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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 35)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(35) by James Dashner
  • Alec slowed as he approached the room, and carefully stepped forward until he was right next to it, his back pressed against the closed door. He turned to look at Mark, shrugged as if to say it’s now or never, then craned his neck toward the opening and leaned in for a peek. Mark held his breath, remembering all too well that they had no weapons.

    Alec pulled his head back and sidled a couple feet toward Mark. “It’s an auditorium. It’s pretty big, seats about two hundred, maybe. They’re all down at the bottom watching some guy on the stage.”

    “How many are there?” Mark whispered.

    “At least forty. Maybe fifty. No sign of our friends, as far as I can tell. They all seem to be arguing about something, but I can’t tell what they’re saying.”

    “So what do we do?” Mark asked. “Keep going? This hall can’t go on much longer.”

    “If we get down on our hands and knees we can crawl in there and down the back. We can hide in a corner over on the right. I think we need to hear what these people are saying.”

    Mark agreed. They didn’t know who these people were or what they were up to, but it seemed like the only way to find out. The safest way, at least. “Okay, let’s do it.”

    They crouched on all fours and got ready, Mark right behind Alec. The soldier leaned forward to take a look around the edge of the door; then he started crawling into the large room. Mark followed, feeling almost naked as they entered the open air of the auditorium. But no one was close to the back—the voices were all coming from below and sounded far enough away. And judging from the fact that they all seemed to be talking at once, Mark had a feeling they weren’t on the alert for intruders.

    Alec crawled along the last row, his side pressed against the black plastic of the chairs, until he got all the way to the far right side of the room, where the corner was shadowed in darkness. He stopped and situated himself, his legs crossed, his body wedged into the space between the last chair and the wall. Mark moved to sit next to him. He had to tuck himself in closer than was comfortable in order to stay as hidden as possible.

    Alec stretched up and peeked over the chair in front of them, then sank down again quickly.

    “Can’t see much. Seems like they’re waiting for something to begin. Or maybe they’re taking a break. I don’t know.”

    Mark closed his eyes and leaned his head against the wall. They sat there for what seemed like forever. At least ten excruciating minutes passed with nothing changing. Just the buzz of mixed conversation. Then, suddenly, a blur of movement made him catch his breath. A man had walked into the auditorium from the hallway, a quick flash of motion as he entered and began walking down the aisle toward the front. Mark breathed a sigh of relief that he hadn’t been seen.

    The crowd grew quiet and still, the room dropping into an almost eerie silence. Mark could actually hear the man’s footsteps as he reached the bottom of the room and climbed a set of stairs onto the stage.

    “I’ll take over from here, Stanley,” a deep voice said, echoing off the ceiling even though he’d said it softly. Acoustics.

    “Thanks, Bruce,” came the reply from Stanley, a man with a much higher voice. “Everyone give him your full attention.”

    There was the sound of someone descending the stairs and then the rattle of him sitting in one of the chairs. When silence fell once again, the newcomer began to speak.

    “Let’s get this started, people. It won’t be long before we all lose our minds.”

    CHAPTER 37

    As if the man’s opening statement wasn’t bizarre enough, the crowd clapped and cheered after he said it, making Mark shiver. Bruce waited for it to die down on its own before he spoke again. Mark was anxious to hear what the guy would say next.

    “Frank and Marla are back from a flyby of the areas around Asheville. Just as we thought, they’ve shored up those walls nice and tight. Humanity and charity, my friends? Those days are long gone. The PFC has created an army of monsters, people who used to be willing to give the shirt off their backs for a neighbor in need. No longer. Those scumbags in Alaska and North Carolina—our very own Asheville—have turned their backs on the settlements once and for all. Worse, they’ve turned their backs on us. Us!”

    This elicited a chorus of angry shouts, stomping of feet and banging on the armrests of the chairs. The noises echoed through the room until Bruce started talking again.

    “They sent us here!” he shouted. His voice was louder now. “They assigned us to take part in the worst civil rights fiasco since the War of 2020. A holocaust! But they were firm that it was for the survival of the human race. They said it was to save what little resources we have, to be able to feed those people they deemed worthy to live. But who are they to decide who’s worthy?” He paused for a moment before he continued. “Well, ladies and gentlemen, it seems that we are not worthy. They sent us here to do their dirty work and now they’ve decided to cut us off. Who are they, I ask all of you!”

    He practically screamed the last sentence and once again sent the crowd into a fit of near hysterics. People screamed and stomped their feet. The roar made Mark’s temples throb and the inside of his forehead ache. He thought it might never end, but it did, abruptly. He imagined that Bruce had made a gesture to silence them.

    “Here’s where we stand,” the man said, much calmer. “The test subjects are getting more fanatical in their odd little religious cult by the day. We’ve made a deal with them. They wanted the little girl back. Seems that they want to sacrifice her to their newfound spirits. I think they’ve passed the point of no return. They’re beyond any help we could give them. They can barely go a day without fighting each other, reorganizing factions, starting over until they battle again. But we made a deal with the few who still seem to be operating on some sane level—I’m sick and tired of worrying who’s going to jump out of a tree and attack me every time I walk outside.”

    He paused, allowed a long, lingering moment of silence. “We gave them the little girl and the two women we found with her. I know it’s harsh, but it buys us a little time where we don’t have to worry about those people. I don’t want to waste the precious ammo we have left defending ourselves against a cult.”

    Mark suddenly had a rushing sound in his ears. The little girl. The two women. Gave them. The things Anton had said back in the bunk room. It all thudded in his mind, made him tremble. He thought back to how crazy those people at the bonfire were, and a situation he’d thought couldn’t get worse did just that. They’d wasted all this time in the bunker and their friends weren’t even there anymore.

    Bruce was still talking, but Mark couldn’t focus on the words. He leaned in to speak in Alec’s ear. “How could they have given them to those … people? We have to go. Who knows what those psychos will do to them!”

    Alec held a hand out to urge calm. “I know. We will. But remember the reason we came here. Let’s hear what this man has to say, then we’ll go. I promise. Lana means as much to me as Trina does to you.”

    Mark nodded, leaned back into the wall again. Tried to listen to what Bruce was saying down on the stage.

    “—fire is out, thanks to the latest storm that rolled in a couple of hours ago. The sky’s black, but the flames are dead. We’re going to be dealing with mudslides all over the place. The test subjects all fled to the half-burnt mountain homes, by the looks of it. Hopefully they’ll stay put awhile before they get desperate and march on Asheville for food. But I think we’re safe to head over to the city in the next day or two. Force our way in, demand our rights. We’ll go by foot and hope to surprise them.”

    There were a few worried murmurs before he continued. “Look, we can’t deny that we’re dealing with our own outbreak now. We’ve all seen the symptoms, right here in our safe house. There’s just no way our superiors would’ve agreed to unleash this virus without having something to reverse its effects. And I say that they’ll give it to us or they’ll all die. Even if we have to go all the way to Alaska to do it. We know they have a Flat Trans at their headquarters. We’ll go through it and make them give us what we deserve!”

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