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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 48)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(48) by James Dashner
  • Thomas scrunched up his face at the foul smell, fighting his gag reflex as he slipped inside. Rachel, Aris, and Teresa followed. Weapons ready. A quick sweep established the scene for Thomas, and his rapidly thumping heart slowed. The room was a gathering spot, filled with chairs and couches, entertainment screens, tables for pool and Ping-Pong. The five people they’d spied earlier were congregated in the corner to his left. A man lay on a couch, arm dangling off the side, another man on the floor at his feet. Two women were sprawled side by side, also on the floor, at the foot of two chairs, their arms draped across each other as if to comfort. The last person, a man, sat in a chair, his head lolling back in sleep, great, booming snores erupting from his wide-open mouth.

    Aris and Rachel quietly stepped up to the group, aiming their weapons. A long moment of silence passed; then that familiar electronic whine filled the air, immediately followed by a series of cracks as the Launchers fired in quick succession. Five distinct thumps meant that they’d hit their marks. Blue lightning lit up the air as the Cranks’ bodies convulsed with electricity.

    “Now!” Aris yelled at Thomas. “Here, I’ll help you.” He came up to him, took syringes, passed one to Rachel. Teresa kept her gun trained on the five spasming figures as the three approached.

    Thomas ran to the two men on the floor by the couch, their spasms lessening as the little tendrils of electricity faded to a few sparks here and there. Gripping a syringe in each hand—his thumb pressed against the dispenser button—he knelt down and stabbed the two needles into the Cranks’ necks. Released the poison. He scooted away and got back to his feet, shocked at how smoothly things had gone down. Rachel had taken care of the man in the chair, and Aris was just finishing up with the women on the ground.

    That meant there were only eleven left in the entire Sector. Aware of the horrors of it all on some level—the fact they were murdering actual human beings—Thomas pushed it away, focused on the necessity. He felt an elation that filled his chest. They just might succeed.

    The door from the hallway banged open.

    Four Cranks burst into the room, all of them looking healthy enough for a fight. They scattered in different directions.

    One jumped on Aris before he could get off a shot from his Launcher—he sprawled onto his back as the female straddled him, reaching for the boy’s throat. Rachel gave up trying to aim a shot without hitting her friend and ran in, using the Launcher as a battering ram, slamming its hard tip into the side of the woman’s head. She shrieked and toppled off Aris; then Rachel shot a grenade into her chest.

    Aris himself seemed traumatized by the attack, snapping from the strain. From somewhere within his pockets he pulled out a knife and, screaming with rage, swung off his back and rammed the blade’s tip into the chest of the electrified Crank lying next to him. The electricity hadn’t dissipated enough to do this—a jolt of energy made him cry out and fly backward, knocking Rachel to the floor.

    All this, happening so fast. Thomas could see only two of the remaining Cranks, running around the room with no logic to their movements. Thomas had nothing in his hands. Teresa randomly aimed her gun without taking a shot. Probably scared that she’d miss and hit Aris or Rachel.

    Someone crashed into Thomas from behind.

    Arms wrapped around him as he hit the floor face-first, his nose cracking in pain, the breath whooshing out of his chest, leaving him empty. He panicked, squirmed to get away from whoever had tackled him.

    Teresa yelled his name. He saw her feet right next to him.

    “Help,” Thomas tried to say, but it came out as nothing more than a muffled grunt. The Crank behind him had released his grip and now put a hand on the back of Thomas’s head, pressing his lips into the carpet to silence him. Thomas had no other thought now than taking his next breath—he couldn’t get the slightest wisp of air into his lungs. Knees dug into his back, pressing his ribs so hard they’d surely break.

    The boom of a gunshot rocked the room.

    The pressure lessened on top of Thomas. And then it was gone completely. He lifted his head just in time to see the Crank topple off him and slump to the ground. A bloody hole marked the side of his temple, and signs of life had already fled his eyes. Thomas looked up at Teresa, who was trembling, still aiming the gun at the same place where she’d shot it.

    “There’s two more,” Thomas said, feeling the detachment in his voice.

    Teresa recovered, took a deep breath, and positioned herself defensively, aiming her weapon at the other sections of the room. Thomas, hurting all over, forced himself to his feet, looking around to make sure he didn’t suffer another surprise attack.

    There were no signs of the remaining two Cranks—they must’ve hidden behind one of the many couches or chairs clustered around the rec room. Thomas pulled off his backpack to look for syringes while his friends carefully made their way from chair to chair, couch to couch, peeking behind them. So far nothing. Then Teresa screamed, and just as Thomas looked in her direction he saw her disappear behind a couch, dropping with a hard thump.

    Thomas ran for her, his heart erupting into a rapid drumbeat. He’d left everything behind him—his pack, all the instruments of death it contained. It felt as if the air solidified, slowing his speed. No other sound had come from Teresa’s direction, and Aris and Rachel were too far away to help.

    He reached the wall, slammed his shoulder into it as he looked behind the sofa, saw Teresa on the ground, a man’s arm wrapped around her throat. She fought him with both hands, to no avail. He squeezed and squeezed, making her eyes bulge and terrible sounds escape her open mouth. Choking, gurgled sounds.

    “Let her go!” Thomas shouted. Words would mean nothing to this Crank—a bald man, sweaty, a huge gash across his forehead. Dr. Leavitt.

    It was Dr. Leavitt.

    Blood mixed with sweat, dripped down into his eyes, which were red-veined and fierce. Teresa, struggling, reached for something on the floor, just beyond her fingers.

    The gun.

    Thomas picked it up, felt the life of his best friend fleeing as if through the air, leaving her rapidly in the arms of death. He’d never actually fired a pistol before, worried about his ability to aim. Placing his finger lightly on the trigger, he returned his attention to Teresa and the Crank once known as Leavitt. The man hadn’t relented, his arm a closing vise of flesh, and Teresa’s skin had turned a frightening shade of purple.

    Thomas threw aim to the wind and jumped on top of them, landing stomach to stomach on Teresa, her face mere inches from his. Their eyes met, sharing the pain and fear. Leavitt used his other arm to swat at Thomas, his meaty palm slapping him in the side of the head. Thomas pulled up his hand, sliding the tip of the gun along the floor beside Teresa’s body. Up and up, past her ear, to the Crank’s head, to the side of it, to the temple.

    Leavitt’s face suddenly transformed, losing all its malice and empty hate, turning into a pitiful, childlike plea. His arm’s grip on Teresa loosened.

    “Please,” the man whimpered, “please don’t hurt me.”

    Thomas pulled the trigger and ended it. The shot was like a crack of thunder, the crack of the world splitting. His ears ringing, he grabbed Teresa and pulled her off her dead attacker. Thomas had never much liked him anyway.

    She trembled in his arms, a rare show of weakness after such a terrifying ordeal. He wrapped himself around her and held her tight. Aris came up behind him, put a hand on his shoulder, but Thomas didn’t turn to look.

    “Where’s the other one?” he asked, barely able to speak. “There should be one more.”

    “Rachel got him,” Aris replied. “Don’t worry. They’re all dead.”

    Thomas held on to Teresa as if he’d fall to the center of the world otherwise. “I can’t take much more of this.”

    Rachel responded from somewhere nearby.

    “Six,” she said. “There’s only six left.”

    By lunchtime they’d killed the remaining Cranks. Compared to the nightmare of what they’d had to do in the rec room, the rest were a piece of cake. All asleep, their lives ended with the stab of a needle and the flow of poison.

    And that was it.

    The Purge was over.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire