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The Fever Code: Chapter 63

232.1.1 | 9:03 a.m.

“Everything feeling okay?” Dr. Paige asked. “Normal? Strong?”

Thomas sat in a chair in one of the medical rooms, having just finished a medical rundown. Paige had just walked in to see him one last time. She held a steaming cup of coffee or tea.

“Yeah, feels great.” The truth was that he’d never been so nervous. In a matter of hours he’d be with the Gladers. It seemed impossible. “A little jittery, to be honest.”

“That’s why I brought you this.” She handed him the cup.

He took it, sniffed it. It smelled like berries. “What is it?”

“A special brew of tea I made up just for you. It will calm your nerves a bit.”

“Thanks.” He took a slow, careful sip. “Man, that’s good.” He took another sip, decided to try his hand at acting, throw her off the scent of his plans. “So, how’s everything on your end? You feel good about the plan?”

“You’re a part of this now, Thomas. We can’t share much information with you anymore. For these things to work, we do need a little separation.”

“But I’ll be reporting back to you.”

“I know. But like you said previously, we need to remember that you are a subject in all of this. We can taint the results if we say too much.”

He’d guzzled half the tea already, the burn worth the warmth he felt all over. Tingly. Floaty. “Can’t you just drop me one hint? Throw me a bone? Is there some big finale planned for the Maze Trials?” He hoped his naïve enthusiasm showed that he didn’t have anything malicious planned.

“You know all the details you need to know,” she replied, somewhat curtly.

“You’re going to miss me, right?” he asked.

He thought she’d smile, but it never came.

“Don’t fight it, Thomas. Everything will be all right in the end.”

“What do you mean?” His head was spinning now.

“It’s your incalculable ability to trust others that has always touched me,” she said, looking sadly into his eyes. Her face had started to blur. “And I’m sorry to have taken advantage of it so many times. I’ve just always done what needed to be done.” She stood up, but he saw three or four of her now, warping, expanding, retracting.

“What do you…,” he tried to say. His mouth wouldn’t work properly.

“It was me, Thomas. I know you won’t remember this, but I want to say the words to you anyway. Explain myself. It was me who infected Chancellor Anderson and his senior staff. They wanted to end things after the Maze Trials. They wanted to give up. And I could never allow that, could I? What we’re trying to achieve is much too important.”

“What…,” he tried again, but it was pointless now. He was already slouching in his chair, unable to sit straight. The cup dropped from his hands and shattered on the floor. He felt as if cotton candy had filled his ears.

“You were always my favorite,” Dr. Paige said. He sensed her attention move to someone else. “Let’s get him prepped.”


Thomas lay flat on an operating bed, fading, fading, unable to move, looking up at the odd device that looked like a mask from some demented hell of robotic creatures. The device that would trigger his Swipe mechanism, facilitate memory loss. He could feel his consciousness fading, knew he’d be totally out of it soon. Then they’d lower the mask and the process would begin. His life as he knew it had only minutes, maybe even seconds remaining. The panic was a lightning storm exploding in fiery bursts throughout his body and mind.

Yet he couldn’t move.

Soon the memories that haunted him so much, made him so sad, would be gone.

He didn’t want them gone. WICKED had tricked him. Of course they’d tricked him. Hadn’t he known this was who they were all along? Wasn’t that why he’d planned to rebel in the first place? Because these people were nothing but manipulative, single-minded monsters? And Dr. Paige had confirmed it all.

If only he could see Teresa one last time. His last words to her—“See you tomorrow”—they hurt so much. Yes, it was true. They would be reunited the next day, but their memories would be gone. He wouldn’t even recognize her.

WICKED had played them both to the very end.

Unbearable anguish filled him.

Then the relief of sleep swept in and took him away.

He opened his eyes inside what he knew to be a dream. He lay on a dazzling, unworldly bright-green field, grass swaying in the soft breeze around him. A brilliant blue sky shone above, broken by scattered, fluffy clouds that seemed close enough to touch. Supposedly every person who experienced the Swipe did so in his or her own unique way. And here he was, memories still intact, immersed in beauty.

Once again, panic exploded inside him.

But he couldn’t move. Couldn’t scream. He tried to call out to Teresa, but she didn’t exist here.

A large bubble entered his field of vision from the right, just a few feet away. It jiggled and shimmered with an oily sheen, distorting the world behind it as it floated even closer, coming to a stop directly above him. Inside the bubble, an image appeared, a moving image. A complex, three-dimensional image. Even though his senses clearly told him that the image was inside a bubble, it also seemed to consume him, surround him. The whole of it relaxed him, as if opiate drugs had been pumped into his veins.

He was a boy. Sitting on a couch, his dad beside him, an open book shared between their laps. His dad’s lips moved, his eyes lit up with mock drama, reading the story that obviously enraptured the very young version of Thomas. A small spark of joy flashed in his chest. He didn’t want it to end. No, he thought. Please don’t take this away. I’ll do anything. Please don’t do this to me.

The bubble popped.

Tiny drops of liquid sprayed outward, magically hovering in the air, catching light in little winks that made Thomas squint. Confusion made him blink. What had he just seen? Something about his dad. Something about a book. It was fuzzy, but still there. He tried to recall it but stopped when another balloon appeared.

Again, it hovered, colors shimmering across its surface, distorting the clouds beyond. It came to rest directly above him again. A moving image appeared, simultaneously small yet filling his entire world at the same time.

He walked along a street, his hand tiny in his mother’s. Leaves blew across the sidewalk. It was as if he were there. The world had already been devastated by sun flares, and yet little trips outside were okay now. He looked forward to each moment out in the elements, despite the sadness and fear he sensed in his parents’ demeanor. Despite the risk of radiation even a few minutes caused. He’d been so happy at times like—

The bubble popped. More drops of liquid hung suspended in the air, joining the others. Dozens of sparkles in the sun. Thomas’s confusion increased. He was still aware of the Swipe process, that these memories were being taken from him. But they’d only weakened, not disappeared. Despite the rush of sweet bliss, he raged against it, battled with his mind. He screamed silently, mentally.

More bubbles came.

More popped.

Playing tag. Swimming. Baths. Breakfasts. Dinners. Good times. Bad times. Faces. Emotions. Things Dr. Paige had told him. He wanted to cry out when he saw his dad going crazy from the Flare.

That bubble popped.

More of them came, no longer one by one. They flew by in a rush, a sensory overload that numbed his seething mind. Music. Movies. Dancing. Baseball. Food. The kind he loved (pizza, hamburgers, carrots) and the kind he hated (beef stroganoff, squash, peas). Faces in the memories started to blur, the voices to slur. The bubbles came and went so fast he could hardly keep up with them. The residue of their bursts filled the entire sky above him, millions of drops of whatever liquid formed them.

He had forgotten what he’d been so upset about.

A great wind came. A brutal, churning wind. It spun the drops in a grand circle, a cyclone of dew twisting above him. Bubbles popped before they even reached him now, the remnants of their predecessors ripping through them, obliterating them before Thomas could even experience their memories. All of it churned above him, spinning faster and faster. Soon everything blurred together, a writhing tornado of gray mist, devoid of all color.

Thomas felt as if he were a flower wilting from lack of sun. He’d never felt such confusion, such…emptiness. The world spun above him. And he grew ever emptier, his mind being sucked away, lost in the towering twister stealing him. Stealing what made him him.


It was all gone.

He closed his eyes. He wept without weeping. A deep blackness consumed his mind and body. Time stretched before him like an endless sea, no horizon ever to come. Nothing ahead, everything left behind.

Hours later, he opened his eyes.

He was awake.

He was standing.

Surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air.


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