The Death Cure by James Dashner

Page 24

 

  “How’d everything get so bad, so suddenly?” Brenda asked. “We were here three days ago. ”

  The man let out a sharp, bitter laugh. “The whole city is full of idiots thinking they’ve been containing the virus. It’s been a long and slow rumble, but it’s all finally exploded in our faces. The world has no chance—the virus is too strong. Some of us have seen this coming for a long time. ”

  Thomas’s gaze wandered back to the group of people approaching. He froze when he saw Aris.

  “Minho, look,” he said, elbowing him and pointing.

  The boy from Group B had already broken into a grin and was jogging over. Behind him, Thomas could see a couple of girls who had been in Aris’s Maze group. Whoever these people were who had taken them, they were good at their job.

  Aris reached Thomas and stood in front of him as if he were about to give him a hug, then held out a hand instead. Thomas shook it.

  “Glad you guys are okay,” the boy said.

  “You too. ” Seeing Aris’s familiar face made Thomas realize that any bitterness he’d felt about what had happened between them in the Scorch was gone. “Where is everyone?”

  Aris’s face darkened. “Most of them aren’t with us anymore. They got taken by another group. ”

  Before Thomas could process what he’d said, Teresa appeared. Thomas had to clear his throat to get rid of the lump that had suddenly formed there. “Teresa?” He felt such a flurry of conflicted emotions he could barely get the word out.

  “Hey, Tom. ” She stepped close to him, her eyes sad. “I’m so glad you’re okay. ” Her eyes moistened with tears.

  “Yeah, you too. ” Part of him hated her; part of him had missed her. He wanted to scream at her for leaving them behind at WICKED.

  “Where did you guys go?” she asked. “How did you get all the way to Denver?”

  Thomas was confused. “What do you mean, where did we go?”

  She stared at him for a few seconds. “We’ve got a lot to talk about. ”

  Thomas squinted. “What’re you up to now?”

  “I’m not up to …” Defiance gripped her voice. “There’s obviously been some miscommunication. Look, most of our group was captured by different bounty hunters yesterday—they’ve probably already been taken back and sold to WICKED. Including Frypan. I’m sorry. ”

  An image of the cook popped into Thomas’s head. He didn’t know if he could handle losing yet another friend.

  Minho leaned in to speak. “I can see you’re as cheerful as always. So glad to be back in your sunshiny presence. ”

  Teresa completely ignored him. “Tom, they’ll be moving us soon. Please come talk to me. In private. Now. ”

  Thomas hated the fact that he wanted to, and he tried to hide his eagerness. “The Rat Man already gave me his big speech. Please tell me you don’t agree with him and think I should go back to WICKED. ”

  “I don’t even know what you’re talking about. ” She paused, as if battling her pride. “Please. ”

  Thomas stared at her for a long moment, not sure how he felt. Brenda was just a few feet away, and it was clear she wasn’t happy to see Teresa.

  “Well?” Teresa asked. She motioned to their surroundings. “Not a lot to do in here but wait around. Are you too busy to talk to me?”

  Thomas had to stop himself from rolling his eyes. He pointed to a couple of empty chairs in the corner of the large room. “Let’s go, but make it quick. ”

  CHAPTER 44

  Thomas sat with his head against the wall, arms folded. Teresa had her legs pulled up under her, sitting so that she faced him. Minho had warned him not to listen to a word she said as they’d walked away.

  “So,” Teresa said.

  “So. ”

  “Where do we start?”

  “This was your idea. You tell me. We can be done if you don’t have anything to say. ”

  Teresa sighed. “Maybe you could start by giving me the benefit of the doubt and quit acting like a jerk. Yes, I know I did things in the Scorch, but you also know why I did them—to save you in the long run. I didn’t know it was all about Variables and patterns then. How about giving me a little credit? Talk to me like a regular person. ”

  Thomas let silence fill the air for a few moments before he answered. “Okay, fine. But you left me behind at WICKED, which shows you—”

  “Tom!” she yelled, looking as if she’d been slapped. “We did not leave you behind! What are you talking about?”

  “What are you talking about?” Thomas was thoroughly confused now.

  “We didn’t leave you behind! We came after you. You left us behind!”

  Thomas could only stare at her. “Do you really think I’m that stupid?”

  “All anyone talked about at the complex was that you, Newt, and Minho had broken out and were in the surrounding forest somewhere. We looked but didn’t see any sign of you. I’ve been hoping ever since that somehow you made it back to civilization. Why do you think I was so thrilled to see you alive!”

  Thomas felt a stirring of familiar anger. “How can you possibly expect me to believe that? You probably knew exactly what Rat Man tried to tell me—that they needed me, that I’m the so-called Final Candidate. ”

  Teresa slouched. “You think I’m the most evil person to ever walk the earth, don’t you?” She didn’t wait for him to answer her, though. “If you had just gotten your memories back like you were supposed to, you’d see that I’m the same Teresa I’ve always been. I did what I did in the Scorch to save you, and I’ve been trying to make up for it ever since. ”

  Thomas was having a hard time staying angry—she didn’t seem to be acting. “How can I believe you, Teresa? How?”

  She looked up at him, and her eyes were glassy. “I swear to you, I don’t know everything about the Final Candidate—that stuff was developed after we went to the Maze, so I have no memories of that. But what I did learn was that WICKED doesn’t intend to stop the Trials until they get their blueprint. They’re preparing to start another round, Thomas. WICKED is gathering more Immunes to begin testing if the Trials didn’t work. And I can’t do it again. I left to find you. That’s it. ”

  Thomas didn’t respond. A part of him wanted to believe. Desperately.

  “I’m so sorry,” Teresa said through a sigh. She looked away and ran her hand through her hair. She waited several seconds before she looked at him again. “All I can tell you is that I’m torn up inside. Ripped apart. I did believe that a cure could happen, and I knew they needed you to do it. It’s different now. Even with my memories back I can’t think the same way I did before. I can see now that things will never end. ”

  She stopped talking, but Thomas had nothing to say. He searched Teresa’s face and saw a pain unlike any he’d ever seen before. She was telling the truth.

  She didn’t wait for him to speak before she continued. “So I made a deal with myself. I’d do whatever it took to make up for my mistakes. I wanted to save my friends first, and then other Immunes, if possible. And look what a great job I did. ”

  Thomas searched for words. “Well, we haven’t done much better, have we?”

  Her eyebrows rose. “Were you hoping to stop them?”

  “We’re about to be sold back to WICKED, so what does it matter?”

  She didn’t answer right away. Thomas would’ve given anything to be inside her head—and not in the old way. For a brief moment he felt sad, knowing they’d shared countless hours together that he no longer had any memory of. They’d been best friends once.

  She finally said, “If somehow we could do something, I hope that you’d find a way to trust me again. And I know we can convince Aris and the others to help us. They feel the same way I do. ”

  Thomas knew he had to be careful. It was strange that she only agreed with him about WICKED now that she’d gotten her memories back.

  “We’ll see what h
appens,” he finally said

  She frowned deeply. “You really don’t trust me, do you?”

  “We’ll see what happens,” he repeated. Then he stood up and walked away, hating the look of hurt on her face. And hating himself for caring after everything she’d done to him.

  CHAPTER 45

  Thomas found Minho sitting with Brenda and Jorge when he returned, and Minho didn’t seem happy to see him. He gave Thomas a nasty look. “So what did that shuck traitor have to say?”

  Thomas sat down beside him. Several strangers had gathered closer, and he could tell they were listening in.

  “Well?” Minho pushed.

  “She said that the reason they escaped was because they found out WICKED plans to start all over again if they have to. That they were rounding up Immunes—just like Gally told us. She swears that somehow they were led to believe that we’d already broken out—and that they looked for us. ” Thomas paused—he knew Minho wouldn’t like the next part. “And she’d help us if she can. ”

  Minho just shook his head. “You’re a slinthead. You shouldn’t have talked to her. ”

  “Thanks. ” Thomas rubbed his face. Minho was right.

  “Hate to barge in here, muchachos,” Jorge said. “You can talk all day about this crap, but it means diddly unless we can get ourselves out of this nice little place. No matter who’s on whose side. ”

  Just then the door to the room opened and three of their captors walked in with big sacks stuffed full of something. A fourth followed, armed with a Launcher and a pistol. He swept the room, looking for trouble, and the others started passing out what was inside the bags—bread and bottles of water.

  “How do we always get into these messes?” Minho asked. “At least we used to be able to blame everything on WICKED. ”

  “Yeah, well, we still can,” Thomas murmured.

  Minho grinned. “Good. Those shuck-faces. ”

  An uneasy silence settled on the room as the kidnappers moved around. People began to eat. Thomas realized that they’d have to whisper if they wanted to keep talking.

  Minho nudged Thomas. “Only one of them has a weapon,” he whispered. “And he doesn’t look so bad. I bet I could take him. ”

  “Maybe,” Thomas answered under his breath. “But don’t do anything stupid—he’s got a gun as well as a Launcher. And trust me, you don’t want to get shot by either. ”

  “Yeah, well, you trust me this time. ” Minho gave Thomas a wink, to which Thomas could only sigh. The odds were not good that what was about to happen would go unnoticed.

  The kidnappers approached Thomas and Minho and stopped at their little group. Thomas took a roll and a bottle of water, but when the man tried to hand some bread to Minho, he swatted it away.

  “Why would I take anything from you? It’s probably poisoned. ”

  “You wanna go hungry, fine by me,” the guy replied, moving on.

  He had nearly passed them when Minho suddenly leaped to his feet and tackled the man holding the Launcher. Thomas flinched as it slipped out of the guy’s grip and discharged, sending a grenade up toward the ceiling, where it crashed in a display of lightning. The kidnapper was still on the ground when Minho started punching him, struggling to grab the man’s pistol with his free hand.

  For a moment, everyone froze. But then movement exploded all at once before Thomas could react. The three other guards dropped their bags to go after Minho, but before they could take a step they had six people on them, throwing them to the ground. Jorge helped Minho drag the guard to the floor and was stomping the man’s arm until he finally let go of the pistol he’d pulled from his belt; Minho kicked it across the floor, and a woman picked it up. Thomas saw that Brenda had grabbed the Launcher.

  “Stop!” she shouted, aiming the weapon at the kidnappers.

  Minho stood up, and as he stepped away from the man on the ground, Thomas could see that the guy’s face was covered in blood. People were already dragging the other three guards over to lie next to their partner, lining them up so that all four were on their backs in a row.

  It had all happened so fast, Thomas hadn’t moved from his spot on the floor, but he immediately got to work.

  “We have to get them to talk,” he said. “We have to hurry before backup comes. ”

  “We should just shoot them in the head!” a man called out. “Shoot them and get out of here. ” A few others shouted their agreement.

  Thomas realized that the group had turned into a mob. If he wanted information he had to work fast—before things fell apart. He stood and made his way over to the woman with the gun and convinced her to hand it to him; then he turned and knelt beside the man who’d given him the bread.

  Thomas put the gun to the guy’s temple. “I’m going to count to three. You either start telling what WICKED plans to do with us and where you were going to meet them or I’ll pull the trigger. One. ”

  The man didn’t hesitate. “WICKED? We got nothing to do with WICKED. ”

  “You’re lying. Two. ”

  “No, I swear! This has nothing to do with them! At least as far as I know. ”

  “Oh really? Then you want to explain why you’re out kidnapping a bunch of immune people?”

  The man’s eyes flickered to his friends, but then he answered, looking straight at Thomas. “We work for the Right Arm. ”

  CHAPTER 46

  “What do you mean you work for the Right Arm?” Thomas asked. It made no sense.
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