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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 20)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(20) by James Dashner
  • He thought of the Flare. The stupid Flare.

    And WICKED wanted to find a cure for it. Wanted him to help them. Shouldn’t he want to? His head throbbed by the time the knock came for breakfast. It was Dr. Paige.

    Thomas asked her if she knew about the night’s events.

    She only smiled a very sad smile.

    225.05.11 | 6:13 p.m.

    A few months later, Thomas had one of the worst days ever.

    It started with more medical tests than he’d had in a while. Blood taken, of course, but plasma also, followed by a full forty-five minutes on the treadmill with what seemed like hundreds of sensors attached to his body. Throughout the whole experience his stomach hurt. It felt like he was being stabbed there with knives, and it only got worse as the day wore on. A headache joined in the fun shortly after, and forced him to excuse himself from Mr. Glanville’s class early. He didn’t appreciate the disapproving glance that earned him. Then Ms. Denton had sent him a note saying she’d been sorry to see him miss his session, the underlying message clear.

    Ever since the supposed “escape” attempt, his teachers and the staff members had seemed a little more distant. Even Dr. Paige, who’d always been so nice to him—her smile didn’t feel as genuine. And her eyes always had something behind them, like she knew a thousand things that he didn’t, and that part of her wanted to share.

    But Thomas would’ve gladly accepted stomach cramps and a splitting headache every day if he could only see his friends again. His chest felt tight every time he thought of their names. How much fun he’d had on those precious few nights together, when the loneliness of being a subject of WICKED had receded, just for a while. Even the meetings with Teresa had stopped lately, really worrying him that the job inside the cavern was off also.

    The days when they’d had basement get-togethers were long, long, long past. Surely some cosmic catastrophe had forever shifted the normal passing of time, stretching it out.

    Thomas lay in his bed that night, his uneaten dinner sitting on the desk. He’d barely had a bite for hours, and his stomach had made sure to leave nothing inside. He was empty in every way.

    He was also exhausted, yet unable to fall asleep. Instead, he closed his eyes, listened to himself breathe.

    Something buzzed in his head.

    He sat up, looking around the room. He’d heard…or more like…felt…a buzz somewhere deep in the pounding ache within his skull that had been plaguing him all day. He shook his head, pressed his fingers against his temples. He stood up to call Dr. Paige, to ask for something to knock him out for the night, when the buzz came back, this time stronger.

    He fell to the bed, rolled into a ball, and held his hands over both sides of his head. The buzz didn’t hurt, really. It was just so strange, so foreign. What ridiculous test had WICKED come up with now?

    Buzz. Buzz. Buzz.

    Louder and stronger each time. It felt like an invasion of his body; it scared him, made him think of Cranks. Going crazy. Seeing and hearing things that weren’t there.

    Maybe they lied to us, he thought. Maybe we’re not immune. They’d said Newt wasn’t. Could it be possible—

    BUZZ.

    He rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling, his hands still glued to the sides of his head, as if that could do anything to help. Dr. Paige. He had to call Dr. Paige.

    Thomas.

    This time it was a voice. But at the same time, not a voice. A vibration, a rattling of his mind, a disturbance that felt like the buzzing had formed into a solid word. He slowly stood up, hands out for balance.

    Thomas, this is Teresa.

    He was going crazy. He was actually going crazy. It was the oldest and most common symptom—hearing voices in your head.

    “Uh…,” he said aloud.

    Is this working? Is this working?

    The last word landed between his eyes like a thunderbolt. The pain knocked his legs out from under him and he collapsed onto the floor. Never had the world felt so fluid beneath him, as if nothing solid existed, no form, no substance.

    “Teresa?” he asked aloud, disoriented. “Teresa?”

    No answer. Of course there was no answer. He’d gone crazy. He had the Flare; he’d be a Crank soon. His life was over.

    Listen to me, the voice came again, the series of words like a horse galloping in his mind. If you can hear me, pound on your door. I’ll be able to hear it.

    Thomas pulled himself to his knees. He supposed he had nothing left to lose, so, the world swimming around him, he crawled across his room toward the door. As strange as it sounded, the odd voice in his head was more like a presence, and he didn’t know how to explain it, but it felt like Teresa.

    He made it to the door, tall as a mountain as he knelt before it.

    Thomas? came the voice. Thomas, please. Please tell me this works. It’s taken me months to figure it out. If you can hear me, pound on your door!

    She shouted the last part, another series of thunks in his skull that hurt like an ice pick.

    He steadied himself, raised his hands to rest on the door’s surface, then squeezed his fingers into fists. What you’re about to do, he told himself, just might be the last nail in your Flare coffin. If you’re wrong, you’ll know you’re truly crazy.

    The voice again. Teresa.

    Thomas? Thomas? Make the sound.

    He did it. He reared back with both fists, then banged them against the door, beat it like it might be the last barrier to his freedom. In for a penny, in for a pound. He’d read that in one of those classics they’d given him. For a solid ten seconds, he threw his fists forward onto the hard surface until his knuckles ached and the pain shimmied up both arms.

    Then he collapsed to the floor again, struggling to catch his breath. He heard shouts down the hall, footsteps, someone coming to check on him. But before anyone arrived, one last sentence surfaced in his mind.

    Good, got it, Teresa said, a sense of excitement somehow attached to her voice. I’ll teach you how to do this later.

    And then she was gone. Not just her voice, but her presence as well. Gone. Like an extinguished light.

    The door swung open and Dr. Paige stood there.

    “What in the world’s come over you?” she asked.

    225.05.12 | 7:44 p.m.

    The next day passed in agony for Thomas. He could barely wait to see Teresa in the flesh—for just ten minutes. Five minutes. All he needed was enough time to look her in the eyes and ask her. Was it you? He’d know in an instant, and he needed the confirmation desperately. As he ate breakfast, had a checkup, went from class to class, the same question ran through his mind.

    Am I crazy?

    He’d even tried to ask Dr. Paige about his fears when she’d first retrieved him that morning.

    “So how do you know I’m immune?” he’d asked her, watching her expression carefully as she answered.

    “It’s fairly straightforward,” she replied easily, walking next to him down the hallway. “There are very specific markers in your blood makeup, DNA, and cerebrospinal fluid that are consistent among all those who are immune. The markers are missing in those who are not immune. It took a lot of study to get to that point, but it’s solid now.”

    He considered that. It certainly sounded like she was telling the truth.

    “Also,” she added, “it’s doubly confirmed in someone like you and the other immune subjects we’ve gathered.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “Well, we can verify with brain scans that the virus itself has taken hold inside you, that it’s made a home for itself. And yet it has no effect whatsoever on your physical matter, your mental capacity, your bodily functions. And you’ve had the virus for years, with no change. Unless it’s some sort of massive mutation of the virus—which our studies have shown no evidence of—then we can say with almost certain scientific and medical accuracy that you’re immune.”

    He nodded, fairly confident she was being honest with him. “So if I started showing symptoms of the Flare, say, tomorrow, how shocked would you be? On a scale of one to ten?”

    She looked over at him. “Ten, Thomas. I’d be beyond shocked. As shocked as if you sprouted a third ear. What’s all this about?”

    He stopped in the hallway and faced her. “Dr. Paige. Do you swear, swear on your own life, that I’m immune? That this isn’t some kind of…I don’t know, some kind of test? I know you guys are really fond of tests. How do I know I’m not like Newt? Not immune?”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire