They went to a coffee shop nearby, recommended by Hans and his wife.
Thomas had never been in such a place before. At least, not that he remembered. Customers lined up at the counter, getting coffee and pastries, then heading for a table or back out the door. He watched as a nervous older woman kept lifting her surgical mask to sip her hot drink. One of those red-shirted guards stood at the door, randomly testing people for the Flare with his handheld device every couple of minutes or so; an odd metal apparatus covered his own mouth and nose.
Thomas sat with Minho and Brenda at a table in the back corner while Jorge went to get food and drinks.
Thomas’s eyes kept coming back to a man, maybe thirty-five or forty years old, who sat at a nearby bench in front of a large window onto the street. He hadn’t touched his coffee since Thomas and his friends had arrived, and steam no longer rose from the cup. The man just hunched over, elbows on knees, hands loosely clasped, staring at a spot on the other side of the shop.
There was something disturbing about the look on his face. Blank. His eyes were almost floating in their sockets, and yet there was a hint of pleasure there. When Thomas pointed it out to Brenda, she whispered that the guy was probably on the Bliss and would be jailed if he got caught. It gave Thomas the will ies. He hoped the man would leave soon.
Jorge returned with sandwiches and steaming cups of coffee and the four of them ate and drank in silence. Thomas knew they all realized the urgency of their situation, but he was grateful to rest and get some strength back.
They finished up and were getting ready to leave, but Brenda remained in her seat. “Would you guys mind waiting outside for a few minutes?” she asked. Her look made it obvious that she meant Jorge and Minho.
“Excuse me?” Minho responded, his tone exasperated. “More secrets?”
“No. Nothing like that. I promise. I just need a moment. I want to tell Thomas something.” Thomas was surprised but curious. He sat back down. “Just go,” he said, addressing Minho. “You know I won’t keep anything from you. And she knows it, too.”
His friend grumbled, but finally went with Jorge, and the two of them stood out on the sidewalk near the closest window. Minho flashed Thomas a goofy grin and waved, his sarcasm making it obvious he wasn’t exactly happy. Thomas waved back, then focused on Brenda.
“So? What’s this all about?” he asked.
“I know we need to hurry, so I’ll be really quick. We haven’t had time to be alone, and I just want to make sure you know that what happened in the Scorch wasn’t an act. I was there on a job, I was there to help things play out, but I did grow close to you and it did change me. And there are a few things I think you deserve to know. About me, about Chancel or Paige, about—”
Thomas held his hand up to cut her off. “Please just stop.”
She pulled back, a look of surprise on her face. “What? Why?”
“I don’t want to know anything. Not one more thing. All I care about is what we’re going to do from here out, not stuff about my past or yours or WICKED’s. Nothing. And we need to move.”
“No, Brenda. I mean it. We’re here and we have a goal and that’s all we need to focus on. No more talking.”
She held his gaze without saying anything, then looked down at her hands resting on the table. “Then all I’ll say is I know you’re doing the right thing, going in the right direction. And I’ll keep helping as best I can.” Thomas hoped he hadn’t hurt her feelings, but he meant what he’d said. It was time to let go, even though she was obviously itching to tell him something. As he searched for a response, his eyes wandered back to the odd man on the bench. He’d pulled something Thomas couldn’t see out of his pocket and was pressing it against the crook of his right elbow. He closed his eyes in a long blink, looking a little dazed when they opened again. His head slowly drifted backward until it rested on the window.
The red-shirted Flare tester stepped into the café and Thomas leaned over to get a better look. Red Shirt walked toward the bench where the drugged-out man was still resting peacefully. A short woman moved along next to the tester, whispering into his ear and fidgeting nervously.
“Thomas?” Brenda asked.
He put a finger to his lips, then nodded toward the potential confrontation. She turned in her seat to see what was going on.
Red Shirt kicked the toe of the guy on the bench, who flinched and looked up. The men started exchanging words, but Thomas couldn’t hear what they were saying over the bustle and buzz of the crowded coffee shop. The man who’d been relaxing there suddenly looked scared.
Brenda turned back to Thomas. “We need to get out of here. Now.”
“Why?” The air seemed to have thickened, and Thomas was curious about what was going to happen.
Brenda was already standing. “Just come on!”
She turned and walked briskly toward the exit, and Thomas finally moved to follow her. He’d just risen from his chair when Red Shirt pulled out a gun and pointed it at the man on the bench, then leaned in to place his testing device on the man’s face. But the man swatted it away and rushed forward, tackling the tester. Thomas stared, frozen in shock, as the gun skittered away and disappeared under a counter. The two men crashed into a table and slammed to the floor.
Red Shirt started yelling; his voice sounded almost robotic coming through the protective metal mask covering his mouth and nose. “We’ve got an infected! Everyone evacuate the building!” The place turned into pandemonium, screams filling the air as everyone fled toward the only exit.
|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|