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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 43)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(43) by James Dashner
  • Trina is trembling, her hands now covering her mouth. Somehow she manages to nod, but her eyes are still glued to the bloody and lifeless Baxter. Mark doesn’t let himself look at the boy. Instead he stares at the man who killed him, hatred clouding his vision.

    “All done, boss,” the woman on the boat says. She stands up and wipes her fingers on her filthy pants. She’s tied the yacht to something on the outside—Mark can see the coiled end of a rope—either oblivious or insensitive to the murder her partner has just committed. Or maybe just used to it. “What now?”

    “Go get your gun, idiot,” the man answers with a sideways look that leaves no doubt how he has always treated the woman. “Do I need to tell you how to use the bathroom, too?”

    Somehow even sadder to Mark than what the guy has just said, the object of his scorn just nods and apologizes. Then she disappears back into the boat for a second, emerging with a similar gun held tightly in both hands. She takes a stance next to her partner and points the weapon at Mark and each of his friends in turn.

    “Now here’s how this is going to work,” the man says. “You want to live, then all you have to do is obey. Easy-peasy. We’re here for fuel and food. My guess is you have both, judging by the fact that you aren’t a bunch of walking skeletons. And every building this big has generators. Bring us what we need, and we leave. You can even keep some for yourselves. That’s how loving we are. All we want is our share.”

    “Real generous,” Alec says in a low voice.

    Mark jumps to his feet as the man brings his weapon up and points it directly at the old man’s face. “No! Stop!”

    The stranger swings it to point at Mark, who throws his hands up and scoots back against the cubicle wall. “Please! Just stop it! We’ll get you whatever you want!”

    “That’s right, you will, boy. Now move. All of you. Time to go on a little scavenger hunt.” He jerks his weapon in a gesture to get people in motion.

    “Be careful not to step on your dead friend,” the woman says.

    “Shut up!” her partner lashes back. “Seriously. You get dumber every day.”

    “Sorry, boss.”

    She’s suddenly a meek little mouse, head hung low. Mark’s heart is still beating a thousand times a minute, but he can’t help feeling sorry for the lady.

    The man returns his attention to the others. “Show us where it’s at. I don’t wanna be here all day.”

    Mark half expects Alec to do something crazy, but he just begins walking back toward the stairwell. As he passes Mark, he gives him a quick wink. Mark doesn’t know if he should be encouraged or worried.

    They march down the hallway, leaving the bloodied form of Baxter behind, prisoners in what has become their castle over the past few weeks. They reach the stairs and start climbing. Boss—that’s the only way Mark can think of the man with the gun now, hearing over and over in his mind the pathetic way his partner saluted him—takes turns poking people in the back as they ascend, making sure they don’t forget who’s armed.

    “Just remember what I did to your buddy,” Boss whispers to Mark when it’s his turn to get prodded.

    Mark keeps moving, step by step.

    *

    They spend the next two hours scavenging the Lincoln Building, top to bottom, for food and fuel. Every inch of Mark’s skin is sweating, and his muscles ache from carrying the large containers of generator fuel from the emergency supply room on the thirtieth floor down to the boat. They scour the vending machines, emptying over half of the dwindling stock throughout the many break rooms and other common areas.

    The yacht is an oven inside the cabin, which only makes the smell within even worse. As Mark unloads the supplies, he wonders if Boss and his partner have bothered to so much as dip themselves in the warm waters that surround them. They literally live in bathwater—dirty as it may be—yet refuse to bathe. Mark grows more disgusted with the pair on every trip. He also wonders at the biding silence of Alec, who’s worked hard without the slightest sign of rebellion.

    They’ve filled almost every spare inch of the vessel when the entire group finds themselves on the twelfth floor—part of one last sweep through the lower half of the building. Boss tells them they can have whatever’s left above that.

    The man, still pointing his gun at each of them in turn, is standing next to the windows. The orange sheen of the setting sun paints the glass behind him. His subordinate stands right next to him, looking as blank-minded as ever. Trina is grabbing a few last chip bags and candy bars through the busted cover of a vending machine. The Toad, Misty, Lana, Alec and Darnell are waiting for her, not much to do now. The place is emptied out and each of them is probably like Mark, just counting down the seconds until these people are gone. And hoping no one else dies.

    Alec walks toward Boss, holding his hands up in a conciliatory gesture.

    “Careful,” the armed man warns. “Now your work’s done, I wouldn’t mind gettin’ a little more target practice. Close-range, even.”

    “It’s done, all right,” Alec says in a half growl. “We’re not idiots. We wanted to get that boat loaded first. Ya know, before …”

    “Before what?” Boss seems to sense trouble and the muscles of his arms tense; Mark sees his finger tighten on the trigger of the gun.

    “This.”

    Alec suddenly bursts into motion. His hand shoots forward and smacks the weapon out of Boss’s hands—the gun fires a wayward shot just as it spins away, clattering on the floor. Boss’s partner turns and bolts down the hallway along the bank of windows, as quickly as she’s done anything yet. Lana chases her, even though the other woman is armed. Mark barely has time to notice this before Alec throws his body forward and tackles Boss, the two of them slamming into the glass of the large window.

    Everything happens so fast. An icy splintering sound fills the room as cracks branch out from their point of impact. Then the entire pane bursts, exploding into a million pieces just as Alec is trying to get his balance and lift himself off of Boss’s body. Both of them begin to fall, tipping as if in slow motion, leaning toward the water below. Mark is already rushing at them, diving, then sliding across the floor so that he can brace his feet against the window frame for support while reaching for Alec’s arm. He grabs it, grips his fingers, holds tight, but his feet miss and are suddenly in open air. His entire body is about to topple out with Alec and Boss.

    Someone grabs him from behind, arms slipping around his chest. Mark holds on to Alec with every ounce of his strength and is looking straight down into the river-street. Boss is falling, madly flailing his arms and legs and screaming. Mark’s arms feel like they may come out of their sockets, but Alec recovers his wits quickly, turns his body and puts his free hand on the bottom sill of the window, begins to hoist himself inside while whoever has captured Mark drags him in as well. It’s the Toad.

    Soon they are all standing again, safe. Lana comes charging back down the hallway.

    “She got away,” the woman says. “I bet she’s hiding in some closet.”

    “Let’s get out of here,” Alec replies, already on the move. Mark and the others follow. “Plan worked perfectly. Got the boat stocked up and now it’s ours for the taking. We’re getting out of the city.”

    They find the stairwell, descend rapidly, taking two steps at a time. Mark is sweating and exhausted, and anxious about what they’re planning to do. Leaving the place that has become home in the wake of the sun flares. Venturing out into the complete unknown. He doesn’t know which is stronger, the excitement or the fear.

    They make it to the fifth floor, sprint down the hallway, go through the missing window, board the boat.

    “Get us loose,” Alec yells to Mark.

    Alec and Lana go into the cabin. Darnell, the Toad, Misty and Trina find places to sit up top, looking a little lost and a lot uncertain. Mark begins untying the rope the woman used to secure the yacht earlier. He finally gets the knots loose and pulls in the rope just as the engines come to life and the boat starts moving away from the Lincoln Building. Mark sits on a seat at the tail end of the vessel and twists backward to look up at the towering skyscraper, where the dwindling glow of the day’s sunshine reflects an amber sheen.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire