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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 8)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(8) by James Dashner
  • “Cockpit’s right up there,” Alec yelled. “Hurry!”

    He didn’t wait for a reply—the man bounded down the passage and Mark followed. They reached an open area with chairs and a table just as the man they were chasing disappeared through a round hatch into what had to be the cockpit. He started pulling the door closed, but Alec threw the sledgehammer just in time. It hit the wall next to the hatch and fell to the floor, blocking the door from closing. Mark hadn’t stopped—he ran past Alec and reached the cockpit first, leaning inside without letting himself stop to think about it.

    He caught a quick glance of two pilot chairs, windows above wide panels full of instruments and dials and screens flashing information. One of the chairs was occupied by a woman frantically pressing buttons as the Berg shot forward, trees disappearing below them at an increasing rate. Mark had barely taken it all in when someone tackled him from the right, both of their bodies crashing to the floor.

    Mark’s breath was knocked out of him as his attacker tried to pin him down. Then the man was whacked in the shoulder by Alec’s sledgehammer and was sent flying. He landed with a grunt of pain and Mark scrambled to his feet, struggling to suck air into his lungs. Alec grabbed the man by his green shirt and pulled him up close to his face.

    “What’s going on here?” the former soldier shouted, spit flying.

    The pilot continued to work the controls, ignoring the chaotic scene behind her. Mark stepped up to her, not sure what to do. He steadied himself and put all the authority he could into his voice.

    “Stop this thing right now. Turn it back, take us home.”

    She acted like she hadn’t heard him.

    “Talk to me!” Alec was yelling at his man.

    “We’re nothing!” the guy said through a pitiful moan. “We were just sent to do their dirty work.”

    “Sent?” Alec repeated. “Who sent you?”

    “I can’t tell you.”

    Mark was listening to what was going on across the room. He was annoyed that the pilot had ignored his directions. “I said to stop this thing! Now!” He held up his wrench but felt completely ridiculous.

    “Just following orders, son,” the lady replied. Not a hint of emotion in her voice.

    Mark was searching for a comeback when the sound of Alec punching the man on the floor tore his attention away.

    “Who sent you?” Alec repeated. “What was in those darts you shot at us? Some kind of virus?”

    “I don’t know,” the man said through a whimper. “Please, please don’t hurt me.” Mark’s attention was fully on the man in the green suit now, and a sudden gray tinge washed over the man’s face, as if he’d been possessed by some ghostly presence. “Do it,” he said, almost robotically. “Take her down.”

    “What?” Alec said. “What is this?”

    The pilot turned her head to face Mark, who stared back, perplexed. She had the same flat, dead-looking eyes as the green-suit guy. “Just following orders.”

    She reached out and pushed a lever, slamming it forward until it couldn’t go any farther. The entire Berg lurched and plunged toward the ground, the windows of the cockpit suddenly full of greenery.

    Mark flew off the floor and smashed into the control panels. Something huge shattered and the roar of engines filled his ears; there was a loud crash, followed by an explosion. The Berg jerked to a stop and something hard came flying across the room and smacked Mark in the head.

    He felt the pain and closed his eyes before the blood could ooze into his vision. And then he slowly faded from consciousness as he heard Alec calling his name down a dark, endless tunnel.

    A tunnel; how appropriate, he thought before he blacked out completely. That was where it had started, after all.…

    CHAPTER 8

    Mark leans his head back against the seat of the subtrans as it speeds along. He closes his eyes, smiles. School was a load that day, but it was over. Over for two weeks. Now he can relax and chill—just veg. Play the virtbox and eat outrageous amounts of food. Hang out with Trina, talk to Trina, bug Trina. Maybe he’d just say adios to his parents and kidnap her, run away. There you go.

    He opens his eyes.

    She’s sitting across from him, completely ignoring him. She has no idea that he’s daydreaming about her, or even that he’s mad for her. They’ve been friends for a long time, by circumstance more than anything. When you live next door to a kid, that kid is your buddy by the rules of the universe. Male, female, alien—doesn’t matter. But how could he have known she’d turn into this beautiful thing with the hot body and the dazzling eyes? Of course, the only problem with that is that every other dude in the school likes her, too. And Trina likes being liked. That is obvious.

    “Hey,” he says. The subtrans bullets through the tunnels beneath New York City, whisper quiet, its movement almost soothing. It makes him want to close his eyes again. “What’re you thinking about over there?”

    Her eyes meet his; then her face brightens into a smile. “Absolutely nothing. That’s what I’m going to do for two weeks. Not think. If I start to think, I’m going to think really hard about not thinking until I quit thinking.”

    “Wow. That almost sounds hard.”

    “No. Just fun. Only brilliant prodigies know how to do it.”

    This is one of those moments where Mark has the ridiculous urge to say something about liking her, ask her out on an official date, reach out and take her hand. Instead, the usual dumb words come tumbling out. “O wisest of the wise, maybe you can teach me this method of thinking to not think.”

    Her face scrunches up a little. “You are such a dork.”

    Oh yeah. He has her wrapped around his finger for sure. He feels like groaning, maybe punching himself in the face.

    “But I like dorks,” she says to soften the blow.

    And he feels good again. “So … what are your plans? You guys going anywhere, staying home, what?”

    “We might go to my granny’s for a few days, but we’ll be home most of the break. I’m supposed to go out with Danny sometime, but nothing solid. You?”

    He’s been knocked down a few notches. So much up-and-down with this girl. “Um, yeah. I mean, no. We’re just … Nothing. I’ll be sitting around eating chips. Lots of burping. Lots of watching my little sister get spoiled with presents.” Madison. Yeah, she’s spoiled, but half of that is Mark’s fault.

    “Maybe we can hang out, then.”

    And back up the scale he goes. “That’d be awesome. How about every day?” It’s the boldest statement he’s ever made to her.

    “Okay. Maybe we can even …” She looks around with exaggerated caution, then focuses back on him. “Sneak a kiss in your basement.”

    For one long second, he thinks she’s serious and his heart stops completely, goose bumps rising like soldiers across his skin. A flush of feeling burns in his chest.

    But then she starts laughing like a crazy person. Not really maliciously, and maybe he even notes a hint of real flirtation in there somewhere. But mostly he can tell that she sees them as lifelong buds, nothing more. That the thought of kissing in his basement is just plain silly. Mark officially decides to abandon his own notions for a while.

    “You are so hilarious,” he says. “I’m laughing on the inside.”

    She stops her giggling and uses her hand to fan her face. “I really would, ya know.”

    The last word has barely come out of her mouth when the lights go out.

    The subtrans loses all power and begins to slow; Mark almost falls out of his seat and into Trina’s lap. Any other time and maybe that would be a good thing, but now he just feels scared. He’s heard stories about this sort of thing happening in the olden days, but in his lifetime the power underground never fails. They are in absolute, complete darkness. People are beginning to scream. The brain isn’t wired to be plunged into such darkness without warning. It’s just scary. Finally the glow from a few wristphones breaks it a little.

    Trina grabs his hand and squeezes. “What in the world?” she asks simply.

    He feels reassured because she doesn’t seem all that scared really. And it brings him back to his senses. Even though it’s never happened before, surely the subtrans is bound to break down eventually.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire