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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 31)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(31) by James Dashner
  • “—just north of here,” a woman was saying. “Burned out like a brick oven. I bet it’s got something to do with those people they caught last night. We’ll know soon enough.”

    A man responded. “We better. Like things weren’t bad enough without losing our other Berg. Those jacks in Alaska couldn’t care less about us. Now that everything’s gone weird, I bet we don’t even hear from them again.”

    “No doubt,” the woman said. “Can you say expendable?”

    “Yeah, but that wasn’t supposed to be us. It’s not our fault the virus is mutating.”

    The landing pad clanged behind them, presumably done with its rotation. All was dark. The new arrivals started walking away, their footsteps heavy, as if they wore boots. One of them clicked on a flashlight, the glow from its beam bobbing up ahead. Alec grabbed Mark again and they followed, keeping a safe distance.

    The two strangers didn’t speak again until they reached a door. Mark heard the squeak of the hinges as it opened. Then the man said something as they stepped into a room Mark couldn’t see.

    “They’ve already got a name for it, by the way. They’re calling it the Flare.”

    The door slammed shut.

    CHAPTER 32

    They hadn’t heard much from the pair, but Mark didn’t like the sound of it. “The Flare. He said they’ve started calling it the Flare. The virus.”

    “Yeah.” Alec lit up the workpad again. The glow revealed his face—the face of a man who looked as if he’d never smiled in his life. All sags and creases. “That can’t be good. If something has a nickname, that means it’s big and being talked about. Not good at all.”

    “We need to find out what happened. Those people dancing around the fire got attacked way before us. At least their settlement did. Maybe they were some kind of test subjects?”

    “Then we’ve got two objectives, kid: One, find Lana, Trina and that cute little whippersnapper. Two, figure out what’s going on around here.”

    Mark couldn’t have agreed more. “So let’s get moving.”

    Alec turned off the workpad, casting the hallway into darkness. “Just run your hand along the wall,” he whispered. “Try not to step on me.”

    They started making their way down the passage. Mark kept his footsteps light and his breathing shallow, trying to stay silent. The humming of distant machinery had grown louder, and the wall vibrated as his fingers traced an invisible line along its cool surface. They reached a spot where the slightest outline of rectangular light marked the door through which the two strangers from the Berg had gone. Alec hesitated right before it, then hurried past on his tiptoes—the least soldierly thing Mark had ever seen him do.

    Mark decided to be a little braver. He stopped in front of it and leaned in, pressing his ear against the door.

    “Not smart,” Alec called out in a harsh whisper.

    Mark didn’t respond, concentrating on what he could hear. Muffled words, impossible to make out. But the discussion sounded a little heated.

    “Just come on,” Alec said. “I want to explore before someone locks us in a brig and throws away the key.”

    Mark nodded, though he doubted the man could see him very well. He moved away from the door and resumed his position next to the opposite wall, hand pressed against it. They kept walking, soon in darkness again as they left the faint light bleeding around the edges of the door.

    The hallway stretched on, the world silent except for the rumble of the machinery. Mark couldn’t tell when it happened exactly, but he realized he could see again. There was a hazy red glow to the air, enough that Alec looked like a creeping devil in front of him. Mark held his hand up and wiggled his fingers—they looked like they were covered in blood. Assuming Alec had noticed, too, he didn’t say anything, and they continued.

    They finally came upon a large door in the left wall that was slightly ajar. A red bulb covered by a wired cage hung above it. Alec stopped and stared ahead as if waiting for someone to explain what waited inside. The noises of humming and cranking machinery had escalated and now filled the air to the point that Mark couldn’t whisper and be heard.

    “Guess that answers the question on generators,” he said. His head was really starting to ache right behind his eyes, and it hit him how exhausted he was. They’d been up through the night and half into another day. “Maybe that’s where they are. Just open the stupid thing.”

    Alec glanced back at him. “Patience, boy. Caution. A hasty soldier is a dead soldier.”

    “A slow soldier means Trina and them could be dead.”

    Instead of responding, Alec reached out and opened the door, swinging it into the hallway. The sounds of machinery went up a notch, and a wave of heat poured from the space within, along with the stench of burning fuel.

    “Oh, man,” Alec said, “I forgot how bad that smells.” He carefully closed the door. “Let’s hope we find something more useful soon.”

    They came upon the next door about twenty yards farther along, and there were three more past it, then finally one facing them where the hall ended. Each one of these doors also stood ajar about three inches, lit by a bulb encased in a cage just like the generator room. Except these lights were yellow and barely working.

    “There’s something really creepy about the doors being open,” Mark whispered. “And it’s so dark inside the rooms.”

    “What’s your point?” Alec asked. “Ready to turn around and go home?”

    “No. Just saying that you should go in first.”

    Alec chuckled. He stuck his foot out and nudged open the first door, which swung inward. It let out a metallic creak as dim yellow light spilled across the floor within, though it wasn’t enough to reveal anything else. The door came to a stop with a soft thud; then there was only silence.

    Alec made a harrumphing noise and walked on to the next room instead of going into the first one. He lightly kicked that door open as well, with a similar result. Mostly darkness, no sign of people, no sounds. He went to the next door and kicked it open, then to the last one at the end of the hallway. Nothing.

    “Guess we better go in,” he said. He turned back to Mark and jerked his head, a clear order to follow him into the last room. Mark quickly stepped up close to him, ready to do as he was told. Alec reached around the edge of the frame and searched for a light switch but came up empty, then went inside, Mark right behind him. They stood there for a moment, waiting for their eyes to adjust, searching the darkness.

    Alec finally sighed and pulled out the workpad again. “What’s the point of generators if none of the lights are on? This thing won’t work much longer.” He powered it up.

    The light from the device cast a spooky blue glow across the large room—bigger than Mark would’ve guessed—revealing two long rows of bunks lining both walls, probably ten on each side. They were all empty except for one, almost at the end, where a slouched figure sat with its back to them; it looked to be the slumped shoulders of an older man. A chill raced through Mark at the sight of him. In the dim light, the mostly empty room, the pressing silence … he felt as if he were staring at the back of a ghost waiting to pronounce their doomed destiny. The person didn’t move, didn’t make a sound.

    “Hello?” Alec called out, his voice a boom in the silence.

    Mark snapped his head to look at him, shocked. “What’re you doing?”

    Alec’s face was hidden in shadow since the workpad was pointed down the room. “Being nice,” he whispered. “I’m going to ask this fella some questions.” Then, louder, “Hello down there? Mind helping us out a bit?”

    A low, raspy mumble—what Mark thought a man on his deathbed might sound like—answered. The words were a jumble of lost syllables.

    “What’s that?” Alec asked.

    The man didn’t move, didn’t reply. He sat on his cot, facing away from them, a lump of a human body. Head down, shoulders slumped.

    Mark suddenly had to know—had to—what the guy had said. He started walking down the aisle between the cots, ignoring the short burst of protest from Alec. As he made his way toward the man, the spaces between the cots flashing by, he heard Alec hurrying to catch up to him, the light from the workpad bobbing about and making weird shadows dance on the walls.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire