At least two hundred people had made it out of the Maze, but for some reason they’d stopped moving.
Thomas dodged people in the crowded hallway, struggling to get to the front.
He weaved around men, women and children until finally he spotted Brenda. She pushed her way toward him and pulled him into a hug and kissed his cheek. With every bit of his heart, he wished it could all be over right then—that they could be safe, not have to go any farther.
“Minho made me leave,” she said. “He forced me to go, promised to help if you needed it. He told me that getting everyone out was too important and you guys could handle the Griever. I should’ve stayed. I’m sorry.”
“I told him to,” Thomas responded. “You did the right thing. The only thing. We’ll be out of here soon.” She gave him a little push. “Then let’s hurry and make it happen.”
“Okay.” He squeezed her hand and they joined Teresa, moving toward the front of the group again.
The hallway was even darker than before—the lights that worked at all were dim, and flickered off and on.
The people they passed huddled in silence, waiting anxiously. Thomas saw Frypan, who said nothing but did his best to give an encouraging smile, which, as usual, looked more like a smirk. In the distance, the occasional boom thundered through the air and the building trembled. The explosions still felt far enough away, but Thomas knew it wouldn’t last.
When he and Brenda reached the front of the line, they found that the group had stopped at a stairwell, unsure whether to go up or down.
“We need to go up,” Brenda said.
Thomas didn’t hesitate. He motioned for the group to follow and started climbing, Brenda at his side.
He refused to succumb to the fatigue. Four flights, five, six. He stopped on the landing, catching his breath, and looked down, saw that the others were coming. Brenda guided him through a doorway, down another long hallway, left and then right, up another flight of stairs. One more hall and then down some stairs.
One foot in front of the other. Thomas just hoped that the chancel or had been honest about the Flat Trans.
An explosion sounded somewhere above him, jolting the entire building and throwing him to the floor.
Dust choked the air, and small pieces of the ceiling tiles landed on his back. Sounds of things creaking and breaking filled the air. Finally, after several seconds of shaking, everything grew quiet and still again.
He reached out for Brenda, made sure she wasn’t hurt.
“Everybody okay?” he shouted down the hallway.
“Yeah!” someone called back.
“Keep moving! We’re almost there!” He helped Brenda to her feet and they continued, Thomas praying the building would stay in one piece just a little while longer.
Thomas, Brenda, and those following them finally made it to the section of the building the chancel or had circled on the map—the maintenance room. Several more bombs had detonated, each one closer than the one before it. But nothing strong enough to stop them, and now they were practically there.
The maintenance room was situated behind a huge warehouse area. Neat rows of metal racks full of boxes lined the right wall, and Thomas crossed to that side of the room, then began waving everybody in.
He wanted everyone together before they went through the Flat Trans. There was one door at the back of the space—it had to lead to the room they’d been looking for.
“Keep them coming and get them ready,” he told Brenda; then he sprinted for the door. If Chancel or Paige had lied about the Flat Trans, or if someone from WICKED or the Right Arm figured out what they were doing, they were finished.
The door led to a small room filled with tables that were littered with tools and scraps of metal and machine parts. On the far side, a large piece of canvas had been hung against the wall. Thomas ran to it and ripped it down. Behind it he found a dully shimmering wall of gray framed by a rectangle of shiny silver, and next to it, a control box.
It was the Flat Trans.
The chancel or had told the truth.
Thomas let out a laugh at the thought. WICKED—the leader of WICKED—had helped him.
Unless … He realized he needed to know one last thing. He had to test it to see where it led before he sent everyone through. Thomas sucked in a deep breath. This was it.
He forced himself to step through the icy Flat Trans surface. And he came out into a simple wooden shed, its door wide open in front of him. Beyond that he saw … green. Lots and lots of green. Grass, trees, flowers, bushes. It was good enough for him.
He stepped back through to the maintenance room, exhilarated. They’d done it—they were almost safe.
He ran out to the storage area.
“Come on!” he yelled. “Get everyone in here—it works! Hurry!” An explosion rattled the walls and the metal racks. Dust and debris rained down from the ceiling.
“Hurry!” he repeated.
Teresa already had people running, shepherding them Thomas’s way. He stood just inside the door of the maintenance room, and when the first person crossed the threshold he took the woman by the arm and led her to the gray wall of the Flat Trans.
“You know what this is, right?” he asked her.
She nodded, bravely trying to hide her eagerness to get through the thing and out of there. “I’ve been around the block a few times, kid.”
“Can I trust you to stand here and make sure everyone goes through?” She blanched at first, but then she nodded.
“Don’t worry,” Thomas assured her. “Just stay here as long as you can.” As soon as she agreed he ran back to the door.
Others had packed the small room, and Thomas stepped back. “It’s right through there. Make space on the other side!”
He squeezed his way past the knot of people and back into the warehouse. Everyone had lined up and was filing into the maintenance room. And standing at the back of the crowd were Minho, Brenda, Jorge, Teresa, Aris, Frypan and a few members of Group B. Gally was there, too. Thomas weaved his way to his friends.
“They better be quick about it up there,” Minho said. “The explosions are getting closer and closer.”
“The whole place is gonna fall down,” Gally added.
Thomas scanned the ceiling as if he expected it to happen right that second. “I know. I told them to hurry.
We’ll all be out of here in a—”
“Well, what do we have here?” a voice shouted from the back of the room.
A few gasps sounded around Thomas as he turned to see who’d spoken. The Rat Man had just come through the door from the outside hallway, and he wasn’t alone. He was surrounded by WICKED security guards. Thomas counted seven total, which meant that he and his friends still had the advantage.
Janson stopped and cupped his hands to shout over the rumble of another explosion. “Strange place to hide out when everything’s about to come down!” Pieces of metal fell from the ceiling, clattering to the ground.
“You know what’s here!” Thomas shouted back. “It’s too late—we’re already going!” Janson pulled out the same long knife he had outside and flashed it. And as if on cue, the others revealed similar weapons.
“But we can salvage a few,” Janson said. “And it looks like we have the strongest and brightest right here in front of us. Even our Final Candidate, no less! The one we need most, yet who refuses to cooperate.” Thomas and his friends had spread out in a line between the dwindling crowd of prisoners and the guards. The others in Thomas’s group were searching the floor for anything they could find to use as a weapon—pipes, long screws, the jagged edge of a metal grid. Thomas spotted a warped piece of thick cabling that ended in a spike of rigid wires, as deadly-looking as a spear. He grabbed it just as another explosion rocked the room, sending a huge section of the metal shelving crashing to the floor
“I’ve never seen such a menacing bunch of thugs!” the Rat Man yelled, but his face was crazed, his mouth contorted into a wild sneer. “I have to admit I’m terrified!”
“Just shut your shuck mouth and let’s get this over with!” Minho shouted back at him.
Janson focused his cold, mad gaze on the teenagers facing him.
“Gladly,” he said.
Thomas ached to lash out for all the fear and pain and suffering that had defined his life for so long. “Go!” he shouted.
The two groups charged each other, their yells of battle drowned out by the sudden concussion of detonating explosives that shook the building around them.
|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|