The Death Cure by James Dashner

Page 35


  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.


  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 anot
her flight of stairs. One more hall and then down some stairs. One foot in front of the other. Thomas just hoped that the chancellor 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 chancellor 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 Chancellor 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 chancellor 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
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