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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 37)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(37) by James Dashner
  • They reached the end of the hallway, where the round submarine-like door led back into the chamber below the Berg landing pad. He heard Alec step through the opening, then come back out.

    “Can’t see a thing in there, either.”

    “There’s nowhere else to go,” Mark replied. “Let’s just get in there and shut that door until we figure something out. Maybe we can keep it—”

    Alec shushed him, cutting off his sentence. “Did you hear that?” he whispered.

    The question alone made Mark shiver. He grew completely still and held his breath. At first he heard nothing; then there was a rustling sound, faint, but coming from down the hallway. It continued, and oddly, the noise played tricks, seeming to be close one second and far the next. Suddenly Mark was struck by the feeling that they weren’t alone.

    Terror lit up his nerves. He moved to grab Alec, to push him through the doorway, knowing it was their only shot. Getting in there and slamming the thing closed, spinning the wheel handle, keeping it shut. But Mark had only taken one step forward when there was a click, followed by the blinding beam of a flashlight pointed directly at Mark and Alec. Whoever held it was only a few steps away.

    “We didn’t say you could leave yet,” a woman said.

    CHAPTER 39

    There was a sudden rush of movement, the sound of other flashlights being clicked on, their beams crisscrossing and bobbing in a chaotic dance through the air. Bruce’s people were charging forward, reigniting their shouts and cries of attack. Mark turned toward Alec, who was already reaching out, grabbing his shirt and pulling him toward the open portal.

    Alec was halfway through, his fist still clutching Mark’s shirt, when the storm of lights reached them. Their beams were blinding. Someone grabbed Mark’s foot and heaved it up into the air, and he crashed to the floor, the back of his head smacking down hard. Mark was suddenly jerked along the floor by his leg. He slid, bumping against people as he thrashed, trying to kick himself loose.

    Alec shouted his name but Mark could barely hear him over the mass of angry people. They surrounded Mark and someone kicked him in the ribs; a woman let out a shrill cry and punched him in the stomach. He groaned and tried to curl into a ball, twisting his foot so hard that it sprang free from his captor’s grip. Taking advantage of the moment, he flipped onto his stomach and started crawling back toward the door. He was a flurry of arms and legs, frantically trying to stay out of everyone’s reach.

    A roar cut through the melee: a booming growl, a noise that might come out of a she-bear protecting a cub. It was Alec—and suddenly bodies were flying everywhere. The man had charged forward and leaped into the fray, taking down half the people trying to get to Mark. In the frenzy, someone fell on Mark’s leg, someone else on his back. He twisted around and then there was someone sitting on his face. There was a moment when everything seemed absolutely ridiculous, like Mark had fallen into a clown act in a circus, and he almost laughed.

    Then someone slapped him on the cheek, clearing that image right out of his head. Mark screwed up his fist and punched back but missed, tried again and again without connecting, his arms flailing like a blind boxer’s. On the fourth or fifth try he smashed his fist into someone’s chin and they cried out. He caught a glimpse of Alec fighting like a lion, pushing people and elbowing faces and throwing bodies to the floor. There was the clank of a flashlight falling, then the tinny scrape of it rolling until it came to rest against the wall. Its light shone across the floor and illuminated the circle of the door to the chamber, maybe a dozen feet away. Mark knew they had to somehow fight their attackers off and get through there or they were done for.

    Mark had gotten to his hands and knees but someone jumped onto his back, taking him down again. An arm slipped around his neck, started squeezing. Mark gagged, gasping for breath as his airway was cut off. His lungs ached. He got his hands underneath himself and pushed off the floor, twisting to the side, throwing the attacker off. He spun and kicked the assailant in the face, realizing at the last second that it was a woman. Her head cracked to the right and blood flew from her nose.

    Two other people rushed Mark from behind and grabbed his arms, pulled him to his feet. He tried to break free but their holds were too tight. A man stepped in front of him, a vicious grin crossing his face. He drew back his arm, slammed his fist into Mark’s stomach. Mark doubled over at the explosion of pain and nausea. He retched but had nothing in his stomach to throw up.

    He heard another roar come from Alec and then the man tackled one of the people holding Mark. As soon as that arm was free Mark swung back hard and smashed his elbow into the chin of the other person, freeing his other arm. He lunged forward and took the man who’d punched him to the ground, where he landed with an “oomph.”

    Mark didn’t bother with him anymore. He scrambled to his feet, then dived toward the stray flashlight he’d seen roll up against the wall. He slid across the floor and grabbed it, gripped it tightly in his fist. Then he stood up and swung its hard metal end in an arc before even looking at who might be coming at him. He connected, hitting some guy in the ear; the man cried out and crumpled to the ground. Alec, who’d stolen someone else’s flashlight, was just getting up from a tussle he’d had with two or three people who lay unmoving at the man’s feet. Mark ran to him and they slowly turned in a circle to face the remaining attackers, who still greatly outnumbered them. Packed together into two groups, one on each side of the hallway, the people seemed to be readying for one last charge to smash Mark and Alec in the middle.

    Mark shined his light and noticed that the group between them and the door of the chamber was the smaller of the two, maybe eight people total. At least chance had given them that much. As if he and Alec were communicating telepathically, they roared and charged the small group at the same time. They crashed into them, sending bodies flying and tumbling all over each other. Mark went ballistic in a fit of desperation, kicking and kneeing and swinging the butt end of his flashlight at anything that moved. Scrambling and crawling and pushing, twisting away anytime someone tried to latch on to his limbs or clothes, he moved forward, barreling through the crowd of people.

    Somehow Mark reached the other side, with a free path to the open door. Alec fought his way through as well, falling with one last surge but quickly leaping back to his feet. And then they were both running to the circular opening, climbing through. In seconds Alec was on the door, pushing to swing it shut. Several arms slipped through the gap, blocking the door from closing.

    “Come help me!” he yelled.

    Mark beat at hands and fingers with his flashlight; then Alec pulled back on the door and pushed it forward again, crushing it against those still trying to fight their way in. There were yelps and screams, and several pulled out. But another surge pressed ahead and almost made Alec topple over.

    Mark abandoned his flashlight to help Alec. Together they held the outer rim of the door and jerked it open, then rammed it against those trying to break in. More arms pulled out, only to be replaced by new ones just as Mark and Alec swung the door out and slammed the edge against the assailants again. More cries of anguish, fewer arms left. They did it again. And again. Quicker, with more force, and a little closer each time.

    “One more big one!” Alec yelled.

    Mark braced himself, pulled the door out, then screamed and threw his body and all his strength into it. The slab of metal crunched bones and smashed fingers, and every body part disappeared from view.

    Alec leaned into the door and closed it with a booming metallic ring.

    Mark spun the wheel.

    CHAPTER 40

    The deafening silence that filled the room was broken by the squeal of the wheel handle as Mark wrenched it tighter and tighter. Alec helped him when the people on the other side tried to spin it back. The tighter they could turn it, the easier it was to prevent the attackers from doing the opposite.

    “Just hang on to that puppy,” Alec finally said when they couldn’t turn it any farther. He took a step back and Mark gripped the right portion of the ring with both hands and hung on it. The chamber in front of him, where the landing pad rotated before lowering down into the ground, was empty and vast. Mark’s head pounded with pain, along with the rest of his body, after the scrum in the bunker hallway.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire