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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 47)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(47) by James Dashner
  • The door touched down and the noises ceased. The stifling hot air enveloped them as they walked to the bottom of the metal slab. They’d just stepped off when Alec pushed a button on the pad and sent the ramp closing up again. Soon it sealed shut and all was silent.

    Mark looked at Alec, and Alec looked back. Mark thought it was a tight contest as to whose eyes showed more fire.

    “Let’s go get our friends,” Mark said.

    The two of them began walking away from the Berg, weapons hefted in their arms, marching toward the madness and chaos that waited down the street.

    CHAPTER 51

    The air was dusty and dry.

    With each step it seemed to become thicker, almost choking them. Sweat already covered every inch of Mark’s body, and the breeze that swept across them now and then felt as if it came from a furnace, doing nothing to cool his skin. He pressed on, hoping his palms wouldn’t become too slippery to handle the weapon properly. The sun hung above them like the eye of some hellish beast looking down, wilting the world around them.

    “It’s been a while since I’ve been out like this during the middle of the day,” Mark said, the effort of speaking making him thirsty. His tongue felt swollen. “Gonna have one sweet sunburn come tomorrow.” He knew what he was doing. Trying to convince himself that things weren’t so bad—that he wasn’t losing it up top, that his anger and headaches weren’t going to hinder his concentration and focus and everything was going to be fine. But the effort seemed pointless.

    They reached their first crossroads and Alec pointed to the right. “Okay, it’s just a couple of turns up that way. Let’s start sticking closer to the houses.”

    Mark followed Alec’s lead, crossing the dead lawn—now nothing but weeds and rocks—into the shadow of a home that had once been a mansion. All stone and dark wood, it had held up for the most part, though it now had a faded, sad look, as if losing its former occupants had stolen its soul away.

    Alec leaned back against the wall and Mark did the same behind him. They swept their gazes—and weapons—back to where they’d just come from to see if anyone was following them. There wasn’t a person in sight. Strangely, though, the breeze had stopped, so that the world seemed as lifeless as the neighborhood itself. Mark shifted in his sticky clothes.

    “We need to stay hydrated,” Alec said, placing his weapon on the ground. He slipped off his backpack and pulled out one of his two canteens. After a long drink he handed it to Mark, who relished every drop as it slicked his parched mouth and throat.

    “Oh, man,” he said when he finished, handing the canteen back to Alec. “That was the single best drink I’ve ever had in my life. That one right there.”

    “Sayin’ a lot,” Alec muttered as he put the thing away and hunched into his backpack once again. “Considering all the times we’ve been thirsty in the last year.”

    “I think that crazy dude you … evaporated got me all worked up. But I’m ready to go now.” He really did feel invigorated, as if the canteen had been full of adrenaline instead of water.

    Alec picked up his weapon and slung the strap across his shoulder. “Follow me. From here on out we’ll keep the houses between us and the streets.”

    “Sounds good.”

    Alec slipped out of the shade and made a beeline for the neighboring yard, heading toward the back. Mark was right on his heels.

    They kept the same routine for the next dozen or so homes: A quick sprint across the dead, lifeless yards, slipping into the shade of the buildings; then they’d slink their way around the back to the other side and Alec would peek around the corner, searching for any sign of company. Once he gave the all clear, they sprinted to the next house and started again.

    They made it to the end of another street, where you could turn left or right.

    “Okay,” Alec whispered. “We need to head down this road and take the second left. That one runs into the big street where we saw all that partying going on.”

    “Partying?” Mark repeated.

    “Yeah. It reminded me of some crankheads we busted in the twenties when martial law was declared. Those people were just as nuts—bloody hell-bent psychos, they were. Come on.”

    Crankheads. Mark had known some druggies in his life, but those were the worst. The drug had gotten stronger and stronger over the decades. Now it was something you never came back from. Never. For some reason the word stuck in Mark’s mind.

    “Hey!” Alec was halfway to the next house, and he turned back toward Mark. “Fine time to daydream!”

    Mark shook off the cobwebs and ran after Alec. He caught up and they booked it to the side of a three-story mansion, the shade a welcome relief as always. Even if it didn’t last long. They sidled along the wall until they reached the back. Alec took a peek; then they stepped around the corner and started for the other side. Mark had only taken three or four steps when he heard a wet, cackling sound above him. He looked up, half expecting to see some kind of exotic animal, the noise had been so strange and alien.

    But there was a woman perched on the roof, as ratty and filthy as any of the other infected Mark had seen recently. Her hair stuck out in every direction and her face was smeared with mud, the pattern almost ritualistic-looking.

    She made that same cackling sound—somewhere between a laugh and a racking cough. She smiled, revealing a set of perfectly white teeth, but then turned it into a snarl. After another burst of cackles she rolled backward and disappeared behind the lip of the roof’s gutter—one of the few homes that still had a roof.

    Mark shuddered. He hoped he’d be able to get the image of the woman out of his mind. He turned back and saw Alec was standing a few feet away from the house, aiming his weapon toward the roof but with no shot.

    “Where’d she go?” the man asked absently.

    “Let’s just get out of here. Maybe she’s by herself.”

    “Fat chance.”

    They shuffled along until they reached the far corner of the back side of the house. Alec leaned out for a quick look.

    “All clear. We’re getting closer, so buck up and look alive.”

    Mark nodded.

    Alec took off for the next house and Mark was just stepping out to do the same when a horrific screech stopped him cold. He looked up just in time to see the woman leap off the roof, flying through the air with her arms outstretched like wings. Her face was lit with madness as she shrieked, plummeting toward Mark, who couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

    He turned to run but it was too late. Her body slammed into his shoulders and they both crashed to the ground.

    CHAPTER 52

    She went for his eyes, as if the impact of the fall had done nothing to her. Howls poured from her mouth as if she were some kind of tortured creature. The wind had been knocked out of him, and his knees ached where they’d thumped against the hard ground. He rolled over, gasping for air as he grabbed her hands, tried to force them away from his face. She ripped free of his grasp and clawed at his ears, his nose, his cheeks, scratching and slapping. He continued to fight her off.

    “Help!” he screamed to Alec.

    “Push her off so I can get a clear shot!” the man yelled back.

    Mark twisted his body and darted a quick glance at Alec. He was standing there, hopping around as he aimed his weapon, waiting until he could risk firing the Transvice at the woman.

    “Just come get—” Mark started to yell, but her fingers were suddenly in his mouth, pulling at his lips. She hooked a finger into his cheek and pulled as if trying to rip the side of his face off, but her finger slipped out. Her hand flew up into the air, then came crashing back into his face with a clenched fist. Pain and anger burst through him like a lit chain of firecrackers.

    Finally able to breathe, he got his hands underneath her body and stuck his elbows out, then pushed hard. She flew off him, crashing onto her back with an audible thud that momentarily shut her up. Then she was scrambling to get back onto her hands and knees. But Mark had righted himself first, and he lurched forward, then planted his weight on his left foot and kicked out with his right, slamming the toe of his shoe into the side of her head. She screamed and flopped over, curled up into a ball and held her face in her arms. Rocked back and forth, whimpering.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire