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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 25)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(25) by James Dashner
  • Thomas looked closer and felt his heart drop. It showed Minho in a small room, strapped to a chair—the ropes digging into his skin—his face bloodied and bruised. He stared straight at the camera, unwavering, and his look of resolve made Thomas feel a little proud. And a little ashamed. He hadn’t wanted Minho to run and doubted he’d actually try.

    “Hurts to say this,” Randall said, “but it looks like your friend didn’t learn from his last attempt to go outside. I guess we were too easy on him, on everyone. Now we have no choice but to step things up. Don’t you agree?”

    Thomas stared at Minho. Minho stared back. Could it be possible there was a two-way camera? Thomas suddenly felt self-conscious.

    “Silence is probably not your best option right now,” Dr. Leavitt said. “Sit down and we’ll talk. People like Minho and Gally—people who think they’re above the effort to help us here—have to be dealt with. Hopefully you can learn something by watching.”

    Ramirez put a hand on Thomas’s shoulder and gently helped him find a seat between the two guards.

    “You’re excused now,” Randall said.

    For one split second Thomas thought Randall meant him, which would have been awfully strange since they’d just had him sit down. But it quickly became clear he was wrong when the guards got up and left.

    Ramirez took the chair to Thomas’s left, Dr. Leavitt the one to his right. Randall stepped into the space between the controls and the monitors, then clasped his hands behind his back as if he were about to give a lecture.

    “Thomas,” he began, “let’s be honest, here. You know we’ve been watching you and your friends gather at night, correct? You might be young, but you’re way too smart to think you were getting around us somehow.”

    Thomas opened his mouth, then closed it. He’d at least hoped they were outsmarting them. He didn’t know why they’d let them continue to gather, but as he thought about it, he realized it had been wishful thinking. He nodded.

    Randall placed his hands on the outer edge of the control deck and leaned forward, closer to Thomas. “Listen,” the man said. “We’re not here to beat you up over Minho’s mistake. If anything, we were able to see that most of you tried to talk him out of it. But there are some valuable lessons to be learned from all this, and we’re going to take advantage of the situation.”

    Thomas wished desperately that the guy would make his point already.

    “You are going to sit with us and watch how we’re going to teach Minho his lesson. We need witnesses, to be frank. We need the word to get around. We can’t let something like this ever happen again. Our subjects need to know that actions have consequences.”

    “What’re you going to do to him?” Thomas shouted, really scared for his friend.

    Randall flinched at the sudden loud noise, then continued as if he hadn’t heard the question. “After this is done, we’ll bring in Teresa and show her. Same for Aris and Rachel over in the control room for Group B. But we wanted you all to be alone on this, all reactions your own and not influenced by friends.”

    “It’s also a big step in another way,” Dr. Leavitt added. “The Maze Trials will be only a year or two from now, based on our current pace, and this?” He gestured around the room. “This is something you’re going to see a lot of once we put the first batch of subjects into the mazes. So look at this little exercise as practice. Sound good?”

    Thomas stayed quiet. Sometimes they could be so condescending.

    “Thomas? Sound good?” Leavitt repeated.

    Thomas felt a rage so strong he could barely contain it, like a fire starving for oxygen He didn’t understand how, but somehow he kept it all in.

    “Sounds good,” he muttered.

    Randall pointed to a different screen from the one showing Minho. In the new one Thomas could see an oval container of some sort. It had a seam along one side and hinges on the other. It looked like the coffin for a fat, very wealthy alien.

    “What’s that?” Thomas asked, falling right into their trap. Curiosity often won when it came to him.

    “Those are pods,” Randall replied. “Pods for a biomechanical creature that the military was able to help us design. At the moment we’re calling them Grievers. They’re still in the early stages of development, but huge progress was made with this last round. I think we’re just two or more modifications away from having our perfect maze monster.”

    Thomas was so taken aback by the seemingly simple statement that he could imagine the ridiculous look that must be on his face. He closed his mouth and forced himself to blink a few times.

    “Not what you were expecting?” Randall asked.

    “I…I don’t…Expecting?” He was at a loss for words. “What’re you even talking about? Biomechanical creatures? Monsters in the maze? What’d you call them? Grievers?”

    Ramirez spoke up. “You’ll learn all the details soon enough. Honestly, we had no intention of sharing this with you for a while yet, but this opportunity arose and, well…I will say, as one who’s been on the committee leading the development of these living weapons, that they’re an achievement by any standard.”

    “In short,” Randall added, “if we’re going to understand how the Munies’ brains function despite being inflicted with the Flare, we have to be able to stimulate in them every kind of feeling and brain activity known to humans. Once we start the Maze Trials these creatures will help with that in a big way. You should see the Psych reports. Very interesting.”

    Thomas felt like a dark shadow had passed over him. Something that sucked the life out of the air, and the air from his lungs. Everything these men were telling him—it was all feeling worse by the moment.

    “Let’s get on with it,” Randall said. He reached over and pressed something. “Go ahead, Alice. Open the pod.”

    Thomas watched as the seam alongside the oval pod split open. Jets of steam hissed from the opening, obscuring any clear view of the pod itself. Swirling, eddying mists filled the room on the screen. Thomas glanced over at the screen showing Minho really fast, and the true horror of what was about to happen became evident. Minho had finally broken his gaze and was looking anxiously to his right. Tendrils of fog slid along the floor from that side of the screen.

    Thomas stood up, his skin now cold.

    Minho was in the same room as that opening pod.

    226.11.14 | 5:52 a.m.

    “Stop!” Thomas yelled. “Stop that…thing!” His imagination had run wild, trying to picture what terrible thing was about to reveal itself. “I get the point, okay?”

    “Sit down!” Ramirez yelled from behind Thomas, and the man grabbed both Thomas’s shoulders and slammed him back down into his seat. Thomas had no idea when the man had moved from his chair.

    Randall turned away from the mist-filled screen.

    “If we don’t act on our threats,” he said, “then how will we ever have control in this experiment? If we let people escape—or try to—with no consequences, what does that tell the other subjects? Minho made his choice. Now things have to play out the way they’re supposed to.”

    “Please,” Thomas whispered, feeling the fight drain out of him. Minho—tough, reckless, always-joking Minho—had a look of such terror on his face that Thomas couldn’t bear to watch anymore. He turned his attention to the pod.

    The mist had dissipated enough to reveal the container, its two halves resting on the floor. Thomas stared mutely as something began to climb out.

    Whatever he had expected, he never could have dreamed up what he saw next. It was impossible to tell its shape; the creature was wet and glistening, with patches of hair covering parts of its surface. But there was metal too—flashes of steel appendages, and sharp disks protruding from the quivering mass. Thomas watched the hideous creature push itself over the lip of the container and crash down to the floor, revealing a sluglike body about the size of a small cow.

    He shuddered, watching the…abomination maneuver. He looked back at Minho, saw the boy thrashing against his restraints, screaming with no sound. The fog had washed over him. It was lingering in the background, melting toward the ceiling.

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