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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 19)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(19) by James Dashner
  • “Sun flares.”

    He says the two words like he needs to say nothing else. Like the others should instantly know everything going on in his mind.

    “Sun flares?” Trina repeats. “That’s what you think happened up there?”

    “Pretty sure, my lovely lady. Pretty sure.”

    Mark’s bad feelings about it all have escalated exponentially upon the news. If it’s not an isolated incident, if it’s truly something as global as sun flares, then the little hope he held out for his family is gone. “How do you know?”

    He hears the quaver in his voice. Alec answers with no shaking in his whatsoever.

    “Because there were too many people from too many places describing the same thing before I got away from the masses. And supposedly the news agencies put out warnings right before they struck. It’s sun flares, all right. Extreme heat and radiation. Double whammy. It was something the world thought it was trained and prepared for. The world was wrong, in my humble judgment.”

    All three of them fall silent. Alec keeps moving, Mark and Trina keep following. They turn corners, enter different tunnels, steer clear of other people when they get close. All the while, Mark’s heart is sinking further and further into a dark place. He doesn’t know how to handle something like this. He refuses to believe his family is gone and swears to himself that he won’t rest until he finds them safe and sound. Finally Alec stops in the middle of a long passageway that looks much like all the others.

    “I have a few other friends in here,” he says. “Left them to go look for food, learn some things. I’ve worked with Lana for years and years. We were contractors for the defense department—she’s a former soldier, like me. Army nurse. The others are strays we picked up. You two max us out—we can’t take one more or we’ll never make it.”

    “Make it where?” Mark asks.

    “To the world above,” Alec replies, the last thing Mark expected to hear. “Back into the city, as hellacious as it may be. As long as we stay inside for a while, we should be okay. But we have to get up there before the waters flood this place and kill us all.”

    Mark woke up and rolled onto his side, his eyes fully open, his breathing heavy. And he hadn’t even dreamed about the bad part. He didn’t want to remember any of it. He didn’t want to relive the terror of that day.

    Please, he thought. Please, no. Please. Not tonight. I can’t.

    He didn’t even know who he was talking to. Was he talking to his own brain? Maybe he’d caught the disease from the Toad and was beginning to go crazy.

    He flopped onto his back, stared up at the branches and the stars above. There wasn’t even the slightest hint of dawn creeping into the sky. It was dark, dark, dark. He wanted it to be morning, wanted to be done with the threat of dreams for at least a few hours. Maybe he could keep himself awake somehow. He sat up, looked around. But he couldn’t see much, only the outlines of trees and the shapes of his friends lying around him on the ground.

    He considered waking up Trina. She’d understand that he needed company. He wouldn’t even have to tell her about his dream. But she seemed so peaceful at the moment, breathing softly. With a quiet groan to himself he gave up on the idea, knowing he’d feel too guilty about depriving her of valuable sleep. Not only did they have a lot of walking to do the next day, she had the added burden of looking after little Deedee.

    Mark flopped back down, shifted around until he got comfortable. He didn’t want to dream. The raging waters, the screams of people drowning. The frantic, unbearable fear of fleeing it all. Even awake he could see that room beneath New York City where they’d first met Lana and the others. Alec’s weathered face as he explained to them that after surviving such massive sun flares, their biggest and most immediate worry now was the surge of a tsunami. The flares must have been devastating, inflicting catastrophic damage worldwide and unleashing the heat of hell itself.

    Which meant a quick melting of the polar ice caps. Which meant sea levels rising at an alarming and apocalyptic rate. Which meant that the island of Manhattan would be a dozen feet underwater within a few hours. He explained all this to them while they huddled in a room far underground, where the water would seek out and drown everything in its path.

    Back in the present, these thoughts tormented Mark for at least another hour—and he knew if he dreamed it would only get worse. He was scared of being scared.

    He drifted off despite his efforts. Sleep came over him like cold, crashing waves.

    CHAPTER 20

    The Lincoln Building, one of the tallest, newest, grandest buildings in New York. One of the few with direct access to the subtrans system.

    That’s where Alec keeps telling them they need to go. He says he has a full subtrans map saved on his phone, but he’s visibly worried about them being able to make it in time. Mark was able to see, even in the dim light before they headed out, that Alec has major doubts—which is contrary to the overall persona of the hardened man he seems to be. Mark would’ve guessed the man could be caged with a dozen hungry lions and he’d still only have a smirk on his face as he decided which one to kill first.

    The Lincoln Building, Mark tells himself. Get there; then you can go find your family.

    They are all running down one of the countless seemingly endless tunnels below the city. Alec in the lead, then the woman he said he’s had the pleasure of working with for a dozen years: Lana. A boy about Mark’s age named Darnell is next, then a girl named Misty—another teenager, but older, maybe eighteen—then a dude, also older than Mark, but short and loaded with muscles. Misty refers to him as the Toad, and he actually seems to like the moniker. Mark and Trina are next, with a boy named Baxter bringing up the rear. Baxter is the youngest of them all, maybe thirteen, but Mark can tell he’s a tough little sucker. Insisted on being in the back, said he wanted to protect everyone from surprise attacks.

    As they run, Mark hopes he has enough time left in life to become friends with the kid.

    “I hope he knows what he’s doing,” Trina says quietly next to him. They are jogging along side by side and Mark finds himself having the ridiculous thought that it’d be nice if they were on a beach, the sun just setting on the water. He thanks the powers that be that Trina can’t read his mind.

    “He does,” Mark insists. He also doesn’t want her to know how he’s almost trembling with fear of what might happen at any second, which is making it hard to run. Almost seventeen years of life, and he never knew what a coward he was.

    “Tsunami.” Trina says the word like it’s the evilest thing to ever come out of her mouth. “We’re in the middle of the subtrans system in New York City and that’s supposed to be our biggest worry. A tsunami?”

    “We’re underground,” Mark replies. “And our city is right by the ocean, in case you forgot. Water drains downward. Ya know, gravity and all that.”

    He can sense her giving him a nasty look, and he knows he deserves it. His nerves must be finally getting to him to be such a smart aleck. He tries to save himself the only way he knows how—honesty.

    “Sorry,” he mutters. The run is getting to him and he’s breathing heavily. “I’m just scared out of my mind. I’m really sorry.”

    “It’s okay. I didn’t really mean it like a question. I’m just … I don’t know. Saying how crazy this is I guess. Sun flares and a tsunami. A few hours ago those words weren’t even on my radar. Not by a long shot.”

    “It sucks” is the best Mark can come up with. He just doesn’t want to talk about it anymore—the more they do, the more his insides twist with distress and worry.

    Alec slows down when they reach the end of the latest tunnel. He stops and turns to face them. Everyone is breathing heavily and Mark’s entire body is soaked with sweat.

    “We have to go through one of the newer subtrans sections now,” Alec says. “There’s bound to be people out there, and who knows what kind of mood they might be in. Sometimes folks get downright nasty when they think the world’s about to end.”

    Now that their little group is calming their breathing a bit, Mark can hear faint sounds coming from behind their leader. The hum of a crowd, people talking and bustling about. A few disturbing noises mixed in as well: distant screams, crying and wailing. The isolation of their dank little storage room doesn’t seem so bad now.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire