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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 43)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(43) by James Dashner
  • “Speak fast, then, Randall,” the woman said. “You don’t look well. We need to get you some help.”

    “Can’t hide it anymore, can I?” Randall said, now bent over, leaning on his knees. “It’s the darndest thing!” He lurched upright, swaying left, then right, before getting his balance. “The darndest thing, trying to hide the Flare from your bosses.”

    Thomas grabbed Chuck by the hand. The snow seemed to freeze in midair, no longer swirling, no longer dancing, no longer falling.

    “All right, we’re done here,” the female guard said. “Open the door, Moureu. Get them inside and find a doctor. Quick.”

    “You think you’re special?” Randall yelled. “You really think they’re not gonna do the same thing to you they’re gonna do to them all?”

    Moureu punched in the security code. There was a loud beep. The color on the display changed from red to green; then a click rang through the air. The door popped open. The guard pulled it wide and stepped back.

    Thomas practically shoved Chuck through the entrance, then grabbed Teresa’s arm and pulled her with him, running through. He didn’t want to spend one more second out there with Randall, whom he could still hear yelling.

    “You hear what I said?” the sick man shouted. “You’re runnin’ from the wrong guy. I’m not the one you should be scared about. You hear me?”

    The guard pulled the door closed on Randall’s ramblings. Thomas peered through the small safety window and watched the man turn around and stumble back toward the forest.

    “You can sleep on my floor tonight,” Thomas said to Chuck. They stood in the hall outside his door. “I don’t care if we get in trouble.”

    Teresa had gone into her room to use the bathroom but had just come back out to join them. She had a troubled look on her face.

    Thomas looked at her, concerned. “You wanna sleep in here, too? I’m a little freaked out myself.”

    “Actually…”

    “What’s wrong?” Thomas asked.

    She flicked her eyes at Chuck, who was lost in his thoughts. She spoke in Thomas’s mind. Let’s get him to sleep in your room. Then we need to go. Now.

    Wait, what? Thomas said back. Go where?

    Things are worse than you think, she said. Look…just get him to sleep, tell him bedtime stories, for all I care. Whatever it takes. Tap on my door when you’re sure he’s out.

    What’s wrong? he asked again.

    “You know what?” she said aloud, ignoring his question. She gently brushed a strand of Chuck’s hair out of his face and he looked up at her, his eyes filled with the weight of all he’d just seen. “I’m tired. Why don’t you two go have your sleepover and I’ll see you in the morning. And don’t worry.” She leaned over a little to be able to look him in the eyes. “Seriously. Randall is sick and they’ll take care of him. We’re immune, remember? There’s nothing to worry about.” She smiled a big warm smile at the boy. She was so reassuring, Thomas almost believed her himself.

    “Good night,” Thomas said to her. “Come on, Chuck.”

    “Good night,” she said back, then slipped into her room.

    Thomas closed the door behind him and threw a couple of blankets on the floor for Chuck. As he was settling into his makeshift bed, the boy once again reminded Thomas that he was far smarter than they often gave him credit for.

    “Yeah, she’s right—we’re immune,” he said in the darkness. “But what about all those people who work for WICKED?”

    231.05.04 | 11:41 p.m.

    Teresa opened the door before he even tapped twice.

    “Come in,” she whispered urgently, though her calm focus scared him.

    He stepped inside and she closed the door. “What’s up?”

    She held up a piece of paper. Thomas took it. A few words were scribbled on it in pencil:

    Come see me. ASAP.

    Dr. Paige

    Thomas looked up at Teresa. “Okay, now, really—what’s going on?”

    “That note was slipped under my door while we were outside.” She paused, breathed. “I’m pretty sure Dr. Paige knows what happened out there tonight. It has to be related to Randall somehow.”

    Thomas leaned back against the wall. Something was terribly wrong, he just knew it. A horrible fear was clawing its way up his chest. He felt an overwhelming uncertainty, a shifting of the world.

    “What do we do?” he asked.

    Teresa put a hand on Thomas’s shoulder. “Let’s just go find Dr. Paige. She’s the smartest person I’ve ever met. If she wants to talk to us, then we need to go.”

    “Okay,” Thomas said dully. “If there’s anyone we can trust, it’s her.”

    Teresa gave him a nod of encouragement, then opened the door and left the room.

    He followed her.

    He knocked softly on Dr. Paige’s door. The last thing they wanted to do was wake up any of the other doctors or Psychs along the same hall. When she didn’t answer, he knocked a little harder. Finally he heard a soft voice from the other side.

    “Who is it?”

    “Thomas,” he said, a thought suddenly striking him. What if the note hadn’t actually been from her? “And Teresa. We got your message?”

    The door opened a crack. He’d never seen Dr. Paige so…disheveled. Her hair was down and tangled from sleep and her face was clean of makeup. She opened the door wider and nodded for them to enter.

    “I’m glad you came.”

    Dr. Paige sat at her desk, Thomas and Teresa both on the bed, side by side, waiting for her to speak. He found himself thinking of Newt, maybe the one he liked most of all of them, not immune. There were only two futures for Newt: they found a way to treat this sickness, or one day he went insane, ending up like Randall.

    Dr. Paige finally spoke. And while she seemed as calm and contained as ever, her eyes said something different. Thomas saw fear in them.

    “I’ve been dreading this day for months, wishing we could last just a little while longer,” she said.

    She stood up, stood quietly for a moment, thinking, then turned to look at them.

    “There’s a reason I’ve fought for you and sought your help so many times,” Dr. Paige said. “You are part of this organization. You’ve grown up here, as one of us, and I know we have the same goals. I know that I can trust you to do anything to help us achieve our mission. And now I need you to trust me. Can you do that?”

    Thomas looked at Teresa and she looked back. He could feel what she was thinking.

    They both nodded.

    The doctor flashed them a warm smile. “Yes, I thought so,” she said. “Okay, well, we have no choice now. Once we start this, there’s absolutely no going back.” She took a second to look each of them in the eye. “So, I need to ask you both: are you ready?”

    Thomas stood. Teresa stood. They both nodded again.

    “Okay, then,” Dr. Paige said. “I’ve been suspicious for a while now that certain WICKED officers have been hiding information from us that can potentially undermine everything we’re doing here. Some of our top people haven’t even shown their faces in weeks. It’s time to initiate the protocol.”

    She paused before she spoke again. Took a breath. “It’s time for the Purge.”

    231.05.05 | 12:33 a.m.

    Dr. Paige marched down the hall, confident step after confident step, her whole demeanor different from anything Thomas had ever seen before. It was like she’d accepted some woolly mantle of responsibility and wore it high on her shoulders. He found himself believing she could save this situation.

    “We have to get everything done in the next twenty-four hours,” she said quietly over her shoulder. “I have plenty of help on my end, and Aris and Rachel will help you on yours.”

    “Where are we going?” Teresa asked. “What’s the Purge?”

    Dr. Paige stopped at the elevator, pressed the call button, and stepped in when the car arrived, speaking as the door closed. “First things first. At the end of every day WICKED requires a mandatory blood test of its members. We’ve always understood the importance of monitoring for contamination.” She entered the floor number and the lift started moving. “But over the last several months, I’ve noticed some strange activity—there’s been an undercurrent of suspicion—and then I discovered some of our personal health data has been breached. Chancellor Anderson finally decided that all results would have to go through him before being disseminated to the medical staff. Well, I receive a general report every night, and not one person has tested positive. But…that’s according to the reports I’m seeing through the chancellor.”

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