Thomas showed them the letter he’d discovered next to him in the recovery room, and it only took a few moments for them all to agree—even Teresa and Gally—to abandon the Right Arm and set off on their own.
Set off for the Maze.
Brenda looked at Thomas’s map and said she knew exactly how to get there. She gave him a knife and he gripped it tightly in his right hand, wondering if his survival would come down to one thin blade. They slipped out of the side room and made for the double doors while Vince and the others yelled at them, called them crazy, told them they’d get killed within minutes. Thomas ignored every word.
The door was still cracked, and Thomas was the first one through. He crouched, ready for an attack, but the hall was empty. The others fell in behind him, and he decided to trade stealth for speed, sprinting down that first long hallway. The gloomy light made the place feel haunted, as if the spirits of all the people WICKED had let die were there waiting in the corners and alcoves. But to Thomas, it felt like they were on his side.
With Brenda pointing the way, they turned a corner, went down a flight of stairs. Took a shortcut through an old storage room, down another long hallway. Down more stairs. A right and then a left. Thomas kept a fast pace, constantly scanning for danger. He never paused, never stopped to catch his breath, never doubted Brenda’s directions. He was a Runner again, and despite everything, it felt good.
They approached the end of one hallway and turned to the right. Thomas had only gone three more steps when out of nowhere someone was on top of him, gripping his shoulders and throwing him to the ground.
Thomas fell and rolled, pushing to get the person off of him. He heard shouts and the sounds of others struggling. It was dark and Thomas could barely see who he was fighting, but he punched and kicked, slashed with his knife, felt it connect and rip something. A woman screamed. A fist smacked into his right cheek, something hard nailed him in the upper thigh.
Thomas paused to brace himself, then pushed with all his strength. His attacker slammed into the wall, then jumped back on top of him again. They rolled, bumped into another pair of people fighting. It took every bit of his concentration to hold on to the knife, and he kept slashing, but it was hard being so close to his assailant. He jabbed with his left fist, hit under his attacker’s chin, then used the moment of reprieve to slam his knife into the person’s stomach. Another scream—again a woman, and definitely the person who was attacking him. He pushed her off for good.
Thomas stood, looked around to see who he could help. In the bare light, he saw Minho straddling a man, whaling on him, the guy showing no resistance. Brenda and Jorge had teamed up on another guard, and just as Thomas looked the man scrambled to his feet and fled. Teresa, Harriet, and Aris were leaning against a wall, catching their breath. They’d all survived. They needed to run.
“Come on!” he yelled. “Minho, leave him!”
His friend threw another couple of punches for good measure, then stood up, giving his guy one last kick.
“I’m done. We can go.”
And the group turned and kept running.
They ran down another long flight of stairs and stumbled one by one into the room at the bottom. Thomas froze in shock when he realized where he was. It was the chamber that housed the Griever pods, the room they’d found themselves in after they escaped from the Maze. The observation room windows were still shattered—the glass lay in shards all over the floor. The forty or so oblong pods where the Grievers rested and charged looked like they’d been sealed closed since the Gladers had come through weeks earlier. A layer of dust dulled what had been a shiny white surface the last time Thomas had seen them.
He knew that as a member of WICKED he’d spent countless hours and days in this place as they’d worked on creating the Maze, and he felt the shame of it all over again.
Brenda pointed out the ladder that led up to where they needed to go. Thomas shuddered at the memory of going down the slimy Griever chute during their escape—they could’ve just climbed down a ladder.
“Why isn’t anybody here?” Minho asked. He turned in a circle, searching the place. “If they’re holding people in there, why no guards?”
Thomas thought about it. “Who needs soldiers to keep them in when you have the Maze doing the job for you? It took us long enough to figure a way out.”
“I don’t know,” Minho said. “Something’s fishy about it.”
Thomas shrugged. “Well, sitting here isn’t gonna help. Unless you’ve got something useful, let’s get up there and start bringing them out.”
“Useful?” Minho repeated. “I got nothin’.”
“Then up we go.”
Thomas climbed the ladder and pulled himself out into another familiar room—the one with the input stations where he had typed the code words to shut down the Grievers. Chuck had been there, and he’d been terrified but brave. And not even an hour after that he was dead. The pain of losing his friend filled Thomas’s chest once again.
“Home, sweet home,” Minho muttered. He was pointing at a round hole above them. It was the hole that exited to the Cliff. Back when the Maze was fully operational, holotech had been used to conceal it, to make it look like part of the fake, endless sky beyond the stone edge of the drop-off. It was all turned off now, of course, and Thomas could see the walls of the Maze through the opening. A stepladder had been placed directly under it.
“I can’t believe we’re back here,” Teresa said, moving to stand beside Thomas. Her voice sounded haunted, and it echoed how he felt inside.
And for some reason, with that simple statement, Thomas realized that standing there, the two of them were finally on equal ground. Trying to save lives, trying to make up for what they’d done to help start it all.
He wanted to believe that with every ounce of his being.
He turned to look at her. “Crazy, huh?”
She smiled for the first time since … he couldn’t remember. “Crazy.” There was so much Thomas still didn’t remember—about himself, about her—but she was here, helping, and that was all he could ask for.
“Don’t you think we better get up there?” Brenda asked.
“Yeah.” Thomas nodded. “We better.”
He went last. After the others climbed through, he scaled the ladder, pushed himself up onto the ledge, then walked over two boards that had been placed across the gap to the Maze’s stone floor at the Cliff edge. Below him was just a black-walled work area that had always lookedlike an endless drop before. He looked back up at the Maze and had to pause to take it all in.
Where the sky had once shone blue and bright, there was now only the dull gray ceiling. The holotech off the side of the Cliff had been completely shut down, and the once-vertigo-inducing view had been transformed into simple black stucco. But seeing the massive ivy-covered walls leading away from the Cliff took his breath away. Those had been towering even without the help of illusion, and now they rose above him like ancient monoliths, green and gray and cracked. As if they’d stand there for a thousand years, enormous tombstones marking the death of so many.
He was back.
|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|