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  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(59) by James Dashner
  • The bubble popped. More drops of liquid hung suspended in the air, joining the others. Dozens of sparkles in the sun. Thomas’s confusion increased. He was still aware of the Swipe process, that these memories were being taken from him. But they’d only weakened, not disappeared. Despite the rush of sweet bliss, he raged against it, battled with his mind. He screamed silently, mentally.

    More bubbles came.

    More popped.

    Playing tag. Swimming. Baths. Breakfasts. Dinners. Good times. Bad times. Faces. Emotions. Things Dr. Paige had told him. He wanted to cry out when he saw his dad going crazy from the Flare.

    That bubble popped.

    More of them came, no longer one by one. They flew by in a rush, a sensory overload that numbed his seething mind. Music. Movies. Dancing. Baseball. Food. The kind he loved (pizza, hamburgers, carrots) and the kind he hated (beef stroganoff, squash, peas). Faces in the memories started to blur, the voices to slur. The bubbles came and went so fast he could hardly keep up with them. The residue of their bursts filled the entire sky above him, millions of drops of whatever liquid formed them.

    He had forgotten what he’d been so upset about.

    A great wind came. A brutal, churning wind. It spun the drops in a grand circle, a cyclone of dew twisting above him. Bubbles popped before they even reached him now, the remnants of their predecessors ripping through them, obliterating them before Thomas could even experience their memories. All of it churned above him, spinning faster and faster. Soon everything blurred together, a writhing tornado of gray mist, devoid of all color.

    Thomas felt as if he were a flower wilting from lack of sun. He’d never felt such confusion, such…emptiness. The world spun above him. And he grew ever emptier, his mind being sucked away, lost in the towering twister stealing him. Stealing what made him him.

    Gone.

    It was all gone.

    He closed his eyes. He wept without weeping. A deep blackness consumed his mind and body. Time stretched before him like an endless sea, no horizon ever to come. Nothing ahead, everything left behind.

    Hours later, he opened his eyes.

    He was awake.

    He was standing.

    Surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air.

    WICKED Memorandum, Date 232.1.1, Time 3:12

    TO: Leadership Council

    FROM: Chancellor Ava Paige

    RE: Reasons

    I want to briefly thank everyone on the WICKED staff. It’s been ten years, but our pre-trials are finally over. You’ve taught our Elite subjects well, and at this point we are ready to begin the final days of the Maze Trials—what we’ve always known to be most important.

    Thomas and Rachel have been fully prepared. Everything leading up to this moment, their insertion into the mazes, would not have been possible without each and every one of you. It took a lot of long hours and meticulous planning and care to get us where we are today. Thank you for the hard work you’ve so tirelessly accomplished over the last decade, and especially over the last two years.

    We never knew who the final candidates would be, but today we are happy to celebrate Teresa and Aris and their loyalties to our purpose here. Phase Two is imminent, and I believe our future is brighter than ever.

    Again, thank you.

    WICKED Memorandum, Date 232.1.1, Time 2:01

    TO: All Staff

    FROM: Teresa Agnes

    RE: A last word

    I’ve just said goodbye to Thomas, and he’s now in the Glade, safe and sound. Tomorrow, it will be my turn. Dr. Paige has asked me to send a final note to everyone, sharing my thoughts. I’m more than happy to do so.

    I feel good about the plan to leave my and Aris’s memories intact. You need someone in each group with whom you can communicate and plan during the phases of the Trials. Aris and I can also coordinate throughout.

    I promise to keep my role a secret. I will act the part of their true equal to the best of my abilities, and I will not interfere with the decisions they make unless you instruct me to do so.

    I’ve been with WICKED for well over ten years, the vast majority of my life. I barely have any memories of my time before. Most people in the world would consider me lucky to have lived a life of comfort—I’ve had clean clothes, warmth, safety, food. I’m thankful for what WICKED has provided. I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made, friends who are the finest people in the world. I’d never do these things unless I fully believed that one day they’ll understand and thank me. I’m grateful for what I’ve learned, for the growth I’ve had, for the many experiences that have shaped who I am. I’m thankful to be alive.

    I also want to make it clear that I believe in what WICKED is doing.

    I plan to write three words on my arm before entering the Box, hoping that its simple message will plant a seed in the Gladers who see it. To remind them, even subconsciously, what it is we fight for. It’s a phrase I saw on a cold, dark night long ago, the Crank pits seething behind me. It’s a phrase that I believe with all my heart, despite the horrors.

    I think you know what it is.

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