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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 41)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(41) by James Dashner
  • “What are you up to?” Thomas whispered. “Come on, you stupid beetle blade, get me a better angle.”

    As if the little mechanical creature had heard him, it scurried faster, crawling next to Gally along the wall. Then it turned around and scuttled backward so that any observers could clearly see the boy’s face.

    He was crying, his cheeks so wet it’d obviously been going on for a while. Thomas didn’t understand that at all. What was he doing sneaking around forbidden territory? Not being a Runner, he wasn’t allowed in the maze itself, and he looked intent on entering it.

    Thomas suddenly remembered Ben, waiting out in the hallway.

    Hey, you there? Thomas immediately called out to Teresa. Then he turned down the volume so Ben couldn’t hear what was going on. Come get this new kid out of my hair. His name’s Ben, and he’s just outside the observation room. Gally is up to something weird.

    Okay was her simple response.

    Gally had just broken the rules and stepped around the edge of the door. He was now officially outside the Glade. He closed his eyes, started taking deep breaths. A strange smile spread across his face. His arms came up from his body, sticking out at his sides, as if he were imagining that he could fly. And suddenly Thomas understood. Gally had stepped outside the Glade just for the rush of it.

    Then the display screen erupted in a blur of movement. Thomas sucked in a breath of air when a Griever appeared out of nowhere, its grisly wet skin suddenly filling the screen, Gally covered by its body. There was an inhuman moan and a surge of machinery. The beetle blade bolted; its camera now showed nothing but vines and stone, all of it shaky. But Thomas heard Gally scream. And it wasn’t a scream of fear, it was a scream of pain.

    The camera view tilted back into place, and the Griever had disappeared. Gally clutched at his side with one hand, pulled himself along the ground with the other. It took a few agonizing seconds, but he finally got himself back into the Glade proper. Boys were running toward him. One named Clint was at the front of the pack, hauling a first-aid kit. WICKED had finally figured out the proper dosage for the serum, and Clint held a syringe in his free hand as he ran.

    Gally’s screams were something Thomas thought he’d never be able to forget.

    He heard a gasp behind him and spun around to see Ben peeking through the narrow gap of the open door. The boy’s eyes had widened in horror.

    “What just happened?” he asked in a timid voice.

    Thomas fumbled for words. “Oh, that? They, uh, sometimes they do these drills, test their response times. Nothing to worry about.”

    He didn’t fail to realize he’d just used one of Dr. Leavitt’s favorite phrases.

    Teresa arrived just then to whisk Ben away.

    Poor kid, Thomas thought.

    230.12.17 | 9:06 p.m.

    Thomas waited patiently for Dr. Paige to come back after taking his latest blood sample to the lab. In a rare occurrence, there was no one else in the room with him, not even an assistant. After a couple of silent minutes, he got curious.

    He got up from his chair and went over to the counter. He opened a few doors, pulled out a few drawers. Nothing looked too out of the ordinary. Vials, syringes, paper-wrapped products. But then, in the last drawer to the right, he found an absolute gold mine.

    A research tablet.

    The thin, foot-long, rectangular device had a shiny gray screen, ready to reveal a world of information. He knew he’d probably need passwords, but this was an opportunity that might never present itself again. Refusing to consider the consequences, he tucked the device into the back waist of his pants, flopping his shirt over the remaining portion to hide it.

    He was in his seat well before Dr. Paige returned.

    That evening, he told an orderly he was feeling a little under the weather and wanted to bypass his usual session in the observation room. No one made too much of a fuss about it.

    He wanted to dive into his pilfered research tablet. He’d also grabbed a few snacks in the cafeteria to make it a full night of entertainment. Sitting at his desk, no one around to bother him, munching on potato chips, he powered up the tablet and got to work. He hadn’t told Teresa about it yet. He wasn’t going to take the slightest chance of someone taking his treasure away from him before he at least had one shot at it.

    To his great disappointment, and just as he’d suspected, most of the information portals on the device required passwords. And he could forget about remotely accessing the main WICKED systems. But there were enough things in plain sight to keep his attention, all filed in an open-access tab labeled History.

    He dug through the documents, memorizing as much as he could. He learned the original names of his friends, laughing at some of them. Siggy, aka Frypan, had been named Toby by his parents. Toby. Thomas didn’t know why that struck him as so funny.

    There was other interesting information. Schematics on the WICKED complex and its various buildings. An early military report on what would become the Grievers. Climate data going back to the year of the sun flares, as well as comparative charts to the averages before that time. Tons of information on the Flare, its symptoms, stages, prior attempts at treatment.

    One seemingly random remark in a memo caught his attention—two staff members reminiscing about the time they had to “tinker with poor A2’s memories because his first meeting with Teresa had been such a disaster.” This made Thomas stop reading. He stared down at the tablet, thinking back.

    He remembered the day he’d first officially met Teresa. How he’d been dizzy with déjà vu. Had WICKED been experimenting with their implants and memories that long ago? It made sense, in light of what they did to his friends when they sent them into the maze, something they’d have to be well prepared for. But Thomas felt dizzy considering the possibility—to think that there could be an entire meeting with Teresa that had been erased from his mind. What else might they have taken from him?

    The more he thought about it, the more upsetting it was, which wasn’t helping anything, he told himself. So he returned to perusing the tablet for information.

    After a few dead ends, he saw a file labeled Deleted Com.

    He opened it.

    It was a series of memos and correspondence that he had to think had been left out of the secure area by mistake. Communication between higher-ups at WICKED and several other entities that he could only guess were predecessors of the organization. There were a lot of acronyms, some of which he recognized from his various history classes. FIRE (Flares Information Recovery Endeavor), PFC (Post-Flares Coalition), AMRIID (Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases), and more he didn’t recognize. He scanned them, fascinated at what it must have been like living through that time period.

    He stayed at it for hours, his eyes stinging from reading for so long. At a certain point, he started skimming, reading too fast to catch much of what the documents actually said.

    Then he stopped on something interesting. A couple of acronyms he’d never seen before, along with the words TOP-SECRET in red letters. This just might be something. He scanned a memo or two, his heart rate picking up with each word he read. Things he couldn’t believe. About a virus. About it being man-made. About it being released on purpose. About a population that had gotten too big to feed.

    “Oh, man,” he whispered, reading through the last one again. He could barely believe what it said.

    Post-Flares Coalition Memorandum

    Date 219.2.12, Time 19:32

    TO: All board members

    FROM: Chancellor John Michael

    RE: EO Draft

    Please give me your thoughts on the following draft. It goes out tomorrow.

    Executive Order #13 of the Post-Flares Coalition, by recommendation of the Population Control Committee, to be considered TOP-SECRET, of the highest priority, on penalty of capital punishment.

    We the Coalition hereby grant the PCC express permission to fully implement their PC Initiative #1 as presented in full and attached below. We the Coalition take full responsibility for this action and will monitor developments and offer assistance to the fullest extent of our resources. The virus will be released in the locations recommended by the PCC and agreed upon by the Coalition. Armed forces will be stationed to ensure that the process ensues in as orderly a manner as possible.

    EO #13, PCI #1, is hereby ratified. Begin immediately.

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