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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 29)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(29) by James Dashner
  • Anderson nodded, lips pinched as if it were a reasonable observation. “Dr. Leavitt, you want to address that?”

    The bald man seemed eager to do so. “Read your history, son. I challenge you to find any kind of virus throughout the last few hundred years that was cured within several decades, much less one. Anything from the common cold to Ebola to HIV to the early stages of certain types of cancer. It’s a long, long, long process. And those people didn’t have a half-destroyed world with mind-sick Cranks running around. The fact that we’ve had the patience and endurance to work at this with a long-term strategy is pretty much a miracle. But even if there’s only ten percent of the population left by the time we do find a cure, at least we’ll have saved the human race from extinction.”

    “What about Munies?” Aris asked. “Could the human race continue if only they survive?”

    Dr. Leavitt scoffed, then seemed embarrassed that he’d done so. “How many of those are going to survive a world full of Cranks?”

    I really don’t like him, Teresa spoke to Thomas.

    Yeah, me neither.

    “Dr. Leavitt’s points are well made,” Anderson said. “We’ve done our best to gather the smartest people, the most advanced resources, and the best subjects, then ensured our protection from the outside world. We’ve planned for a long haul since we first began, and we don’t plan to stop until an answer to this sickness is in our hands and ready to present to the world. And it should be no surprise to the candidates who are here today that we’ve been testing and running trials as often as possible since day one. Am I right?”

    Thomas nodded, even though he thought it was an odd question to ask the very people they were testing. In fact, the whole thing—having them there in the first place—just seemed weird. Who knew, maybe that in itself was some kind of test. One of the Variables they always talked about.

    “The Maze Trials are very close to beginning,” Anderson continued. “And we’ve been prepping that for some time. But the progress we’ve made in the last few years toward our ultimate blueprint of the killzone…” He struggled to find the right words. “I think we’ve laid a solid foundation through the smaller tests and trials we’ve accomplished with our subjects so far. The chances are slim, but maybe we’ll have a blueprint after the Maze Trials. Who knows? Maybe we can avoid a Phase Two or Three. I’m feeling optimistic today.”

    He paused, his gaze unfocused, as if his mind were several years in the future, imagining the perfect ending to what he’d devoted his entire life to. Next to Thomas, Dr. Paige started clapping. Slowly at first, until others joined in. Soon the entire room was clapping, the sound of it even getting Thomas a little pumped up. He felt ridiculous.

    Chancellor Anderson held up his hands and the clapping slowed to a stop. “All right, all right. That applause, of course, is for all of us. And for all those subjects in Groups A and B. I really do feel like we’re on the right path. I really do.” He smiled, seemed to gather himself, then let out a big breath. “Okay, it’s time to get to work. We’re a month or two—four at most—from sending our first people into the mazes.”

    Another one of his dramatic pauses—Thomas figured the man deserved a little moment in the spotlight after ten years of work—then he really began the meeting.

    “The trials are upon us, folks. Let’s dig in.”

    229.06.12 | 6:10 p.m.

    That night was the biggest change so far in Thomas’s life. From that point on, Thomas and Teresa would be fully integrated with the other subjects of Group A, including meals, classes, and recreation time. It looked like slinking around would no longer be necessary.

    Of course, that wasn’t the greatest gift in the world, because most of Thomas’s friends were slated to enter the maze with the very first group, sometime within the next few months.

    Ramirez, of all people, escorted Thomas and Teresa to their first dinner in the cafeteria, where all the other kids had been eating for years. When they entered the wide room—all stainless-steel serving locations and long plastic tables and cookie-cutter chairs—the place went silent, every eye trained on the newcomers.

    “Listen up,” Ramirez barked, his voice echoing in the quiet. “Many of you have heard of Thomas and Teresa—they’ve been considered elite candidates for years.”

    He’s giving us a death sentence! Teresa yelled in Thomas’s mind, the anger coming through like an electric shock. What the hell?

    “—be nice to them, they’ve worked really hard,” Ramirez was saying. “The Maze Trials are starting soon, as you’re all well aware, and there’s a lot to be done. These two will be considered official liaisons between you subjects and the WICKED personnel overseeing the trial preparation. We’ll be assigning the entrance schedule to the mazes very soon. In the meantime, take the time to get to know Thomas and Teresa, prepare yourselves mentally and physically, and let yourselves get excited for the fun changes ahead. Now, back to your meals.”

    He nodded stiffly, then turned and walked out of the cafeteria, not saying a word to Thomas or Teresa.

    That guy’s just a boatload of charm, Teresa said.

    Before Thomas could respond, he saw Newt and Alby coming toward them, faces alight with big grins.

    “Well, look who the bloody copper dragged in,” Newt said, pulling Thomas into a big hug. He pounded his back a few times before letting go. “It’s a bit strange seein’ you without sneakin’ about and all. Welcome to society.”

    Alby had already hugged Teresa, and then they traded, Alby squeezing the breath out of Thomas.

    “Good to see you, man,” the older boy said. “Your head big enough with all that crap they’re sayin’ about you? What’re you, the chancellor now? No one here’s going to like you much.”

    Thomas opened his mouth to respond, but someone half tackled him from the left, almost taking him down. It was Chuck.

    “What’s up, you little runt?” Thomas asked, mussing the kid’s hair in the oldest grandpa move in the books.

    “Pretty much running this place, is all,” Chuck said, puffing his chest out. “When I’m not sneaking over to Group B to get me some lovin’ from the ladies, that is.”

    This made them all bust up, and Thomas couldn’t stop until he saw Minho sitting nearby, looking unsure of whether he should get up. Thomas walked over to him.

    “Hey, man,” he said. “Made anyone mad lately?”

    Minho smiled, though he still seemed a little defeated behind his eyes. He was better, though, since the Griever incident. Thomas could tell.

    “I’m a perfect angel,” he answered. “Sometimes I make up words around Randall. You should see him—he always acts like he knows it’s something bad, and he kinda half laughs at it. Such an idiot.”

    Yeah, Minho was definitely getting better.

    Tom, Teresa said, look over there, to your right. Gally.

    Thomas glanced in that direction, searching until he found the black-haired boy who’d unwittingly caused all the trouble with Minho in the first place. Something was different about him, and it took a few seconds before Thomas figured it out. The guy’s nose was about twice as big as it used to be, and totally deformed. Like some kind of squashed vegetable that had been glued there. Or worse, stapled—it looked painful.

    Gally’s eyes met Thomas’s, and surprisingly, the boy offered what appeared to be an apologetic nod that seemed sincere. But he quickly returned his attention to the friends sitting with him at his table.

    “What happened to him?” Thomas asked Minho.

    His friend held up a fist. “That’s what happened. His loose tongue gave us up, I’m pretty sure. Probably bragging in the showers or something. Even if it wasn’t his fault, it sure made me feel better.”

    Thomas expected him to laugh, or at least smile, but a darkness passed over his friend’s face. Thomas just raised his eyebrows and shook his head. Alby, Teresa, Chuck, and Newt had joined them.

    “Let’s get you some food,” Alby said. “It ain’t the worst thing you’ll ever put in your mouth. Then we got some catchin’ up to do, people to ridicule, plans to make.”

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