Chapter no 12

The Maze Runner

Thomas didn’t move for a few seconds. The boy lay in a crumpled heap, barely moving, but Thomas was frozen by indecision, afraid to get involved. What if something was seriously wrong with this guy? What if he’d been … stung? What if—

Thomas snapped out of it—the Runner obviously needed help. “Alby!” he shouted. “Newt! Somebody get them!”

Thomas sprinted to the older boy and knelt down beside him. “Hey

—you okay?” The Runner’s head rested on outstretched arms as he panted, his chest heaving. He was conscious, but Thomas had never seen someone so exhausted.

“I’m … fine,” he said between breaths, then looked up. “Who the klunk are you?”

“I’m new here.” It hit Thomas then that the Runners were out in the Maze during the day and hadn’t witnessed any of the recent events firsthand. Did this guy even know about the girl? Probably—surely someone had told him. “I’m Thomas—been here just a couple of days.”

The Runner pushed himself up into a sitting position, his black hair matted to his skull with sweat. “Oh, yeah, Thomas,” he huffed. “Newbie. You and the chick.”

Alby jogged up then, clearly upset. “What’re you doin’ back, Minho? What happened?”

“Calm your wad, Alby,” the Runner replied, seeming to gain strength by the second. “Make yourself useful and get me some water

—I dropped my pack out there somewhere.”

But Alby didn’t move. He kicked Minho in the leg—too hard to be playful. “What happened?”

“I can barely talk, shuck-face!” Minho yelled, his voice raw. “Get me some water!”

Alby looked over at Thomas, who was shocked to see the slightest hint of a smile flash across his face before vanishing in a scowl. “Minho’s the only shank who can talk to me like that without getting his butt kicked off the Cliff.”

Then, surprising Thomas even more, Alby turned and ran off, presumably to get Minho some water.

Thomas turned toward Minho. “He lets you boss him around?” Minho shrugged, then wiped fresh beads of sweat off his forehead.

“You scared of that pip-squeak? Dude, you got a lot to learn. Freakin’ Newbies.”

The rebuke hurt Thomas far more than it should have, considering he’d known this guy all of three minutes. “Isn’t he the leader?”

“Leader?” Minho barked a grunt that was probably supposed to be a laugh. “Yeah, call him leader all you want. Maybe we should call him El Presidente. Nah, nah—Admiral Alby. There you go.” He rubbed his eyes, snickering as he did so.

Thomas didn’t know what to make of the conversation—it was hard to tell when Minho was joking. “So who is the leader if he isn’t?”

“Greenie, just shut it before you confuse yourself more.” Minho sighed as if bored, then muttered, almost to himself, “Why do you shanks always come in here asking stupid questions? It’s really annoying.”

“What do you expect us to do?” Thomas felt a flush of anger. Like you were any different when you first came, he wanted to say.

“Do what you’re told, keep your mouth shut. That’s what I expect.”

Minho had looked him square in the face for the first time with that last sentence, and Thomas scooted back a few inches before he could stop himself. He realized immediately he’d just made a mistake—he couldn’t let this guy think he could talk to him like that.

He pushed himself back up onto his knees so he was looking down at the older boy. “Yeah, I’m sure that’s exactly what you did as a Newbie.”

Minho looked at Thomas carefully. Then, again staring straight in his eyes, said, “I was one of the first Gladers, slinthead. Shut your hole till you know what you’re talking about.”

Thomas, now slightly scared of the guy but mostly fed up with his

attitude, moved to get up. Minho’s hand snapped out and grabbed his arm.

“Dude, sit down. I’m just playin’ with your head. It’s too much fun

—you’ll see when the next Newbie …” He trailed off, a perplexed look wrinkling his eyebrows. “Guess there won’t be another Newbie, huh?”

Thomas relaxed, returned to a sitting position, surprised at how easily he’d been put back at ease. He thought of the girl and the note saying she was the last one ever. “Guess not.”

Minho squinted slightly, as if he was studying Thomas. “You saw the chick, right? Everybody says you probably know her or something.”

Thomas felt himself grow defensive. “I saw her. Doesn’t really look familiar at all.” He felt immediately guilty for lying—even if it was just a little lie.

“She hot?”

Thomas paused, not having thought of her in that way since she’d freaked out and delivered the note and her one-liner—Everything is going to change. But he remembered how beautiful she was. “Yeah, I guess she’s hot.”

Minho leaned back until he lay flat, eyes closed. “Yeah, you guess.

If you got a thing for chicks in comas, right?” He snickered again.

“Right.” Thomas was having the hardest time figuring out if he liked Minho or not—his personality seemed to change every minute. After a long pause, Thomas decided to take a chance. “So …,” he asked cautiously, “did you find anything today?”

Minho’s eyes opened wide; he focused on Thomas. “You know what, Greenie? That’s usually the dumbest shuck-faced thing you could ask a Runner.” He closed his eyes again. “But not today.”

“What do you mean?” Thomas dared to hope for information. An answer, he thought. Please just give me an answer!

“Just wait till the fancy admiral gets back. I don’t like saying stuff twice. Plus, he might not want you to hear it anyway.”

Thomas sighed. He wasn’t in the least bit surprised at the non- answer. “Well, at least tell me why you look so tired. Don’t you run out there every day?”

Minho groaned as he pulled himself up and crossed his legs under

him. “Yeah, Greenie, I run out there every day. Let’s just say I got a little excited and ran extra fast to get my bee-hind back here.”

“Why?” Thomas desperately wanted to hear about what happened out in the Maze.

Minho threw his hands up. “Dude. I told you. Patience. Wait for General Alby.”

Something in his voice lessened the blow, and Thomas made his decision. He liked Minho. “Okay, I’ll shut up. Just make sure Alby lets me hear the news, too.”

Minho studied him for a second. “Okay, Greenie. You da boss.”

Alby walked up a moment later with a big plastic cup full of water and handed it to Minho, who gulped down the whole thing without stopping once for breath.

“Okay,” Alby said, “out with it. What happened?” Minho raised his eyebrows and nodded toward Thomas.

“He’s fine,” Alby replied. “I don’t care what this shank hears. Just talk!”

Thomas sat quietly in anticipation as Minho struggled to stand up, wincing with every move, his whole demeanor just screaming exhaustion. The Runner balanced himself against the wall, gave both of them a cold look. “I found a dead one.”

“Huh?” Alby asked. “A dead what?” Minho smiled. “A dead Griever.”

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