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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 46)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(46) by James Dashner
  • Mark stumbled a couple of steps backward, stunned by the man’s appearance and scared out of his mind. He was searching for something to do or say.

    But Alec had already raised his weapon, pointing the Transvice directly at the quickly approaching man.

    “Stop!” the vet yelled. “Stop or you’re …” He gave up because the wild man coming at him was obviously not listening. Screaming nonsensical things, stumbling but not slowing, heading for Alec.

    A sharp ping sounded, seemingly from everywhere at once, followed by a rushing, spinning sound, like the whirr of a jet engine. Mark noticed that the orange light emanating from the Transvice had brightened, visible even in the sunshine. Then Alec suddenly jerked backward when a bolt of pure, brilliant white light shot out of the weapon and slammed into the chest of the screaming man.

    His cries cut off instantly, like he’d been sealed in a tomb. His body turned gray as ash from top to bottom, all details and dimension disappearing so that he looked like a cutout of gray cloth, shimmering and rippling. Then he exploded into a mist, evaporating into nothingness. Just like that, without leaving a single trace that Mark could see.

    He turned to look at Alec, who’d lowered his weapon and was breathing heavily, his eyes still wide and staring at the spot the man had occupied just seconds earlier.

    The old soldier finally returned Mark’s stunned stare. “I guess it works.”

    CHAPTER 50

    Mark was at a loss for words. The spectacle of the Transvice dissolving a person like a cloud of smoke caught in the wind wasn’t even what weighed on his thoughts the heaviest. A completely insane man had just charged out of a house, straight at them. What had he been thinking? Was he attacking or begging for help? Were others going to be as bad off? As … crazy?

    It haunted him through and through, witnessing what the disease did to people. Was doing. It had to be getting worse. That guy had been utterly nuts. And Mark had already felt something like it—the faintest trace—starting within him. There was a beast hidden inside, and soon it might come out and make him look like the man Alec had zapped with the Transvice.

    “You okay over there?”

    Mark shook his head and came back to his senses. “No, I’m not okay. Did you see that dude?”

    “Yeah. I saw him! Why do you think I evaporated him into oblivion?” Alec was resting the weapon against its strap, looking around for signs of more people. So far there were none.

    Though it should’ve happened a long time ago, it finally hit Mark—like a hammer to his heart—just how much trouble Trina was in. Held prisoner by lunatics who could now be as bad off as the one he’d just seen. And Mark and Alec had taken the time to sleep? To eat? To pack? He suddenly hated himself.

    “We have to go rescue her,” he said.

    “What’s that?” Alec was walking toward him.

    Mark raised his eyes and glared at his friend. “We have to go. Now.”

    The next hour was a mix of maddening rushing around, then equally maddening waiting.

    They closed the ramp door, Alec standing by with the Transvice in case anyone tried to board during the agonizing couple of minutes it took the thing to pull all the way shut. Then they made sure their packs were ready to go and Alec gave Mark a quick lesson on how to hold and shoot the Transvice. It seemed straightforward enough. Finally the soldier got the Berg up and running, its thrusters pushing them into the sky.

    They flew low, Mark the key observer, searching the ground below them as they passed. As they got closer to the neighborhood ruins in which Alec had seen Trina and the others, Mark definitely saw more signs of life. People running between homes in little groups; a few fires in yards and smoke coming from half-crumbled chimneys; carcasses of dead animals that had been stripped of meat. He even saw a few humans lying lifeless here and there—sometimes piles of them.

    “We’re right on the outskirts of Asheville,” Alec pointed out. They were at the head of a large valley, fed into by the foothills of the mountain forests that had burned in the recent fire. Expensive developments of big houses dotted the sides of those foothills. Several of the homes had been burned to the ground, nothing left but charred black swaths of debris.

    Mark saw dozens of people milling about in packs here and there along the streets. A handful of them had seen the Berg now—some were pointing up at the ship, some running for cover. But the majority didn’t seem to have noticed at all, as if they’d been struck deaf and blind. “There’s a huge group of them on that street.” He pointed at them. Alec nodded. “That’s where I saw them put Trina, Lana, and the kid in one of the houses.”

    Alec banked the Berg to swoop in and get a closer look. He pulled up and hovered about a hundred feet above the spot, then joined Mark at the windows. The two of them looked down on a complete nightmare.

    It was as if a mental hospital had released all its patients. There was no order to the madness that Mark witnessed below him. Here he saw a girl lying flat on her back, screaming at no one. There he saw three women beating two men who’d been tied together, back to back. In another spot, people were dancing and drinking some kind of black liquid out of a pot that boiled over a makeshift fire pit. Others were running around in circles, still others stumbling about as if drunk.

    But then Mark saw the worst thing of all. And he no longer had any doubt that the people who’d gathered there were beyond any kind of help.

    A small group of men and women were fighting over something that looked like it had once been a person, their hands and faces covered in blood.

    Mark was simultaneously revolted and terrified that he might be looking at the remains of the only girl he’d ever loved. His whole body suddenly shook, trembling from head to toe.

    “Go down,” he growled. “Go down there right now! Let me out!”

    Alec had backed away from the window, his face as pale a thing as Mark had ever seen. “I … we can’t do that.”

    A furious burst of anger shot through Mark. “We can’t give up now!”

    “What’re you talking about, kid? We need to land in a safer place or they’ll swarm this thing. We’ll need it to get back to safety. We won’t go too far.”

    Mark couldn’t believe how heavily he was breathing. “Okay … okay. Sorry. But … just hurry.”

    “After what we just saw?” Alec asked as he was already positioning himself at the controls. “Yeah, I think that’s sound advice.”

    Mark stumbled, leaned against the wall. The anger inside him was being replaced by an overwhelming sadness. How could she possibly still be alive in the midst of such madness? What was this Flare virus? What possibly could’ve possessed any person to want to spread it? Every question only increased his anguish. And there were no answers.

    The Berg came to life and banked again, turning back toward the way they’d come. Mark wondered how many of the people down below had even noticed that a huge ship was just hovering right above them. They flew for a few minutes, and when Alec seemed satisfied, he landed the Berg in a cul-de-sac surrounded by empty lots, part of some developmental expansion that had never happened. And never would.

    “That whole street was full of people,” Mark said as he and his friend walked back to the cargo room. They both carried a fully charged Transvice and had backpacks strapped to their shoulders. “And there were signs of them in every house. They’re probably in that entire section of the neighborhood.”

    “For all we know they might’ve moved Lana and them again,” Alec replied. “It would be smart to check every house in that section. But remember—they were alive this morning. I saw them, no doubt. Don’t give up hope yet, son.”

    “You only call me son when you’re scared,” Mark answered.

    Alec smiled kindly. “Exactly.”

    They made it to the big cargo room and Alec went to the control pad, pressed the ramp buttons. The hatch began to open, announcing their presence with its screeching hinges.

    “Do you think the ship will be safe while we’re gone?” Mark asked, the broken window still haunting him.

    “I’ve got the remote control here. We’ll lock her up. That’s the best we can do.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire