Excerpt from FEVER CODE by James Dashner shows the return of Chuck!
James Dashner is the first to admit that fans of his bestselling book series The Maze Runner are very passionate. They also hold characters they have lost along the way close to their heart. In the excerpt from Dashner’s prequel to his hit book series readers are introduced to a younger Thomas, Teresa, and Chuck. Fans will remember that we didn’t get to learn much about Chuck as he was killed by a knife aimed for Thomas’ heart in the first book. Fever Code delves into the origins of the Gladers and how the maze was built. For fans of the series, it will be exciting to find out more details of what came before The Maze Runner as well as revisit some of our favourite characters who have passed away.
“The sacrifice he makes for his friends in the original trilogy is something that felt so necessary, but I still haven’t gotten over it,” Dashner says. “Maybe more than anyone else, his character was the one I was most excited to see return to the page.
“My whole goal with his story line in this prequel is to show just how much he meant to Thomas from the beginning, helping him get through some very difficult times. It makes me tear up just to think about it!”
226.03.09 | 8:12 p.m.
Even though Thomas’s and Teresa’s doors had remained unlocked, Thomas knew they were being observed, and that they were still feeling the aftermath of their trip outside. They’d tried to sneak out to meet their friends a few times since that night, but the moment they left their rooms a guard would appear and kindly but firmly tell them to “Please go back. It’s for your own good.” Always, everything was for their own good.
And even though they didn’t have the best gourmet chef in the world, food was one of the few things Thomas looked forward to in life. At the very least, WICKED considered quantity more important than quality, and that was just fine with Thomas. Growing like crazy, he was always hungry.
But maybe he’d have more than food to get excited about very soon.
Teresa, learning more and more about computers and information systems — their studies track had been diverging lately, becoming more specialized — had been told that the physical construction of the mazes was almost complete and WICKED would soon be ready for their help with things like programming the false sky and testing the optical-illusion systems. Aris and Rachel, two people they still hadn’t met, were also on the work schedule.
Teresa had a knack for the computer systems side of things, so that was where most of her training took place. And she was much, much better at it than they knew.
We can do it, she said one morning, waking him up from a dead sleep.
Thomas rubbed his eyes groggily, not bothering to ask her what she meant. She’d tell him soon enough. She always did.
I know the security camera system like the back of my hand now. I’ve cued up all the recordings we need to loop for the night, then backtracked and erased my movements. It’s all set up.
Thomas was totally awake in an instant. His excitement made him almost laugh with happiness, but he was also scared to death. Their punishment the last time they were caught out of their rooms — the Crank pits — still haunted him, but after so long without his friends, he was desperate to try anything.
Are you sure we won’t get caught? he asked.
Very sure. I know where the guards are stationed. Everyone else will be asleep. And the lighting at night is so low that it will be really hard for someone to notice the loops. We’ll be okay.
One hundred percent okay?
Good enough for me.
Then we go exploring tonight.
Open your door in twenty seconds, she told him just after midnight. I want to be in your room as fast as possible.
Thomas did exactly as she instructed, and less than half a minute later she joined him inside his quarters. It was the first time someone other than a WICKED employee had gone past his door. He surprised her — and himself — by pulling her into a fierce hug, squeezing her like she’d disappear if he let go. Thankfully, she returned the effort just as strongly.
Man, it’s good to see you, he said, still speaking with his mind, he’d grown so used to it.
She responded by hugging him even tighter.
Eventually, sadly, they let go. He sat on the bed and she sat at his desk.
“Let’s give it a few minutes, make sure the first loop is working,” Teresa said to him, smiling with anticipation. He’d never seen her so full of energy and excitement.
“What will we do if they catch us?” Thomas asked, relieved to use his real voice with her again. “This might set us back. I mean, we’ll be working more on the mazes and stuff. Are we sure we want to risk it? What if they take it away?”
He didn’t know why he bothered. Teresa answered only by rolling her eyes. They were going to explore and that was that.
After a few minutes of silence, Teresa spoke into his mind.
Let’s go, she said. And let’s stick to the telepathy just in case. The video will work great, but who knows who might hear us if we’re talking out loud. We can only speak if we run into our friends, and then only whisper. Sound good?
Sounds like a plan, he replied.
They opened the door to his room, looked both ways, then went for it.
I’ve got it all timed, Teresa said. When I say we have to leave for the next area, no arguing. Or else someone is going to catch us when the loops run out.
Thomas merely nodded, and then they were running, his chest on fire.
A few turns, a trip through the elevator, a few more turns, always pausing to peek around corners, make sure no one was wandering the halls.
Their first stop was the sector of Group B. The goal was to meet Aris and Rachel — they had placards on their doors just like Thomas’s and Teresa’s. But when Teresa knocked on Aris’s door, there was no answer. They tried Rachel’s. Again, no response.
Teresa spoke with their special ability. These guys are either heavy sleepers, extremely obedient, or they’re out breaking the rules just like us.
Thomas nodded. Oh well. Should we go say hi to Newt and them now?
Teresa nodded and he took the lead, winding through the halls and stairways, glad for the dimmed lighting. Teresa communicated the pattern she’d set up with the camera loops to figure out the best route, and where to stop and wait. Finally they turned the last corner before the Group A sector and stopped dead. Thomas sucked in a breath. There was a young boy in the hall; he had to be only seven or eight years old, and was a little on the pudgy side. He sat with his back against the wall, arms wrapped around his knees. Tears covered his face. When he saw Thomas and Teresa, he went as pale as the moon and jumped to his feet.
“I’m s-s-sorry,” he stuttered. “P-p-please don’t tell on me.”
Thomas slowly crossed the distance between them and put a hand on the boy’s shoulder, trying to reassure him. “It’s okay, man, we’re just like you. Nothing to worry about.”
“What’s your name?” Teresa asked. Their whole plan was now in jeopardy, but the kid seemed so young, so innocent, so scared.
The boy burst into another round of tears, then answered through one of his sobs.
“They’re making me call myself Charles.”
Thomas shook his head. “Well, that’s lame. We’re going to call you Chuck.”
Fever Code is out 27th of September.