“Listen to me!” Teresa screamed. She grabbed him by the shoulders and turned him around to look him in the face. “On the tail end of the Grievers”—she pointed at the closest pod—“what the Creators called the barrel—inside the blubber, there’s a switch, like a handle. You have to reach through the skin and pull it out.
If you can do it, the things will die.”
Thomas nodded. “Okay. You keep people going!”
The tops of the pods continued to open as Thomas sprinted to the closest one. The lid was halfway up when he reached it, and he strained to look inside. The Griever’s huge, sluglike body was trembling and twisting, sucking up moisture and fuel from tubes connected to its sides.
Thomas ran to its far end and pulled himself up on the lip of the container, then stretched over and leaned down to the Griever inside. He slammed his hand through the moist skin to find what Teresa had described.
He grunted with the effort, pushed until he found a hard handle, then yanked on it with all his strength. The whole thing tore loose and the Griever fell into a limp mass of jelly at the bottom of the pod.
He threw the handle to the floor and ran to the next pod, where the lid was lowering to the ground. It took him only a few seconds to pull himself up and over the side, bury his hand in the fatty flesh and yank out the handle.
As he ran to the next pod, Thomas risked a quick glance up at Teresa. She was still helping people from the floor after they slid down the chute and sending them through the doors. They were coming fast, landing on top of each other. Sonya was there, then Frypan, then Gally. Minho came flying through even as he watched. Thomas reached the pod, the lid now completely open, the tubes connecting the Griever to the container detaching themselves one by one. He pulled himself up and over, slammed his hand into the thing’s skin and ripped out the handle.
Thomas dropped to the ground and turned to the fourth pod, but the Griever was moving, its front end slipping up and over the edge of the open pod, appendages bursting out of the skin to help it maneuver.
Thomas barely reached it in time, jumped up and heaved himself over the side of the pod. He pushed his hand inside the blubbery skin, grabbed the handle. A pair of scissoring blades swiped at his head; he ducked as he wrenched the piece out of the creature’s body and it died, its mass pulling it back into the coffinlike container.
Thomas knew it was too late to stop the last Griever before it exited its pod. He turned to assess the situation and watched as its full body sloshed out onto the ground. It was already scanning the area with a small observer socket that extended from its front; then, as he’d seen them do so many times before, the thing curled up into a ball and spikes burst from the skin. The creature spun forward with a great whirring of the machines within its belly. Concrete kicked up in the air, the Griever’s spikes tearing through the flooring, and Thomas watched, helpless, as it crashed into a small group of people who’d come through the chute.
Blades extended, it sliced through several people before they even knew what was happening.
Thomas looked around, searching for anything he could use as a weapon. A piece of pipe about the length of his arm had broken off from something in the ceiling—he ran to it and picked it up. When he turned back toward the Griever, he saw that Minho had already made it to the creature. He was kicking at it with a fierceness that was almost frightening.
Thomas charged the monster, yelling at the others to get away. The Griever spun toward him as if he’d heard the command, and it reared up on its bulbous back end. Two appendages emerged from the creature’s sides and Thomas skidded to a halt—a new metal arm buzzed with a spinning saw, the other with a nasty-looking claw, its four tips ending in blades.
“Minho, just let me distract it!” he yelled. “Get everyone out of here and have Brenda start leading them to the maintenance room!”
Even as he said it, he watched a man trying to crawl out of the Griever’s way. Before the man could get a few feet from it, a rod shot out of the creature and stabbed him in the chest, and he collapsed to the floor, spitting blood.
Thomas ran in, raising his pipe, ready to beat his way past the appendages, find his way to the handle.
He’d almost made it when Teresa suddenly flashed in from his right, throwing her body onto the Griever. It immediately collapsed into a ball, all its metal arms retracting to press her to its skin.
“Teresa!” Thomas screamed, pulling up short, not sure what to do.
She twisted around to look at him. “Just go! Get them out!” She started kicking and clawing, her hands disappearing in the fatty flesh. So far she appeared to have escaped major injury.
Thomas inched in closer, gripping the pipe tighter, looking for an opening to attack without hitting her instead.
Teresa’s eyes found him again. “Get out of—”
But her words were lost. The Griever had sucked her face into its blubbery skin and was pulling her farther and farther in, suffocating her.
Thomas stared, frozen. Too many people had died. Too many. And he wasn’t going to stand there and let her sacrifice herself to save him and the others. He couldn’t let that happen.
He screamed, and with all of the force he had, he ran and leaped into the air, smashing into the Griever.
The spinning saw flew toward his chest and he dodged to the left, swinging the pipe around as he did. It connected, hard, and the saw broke off, flew through the air. Thomas heard it hit the ground and clatter across the room. He used his balance to swing back, driving the pipe into the creature’s body, just to the side of Teresa’s head. He strained with all he had to pull it back out, then drove it in again, then again.
An appendage with a claw clamped down on him, lifted him into the air and threw him. He slammed onto the hard cement floor and rolled, jumped back to his feet. Teresa had gained some leverage on the creature’s body, had gotten to her knees, was swatting at the Griever’s metal arms. Thomas charged in again, jumped and clung to its fatty flesh. He used the pipe to whack at anything that came near him. Teresa fought and struggled from below and the creature lurched to the side, then spun in a circle, flinging her at least ten feet through the air before she landed.
Thomas grabbed hold of a metal arm, kicking away the claw as it swiped at him again. He planted his feet against the blubber, pushed himself down the creature’s side and stretched. He plunged his arm into the flabby flesh, felt for the handle. Something sliced his back, and pain ripped through his body. He kept digging, searching for the handle—the deeper he went, the more the creature’s flesh felt like thick mud.
Finally his fingertips brushed hard plastic and he forced his hand forward another inch, grabbed the handle, pulled with all his strength and spun his body off of the Griever. He looked up to see Teresa batting back a pair of blades just inches from her face. And then a sudden silence filled the room as the creature’s machine core sputtered and died. It collapsed into a flat, oblong pile of fat and gears, its protruding appendages falling to the ground, limp.
Thomas rested his head on the floor and sucked in huge lungfuls of air. And then Teresa was by his side, helping him roll over onto his back. He saw the pain on her face, the scratches, the flushed, sweaty skin. But then somehow she smiled.
“Thanks, Tom,” she said.
“You’re welcome.” The respite from the battle felt too good to be true.
She helped pull him to his feet. “Let’s get out of here.”
Thomas noticed that no one was coming through the chute anymore, and Minho had just ushered the last few people through the double doors. Then he turned and faced Thomas and Teresa.
He bent over, hands on knees to catch his breath. “That’s all of them.” He stood straight with a groan. “All that made it, anyway. Guess we know now why they let us in so easy—they planned to slice us to bits with shuck Grievers if we came back out. Anyway, you guys need to push up to the front and help Brenda lead the way.”
“She’s okay, then?” Thomas asked. The relief he felt was overwhelming.
“Yeah. She’s up there already.”
Thomas crawled to his feet, but didn’t take two steps before he stopped again. A deep rumble came from somewhere, from everywhere. The room shook for a few seconds then stilled.
“We better hurry,” he said, and broke into a sprint, following the others.
|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|