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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 38)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(38) by James Dashner
  • “Anyone know how to do this?” Nick called out. “Where to stick it?”

    “Anywhere!” Alby yelled. “Just hurry and do it! Look at him!”

    No one else even bothered replying, so Nick took the syringe, braced his thumb against it, then stabbed it into George’s arm. The boy didn’t even flinch. Nick pressed the plunger down until all the fluid was gone; then he dropped it on the ground, stood up, and took a couple of steps back. Everyone gave George some space but stayed close to watch what might happen, cutting off Thomas’s view of the body.

    “Come on, Georgie,” Nick said, barely loud enough to hear. That and the rustling of a soft breeze were the only sounds in the Glade.

    A long moment passed. Teresa squeezed Thomas’s knee, her hand warm through his jeans. She was as nervous as he was.

    Then the boys parted, scrambling backward, and an inhuman roar filled the air. George was on his feet, his mouth open, his face stretched in a painful grimace. He shouted in a strained voice, “Griever! It was a damn Griever! They’ll kill us all!” The words came out of him like the percussion of distant explosions.

    He suddenly ran at the boy closest to him, jumped on the kid, started pounding on him. Thomas watched in total shock, barely able to believe what he was seeing. Alby and Nick tried to pull George off the boy, but he swatted them away, lunging at Nick with his teeth bared.

    “What the…,” Teresa whispered.

    George clawed at the boy, drawing blood on his cheeks, on his mouth. Now he went for the eyes, screaming the whole while. The kid under him fought back, screaming as he tried to twist his body out from under his attacker. But George seemed to have the strength of ten men. He pressed his victim down with one hand and punched him in the face. Then he went for the boy’s eyes again, howling like an animal.

    It was insanity. As if George had gone from the flu to a full-fledged Crank in a matter of minutes. Other kids stepped in, tried to pull him off, but no one could get ahold of any part of his wildly thrashing body. Thomas saw movement come in from the right, saw that it was Alby, running at full speed. At some point he’d left the scene, and now he returned at a charge.

    In his hands, held up next to his shoulders, as if he were a seasoned warrior of ancient days, he held a long, thin shaft of wood. It appeared to be a broken broom or shovel handle, its end a splintery, sharp point.

    “Get out of the way!” Alby yelled, his feet thundering across the dusty ground.

    Thomas looked back at George, saw that his hands were digging into his victim’s eye sockets, the kid screaming in pain.

    Alby reached him and thrust the makeshift spear into the back of George’s neck with enough force that it burst through to the other side. George’s cries turned into choking gargles as his body fell to the side. The kid scrambled out from under him, his hands covering his injured face.

    George twitched, moaned, then went still.

    Blood darkened the dirt and stone below him.

    230.03.15 | 5:52 p.m.

    “Holy crap,” Thomas breathed, as stunned as he’d ever been.

    Teresa let go of Thomas’s leg and slumped back into her chair with a loud release of breath. “Holy crap is right. What’s going on?”

    Thomas looked over at Chuck and felt his heart break a little. The boy had curled his legs up into his seat and wrapped his arms around them, his face pale, two clear lines of tears glistening down his cheeks. He was trembling. An unbearable guilt swarmed around Thomas’s heart—he’d never expected his friend to see something so awful. He’d never expected to see something so awful himself.

    “Hey, hey,” Thomas said, turning to face Chuck. He gripped the boy’s shoulders. “Hey, look at me. Look at me.”

    Chuck finally did, eyes filled with sadness.

    “We’ll figure this out, okay?” Thomas said. “I’m sure that…I don’t know. Something went wrong. Someone screwed up. It wasn’t meant to happen. This isn’t how the maze will be, okay?”

    Chuck spoke through a lurch of a sob. “I was just having fun. I didn’t…” His voice cracked and he kept crying, quietly.

    “I know, man, I know. That was tough to watch.” He pulled Chuck into his arms. Teresa was already there, embracing him from the other side. Their little group hug went on for a minute or so; then Thomas looked over his shoulder to see how the Gladers were reacting to the violent death.

    Some of the boys had dispersed, most of them wandering off alone. Alby was on his knees, leaning against the wooden spear he’d used to kill George, staring at the ground, completely still. Newt was near him, sitting cross-legged in the dirt, head in his hands, eyes closed, as miserable as a person could look.

    A beetle blade had skittered closer to George’s body, and Thomas put that view in the center display. Of all the kids present, Nick seemed to have held it together better than anyone, even though George had obviously been a close friend. He’d called him Georgie, after all. Nick knelt next to his dead companion—rummaging through his clothes, looking into his eyes, studying his limbs. He suddenly froze, his eyes focused on a spot in the middle of George’s back.

    After a second or two, he reached out and grabbed the dead boy’s shirt, fingered it until he found a small rip. Then, with several quick jerks of his arm, he tore a larger hole and leaned in to stare at something. Thomas leaned in, too, in the observation room, focusing on the big screen in front of him.

    The beetle blade moved in closer until it was right next to the body, its view pointing at the very spot that had interested Nick. The skin there was red and swollen, and several thick black veins sprouted out of a wound, an almost perfect circle of darkness cut into George’s flesh. It looked like the body of a spider with broken legs coming from its body. The vicious wound was hard to look at for too long.

    “Stung,” Teresa said. “That looks like one hell of a sting to me.”

    Thomas stood up. “That’s it,” he said. “Come on.” He turned away from the hideous display projected onto the wall and headed for the door.

    “Where are we going?” Teresa asked, right by his side.

    Thomas turned to Chuck, who was close behind them. “Actually, you need to stay here. I mean, I need you to stay here.”

    “What? Why?” He was either offended or terrified to be left alone, Thomas couldn’t tell.

    “Someone needs to keep an eye on those monitors for me. If anything happens—if a Griever comes out or if someone gets stung or the whole place explodes, anything—you come find me. Okay?”

    Thomas knew that Chuck was too smart to buy his explanation for leaving him behind, but he accepted it without putting up a fight. “Fine. But where are you going? How will I find you?”

    Thomas opened the door and waved Teresa through.

    “I’m going to get some answers.”

    Thomas banged on the door.

    “Let us in!” he yelled.

    The main command room was off limits to anyone younger than twenty-one. He’d heard someone say that once, but it sounded like a formality invented to keep them out. He, Teresa, Aris, and Rachel were part of the “team” when it was convenient. He knew they were all being analyzed just as much as anyone in the Glade.

    And after what he’d just seen, Thomas was beginning to feel very uncomfortable about things.

    He was about to pound on the door again when there was a click, followed by a hiss; then the big metal slab swung open. A man he’d never seen before stood there, short and stocky with dark hair. And he looked none too pleased.

    “What’s the problem, Thomas?” the man asked in a surprisingly calm voice. “Things are a little crazy in here right now.”

    “You keep saying we’re important, that we’re a part of all this,” Thomas said. He pointed at Teresa, then himself. “We helped program your maze. And helped send all our friends there. And now we just watched one of them die and you did nothing to stop it. Why? Why didn’t you guys go in and help? Someone needs to explain what happened, and someone’s going to do it right now.”

    Thomas was shaking, trying to hold himself together. He sucked in a quaking breath, waiting for the man to answer.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire