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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 15)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(15) by James Dashner
  • “We’re not giving him our food!” Trina snaps.

    Mark turns to face her and whispers, “Better than getting our throats slit.”

    He hears a clicking sound, then another. When he faces the men again, he sees the light glinting off silver blades.

    “Something you should learn about us,” one of the men says. “We don’t do much negotiatin’ around this neighborhood. We’ll take the food and whatever else we want.”

    They start moving forward, and then a figure suddenly flashes in from the left, coming through the doorway from the passage outside. Mark barely takes a breath as he watches a short but violent burst of chaos happen right before his eyes. Bodies spinning and arms flailing and knives being tossed aside and punches and grunts. It’s like some kind of superhero has entered the room, using speed and strength to beat the hell out of the three intruders. In less than a minute they’re all lying on the floor, curled up, groaning and cursing. The flashlight has been tossed to the floor, shining on the boots of a very large man.

    The one who’s been following them.

    “You can thank me later,” he says in a deep, grinding voice. “My name is Alec. And I think we have a much bigger problem than these losers.”

    CHAPTER 15

    Mark woke up with a deep ache in his side. He’d been lying on a rock for hours, by the feel of it. He rolled onto his back with a groan and looked at the lightening sky through the branches overhead … and remembered the dream of his past as vividly as if it had been shown to him as a movie on a screen.

    Alec had saved them that day, and countless times since. But Mark felt solid knowing that he’d returned the favor on more than one occasion. Their lives were as linked together as the rocks and earth of the mountain they’d just slept upon.

    The others were up within a half hour. Alec made them all a quick breakfast using some eggs he’d rustled up at the Shack. They’d have to hunt soon; Mark was glad he didn’t have to be the expert on that, although he’d done his share. As they sat and ate, still staying relatively quiet and doing their best to avoid touching each other or touching things that had been touched, Mark brooded. It made him sick that someone had ruined everything just as they were on the cusp of feeling somewhat normal.

    “We ready to get marching?” Alec asked when all the food was gone.

    “Yeah,” Mark responded. Trina and Lana just nodded.

    “That workpad was a godsend,” Alec said. “With this map and compass, I’m pretty sure we’ll get there, straight and true. And who knows what we’ll find.”

    They headed out, through the half-burnt trees and over the freshly grown brush.


    They walked all day, down the face of one mountain and up another. Mark kept wondering if they’d run into another camp or village—rumor had it that there were settlements throughout the Appalachians. It was the only place fit enough after the sun flares and the risen sea levels, the massive destruction of all the towns and cities and vegetation. Mark just hoped that one day it could all go back to normal. Maybe even during his lifetime.

    They’d stopped for an afternoon break by a small stream, when Trina snapped her fingers and caught his attention. When he looked at her, she motioned with her head toward the woods. Then she got up and announced she had to use the bathroom. After she left, Mark waited two long minutes, then said he had to do the same.

    They met up about a hundred yards away by a big oak tree. The air smelled fresher than it had in a long time, almost green and full of life.

    “What’s up?” he asked. They stood about five feet apart, following orders even though no one was around to watch.

    “I’m sick of being like this,” she replied. “Look at us. We’ve barely hugged since that Berg attacked the village. We both look and feel fine, so it seems kind of silly to stay apart.”

    Her words filled him with relief. Even though he knew the circumstances couldn’t possibly be worse, he was glad to hear she still wanted to be close to him.

    Mark smiled. “So … let’s bag this lame quarantine crap.” It seemed so silly when he said it like that.

    “Even if we keep it a secret from Lana so she doesn’t pitch a fit.” She walked up to him, put her arms around his middle and kissed him. “Like I said, I think the game is pointless anyway. We’re not showing signs, so hopefully we’re in the clear.”

    Mark couldn’t have talked if he’d wanted to. He leaned down and kissed her, and this time the kiss was much longer.

    They held hands until they got close to the camp, then separated. Based on the feelings pumping through Mark at the moment, he didn’t know how long he could pretend. But for now he didn’t want to deal with the wrath of Lana or Alec.

    “I think we can be there the day after tomorrow,” Alec announced when they returned. “Maybe not until the sun poops out, but we can get there. We’ll rest up and then try to figure what to do the next morning.”

    “Sounds good,” Mark said absently as he repacked his stuff. He was still kind of floating, at least temporarily relieved from all the crap.

    “Then let’s quit yappin’ and let’s get slappin’,” Alec said.

    The statement didn’t make much sense to Mark, but he shrugged and looked at Trina. She had a smile on her face. He hoped the other two fell asleep really early tonight.

    They had to resist the urge to hold hands again as they set off after the old grizzly bear and Lana.

    That night, the camp was dark and quiet except for the sound of Alec snoring and the soft sighs of Trina’s breath on Mark’s chest. They’d waited until Alec and Lana zonked out, then scooted together and cuddled.

    Mark looked up at the branches of the trees, finding a clear spot that revealed brilliant stars overhead. His mom had taught him the constellations when he was really young, and he’d passed the valuable information on to his little sister, Madison. The stories behind the constellations were his favorite part, and he loved sharing them. Especially since it was such a rarity to see the starry sky when you lived in a huge city like New York. Every trip out to the country was a huge treat. They’d spend hours pointing out the different myths and legends hanging far above them.

    He spotted Orion, the belt brighter than he’d ever seen it before. Orion. That had been Madison’s favorite constellation because it was so easy to find and had such a cool story behind it—the hunter and his sword, his dogs, all of them fighting a demonic bull. Mark embellished the tale a little more each time he’d told it. The thought brought a lump to his throat, and his eyes moistened. He missed Madison so much. So much. The darker part of him almost wanted to forget her because it hurt so deeply.

    He heard the crack of breaking branches out in the woods.

    His thoughts of his little sister evaporated as he bolted upright, practically shoving Trina off his chest before he could think about what he was doing. She muttered something, then rolled over onto her side, falling back into her obviously deep sleep just as another crack sounded from the forest.

    He put a hand on her shoulder as he got to his knees and then scanned the area around them. It was way too dark to see anything out in the thick of trees, even with the moon-and starlight. But his hearing had sharpened considerably since power and artificial lights had mostly become a thing of his past. He calmed himself and concentrated. Listened. He knew it could be a deer, a squirrel, lots of things. But he hadn’t survived a year of the sun-ravaged world by making assumptions.

    There were more snapping of twigs and cracking of branches. Heavy and definitely two-footed.

    He was just about to shout Alec’s name when a shadow appeared in front of him, stepping out from behind a tree. There was the scratching sound of a match being lit right before it flared to life, revealing the man who held it.

    The Toad.

    “What…,” Mark said, relief like a bursting cloud in his chest. “Toad. Sheesh, man, you about scared me to death.”

    The Toad dropped to his knees and held the lit match closer to his face. He looked gaunt, and his eyes were moist and haunted.

    “Are … you okay?” Mark asked, hoping his friend was just tired.

    “I’m not,” the Toad answered, his face quivering as if he were about to cry. “I’m not, Mark. I’m not okay at all. There are things living inside my skull.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire