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The Maze Runner Files, Page 2

James Dashner


  The Flares Information Recovery Endeavor, henceforth known as FIRE, hereby calls upon municipal units, police agencies, social services and any surviving governmental entities for help. Because most means of communication have been rendered useless, this flyer is being disseminated to the four corners of the world by any available means, including Netblock, Berg, plane, boat, car, and horse.

  So far FIRE comprises representatives from the North American Alliance, Russia, the European Union, the United States of Africa, and Mexico, all countries that have suffered catastrophic damage from the sun flares. We hope to gather more representatives from around the world as quickly as possible.

  The globe has been ravaged by this disaster. But now is the time to pull together to do what we have always done: survive. FIRE’s first task is to assemble world leaders and collect information. We will then organize governing units, police forces, and food and shelter coordination plans.

  If you read this message, please find a way to send word back to the FIRE headquarters in Anchorage, Alaska.

  Post-Flares Coalition Memorandum, Date 217.11.28, Time 21:46

  TO: All board members

  FROM: Chancellor John Michael

  RE: Population concerns

  The report presented to us today, copies of which were sent to all members of the coalition, certainly left no room for doubt as to the problems that face this already crippled world. I am certain that all of you, like me, went to your shelters in stunned silence. It is my hope that the harsh reality described in this report is now clear enough that we can begin talking about solutions.

  The problem is simple: the world has too many people and not enough resources.

  We have scheduled our next meeting for a week from tomorrow. I expect all members to come prepared to present a solution, no matter how extraordinary it seems. You may be familiar with an old business saying, “think outside the box.” I believe it is time we do just that.

  I look forward to hearing your ideas.

  To: John Michael

  From: Katie McVoy

  Subject: Potential


  I looked into the matter we discussed over dinner last night. AMRIID barely survived the flares, but they’re confident that the underground containment system for the most dangerous viruses, bacteria, and biological weapons didn’t fail.

  It took some wrangling, but I got the information we need. I’ve looked through it and come up with a recommendation. All the potential solutions are far too unpredictable to be usable. Except one.

  It’s a virus. It attacks the brain and shuts it down, painlessly. It acts quickly and decisively. The virus was designed to slowly weaken in infection rate as it spreads from host to host. It will be perfect for our needs, especially considering how severely limited travel has become. It could work, John. And as awful as it seems, I believe it could work efficiently.

  I’ll send over the details. Let me know your thoughts.


  To: Katie McVoy

  From: John Michael

  Subject: RE: Potential


  I need your help preparing my full proposal for the virus release presentation. We need to focus on how a controlled kill is the only way to save lives. Though it will make survival possible for only a select portion of our population, unless we take extreme measures, we face the eventual extinction of the human race.

  You and I both know how hypothetical this solution is. But we’ve run the simulations a thousand times and I just can’t see any alternative. If we don’t do this, the world will run out of resources. I firmly believe it is the most ethical decision—the risk of race extinction justifies the elimination of a few. My mind is made up. Now it’s a matter of convincing the others on the board.

  Let’s meet at my quarters, 1700. Everything has to be worded perfectly, so prepare yourself for a long night.

  Until then,


  To: Randall Spilker

  From: Ladena Lichliter


  I’m still sick from the meeting today. I just can’t believe it. I can’t accept that the PCC actually looked us in the eyes and presented that proposal. Seriously. I was stunned.

  And then more than half the room AGREED WITH THEM! They supported it! What the hell is going on? Randall, tell me what the HELL is going on? How can we even THINK about doing something like that? How?

  I’ve spent the afternoon trying to make sense of it all. I can’t take it. I can’t.

  How did we get here?

  Come see me tonight. Please.


  Post-Flares Coalition Memorandum, Date 219.02.12, Time 19:32

  TO: All board members

  FROM: Chancellor John Michael

  RE: EO draft

  Please give me your thoughts on the following draft. The final order will go out tomorrow.

  Executive Order #13 of the Post-Flares Coalition, by recommendation of the Population Control Committee, to be considered TOP-SECRET, of the highest priority, on penalty of capital punishment.

  We the Coalition hereby grant the PCC express permission to fully implement their PC Initiative #1 as presented in full and attached below. We the Coalition take full responsibility for this action and will monitor developments and offer assistance to the fullest extent of our resources. The virus will be released in the locations recommended by the PCC and agreed upon by the Coalition. Armed forces will be stationed to ensure that the process unfolds in as orderly a manner as possible.

  EO #13, PCI #1, is hereby ratified. Begin immediately.

  To: John Michael

  From: Katie McVoy

  Subject: Potential


  We received the following radio message from soldiers at Ground Zero EU: an exchange between a Lieutenant Larsson and a private named Kibucho that began during a helicopter flyover. I have to warn you, it’s a little disturbing.

  *Begin transmission*

  Larsson: What the *expletive* is that down there? Through that gash in the roof. What’s all that movement?

  Kibucho: They’re supposed to be *expletive* dead by now. It has to be animals or something.

  Larsson: No way. But it’s too dark. We need to get down there and have a look.

  Kibucho: I’ll tell them.

  *Three-minute break in transmission*

  Larsson: Open the door.

  Kibucho: Are you sure?

  Larsson: Open the *expletive* door, Private!

  Kibucho: Going in.

  *Two-minute break in transmission*

  Kibucho: He chopped off my leg! He chopped off my *expletive* leg!

  Larsson: What? What the *expletive* are you talking about?

  Kibucho: [Garbled response.]

  Larsson: Private! What’s going on?

  Kibucho: Half of them are alive! Get me out!

  Larsson: Backup, backup, backup! We need backup in Sector Seventeen of Ground Zero EU immediately!

  Kibucho: [Garbled screams.]

  Larsson: Holy *expletive*! Holy *expletive*! They’re eating him! My God, they’re eating him!

  Kibucho: [Garbled screams that cut off abruptly.]

  Larsson: They have me cornered! Oh, *expletive*, they have me cornered!

  *End transmission*

  We need to gather the board.


  To: Randall Spilker

  From: Ladena Lichliter

  Subject: Unbelievable

  I know you’ve been sick, but the reports are flying in now. Have you seen any of them? These aren’t rumors anymore, Randall. They have at least 27 confirmed sightings of infected groups. The virus didn’t kill them! None of the doctors or scientists can nail down what’s gone wrong. But most of the people living at Ground Zero locations are completely insane, like animals. They’re monsters!

  But that’s not even the worst part. What has the Coalition terrified is that victims ev
en had time to escape from the remote camps. The Coalition thought the incubation period and onset of death would be much faster. And there are reports of symptoms in citizens outside the hot zones. Everywhere.

  Randall, we have a major, major crisis on our hands. They should’ve listened to us. They should’ve listened!

  God help us.


  To: John Michael

  From: Katie McVoy

  Subject: Some last words


  There’s no way we can stop this. You’re right. I hate to admit it, but it’s true. Every effort we made to prevent the spread was pointless. The virus is jumping bodies every second. We can only hope that the rumors of the presence of Immunes are true. They might be the only chance we’ve got for survival.

  A cure. I can’t think of any other possible solution. Somehow, we have to find a cure.

  Did you hear what the media has taken to calling it? The Flare. I’m sure it’ll stick.

  I have it. I know I do. I’m leaving. I don’t want to infect anyone.

  You were a true friend in this madness.

  Goodbye, John.


  Post-Flares Coalition Memorandum, Date 220.05.01, Time 11:23

  TO: All board members

  FROM: Chancellor John Michael

  RE: Another solution

  The killzone. That’s their word for the brain now. Where the Flare does its damage and slowly kills you with lunacy. And they already have a nickname for the Immunes, too. The Munies. What utter ridiculousness.

  But jargon matters not. What matters is how it all connects. The killzone. The Flare. The Immunes. A world that’s in complete catastrophe. We need to find a cure. There is no other way to go forward.

  We will meet tomorrow, 0800.

  I have an idea.

  Part III

  Suppressed Memories

  Thomas’s first memory of the Flare

  It had been five days since they’d locked Thomas up in the white room. On that fifth day, after trying his best to go through the routine he’d established—exercise, eat, think, repeat—he decided to lie down and sleep. Let his terrible new world wash away for a while. Exhausted, he faded quickly and images began to bloom in his mind.

  Thomas is young—he can’t tell how young exactly. He’s curled up in a corner, knees pulled up to his chest, shivering with fright. His dad—the man who holds him, reads to him, kisses him on the cheek, hugs him, bathes him—is on a rampage, screaming hateful things and turning over furniture. His mom tries to stop him, but he pushes her away without even seeming to realize who she is. She stumbles, tries to regain her balance, then slams into the wall a few feet from Thomas.

  Sobbing, she crawls to him, pulls him into her arms.

  “Don’t worry, honey,” she whispers. “They’re coming to take him away. They’ll be here soon.”

  “Who?” Thomas asks. His voice sounds so young, and it breaks his dreaming heart.

  “The people who are going to take care of him,” she answers. “Remember, your daddy’s sick, very sick. This isn’t really him doing all of this. It’s the disease.”

  Suddenly Dad spins around to face them, his face aflame with anger. “Disease? Did I just hear you say disease?” Each word comes out of his mouth like a poisoned dart, full of venom.

  Mom shakes her head, hugs Thomas tighter to her body.

  “Why don’t you just say it, woman,” Dad continues, taking a step toward them. His chest is lurching with his attempts to suck in breath, and his hands are clenched into tight fists. “The Flare. Tell the boy how it is. Tell him the truth. Your dad has the Flare, Thomas. It’s comin’ along real nicely.” Another step closer. “Your mom has it, too. Oh yes. Soon she’ll be chewing on her fingers and feeding you dirt for breakfast. Laughing hysterically while she breaks the windows and tries to cut you. She’ll be bat crazy, boy, just like your daddy.”

  Another step closer. Thomas squeezes his eyes shut, hoping it’ll all go away. The dreaming part of him doesn’t want to see anymore, either. Wants it to end.

  “Look at me, boy,” Dad says with a snarl. “Look at me when I’m talking to you.”

  Thomas can’t help it. He always does as he’s told. His dad looks calm now in every way except one: those fists. Fingers and knuckles white.

  “That’s good,” Dad says. “Good boy. Look at your daddy. Do I look crazy to you? Huh? Do I?”

  He shouts those last two words.

  “No, sir,” Thomas says, surprised he can say it without shaking.

  “Well, you’re wrong, then.” Dad’s face pinches with anger again. “I’m crazy, boy. I’m a madman. I could eat both of you for dinner and love every bite.”

  “Stop it!” Mom screams, a sound so loud it pierces Thomas’s eardrums painfully. “You stop it right now! I swear to God I’ll rip your heart out if you touch my son!”

  Dad laughs. Not just a chuckle, either. His whole body shakes and he throws his head back as booming laughter pours from him, filling the house with its noise. Thomas has never heard something sound so wrong before. But the man keeps it up, laughing and laughing and laughing. “Stop it!” Mom screams again. She repeats it over and over until finally Thomas can’t take it anymore and covers his ears.

  Then the doorbell rings, barely loud enough to be heard. But both of his parents go silent. Dad looks in the direction of the front door, his face suddenly showing fear.

  “They’re here to get you,” Mom says through a sob. “My sweet, the love of my life, they’re here to get you.”

  Thomas woke up.

  Frypan, Swipe Removal Operation

  Frypan looked up at his nurse, and though nervousness filled his gut, he knew he was doing the right thing and forced himself to relax. He was about to get his memories back. His memories!

  He couldn’t wait to see his past.

  The woman swabbed a spot clean on the side of his neck, then poked the needle into a vein before he could get another word out. There was a sharp sting and then warmth flowed through his body.

  “There,” she said. “Just rest for a few minutes. We’ll lower the mask as soon as you fall asleep.”

  “How does it work?” Frypan whispered; he couldn’t help himself—he wanted answers. “What is the Swipe, anyway?”

  “Just relax now” was all she said in response.

  Frypan closed his eyes and resolved to shut up. The answers would come soon enough. He breathed deeply, doing his best to follow directions, to calm his nerves. The warmth he’d been feeling expanded as weariness trickled in, pulling him toward sleep.

  “You ready?”

  Frypan’s eyes snapped open to see his nurse staring down at him through what seemed like a white haze. He tried to speak, but only a mumble of something unintelligible came out.

  “You look ready,” she said. “Just wanted to let you know I’m about to lower the mask. You don’t need to do anything—go ahead and close your eyes again. When you wake up you’ll remember everything.”

  He grunted, closed his eyes. He hadn’t been this tired in a long time.

  Something squeaked, followed by a grating sound, then a few hard clinks. He felt the pads of the mask on his skin. Something whirred, reminding him of the Grievers, which sent a brief spurt of panic through him before it got swallowed by his exhaustion.

  Just before he lost consciousness, he swore he could feel cold worms trying to burrow their way into his ears.

  * * *

  Frypan swam in a pool of darkness.

  Somewhere on the outside, in the periphery, he was aware of pain. It bit at his nerves, sliced through his head and brain. But a dullness, the fog of drugs, numbed it, made it a thing he didn’t care about.

  As he floated in the absence of light, he remembered how others back in the Maze had described the Changing—an awful journey into a swirling white tornado of their imagination. And that was when recalling only a few flashes of memory. They talked about the extreme pain, and he wo
ndered if he was about to go through something like that. He wasn’t too keen on the idea—a good burn from the stove was about the worst thing he’d been through before.

  Things developed differently than he could’ve ever guessed.

  He floated in an impossible vacuum—with no gravity, no sense of direction or space. Finally an unseen ground solidified below him and his feet touched a hard surface. He pulled himself together and looked around, hoping for a light to banish the darkness that pressed in on him, scaring him.

  Something creaked close by and he turned toward the sound, saw an open door, a soft light spilling out to reveal a stone path between him and the entrance to who-knew-where. He knew this all had to be imagined, that he wasn’t actually in this place, seeing what he was seeing. It had to be symbolic, something formed in his imagination to be able to process whatever the doctors were doing to his brain with their mask machine.

  He reached the door in just four steps, hesitated in front of it, then pushed it open wider and entered a sea of blackness. As his eyes adjusted, he realized he was in a long hallway that stretched into the distance as far as he could see. The walls, floor, and ceiling were no longer black, but white. They went on until they converged into a single point.

  A series of screens was set into the right wall, one about every three feet, seeming to continue as far as the hallway itself did. The screen closest to him suddenly flickered with static; then a moving image formed within its square, perfectly clear and crisp. Frypan stepped closer to get a better look.

  A man, standing at a kitchen counter, his arm moving furiously as he mixes something in a bowl. Frypan is sitting on the floor, staring up at this man. His … dad. The man turns to face Frypan, a huge smile on his face. “These are going to be the best pancakes ever eaten by humans. Almost ready!” Frypan laughs.