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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 37)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(37) by James Dashner
  • Chuck obeyed, the look on his face somewhere between fear and glee. Thomas quickly grabbed the screen he wanted and swiped it onto the main display in the center. Just as it settled there, the camera angle popped out of the vines and showed a bird’s-eye view of Alby, Newt, and George. Despite the noise the beetle blade must’ve made in its hurry, none of the boys seemed to notice.

    Now Thomas could see everything in perfect detail, and could hear their every breath and movement.

    George was a mess. He squirmed on the ground, his muscles clenched as if they’d been permanently locked that way, cramped and tight. His eyes bulged; his lips pressed together into a pale line; the skin of his face looked as if it had been ripped off, boiled, then stapled back on. Thomas blinked, rubbed his eyes. George appeared almost animated, a product of studio special effects. As he writhed as if going through the worst pain imaginable, he let out sharp moans through his closed mouth that sounded rabid.

    “What the bloody hell is wrong with him?” Newt shouted.

    Another kid stood by him now, someone Thomas didn’t know. That boy said, “I told you guys. We were out exploring the maze. He was always ahead of me. I heard all these mechanical sounds, and then Georgie screamed. I could barely get him back here.” He looked angry, seething as he spoke.

    “Who’s that?” Thomas asked. He almost felt like he was there in the Glade with his old friends.

    “His name’s Nick,” Chuck replied. “Picks his nose.”

    Thomas tore his eyes away from the display to look at the kid. “Seriously? Now?”

    “That’s all I know about him!”

    “I didn’t want the others to see him,” Alby said, bringing Thomas’s attention back to the large screen. “Get everybody spooked. Fat chance of avoiding that now.”

    “Well, why were you just hitting him in the face?” the boy named Nick asked, still hopping mad. “He’s my friend, you know. He needs medical help, not some hothead beating on him.”

    “He was trying to freaking bite me!” Alby yelled in Nick’s face. “Back off!”

    “Boys, slim it,” Newt said, stepping in between them. “Let’s figure this out. What do we do?”

    They stood over George, who’d gotten worse. His head actually looked like it might explode from the swelling. He was beet-red and puffy. Veins bulged along his forehead and temples. And his eyes…they were enormous. Thomas had never seen anything like it.

    “Did you see what attacked him?” Alby asked Nick, seeming to have forgotten that a few seconds ago they were on the verge of a fight.

    Nick shook his head. “Saw nothing.”

    “Did George say anything?” Newt asked.

    Nick nodded. “Well, yeah, I think so. Not sure, but…I think he kept whispering, ‘It stung me, it stung me, it stung me….’ It was weird, man. He sounded like he was possessed or something. What’re we gonna do!”

    Thomas slumped back in his chair. For some reason, those words really chilled him.

    It stung me.

    230.03.15 | 5:01 p.m.

    “Come on,” Alby said, leaning down to grab George’s legs. “No use trying to hide this anymore. Let’s get him out to the middle of the Glade and gather everybody. See if anyone knows what to do.”

    At that exact moment, Newt looked up, straight into the camera. Thomas leaned back, for a second thinking his friend had somehow spotted him.

    Newt cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted. “Hey! Whoever sent us here! Send us some medicine. How ’bout a bloody doctor? Better yet, why don’t you take us out of this hellhole!”

    Thomas went cold. It was crazy that Newt and the others really didn’t know who’d sent them there. Or even that something called WICKED existed. All they knew was this strange life they now lived at the center of a maze—and that there were cameras on the tips of robot insects running around the place. Only now, it looked like they were going to know all too well about the Grievers also.

    It stung me. No one had mentioned anything to Thomas about being stung. It had to have something to do with one of those metal appendages that extended from the creatures’ bodies.

    The boys had picked George up—it took four of them because he was thrashing so hard. And the sounds he was making. Moans so haunting Thomas wanted to cover his ears.

    The group rounded the small structure they’d started calling the Homestead and headed for the center area of the Glade near the opening to the Box. Other boys—some working in the gardens, some in the farm animal area, others just milling about—noticed the situation immediately, and soon the other Gladers were gathered around George, who was half placed, half dropped on the ground by his very frustrated bearers.

    Because they’d been noticed anyway, WICKED had dropped any pretense of not observing and swarmed in with the beetle blades. Various angles of the scene flashed up on the monitors in the room, and Thomas chose the best one—wishing he still had an overhead view—and put the display front and center.

    “Listen up!” Nick yelled. Thomas was a little surprised that Alby hadn’t taken charge. “Georgie and I were out in the maze, running the corridors, and he got up ahead of me. Something attacked him. He keeps saying he got stung. Anybody know anything about this?”

    “Minho’s seen some kind of creature out there,” Alby said. “Where’s Minho?”

    “Still running,” someone answered. “Probably taking a nap in one of the Deadends.”

    “It was one of those creatures he talked about, though,” Alby said. “Had to be.”

    “It doesn’t really matter what it was.” Nick pointed down at George, who was curled into a tight ball, rocking back and forth on his side. “What are we going to do with him? All we have is a bunch of aspirin and bandages.”

    “There was something weird in the cooking supplies they sent up last week.”

    Thomas hadn’t seen who’d spoken, but then a tall, dark-skinned boy stepped out of the crowd until he stood right next to Nick.

    “What are you talking about, Siggy?” the leader asked him.

    “His name’s Frypan!” someone called out. “You’re the only one who doesn’t call him that.”

    A few snickers broke out, which couldn’t have been more incongruous to the situation, given the boy writhing in agony at their feet.

    Nick ignored everyone, though Thomas noticed Alby throw around a few harsh looks.

    “It was in the bottom of a cardboard box,” Siggy, Frypan, whatever-his-name-was, said. “Some kind of syringe, had the word serum printed on it. I figured it was a mistake—somebody had accidentally dropped it in there, whatever. Threw it out with the sausage leftovers this morning.”

    Alby stepped up to the boy and grabbed him by the shirt, pulled him close. “You threw it out? Didn’t bother telling anybody? No wonder you wanna cook—ain’t got brains for nothin’ else.”

    Siggy smiled. “If that makes you feel smarter. Anyway, I’m telling you now, aren’t I? Slim it.”

    “Where’d you throw it away?” Nick asked. “Maybe it’s not broken. Let’s at least take a look at it.”

    “Be right back.” Siggy jogged off toward the Homestead.

    It only took three or four minutes, but by the time the tall boy returned with a slender metallic cylinder gripped in his hand, George had plummeted from bad to worse. More like from worse to worst.

    He’d gone still except for his chest, which moved rapidly as he gasped for air. His jaw had gone slack, his limbs loose, his muscles relaxed from their clenched-state form earlier. The boy wasn’t long for this world.

    “WICKED won’t let him die, right?” Chuck asked. “This is just some kind of test. They want to see how everyone reacts.”

    Teresa reached around Thomas and patted Chuck on the back. “That’s what the syringe is for. I’m sure of it. They just better hurry.”

    She looked at Thomas, spoke to his mind. This is not going to end well.

    He gave a slight shake of the head, then returned his attention to the screen. Siggy had given the syringe to Nick, who now knelt by George’s side. The sick boy—the stung boy—hardly moved at all now, barely breathing. His eyes looked empty of life.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire