The Death Cure by James Dashner

Page 33

 

  “What about all the people inside? What about the ones we came to rescue?”

  The two of them looked at each other, then shrugged. “Vince hopes to get everyone out. ”

  “He hopes? What does that mean?”

  “He hopes. ”

  “I need to talk to him. ” What Thomas really wanted was to find Minho and Brenda. Right Arm or no Right Arm, he knew what they had to do: get to the Maze and lead everyone out of there to the Flat Trans.

  The lady pointed to the hole in the side of the building. “Just through there a ways is an area they’ve pretty much taken over. You’ll probably find Vince there. Careful, though. WICKED’s got guards hiding all over the place. And they’re vicious little buggers. ”

  “Thanks for the warning. ” Thomas turned, eager to get inside. The hole loomed over him, dusty darkness waiting within. There were no more alarms or flashing red lights. He stepped through.

  At first Thomas didn’t see or hear anything. He walked on in silence, careful of what might be around each turn. The lights got brighter the farther he walked, and he finally spotted a door at the end of the hallway that had been propped open. He jogged to it and peered in to see a large room with tables scattered across the floor set on their sides like shields. Several people crouched behind them.

  The people were watching a large set of double doors on the other side of the room, and no one noticed him as he squeezed against the doorframe, hiding most of his body from the inside. He leaned his head in to get a better look. He spotted Vince and Gally behind one of the tables, but didn’t recognize anyone else. On the far left side of the room, there was a small office, and he could tell that at least nine or ten people were huddled inside. He strained to see, but he couldn’t make out any faces.

  “Hey!” he whispered as loudly as he dared. “Hey! Gally!”

  The boy turned immediately, but had to glance around a few seconds before he spotted Thomas. Gally squinted, as though he thought his eyes might be tricking him.

  Thomas waved to make sure he saw him and Gally motioned for him to come over.

  Thomas looked around again to make sure it was safe; then he crouched down, ran over to the table and collapsed on the ground next to his old nemesis. He had so many questions he didn’t know where to begin.

  “What happened?” Gally asked him. “What did they do to you?”

  Vince shot him a glare but didn’t say anything.

  Thomas didn’t know how to answer. “They … ran a few tests. Look, I found out where they’re keeping the Immunes. You can’t blow the place up until we get them out. ”

  “Then go get ’em,” Vince said. “We’ve got a one-shot deal here, and I’m not going to waste it. ”

  “You brought some of those people here!” Thomas looked to Gally for support, but he only got a shrug in response.

  Thomas was on his own.

  “Where’s Brenda, Minho, everyone else?” he asked.

  Gally nodded toward the side room. “Those guys are all in there, said they wouldn’t do anything until you came back. ”

  Thomas suddenly felt sorry for the scarred boy beside him. “Come with me, Gally. Let these guys do whatever they want, but come help us. Don’t you wish someone had done the same for us when we were in the Maze?”

  Vince spun on them. “Don’t even think about it,” he barked. “Thomas, you knew coming in here what our goals were. If you abandon us now I’ll consider you a turncoat. You’ll be a target. ”

  Thomas kept his focus on Gally. He saw a sadness in the boy’s eyes that made his heart break. And he also saw something he’d never seen there before: trust. Genuine trust.

  “Come with us,” Thomas said.

  A smile formed on his old enemy’s face and he responded in a way Thomas never would have expected.

  “Okay. ”

  Thomas didn’t wait for Vince to react. He grabbed Gally’s arm and they scooted away from the table together, then ran to the office and slipped inside.

  Minho was the first to him, pulling him into a bear hug as Gally watched awkwardly from the side. Then the others were there, Minho. Brenda. Jorge. Teresa. Even Aris. Thomas almost got dizzy from the quick exchange of hugs and words of relief and welcome. He was especially thrilled to see Brenda, and he held on to her longer than anyone else. But as good as it felt, he knew they didn’t have time for it.

  He pulled away. “I can’t explain everything right now. We have to go find the Immunes WICKED took, then find this back-door Flat Trans I learned about—and we need to hurry before the Right Arm blows this place up. ”

  “Where are the Immunes?” Brenda asked.

  “Yeah, what did you learn?” Minho added.

  Thomas never thought he’d say what he had to say next. “We need to go back to the Maze. ”

  CHAPTER 67

  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.

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nbsp; 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 68

  Minho led the way this time, his shoulders squared as he ran, every inch of him showing the pride he’d felt for those two years when he’d ruled the corridors of the Maze. Thomas was right behind him, craning his neck to see the walls of ivy majestically rising toward the gray ceiling. It was a strange feeling, being back in there after everything they’d been through since their escape.

  No one said much as they ran toward the Glade. Thomas wondered what Brenda and Jorge must think of the Maze—he knew it had to seem enormous. A beetle blade could never translate size like this back to the observation rooms. And he could only imagine all the bad memories crashing back into Gally’s brain.

  They turned the final corner that led to the wide corridor outside the East Door of the Glade. When Thomas came to the section of wall where he’d tied Alby up in the ivy, he looked at the spot, could see the mangled mess of the vines. All that effort to save the former leader of the Gladers, only to see him die a few days later, his mind never fully recovered from the Changing.

  A surge of anger burned like liquid heat in Thomas’s veins.

  They reached the huge gap in the walls that made up the East Door, and Thomas caught his breath and slowed. There were hundreds of people milling about the Glade. He was horrified that there were even a few babies and small children scattered among the crowd. It took a moment for the murmurs to spread across the sea of Immunes, but within seconds every eye was trained on the new arrivals and utter silence fell upon the Glade.

  “Did you know there were this many?” Minho asked Thomas.

  There were people everywhere—certainly more than the Gladers had ever numbered. But what stole Thomas’s words was seeing the Glade itself again. The crooked building they called the Homestead; the pathetic copse of trees; the Bloodhouse barn; the fields, now only hardened weeds. The charred Map Room, its metal door blackened and still hanging ajar. He could even see the Slammer from where he stood. A bubble of emotion threatened to burst inside him.
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