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“Oh, yeah?” Winston asked. “Who?”

Thomas folded his arms. “Me.”


The meeting erupted into a chorus of arguments. Newt very calmly stood up, walked over to Thomas and grabbed him by the arm; he pulled him toward the door. “You’re leaving. Now.”

Thomas was stunned. “Leaving? Why?”

“Think you’ve said enough for one meeting. We need to talk and decide what to do—without you here.” They had reached the door and Newt gave him a gentle push outside. “Wait for me by the Box. When we’re done, you and I’ll talk.”

He started to turn around, but Thomas reached out and grabbed him. “You gotta believe me, Newt. It’s the only way out of here—we can do it, I swear. We’re meant to.”

Newt got in his face and spoke in an angry rasp of a whisper. “Yeah, I especially loved the bit where you volunteered to get yourself killed.”

“I’m perfectly willing to do it.” Thomas meant it, but only because of the guilt that racked him. Guilt that he’d somehow helped design the Maze. But deep down, he held on to the hope that he could fight long enough for someone to punch in the code and shut down the Grievers before they killed him. Open the door.

“Oh, really?” Newt asked, seeming irritated. “Mr. Noble himself, aren’t ya?”

“I have plenty of my own reasons. In some ways it’s my fault we’re here in the first place.” He stopped, took a breath to compose himself. “Anyway, I’m going no matter what, so you better not waste it.”

Newt frowned, his eyes suddenly filled with compassion. “If you really did help design the Maze, Tommy, it’s not your fault. You’re a kid—you can’t help what they forced you to do.”

But it didn’t matter what Newt said. What anyone said. Thomas bore the responsibility anyway—and it was growing heavier the more he thought about it. “I just … feel like I need to save everyone. To redeem myself.”

Newt stepped back, slowly shaking his head. “You know what’s funny, Tommy?”

“What?” Thomas replied, wary.

“I actually believe you. You just don’t have an ounce of lying in those eyes of yours. And I can’t bloody believe I’m about to say this.” He paused. “But I’m going back in there to convince those shanks we should go through the Griever Hole, just like you said. Might as well fight the Grievers rather than sit around letting them pick us off one by one.” He held up a finger. “But listen to me—I don’t want another buggin’ word about you dying and all that heroic klunk. If we’re gonna do this, we’ll take our chances—all of us. You hear me?”

Thomas held his hands up, overwhelmed with relief. “Loud and clear. I was just trying to make the point that it’s worth the risk. If someone’s going to die every night anyway, we might as well use it to our advantage.”

Newt frowned. “Well, ain’t that just cheery?”

Thomas turned to walk away, but Newt called out to him. “Tommy?”

“Yeah?” He stopped, but didn’t look back.

“If I can convince those shanks—and that’s a big if—the best time to go would be at night. We can hope that a lot of the Grievers might be out and about in the Maze—not in that Hole of theirs.”

“Good that.” Thomas agreed with him—he just hoped Newt could convince the Keepers. He turned to look at Newt and nodded.

Newt smiled, a barely-there crack in his worried grimace. “We should do it tonight, before anyone else is killed.” And before Thomas could say anything, Newt disappeared back into the Gathering.

Thomas, a little shocked at the last statement, left the Homestead and walked to an old bench near the Box and took a seat, his mind a whirlwind. He kept thinking of what Alby had said about the Flare, and what it could mean. The older boy had also mentioned burned earth and a disease. Thomas didn’t remember anything like that, but if it was all true, the world they were trying to get back to didn’t sound so good. Still—what other choice did they have? Besides the fact that the Grievers were attacking every night, the Glade had basically shut down.

Frustrated, worried, tired of his thoughts, he called out to Teresa. Can you hear me?

Yeah, she replied. Where are you?

By the Box.

I’ll come in a minute.

Thomas realized how badly he needed her company. Good. I’ll tell you the plan; I think it’s on.

What is it?

Thomas leaned back on the bench and put his right foot up on his knee, wondering how Teresa would react to what he was going to say. We gotta go through the Griever Hole. Use that code to shut the Grievers down and open a door out of here.

A pause. I figured it was something like that.

Thomas thought for a second, then added, Unless you’ve got any better ideas?

No. It’s gonna be awful.

He punched his right fist against his other hand, even though he knew she couldn’t see him. We can do this.


Well, we have to try.

Another pause, this one longer. He could feel her resolve. You’re right.

I think we’re leaving tonight. Just come out here and we can talk more about it.

I’ll be there in a few minutes.

Thomas’s stomach tightened into a knot. The reality of what he had suggested, the plan Newt was trying to convince the Keepers to accept, was starting to hit him. He knew it was dangerous, but the idea of actually fighting the Grievers—not just running from them—was terrifying. The absolute best-case scenario was that only one of them would die—but even that couldn’t be trusted. Maybe the Creators would just reprogram the creatures. And then all bets were off.

He tried not to think about it.

Sooner than Thomas expected, Teresa had found him and was sitting next to him, her body pressed against his despite plenty of room on the bench. She reached out and took his hand. He squeezed back, so hard he knew it must’ve hurt.

“Tell me,” she said.

Thomas did, reciting every word he’d told the Keepers, hating how Teresa’s eyes filled with worry—and terror. “The plan was easy to talk about,” he said after he’d told her everything. “But Newt thinks we should go tonight. It doesn’t sound so good now.” It especially terrified him to think about Chuck and Teresa out there—he’d faced the Grievers down already and knew all too well what it was like. He wanted to be able to protect his friends from the horrible experience, but he knew he couldn’t.

“We can do it,” she said in a quiet voice.

Hearing her say that only made him worry more. “Holy crap, I’m scared.”

“Holy crap, you’re human. You should be scared.”

Thomas didn’t respond, and for a long time they just sat there, holding hands, no words spoken, in their minds or aloud. He felt the slightest hint of peace, as fleeting as it was, and tried to enjoy it for however long it might last.


Thomas was almost sad when the Gathering finally ended. When Newt came out of the Homestead he knew that the time for rest was over.

The Keeper spotted them and approached at a limping run. Thomas noticed he’d let go of Teresa’s hand without thinking about it. Newt finally came to a halt and crossed his arms over his chest as he looked down at them sitting on the bench. “This is bloody nuts, you know that, right?” His face was impossible to read, but there seemed to be a hint of victory in his eyes.

Thomas stood up, feeling a rush of excitement flooding his body. “So they agreed to go?”

Newt nodded. “All of them. Wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be. Those shanks’ve seen what happens at night with those bloody Doors open. We can’t get out of the stupid Maze. Gotta try something.” He turned and looked at the Keepers, who’d started to gather their respective work groups. “Now we just have to convince the Gladers.”

Thomas knew that would be even more difficult than persuading the Keepers had been.

“You think they’ll go for it?” Teresa asked, finally standing to join them.

“Not all of them,” Newt said, and Thomas could see the frustration in his eyes. “Some’ll stay and take their chances—guarantee it.”

Thomas didn’t doubt people would blanch at the thought of making a run for it. Asking them to fight the Grievers was asking a lot. “What about Alby?”

“Who knows?” Newt responded, looking around the Glade, observing the Keepers and their groups. “I’m convinced that bugger really is more scared to go back home than he is of the Grievers. But I’ll get him to go with us, don’t worry.”

Thomas wished he could bring back memories of those things that were tormenting Alby, but there was nothing. “How are you going to convince him?”

Newt laughed. “I’ll make up some klunk. Tell him we’ll all find a new life in another part of the world, live happily ever after.”

Thomas shrugged. “Well, maybe we can. I promised Chuck I’d get him home, you know. Or at least find him a home.”

“Yeah, well,” Teresa murmured. “Anything’s better than this place.”

Thomas looked around at the arguments breaking out across the Glade, Keepers doing their best to convince people they should take a chance and battle their way through the Griever Hole. Some Gladers stomped away, but most seemed to listen and at least consider.

“So what’s next?” Teresa asked.

Newt took a deep breath. “Figure out who’s going, who’s staying. Get ready. Food, weapons, all that. Then we go. Thomas, I’d put you in charge since it was your idea, but it’s going to be hard enough to get people on our side without making the Greenie our leader—no offense. So just lay low, okay? We’ll leave the code business to you and Teresa—you can handle that from the background.”

Thomas was more than fine with lying low—finding that computer station and punching in the code was more than enough responsibility for him. Even with that much on his shoulders he had to fight the rising flood of panic he felt. “You sure make it sound easy,” he finally said, trying his best to lighten up the situation. Or at least sound like he was.

Newt folded his arms again, looked at him closely. “Like you said—stay here, one shank’ll die tonight. Go, one shank’ll die. What’s the difference?” He pointed at Thomas. “If you’re right.”

“I am.” Thomas knew he was right about the Hole, the code, the door, the need to fight. But whether one person or many would die, he had no clue. However, if there was one thing his gut told him, it was not to admit to any doubt.

Newt clapped him on the back. “Good that. Let’s get to work.”

The next few hours were frantic.

Most of the Gladers ended up agreeing to go—even more than Thomas would’ve guessed. Even Alby decided to make the run. Though no one admitted it, Thomas bet most of them were banking on the theory that only one person would be killed by the Grievers, and they figured their chances of not being the unlucky sap were decent. Those who decided to stay in the Glade were few but adamant and loud. They mainly walked around sulking, trying to tell others how stupid they were. Eventually, they gave up and kept their distance.