Minho was the first to offer an explanation. “Maybe they knew something like this might happen, and they didn’t want to kill us. From the looks of it, unless you get it right in the head, those Launcher things just stun you for a while. So they all came and got those to use with their regular guns.” Brenda was shaking her head before he even finished. “No. It’s standard for them to carry Launchers at all times—so it doesn’t make sense that they’d all come at once to get a new one. Whatever you think about WICKED, it’s not their goal to kill as many people as possible. Even when Cranks break in.”
“Cranks have broken in here before?” Thomas asked.
Brenda nodded. “The more infected there are, the more past the Gone, the more desperate they get. I really doubt the guards—”
Minho interrupted her. “Maybe that’s what happened. With all those alarms going off, maybe some Cranks broke in and took whatever weapons were here, stunned people, then started eatin’ their shuck bodies. Maybe we’ve only seen a few guards because the rest of ’em are dead!” Thomas had seen Cranks past the Gone, and the memories haunted him. Cranks who had lived with the Flare infection so long that it had eaten away at their brains until they were completely insane. Almost like animals in human form.
Brenda sighed. “I hate to say it, but you might be right.” She thought a moment. “Seriously. That would explain it. Someone came in here and took a bunch of weapons.” An icy chil filled Thomas. “If that’s it, our problems are a whole lot worse than we thought.”
“Glad to see the guy not immune to the Flare isn’t the only one with a brain that still works.” Thomas turned to see Newt at the door.
“Next time just explain yourself instead of getting all snippy,” Minho said, his voice empty of compassion.
“I didn’t think you’d lose it so fast, but glad you’re back. We might need a Crank to sniff out these other Cranks if they really broke in.”
Thomas winced at the cutting remark, looked at Newt for his reaction.
The older boy wasn’t happy—that was clear by his expression. “You never have known when to shut your hole, have ya, Minho? Always gotta have the bloody last word.”
“Shut your shuck face,” Minho replied. His voice was so calm for a second that Thomas could have sworn Minho was losing it himself. The tension in the room was almost palpable.
Newt slowly walked over to Minho and stopped in front of him. Then, quick as a striking snake, he punched him in the face. Minho staggered back and slammed into the empty weapons rack. Then he rushed forward and tackled Newt to the ground.
It all happened so fast, Thomas couldn’t believe it. He ran over and started pulling at Minho’s shirt. “Stop!” he screamed, but the two Gladers continued flailing at each other, arms and legs everywhere.
Brenda stepped up to help and she and Thomas eventually got solid-enough grips to yank Minho to his feet, his fists still swinging wildly. A stray elbow smacked Thomas in the chin, sending a burst of rage through him.
“How stupid can you get?” Thomas yelled, pinning Minho’s arms behind his back. “We’re running from at least one enemy, maybe two, and you guys are gonna brawl?”
“He started it!” Minho snapped, spit spraying on Brenda.
She wiped her face. “What are you, eight years old?” she asked.
Minho didn’t answer. He struggled to free himself for a few more seconds before giving up. Thomas was sickened by the whole thing. He didn’t know which was worse: that Newt seemed to be slipping already or that Minho—the one who should have been able to control himself—was acting like such a slinthead.
Newt got to his feet, gingerly touching a red spot on his cheek where Minho must’ve connected. “It’s my fault. Everything’s just tickin’ me off. You guys figure out what we should do—I need a buggin’ break.” And at that he turned and walked out of the room again.
Thomas blew out a breath of frustration; he let go of Minho and adjusted his own shirt. They didn’t have time to dwel on petty arguments. If they were going to get out of there, they had to pull together and work as a team. “Minho—find a few more Launchers for us to bring, and then get a couple of the pistols on that shelf over there. Brenda, can you fill up a box with as much ammo as possible? I’ll go get Newt.”
“Sounds good,” she replied, already looking around. Minho didn’t say a word, just started searching the racks.
Thomas went out into the hall; Newt had taken a seat on the ground about twenty feet away and was leaning back against the wall.
“Don’t say a bloody word,” he grumbled when Thomas joined him.
Great start, Thomas thought. “Listen, something weird’s going on—either WICKED is testing us or we’ve got Cranks running around this place killing people left and right. Whatever it is, we need to find our friends and get out of here.”
“I know.” That was it. Nothing else.
“Then get up and come back in there to help us. You were the one all frustrated, acting like we didn’t have time to mess around. And now you want to sit out here in the hall and pout?”
“I know.” The same response.
Thomas had never seen Newt like this. The guy looked utterly hopeless, and the sight of it hit Thomas with a wave of despair. “We’re all going a little craz—” He stopped; he couldn’t possibly say anything worse. “I mean …”
“Just shut it,” Newt said. “I know something’s started in my head. I don’t feel right. But you don’t need to worry your buggin’ panties off. Give me a second and I’ll be fine. We’ll get you guys out of here and then I can deal.”
“What do you mean, get you guys out?”
“Get us out, whatever. Just give me a bloody minute.” The world of the Glade seemed like eons ago. Back there, Newt had always been the calm, collected one
—and now here he was pulling the group apart at the seams. He seemed to be saying that it didn’t matter if he escaped himself as long as everyone else did.
“Fine,” Thomas answered. He realized the only thing he could do was treat Newt the same as he always had. “But you know we can’t waste any more time. Brenda’s gathering ammo. You’ll need to help her carry it to the Berg hangar.”
“Will do.” Newt quickly stood from his spot on the ground. “But first I have to go get something—it won’t take me long.” He started walking away, back toward the reception room.
“Newt!” Thomas shouted, wondering what on earth his friend was up to. “Don’t be stupid—we have to move. And we need to stick together.”
But Newt kept going. He didn’t even turn to look at Thomas. “Just go get the stuff! This’ll only take a couple of minutes.”
Thomas shook his head. There was nothing he could do or say to bring back that reasonable guy he knew. He spun and headed for the weapons room.
Thomas, Minho and Brenda gathered everything they could possibly carry between the three of them.
Thomas had one Launcher strapped to each shoulder in addition to the one in his hands. He’d stuck two loaded pistols in his front pockets and several ammo clips in each back pocket. Minho had done the same, and Brenda held a cardboard box full of the bluish grenades and more bullets, her Launcher resting on top.
“That looks heavy,” Thomas said, gesturing to the box. “You wanna—” Brenda cut him off. “I can manage until Newt gets back in here.”
“Who knows what that guy is up to,” Minho said. “He’s never acted like this before. Flare’s eatin’ his brain already.”
“He said he’d be back soon.” Thomas was tired of Minho’s attitude—he was only making it worse. “And watch what you say around him. The last thing we need is you setting him off again.”
“Do you remember what I told you in the truck, back in the city?” Brenda asked Thomas.
The sudden change in conversation surprised him, and her bringing up the Scorch surprised him even more. It only called attention to the fact that she’d lied to him.
“What?” he asked. “You mean some of the things you said were true?” He’d felt so close to her that night.
He realized he was hoping she’d say yes.
“I’m sorry I lied about why I was there, Thomas. And about how I told you I could feel the Flare working on my mind. But the rest was true. I swear it.” She paused, looking at him, pleading in her eyes. “Anyway, we talked about how increased levels of brain activity actually quicken the pace of destruction—it’s called cognitive destruction. That’s why that drug—the Bliss—is so popular with the people who can afford it. The Bliss slows brain function. It lengthens the time before you go bat crazy. But it’s really expensive.” The idea of people living in the world who were not part of an experiment or holing up in abandoned buildings like he’d seen in the Scorch seemed unreal to him. “Do people still function—live their lives, go to work, whatever—when they’re drugged out?”
“They do what they need to do, but they’re much more … relaxed about it. You could be a fireman rescuing thirty children from an inferno, but you won’t stress if you happen to drop a few of them into the flames along the way.”
The thought of such a world terrified Thomas. “That’s just … sick.”
“I gotta get me some of that stuff,” Minho muttered.
“You’re missing the point,” Brenda said. “Think of the hell Newt has been through—all the decisions he’s had to make. No wonder the Flare is moving so fast in him. He’s been stimulated too much—way more than the average person living their life day to day.”
Thomas sighed, that sadness he’d felt earlier gripping his heart again. “Well, there’s nothing we can do about it until we get somewhere safer.”
“Do about what?”
Thomas turned to see Newt in the doorway again, then closed his eyes for a moment, pulled himself together. “Nothing, never mind—where’d you go?”
“I need to talk to you, Tommy. Just you. It’ll only take a second.” What now? Thomas wondered.
“What’s this crap?” Minho asked.
“Just cut me some slack. I need to give something to Tommy here. Tommy and no one else.”
“Whatever, go for it.” Minho adjusted the straps of the Launchers on his shoulders. “But we need to hurry.” Thomas stepped into the hall with Newt, scared to death of what his friend might say and how crazy it might sound. The seconds were ticking away.
They walked a few feet from the door before Newt stopped and faced him, then held out a small sealed envelope. “Stuff this in your pocket.”
“What is it?” Thomas took it and turned it over; it was blank on the outside.
“Just put the bloody thing in your pocket.”
Thomas did as he was told, confused but curious.
“Now look me in the eyes.” Newt snapped his fingers.
Thomas’s stomach sank at the anguish he saw there. “What is it?”
“You don’t need to know right now. You can’t know. But you have to make me a promise—and I’m not messing around here.”
“You swear to me that you won’t read what’s inside that bloody envelope until the time is right.” Thomas couldn’t imagine waiting to read it—he started to pull the envelope out of his pocket, but Newt grabbed his arm to stop him.
“When the time is right?” Thomas asked. “How will I—”
“You’ll bloody know!” Newt answered before Thomas could ask. “Now swear to me. Swear it!” The boy’s whole body seemed to tremble with every word.
“Fine!” Thomas was beyond worried about his friend now. “I swear I won’t read it until the time is right. I swear. But why—”
“Okay, then,” Newt interrupted. “Break your promise and I’ll never forgive you.” Thomas wanted to reach out and shake his friend—to pound the wall in frustration. But he didn’t. He stood unmoving as Newt turned away from him and walked back toward the weapons room.
|Chapter 1||Chapter 2||Chapter 3||Chapter 4||Chapter 5||Chapter 6|
|Chapter 7||Chapter 8||Chapter 9||Chapter 10||Chapter 11||Chapter 12|
|Chapter 13||Chapter 14||Chapter 15||Chapter 16||Chapter 17||Chapter 18|
|Chapter 19||Chapter 20||Chapter 21||Chapter 22||Chapter 23||Chapter 24|
|Chapter 25||Chapter 26||Chapter 27||Chapter 28||Chapter 29||Chapter 30|
|Chapter 31||Chapter 32||Chapter 33||Chapter 34||Chapter 35||Chapter 36|
|Chapter 37||Chapter 38||Chapter 39||Chapter 40||Chapter 41||Chapter 42|
|Chapter 43||Chapter 44||Chapter 45||Chapter 46||Chapter 47||Chapter 48|
|Chapter 49||Chapter 50||Chapter 51||Chapter 52||Chapter 53||Chapter 54|
|Chapter 55||Chapter 56||Chapter 57||Chapter 58||Chapter 59||Chapter 60|
|Chapter 61||Chapter 62||Chapter 63||Chapter 64||Chapter 65||Chapter 66|
|Chapter 67||Chapter 68||Chapter 69||Chapter 70||Chapter 71||Chapter 72|
|Chapter 73||Book 1: Maze Runner||Book 2: Scorch Trials||Book 3: Death Cure||Prequel: Kill Order|