The Fever Code (The Maze Runner #5)(10)

by James Dashner

Thomas returned his attention to the closed curtain, the bed behind it. Leavitt was a good six or seven feet away from him, consumed by what he was reading on the charts.

I have to see who’s behind that curtain, Thomas thought. He couldn’t remember the last time an urge had struck him so powerfully.

To his left, Leavitt leaned closer to the screen, reading something in small print. Thomas went for it. He crept toward the closed curtain to the right and pulled it to the side, stepped around it, rushed to the bed. Another boy lay there, blond hair cropped short, eyes closed, covers pulled up to his chin. Leavitt was across the room in a second, fumbling with the curtain. He grabbed Thomas by the arm, yanking him away from the bed. Thomas had seen the boy, though. And he’d gotten a good look at two things.

First, just like the boy named Minho, this kid had a bandage above his ears, a bright red spot of blood seeping through on one side.

And second, he saw the name on the monitors.


Three now.

He knew three names.

224.9.2 | 8:42 a.m.

“What were you thinking?” Leavitt asked. He guided Thomas across the room to the empty bed. “We need to follow medical protocols, honor our safety zones, take the utmost care. Aren’t you aware of these things?”

Thomas almost laughed at the question. “Uh, no,” he replied, not trying to be sarcastic. He wasn’t even ten years old—of course he didn’t know those things!

“That boy has been through a surgery. He’s fragile. There are germs. Surely you know about germs?” Leavitt spoke with an eerie calm. “Viruses like the Flare?”

“I’m immune,” Thomas said. “Aren’t we all immune?”

“Most of you—” Leavitt broke off, sighed, pinched the bridge of his nose. “Never mind. Just…please don’t go through that curtain again. Is that understood?”

Thomas nodded.

“Now. I need to start prepping you.” Leavitt held his hands out and looked around the room as if getting his bearings. “The surgeon will be here in half an hour.”

A bubble of panic had been growing for some time in the pit of Thomas’s stomach. “So that kid…Minho…he was telling the truth? You’re going to do something crazy to my head?”

“Not something crazy,” Leavitt said, the strain of forced patience clear in his voice. He opened a drawer and pulled out a linen gown. “Something vital. And again, Minho was just having a reaction to the medicine we gave him—it happens only rarely. We’ll take care with your dosage, I promise.” He paused, turned toward Thomas. “Listen, you know the stakes. You know that you’re immune to the Flare. You also know that the human race is in serious trouble. Am I right? Do you know all this?”

Thomas had only one answer for that. “Yeah.”

“Then you understand why it’s so important that you cooperate.” Leavitt tossed him the hospital gown. “We’re studying the killzones of the immune so we can find a cure. You are immune. And all we’re doing today is placing a small instrument in your head that will help us understand what makes you different. I promise you’ll recover quickly, and you’ll be glad that we can monitor your vitals more efficiently. You won’t have to get your arm pricked quite so much!” He made this last statement with forced cheerfulness. “Now, that’s not all so bad, is it?”

Thomas kind of shrugged and nodded at the same time. The man made it sound so reasonable to cut open a kid’s brain. He looked down, turning the gown in his hands.

“There’s a bathroom right over there.” Leavitt pointed to a door in the corner. “Why don’t you get dressed, then get in bed. I give you my word that everything will be just fine. You’ll be knocked out, won’t feel a thing. Maybe a headache for a couple of days. And we have pills for that. Okay?”

“Okay.” Thomas took a step toward the bathroom, when he heard a girl scream out in the hallway. He looked at Leavitt, who met his eyes. For a long moment they stood like that, waiting to see who’d act first. Thomas did.

He was at the door in an instant. He threw it open and practically jumped into the hall, feeling Leavitt right on his tail. Just a few dozen feet away, a familiar scene played out in front of him. Two nurses—a man and a woman—were dragging a girl with brown hair down the hallway, and she was kicking and screaming the whole way. It was her. The girl from room 31K. Teresa.

There was no sense in what Thomas did next. He ran after her. The anguish on her face and the fear in her eyes had finally burst that bubble of panic swelling inside him.

“Let her go!” he yelled at the same time that Leavitt shouted at him to come back.

The nurses turned to look at Thomas and stopped, curiosity crossing their faces, maybe even a hint of amusement. That just angered him all the more. He picked up speed, already realizing that the entire thing was a lost cause. At least he would show Teresa that he tried.

At the last second he jumped, arms outstretched, as if he’d become a superhero, ready to take down the two—

One of the nurses swung a forearm in defense, connecting with the side of Thomas’s head. Sharp pain ignited along his cheek and ear as his world turned upside down and he landed hard on the ground; his nose banged into the wall just hard enough to stun him. He rolled over and looked up. Both nurses stared down at him as if to ask What’s wrong with you? Even Teresa had stopped struggling, though her face expressed something completely different: Awe. Wonder. Could that be almost a smile?

Thomas suddenly felt on top of the world.

Leavitt appeared, looming over him, a syringe in his hand. “I thought we’d come to an understanding, son. I was really hoping I wouldn’t have to do this.” He knelt down and stuck the needle in Thomas’s neck, compressed the syringe with his thumb.

Before he passed out, Thomas looked at Teresa again, their eyes meeting for just a few precious seconds. The world had already started to blur when they dragged her away, but he clearly heard what she called out to him.

“Someday we’ll be bigger.”

He had crazy dreams.

Flying through the air with some kind of machine strapped to his back, watching the world below him, scorched and ruined and lifeless. He saw small figures running across the sand, and then they grew, getting closer to him. He saw wings, then hideous faces, then arms outstretched, monsters reaching for him.