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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 40)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(40) by James Dashner
  • Mark’s eyes adjusted to the darkness and he pulled himself up and crawled to the wall, propping himself against it. He felt something inside that he didn’t like.

    He wrapped his arms around his knees and he buried his head there. He didn’t really understand what had just happened to him. Those dancing lights, that fireball of rage, the adrenaline pumping like pistons in an old gas engine. He’d been consumed and out of control, every part of him wanting to destroy that pilot. He’d almost been happy when the man was wedged in the closing door. And then he’d come to his senses and pushed the man out.

    It was like Mark had lost his …

    He looked up when he realized the truth. He had lost his mind there for a second. Completely. And just because he seemed like his normal self now didn’t mean that it hadn’t begun. He slowly pushed himself up along the wall until he was standing, and folded his arms. Shivered, rubbed them with his hands.

    The virus. The illness. The thing that attacked the human brain the way the man named Anton had described in the barracks. Which reminded him of something else they’d heard down there, ironically from the pilot himself when he’d heard him talking earlier. A single word.

    Mark had it. His every instinct told him so. No wonder his head had been hurting so much.

    He had the Flare.

    CHAPTER 44

    A surprising calm came over him.

    Hadn’t he expected this? Hadn’t he come to terms with the fact that their odds of not catching the disease were almost zero? Trina probably had it. Lana and Alec, too. Why Deedee seemed immune to the thing—she’d actually been shot with a dart two months ago—was beyond him. But what was it Bruce had said? It made sense: anyone who risked unleashing a virus had to have protection for themselves. There had to be a treatment, an antidote somewhere. It just didn’t make sense otherwise.

    Maybe, just maybe, there was a spark of hope. Maybe.

    How many times had he faced death in the last year or so? He was used to it by now. All he could do was focus on the next rung of the ladder: Trina. He had to find Trina. If for no other reason than so he could die with her.

    He was startled when the Berg suddenly jolted to a stop. Then there were more sounds of cranking and grinding of gears and pulleys. The landing pad was finally rising toward the sky. The Berg sprang to life—lights flickering overhead and engines and machinery revving.

    With an unexpected burst of excitement, Mark sprinted for the door of the cargo room. If Alec was really going to fly this thing, he had to see it with his own eyes.

    *

    Alec looked more comfortable in the cockpit than Mark had ever seen him. He was a blur of activity—pushing buttons, flipping switches and adjusting levers.

    “What in the world took you so long?” the man asked, not even pausing long enough to shoot Mark a glance.

    “I ran into a little trouble.” The last thing Mark wanted to do was talk about it right then. “You’re really going to be able to fly us away in this thing?”

    “Oh yeah. She’s half filled with fuel cells and lookin’ right sharp and pretty.” He nodded at the windows in front of him, where Mark could see a line of trees coming into view. “But we better hurry before the nut jobs swarm over us and break in somehow.”

    Mark rushed forward to take a better look. Leaning in, he could see that quite a few of Bruce’s people had congregated outside at the rim of the landing station. They seemed a little out of sorts, pointing this way and that, obviously unsure of what to do. But a couple of them were really close to the ship, busy doing something, though Mark didn’t have a good enough angle to see what. An alarming thought popped into his head.

    “What about the hatch door?” he asked. “You were able to open it from the outside, right?”

    “First thing I did was lock out that function. Don’t worry.” He was still busy at the controls. “We’ll be launching this baby in about one minute. You might wanna perch that skinny butt of yours down in a seat and strap in.”

    “Okay.” He wanted to get another look outside first, though. He stepped around Alec and went to the other end of the line of windows to take a peek. This side faced the wall of the canyon a little more, and the gray stone grabbed his attention before he could look down. His eyes were just running along the length of the granite walls when something flashed in the corner of his vision and he froze. The head of a huge hammer swung up and came at the glass. It made contact with a shattering thud, sending a web of cracks in every direction. Someone had climbed up the side of the Berg.

    Mark jumped back as Alec yelped in surprise.

    “Hurry, get us up in the air!” Mark called out.

    “What do you think I’m doing?” Alec rushed his efforts even more, focusing on the central panel of the controls, holding his finger above a bright green button on the screen.

    Mark looked back at the window just in time to see the hammer come down again, breaking all the way through with a horrible crunch and a shower of glass pellets across the controls—the hammer itself followed, bouncing off a panel and hitting the floor. Then a man’s face appeared at the opening he’d created, followed by hands and arms as he started to climb in.

    “Get rid of that guy!” Alec yelled. At the same time he tapped the green button and the Berg lurched off the ground, the sound of thrusters filling the air like the roar of angry lions.

    Mark caught his balance and reached down for the hammer. Just as his fingers closed around the handle someone grabbed a handful of his hair and yanked. An alien screech tore out of his mouth at the pain and he dropped the hammer, beat his fists against the hand and arm that had taken hold of him. But the man held firm and quickly slipped his other arm around Mark’s neck, then pulled back, bringing Mark with him.

    Mark’s head smacked the top edge of the missing window’s frame and slipped through it, out into the hot air of the morning. Then half of his body was out, up to the waist—he gripped the window frame to stop himself from falling completely. All he could see were the tops of the trees and blue sky beyond, and he realized with a wave of horror that the man was literally hanging off of him, still holding on to his hair and neck. For the second time that day, Mark couldn’t breathe.

    The Berg was rising toward the sky and Mark caught a quick glance of Alec looking at him through the window, his eyes wide in shock. Alec moved out of sight, leaving the Berg to hover just a few dozen feet above the ground; then Mark felt the man tugging on his legs, which only made the pain in his neck and head worse. A strangled, wet bark—a sound that scared Mark more than the pain—somehow escaped his own throat.

    Alec pulled on him from above. The man hung from him below. It felt as if his body had been put into one of those medieval torture racks, stretching his bones and sinews. He wondered if it was possible for his head to pop off, like a cork from a bottle. He realized that with Alec holding him he could release his grip on the window frame; he beat at his captor’s arms, beat at them, clawed them. The world was upside down, the valley floor like an earthen sky.

    Mark slipped out the window several inches—a thunderbolt of pure terror flashed through him like an electric shock before his progress stopped again. Something dark blurred past his vision. A black lump followed by a thin shaft of light brown. The hammer. There was an awful thump and a crack and a scream. Alec had thrown the weapon at the guy’s face.

    The man’s arm slipped from its grip around Mark’s neck and he plummeted to the ground. Mark gasped for breath, sucking in the sweet air.

    Alec slowly pulled his body up and up, back through the window, then crashed to the floor. Still heaving to get his breath, Mark touched his sore neck.

    The old soldier looked at him carefully. Then, seeming to have decided Mark would live, he stood, returned to the controls and lifted the Berg toward the sky.

    CHAPTER 45

    Mark’s stomach didn’t do so well with the sudden movement of the Berg. Alec took it straight up until it cleared the walls of the canyon, then sent it hurtling forward like it had been launched from a slingshot. Mark’s insides turned over with a surge of nausea; he crawled on his hands and knees until he finally found a bathroom. He pulled himself inside and threw up. Nothing but bile and acid. His throat burned as if he’d swallowed corrosive chemicals.

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