T-shirt and jeans. Running shoes—just like the ones he’d worn in the Maze. Fresh, soft socks. After washing himself from top to bottom at least five times, he felt reborn. He couldn’t help but think that from here on things would improve. That he was going to take control of his own life now. If only the mirror hadn’t reminded him of his tattoo—the one given to him before the Scorch. It was a permanent symbol of what he’d been through, and he wished he could forget it all.
He stood outside the door to the bathroom, leaning against the wall, arms folded, waiting. He wondered if the Rat Man would come back—or had he left Thomas to wander the place, begin yet another Trial? He’d barely begun the line of thinking before he heard footsteps, then saw the weaselly man’s white form turn the corner.
“Well, aren’t you looking spiffy?” the Rat Man commented, the edges of his mouth crawling up his cheeks in an uncomfortable-looking smile.
Thomas’s mind raced with a hundred sarcastic answers, but he knew he had to play it straight. All that mattered at the moment was gathering as much information as he could and then finding his friends. “I feel fine, actually. So … thanks.” He plastered a casual smile on his own face. “When do I get to see the other Gladers?”
“Right now.” Rat Man was all business again. He nodded back toward the way he’d come and gestured for Thomas to follow him. “All of you went through different types of tests for Phase Three of the Trials. We’d hoped to have the kill zone patterns mapped out by the end of the second phase, but we had to improvise in order to push further. Like I said, though, we’re very close. You’ll all be full partners in the study now, helping us fine-tune and dig deeper until we solve this puzzle.”
Thomas squinted. He guessed his Phase Three had been the white room—but what about the others? As much as he’d hated his trial, he could only imagine how much worse WICKED could have made it. He almost hoped he never found out what they had devised for his friends.
Finally Rat Man arrived at a door. He opened it without hesitating and stepped through.
They entered a small auditorium and relief washed over Thomas. Sitting scattered among a dozen or so rows of seats were his friends, safe and healthy-looking. The Gladers and girls of Group B. Minho. Frypan.
Newt. Aris. Sonya. Harriet. Everyone seemed happy—talking, smiling and laughing—though maybe they were faking, to some extent. Thomas assumed they’d also been told things were almost over, but he doubted anyone believed it. He certainly didn’t. Not yet.
He looked around the room for Jorge and Brenda—he really wanted to see Brenda. He’d been anxious about her ever since she’d vanished after the Berg picked them up, worried that WICKED had sent her and Jorge back to the Scorch like they’d threatened to—but there was no sign of either one. Before he could ask Rat Man about them, however, a voice broke through the din, and Thomas couldn’t stop a smile from spreading across his face.
“Well, I’ve been shucked and gone to heaven. It’s Thomas!” Minho called out. His announcement was followed by hoots and cheers and catcalls. A swell of relief mixed with the worry clawing in Thomas’s stomach and he continued to search the faces in the room. Too overcome to speak, he just kept grinning until his eyes found Teresa.
She’d stood up, turned from her chair on the end of the row to face him. Black hair, clean and brushed and shiny, draped over her shoulders and framed her pale face. Her red lips parted into a huge smile, lighting up her features, making her blue eyes glow. Thomas almost went to her but stopped himself, his mind clouded with vivid memories of what she’d done to him, of what she’d said about WICKED being good even after everything that had happened.
Can you hear me? he called out with his mind, just to see if their ability had come back.
But she didn’t respond, and he still didn’t feel her presence inside him. They just stood there, staring at each other, eyes locked for what seemed like a minute but could only have been a few seconds. And then Minho and Newt were by his side, slapping him on the back, shaking his hand, pulling him into the room.
“Well, at least you didn’t bloody roll over and die, Tommy,” Newt said, squeezing his hand tightly. His tone sounded grumpier than usual, especially considering they hadn’t seen each other in weeks, but he was in one piece. Which was something to be thankful for.
Minho had a smirk on his face, but a hard glint in his eyes showed that he’d been through an awful time.
That he wasn’t quite himself yet, just trying his hardest to act like it. “The mighty Gladers, back together again. Good to see ya alive, shuck-face—I’ve imagined you dead in about a hundred different ways. I bet you cried every night, missing me.”
“Yeah,” Thomas muttered, thrilled to see everybody but still struggling to find words. He broke away from the reunion and made his way to Teresa. He had an overwhelming urge to face her and come to some kind of peace until he could decide what to do. “Hey.”
“Hey,” she replied. “You okay?”
Thomas nodded. “I guess. Kind of a rough few weeks. Could—” He stopped himself. He’d almost asked if she’d been able to hear him trying to reach out to her with his mind, but he didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of knowing he’d done it.
“I tried, Tom. Every day I tried to talk to you. They cut us off, but I think it’s all been worth it.” She reached out and took his hand, which set off a chorus of mocking jabs from the Gladers.
Thomas quickly pulled his hand from her grasp, felt his face flush red. For some reason, her words had made him suddenly angry, but the others mistook his action for mere embarrassment.
“Awwww,” Minho said. “That’s almost as sweet as that time she slammed the end of a spear into your shuck face.”
“True love indeed.” This from Frypan, followed by his deep bell ow of a laugh. “I’d hate to see what happens when these two have their first real fight.” Thomas didn’t care what they thought, but he was determined to show Teresa that she couldn’t get away with everything she’d done to him. Whatever trust they’d shared before the trials—whatever relationship they’d had—meant nothing now. He might find a sort of peace with her, but he resolved right then and there that he would only trust Minho and Newt. No one else.
He was just about to respond when Rat Man came marching down the aisle clapping his hands.
“Everybody take a seat. We’ve got a few things to cover before we remove the Swipe.” He’d said it so casually, Thomas almost didn’t catch it. The words registered— remove the Swipe—and he froze.
The room stilled and the Rat Man stepped up onto the stage at the front of the room and approached the lectern. He gripped the edges and repeated the same forced smile from earlier, then spoke. “That’s right, ladies and gents. You’re about to get all your memories back. Every last one of them.”
|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|