The Death Cure by James Dashner

Page 9


  “Don’t say a bloody word,” he grumbled when Thomas joined him.

  Great start, Thomas thought. “Listen, something weird’s going on—either WICKED is testing us or we’ve got Cranks running around this place killing people left and right. Whatever it is, we need to find our friends and get out of here. ”

  “I know. ” That was it. Nothing else.

  “Then get up and come back in there to help us. You were the one all frustrated, acting like we didn’t have time to mess around. And now you want to sit out here in the hall and pout?”

  “I know. ” The same response.

  Thomas had never seen Newt like this. The guy looked utterly hopeless, and the sight of it hit Thomas with a wave of despair. “We’re all going a little craz—” He stopped; he couldn’t possibly say anything worse. “I mean …”

  “Just shut it,” Newt said. “I know something’s started in my head. I don’t feel right. But you don’t need to worry your buggin’ panties off. Give me a second and I’ll be fine. We’ll get you guys out of here and then I can deal. ”

  “What do you mean, get you guys out?”

  “Get us out, whatever. Just give me a bloody minute. ”

  The world of the Glade seemed like eons ago. Back there, Newt had always been the calm, collected one—and now here he was pulling the group apart at the seams. He seemed to be saying that it didn’t matter if he escaped himself as long as everyone else did.

  “Fine,” Thomas answered. He realized the only thing he could do was treat Newt the same as he always had. “But you know we can’t waste any more time. Brenda’s gathering ammo. You’ll need to help her carry it to the Berg hangar. ”

  “Will do. ” Newt quickly stood from his spot on the ground. “But first I have to go get something—it won’t take me long. ” He started walking away, back toward the reception room.

  “Newt!” Thomas shouted, wondering what on earth his friend was up to. “Don’t be stupid—we have to move. And we need to stick together. ”

  But Newt kept going. He didn’t even turn to look at Thomas. “Just go get the stuff! This’ll only take a couple of minutes. ”

  Thomas shook his head. There was nothing he could do or say to bring back that reasonable guy he knew. He spun and headed for the weapons room.

  Thomas, Minho and Brenda gathered everything they could possibly carry between the three of them. Thomas had one Launcher strapped to each shoulder in addition to the one in his hands. He’d stuck two loaded pistols in his front pockets and several ammo clips in each back pocket. Minho had done the same, and Brenda held a cardboard box full of the bluish grenades and more bullets, her Launcher resting on top.

  “That looks heavy,” Thomas said, gesturing to the box. “You wanna—”

  Brenda cut him off. “I can manage until Newt gets back in here. ”

  “Who knows what that guy is up to,” Minho said. “He’s never acted like this before. Flare’s eatin’ his brain already. ”

  “He said he’d be back soon. ” Thomas was tired of Minho’s attitude—he was only making it worse. “And watch what you say around him. The last thing we need is you setting him off again. ”

  “Do you remember what I told you in the truck, back in the city?” Brenda asked Thomas.

  The sudden change in conversation surprised him, and her bringing up the Scorch surprised him even more. It only called attention to the fact that she’d lied to him.

  “What?” he asked. “You mean some of the things you said were true?” He’d felt so close to her that night. He realized he was hoping she’d say yes.

  “I’m sorry I lied about why I was there, Thomas. And about how I told you I could feel the Flare working on my mind. But the rest was true. I swear it. ” She paused, looking at him, pleading in her eyes. “Anyway, we talked about how increased levels of brain activity actually quicken the pace of destruction—it’s called cognitive destruction. That’s why that drug—the Bliss—is so popular with the people who can afford it. The Bliss slows brain function. It lengthens the time before you go bat crazy. But it’s really expensive. ”

  The idea of people living in the world who were not part of an experiment or holing up in abandoned buildings like he’d seen in the Scorch seemed unreal to him. “Do people still function—live their lives, go to work, whatever—when they’re drugged out?”

  “They do what they need to do, but they’re much more … relaxed about it. You could be a fireman rescuing thirty children from an inferno, but you won’t stress if you happen to drop a few of them into the flames along the way. ”

  The thought of such a world terrified Thomas. “That’s just … sick. ”

  “I gotta get me some of that stuff,” Minho muttered.

  “You’re missing the point,” Brenda said. “Think of the hell Newt has been through—all the decisions he’s had to make. No wonder the Flare is moving so fast in him. He’s been stimulated too much—way more than the average person living their life day to day. ”

  Thomas sighed, that sadness he’d felt earlier gripping his heart again. “Well, there’s nothing we can do about it until we get somewhere safer. ”

  “Do about what?”

  Thomas turned to see Newt in the doorway again, then closed his eyes for a moment, pulled himself together. “Nothing, never mind—where’d you go?”

  “I need to talk to you, Tommy. Just you. It’ll only take a second. ”

  What now? Thomas wondered.

  “What’s this crap?” Minho asked.

  “Just cut me some slack. I need to give something to Tommy here. Tommy and no one else. ”

  “Whatever, go for it. ” Minho adjusted the straps of the Launchers on his shoulders. “But we need to hurry. ”

  Thomas stepped into the hall with Newt, scared to death of what his friend might say and how crazy it might sound. The seconds were ticking away.

  They walked a few feet from the door before Newt stopped and faced him, then held out a small sealed envelope. “Stuff this in your pocket. ”

  “What is it?” Thomas took it and turned it over; it was blank on the outside.

  “Just put the bloody thing in your pocket. ”

  Thomas did as he was told, confused but curious.

  “Now look me in the eyes. ” Newt snapped his fingers.

  Thomas’s stomach sank at the anguish he saw there. “What is it?”

  “You don’t need to know right now. You can’t know. But you have to make me a promise—and I’m not messing around here. ”


  “You swear to me that you won’t read what’s inside that bloody envelope until the time is right. ”

  Thomas couldn’t imagine waiting to read it—he started to pull the envelope out of his pocket, but Newt grabbed his arm to stop him.

  “When the time is right?” Thomas asked. “How will I—”

  “You’ll bloody know!” Newt answered before Thomas could ask. “Now swear to me. Swear it!” The boy’s whole body seemed to tremble with every word.

  “Fine!” Thomas was beyond worried about his friend now. “I swear I won’t read it until the time is right. I swear. But why—”

  “Okay, then,” Newt interrupted. “Break your promise and I’ll never forgive you. ”

  Thomas wanted to reach out and shake his friend—to pound the wall in frustration. But he didn’t. He stood unmoving as Newt turned away from him and walked back toward the weapons room.


  Thomas had to trust Newt. He had to do this for his friend, but curiosity burned inside him like a brushfire. He knew, though, that he had no time to waste. They had to get everyone out of the WICKED complex. He could talk to Newt more in the Berg—if they could get to the hangar and convince Jorge to help them.

  Newt came back out of the weapons room hefting the box of ammo by himself, followed by Minho, then Brenda, carrying
another couple of Launchers with pistols stuffed in her pockets.

  “Let’s go find our friends,” Thomas said. Then he headed back the way they’d come, and the others fell in line behind him.

  They searched for an hour, but their friends seemed to have disappeared. Rat Man and the guards they’d left behind were gone, and the cafeteria and all the dorms, bathrooms and meeting rooms were empty. Not a person or a Crank in sight. Thomas was terrified that something horrible had happened and they had yet to come across the aftermath.

  Finally, after seemingly having searched every nook and cranny of the building, something occurred to him. “Were you guys allowed to move around while they had me locked in the white room?” he asked. “Are you sure we haven’t missed anywhere?”

  “Not that I know of,” Minho responded. “But I’d be shocked if there weren’t some hidden rooms. ”

  Thomas agreed but didn’t think they could afford to spend any more time searching. Their only choice was to move on.

  Thomas nodded. “Okay. Let’s zigzag our way to the hangar, keep looking for them as we go. ”

  They’d been walking for quite some time when Minho abruptly froze. He pointed to his ear. It was hard to see because the hallway was only dimly lit by red emergency lights.

  Thomas stopped along with the others, tried to slow his breathing and listen. He heard it immediately. A low moaning sound, something that made Thomas shiver. It was coming from a few yards ahead of them, through a rare window in the hallway that looked into a large room. From where Thomas stood, the room seemed completely dark. The glass from the window had been shattered from the inside—shards littered the tiled floor below it.

  The moan sounded again.

  Minho held a finger to his lips, then slowly and carefully set down his two extra Launchers. Thomas and Brenda followed suit while Newt placed his box of ammo on the ground. The four of them gripped their weapons, and Minho took the lead as they crept slowly toward the noise. It sounded like a man trying to wake up from a horrible nightmare. Thomas’s apprehension grew with every step. He was scared of what he was about to discover.

  Minho stopped, his back against the wall, right at the edge of the window frame. The door to the room was on the other side of the window, closed.

  “Ready,” Minho whispered. “Now. ”

  He pivoted and aimed his Launcher into the dark room just as Thomas moved to his left side and Brenda to his right, weapons held ready. Newt kept watch at their backs.

  Thomas’s finger hovered above the trigger, ready to squeeze it at an instant’s notice, but there was no movement. He puzzled over what he was seeing inside the room. The red glow from the emergency lights didn’t reveal much, but the whole floor appeared to be covered in dark mounds. Something that was slowly moving. Gradually his eyes adjusted and he began to make out the shapes of bodies and black clothing. And he caught sight of ropes.

  “They’re guards!” Brenda said, her voice cutting through the silence.

  Muffled gasps escaped from the room, and finally Thomas could see faces, several of them. Mouths gagged and eyes open wide in panic. The guards were tied up and laid out on the floor from head to toe, side by side, filling up the entire room. Some of them were still, but most were struggling in their restraints. Thomas found himself staring, his mind searching for an explanation.

  “So this is where they all are,” Minho breathed.

  Newt leaned in to get a look. “At least they’re not all hangin’ from the bloody ceiling with their tongues sticking out like last time. ”

  Thomas couldn’t agree more—he remembered that scene all too vividly, whether it had been real or not.

  “We need to question them and find out what happened,” Brenda said, already moving for the door.

  Thomas grabbed her before he had time to think. “No. ”

  “What do you mean no? Why not—they can tell us everything!” She wrenched her arm out of his grip but waited to see what he had to say.

  “It might be a trap, or whoever did this could come back soon. We just need to get out of this place. ”

  “Yeah,” Minho said. “This isn’t up for debate. I don’t care if we have Cranks or rebels or gorillas running around this place—these shuck guards aren’t our worry right now. ”

  Brenda shrugged. “Fine. Just thought we could get some information. ” She paused, then pointed. “Hangar’s that way. ”

  After gathering up their weapons and ammunition, Thomas and the others jogged down hallway after hallway, all the while on the lookout for whoever had overpowered all those guards. Finally Brenda stopped at another set of double doors. One of them stood slightly ajar, and a breeze flowed through, ruffling her scrubs.

  Without being told, Minho and Newt took up position on either side of the doorway, Launchers at the ready. Brenda grabbed the handle of the door, pistol aimed into the opening. There were no sounds coming from the other side.

  Thomas gripped his Launcher tighter, the back end pressed against his shoulder, muzzle aimed forward. “Open it,” he said, his heart racing.

  Brenda swung the door wide and Thomas charged through. He swept his Launcher left and right, turning in a circle as he moved forward.

  The massive hangar looked like it was built to hold three of the enormous Bergs, but only two stood in their loading spots. They loomed like giant squatting frogs, all scorched metal and worn edges, as if they’d flown soldiers into a hundred fiery battles. Other than a few cargo crates and what looked like mechanics’ stations, the rest of the area was nothing but open space.
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