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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 14)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(14) by James Dashner
  • “Okay,” Trina said sadly. “Okay.”

    The Toad was by far the closest friend to Misty, and he hadn’t said a word. He just stood staring at the ground, tears in his eyes. But as Mark and the others prepared to leave, the stout man didn’t move. Alec finally asked him what he was doing.

    “I’m not going,” the Toad said.

    As soon as he said it, Mark realized he’d been expecting it. No surprise at all. He also knew that there’d be no changing the guy’s mind. They’d be saying goodbye to two of their friends now.

    Alec argued with him, as did Lana. Trina didn’t bother, obviously having come to the same conclusion as Mark. And just as Mark had predicted, the Toad didn’t budge.

    “She’s my best friend. I’m not leaving her.”

    “But she wants you to,” Lana said. “She doesn’t want you to stay here and potentially die with her. She wants you to live.”

    “I’m not leaving her,” he repeated, and gave Lana a cold stare. Misty said nothing from inside, either not hearing or too weak to respond.

    “Fine,” Lana said, not bothering to hide her annoyance. “Catch up with us if you change your mind.”

    Mark just wanted to leave. The situation had become unbearable. He took one last look at Misty through the doorway before moving on. She was curled up into a ball, speaking in an odd voice, though it was too low to make out what she was saying. But as they walked away, he was pretty sure that the girl had been singing.

    She’d snapped, he thought. She’d definitely snapped.

    CHAPTER 14

    They only made it about three miles before it got too dark to continue. And Mark was more than ready to stop, exhausted from the crazy day. Alec had to have known they couldn’t go far, but staying in that village was not an option. They were finally gone from it all, in the thick trees and fresh air of the woods, which helped drain some of the tension and emotional ups and downs of those last couple of hours.

    No one said much as they made a simple camp and ate a dinner of packaged food brought up from the Asheville factories. Lana insisted they keep their distance from each other, so Mark lay on his side, several feet from Trina, the two of them staring at each other, wishing they could cuddle, at least. Mark almost scooted over to her about a hundred times but stopped himself. He knew she wouldn’t let him, anyway. They didn’t say much, just held each other’s gaze.

    And Mark was sure she was thinking the same things he was. How their world had fallen apart once again. How they’d just lost three friends who’d survived the trek of horror they’d made—from the devastation that was New York City to the Appalachian Mountains. And of course she was wondering about the virus. Not a whole lot of happy thoughts.

    Alec ignored everyone, studying the workpad they’d retrieved from the Berg. He’d made a rough copy of the map they’d found on it with a pencil and some paper, but he wanted to see if he could unearth anything else useful. He had his compass out, was making notes, and Lana was next to him, offering pointers.

    Mark realized his eyelids were drooping. Trina smiled at him. He smiled back. Pathetic or not, at least they were smiles. He fell asleep, and then the memories came rushing in once again. Never letting him forget.

    Someone is on their tail.

    It’s only been a couple of hours since it happened in the city above them. Mark has no idea what it was, but he assumes it was a bomb set by terrorists or an explosion from a gas leak. Something that burned.

    The heat is unbearable. As are the screams. He and Trina have fled through the subtrans tunnels, finding abandoned offshoots, going deeper and deeper. But people are everywhere, most of them crazy with terror. Bad things are happening all around—theft, harassment, worse. It’s like the only people who escaped the catastrophe above them are hardened criminals.

    Trina found a box of instafood, left behind by someone in the chaos. Mark is carrying it now, both of them having already switched into some kind of instinctual survival mode. But others obviously have, too, and every person they look at as they run seems to know that Mark and Trina have something they want. And maybe not just the food.

    No matter how many twists and turns they take in the underground labyrinth of filthy, sweltering hot passages, they can’t lose the man on their tail. He’s big and fast and has become like a shadow. Yet every time Mark looks back at him, he seems to disappear into some nook or cranny.

    They’re running down a long hallway filled with water to their ankles, splashing with every step they take. Mark’s cell phone is providing the only light, and he dreads the moment it runs out of power. The thought of being in this place, alone and clueless as to where they should go, in complete darkness, terrifies him. Trina suddenly stops and grabs Mark’s arm, pulls him through an opening to the right that he didn’t see. They’re in a small room—looks to be an old storage closet from when this part of the system was still being used, back in the old subway days.

    “Turn it off!” she says in a fierce whisper as she pulls him deeper into the room and stands behind him.

    Mark shuts down his phone, pitching them into the darkness he was just worrying about. His first instinct is to panic and scream and wander blindly about. But it’s a brief moment of insanity and it passes. He calms his breathing and is thankful he can feel the touch of Trina’s hand on his back.

    “There’s no way he was close enough to see us come in here,” she whispers in his ear from behind. “And he can’t be quiet in that water. Let’s wait him out.”

    Mark nods, then remembers she can’t see him. “Okay,” he says quietly. “But if he somehow finds his way in here, I’m done running. We’re going to gang up and beat him down.”

    “Okay. We’ll fight.”

    Trina squeezes his arms and leans into him. Despite the absurdity of feeling such a thing at that moment, in those circumstances, he flushes from top to bottom, tingles and goose bumps all over. If only this girl knew how much he likes her. He feels a twinge of guilt that on some deep level, he’s thankful for whatever tragedy has occurred, because it’s forced them together.

    He hears a couple of splashes in the distance. Then a few more, obviously footsteps in the water of the small tunnel outside their room. Then a steady beat of them, getting louder as their pursuer—he assumes it’s their pursuer—gets closer. Mark presses against Trina and the wall behind her, wishing they could somehow disappear into the brick.

    A light flicks on to Mark’s right, almost making him cry out in surprise. The approaching footsteps stop. Mark squints—his eyes have already grown used to the darkness—and tries to see the source of the light. It moves and shines about the room, then settles on Mark’s eyes, blinding. He looks down. It has to be someone with a flashlight.

    “Who are you?” Trina asks. She’s whispering, but her voice sounds like it came out of a bullhorn because Mark is so nervous.

    The flashlight moves again as someone crawls out of a hole in the wall and stands up. Mark can barely make out any details, but it looks to be a man. A filthy man, his hair a mess and his clothes tattered. Another man appears behind him, and then another. They all look the same—dirty and desperate and dangerous. Three of them.

    “I think we’ll be askin’ the questions,” the first stranger says. “We were here way before you, and we don’t like visitors none too much. Why are people runnin’ around here like cats anyway? What happened? You two don’t look like the type that comes a-callin’ for the likes of us.”

    Mark is scared to the core. Nothing even remotely like this has ever happened to him. He fumbles for words, feeling like he needs to answer, but Trina beats him to it.

    “Look, use your head. We wouldn’t be down here unless something horrible happened up there. In the city.”

    Mark finds his voice. “Haven’t you noticed how hot it is? We think it was a bomb, a gas explosion, something.”

    The man shrugs. “You think we care? All I care about is my next meal. And … maybe something nice dropped in our laps today. A little surprise for me and the boys.” He eyes Trina up and down.

    “You won’t touch her,” Mark says, the look in the man’s eyes filling him with the bravery he couldn’t find a few minutes earlier. “We have some food—you can take that if you’ll just leave us alone.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire