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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 39)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(39) by James Dashner
  • Several emotions passed across the man’s face. The last was anger.

    “Hold on,” he said, then closed the door without waiting for a response.

    Thomas reached out to bang on the door again, but Teresa grabbed him, shook her head.

    They’ll talk to us, she said in his head. Just show a little patience. We have to act as calm as they do in these situations if we’re ever going to get anywhere.

    Chagrined, annoyed that she was right, feeling stupid over his ridiculous act of bravado, he let out another breath and nodded, then waited.

    The door opened less than a minute later. Dr. Leavitt stood there, as bald and unhappy as always, but before he could say anything, Dr. Paige appeared at his side. She practically pushed the man out of the way.

    “Thomas,” she said kindly. “Teresa. I’m sure you must be as concerned as we are.”

    He hadn’t expected those to be her first words to them, although he couldn’t say why they struck him as strange.

    “Well, yeah, we are,” Teresa replied. “You guys are okay with killing kids now?”

    Thomas didn’t know if he would have been brave enough to say it so bluntly, but he agreed. However it had happened, WICKED had just murdered George. A kid who wasn’t even eighteen.

    Dr. Paige stepped to the side, opening the door wider. “Come in. We’ll explain to you what happened. What went wrong. You deserve to know.”

    “Yeah, I think we do,” Thomas heard himself say, though he was a little lost at the moment. He’d been struck by a realization that had never felt truer: It didn’t matter what they did or what they said. Anything and everything could be a test set up by WICKED.

    It was too much.

    He followed Teresa into the command room, suddenly wary of his surroundings.

    “Follow me,” Dr. Paige said, letting the door swing shut.

    Leavitt still stood to the side, eyeing both Thomas and Teresa when they moved past him as if they were enemy invaders.

    After walking down a short, narrow hallway, they entered a vast room that opened to both sides. To Thomas’s right was an array of monitors, workstations, control desks and chairs. It looked like their own observation room on steroids, at least ten times bigger. Twenty people or so went about various duties in the huge space. To Thomas’s left were several desks, a glass-enclosed meeting room, and a few closed doors, hiding who knew what mysteries. It made Thomas remember that he really only saw a tiny piece of WICKED’s vast operation.

    “I don’t want anyone else talking to you about this right now,” Dr. Paige said over her shoulder as she walked through the middle of all the activity. “Let’s find a quiet spot and I’ll explain to you what’s happened. I wish you trusted us—trusted me—a little more than you’ve shown just now. Maybe gave us the benefit of the doubt.”

    “Benefit of the doubt?” Thomas repeated, surprised by her reaction. Could she really expect that of them? After what they’d just seen?

    The doctor came to a small glassed-in room with a table and four chairs at its center. She opened the door and ushered them in, gesturing for them to sit. Thomas didn’t like how this was going—he’d wanted to stomp in there demanding answers, and now somehow they were on WICKED’s terms again.

    “We didn’t come for a nice sit-down,” he said. “We don’t want lies. We want actual answers. Please.”

    “You killed someone,” Teresa added, in a much calmer voice. “We didn’t sign up for this. We didn’t sign up for you killing our friends. Are we next?”

    Dr. Paige didn’t look angry, or guilty, or even embarrassed. Instead, she seemed…sad. Distressed.

    “Are you finished?” she asked, her voice tired. “Can I please talk now? You’re sick of lies and half truths? So am I. But you came here for answers, and all you’re doing is making accusations. That has to stop if you want me to talk.”

    Thomas sighed. It seemed they always ended up treating him like a child and there was nothing he could do about it. Most annoying, he was still a child in their eyes, though he sure didn’t feel like one.

    “Fine,” Teresa had said while he stewed. “Then talk.”

    Dr. Paige gave a slow nod of acknowledgment. “Thank you. Now, here’s the truth. We mutated a version of the Flare virus that can take hold in the immune in…interesting ways. Ways that will help us understand the main virus better. That altered version is what the Griever injected George with, and it’s also what the serum is for, to stop its effects. Sadly, the serum hasn’t been perfected yet, and you saw the…unfortunate result.”

    She paused a moment, eyeing Thomas for a reaction. Thomas was too shocked by her candidness to gather his thoughts. Teresa stayed silent as well.

    Dr. Paige folded her arms. “We’ll keep working on it. We didn’t mean for George to die—that’s the honest truth. We’ll correct the serum.” She paused to take a breath before continuing.

    “But I can tell you this: we measured some very significant results in the hours after he was stung—results that we need and will continue to need. Not just from George, but from everyone who saw what happened and reacted to it.” She stood up, then put her hands on the table and leaned toward them. “And that’s what matters.”

    She walked toward the door and opened it, then looked back at them. “I’ve grown to love the both of you. Like my own children. I swear to you that nothing on this earth could be more true.” She paused, on the verge of choking up. “And I’ll do anything—anything—to make sure that you have a world to return to someday.”

    She looked down, a shimmering tear perilously close to dripping from her eye, then stepped out and closed the door.

    230.04.8 | 7:15 p.m.

    Thomas ate dinner quickly. He had the observation room scheduled for the entire evening, and he didn’t want to waste a single minute of his available time. It was the closest he could get to actually being with all those friends he missed so much. He wolfed down his last few bites of food, then ran until he got there.

    He sat down, made sure all the monitors were up and running. Did a quick scan of the controls and the different perspectives up on the screens.

    Then Thomas leaned forward.

    And he watched.

    Minho and Newt had been partners today, Runners out in the maze. He watched them come in through the east door, headed for the hulking turtle of a building they’d transformed into a map room of sorts. They’d requested old-school paper and pencils by leaving a message in the Box after it delivered its weekly supplies, and their request had been granted.

    They didn’t stop jogging until they’d reached the menacing door of the concrete-block building. It had always had a locking wheel-handle, like something you’d see on a submarine—which was why they’d chosen it to store the maps they drew. Minho inserted a key, then spun the wheel until something clicked and the door popped open. The two of them went inside, the first Runners to arrive back home. A beetle blade followed them in and Thomas switched that view and audio to the main display.

    As Minho grabbed pieces of paper for them, both boys were chanting words under their breath. It sounded like they were saying, “Left, left, right, left, right, right, right” and “two-fisted rock, then three rights” and “rainbow crack, left, bald ivy spot, left, right, right.” They wrote furiously on their respective papers, recording their words before they forgot.

    “Phew!” Minho said, dropping his pencil; he stretched his arms up over his head and yawned. “Sweet run today.”

    “Not too shabby,” Newt muttered, grinning to himself.

    Then they grabbed new pieces of paper and started turning their words into a visual map.

    Alby sat on the bench by a flagpole, alone. Night had fallen, and the doors had long since closed. An empty plate sat next to him; crumbs dotted his shirt. His eyes were closed; his body was perfectly still.

    “Alby?” someone said, walking up to him.

    “Shh!” Alby hissed. “Leave me alone. I want to listen.”

    “Fine.” But the kid stayed close, closing his eyes like Alby.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire