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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 21)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(21) by James Dashner
  • Dr. Paige gave him that smile—that smile that always made him feel a little better. “I swear to you, Thomas. I swear on the graves of the countless loved ones who have died…I swear that I’ve never lied to you. You’re as immune as science and medicine can possibly conclude. And if there was any chance of anything endangering your life, I wouldn’t allow it.”

    He stared into her eyes. He found that he truly believed her, and that made him feel warm inside—as if a little piece of the wall he’d built up to protect himself had crumbled away.

    “Why are you asking me these things?” she asked. “What’s wrong?”

    He almost told her the truth. That he’d heard a voice inside his head. He almost told her.

    “Dreams,” he answered. “I keep having these dreams that I go crazy. And the worst part is that I’m not even aware it’s happened. Do any of the Cranks actually know that they’ve lost their minds? How do we know we’re not Cranks?”

    She nodded, as if that was a completely valid question. “That sounds like something for your philosophy class. Next month, I believe.”

    She’d started walking again, and the conversation was over.

    Thomas sat in his room thinking over the morning’s conversation with Dr. Paige once more. Ever since the wake-up, he’d hoped that Teresa would talk to him again, while at the same time hoping she didn’t. Maybe that in itself was another sign he’d lost his mind to infection.

    But the more he thought about it, the more he believed Dr. Paige. She was either sincere or the best actress the world had ever known. Finally Thomas was too tired to worry anymore, and he turned off his lights and hoped sleep would beat the odds and take him away.

    It was only an hour or so later, just when he’d begun dozing off, that Teresa spoke to him again.

    Thomas, are you there?

    It didn’t shock him like it had the first time. This time there was no buzzing, and on some level he’d been expecting it, so it wasn’t as disorienting. Even so, any trace of sleep vanished at her words and he sat up, got out of bed, went over to sit at his desk.

    “I’m here,” he said aloud, once again feeling like an idiot for doing so. He had absolutely no idea how to respond to her with his mind.

    I can feel you trying to answer, she said. The implants they put in our heads—I’ve been trying to figure out what’s felt different since they did it, and as soon as I pressed through to make contact to you, it all clicked.

    Thomas sat there, nodding to himself like a dummy. It didn’t escape him how strange it was that it already felt somewhat normal to have a girl speaking to him telepathically.

    You have to focus, Teresa continued. Probe your mind to find the foreign object, then focus on it. Press through it. You won’t know what I’m talking about until you try.

    Her words came in a rush now, no longer painful but still disorienting.

    “Okay,” he said, knowing she couldn’t hear him.

    Try it as you go to sleep tonight, she said. I’ll contact you every night until I hear back. Don’t give up!

    He could sense the weight she put on the last three words. The importance of what she was telling him.

    “Okay,” he said again. Then, confident he’d heard the last from her, he lay back down in bed and started tinkering with his own mind.

    For several days and nights he worked at it, and it was the most frustrating thing he’d ever done. All he had at his disposal were mental tools, nothing physical. Maybe if he could take a scalpel and open his own head up, it would’ve been easier to pick and probe until he found something like a huge old-school light switch that needed flipping. But no, he had to close his eyes and search with fingers that only existed in his own imagination.

    Once he let go of thinking about things in such a black-and-white manner, he was able to start seeing his own thoughts and conscience as things he could mentally manipulate. That was when he started making progress. He let his thoughts disappear and focused on nothing, until suddenly it was clear—there was an area that didn’t seem to belong. And then he pressed on, working against it and thinking the one word he wanted to send: Teresa.

    Then finally one night he felt more than heard Teresa receive his message. It was as if he’d poked her with a cattle prod.

    He whooped, lying in bed, knowing he was close. Hoping he hadn’t hurt her too much.

    Keep going, she’d said in his mind. You’re almost there. And next time, try not to electrocute my eyeballs.

    He had no idea what that meant, but he smiled all the same.

    And kept trying.

    226.03.09 | 8:12 p.m.

    I can’t fall asleep, Thomas said to Teresa. Almost a year had passed since he’d finally mastered the implanted telepathy.

    Maybe that’s because it’s barely past eight o’clock, she responded. And last time I checked you’re not a seventy-year-old man.

    Hey, I like my beauty sleep. How do you think I maintain this fine specimen of a face?

    She snorted. It felt similar to those buzzes she’d communicated when she’d first spoken to him this way. Yeah, I swoon every time I see you.

    Which is never.

    Exactly.

    There was a long pause, but the great thing about their trick was that even when neither one of them spoke, whatever connection they had in their minds made them feel the other’s presence. After months and months of practice, he could almost believe that she was in the room with him. He craved it every night, and missed it whenever he was idle during the day. Whenever he happened to have a spare minute.

    How’s the plan coming along? he finally asked, even though he knew it would annoy her. He almost enjoyed asking her the same thing every night for weeks just because it annoyed her. But this time he didn’t get the usual irritated response.

    I think I figured it out, she said.

    Thomas sat up. Really?

    No, not really. Go get your beauty sleep.

    Thomas just rolled his eyes. He could sense that Teresa got his response.

    Even though Thomas’s and Teresa’s doors had remained unlocked, Thomas knew they were being observed, and that they were still feeling the aftermath of their trip outside. They’d tried to sneak out to meet their friends a few times since that night, but the moment they left their rooms a guard would appear and kindly but firmly tell them to “Please go back. It’s for your own good.” Always, everything was for their own good.

    And even though they didn’t have the best gourmet chef in the world, food was one of the few things Thomas looked forward to in life. At the very least, WICKED considered quantity more important than quality, and that was just fine with Thomas. Growing like crazy, he was always hungry.

    But maybe he’d have more than food to get excited about very soon.

    Teresa, learning more and more about computers and information systems—their studies track had been diverging lately, becoming more specialized—had been told that the physical construction of the mazes was almost complete and WICKED would soon be ready for their help with things like programming the false sky and testing the optical-illusion systems. Aris and Rachel, two people they still hadn’t met, were also on the work schedule.

    Teresa had a knack for the computer systems side of things, so that was where most of her training took place. And she was much, much better at it than they knew.

    Much better.

    We can do it, she said one morning, waking him up from a dead sleep.

    Thomas rubbed his eyes groggily, not bothering to ask her what she meant. She’d tell him soon enough. She always did.

    I know the security camera system like the back of my hand now. I’ve cued up all the recordings we need to loop for the night, then backtracked and erased my movements. It’s all set up.

    Thomas was totally awake in an instant. His excitement made him almost laugh with happiness, but he was also scared to death. Their punishment the last time they were caught out of their rooms—the Crank pits—still haunted him, but after so long without his friends, he was desperate to try anything.

    Are you sure we won’t get caught? he asked.

    Very sure. I know where the guards are stationed. Everyone else will be asleep. And the lighting at night is so low that it will be really hard for someone to notice the loops. We’ll be okay.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire