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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 12)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(12) by James Dashner
  • Broken beams of the fading sunlight arrowed across the dirt floor, but it was mostly dark. He saw Darnell’s feet and legs in one spot of light, tucked up tightly to his body, but his face was hidden. He had his head buried in his arms, by the looks of it.

    Still the whimpering and the muttering. And he was shivering from top to bottom, as if he were caught outside in a blizzard.

    “Darnell?” Mark asked. “Hey … it’s Mark. I know you’ve been put through the wringer, man. I’m … I’m really sorry.… Hey, we got the suckers who did this to you. Crashed their Berg and everything.”

    His friend didn’t respond, just lay there, half in shadow, shaking and moaning. Muttering those two words.

    “My head, my head, my head.”

    Mark’s insides plummeted to some dark place and he felt hollow inside. He’d seen so much of terror and death, but looking at his friend, suffering alone … it killed Mark. Especially because it was so pointless. Needless. Why would someone do this to others after all the hell that happened to the world? Weren’t things bad enough?

    A sudden rage came over him. Mark punched the rough wood of the shack, bloodying his knuckles. He hoped somebody paid for all this one day.

    “Darnell?” Mark called again. He had to say something, make it better. “Maybe … maybe you’re stronger than the others—that’s why you haven’t died. Just hang tough, man. Wait it out. You’ll …” Empty words. That was what it felt like. As if he were lying to his friend.

    “Anyway, the sergeant and I, Trina, Lana, whoever—we’re gonna make it right, somehow. You just—”

    Darnell’s body suddenly stiffened, his legs shooting straight out and his arms going rigid at his sides. Another scream, worse than before, erupted from his ravaged throat—it came out sounding like the roar of an enraged animal. Mark jumped back in surprise but quickly leaned in again, his eye as close as possible to the opening without touching it. Darnell had rolled out into the middle of the floor, his face now in full view under a shaft of sunlight as he shook and shook.

    Blood covered his forehead, his cheeks, his chin, his neck. Matted his hair. It was seeping from his eyes and ears, dripping off his lips. The boy finally got control of his arms and pressed them against the sides of his head, twisting this way and that as if he were trying to screw the thing right off his neck. And the screams kept coming, broken up by the only two words he seemed to know.

    “My head! My head! My head!”

    “Darnell,” Mark whispered, knowing there was no way he could talk to his friend now. And despite how guilty and sick it made him feel, Mark also knew he couldn’t possibly go in there to try and help. It would be beyond stupid.

    “My heeeeeeaaaaaad!” Darnell shouted in one long, drawn-out wail of such ferocity that Mark stepped back again. He didn’t know if he could bear to look anymore.

    There was the sound of movement inside, the shuffling of feet. Then a loud thunk against the door. Then another. And another.

    Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.

    Mark closed his eyes. He knew what that horrible sound was. Trina was suddenly there, pulling him into her arms, squeezing him tightly as she shook with sobs. Alec protested but only halfheartedly. It was too late now.

    There were a few more thunks, and then a last, long, piercing scream that ended in a wet, gurgly burst. After that, Mark heard Darnell slump to the floor with an exhale of breath.

    He was ashamed of himself, but all Mark felt in that quiet moment was relief that the ordeal had finally ended. And that it hadn’t been Trina.

    CHAPTER 12

    Mark had never thought of Alec as a gentle man. Not even remotely. But when the soldier walked over and separated Mark from Trina, he did it with a warm look on his face. Then he spoke.

    “I know we’ve been through a lot together.” Alec flicked his eyes over at the shack where Darnell was. “But that might’ve been the worst yet, hearing what we just heard.” The man paused for a moment before he continued. “We can’t give up now, though. From day one we’ve been about living.”

    Mark nodded and looked at Trina.

    She wiped a tear away, giving Alec a cold look. “I’m kinda sick of surviving. At least Darnell is done with this world.”

    In all the years Mark had known her, she had never sounded so angry.

    “Don’t talk like that,” he said. “I know for a fact you don’t mean that.”

    Her gaze swept to him and softened. “When will it end? We survive months of the sun beating the tar out of the planet, find a place where we can build shelter, find food. A few days ago we were laughing! And then guys come in a Berg and shoot us with darts and people die? What is this, some kind of joke? Is someone up there laughing at us, playing us like some kind of virtgame?”

    Her voice cracked and she started crying again, covering her face with her hands as she sat down on the hard-packed earth, her legs crossed under her. Her shoulders shook with her silent sobs.

    Mark looked at Alec, whose eyes narrowed back at him as if to say, She’s your friend—say something.

    “Trina?” Mark said quietly. He walked over and knelt behind her, then reached out and squeezed her shoulders. “I know—just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse. I’m sorry.” He knew better than to make things seem less terrible than they actually were. That was a pointless trick they’d all promised to stop a long time ago.

    “But I promise we’ll stay together on all this,” he continued. “And we’ll do everything we can not to catch whatever it was that killed Darnell and the others. But if we’re going to do that …” He rubbed her back and looked up at Alec for help.

    “Then we need to be vigilant,” the man said. “We need to be cautious and smart and ruthless if it comes to that.”

    Mark knew it might be foolish to be touching Trina. But he didn’t care. If Trina died, he seriously didn’t know if he could keep going.

    Trina dropped her hands from her face and looked at Alec. “Mark, stand up and walk away from me.”

    “Trina …”

    “Do it. Now. Go stand near Alec so I can see both of you.”

    Mark did as she asked. He rejoined the man about ten feet away and turned to see that any trace of the crying, helpless, I-want-to-quit Trina was gone, replaced with the firmly resolved woman Mark was used to seeing. She got to her feet and folded her arms.

    “I’ve been really careful since you two got up on that Berg. The suits those jerks were wearing, the darts, how quickly the people who were shot collapsed and got sick … Even before Lana told us anything, it was obvious something was going on. The only person I’ve interacted with was Darnell, but he knew to keep his distance. He was the one who barricaded himself in that place and forced me to board it up.”

    She paused to take a breath and eyed each of them. “My point is that I don’t think I’m sick. Especially since it acted so quickly on everyone who was.”

    “I can see that, but—” Alec began, but Trina cut him off.

    “I’m not finished,” she said with a sharp glare. “I know we need to be careful. I could be sick. I know we’ve touched, but let’s try not to anymore. Not until we’re totally sure. And all three of us need to make new masks and to wash our hands and faces like crazy.”

    Mark liked that she was taking charge. “Sounds good to me.”

    “Absolutely,” Alec agreed. “Now, where are the others? Lana, Misty, the Toad?”

    Trina pointed in a few directions. “Everyone is holed up somewhere, keeping their distance. Just to be safe until no one shows any signs of sickness. Maybe another couple of days.”

    Sitting around for a day or two sounded like the worst idea possible to Mark. “I’ll go nuts if we do that. We found a workpad with a map of where that Berg came from. Let’s gather supplies and get out of here—maybe we can learn something.”

    “Agreed,” Alec chimed in. “We should get as far as we can from this place.”

    “Wait—what about Darnell?” Mark asked. Though he knew what they would say, it made him feel better to at least ask. “Should we bury him?”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire