“The Grievers must barely fit through that thing.” Thomas kept his eyes riveted to the area of the invisible floating square, trying to burn the distance and location in his mind, remember exactly where it was. “And when they come out, they must balance on the rim of the hole and jump over the empty space to the Cliff edge—it’s not that far. If I could jump it, I’m sure it’s easy for them.”
Minho finished drawing, then looked up at the special spot. “How’s this possible, dude? What’re we looking at?”
“Like you said, it’s not magic. Must be something like our sky turning gray. Some kind of optical illusion or hologram, hiding a doorway. This place is all jacked up.” And, Thomas admitted to himself, kind of cool. His mind craved to know what kind of technology could be behind it all.
“Yeah, jacked up is right. Come on.” Minho got up with a grunt and put on his backpack. “Better get as much of the Maze run as we can. With our new decorated sky, maybe other weird things have happened out there. We’ll tell Newt and Alby about this tonight. Don’t know how it helps, but at least we know now where the shuck Grievers go.”
“And probably where they come from,” Thomas said as he took one last look at the hidden doorway. “The Griever Hole.”
“Yeah, good a name as any. Let’s go.”
Thomas sat and stared, waiting for Minho to make a move. Several minutes passed in silence and Thomas realized his friend must be as fascinated as he was. Finally, without saying a word, Minho turned to leave. Thomas reluctantly followed and they ran into the gray-dark Maze.
* * *
Thomas and Minho found nothing but stone walls and ivy.
Thomas did the vine cutting and all the note-taking. It was hard for him to notice any changes from the day before, but Minho pointed out without thinking about it where the walls had moved. When they reached the final dead end and it was time to head back home, Thomas felt an almost uncontrollable urge to bag everything and stay there overnight, see what happened.
Minho seemed to sense it and grabbed his shoulder. “Not yet, dude. Not yet.”
And so they’d gone back.
A somber mood rested over the Glade, an easy thing to happen when all is gray. The dim light hadn’t changed a bit since they’d woken up that morning, and Thomas wondered if anything would change at “sunset” either.
Minho headed straight for the Map Room as they came through the West Door.
Thomas was surprised. He thought it was the last thing they should do. “Aren’t you dying to tell Newt and Alby about the Griever Hole?”
“Hey, we’re still Runners,” Minho said, “and we still have a job.” Thomas followed him to the steel door of the big concrete block and Minho turned to give him a wan smile. “But yeah, we’ll do it quick so we can talk to them.”
There were already other Runners milling about the room, drawing up their Maps when they entered. No one said a word, as if all speculation on the new sky had been exhausted. The hopelessness in the room made Thomas feel as if he were walking through mud-thick water. He knew he should also be exhausted, but he was too excited to feel it—he couldn’t wait to see Newt’s and Alby’s reactions to the news about the Cliff.
He sat down at the table and drew up the day’s Map based on his memory and notes, Minho looking over his shoulder the whole time, giving pointers. “I think that hall was actually cut off here, not there,” and “Watch your proportions,” and “Draw straighter, you shank.” He was annoying but helpful, and fifteen minutes after entering the room, Thomas examined his finished product. Pride washed through him—it was just as good as any other Map he’d seen.
“Not bad,” Minho said. “For a Greenie, anyway.”
Minho got up and walked over to the Section One trunk and opened it. Thomas knelt down in front of it and took out the Map from the day before and held it up side by side with the one he’d just drawn.
“What am I looking for?” he asked.
“Patterns. But looking at two days’ worth isn’t gonna tell you jack. You really need to study several weeks, look for patterns, anything. I know there’s something there, something that’ll help us. Just can’t find it yet. Like I said, it sucks.”
Thomas had an itch in the back of his mind, the same one he’d felt the very first time in this room. The Maze walls, moving. Patterns. All those straight lines—were they suggesting an entirely different kind of map? Pointing to something? He had such a heavy feeling that he was missing an obvious hint or clue.
Minho tapped him on the shoulder. “You can always come back and study your butt off after dinner, after we talk to Newt and Alby. Come on.”
Thomas put the papers in the trunk and closed it, hating the twinge of unease he felt. It was like a prick in his side. Walls moving, straight lines, patterns … There had to be an answer. “Okay, let’s go.”
They’d just stepped outside the Map Room, the heavy door clanging shut behind them, when Newt and Alby walked up, neither one of them looking very happy. Thomas’s excitement immediately turned to worry.
“Hey,” Minho said. “We were just—”
“Get on with it,” Alby interrupted. “Ain’t got time to waste. Find anything? Anything?”
Minho actually recoiled at the harsh rebuke, but his face seemed more confused to Thomas than hurt or angry. “Nice to see you, too. Yeah, we did find something, actually.”
Oddly, Alby almost looked disappointed. “Cuz this whole shuck place is fallin’ to pieces.” He shot Thomas a nasty glare as if it were all his fault.
What’s wrong with him? Thomas thought, feeling his own anger light up. They’d been working hard all day and this was their thanks?
“What do you mean?” Minho asked. “What else happened?”
Newt answered, nodding toward the Box as he did so. “Bloody supplies didn’t come today. Come every week for two years, same time, same day. But not today.”
All four of them looked over at the steel doors attached to the ground. To Thomas, there seemed to be a shadow hovering over it darker than the gray air surrounding everything else.
“Oh, we’re shucked for good now,” Minho whispered, his reaction alerting Thomas to how grave the situation really was.
“No sun for the plants,” Newt said, “no supplies from the bloody Box—yeah, I’d say we’re shucked, all right.”
Alby had folded his arms, still glaring at the Box as if trying to open the doors with his mind. Thomas hoped their leader didn’t bring up what he’d seen in the Changing—or anything related to Thomas, for that matter. Especially now.
“Yeah, anyway,” Minho continued. “We found something weird.”
Thomas waited, hoping that Newt or Alby would have a positive reaction to the news, maybe even have further information to shed light on the mystery.
Newt raised his eyebrows. “What?”
Minho took a full three minutes to explain, starting with the Griever they followed and ending with the results of their rock-throwing experiment.
“Must lead to where the … ya know … Grievers live,” he said when finished.
“The Griever Hole,” Thomas added. All three of them looked at him, annoyed, as if he had no right to speak. But for the first time, being treated like the Greenie didn’t bother him that much.
“Gotta bloody see that for myself,” Newt said. Then murmured, “Hard to believe.” Thomas couldn’t have agreed more.
“I don’t know what we can do,” Minho said. “Maybe we could build something to block off that corridor.”
“No way,” Newt said. “Shuck things can climb the bloody walls, remember? Nothing we could build would keep them out.”
But a commotion outside the Homestead shifted their attention away from the conversation. A group of Gladers stood at the front door of the house, shouting to be heard over each other. Chuck was in the group, and when he saw Thomas and the others he ran over, a look of excitement spread across his face. Thomas could only wonder what crazy thing had happened now.
“What’s going on?” Newt asked.
“She’s awake!” Chuck yelled. “The girl’s awake!”
Thomas’s insides twisted; he leaned against the concrete wall of the Map Room. The girl. The girl who spoke in his head. He wanted to run before it happened again, before she spoke to him in his mind.
But it was too late.
Tom, I don’t know any of these people. Come get me! It’s all fading…. I’m forgetting everything but you…. I have to tell you things! But it’s all fading….
He couldn’t understand how she did it, how she was inside his head.
Teresa paused, then said something that made no sense.
The Maze is a code, Tom. The Maze is a code.
Thomas didn’t want to see her. He didn’t want to see anybody.
As soon as Newt set off to go and talk to the girl, Thomas silently slipped away, hoping no one would notice him in the excitement. With everyone’s thoughts on the stranger waking up from her coma, it proved easy. He skirted the edge of the Glade, then, breaking into a run, he headed for his place of seclusion behind the Deadhead forest.
He crouched in the corner, nestled in the ivy, and threw his blanket over himself, head and all. Somehow, it seemed like a way to hide from Teresa’s intrusion into his mind. A few minutes passed, his heart finally calming to a slow roll.
“Forgetting about you was the worst part.”
At first, Thomas thought it was another message in his head; he squeezed his fists against his ears. But no, it’d been … different. He’d heard it with his ears. A girl’s voice. Chills creeping up his spine, he slowly lowered the blanket.
Teresa stood to his right, leaning against the massive stone wall. She looked so different now, awake and alert—standing. Wearing a long-sleeved white shirt, blue jeans, and brown shoes, she looked—impossibly—even more striking than when he’d seen her in the coma. Black hair framed the fair skin of her face, with eyes the blue of pure flame.
“Tom, do you really not remember me?” Her voice was soft, a contrast from the crazed, hard sound he’d heard from her after she first arrived, when she’d delivered the message that everything was going to change.
“You mean … you remember me?” he asked, embarrassed at the squeak that escaped on the last word.
“Yes. No. Maybe.” She threw her arms up in disgust. “I can’t explain it.”
Thomas opened his mouth, then closed it without saying anything.
“I remember remembering,” she muttered, sitting down with a heavy sigh; she pulled her legs up to wrap her arms around her knees. “Feelings. Emotions. Like I have all these shelves in my head, labeled for memories and faces, but they’re empty. As if everything before this is just on the other side of a white curtain. Including you.”
“But how do you know me?” He felt like the walls were spinning around him.