The Death Cure by James Dashner

Page 29


  “Good that. ” Thomas turned away from them, slipping the pistol back into his jeans. He walked slowly toward his friend, who stood alone, far away from the pack of Cranks still working on their pile of refuse. For the moment they seemed satisfied with that—they didn’t seem interested in him.

  Thomas walked half the distance to Newt, then stopped. The worst part about his friend was the wildness in his eyes. Madness lurked behind them, two festering pools of sickness. How had it happened so quickly?

  “Hey. Newt. It’s me, Thomas. You still remember me, right?”

  A sudden clarity filled Newt’s eyes then, almost making Thomas step back in surprise.

  “I bloody remember you, Tommy. You just came to see me at the Palace, rubbed it in that you ignored my note. I can’t go completely crazy in a few days. ”

  Those words hurt Thomas’s heart even more than the pitiful sight of his friend. “Then why are you here? Why are you with … them?”

  Newt looked at the Cranks, then back at Thomas. “It comes and goes, man. I can’t explain it. Sometimes I can’t control myself, barely know what I’m doing. But usually it’s just like an itch in my brain, throwing everything off-kilter just enough to bother me—make me angry. ”

  “You seem fine right now. ”

  “Yeah, well. The only reason I’m with these wackers from the Palace is because I don’t know what else to do. They’re fighting, but they’re also a group. You find yourself alone, you don’t have a bloody chance. ”

  “Newt, come with me this time, right now. We can take you somewhere safer, somewhere better to …”

  Newt laughed, and when he did his head twitched strangely a couple of times. “Get out of here, Tommy. Get away. ”

  “Just come with me,” Thomas begged. “I’ll tie you up if it makes you feel better. ”

  Newt’s face suddenly hardened into anger and his words shot out in a rage. “Just shut up, you shuck traitor! Didn’t you read my note? You can’t do one last, lousy thing for me? Gotta be the hero, like always? I hate you! I always hated you!”

  He doesn’t mean it, Thomas told himself firmly. But they were just words. “Newt …”

  “It was all your fault! You could’ve stopped them when the first Creators died. You could’ve figured out a way. But no! You had to keep it going, try to save the world, be the hero. And you came to the Maze and never stopped. All you care about is yourself! Admit it! Gotta be the one people remember, the one people worship! We should’ve thrown you down the Box hole!”

  Newt’s face had colored to a deep red, and spit flew from his mouth as he yelled. He started taking lumbering steps forward, his hands balled into fists.

  “I’m gonna blast him!” Lawrence yelled from the van. “Get out of the way!”

  Thomas turned. “Don’t! It’s just me and him! Don’t do anything!” He faced Newt again. “Newt, stop. Just listen to me. I know you’re okay in there. Enough to hear me out. ”

  “I hate you, Tommy!” He was only a few feet away and Thomas took a step backward, his hurt over Newt turning to fear. “I hate you I hate you I hate you! After all I did for you, after all the freaking klunk I went through in the bloody Maze, you can’t do the one and only thing I’ve ever asked you to do! I can’t even look at your ugly shuck face!”

  Thomas took two more steps back. “Newt, you need to stop. They’re going to shoot you. Just stop and listen to me! Get in the van, let me tie you up. Give me a chance!” He couldn’t kill his friend. He just couldn’t.

  Newt screamed and rushed forward. An arc of Launcher lightning shot from the van, skidding and crackling across the pavement, but it missed him. Thomas had frozen in place, and Newt tackled him to the ground, knocking the breath out of him. He struggled to fill his lungs as his old friend climbed on top of him and pinned him down.

  “I should rip your eyes out,” Newt said, spraying Thomas with spit. “Teach you a lesson in stupidity. Why’d you come over here? You expected a bloody hug? Huh? A nice sit-down to talk about the good times in the Glade?”

  Thomas shook his head, gripped by terror, very slowly reaching for his gun with his free hand.

  “You wanna know why I have this limp, Tommy? Did I ever tell you? No, I don’t think I did. ”

  “What happened?” Thomas asked, stalling for time. He slipped his fingers around the weapon.

  “I tried to kill myself in the Maze. Climbed halfway up one of those bloody walls and jumped right off. Alby found me and dragged me back to the Glade right before the Doors closed. I hated the place, Tommy. I hated every second of every day. And it was all … your … fault!”

  Newt suddenly twisted around and grabbed Thomas by the hand holding the gun. He yanked it toward himself, forcing it up until the end of the pistol was pressed against his own forehead. “Now make amends! Kill me before I become one of those cannibal monsters! Kill me! I trusted you with the note! No one else. Now do it!”

  Thomas tried to pull his hand away, but Newt was too strong. “I can’t, Newt, I can’t. ”

  “Make amends! Repent for what you did!” The words tore out of him, his whole body trembling. Then his voice dropped to an urgent, harsh whisper. “Kill me, you shuck coward. Prove you can do the right thing. Put me out of my misery. ”

  The words horrified Thomas. “Newt, maybe we can—”

  “Shut up! Just shut up! I trusted you! Now do it!”

  “I can’t. ”

  “Do it!”

  “I can’t!” How could Newt ask him to do something like this? How could he possibly kill one of his best friends?

  “Kill me or I’ll kill you. Kill me! Do it!”

  “Newt …”

  “Do it before I become one of them!”

  “I …”

  “KILL ME!” And then Newt’s eyes cleared, as if he’d gained one last trembling gasp of sanity, and his voice softened. “Please, Tommy. Please. ”

  With his heart falling into a black abyss, Thomas pulled the trigger.


  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 li
fe 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 fallen 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.


  The clearing was scattered with trunks of trees felled long ago. The tall, thick pines of the forest surrounded Thomas, reaching up to the sky like a wall of majestic towers. He shielded his eyes from the fierce wind as the Berg boosted its thrusters and rose into the air, and he watched as it vanished into the southwestern sky.

  The air was crisp and cool and the forest felt fresh, like he was standing in a brand-new world—a place untouched by disease. He was sure that not many people got to see anything like this today, and he felt lucky.

  He tightened up his backpack and set out in the direction Lawrence had indicated, determined to make it there as quickly as possible. The less time he had to dwell on what he’d done to Newt, the better. And he knew that being alone out there in the wild would only give him too much time. He took the last few steps out of the snowy clearing and entered the darkness of the thick pines. He allowed their pleasantly overwhelming scent to wash over him and he did his best to shut down his mind again and stop thinking altogether.

  He did pretty well, concentrating on his path, the sights and sounds of birds and squirrels and insects, the wonderful smells. His senses weren’t used to such things, since he’d spent most of the life he remembered inside. Not to mention the Maze and the Scorch. As he hiked through the woods, he found it hard to believe that such a different place—the Scorch—could exist on the same planet. His mind wandered. He wondered what life would be like for all these animals if humans really did go away for good.

  He’d walked for over an hour when he finally reached the edge of the woods and a wide swatch of barren, rocky earth. Islands of dark brown dirt, devoid of vegetation, dappled the treeless expanse where the snow had been blown away by the wind. Craggy stones of all sizes dotted the land, which sloped toward a sudden drop-off—a huge cliff. Beyond that lay the ocean, its deep blue ending on the horizon, where in a sharp line it changed to the light blue of the brilliant sky. And resting on the edge of the cliff, about a mile ahead of him, was WICKED’s headquarters.
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