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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 36)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(36) by James Dashner
  • More cheers and pounding feet thundered through the air.

    Mark shook his head. These people were obviously unstable. There was a wild energy in the room, like they were a nest of vipers, tensing to strike. Whatever the reason for spreading this virus, it was clear what it did to people: it made them crazy, and it appeared to be taking more time to do it as it spread. And if Asheville, the largest surviving city within hundreds of miles, really had erected walls to keep itself safe from the disease, things must be bad. Then the last thing anyone needed was a bunch of infected soldiers running through the streets. And the Flat Trans …

    Mark’s head still pounded and throbbed and it was hard to sort out his thoughts. He knew he had to focus on Trina, getting her back. But what about all this new information? He elbowed Alec, gave him a look that said his patience was running out.

    “Soon, boy,” the man whispered. “Never skip a chance to get intel. Then we’ll go find our friends. I swear it.”

    Mark wasn’t willing to sacrifice Trina for information. Not after what they’d been through to survive this long. He couldn’t wait much longer.

    The room had grown quiet again.

    “The Post- … Flares … Coalition.” Bruce pronounced every word with exaggerated diction and spite. “Who do these people think they are? Gods? They can just choose to wipe out the entire eastern half of the United States? Like the PFC has more right to live than anyone else?”

    There was another long pause after that. Mark couldn’t take it anymore. He crawled around Alec and slowly peeked over the chair to take a look. Bruce was a large man with a bald head that shone in the dull light, his face pale and scruffy with a few days’ worth of beard. The muscles of his arms and shoulders bulged against a tight black shirt as he stood with hands clasped in front of him, staring at the floor. If Mark hadn’t heard all the things the man had just said, he’d think he could be praying.

    “Don’t feel bad, friends. We couldn’t have said no to what they asked us to do,” Bruce said, slowly raising his eyes to gaze at his captive audience again. “We had no choice. They used the very resources they’re trying to preserve against us. We have to eat, too, right? It’s not our fault the virus wasn’t quite what they expected. All we can do is what we’ve done since the sun flares struck the Earth: fight tooth and nail to live. Darwin taught about survival of the fittest in the natural world. Well, the PFC is trying to cheat nature. It’s time to stand up for ourselves. We … will … live!”

    Another raucous round of cheers and whistles and clapping and foot pounding went on for a good minute or two. Mark slinked back to sit next to Alec, feeling stronger than ever that they had to get moving. He was just about to say something when the crowd fell silent and Bruce’s voice filled the room like the amplified hiss of a snake.

    “But first, my friends, I need you to do something for me. We have two spies in the back of this auditorium. They could very well be from the PFC. I want them bound and gagged by the time I count to thirty.”

    CHAPTER 38

    Mark was jumping to his feet almost before the man had finished his sentence, and Alec was close behind him.

    A vicious roar erupted from the crowd like a war cry as Mark paused to take them all in. The group was already on the move, springing from their chairs and stumbling over each other to be the first ones to get up the aisle to the two intruders.

    Mark ran toward the double doors of the exit, unable to take his eyes off the scene below, observing it with a strange mix of horror and curiosity. Bruce was bellowing orders and pointing his finger at Mark and Alec, his pale face now red with anger. There was something childish about his movements, almost cartoonish. The urgency with which his followers were clamoring to get into the open aisle also seemed exaggerated somehow, like they were all hopped up on some kind of drug. Men and women yelling and growling like apes on a rampage. Each wanting to capture him, acting like their life depended on being the first to do it.

    Alec reached the doors first and practically flung himself out into the hallway. Mark skidded to a stop, his focus so intent on the onrushing crowd that he almost ran past the exit. That odd and misplaced sense of curiosity at their behavior winked out finally, replaced by the horrific thump of realization that he was about to be captured for the second time in so many days. Their cries of pursuit tore through the air and scared him, and with a quick sideways glance as he exited the room he saw the first of their group charging up the main aisle of the auditorium with bloodlust in their eyes.

    He slipped on the floor of the hallway, caught his balance. Alec had reached out and closed the door after Mark came through, maybe buying them a couple of seconds. The light was dim, but Mark could tell Alec had forgotten which way they’d come from.

    “It’s this way!” Mark yelled, already running. He heard Alec’s footsteps behind him until there was the loud bang of the door slamming back open, followed by the rush of bodies and their continued battle cries.

    Mark ran hard, trying his best not to imagine their pursuers or what they’d do if they caught him. Bruce had said to bind and gag them, but the look Mark had seen on their faces told him that was only the beginning. He glanced back to make sure Alec was keeping up, saw the old bear pumping his arms and pounding his feet, then focused ahead again, sprinting along the slow curve of the hallway. He was heading for the stairs because he didn’t know where else to go but up.

    Adrenaline shot through Mark and hunger gnawed at his stomach. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d eaten. He could only hope he had enough energy to escape back into the woods above them. The stairwell came into view up ahead and he burst forward with a little more speed. The shouts from their pursuers echoed and tore through the narrow space of the hall, reminding Mark of that almost muffled screeching sound the approaching trains of the subtrans made as they sped along the tracks of their tunnels.

    Mark reached the stairs, was already leaping onto the second one by the time Alec made it. He heard the man’s heavy breathing mixed with his own, the solid thumps of their feet pounding the steps. Mark grabbed the railing at each switchback, throwing himself forward and onto the next set. He and Alec charged up the three levels, reaching the top just as Mark heard their pursuers reach the bottom. The hollow echo of their frantic cries sent chills across his sweaty skin.

    He ran out into the upper hallway, which was still cloaked in darkness, something he could only hope would help them. A sudden moment of indecision hit him, causing a burst of panic.

    “Which way?” he yelled at Alec. A part of him thought they should hide somewhere—maybe in the room that held the generators. Searching for an exit meant they’d be out in the open and just waiting for capture if they didn’t find one, but hiding would only delay being found.

    Instead of answering, Alec started running to the right, back in the direction of the huge, pivoting landing pad of the Berg. Mark followed him, relieved that his friend had taken charge again.

    They ran through the darkness at a reckless speed. Mark ran his hand against the wall to keep his bearings, but he knew that if he came across something on the floor he was a goner. They passed the generator room, its struggling red bulb of faint light giving them a brief break from the pitch-black, the hum of machinery like the drone of bees. Both the glow and the noise faded as they sprinted past. It was at that moment that Mark noticed something that almost made him stop.

    The sounds of the people chasing them had ceased. Completely. As if they’d never made it up the stairs.

    “Alec,” he whispered, barely hearing his own voice over their heaving breathing and footsteps. He repeated it a little louder.

    His friend came to a halt, and Mark passed him before he could stop too. Sucking in deep breaths, Mark turned back to face Alec, wishing desperately for a little light.

    “Why’d it stop?” he wondered aloud.

    “I don’t know,” Alec responded. “But we should keep moving.” Mark heard the man feeling his way along the walls of the corridor. “You do the right side, I’ll stick to the left. Maybe there’s another exit we don’t know about.”

    Mark started searching; the walls were cool to the touch. He remembered the door with the faint rectangle of light from before—but there was no sign of it now. It was maddening to be in such darkness, and not knowing what had happened to the people chasing them put him on edge. It didn’t sit right with him.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire