The Fever Code (The Maze Runner #5)(14)


by James Dashner

Thomas hoped so badly that was the case.

“So, anything new or exciting in your life?” Teresa asked.

“Can’t say there is,” Thomas replied. “Let’s see, I eat. I go to school. Lots of school. Lots of medical tests. Oh, and I sleep, too. That about sums it up.”

“Sounds a lot like my life!”

“Really? Shocker.”

Smiles, a pause. Then Teresa leaned forward and put her elbows on the desk.

“I don’t know about the other kids, or any secrets or anything like that, but listen. Our heads should be totally healed, right?”

The question took him by surprise. “Um, yeah, you’d think so.” He touched the scar hidden by the hair above his left ear. “Seems like it, at least. I’m sure our brilliant brains are just fine.”

“You mean what WICKED calls the killzone?”

Thomas nodded. He’d heard the word here and there but didn’t know much except the basics. “Yeah. Seems like something they stole from a vid game. But Dr. Paige says that’s where the Flare does all its damage.”

“Isn’t it so weird that we’re immune? I mean, that should be the coolest thing in the world—that we don’t have to worry about turning into crazy people.”

“Right.”

“But all it’s done for us is landed us in this stupid place. Their name should be BORING, not WICKED. I’m seriously going insane from being locked in rooms all day.”

Thomas looked at the door, pondering for a second. “Is it that bad outside? Is that why we’re not allowed to go out there?”

“It must be bad. You always hear that the radiation is weakening but still pretty high in some places. All I remember is blinding white light outside the Berg that brought me here. I’ve been through a Flat Trans and ridden on a Berg—all before the age of five. Can you believe that?”

Thomas could just remember the big flying machine in which he’d also ridden. As sad as he’d been, he’d thought the thing was cool. Bergs were supposed to be for people who were crazy rich. But that was nothing compared to a Flat Trans. He’d never been through one of those, but if WICKED had them, they must have a lot of money.

“When did you go through a Flat Trans?” he asked.

Her face shifted from awe to sadness. “I barely remember it. I was born in the east somewhere. I lost my parents and got rescued….” She looked down and went silent. Maybe a topic for another time.

“Hey,” he said to change the subject, “about that ache in our heads. I have it, too, sometimes.”

Teresa’s eyes flicked up to the corners of the ceiling again. Nothing visible hung up there, but they both knew that cameras could be hidden anywhere. And microphones. WICKED could fit hundreds of microphones in a place that size. Not to mention whatever had been inserted into their brains—who knew what those things could monitor.

Teresa stood, picked up her chair, and brought it around to the other side of the desk. She placed it right next to Thomas, as close as possible. She sat down and leaned toward him, pressing their shoulders together.

She whispered in his ear, so lightly that he barely heard the words. Her breath against his skin sent tingles in all directions.

“Let’s talk this way until they stop us,” she said.

Thomas nodded, then spoke into her ear. “Sure.” He liked sitting close to her.

“That ache in my head,” she said, so quietly. “It’s actually more like an itch. Like something’s in there that needs to be scratched. It just about drives me crazy sometimes. I want to dig in there with something until I can scratch the itch, you know?”

Thomas didn’t know. That sounded even crazier than his déjà vu.

“I guess mine is kinda like that,” he said without much conviction.

She laughed, leaning away for a second. “Perfect response,” she said aloud. Then she leaned in again to whisper. “I know it’s weird, but just hear me out. There’s something in there that isn’t being used. I heard the words ‘trigger switch’ when I was coming out of the anesthesia. And it does feel like that to me. Like a trigger that needs to be pulled, or a switch that needs to be pressed. Make sense?”

Thomas slowly nodded. Dr. Paige had actually said something also, hadn’t she? She’d said special. He vaguely remembered that word, but it could have been a dream. These implants were a complete mystery.

Teresa continued, her expression pinched. “I feel like there’s something linked with my brain. Something extra there. I’ve been lying in bed, concentrating until my head hurts from that.”

“What’re you concentrating on?” Thomas asked, bursting with curiosity now.

“Using my brain as a tool. Like, conjuring up a physical thing in my thoughts, trying to use it on the implant. You know, like a hook to pull that trigger. Does any of this make even the slightest bit of sense?”

“Of course not,” Thomas said.

She pulled away, folded her arms, huffed in frustration.

He touched her arm. “But that’s why I’m interested.”

She raised her eyebrows.

He continued. “You seem totally sane to me”—she laughed—“and I’m pretty sure Dr. Paige may have tried to say something about this to me. It’s really got me thinking. Consider me curious.”

She nodded, kept nodding, her eyes filled with relief. She sat up and came in again for whispers.

“I’m going to keep working on it. Thanks for not thinking I’ve got the Flare after all. But I mean, come on. These people have some crazy technology. They have Flat Transes and Bergs….” She paused and shook her head slightly. “My point is these things they put in our heads might be integrated somehow with our actual consciousness. Our actual thoughts. That’s what I think.”

Thomas, a little overwhelmed with this fascinating barrage of things to think about, put his lips right next to her ear. “I’ll try, too. It’ll be fun to have something different to work on.”

She stood, a genuine smile lighting up her face. She carried her chair back to its original position on the other side of the desk and sat back down.

“I really wish they’d let us meet more often,” she said.

“Me too. I hope they’re not mad about our whispering.”