The Fever Code (The Maze Runner #5)(13)


by James Dashner

Thomas wanted to slap himself. “Sorry. That sounds kind of good to me, too.” He didn’t know if this meeting could have gone any worse.

Teresa let him off the hook with another smile. “Then maybe we passed the test. Maybe they wanted to see if we’d get along.”

“Whatever,” he said with a smile of his own. “I quit guessing about things a long time ago.”

After a long pause, she said, “So…friends?”

“Friends.”

Teresa held out her hand over the desk. “Shake on it.”

“Okay.” He leaned forward and they shook on it.

Teresa sat back in her chair, and her expression shifted again. “Hey, does your brain hurt sometimes? I mean, not just like a normal headache, but deep down inside your skull?”

Thomas could only imagine the look of shock on his face. “What? Are you serious? Yes!” He was just about to bring up his terrible morning headache—maybe even the feelings of having done this before—when she held a finger to her lips.

“Quiet, someone’s coming. We’ll talk about it later.”

How she’d known, Thomas had no clue. He hadn’t heard anything, but someone knocked at the door a moment after she spoke. A second later it opened and Dr. Leavitt popped his head through the crack.

“Hello, kids,” he said brightly. He looked from Thomas to Teresa. “Time’s up for today. Let’s get you back to your rooms. We think this went well, so there’ll be plenty more opportunities to get to know each other.”

Thomas exchanged a glance with Teresa. He wasn’t totally sure what her eyes said, but he really did believe he had a new friend. They got up from their chairs and moved toward Leavitt. Thomas was thankful for even the short time they’d been given, and would keep his fingers crossed that the good behavior would truly lead to more meetings, as promised.

They were at the door when Teresa stopped and asked Dr. Leavitt a question. Two, actually. And it was enough to change the man’s demeanor completely.

“What’s a swipe trigger? And is it true that seven kids died during the implant surgeries?”

The questions stunned Thomas. He turned to look at Teresa as the doctor fumbled for an answer.

“How…,” the man began, then stopped, realizing at the same moment what Thomas did: Teresa had stumbled on something major. Something true. “Where would you come up with such nonsense?”

Thomas wondered the same thing. How could she have heard something like that? He never heard anything.

Teresa shrugged. “Sometimes you people talk when you think we can’t hear.”

Leavitt was not pleased, but his voice remained steady. “And sometimes when you overhear things, you don’t hear the whole story. Let’s not concentrate on what doesn’t concern you, okay?”

And with that he turned and started back down the hall. He didn’t seem to care whether they followed or not, but both were right on his heels.

“This is kind of fun,” Teresa whispered to Thomas. “Walking along with my new friend.”

He looked at her in bemused disbelief. “Really? You drop that bombshell about kids dying and now you act like it’s no big deal? You’re so weird.” He tried to make a joke of it to hide just how horrified he’d been by her second question. Surely it was just a rumor?

He felt better when she suddenly kissed him on the cheek, then sprinted down the hall, passing Dr. Leavitt.

Thomas definitely liked having a friend. But as he watched her run, that feeling of panic came back to him. What had happened to him today? From the splitting headache to the overwhelming sense of déjà vu—it made him feel off-balance, scared to stand up for fear of tipping over. Like he wasn’t in tune with the spinning of the earth.

He tried hard not to think of the worst possible answer.

He tried not to think of the Flare.

224.10.14 | 11:37 a.m.

A week later, right after a particularly tough puzzle session with Ms. Denton, Thomas found himself once again in the small room, sitting across the desk from Teresa. Thankfully, none of the strangeness of their last meeting came back to haunt him.

It had been the longest week of his life, wondering every minute of every day if he’d be able to see his new friend. The only answer he got from Dr. Paige or his teachers or anyone else was that yes, they’d meet again soon. Letting a whole week go by seemed the most effective torture method he’d ever heard of. And despite considering it many times, he’d never gotten up the courage to ask about the powerful episode of déjà vu. He worried people might think something was wrong with him.

“Hey, good to see you again,” Teresa said to start things off. Leavitt had just left the room, refusing to answer her question as to how long they’d have together.

“Yeah, definitely,” Thomas agreed, pulling himself together. He felt too silly asking about the strange feelings he’d had last time, so he took another direction. “Hey, I’ve been dying to ask you about those kids you said…died. Is that really true? And at times Dr. Paige somehow makes it sound like they’re doing us a favor by keeping us alone. I feel like I’ve got a million other things I want to talk about, too.”

“Whoa, not all at once,” Teresa said with a grin. Then she looked up at the corners of the ceiling—each of the four—with a worried glance. “I wonder if we should be a little careful about what we say. I mean, they’re obviously watching us. Or at least listening.”

“Probably both,” Thomas said in a loud, mocking voice. “Hellooooooo! Hello, old people!” He waved all around as if he were in a parade, unsure where this sudden elation was coming from.

Teresa exploded with laughter, making him do the same. It went on for a good minute or two, each triggering the other to laugh again just when they were about to stop. He was smart enough to know, however, that he was trying to avoid thinking about the deaths in question.

“Let’s not worry about it too much,” Teresa said when the chortling had stopped. “This is our time, and we can talk about whatever we want. Let them get their kicks.”

“Amen.” Thomas slapped the top of the desk.

Teresa jumped in surprise, then laughed again. “The stuff I heard about kids dying—I don’t know. Probably just a rumor. I hope so. I guess I didn’t hear it that clearly. They could’ve been talking about something that happened before we came. I was just trying to get a reaction from Leavitt.”