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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 57)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(57) by James Dashner
  • The man shot him a glare. “I’ve thought it—”

    He spasmed, suddenly contorting into an unnatural shape, his head thrown back, his face twisted in pain. A strangled, choked cry escaped his throat.

    “Alec!” Mark shouted, running up to him. He had to duck when the man suddenly swung a fist. Alec fell to the floor. “What’s wrong?”

    The old man’s body relaxed and he got on his hands and knees, laboring heavily to breathe. “I … I just … I don’t know. Weird things are knocking around my noggin.”

    Mark ran his hands through his hair, looking around in anguish, as if some magical answer to all their problems might appear in a dark corner of the cargo room. When he turned back to Alec, the man had stood, holding his hands up as if surrendering.

    “Listen to me,” Alec said. “I’ve got ideas. Things are bleak, no doubt. But …” He pointed in the direction of the barracks where Trina and Deedee were sleeping. “We have a precious little girl in there who can be saved. If nothing else. We need to get her to Asheville, drop her off. Then …”

    He shrugged, a pathetic gesture that said all too much. It was over for the rest of them.

    “A treatment—a cure,” Mark said, hearing the defiance in his voice. “That Bruce guy thought there might be one. We need to go there for that, too, and—”

    “Oh, horse crap,” Alec barked, cutting him off. “Just listen to me before I can’t talk straight anymore. I’m the only one who can fly this thing. I want you to come to the cockpit and watch me, learn as much as that head of yours can handle. Just in case. You’re right—we’re taking that girl to Asheville if it’s the last thing I do.”

    A suffocating, dark feeling enveloped Mark. He’d be crazy or dead soon. But Alec’s idea was much like his, and the only thing he could think to do was take action.

    “Then let’s go,” he said, fighting back the sudden sting of tears. “Let’s not waste one more second.”

    Alec twitched and his arms jerked outward, but then he clenched his fists and brought them back down, his face strained as if he’d fought off another attack with willpower alone. Clarity filled his eyes and he looked at Mark for a long moment. It was as if all of the past year—the memories, the horrors, even the laughs—passed quickly between them, and Mark wondered if either of them would ever be so grounded again. Madness waited in the wings.

    The soldier gave a quick nod, and the two of them headed for the door.

    *

    They reached the cockpit without seeing any sign of Trina or Deedee. Mark had hoped they’d be awake—maybe by some miracle Trina would be better, laughing, remembering. It was a foolish thought.

    As Alec got to work on the controls, Mark looked outside. A trace of dawn had brightened the eastern sky, the darkness fading into light purple over the houses and trees in the distance. Most of the stars had winked out; the sun would make its grand entrance within the hour. He had a heavy feeling that the day would end with everything changed forever.

    “I’m okay for a bit,” Alec said, standing back to scan the instruments and screens of the control panel. “Why don’t you go check on the girls. We’ll be off the ground in a jiffy. We’ll do some flyovers and see what we see.”

    Mark nodded and patted him on the back, a ridiculous gesture but all he could think of to do. He was worried about his friend. He turned on his flashlight and left the cockpit, entering the short passage that led to the barracks room where he’d left Trina, resting peacefully in a bunk with Deedee.

    Mark was almost to the door of the barracks when he heard a strange scratching noise above him, like rats scurrying across the panels of the ceiling. Then there was the distinct sound of a man giggling, only feet over his head. A shudder of horror passed through him. He ran a few steps down the hall and spun around, pressing his back against the wall. He looked up at the ceiling, shining the flashlight over the panels, but saw nothing out of the ordinary.

    He held his breath and listened.

    Something was up there, moving back and forth, almost rhythmically.

    “Hey!” Mark shouted. “Who …” His question died when he realized he hadn’t checked on Trina yet. If someone, or something, had snuck its way onto the Berg …

    He ran to the barracks door and flung it open, frantically shining his light on the bunk where he’d last seen Trina sleeping. For one split second his heart stalled—the bunk was empty. It was just rumpled sheets and a blanket. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Trina on the floor, Deedee sitting right next to her. They were holding hands, and both of them had sheer terror on their faces.

    “What?” Mark asked. “What happened?”

    Deedee pointed a shaking finger toward the ceiling. “The boogie man’s up there.” She paused, visibly shaking—a sight that tore at Mark’s heart. “And he brought his friends.”

    CHAPTER 64

    She’d barely said the last word when the Berg burst into life and launched off the ground. The floor tilted and Mark stumbled and fell onto the cot, then pushed himself to his feet.

    “Just stay there,” he said. “I’ll be right back.”

    He wasn’t going to hesitate this time.

    He ran from the barracks into the hallway, piercing the darkness with his flashlight as he headed straight for the cockpit. He thought he heard another giggle coming from the ceiling in the same spot as before, and horrible thoughts popped into his mind: bloodthirsty men and women, infected and insane, leaping through the panels once he disappeared, attacking the girls he’d left behind. But he had no choice, and he’d be quick. Besides, if there were people up there, they’d waited this long without doing anything. Chances were he had some time.

    He bolted into the cockpit, where Alec was manning the controls. He was sweaty and flushed, and concentrating hard on what he was doing.

    “Where’s the Transvice?” Mark shouted.

    Alec spun around, fear crossing his face. But Mark didn’t waste time with explanations—the man’s weapon was propped up against the wall next to him. Mark ran to it, grabbed it and threw the strap around his shoulder, then made sure it was powered up and started back toward the barracks. Toward Trina and Deedee.

    “Turn some lights on out here!” he yelled back to Alec as he slipped out of the cockpit—he’d dropped the flashlight at some point and the world was pitch-dark. Conserving power and fuel no longer meant a thing. He’d only gone a few feet down the corridor before the dim lights flashed on and illuminated his path, though shadows clung to the walls.

    Sweat dripped into his eyes as he pounded down the corridor. It felt as if the heat inside the Berg had skyrocketed to a thousand degrees. The sweltering air combined with his shot nerves—the razor’s edge of madness that cut into his psyche—put him on the brink of losing it. He just had to hold on for a little while longer. With every bit of effort he could muster, he focused only on the next seconds of his life.

    He crossed under the place he’d heard the giggling. Even as he did, a cackle came from above. It was low and throaty, as ominous a thing as he could imagine. But the panel remained intact. He tore through the door of the barracks and saw with relief that Trina and Deedee were still huddled together on the floor.

    He was just moving toward them when three sections of the ceiling suddenly collapsed, breaking apart in a crunch of plaster and metal. Several bodies fell among the pieces, crashing on top of the two girls. Deedee screamed.

    Mark raised his weapon and rushed forward, not daring to shoot but ready to fight.

    Three people were scrambling to their feet, shoving Deedee and Trina as if they were simply objects in their way. A man and two women. They were laughing hysterically, leaping from foot to foot and throwing their arms around like wild apes. Mark reached the man and swung the butt of his Transvice into the side of his head. The man cried out and crumpled to the floor. Mark used his momentum to turn his body and kick one of the women away from his friends. She shrieked and toppled onto the nearest cot and he aimed the Transvice, pulling the trigger. A bolt of white heat hit her and she grayed, then dissipated into the air.

    She’d barely disappeared when the other woman tackled him from the side—they both landed on the floor, and for what felt like the hundredth time in the past week, the air was knocked from his lungs. He twisted onto his back, pulling her on top of him as she struggled to rip the Transvice out of his hands.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire