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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 41)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(41) by James Dashner
  • He sat for a while, until he was able to walk back to the cockpit.

    “Food. Please tell me there’s food,” he croaked.

    “And water?” Alec asked him. “That sound good, too?”

    Mark nodded even though the old man couldn’t see him.

    “Let me get this thing landed somewhere first. I’d just hover, but we can’t afford to waste all our fuel. We’re gonna need it. But I bet there’s something to shove down our throats in this hunk of junk. Then we’ll go searching for our bonfire friends.”

    “Please,” Mark muttered. His eyelids drooped, and not because he was tired. He knew he was on the verge of passing out from low blood sugar. It seemed a week had gone by since his last meal. And the thirst. His mouth was a bucket of sand.

    “You’ve had a rough go,” Alec said quietly. “Just give me a minute or two.”

    *

    Mark sat down on the floor again and closed his eyes.

    He never quite lost consciousness.

    But the world felt disconnected, as if it were a play Mark was watching from the back row, lying on the floor. With a few blankets over his head. Sounds were muffled and his stomach ached from hunger.

    Finally the Berg slowed, and then there was a rough bump that shook the ship, followed by silence and stillness. Mark had a long moment when he thought for sure that sleep was coming. And with it, the memories. He fought it, didn’t know if he could handle reliving the past at that moment. He heard footsteps from far away. Then Alec was speaking to him.

    “Here ya go, son. Pretty much a standard military meal, but it’s food and it’s full of nutrients. Gonna perk you right up. I flew us to an empty neighborhood between the bunker and downtown Asheville. All the crazies seem to have fled the fire and headed south.”

    Mark opened his eyes, the lids so heavy he almost had to use his fingers to lift them up. Alec was blurry at first but then came into focus. He held out a silvery foil that had chunks of … something on top. It didn’t matter. It didn’t matter at all. Mark grabbed three of them and shoved the delicious—beautifully delicious—morsels into his mouth. Salty and beefy. But when it came time to swallow he could barely get them down.

    “Wa—” he began, but then he erupted into a coughing jag that sent the food he couldn’t swallow into Alec’s face.

    His friend wiped it off. “Nice. Really nice.”

    “Water,” Mark croaked out.

    “Yeah, I know. Here.” He held out a canteen and Mark could hear the liquid sloshing inside.

    Mark sat up, groaning from the shock of pain that jolted through his body at the movement.

    “Be careful,” Alec said. “Don’t drink too fast. You’ll be sick.”

    “Okay.” Mark took the canteen, paused to steady his hands, then brought it up and tipped the spout over his bottom lip. Glorious, cool water rushed into his mouth and down his throat. He fought off a cough, focused on swallowing without wasting a drop. Then he drank some more.

    “That’s enough,” Alec warned. “Now eat a few more bites of the delicacy I brought you from the mess cabinet.”

    Mark did, and this time it tasted even better. Saltier and beefier. With a wetted mouth and throat, it went down easier, as well, though he had the worst sore throat of his life. A little strength seeped its way into his muscles. His headache receded a bit. The best news of all was that his nausea was gone.

    He felt just good enough that he wanted to sleep.

    “You look like a couple of the lightbulbs in your brain flicked back on,” Alec said, sitting down. He relaxed back against the wall and stuffed food into his mouth. “This crap ain’t half bad, is it?”

    “You shouldn’t talk with your mouth full,” Mark replied with a weak smile. “It’s not polite.”

    “I know.” Alec crammed even more food in and exaggerated his movements to make sure Mark saw everything he was chewing. “What kind of a person even needs to be told such a thing? I mean, didn’t I have a mama?”

    Mark laughed. Genuinely laughed, and it hurt his chest and throat. Made him cough. When he recovered, he asked, “So where did you take us, again?” Then he resumed eating.

    “Well, the Berg’s bunker was just west of Asheville. So I came a little east—there’re a few fancy neighborhoods along this mountainside. I spotted a lot of activity a couple miles south, and I think it might be where all those people from our lovely bonfire experience fled to after they set the forest ablaze. It seems quiet here.”

    He paused to take another bite. “We’re parked in a cul-de-sac—a fancy-schmancy neighborhood if I’ve ever seen one. Before it got baked in an oven, that is. Used to be a lot of rich folk outside Asheville, ya know. Most of these homes are half ruined now.”

    “But what about—”

    Alec held up his hand to stop Mark’s question. “I know. As soon as we get some strength and another few hours of sleep, we’ll find our friends.”

    Mark didn’t want to waste any more time, but he knew Alec was right. They needed to rest. “Any sign of … anything?”

    “I thought I recognized some people when we flew over the place south of here. I’m almost positive it’s the folks from Deedee’s settlement. We’ll just have to see if Lana and the others are there, too, like that Bruce seemed to be saying.”

    Mark closed his eyes for a second, not sure if that was something he should hope for.

    They paused to eat and drink some more. Mark was curious to see what it looked like outside, but he was too tired to stand up and go to the window. Plus, he’d seen his fair share of the burnt-out shells folks had once called home. “You’re sure we’re okay to be parked here? In case you forgot, some wild dude with a hammer broke one of our windows.”

    “No one’s approached yet. All we can do is keep an eye out. And when we go looking for Lana and them, we’ll just have to hope people don’t notice the extra entrance.”

    The thought of the man with the hammer made Mark’s stomach sink. It made him think of what had come over him when he’d killed the pilot on the hatch door.

    Alec noticed something was wrong. “I know you weren’t exactly sipping tea and eating crumpets when I left you back in the cargo room all that time. Ready to tell me what happened?”

    Mark flicked an embarrassed, almost nervous glance at his friend.

    “For a few minutes it was like I lost control of myself, started acting weird. Sadistic, almost.”

    “Son, that don’t mean jack. I’ve seen many a good man go south on the battlefield, and there wasn’t a virus around to blame back then, either. It doesn’t mean you … have it. Humans do crazy things to survive. Have you not spent the last year seeing that every day?”

    Mark didn’t feel any better. “This was … different. For a second it felt like it was Christmas morning, watching a guy get crushed to death.”

    “Really.” Alec looked at him for a long time, and Mark had no idea what the man was thinking. “It’s gonna be dark in a couple of hours. No good tramping around at night. Let’s get us a long dose of shut-eye.”

    Mark nodded, troubled to the core. He wondered if maybe he should’ve kept his mouth shut. Yawning, he got comfortable, planning to process it all, think things through for a while.

    But a full stomach and a week’s worth of exhaustion pulled him to unconsciousness.

    Naturally, the dreams came next.

    CHAPTER 46

    Mark is in a conference room in the Lincoln Building, curled up into a ball under the huge table where he guesses very important men and women used to gather and talk about very important things. His stomach aches from the now weeks-old diet of junk food and soda pop scavenged from the vending machines scattered throughout the building. It took some work to break open the things—but a couple of former soldiers like Alec and Lana were trained to break open things, weren’t they? People and objects alike.

    The Lincoln Building is a terrible place. Hotter than hell. Suffused with the gagging, sickening smell of rotting bodies, people who died from the initial burst of heat and radiation. They are everywhere. Mark and his new friends cleared the entire fifteenth floor, but the rank stench still permeates the air. It’s something you just don’t grow used to. And of course, there is nothing to do. Boredom has settled in like a cancer in the building, ready to eat away at their sanity. Not to mention the threat of radiation outside—though Alec thinks it’s finally dwindling. Even so, they’ve kept away from the windows as much as possible.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire