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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 52)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(52) by James Dashner
  • “What happens after I get there?” Chuck asked, acting like he hadn’t heard a word Thomas just said. “I mean, this can’t go on forever, right?”

    And just like that, all the air drained out of the room.

    “Of course not forever,” Thomas said. “I hear they’re getting close to a full blueprint. And once they have that, the cure’s next. I’m sure we’ll be reunited before too long.”

    Thomas didn’t know if he could actually count all the lies he’d just told on one hand. But what did it matter? Chuck was about to have his memory wiped, and Thomas didn’t think it could hurt to get his hopes up a bit.

    Chuck was staring at him.

    “What?” Thomas asked.

    Chuck told him he was full of something, and he didn’t use the word klunk.

    “I am not,” Thomas rebutted. “Look, man, you’re right. We don’t need to get all cheesy. We’re saying goodbye, but we’ll both still be inside this huge complex. And I’ll be watching you, rooting for you. Always. I promise.”

    “I won’t even remember you,” Chuck said. “So it’s really like we’re saying bye forever.”

    “No, man, no.” Thomas got up and went to the other side of the table, sat right next to his friend. “I was just thinking about this recently. There’ll be a time, in the near future, when we have a cure and we’ll all be living in the same neighborhood—rich, fat, and happy. Everyone will have their memories back, and life’ll be sweet. Just look forward to that.”

    “If you say so.”

    “I say so.”

    “Okay, then.” The boy smiled, then looked away, the swell of a tear threatening to spill from his eye. “Sounds good.”

    “You know what?” Thomas said. “We don’t even need to say bye. Byes are too hard. I’ll just get up and walk out, like no big deal, and then I’ll see you when I see you, okay? No sayonaras necessary.”

    Chuck nodded, but when Thomas made the first move to get up, his friend catapulted forward and pulled him into a hug, squeezing him fiercely with both arms.

    “I’m gonna miss you,” the boy said through a sob. “I’m gonna miss you so much.”

    Thomas hugged him back, his own tears dropping into Chuck’s hair. “I know, man. I know. I’m going to miss you, too.”

    They might’ve stayed that way forever, but Dr. Paige sent someone to summon Chuck and she gently escorted him away. His look back right before they left the room just about shattered Thomas’s heart.

    He sat at the cafeteria table for a long time, imagining Chuck in the maze. Imagining Chuck being attacked by a Griever. Chuck starving or dying of thirst. He imagined Chuck dying a hundred deaths and no one doing anything to help.

    He thought of Newt, of Alby, of Minho.

    He thought of Teresa.

    Something grew hard deep inside Thomas’s chest. For now, he had to go along with whatever WICKED wanted of him. But that wouldn’t always be the case.

    An idea occurred to him. A ridiculous, ridiculous idea. A plan. Teresa had said once, long ago, that someday they’d be bigger. And now they were.

    What if I saved them? he thought.

    What if I saved my friends?

    231.12.11 | 10:46 a.m.

    It was only Thomas’s second time on a Berg, and the first he could scarcely remember.

    At first he hated it—his stomach bouncing and churning, waves of nausea filling his mouth with saliva—but when he got used to it, he kind of liked it. Then he hated it again. Being inside the large flying beast was exhilarating, unlike anything he’d ever experienced. Living in such a ruined world really made you appreciate something so powerful that even gravity couldn’t keep it down.

    Teresa hadn’t come, staying back to do her part in testing the long-range abilities of their implants. Every day they grew more distant. She buried herself in WICKED and their mission, and Thomas sometimes hesitated to tell her what he was thinking. But they needed to have a talk—a big talk. Soon.

    Thomas looked out one of the viewing ports set into the floor of the Berg. He watched countless landscapes flash by below him, in complete and utter awe. Despite the devastation that had been wreaked on his planet, it remained beautiful. Breathtaking. Greens and blues and oranges mixed with lots of pale brown. Of course, this high up, you couldn’t see the details. You couldn’t see the Cranks and the starvation and the poverty and the terror.

    No wonder back before the sun flares, every kid wanted to be an astronaut.

    “Hey.”

    He looked up and saw Brenda, who’d been busy with Jorge prepping all their supplies for the Crank city expedition. They were also delivering a bunch of equipment to the Scorch for WICKED, for reasons no one shared with Thomas.

    “Hey there,” he said back. “You guys about ready?”

    She sat down next to him. “As ready as we’ll ever be. Jorge made me check everything about a hundred times. He likes to be prepared.”

    “When are we supposed to get there?” He knew almost nothing. But the land below had already started to look like a desert, various shades of red and orange and yellow taking over the palette. There were almost no signs of life, or that life had ever been there, for that matter.

    “I think a half hour or so.” She rubbed her hands together, and her expression looked strained. “Man, I’m getting nervous. This all sounded like a fun adventure until about ten minutes ago.”

    “What’s there to be scared about?” Thomas asked. “A postapocalyptic city with no government or security, surrounded by a desert and swarming with Cranks. I mean, come on. Don’t be a sissy.” He flashed the girl a quick smile to let her know he was joking.

    Brenda rolled her eyes.

    “Or…,” he said with exaggerated chagrin, “it could be scary.”

    “You should be nicer to Teresa, you know,” she said after a long beat of them staring down at the wasteland, the hum of the Berg’s engines so soothing Thomas suddenly wanted a nap.

    “What do you mean?”

    “She obviously feels strongly about you. And it just seems like you haven’t been that nice to her. Sorry if it’s none of my business.”

    Thomas thought about it, a topic he usually tried to avoid in his own mind. “No, it’s okay. She’s my best friend. We’ve been together for more than half our lives, and we can talk to each other…like no one else can. Without even speaking sometimes. Maybe that’s why it seems like I’m not nice.”

    Brenda nodded as if that made sense to her. “Just friends? After all this time? I’ve never seen you two holding hands or kissing or anything. You’re one slow mover.” She laughed at the last part.

    “It’s complicated,” Thomas said, surprised at this conversation, the things it was making him think about. “She means the world to me, and nothing will ever change that. But it’s kinda hard to be romantic when you have a dying world outside your home and your friends are stuck inside an experiment.”

    Brenda seemed disappointed. “Yeah, but come on. People love, Thomas. Best of times, worst of times. People love. You should make sure she knows how you feel. That’s all I’m saying.”

    Thomas felt a surge of emotion he didn’t understand. He thought of his mom, and his dad, and his friends. And it all just welled up inside him and tears began to leak from his eyes. He didn’t know what he needed in life, or what he was meant to accomplish. Friends were what he had, and they were all that mattered. Somehow he had to save them.

    Brenda noticed his tears, and her face melted into something so soft and full of kindness that Thomas shook. She pulled him into a hug, and he hugged her back, felt like he was hugging everyone who’d just flashed through his thoughts. They stayed that way, pressed together, until the Berg tilted to the right and started its descent.

    They’d arrived at the Scorch.

    WICKED had sent armed guards with them, and they spilled down the open ramp first, to the dusty, blistering-hot ground below. When they gave the all clear, Thomas walked down with Brenda and Jorge, all three of them squinting against the blinding brightness of the sun.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire