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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 56)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(56) by James Dashner
  • He shook, and sweat covered his skin. He began to cry; then he screamed as loud as he could. An avalanche of rage like he’d never known before crashed through him. He heard a loud crack. It had come from his lap.

    He looked down but couldn’t see anything. His attempt to power up the workpad proved worthless. He felt around beside him until he found the flashlight, then flicked it on. The workpad’s screen had been destroyed, the entire flat panel of the device bent at a weird angle. In his anger, he’d broken the stupid thing. He never would have thought he had the strength.

    Somehow he formed a coherent thought in the madness that pounded through his skull. He knew what they had to do, and that it was their last and only shot. If the people at the bunker were going to Ashville to face whoever gave them their orders, then Mark and his friends were going, too. Getting inside the walled city was the only way Mark could think to find the people who’d issued the kill order. He could only hope they had a way to stop the sickness. He wanted to be made better.

    Asheville. That was where they had to go. Just like that thug Bruce had said during his speech in the auditorium. Except Mark wanted to beat them to it.

    He stood up, feeling a little woozy from the images that had been swirling in his vision. The anger pulsed through him as if it, instead of blood, thumped out of his heart and through his veins, but even as he stood, he could feel himself calming. He shined the flashlight once again on the cracked workpad, then tossed the device to the other side of the room. It landed with a clatter. He hoped that someday he’d have a chance to tell this PCC what he thought of their decision.

    Pain lanced through his skull, and a sudden wave of exhaustion washed over him, a heavy, dragging thing that was like a two-ton blanket draped over his shoulders. He dropped to his knees, then slumped onto his side, his head resting on the cold floor. There was so much to do. No time for sleeping. But he was so, so tired.…

    For once, he dreamed of something pleasant.

    CHAPTER 62

    A crackle of thunder makes Trina jump in Mark’s arms.

    It’s raining outside the cave, something they haven’t seen in at least three months, since the sun flares struck. Mark shivers, the chill across his skin a fresh relief from the hellish heat that has become his life. They were lucky to find the deep recess in the side of the mountain, and he realizes he doesn’t care if they spend the rest of their lives in the dark, cool place. Alec and the others are farther inside, sleeping.

    He squeezes Trina’s shoulders, leans his head against hers. Breathes in her smell, which is salty and sweet. It’s the first time since they left the boat on the shores of New Jersey that Mark has felt calm. Almost content.

    “I love the sound of it,” Trina whispers, as if speaking too loudly might interrupt the drumming patter of the rain outside. “It makes me want to sleep. Snuggle my head right up in your armpit and snore for three days.”

    “My armpit?” Mark repeats. “Good thing we all showered up in the storm this morning. My pits smell like roses. Go ahead and get comfy.”

    She shifts and wiggles, then settles again. “I seriously can’t believe we’re still alive, Mark. I just can’t believe it. Who knows, though. We could be dead in another six months. Or tomorrow, I guess.”

    “That’s the spirit,” he deadpans. “Come on. Don’t talk like that. How could things possibly get worse than what we’ve seen? We’ll stay here for a while, then go look for the settlements in the south mountains.”

    “Rumors,” she said quietly.

    “Huh?”

    “Rumors of settlements.”

    Mark sighs. “They’ll be there. You’ll see.”

    He leans his head against the wall and thinks about what she said. That they’re lucky to be alive. Truer words have never been spoken.

    They survived the weeks of solar radiation by hiding inside the Lincoln Building. Survived the relentless heat and drought. The trek across countless miles of wasted land and crime-riddled streets. The acceptance that their families were dead. Traveled by night, hide by day, found food wherever it presented itself, sometimes going without for days. He knows if they hadn’t had the military skills of Alec and Lana, they never would’ve made it this far. Never.

    But they did. They are still alive and kicking. He smiles, almost in defiance of whatever force of the universe threw such obstacles in their path. He starts to think that maybe, in a few years, all could be well again.

    Lightning flashes somewhere off in the distance; thunder rumbling a few seconds later. It seems louder, closer than before. And the rain has picked up, pounding the ground outside the entrance to the cave. For the millionth time he thinks how lucky they are that they stumbled across the hidden haven.

    Trina shifts to look up at him. “Alec said that once the storms started, they might get really bad. That the weather in the world is gonna be screwed up big-time.”

    “Yeah. It’s okay. I’ll take rain and wind and lightning any day over what it’s been like. We’ll just stay in this cave. How about that?”

    “Can’t stay here forever.”

    “Okay, then. A week. A month. Just stop thinking. Sheesh.”

    She tilts her face up and kisses him on the cheek. “What would I do without you? I’d die of stress and depression before nature killed me.”

    “Probably true.” He smiles and hopes she’ll just enjoy the peace for a while.

    After shifting back down into a comfortable position, she hugs him a little tighter. “Seriously, though. I’m really glad I have you. You mean the world to me.”

    “Same to you,” he replies. And then he grows quiet, not daring to let his mouth take over, say something cheesy and ruin the moment. He closes his eyes.

    Light flashes, followed quickly by the boom of thunder. The storm is definitely getting closer.

    Mark woke up, and for a few seconds he remembered the feeling of staring at Trina when things had begun to turn a corner and hope—the slightest trace—was in her eyes. Whether she would admit it or not on that day. For the first time in months he wished he could sink back into his dreams. The longing in his heart was almost painful. But then reality rolled in, along with the darkness of the cargo room. The storms had been bad, all right, he thought. Really bad. But they’d survived that, too, eventually finding their way to the settlements.

    Where they might’ve lived in peace if it weren’t for a committee called the PCC.

    Groaning, rubbing his eyes, he let out a long yawn, then stood up. And fully remembered the decisions he’d made before succumbing to sleep.

    Asheville.

    He bent over, picked up the flashlight and flicked it on. Then he turned around to head for the door and was startled to see Alec standing there, filling up the frame as if he’d grown several inches taller. Because the faint light of the ship was behind him, his face was hidden in shadow, but there was something sinister about it. Something disquieting about how he’d been there for who knew how long without announcing himself. And still wasn’t saying anything.

    “Alec?” Mark asked. “You okay there, big guy?”

    The man stumbled forward, almost fell down. But he righted himself and stood up straight and tall again. Mark hadn’t wanted to shine the light in his friend’s face, but he felt like he had no choice. He raised the flashlight and pointed it directly at Alec. He was flushed and sweating, his eyes wide and darting back and forth as if he expected a monster to leap from the shadows at any moment.

    “Hey, what’s wrong?” Mark asked.

    Alec took another laboring step forward. “I’m sick, Mark. I’m really, really sick. I need to die. I need to die and I don’t wanna die for nothing.”

    CHAPTER 63

    Mark couldn’t remember ever having been at such a loss for words.

    Alec slouched to the ground, falling to one knee. “I’m serious, boy. I’ve been feeling funny, my mind playing tricks. Seeing things, feeling things. I’m feeling a little bit better right now, but I don’t want to be like those people. I need to die, and I don’t wanna wait till morning.”

    “What … Why …” Mark stammered for the right thing to say. It’d been inevitable that this would happen, but it still shocked him to the core. “What do you want me to do?”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire