Newt looked horrible. His hair had been torn out in patches, leaving bald spots that were nothing more than red welts. Scratches and bruises covered his face; his shirt was ripped, barely hanging on to his thin frame, and his pants were filthy with grime and blood. It was like he’d finally given in to the Cranks, joined their ranks fully.
But he stared at Thomas, as if he recognized that he’d stumbled upon a friend.
Lawrence had been talking, but Thomas only now processed his words.
“We’re okay. She’s shot to hell, but hopefully she’ll get us another couple of miles to the hangar.” Lawrence shifted into reverse and the van wobbled away from the cement wall, the crunch of broken plastic and metal and the squeal of tires erupting in the complete silence that had fall en. Then he started to drive off, and it was like a switch clicked in Thomas’s head.
“Stop!” he yelled. “Stop the van! Now!”
“What?” Lawrence replied. “What’re you talking about?”
“Just stop the freaking van!”
Lawrence slammed on the brakes as Thomas scrambled to his feet and went for the door. He started to open it when Lawrence grabbed his shirt from behind and yanked him backward.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” the man yelled at him.
Thomas wouldn’t let anything stop him now. He yanked the gun out of his pants and pointed it at Lawrence. “Let go of me. Let go of me!”
Lawrence did, throwing his hands up in the air. “Whoa, kid. Calm down! What is wrong with you?” Thomas backed away from him. “I saw my friend out there—I want to see if he’s okay. If any trouble starts, I’ll run back to the van. Just be ready to get us out of here when I do.”
“You think that thing out there is still your friend?” the pilot asked coldly. “Those Cranks are way past the Gone. Can’t you see that? Your friend is nothing but an animal now. Worse than an animal.”
“Then it’ll be a short goodbye, won’t it,” Thomas answered. He opened the door, then backed out onto the street. “Cover me if I need it. I have to do this.”
“I’m gonna kick your butt before we get on that Berg, I can promise you that,” Lawrence growled. “Hurry. If those Cranks by the garbage heap head this way, we start firing. I don’t care if your mommy and uncle Frank are out there.”
“Good that.” Thomas turned away from them, slipping the pistol back into his jeans. He walked slowly toward his friend, who stood alone, far away from the pack of Cranks still working on their pile of refuse. For the moment they seemed satisfied with that—they didn’t seem interested in him.
Thomas walked half the distance to Newt, then stopped. The worst part about his friend was the wildness in his eyes. Madness lurked behind them, two festering pools of sickness. How had it happened so quickly?
“Hey. Newt. It’s me, Thomas. You still remember me, right?”
A sudden clarity filled Newt’s eyes then, almost making Thomas step back in surprise.
“I bloody remember you, Tommy. You just came to see me at the Palace, rubbed it in that you ignored my note. I can’t go completely crazy in a few days.”
Those words hurt Thomas’s heart even more than the pitiful sight of his friend. “Then why are you here?
Why are you with … them?”
Newt looked at the Cranks, then back at Thomas. “It comes and goes, man. I can’t explain it. Sometimes I can’t control myself, barely know what I’m doing. But usually it’s just like an itch in my brain, throwing everything off-kilter just enough to bother me—make me angry.”
“You seem fine right now.”
“Yeah, well. The only reason I’m with these wackers from the Palace is because I don’t know what else to do. They’re fighting, but they’re also a group. You find yourself alone, you don’t have a bloody chance.”
“Newt, come with me this time, right now. We can take you somewhere safer, somewhere better to …” Newt laughed, and when he did his head twitched strangely a couple of times. “Get out of here, Tommy.
“Just come with me,” Thomas begged. “I’ll tie you up if it makes you feel better.” Newt’s face suddenly hardened into anger and his words shot out in a rage. “Just shut up, you shuck traitor! Didn’t you read my note? You can’t do one last, lousy thing for me? Gotta be the hero, like always? I hate you! I always hated you!”
He doesn’t mean it, Thomas told himself firmly. But they were just words. “Newt …”
“It was all your fault! You could’ve stopped them when the first Creators died. You could’ve figured out a way. But no! You had to keep it going, try to save the world, be the hero. And you came to the Maze and never stopped. All you care about is yourself! Admit it! Gotta be the one people remember, the one people worship! We should’ve thrown you down the Box hole!”
Newt’s face had colored to a deep red, and spit flew from his mouth as he yelled. He started taking lumbering steps forward, his hands balled into fists.
“I’m gonna blast him!” Lawrence yelled from the van. “Get out of the way!” Thomas turned. “Don’t! It’s just me and him! Don’t do anything!” He faced Newt again. “Newt, stop. Just listen to me. I know you’re okay in there. Enough to hear me out.”
“I hate you, Tommy!” He was only a few feet away and Thomas took a step backward, his hurt over Newt turning to fear. “I hate you I hate you I hate you! After all I did for you, after all the freaking klunk I went through in the bloody Maze, you can’t do the one and only thing I’ve ever asked you to do! I can’t even look at your ugly shuck face!”
Thomas took two more steps back. “Newt, you need to stop. They’re going to shoot you. Just stop and listen to me! Get in the van, let me tie you up. Give me a chance!” He couldn’t kill his friend. He just couldn’t.
Newt screamed and rushed forward. An arc of Launcher lightning shot from the van, skidding and crackling across the pavement, but it missed him. Thomas had frozen in place, and Newt tackled him to the ground, knocking the breath out of him. He struggled to fill his lungs as his old friend climbed on top of him and pinned him down.
“I should rip your eyes out,” Newt said, spraying Thomas with spit. “Teach you a lesson in stupidity. Why’d you come over here? You expected a bloody hug? Huh? A nice sit-down to talk about the good times in the Glade?”
Thomas shook his head, gripped by terror, very slowly reaching for his gun with his free hand.
“You wanna know why I have this limp, Tommy? Did I ever tell you? No, I don’t think I did.”
“What happened?” Thomas asked, stalling for time. He slipped his fingers around the weapon.
“I tried to kill myself in the Maze. Climbed halfway up one of those bloody walls and jumped right off. Alby found me and dragged me back to the Glade right before the Doors closed. I hated the place, Tommy. I hated every second of every day. And it was all … your … fault!” Newt suddenly twisted around and grabbed Thomas by the hand holding the gun. He yanked it toward himself, forcing it up until the end of the pistol was pressed against his own forehead. “Now make amends!
Kill me before I become one of those cannibal monsters! Kill me! I trusted you with the note! No one else.
Now do it!”
Thomas tried to pull his hand away, but Newt was too strong. “I can’t, Newt, I can’t.”
“Make amends! Repent for what you did!” The words tore out of him, his whole body trembling. Then his voice dropped to an urgent, harsh whisper. “Kill me, you shuck coward. Prove you can do the right thing. Put me out of my misery.”
The words horrified Thomas. “Newt, maybe we can—”
“Shut up! Just shut up! I trusted you! Now do it!”
“I can’t!” How could Newt ask him to do something like this? How could he possibly kill one of his best friends?
“Kill me or I’ll kill you. Kill me! Do it!”
“Do it before I become one of them!”
“KILL ME!” And then Newt’s eyes cleared, as if he’d gained one last trembling gasp of sanity, and his voice softened. “Please, Tommy. Please.”
With his heart falling into a black abyss, Thomas pulled the trigger.
|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|