guards nearby did nothing, just stood like they’d been carved from wax. The shadows made it impossible to see their eyes.

    “We…understand,” Teresa said in a far steadier voice than Thomas would have been able to muster. “We’re sorry you’re infected. Most of our parents got sick also, so we know what it’s like.”

    The man’s face suddenly transformed into a hideous trembling red mask. His eyes bulged as he erupted into rage and began to spew a tirade of anger.

    “You have no idea what it’s like!” he screamed, his voice cracking. “How could you be trying to escape, running away from our chance to cure!”

    The man was barely holding it together. Thomas didn’t know how much more he could take of the meltdown. Minho stepped past Thomas and put himself directly in front of John Michael. Shockingly, the guards did nothing to interfere.

    “We weren’t going anywhere,” Minho said, trying poorly to steady his voice. “And it doesn’t seem right to treat us like this.”

    “Who do you think you—” In midsentence the man sprang forward with arms outstretched, reaching for Minho’s throat. He caught him before Minho could move, both hands clasping the boy’s neck as they fell to the ground. John Michael quickly scrambled on top of him, then put all his weight on Minho’s throat, pressing him down.

    Minho kicked, arched his back, tore at the man’s hands. All the while making a strangled choking sound. Thomas had started moving to help even though he had no idea what to do, but Alby knocked him out of the way and dove, crashing shoulder-first into John Michael, knocking him off Minho, who sat up, heaving for breath.

    Thomas watched as Alby and John Michael rolled over a couple of times, each struggling to be on top. Then the man was straddling Alby just as he had Minho. Thomas was unable to move before Minho was on his feet, running to rescue his friend. Minho toppled John Michael, his momentum slamming the man to the ground.

    The guards broke out of their stupor and moved in to stop the sudden violence.

    “All right,” the female guard said, her voice calm. “That’s enough. He’s obviously not well.”

    Neither Minho nor Alby made one move that suggested they’d heard a word she said.

    The guard cocked her gun, then yelled in a much louder voice, “Stop! Everyone!”

    Thomas and Teresa managed to grab their friends around the chest and drag them away from the fallen man. Soon they were all standing there, working to catch their breath, looking down at the grown man who now lay on the ground weak and childlike, bleeding from the nose with a swollen lip. Then, shocking everyone once again—even the guards, by the looks of it—he pushed himself onto his knees and clasped his hands together, held them out in front of his chest, fingers intertwined so tightly they shone white.

    “Please,” he said in a trembling voice. “Please don’t judge me. Please save me. If not me, those who come after. Please, I’m begging you. Please, please, please.” His every word was a whimper now, tears streaming from his face as if a faucet flowed behind his eyes. His shoulders shook, his arms and hands shook, his chest lurched with heavy sobs.

    “Please, please save us. Please find us a cure.” Almost a whisper now. His eyes slowly closed; he slumped back to sit on his haunches. “Please, please, please, please.” Each word came out between sobs, tremors quaking his body.

    Then, out of the darkness, Randall appeared, as if he’d been watching the whole thing from deep in the shadows. He walked forward, not saying a word until he stood directly over John Michael.

    “This is what the world has come to,” Randall said. “Unless you’re immune, of course, and until we have a cure. Otherwise, there are two choices. Become one of those…things you saw in the cages, or end it all before you reach the Gone, end your life. Which this good man has asked me to do when the time seems right. I hope you can appreciate the effort it must have taken him to put together a few coherent sentences tonight.” He jerked his head at the guards. “Take them back in. I think our old friend has reached his end date.”

    Randall pulled a gun out of his waistband and cocked it.

    “What’re you going to do?” Thomas asked.

    Randall didn’t reply, which was answer enough.

    224.10.20 | 4:01 a.m.

    No one spoke. Not a word. They walked into the WICKED complex and got checked in. Thomas and his friends remained stone silent. The two guards accompanied them to an elevator and they rode it up several floors, then walked down a few halls. Eventually they got to another elevator and took that up as well. Minho and Alby were escorted off the elevator first by the male guard. They exited the car with barely more than a nod of goodbye each, their eyes filled with sadness. Thomas and Teresa nodded back and waited quietly for the doors to close. Thomas rode the remaining floors consumed with his own thoughts.

    Finally, after what seemed like an endlessly long journey, Thomas and Teresa stood in front of the doors to their rooms, the female guard next to them.

    “Here we are,” she said, the first words spoken since the tunnel. And they were lighthearted enough to anger Thomas.

    “How could he do that?” he said, cringing at how loud his voice sounded in the confines of the hallway. “Just shoot a man in the back of the head?” And slap a kid who’s barely five years old, he wanted to add, but didn’t.

    The woman sighed, out of some deep frustration that seemed too complicated to understand. “Mr. Michael himself, the man who made it possible for all of us to be here today, asked him to.” She opened Thomas’s door. “Come on, now. Bedtime. It might be a while before you and your friends can have another get-together, okay? Now get some shut-eye.”

    “How long?” Thomas asked, surprised by that sudden announcement. In all that had happened, it hadn’t occurred to him that he might not see his friends again anytime soon.

    “Couple years, they tell me” was her response. “There’s plenty of work to do, and everyone needs a full night’s sleep. Just…no more parties for the time being. It’s for your own safety.” She turned away and left in a hurry.

    Thomas went into his room and closed the door, then leaned back against it, staring at the dull interior in which he’d lived since coming to WICKED. Despite all the horrors of the night, the guard’s parting had been the toughest to bear.

    Couple years, the woman had said. Then his earlier worry came back to hit him. What if they took away his meetings with Teresa? Or the job that had been dangled in front of them, building the maze? Ms. McVoy had said WICKED could use all the help available to them. Surely tonight didn’t change that.

    He went to his bed and lay down, but he couldn’t sleep. His clock told him it would soon be time for breakfast, and his mind was churning with all he’d seen that night. He closed his eyes and thought through all the goods and evils of this place they called WICKED. Thought of the Cranks he’d been forced so close to only hours earlier—their empty eyes, their torn clothes, their hollow cries of misery. They were human, but at the same time the furthest thing from it. He thought of John Michael and the pitiful end to his life.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire