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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 49)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(49) by James Dashner
  • 231.06.07 | 12:45 p.m.

    What a world Thomas lived in. Illness, death, betrayal. His friends subjected to cruel trials that might never mean a thing. A world baked, lying in ruin. A month ago, he’d helped murder more than a dozen human beings in a matter of hours. And every day since, he’d lived in a pit of self-loathing and guilt, avoiding his friends at all costs. Even living in a complex bursting to the seams with so-called Psychs, no amount of therapy had helped him cope with the horrors of the Purge. Nor would it ever.

    He was changed. At least he understood that.

    He’d even stayed away from the observation room lately, too depressed to watch the maze. But today, he’d forced himself to come in and catch up. The first thing he noticed was a display that showed Alby and Newt walking beside one of the huge Glade walls, but something was off. Newt leaned into Alby, who had an arm draped across Newt’s back, helping him stand. Newt could only put his full weight on one leg. He lurched with each step, his face grimacing in pain.

    Thomas sat down at the controls, took a moment to settle his mind on how to go about what he wanted to do. Then he started the meticulous process of finding the correct camera angles he’d need to put together a story.

    What in the world had happened to Newt?

    Less than two hours later, Thomas had spliced together a series of camera clips from various beetle blades, the closest to a continuous feed that he could accomplish. It showed a tale that just about broke Thomas’s heart. On the large display screen in the middle of the wall, he started it up again from the beginning.

    Early in the morning of the previous day, Newt had been totally fine. He said goodbye to Minho and the other Runners—it was Newt’s day off from running, apparently. After the different groups disappeared around their respective corners, Newt spent some time walking around the Glade, checking on the various sections as if everything in the world was normal with him—as normal as things get living inside a giant maze. He spoke to Winston over at the Blood House, then chatted with Zart by the small cornfield in the Gardens. Newt even laughed a little, once slapping Zart on the back as if he’d just told a great joke.

    Newt wandered over to the Deadheads next, the grove in the southwest corner outlined by dying skeletons of trees that, to Thomas, always seemed like a premonition of bad things to come. There, Newt plopped down on a bench and sat for at least thirty minutes. Thomas forwarded the feed to the point when Newt finally stood up and walked into the tiny forest. The view switched to a beetle blade’s low perspective as it crawled along just a few feet behind him. Newt headed straight to the cemetery, where wooden posts marked the places they’d buried those Gladers who’d met their demise since entering the maze.

    He knelt on the ground there, staring numbly ahead, eyes glazed over, his face sinking further and further into despair. He sat that way for a long time, and Thomas thought he could guess what was going on inside his friend’s head. Debilitating guilt over all those who’d died. Thinking that maybe he could’ve saved them somehow. Sadness over the situation as a whole—the danger, the boredom, the frustration at not knowing why they were there. Frustration at the loss of memories. And, perhaps on some deep level, he was remembering the sister they’d wiped from his mind.

    Newt stood up. He turned away from the graveyard and marched out of the Deadheads, walking so swiftly that the beetle blade providing the camera view bounced as it hurried to keep up. Newt left the woods without slowing down, heading straight toward the west door, the closest one. Several Gladers waved at him or called out a greeting, but he ignored them, staring straight ahead with grim determination. Thomas sat up straighter, already knowing the end result of this and maddeningly curious as to how it happened.

    Newt left the Glade proper and entered the corridors of the maze. His gait didn’t slow, his pace hurried but steady. He turned left, then right, then left again. Several more turns. Finally he came to a long stretch where thick ivy covered the walls on both sides. He stopped next to the one to the left and faced it, leaning forward onto his hands, which disappeared in the greenery. He paused for a moment with his head down, then looked up, craning his neck as if he wanted to see the very top of the wall.

    Newt reached out and started climbing the ivy.

    His muscled arms made it look easy. Gripping one vine, he’d pull himself up high enough to find purchase somewhere in the stone with his feet. Then he’d grab another vine, and another, using both hands, both feet, and all his strength. He scaled the stone and ivy, reaching the halfway point between the ground and the false sky in a matter of minutes. Thomas knew that this was where he would think he couldn’t go much farther. A combination of built-in optical illusions and preprogrammed repressors within his implant would guarantee he’d never make it to the top. He did climb several more feet; then he stopped, looking toward the sky, beaten.

    Thomas watched, and waited.

    Newt clung to the ivy on the wall, his whole body almost disappearing behind the greenery. A beetle blade that had been scaling the wall at his side crawled up and stopped within just a few inches from the boy’s face. Not for the first time, Thomas wondered about the software that ran these little mechanical creatures. How did it know what to do, when no one was around to feed them instructions?

    Newt looked directly into the camera, and for the first time in this constructed feed, spoke so that Thomas could hear what he said.

    “I don’t know who you people are, but I hope you’re happy. I hope you get a real buggin’ kick out of watching us suffer. And then you can die and go to hell. This is on you.”

    Newt let go of the vines and kicked away from the wall, plummeting out of the camera’s view. The beetle blade hurried to reposition itself, and all Thomas heard was the rustling of its movement and then a distant hard thump. The view bounced its way down to the ground, then locked on Newt. He was lying on his side with a leg pulled up, arms wrapped around it. He rocked back and forth, groaning. Those groans turned into sobs. A deep, painful cry that made Thomas’s chest hurt.

    Newt suddenly let out an anguished howl, then screamed into the air. “I hate you. I hate you!”

    Thomas turned off the feed. He couldn’t take it anymore. He already knew that someone had saved him, pulled him out of the maze back to the safety of the Glade. And he couldn’t bear to watch one more second of it.

    Newt, Newt, Newt, Thomas thought, feeling as if the very air around him were turning black. You’re not even immune, man. You’re not even immune.

    231.09.22 | 11:17 a.m.

    Thomas heard a gentle knock on his door and opened it to see Teresa. Things were almost back to normal at WICKED headquarters, as much as possible after something like the Purge had happened.

    “Hey,” he said, groggy. “You could’ve just buzzed my head. I was taking a nap.”

    In answer, she held up a tablet. “Did you see this?”

    “Huh?” He had no idea what she was talking about.

    She stepped into his room, brushing past him as he closed the door, and sat down at his desk. “Come here and look at this. Did you send a mass memo out? Or did Dr. Paige ask permission to use your name?”

    “What? No.”

    “Well.” She gestured to the glowing screen.

    Thomas leaned in to take a look.

    WICKED Memorandum, Date 231.5.22

    TO: The replacements

    FROM: Thomas [Subject A2]

    RE: The Purge

    I take total responsibility for what we’ve had to do over the last few days.

    What we have to keep in mind, though, is that WICKED is alive and stronger than ever. The maze is up and running, and our studies are in full swing. We’re on the path and we can’t stray from it.

    All I ask is that what we’ve done here remain within the organization and never be referred to again. What’s done is done, and it was a mercy. But now, every waking thought has to be devoted to building the blueprint.

    Ava Paige is the new chancellor of WICKED, effective immediately.

    Before he had time to process it completely, Teresa took the tablet back from him.

    “And look at this other one I found,” she said as she searched for something else. “Supposedly sent by Chancellor Anderson the very day before he typed up that crazy one we saw on his workstation about his fingers. There’s no way he wrote this. Check it out.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire