The bowling all ey didn’t have any doors—based on the thick rust that covered the exposed hinges, they’d been taken off and disposed of a long time ago. A large wooden sign hung above the entrance, but any words it had once displayed were gone, leaving only faded scratches of color.
“He’s in there,” the guard with the mustache said. “Now pay up.” Minho stepped past him to the empty doorway and leaned through the opening, craning his neck to see inside. Then he turned around and looked at Thomas.
“I can see him in the back,” Minho said, his face pinched with worry. “It’s dark in there, but it’s definitely him.”
Thomas had been so worried about finding their old friend, he realized he didn’t have any clue what they’d actually say to him. Why had he told them to get lost?
“We want our money,” the guard repeated.
Jorge appeared completely unfazed. “You’ll get double if you make sure we get back to our Berg safely.” The two guards consulted; then the shorter one took a turn speaking. “Triple. And we want half of it now to make sure you’re not blowing smoke out your butts.”
“That’s a deal, muchacho.”
As Jorge pulled out his card and touched it to the guard’s, transferring the money, Thomas felt a grim satisfaction that they were stealing money from WICKED.
“We’ll wait right here,” the guard said when they were done.
“Come on,” Minho said. He went inside the building without waiting for a response.
Thomas looked at Brenda, who was frowning.
“What’s wrong?” he asked. As if there were just one thing.
“I don’t know,” she responded. “I just have a bad feeling.”
“Yeah, you and me both.”
She gave him a half smile and took his hand, which now he gladly accepted; then they went into the bowling all ey with Jorge right behind them.
As with many things since his memory had been wiped, Thomas had images in his mind of what a bowling all ey should have looked like and how it functioned, but he couldn’t recall having ever bowled. The room they stepped into was far from what he’d expected.
The lanes where people had once bowled were now completely torn up, most of the wood panels ripped out or broken. Sleeping bags and blankets filled the spaces now, with people either napping or lying in a daze as they stared at the ceiling. Brenda had told Thomas that only the rich could afford the Bliss, so he wondered how people would dare reveal to others that they were using it in a place like this. He imagined it wouldn’t be long before someone decided to do whatever it took to get the drug from them.
In the niches where the bowling pins used to stand, several fires burned, which couldn’t have been very safe. But at least one person sat at each fire, tending it. The smell of burning wood wafted through the air, and a smoky haze choked the darkness.
Minho pointed to the far left lane, about a hundred feet away. Not many people were over there—most seemed to congregate in the middle lanes—but Thomas spotted Newt immediately despite the poor lighting. It was the flash of his long blond hair in the firelight and the familiar shape of his slumping body. His back was to them.
“Here goes nothing,” Thomas whispered to Brenda.
No one bothered them as they carefully made their way to Newt, picking through the maze of people dozing in blankets until they reached the far lane. Thomas watched where he walked—the last thing he wanted was to step on some Crank and get bitten in the leg.
They were about ten feet away from Newt when he suddenly spoke in a loud voice that echoed off the dark walls of the bowling all ey. “I told you bloody shanks to get lost!” Minho stopped and Thomas almost ran into him. Brenda squeezed Thomas’s hand, then let go, which was when he realized how much he’d been sweating. Hearing those words come out of Newt somehow let him know that it was over and done. Their friend would never be the same—he had only dark days ahead.
“We need to talk to you,” Minho said, moving a couple of feet closer to Newt. He had to step over a skinny woman lying on her side.
“Don’t come any closer,” Newt answered. His voice was soft, but it was full of menace. “Those thugs brought me here for a reason. They thought I was a bloody Immune holed up in that shuck Berg. Imagine their surprise when they could tell I had the Flare eating my brain. Said they were doing their civic duty when they dumped me in this rat hole.”
When Minho didn’t say anything, Thomas spoke up, trying not to let Newt’s words overcome him. “Why do you think we’re here, Newt? I’m sorry you had to stay back and got caught. I’m sorry they brought you here.
But we can break you out—it doesn’t look like anyone gives a klunk who comes or goes.” Newt slowly twisted around to face them. Thomas’s stomach dropped when he saw that the boy had a Launcher clutched in his hands. And he looked ragged, like he’d been running and fighting and falling down cliffs for three days straight. But despite the anger that had pooled in his eyes, he hadn’t been taken by madness quite yet.
“Whoa, there,” Minho said, taking a half a step back—he barely missed stepping on the lady at his heels.
“Slim it nice and calm. There’s no need to point a shuck Launcher at my face while we talk. Where’d you get that thing, anyway?”
“I stole it,” Newt answered. “Took it from a guard who made me … unhappy.” Newt’s hands were shaking slightly, which made Thomas nervous—the boy’s finger hovered over the trigger of the weapon.
“I’m … not well,” Newt said. “Honestly, I appreciate you buggin’ shanks coming for me. I mean it. But this is where it bloody ends. This is when you turn around and walk back out that door and head for your Berg and fly away. Do you understand me?”
“No, Newt, I don’t understand,” Minho said, the frustration in his voice escalating. “We risked our necks to come to this place and you’re our friend and we’re taking you home. You wanna whine and cry while you go crazy, that’s fine. But you’re gonna do it with us, not with these shuck Cranks.” Newt suddenly jumped to his feet, so quickly that Thomas almost stumbled backward. Newt lofted the Launcher and pointed it at Minho. “I am a Crank, Minho! I am a Crank! Why can’t you get that through your bloody head? If you had the Flare and knew what you were about to go through, would you want your friends to stand around and watch? Huh? Would you want that?” He was shouting by the time he finished, and was shaking more with each passing moment.
Minho didn’t say anything, and Thomas knew why. He himself was trying to find words and coming up empty. Newt’s glare shifted to him.
“And you, Tommy,” the boy said, lowering his voice. “You’ve got a lot of nerve coming here and asking me to leave with you. A lot of bloody nerve. The sight of you makes me sick.” Thomas was stunned silent. Nothing anyone had ever said had hurt so much. Nothing.
|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|