There was no sign of the guards who’d escorted them there, but there were even more Cranks than when they’d entered the bowling all ey. And most of them seemed to be waiting for the newcomers. They’d probably heard the sounds of the Launcher firing and the screams of the guy who’d been hit. Or maybe someone had come out to tell them. Whatever the case, Thomas felt as if every person looking at him were past the Gone and hungry for human lunch.
“Look at these jokers,” someone called out.
“Yeah, ain’t they pretty!” another answered. “Come to play with the Cranks. Or are you on your way to joining us?”
Thomas kept moving, making his way toward the arched entrance to the Central Zone. He’d let go of Minho’s arm but still held Brenda’s hand. They marched through the crowd, and Thomas finally had to stop meeting peoples’ gazes. All he saw was madness and bloodlust and jealousy carved onto countless bleeding and mangled faces. He wanted to run but had the sense that if he did the whole crowd would attack like a pack of wolves.
They reached the arch, went through it without hesitating. Thomas led them down the main street, crossing through the rings of dilapidated houses. The ruckus of the Zone seemed to have started up again now that they were gone, and eerie sounds of crazed laughter and wild screaming followed the group on their trek. The farther they got from the noise, the less tense Thomas felt. He didn’t dare speak to ask Minho how he was. Plus, he knew the answer.
They were just passing another set of broken homes when he heard a couple of shouts ring out, and then the sound of footsteps.
“Run!” someone yelled. “Run!”
Thomas came to a stop just as the two guards who’d abandoned them came careering around the corner. They didn’t slow but ran toward the farthest ring of the town and the Berg. Neither of them had their Launchers anymore.
“Hey!” Minho shouted. “Get back here!”
The guard with the mustache looked back. “I said run, you idiots! Come on!” Thomas didn’t take time to think. He sprinted after them, knowing it was the only choice. Minho, Jorge, and Brenda followed close on his heels. He looked back to see a cluster of Cranks chasing them, at least a dozen. And they seemed frantic, as if a switch had been flipped and every one of them had reached the Gone at once.
“What happened?” Minho asked through heavy breaths.
“They dragged us away from the Zone!” the shorter man yelled. “I swear to God they were gonna eat us.
We barely escaped.”
“Don’t stop running!” the other guard added. The two of them suddenly peeled off in another direction, down a hidden all ey.
Thomas and his friends continued toward the exit leading to their Berg. Catcalls and whistles rose from behind them, and Thomas risked another glimpse back for a better look at their pursuers. Torn clothes, matted hair, muddied faces. But they’d gained no ground.
“They can’t catch us!” he yelled, just as the exterior gate came into view ahead of them. “Keep going, we’re almost there!”
Even so, Thomas ran faster than he’d ever run in his life—pushed harder even than he ever had in the Maze. The thought of getting caught by those Cranks filled him with horror. The group made it to the gate and passed through it without pausing. They didn’t bother to close it, just ran straight for the Berg, its hatch opening as Jorge pushed the buttons on his pad.
They reached the ramp and Thomas ran up it and hurled himself inside. He turned to see his friends sliding to the floor around him, the ramp squealing as it started moving upward to close. The pack of Cranks chasing them would never make it in time, but they kept running, screaming and shouting nonsense. One of them reached down and picked up a rock, hurled it. The thing fell twenty feet short.
The Berg rose into the air just as the door sealed shut.
Jorge hovered the ship just a few dozen feet in the air while they gathered their wits. The Cranks were no threat from the ground—none of them had weapons. Not the ones who’d followed them outside the wall, at any rate.
Thomas stood with Minho and Brenda at one of the viewing ports and watched the deliriously angry crowd below. It was hard to believe that what he was seeing was real.
“Look at them down there,” Thomas said. “Who knows what they were doing a few months ago. Living in a high-rise, maybe, working at some office. Now they’re chasing people like wild animals.”
“I’ll tell you what they were doing a few months ago,” Brenda answered. “They were miserable, scared to death of catching the Flare, knowing it’s inevitable.”
Minho threw his hands up. “How can you worry about them? Was I alone just now? With my friend? His name is Newt.”
“Nothing we could’ve done,” Jorge called from the cockpit. Thomas winced at the lack of compassion.
Minho turned to face him. “Just shut up and fly, shuck-face.”
“I’ll do my best,” Jorge said with a sigh. He fiddled with some instruments and got the Berg moving.
Minho slumped to the floor, almost like he’d melted. “What happens when he runs out of Launcher grenades?” he asked no one in particular, looking at an empty spot on the wall.
Thomas had no idea how to respond, no way to express the sorrow that filled his chest. He sank down next to Minho on the ground and sat there without saying a word as the Berg rose higher and flew away from the Crank Palace.
Newt was gone.
|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|