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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 42)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(42) by James Dashner
  • Wow.

    That was all he got from Teresa after spilling everything to her.

    Yeah, he replied. Wow is right. They thought the virus would only kill a certain percentage of the population—make it more manageable. They had no idea it would mutate and become this monstrous thing that’s basically wiped us out. I just can’t believe all this. Can’t believe it.

    Teresa was quiet. She didn’t even broadcast how these revelations made her feel.

    The worst part, he continued, is that there are several direct links to WICKED. Like, remember John Michael? That guy we saw at the Crank pits? He was the one who ordered the virus released!

    The past is the past, Tom.

    Her words stopped him cold.

    At least they’re trying to fix what they screwed up, she continued. I mean, there’s nothing we can do about that now.

    Teresa…, he started to say, but then stumbled over a void. He had no idea how to respond. Did you…did you already know this stuff?

    I’d heard rumors.

    And you never told me? He was stunned. How could she have known this and never said anything? She was his best friend. The first person he went to with everything.

    I just don’t see the point. Yes, we have reason to hate these people. But how is dwelling on the past going to help anybody? The solution is what matters.

    Thomas had never been so blindsided in his life. Didn’t you learn anything from our puzzle lessons with Ms. Denton? To know a solution, you have to know the problem through and through. This is a problem.

    The response he got from Teresa was emotionless.

    Yeah, I guess you’re right, she answered. I’m really tired, Tom. Can we talk about it tomorrow?

    She was gone from his mind before he could respond.

    The next day, Teresa refused to talk about it, emphasizing that she’d rather focus on the future than the past. Dr. Paige also blew it off, saying that those decisions had been made well before her time. It was almost like they were both determined to forget.

    Thomas wouldn’t forget.

    He swore to himself that he’d always remember this.

    That he’d always remember that WICKED was trying to fix a problem their predecessors had created in the first place.

    231.05.04 | 10:14 p.m.

    Winter came in spurts that year, like old engines being restarted after years of sitting in the maintenance heap. But it finally settled in, lasting long past what should have been the onset of spring.

    Thomas didn’t venture outside very often—and then only by special permission and with at least two armed guards by his side—but he saw enough to know that ice, cold, and snow had returned to the world with a vengeance. The resident WICKED climatologist said that weather patterns were slowly resuming their cycles on earth—winter, spring, summer, and fall—but that in places farthest north and south of the equator the seasons were far more unpredictable and extreme than they’d been before the sun flares. He described the world’s climate as a pendulum that now swung faster and farther in both directions.

    Thomas enjoyed it when he could, enjoyed the feel of snow on his face, the tingle of icy cold on his nose and fingertips. It felt like a way of spitting in the sun flares’ face. See? I’m cold. Now go suck it.

    In early May—winter still refusing to loosen its grip—Thomas took a walk outside with Chuck and Teresa, two of the guards right behind them, weapons out. Thomas was in a sour mood.

    Everything about WICKED had worn him to the bone, hardened his heart. The Psychs, the Variables, the killzone, the patterns. Everything. He’d felt that way ever since the night he’d discovered the truth about their predecessors—that they’d unleashed the very virus to which they wanted to find a cure. Going outside for a while was a tiny escape.

    Teresa shivered and rubbed her arms through her coat. “Are we sure this is planet Earth? WICKED didn’t throw us through a Flat Trans, put us on an ice planet?”

    “That’d be cool,” Chuck replied. “Ice aliens. I wonder if your tongue sticks to their skin when you lick them. Ya know, like a flagpole.”

    Thomas tousled his friend’s curly hair, trying to put his bad feelings aside. “Yeah, we know, Chuck. You don’t always have to explain your jokes to us. Sometimes they’re actually funny. Like that one. It was funny. I’m laughing so hard it hurts on the inside.”

    “Me too,” Teresa added. “I’m snorting, I’m giggling so hard. On the inside.”

    Chuck oinked like a pig and giggled. He often reacted to things like that. It only made him more likable.

    “Might want to bring it down a notch,” Teresa said. “We don’t want to wake the Cranks down in the pits now do we?”

    “I never got to see them,” Chuck replied, faking sadness. At least, Thomas hoped he was faking.

    They rounded a corner of the complex and stopped, a spectacular view having opened up in front of them. The lights on the outside of the WICKED building were bright enough to illuminate the surrounding forest, the pine trees dusted with snow glowing in the reflection. Specks of snowflakes lit up the sky, the crashing of waves below the cliffs more distant than ever. Thomas felt like they were standing inside some sort of man-made set, the chill breeze coming from giant fans.

    A fake world like the maze.

    “Man, it’s so pretty,” Teresa whispered.

    Thomas expected a joke to pop out of Chuck, but he was just as caught up in the wonder of their surroundings. “Our world isn’t so bad,” he said. “Once WICKED figures out how to make everyone well again, life’ll be pretty good, don’t you think?”

    Thomas just nodded, a hand on Chuck’s shoulder. Using his stolen tablet, Thomas had done his own research about the Scorch, a place where WICKED had set up some kind of secret operation. If Chuck could see the pictures of that desolate hellhole, he might change his tune a little. But the kid was right. The world had a lot of places like this forest on a cliff, the majestic ocean crashing against it. Places where humanity could settle in and rebuild.

    “Tom, over there,” Teresa said, her tone urgent. He followed her sightline to a group of trees about a hundred feet away.

    A figure had stumbled out of the woods and fallen. Whoever it was got back up, brushed off the snow, then started walking straight toward Thomas’s group. The guards quickly put themselves in front of the kids, raising their weapons.

    “We better get back,” one of them said.

    “It’s a Crank, isn’t it?” Chuck asked. He said it calmly, bravely, and Thomas burst with pride, so much so that it almost hurt.

    “Bingo, little man,” the other guard replied. “Don’t worry, you’re safe. Let’s get inside.”

    “Wait a sec,” Teresa said. “That’s not a…I mean…that’s Randall.”

    Thomas squinted against WICKED’s bright lights. And she was right. It was him. Randall. Lurching through the snow as if he’d lost something there and hoped to kick it into the air.

    The first guard lowered her gun. “I’ll be damned. It is him.”

    “What’s he doing out here?” Thomas whispered.

    “What should we do?” Chuck asked, way too loudly. Thomas tried to shush him, but it was too late. Randall had stopped, his head snapping up. He saw them, and for a long moment no one moved.

    Then Randall broke into action, struggling to get through the snow to them.

    “Sorry,” Chuck muttered.

    “Let’s get back,” the guard said more urgently. “We need to tell Ramirez.”

    They turned their backs on Randall and jogged briskly toward the closest entrance to the looming complex. They were right in front of it when Randall shouted at them from behind.

    “Stop! Marion! Moureu! I just need to say something!” At hearing their names, the guards turned around, once again placing themselves in front of the kids and raising their weapons.

    Randall stepped out of the snowy grounds and stumbled onto the pavement, about twenty feet away from them. He looked awful. Eyes bloodshot. Nose bleeding. His cheeks hollow and gaunt. The skin at the right edge of his brow had split open, a streak of red painting the side of his face. Thomas stared at the poor man. What could he possibly be doing out here?

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