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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 46)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(46) by James Dashner
  • Nothing but quiet and dark. And a smell. A horrible smell.

    Teresa nudged the door wider and stepped inside, Launcher held out in front of her, ready to fire. Aris went next, then Rachel, Thomas last. The blue glow of the workstation still shone—nothing had changed since they’d last been there. Except for the putrid stink of body odor and urine, even feces. The smell assaulted Thomas and he gagged, falling to one knee, as his throat closed. He tried to pull himself together.

    You okay? Teresa asked in his mind.

    Yeah. Is he in there? He nodded toward the back room.

    Let’s go see.

    But Aris had already moved to that door and lightly kicked it open. Another wave of wretched stink came wafting out of the darkness. Thomas got back to his feet and stood behind Aris and Teresa, staring inside, trying to make things out. Rachel was right next to him, holding her nose.

    “Is he dead?” she asked.

    “No,” came a rasp of a voice. Anderson. It barely sounded human. “No. Not dead. Not your lucky day.” He let out a series of wet, wracking coughs.

    “Oh, man,” Thomas said. His stomach was not handling all this very well. “Get a light on in this place.”

    “It might hurt his eyes.” This from Aris, who fingered the panel anyway. Lights blazed, as bright as noon.

    Anderson screamed, clawing at his eyes. He writhed on the floor in front of the couch, which looked like he’d been lying on it for months. “Turn it off! Turn it off!”

    Aris dimmed the lights, which Thomas silently thanked him for. The sight before them was almost too much for Thomas to bear. He stared at the man who’d once been their leader. Blood covered his face and his clothes, and his hair was matted and greasy. He’d lost weight, his skin pale and sweaty. He lay on his side, his mouth set in a permanent grimace, baring teeth that were rimmed in red. And then Thomas saw why.

    The man only had two fingers left.

    Bloody nubs remained where the others had once been.

    “Oh my…,” Aris said when he noticed, covering his face with the crook of one arm. “He didn’t. He didn’t.”

    “He did,” replied Rachel, her voice cold.

    Thomas couldn’t look. He turned away from it all and went to the display screen on the former chancellor’s desk. It showed the communications system, and there on the screen was a memo that Anderson had been writing. Luckily, it appeared to have never been sent. Because the memo itself was harrowing.

    “Guys,” he said. “Listen to what Anderson almost sent to everybody while we were gone.” And then Thomas read it to them.

    WICKED Memorandum, Date 231.5.5

    TO:

    FROM:

    RE:

    I only have two fingers left.

    I wrote the lies of my farewell with two fingers.

    That is the truth.

    We are evil.

    They are kids.

    We are evil.

    We should stop, let the Munies have the world.

    We are evil.

    We can’t play God.

    We can’t do this to kids.

    You’re evil, I’m evil.

    My two fingers tell me so.

    How can we lie to our replacements?

    We give them hope when there is none.

    Everyone will die.

    No matter what.

    Let nature win.

    “He’s so messed up,” Teresa said over Thomas’s shoulder as he read Anderson’s last words.

    “I’d say it’s beyond that,” Thomas replied.

    “My fingers,” Anderson moaned from the other room. “Why’d you eat my fingers?”

    Thomas felt a crushing heartbreak as he followed Teresa to Anderson’s side again. The man had curled himself up into a ball and was rocking back and forth.

    “Only two left,” the man said, his words floating with delirium. “I hope the other eight were tasty. I always thought it’d be me that ate them. But no. It had to be you, didn’t it?”

    Thomas shared a glance with each of his friends. After all they’d seen, was this the saddest? To see a man who’d led this giant operation with such vigor turn into a sniveling lunatic?

    Anderson’s body contorted, seemingly every muscle twisting in on itself. He twitched for a few seconds, then relaxed. His wild glare slowly left the floor and followed the line of Thomas’s body from his feet to his thighs to his torso and finally met his gaze.

    “They’ll take your brain in the end,” Anderson said. “They’ll take it out, look at it for a few hours, then probably eat it. You should’ve run when you had the chance.”

    Thomas couldn’t move; the sudden clarity in the man’s eyes scared him more than anything else that day.

    “What do we do?” Aris asked. Their former chancellor kept talking, but he’d shrunk back into a fetal position and his words were lost in his moans of agony. He stared at the floor right in front of his face.

    “We have to put him out of his misery,” Teresa answered. “And then I think it’ll be easier for us to…take care of everyone else. But we need to get moving.”

    A month or two ago Thomas would have been shocked at her callousness. Even a few days ago. But not anymore. They were now dealing with the cold, hard truth of their situation. Whoever these people had been—they were no more.

    Thomas suddenly decided that he had to do it. He had to be the one, right here, right now. If someone else did the deed, he might never build up the nerve again.

    “It has to be me,” he whispered, mostly to himself. He wasn’t even sure they’d heard him. But they certainly noticed when he swung the backpack off his shoulders and set it beside him. He knelt down right next to Anderson, and blood from the man’s injuries seeped into the knees of his pants.

    The others made no move to stop him.

    Thomas unzipped his pack, rummaged inside it, and pulled out one of the syringes filled with Dr. Paige’s concoction. He snapped off the protective tab of plastic on the end of the needle, then positioned it in his hand, his thumb lightly pressed against the button that controlled the electronic plunger.

    “Are we sure about this?” Rachel asked. “I mean…we’re sure?”

    “Yes,” Thomas replied, short and curt. Nothing else to say.

    Anderson rolled over onto his back, trembling now. His eyes widened as he stared at the ceiling, murmuring unintelligibly. Thomas leaned in closer, syringe out over the man’s head. There was no sign of awareness in Anderson’s expression, no sign of humanity left.

    Teresa touched Thomas on the shoulder, startling him. He looked back at her, and her eyes were brimming with tears.

    Sorry, she said in his mind. I’m with you on this. You can do it.

    He nodded, then turned to Anderson, still shaking ever so slightly on the ground, nothing more than simple shivering. Thomas brought the silver tip of the needle to the side of the former chancellor’s neck. Hesitated.

    Anderson’s gaze shifted, his eyes falling on Thomas. He whispered something, a word. Repeated it, over and over. Saliva foaming at the corners of his mouth.

    “Please, please, please, please, please, please…”

    Thomas didn’t know if he was encouraging him to do it or begging him to stop. But he slowly slid the needle into the soft flesh of the man’s neck and pressed the button that controlled the plunger. A hiss sounded as the deadly fluid in the vial drained out of the syringe and into Anderson’s body.

    They all watched in silence as the former leader of WICKED grew still, let out one last, long breath, and closed his eyes.

    231.05.05 | 7:13 a.m.

    There were eighteen left.

    Thomas and his friends stood in the security room once governed by Ramirez and Randall. Dr. Paige and a few of her new staff analyzed the rooms and hallways of Sector D.

    “Everyone is still in the same positions,” Dr. Paige said, scanning the security feeds. “Maybe we make a goal for you to reach five of them, then come back here and regroup, assess whether anything has changed.”

    Thomas absently watched the camera feeds coming from the maze while the others focused on Sector D. Near the Homestead, despite the late hour, Alby and Newt were locked in an argument with Nick, who’d long ago separated himself from the others as the clear leader. Without sound, the tussle didn’t have any context. At least no punches had been thrown. Most of the other Gladers were asleep.

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