Thomas had closed his eyes when he did it. He heard the impact of bullet on flesh and bone, felt Newt’s body jerk, then fall onto the street. Thomas twisted onto his stomach, then pushed himself to his feet, and he didn’t open his eyes until he started running. He couldn’t allow himself to see what he’d done to his friend.
The horror of it, the sorrow and guilt and sickness of it all, threatened to consume him, filled his eyes with tears as he ran toward the white van.
“Get in!” Lawrence yelled at him.
The door was still open. Thomas jumped through it and pulled it shut. Then the van was moving.
No one spoke. Thomas stared out the front window in a daze. He’d shot his best friend in the head. Never mind that it was what he’d been asked to do, what Newt had wanted, what he’d pleaded for. Thomas had still pulled the trigger. He looked down, saw that his hands and legs were shaking, and he suddenly felt freezing cold.
“What have I done?” he mumbled, but the others didn’t say a word.
The rest of the trip was a blur to Thomas. They passed more Cranks, even had to shoot some Launcher grenades out the window a couple of times. Then they were through the outer wall of the city, through the fence to the small airport, through the enormous door of the hangar, which was heavily guarded by more members of the Right Arm.
Not much was said, and Thomas just did as he was told, went where he was supposed to go. They boarded the Berg, and he followed as they walked through it and did an inspection. But he never said a word. The pilot went to fire up the big ship, Lawrence disappeared somewhere, and Thomas found a couch in the common room. He lay down and stared at the metal grid of the ceiling.
Since he’d killed Newt, he hadn’t thought once about what he had set out to do. Free of WICKED, finally, and here he was voluntarily going back.
He didn’t care anymore. Whatever happened, happened. He knew that for the rest of his life he’d be haunted by what he’d seen. Chuck gasping for air while he bled to death, and now Newt screaming at him with raw, terrifying madness. And that last moment of sanity, eyes begging for mercy.
Thomas closed his own, and the images were still there. It took a long time for him to fall asleep.
Lawrence woke him up. “Hey, rise and shine, boy. We’ll be there in a few minutes. We’re dropping your butt, then getting the hell out of there. No offense.”
“None taken.” Thomas groaned and swung his legs off the couch. “How far will I have to walk to get there?”
“A few miles. Don’t worry, I don’t think you’ll have too many Cranks to deal with—it’s gotten cold in the wilderness. Might see a few angry moose, though. Wolves might try to eat your legs off. Nothing much.” Thomas looked at the man, expecting a big grin, but he was busy in the corner, putting things in order.
“A coat and your backpack are waiting for you at the cargo door,” Lawrence said as he moved a small piece of equipment onto a shelf. “You’ve got food and water. We want to make sure you have a nice, enjoyable hike—relish the joys of nature and all that.” still no smile.
“Thanks,” Thomas muttered. He was trying so hard not to slide back into the dark pit of sadness in which he’d fall en asleep. He still couldn’t get Chuck and Newt off his mind.
Lawrence stopped what he was doing and turned to him. “I’m only going to ask you this once.”
“You sure about this? Everything I know about these people is rotten. They kidnap, torture, murder—do anything to get what they want. Seems crazy to let you waltz in there all by yourself.” For some reason Thomas wasn’t scared anymore. “I’ll be fine. Just make sure you come back.” Lawrence shook his head. “You’re either the bravest kid I ever met or plain crazy. Anyway, go get yourself a shower and fresh clothes—gotta be some in the lockers.”
Thomas didn’t know how he looked at that moment, but he imagined something like a pale and lifeless zombie with dead eyes. “Okay,” he said, and headed off to try to wash some of the horror away.
The Berg pitched and Thomas held on to a bar in the wall as the ship lowered to the ground. The ramp door started cranking open with the squeal of hinges while they were still a hundred feet up, and cool air blasted inside. The sound of the thrusters burning roared louder. Thomas could see that they were above a small clearing in a large forest of snow-dusted pine trees—so many that the Berg wouldn’t be able to land.
Thomas would have to jump.
The ship descended and Thomas steadied himself.
“Good luck, boy,” Lawrence said, nodding toward the ground when they got close. “I’d tell you to be careful, but you’re not an idiot, so I won’t.”
Thomas gave him a smile, hoping for one in return. He felt like he needed it, but got nothing. “Okay, then.
I’ll get the device planted as soon as I get in. I’m sure everything will go down with no problems. Right?”
“I’ll have little lizards flying out my nostrils if we have no problems,” Lawrence replied, but there was kindness in his voice. “Now get. Once you’re out there, go that way.” He pointed to the left, toward the edge of the forest.
Thomas pulled on a coat, slipped his arms through the straps of the backpack, then carefully walked down the big metal slab of the cargo door and crouched on its edge. It was only about four feet to the snow-covered ground, but he’d still have to be careful. He jumped and landed in a soft spot—a fresh snowdrift. All the while, his insides were numb.
He’d killed Newt.
He’d shot his own friend in the head.
|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|