It turned out that Thomas didn’t need to do any explaining. Brenda and Jorge had started working for WICKED in plenty of time to know who Gally was, how he’d been an outcast of sorts in the Glade, how he and Thomas had become bitter rivals because of Gally’s memories from the Changing. But all Thomas could think of was the angry boy throwing the knife that killed Chuck, that made the boy bleed to death on the ground as Thomas held him.
Then he had lost it—had beaten Gally until he thought he’d killed him. A surprising amount of relief filled him when he realized that maybe he hadn’t— if this note was really from Gally. As much as he’d hated the guy, Thomas didn’t want to be a murderer.
“It can’t possibly be him,” Brenda said.
“Why not?” Thomas asked; the relief began to wash away. “What happened to him after we were taken away? Did he …”
“Die? No. He spent a week or so in the infirmary, recovering from a broken cheekbone. But that was nothing compared to the psychological damage. They used him to kill Chuck because the Psychs thought the patterns would be valuable. It was all planned. They forced Chuck to move in front of you.” Any anger Thomas had felt toward Gally shifted to WICKED, feeding his ever-growing hatred for the organization. The guy had been a complete slinthead, but if what Brenda said was true, he was only WICKED’s instrument. It made Thomas even angrier at them to hear that it wasn’t a mistake that Chuck had been killed instead of him.
Brenda continued. “I heard that one of the Psychs designed the interaction to be a Variable not just for you and the Gladers who witnessed it, but … but also for Chuck during his last few moments.” For one short but frightening instant, Thomas thought rage would overcome him—that he’d grab some random stranger from the crowd and beat the klunk out of him like he’d beaten Gally.
He sucked in a breath and ran a shaking hand through his hair. “Nothing surprises me anymore,” he forced out through clenched teeth.
“Gally’s mind couldn’t handle what he’d done,” Brenda said. “He went completely nuts and they had to send him away. I’m sure they figured no one would ever believe his story.”
“So why do you think this can’t be him?” Thomas asked. “Maybe he got better, found his way here.” Brenda shook her head. “Look, anything’s possible. But I saw the guy—it was like he had the Flare. He was trying to eat chairs and spitting and yelling and ripping his own hair out.”
“I saw him, too,” Jorge added. “He got past the guards one day. He ran through the halls naked, screaming at the top of his lungs about beetles in his veins.” Thomas tried to clear his mind. “I wonder what he means by the Right Arm.” Jorge answered. “There are rumors about them all over the place. It’s supposed to be an underground group bent on taking down WICKED.”
“Even more reason to do what the note says,” Thomas said.
Brenda’s face showed doubt. “I really think we should find Hans before anything else.” Thomas held up the piece of paper and shook it. “We’re going to see Gally. We need someone who knows the city.” More than that, though, his gut told him that it was where they should start.
“What if this is some kind of trap?”
“Yeah,” Minho said. “Maybe we should think about this.”
“No.” Thomas shook his head. “We can’t try to outguess them anymore. Sometimes they do things just to make me do the opposite of what they think I think they think I want to do.”
“Huh?” the three of them asked at the same time, confusion transforming their faces.
“From now on I do what feels right,” Thomas explained. “And something tells me we need to go to this place and see Gally—at least to find out if it’s really him. He’s a connection to the Glade, and he has every reason in the world to be on our side.”
The others stared at him with blank faces, as if they were trying to come up with further arguments.
“Good that,” Thomas said. “I’ll take all those looks as yeses. I’m glad to see you all agree with me. Now, how’re we gonna get there?”
Brenda let out an exaggerated sigh. “Ever heard of a cab?”
After a quick meal in the mall, they caught a cab to drive them into the city. When Jorge handed the driver a card to pay with, Thomas worried again about WICKED tracking them. As soon as they got settled in their seats, he asked Jorge about it in a whisper so the driver couldn’t hear.
Jorge only gave him a troubled look.
“You’re worried because Gally knew we were coming, right?” Thomas guessed.
Jorge nodded. “A little. But the way that man introduced himself, I’m just hoping that word of an escape leaked out and this Right Arm group’s been looking for us since. I’ve heard they’re based here.”
“Or maybe it has something to do with Teresa’s group coming here first,” Brenda offered.
Thomas didn’t feel very comforted. “You sure you know what you’re doing?” he asked Jorge.
“We’ll be fine, muchacho. Now that we’re here, WICKED will have a hell of a time catching up to us. It’s easier than you think to blend in, in a city. Just relax.”
Thomas didn’t know if there was much chance of that, but he did lean back in his seat to look out the window.
The ride through Denver completely took his breath away. He remembered the hovering vehicles from his childhood—unmanned, weaponized police vehicles everyone had called cop machines. But so much was like nothing he’d ever seen before—the huge skyscrapers, the brilliant displays of holographic advertising, the countless people—he really had a hard time believing it was real. Some small part of him wondered if his optic nerves were being manipulated by WICKED somehow, if it was all yet another simulation. He wondered if he’d lived in a city like this before, and if he had, how he could possibly have forgotten the splendor of it all.
As they drove through the crowded streets, it occurred to him that maybe the world wasn’t so bad off after all. Here was an entire community, thousands of people going about their everyday lives. But the drive continued, and gradually details he hadn’t noticed began to come into focus. And the longer they drove, the more unsettled Thomas grew. Almost everyone he saw looked uneasy. They all seemed to be avoiding each other—and not just to be polite. They seemed to take obvious measures to stay clear of anyone else.
Just like back at the mall, many of them wore masks or held rags that covered their mouth and nose as they walked.
Posters and signs littered the walls of the buildings, most torn or obscured with spray paint. Some warned of the Flare and spelled out precautions; others talked about the dangers of leaving the cities, or what to do if you came across an infected person. A few had terrifying pictures of Cranks way past the Gone. Thomas spotted one poster with a close-up of a tight-faced woman with her hair pulled back, with the slogan CHANCELLOR PAIGE LOVES YOU across the bottom.
Chancellor Paige. Thomas immediately recognized the name. She was the one Brenda had said they could trust—the only one. He turned to ask Brenda about it, but paused. Something told him to wait until they were alone. As they drove, he noticed posters showing her likeness, but most of them were covered with graffiti. It was hard to tell what the woman really looked like beneath the devil horns and silly mustaches.
Some type of security force patrolled every street in great numbers—there were hundreds of them, all wearing red shirts and gas masks, a weapon in one hand and in the other a smaller version of the viral testing device Thomas and his friends had looked into before entering the city. The farther they got from the outside barrier wall, the dirtier the streets became. Trash was everywhere, windows were broken and graffiti decorated almost every wall. And despite the sun glinting off windows high above, a darkness had settled over the place.
The cab turned in to an all ey, and Thomas was surprised to see that it was deserted. The cab pulled up and stopped at a cement building that rose at least twenty stories high, and the driver popped Jorge’s card out of the slot and handed it back to him, which Thomas took as his sign to exit the car.
Once they were all out and the cab had driven away, Jorge pointed to the closest staircase. “Number 2792 is right there, on the second floor.”
Minho whistled, then said, “Looks real homey.”
Thomas agreed. The place was far from inviting, and the drab gray bricks covered in graffiti made him nervous. He didn’t want to walk up those steps and find out who was waiting inside.
Brenda gave him a push from behind. “Your idea, you lead.”
He swallowed hard but didn’t say anything, just walked over to the stairs and slowly climbed them, the other three falling in behind. The cracked and warped wooden door of apartment 2792 looked like it had been put there a thousand years ago, only a few scant remnants of faded green paint remaining.
“This is crazy,” Jorge whispered. “This is completely crazy.” Minho snorted. “Thomas kicked the klunk out of him once, he can do it again.”
“Unless he comes out with guns blazing,” Jorge countered.
“Would you guys shut up?” Thomas said—his nerves were shot. Without another word he reached out and knocked on the door. A few agonizing seconds later it opened.
Thomas could tell immediately that the black-haired kid who answered was Gally from the Glade. No doubt about it. But his face was badly scarred, covered in raised lines like thin white slugs. His right eye looked permanently swol en, and his nose, which had been big and slightly deformed before the Chuck incident, was markedly crooked.
“Glad you came,” Gally said in his raspy voice. “Because the end of the world is upon us.”
|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|