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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 18)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(18) by James Dashner
  • The girl flinched and took a few steps back when Trina got close to her.

    “It’s okay,” Trina said, stopping. She got down on one knee. “We’re friendly, I promise. We came from a village just like yours, where they had lots of kids. Do you have friends here?”

    The girl nodded, then seemed to remember something. She shook her head sadly.

    “They’re gone now?”

    A nod.

    Trina looked back at Mark, heartbreak in her eyes, then returned her attention to the girl.

    “What’s your name?” Trina asked. “Mine is Trina. Can you tell me yours?”

    After a long pause, the girl said, “Deedee.”

    “Deedee, huh? I love that name. It’s really cute.”

    “My brother’s name is Ricky.”

    It seemed such a childlike thing to say, and for some reason it brought memories of Madison slamming to the forefront of Mark’s thoughts. His heart ached. He wished this girl were his little sister. And as always, he tried his hardest to keep his mind from wandering down the darkest road of all. Imagining what might’ve happened to her when the sun flares struck.

    “Where is Ricky?” Trina asked.

    Deedee shrugged. “I don’t know. He went with the others. Into the forest.”

    “With your mom and your dad?”

    The girl shook her head. “No. They got hit by the arrows from the sky. Both of them. They died real nasty.” Tears welled up until they spilled over and washed down her dirty cheeks.

    “I’m so sorry to hear that, sweetheart,” Trina said, her voice full of the deepest sincerity. Mark was sure he’d never liked her as much as he did right then. “Some of our friends were … hurt by the same people. Nasty, like you said. I’m so, so sorry.”

    Deedee was crying but also rocking back and forth on her heels, something that again reminded Mark of Madison. “It’s okay,” she said, so sweetly that Mark didn’t know how much more of this he could take. “I know it wasn’t your fault. It was the bad men’s fault. The ones who wear the funny green suits.”

    Mark pictured that day, remembered looking up at the same people on the Berg. Or friends of the same people. Who knew how many Bergs were out there, flying around with dart guns full of who knew what. Why, though? Why?

    Trina kept digging, as tenderly as she could, for more information. “Why did the others leave? Why didn’t you go with them?”

    Deedee held up her right arm, the hand balled into a fist. She pulled up her ratty sleeve to reveal a circular wound near her shoulder, scabbed over but looking poorly cared for. She didn’t say anything, just held the arm straight out for everyone to inspect.

    Mark took in a quick breath. “Looks like she was shot by a dart!”

    “I’m sorry about your owie,” Trina said, shooting a glare at Mark. “But … do you know why they left? Where they went? Why didn’t you go with them?”

    The girl jabbed her arm out again, pointing at the wound. Mark exchanged a look with Alec and Lana, sure that they understood the deep significance as much as he did. Why was this girl okay if she’d been shot?

    “I really am sorry they hurt you,” Trina said. “Looks like you’re one lucky girl. Do you not want to answer any more questions? It’s okay if you don’t.”

    Deedee groaned in frustration and pointed at her wound once again. “This is why! This is why they left me here! They’re bad, like the green men.”

    “I’m really sorry, sweetie.”

    Mark couldn’t hold it in anymore. “I’ll tell you what happened. They probably thought she was sick from the dart and left without her.” The words sounded wrong, though. How could anyone actually do that? To a little kid?

    “Is that what happened?” Trina asked her. “They left you because they thought you might be sick? Like the others?”

    Deedee nodded and fresh tears streamed down her cheeks.

    Trina stood up and turned to face Alec.

    The soldier held a hand up. “I’ll stop you before you even start. I may look like I was chewed up and spit out by the meanest beast in the jungle, but I’m not heartless. We’ll take the girl with us.”

    Trina nodded and genuinely smiled for the first time that day.

    “It probably is true that she’s infected,” Lana pointed out. “It’s just taking longer to manifest itself.”

    “Odds are we’re all sick,” Alec grumbled as he readjusted the straps of his backpack.

    “We’ll be careful with her,” Trina said. “We just need to keep our hands clean and away from our nose and mouth. Wear a mask as much as possible. But I’m not letting this sweet thing out of my sight until …” She didn’t finish, and Mark was glad for that.

    “It’s another mouth to feed,” Alec said, “but I guess she won’t eat much.” He smiled to show he was joking—something that didn’t happen very often. “Part of me wants to ransack this place to look for supplies, food, but whatever is taking everyone down is probably camped up nice and cozy on every dirty inch of the place. Let’s get out of here.”

    Trina motioned to Deedee to come along, and surprisingly, she did so without any argument. Alec headed back the way they’d come, to the path he’d so carefully mapped out. As they walked, Mark tried not to think about the fact that they were going exactly where Deedee had pointed earlier.

    They didn’t run into anyone—living or dead—for the next few hours, and Mark almost forgot about the people who had left Deedee behind. The girl stayed quiet through the journey, never complaining as they maintained a brisk pace, up and down the rocky terrain and then up and down all over again. Trina stayed by her side, wearing a cloth over her face.

    Deedee eagerly devoured her dinner, probably the first decent meal she’d had in a while. Then they hiked for another hour or two before setting up camp. Alec announced that, according to his calculations, they only had one full day of traveling to go.

    Mark watched Trina with Deedee. She took such good care of the little girl—making her a spot to sleep, helping her wash up in the stream, telling her a story as darkness settled on the wooded valley.

    Mark watched, and hoped for a day when life could be good and safe again. When the horrors might end and boredom became their worst problem. When a girl like Deedee could run around and laugh like kids were supposed to.

    He settled down next to Trina and the little girl, thinking about the past, and drifted off to sleep, only for the darker memories to come and stamp out his foolish hopes.

    CHAPTER 19

    It takes Mark only ten minutes or so to realize that Alec is the person he wants to be close to until they’re back safe and sound in their homes. Not only did he disarm three men and put them out of commission in less than thirty seconds, he is also a former soldier who wastes no time taking charge and telling them how it is.

    “Sometimes you can believe the rumors and chitchat,” the older man says as they slosh through the water of the passageway outside the storage closet where they encountered the armed thugs. “Most times it’s some lame-brained numbskull trying to impress a lady or two. But once the majority of the rumors are saying the same thing, you better perk up and pay attention. You’re probably wondering what in the hell I’m trying to say here.”

    Mark looks over at Trina—he can barely see her face in the dim glow from the flashlight that Alec is holding in front of them. She gives him a look that says, Who is this guy? She’s carrying the box of food she found earlier. It’s like her security blanket or something—she won’t let anyone else touch it. Not yet.

    “Yeah, we’re wondering,” Mark finally replies.

    Alec stops and whirls around, quick as a striking snake. At first Mark thinks his answer came out wrong, sarcastically, and the man might punch his lights out. But instead the tough old man just holds up a finger.

    “We have one hour, tops, to get out of these rat tunnels. You hear me? One hour.” He turns back around and starts marching again.

    “Wait, what?” Mark asks as they hurry to keep pace. “What do you mean? Why? Isn’t it a bad idea to go up there until … well, I don’t know.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire