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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 42)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(42) by James Dashner
  • For all that, there is one thing Mark keeps thinking that makes it all seem not quite as bad as it could be: He and Trina have grown closer than ever. Very close. He grins like a fool and is glad no one can see him.

    The door opens up and shuts; then there are footsteps. A can rattles across the floor and someone swears under his breath.

    “Hey,” the someone whispers. Mark thinks it’s Baxter. “You awake under there?”

    “Yeah,” comes Mark’s groggy reply. “And if I wasn’t I would be now. You’re not very good at being quiet.”

    “Sorry. I was sent to find you—there’s a boat heading down Broadway, driving straight toward us. Come have a look.”

    Mark never thought he’d hear those words—a boat coming down one of the most famous streets in the world, where cars are supposed to drive. But Manhattan has turned into a grid of rivers and streams, the fierce sun constantly reflecting off the waters in spectacular and blinding flashes. It’s like they have a sky both above them and below.

    “Are you serious?” Mark finally asks, realizing he’s been quiet for a few seconds, stunned by the news. He tries not to get his hopes up that they’re about to be rescued.

    Baxter scoffs. “No, I made it up. Come on.”

    “Guess the radiation has died down, unless a couple of freak shows are driving it.” Mark wipes at his face and eyes, then scoots out from underneath the large table. He stands and stretches, yawns again, teasing Baxter by not hurrying. But then the curiosity finally gets to him.

    They head out into the hallway, where a fresh wave of heat and stench assaults Mark’s senses. After weeks of this, he still gags, willing himself not to throw up.

    “Where are they?” he asks, assuming Alec and Lana are the ones who’ve spotted the boat and are watching it now.

    “Down on five. Smells a thousand times worse down there, but that’s where the water line is. It’s like rotting fish and humans. I hope you haven’t eaten in a while.”

    Mark just shrugs, not wanting to think about food. He’s sick of candy bars and potato chips—something he never would’ve thought possible.

    The two of them go to the central bank of stairwells and begin the ten-story trip down to the fifth floor. All is quiet except for the thumps and scuffles of their footsteps, and Mark finds that his excitement over who might be in the boat overcomes the growing stench as they descend. There are bloodstains on the stairs. He sees a chunk of hair and meaty mass on one of the handrails. He can’t imagine the panic that ensued in this place when the sun flares struck, and the horrors that resulted. Luckily—for them, anyway—no one was alive by the time they arrived.

    They reach the landing of the fifth floor and Trina is waiting at the door to the stairwell.

    “Hurry!” she says, motioning with a quick nod to follow her. She breaks into a trot and talks over her shoulder as they maneuver down a long hallway toward the outermost wall of windows. “It’s a big yacht—looks like it was nice and fancy before the flares struck. Now it seems like it was built a hundred years ago. Can’t believe it floats, much less runs.”

    “Could you see the people on it yet?” Mark asks.

    “No. They’re obviously underneath. In the cockpit, the bridge, whatever you call it.”

    Seems like she knows as much about boats as Mark.

    They turn a corner and see Alec and Lana at a section where the windows have been knocked out, the water of the sea lapping against the wall just a foot or so below them outside. The Toad and Misty are sitting on the floor, staring out. Mark hears the boat before he sees it, a coughing, choked sound of engines that have seen better days. Then the battered vessel comes into view past a small building, its back end sunk low into the water as the yacht chugs along. It’s about thirty feet long, fifteen wide, with duct tape and plywood boards covering up scattered holes and split seams. A tinted window with spiderwebs of cracks is like an ominous eye, looking at them as it approaches.

    “Do they know we’re here?” Mark asks. He only allows himself to think that these people are coming to rescue them. Bring food and water, at least. “Did you hail them down?”

    “No,” Alec answers curtly. “By the looks of it, they’re checking out every building. Scavenging, no doubt. But they’ve seen us by now.”

    “I just hope they’re friendly,” Trina whispers, as if she doesn’t want the strangers to hear.

    “I’ll fly to the moon and back if these folks are nice,” Alec replies in a completely dead voice. “Stay on your toes, boys and girls. Follow my lead.”

    The boat is very close now, its noises filling the air along with the smell of fuel. Mark can see the faint shadow of two people behind the darkened window now, and they both appear to be male. They both have short hair, anyway.

    The engines of the yacht cut off and its tail end begins to swing around so that the boat can bump lengthwise against the building. Alec and Lana step back, and Mark notices that at some point the Toad and Misty have scooted all the way to the far wall. Trina, Baxter and Mark are standing in a tight group, the tension clear in their faces.

    One of the people from the bridge appears on deck, stepping through a doorway from below. It’s a man, and he’s holding an enormous gun in both hands, the muzzle already pointed at the spectators inside the Lincoln Building. He’s one ugly dude, greasy hair matted to his head, a scruffy beard—the kind that looks like a wild fungus on the neck—and black sunglasses. His skin is filthy and sunburnt, his clothes tattered.

    Another person appears, and Mark’s surprised to see it’s a woman with a shaved head. She deals with securing the boat against the wall as her partner steps closer to the broken window where Alec and Lana stand.

    “I want to see every single hand,” the man says to them, sweeping his weapon back and forth, pausing for a brief moment on each person. “Two each, up in the air. Go on.”

    Most of them do as they’re commanded, except Alec. Mark hopes the man doesn’t do something crazy and get them all shot.

    “You really think I’m bluffing?” the stranger says in a raw, scratchy voice. “Do it now or die.”

    Alec slowly raises his hands toward the ceiling.

    The man with the gun doesn’t seem satisfied. He’s breathing heavier than he should, and staring at Alec through those dark sunglasses. Then he swings his weapon at Baxter and lets loose three quick bursts of fire. The explosions of sound rock the air, and Mark stumbles backward until he slams into the wall of a cubicle. The bullets have torn into Baxter’s chest, spraying red mist everywhere and knocking him onto his back with a hard thud. He doesn’t even scream, death having taken him already. His torso is a mess of blood and mangled skin.

    The man takes in a deep pull of air. “Now I expect you’ll do what I say.”

    CHAPTER 47

    Mark twitched in his sleep and almost woke up. He’d always liked Baxter, liked the kid’s smart-aleck nature and who-cares attitude. To see such a thing done to him …

    It was something Mark would probably never get over. Of all the memories that came back to haunt his dreams, that one was the most frequent. And Mark wanted to wake up, wanted to leave it behind again instead of reliving the aftermath of what he’d witnessed and the craziness that followed.

    But his body needed the rest and wouldn’t allow it. Sleep pulled him back down into its embrace, with no intention of comforting his troubled mind.

    It’s one of those moments when it takes the brain a moment to catch up with the events playing out before your eyes—shock temporarily blocks the path. Mark is on the ground, leaning back at a forty-five-degree angle, his head resting against the wall. Trina has her hands folded against her chest and suddenly screams—a sound like a million frantic crows bursting out of a tunnel. The Toad and Misty have huddled together, their faces masks of terror. Lana and Alec stand straight, their hands still raised. But Mark can see the tension in their muscles.

    “Shut up!” the man with the gun yells, spit flying out of his mouth. Trina does, the noise of her scream cutting off like it’s been sliced with a blade. “If I hear one more god-awful sound like that I’ll shoot whoever makes it. Am I understood?”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire