The Death Cure by James Dashner

Page 7

 

  “Thomas …” She trailed off, not bothering to hide her frustration. “It was my job. ”

  “I heard your voice in my head. You warned me that things were about to get bad. Please tell me you’re not really with them. ”

  “When we made it back to HQ after the Scorch, I got into the telepathy system because I wanted to warn you. Prepare you. I never expected us to become friends in that hell. ”

  On some level, just hearing that she’d felt that way, too, made things more manageable, and now he really couldn’t stop himself. “Do you have the Flare?” he asked.

  She answered in quick, short bursts. “I was acting. Jorge and I are immune—we’ve known it for a long time. It’s why they used us. Now be quiet. ” Her eyes flickered over to the guard.

  “Get on with it!” the male guard suddenly shouted.

  Brenda gave the man a stern look but didn’t say anything. Then she gazed at Thomas and surprised him with a slight wink. “Once I inject the sedative, you’ll be asleep in seconds. Do you understand?” She stressed that last word, then subtly winked again. Luckily the two guards were focused on their prisoner and not her.

  Thomas was confused, but hope ran through his body. She was up to something.

  Brenda moved to the counter behind her and started preparing what she needed, and the guard continued to lean all of his weight on Thomas’s wrists, cutting off the circulation. Sweat beaded on the man’s forehead, but it was clear he wasn’t letting go until Thomas was unconscious. The female guard stood just beside him, her Launcher aimed at Thomas’s face.

  Brenda turned back around, a syringe in her left hand, its nozzle pointing up, her thumb on the trigger. A yellowish liquid showed in the small window on the side. “Okay, Thomas. We’re going to do this really fast. Are you ready?”

  He nodded at her, not sure what she meant but determined to be prepared.

  “Good,” she replied. “You better be. ”

  CHAPTER 12

  Brenda smiled and moved toward Thomas, then tripped on something and stumbled forward. She caught the bed with her right hand, but she fell in such a way that the syringe’s nozzle landed on the forearm of the guard gripping Thomas’s wrist. She instantly pushed the trigger with her thumb, releasing a quick, sharp hiss, before he jerked himself away.

  “What the hell!” the man shouted, but his eyes were already glazed.

  Thomas acted instantly. Now free from those iron fists, he pushed down on the bed and swung his legs in an arc toward the female guard, who was just coming to her senses after a brief moment of frozen shock. One foot connected with her Launcher and the other with her shoulder. She let out a yell, which was closely followed by the smack of her head hitting the floor.

  Thomas scrambled after the Launcher, grabbed it before it slid out of reach and aimed it at the woman, who was holding her head in her hands. Brenda had run around the bed and grabbed the man’s weapon, and she pointed it at his limp body.

  Thomas gasped for air, his chest heaving as adrenaline throbbed through his body. He hadn’t felt so good in weeks. “I knew you—”

  Before he could finish, Brenda fired her Launcher.

  A high-pitched sound pierced the air, increasing in volume for a split second before the gun discharged and kicked, making Brenda jerk backward. One of the shiny grenades shot out, slammed into the woman’s chest and exploded, sending tendrils of lightning arcing across her body. She began to twitch uncontrollably.

  Thomas stared, stunned at what the Launcher did to a person and amazed that Brenda had shot it without hesitation. If he had needed further proof that Brenda wasn’t totally committed to WICKED, he’d just seen it. He looked at her.

  She returned his gaze, the slightest of smiles on her face. “I’ve been wanting to do something like that for a long time. Good thing I convinced Janson to assign me to you for this procedure. ” She bent over and took the unconscious man’s key card, slipped it into her pocket. “This’ll get us in anywhere. ”

  Thomas had to resist the urge to pull her into a hug.

  “Come on,” he said. “We have to get Newt and Minho. Then everybody else. ”

  They sprinted through a couple of twists and turns in the hallways, Brenda leading. It reminded Thomas of the time she’d led him through the underground tunnels in the Scorch. He urged her to hurry—he knew that more guards could show up at any second.

  They reached a door, and Brenda swiped the key card to open it; a brief hiss sounded, and then the slab of metal swung open. Thomas burst through with Brenda close on his heels.

  The Rat Man was sitting in a chair but sprang to his feet, his expression quickly twisting to a look of horror. “What in God’s name are you doing?”

  Brenda had already fired two grenades at the guards. A man and a woman dropped to the ground, convulsing in a cloud of smoke and tiny lightning bolts. Newt and Minho tackled the third guard; Minho grabbed his weapon.

  Thomas trained his Launcher on Janson and put his finger on the trigger. “Give me your key card, then get on the ground, hands on your head. ” His voice was steady but his heart was racing.

  “This is complete lunacy,” Janson said. He handed his card to Thomas. He spoke quietly, seeming amazingly calm under the circumstances. “You have zero chance of getting out of this complex. More guards are already on their way. ”

  Thomas knew their odds were bad, but it was all they had. “After what we’ve been through, this is nothing. ” He smiled as he realized it was true. “Thanks for the training. Now, another word and you’ll get to experience—how did you put it? ‘The worst five minutes of your life’?”

  “How can—”

  Thomas pulled the trigger. The high-pitched sound filled the room, followed by the launch of a grenade. It hit the man’s chest and exploded in a brilliant display of electricity. He screamed as he fell to the ground, convulsing, smoke streaming off his hair and clothing. The room filled with an awful smell—a stench that reminded Thomas of the Scorch, when Minho was struck by lightning.

  “That can’t feel good,” Thomas said to his friends. He sounded so calm to his own ears that it disturbed him. As he watched their nemesis twitch, he was almost ashamed for feeling no guilt. Almost.

  “It supposedly won’t kill him,” Brenda said.

  “That’s a shame,” Minho replied. He stood after tying up the uninjured guard with his belt. “The world would’ve been better off. ”

  Thomas turned his attention from the twitching man at his feet. “We’re leaving. Now. ”

  “I’ll bloody drink to that,” Newt said.

  “That’s exactly what I was thinking,” Minho added.

  They all turned to look at Brenda. She lifted her Launcher in her arms and nodded. She looked ready for a fight.

  “I hate these people just as much as you,” she said. “I’m in. ”

  For the second time in the last few days, Thomas was filled with that foreign feeling of happiness. Brenda was back. He glanced at Janson. The crackling static was beginning to die. The man’s eyes were closed and he’d finally stopped moving, but he was still breathing.

  “I don’t know how long a blast from one of these lasts,” Brenda said, “and he’s definitely going to wake up angry. We better get out of here. ”

  “What’s the plan?” Newt asked.

  Thomas didn’t have a clue. “We’ll make it up as we go. ”

  “Jorge’s a pilot,” Brenda offered. “If we can somehow make it to the hangar, to his Berg …”

  Before anyone could respond, shouts and footsteps sounded in the hall.

  “They’re coming,” Thomas said. The reality of their situation hit him again—no one was going to let them just waltz out of the building. Who knew how many guards they’d have to get past.

  Minho ran to the door and took a stance right next to it. “They’ll all have to come through right here. ”

&nb
sp; The sounds from the hallway were getting louder—the guards were close.

  “Newt,” Thomas said. “You get on the other side of the doorway. Brenda and I’ll shoot the first couple who come through. You guys catch the rest from the sides, then get out into the hallway. We’ll be right behind you. ”

  They took their positions.

  CHAPTER 13

  Brenda’s expression was a strange mixture of anger and excitement. Thomas readied himself next to her, gripping the Launcher tightly in his hands. He knew it was a gamble to trust Brenda. He’d been tricked by nearly everyone in this organization; he couldn’t underestimate WICKED. But she was the only reason they’d gotten this far. And if he was going to bring her along, he couldn’t doubt her anymore.

  The first guard arrived, a man dressed in the same black gear as all the others, but with a different type of weapon—smaller and sleeker—held tightly in front of him. Thomas fired, watched the grenade connect with the man’s chest; it sent him reeling backward, twitching and convulsing in a web of lightning.

  Two more people—a man and a woman—were right behind him with Launchers raised.

  Minho acted before Thomas could. He grabbed the woman by the shirt and yanked her toward him, then swung her across his body and slammed her into the wall. She got off a shot, but the silvery grenade shattered harmlessly on the ground and sent a short burst of crackling energy along the tiled floor.

  Brenda fired at the man, hitting him in the legs; tiny jagged bolts of electricity shot up his body and he screamed, falling back into the hallway. His weapon fell to the floor.

  Minho had disarmed the woman and forced her to kneel. He now held a Launcher aimed at her head.

  A fourth man came through the door, but Newt knocked his weapon away and punched him in the face. He collapsed to his knees, holding a hand up to his bloodied mouth. The guard looked up as if to say something, but Newt stepped back and shot him in the chest. At such close range the ball made a terrible popping sound as it exploded against the man. A wretched squeal escaped his throat as he fell to the floor, writhing in a web of pure electricity.

  “That beetle blade’s watchin’ every bloody thing we do,” Newt said. He nodded toward something at the back of the room. “We’ve got to get out of here—they’re just going to keep coming. ”

  Thomas turned to see the little robotic lizard crouched in place, red light beaming. Then he looked back at the doorway, which was empty. He faced the woman. The muzzle end of Minho’s weapon hovered just inches from her head.

  “How many of you are there?” Thomas asked her. “Are there more coming?”

  She didn’t respond at first, but Minho leaned forward until his gun was actually touching her cheek.

  “There’re at least fifty on duty,” she said quickly.

  “Then where are they?” Minho asked.

  “I don’t know. ”

  “Don’t lie to me!” Minho shouted.

  “We … Something else is going on. I don’t know what. I swear. ”

  Thomas looked at her closely and saw more than just fear in her expression. Was it frustration? She seemed to be telling the truth. “Something else? Like what?”

  She shook her head. “I just know that a group of us were called to a different section, that’s all. ”

  “And you have no idea why?” Thomas threw as much doubt into his voice as possible. “I have a hard time believing that. ”

  “I swear it. ”

  Minho grabbed her by the back of the shirt and pulled her to her feet. “We’ll just take the nice lady here as a hostage, then. Let’s go. ”

  Thomas stepped in front of him. “Brenda needs to lead—she knows the way around this place. Then me, then you and your new friend, then Newt in the rear. ”

  Brenda hurried to stand beside Thomas. “I still don’t hear anybody, but we can’t have long. Come on. ” She peeked into the hallway, then slipped out of the room.

  Thomas took a second to wipe his sweaty hands on his pants, then gripped the Launcher and followed her. She turned right. He heard the others fall in behind him; a quick glance showed that Minho’s captor was running along, too, looking none too happy with the threat of an electric bath just inches away.

  They reached the end of the initial hallway and made a right without stopping. Their new path looked exactly the same as the last, a beige alley stretching before them for at least fifty feet before it ended in a set of double doors. Somehow the scene made him think of that last stretch of the Maze right before the Cliff, when he, Teresa, and Chuck had run for the exit while everyone else battled the Grievers to keep them safe.

  As they neared the doors, Thomas pulled the Rat Man’s key card out of his pocket.

  Their hostage yelled to him. “I wouldn’t do that! I bet there’re twenty guns waiting to burn you alive on the other side. ” But something about her tone sounded desperate. Could it be that WICKED had become overconfident and lax in their security? With only twenty or thirty teenagers left, surely they didn’t have more than one security person for each of their subjects—if even that many.

  Thomas and his friends had to find Jorge and the Berg, but they also had to find everyone else. He thought of Frypan and Teresa. He wasn’t going to leave them behind just because they’d chosen to get their memories back.

  He skidded to a stop in front of the doors and turned to face Minho and Newt. “We’ve only got four Launchers, and we better believe that there are more guards on the other side of those doors waiting for us. Are we up for this?”

  Minho stepped up to the key card panel, dragging the guard with him by the shirt. “You’re going to open this for us so we can focus on your buddies. Stand right there and don’t do anything until we say. Don’t mess with me. ” He swiveled toward Thomas. “Start shooting as soon as the doors crack. ”
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