Dandelion Crowns and Paper Butterflies

Survive

"Alby, I'm serious! I can't find him anywhere!"

Tim sighs, frustrated, as the leader shrugs.

"Tim, calm down," Alby replies. "Did you really look everywhere in the Glade?"

"Yes!" Tim says, growling. "And I'm telling you, he isn't here!"

"Well, it's too late to look for Joshua in the Maze," the dark-skinned boy says. "The Doors will close soon."

Tim sighs again. "First of all, it's Josiah. And second of all, I have to talk to him! It's important!"

"I know."

"Then why won't you let me search for him?"

"Well, first of all," Alby says, imitating Tim's voice, "because it's against the rules. And second of all, because it's dangerous. I'm sorry, Tim, but you can't do anything but wait. If Josiah really is in the Maze, you'd better hope that he'll survive the night."


"What are you going to do with me?"

Josiah is standing in the middle of a corridor, in the outer Sections of the Maze, his hands tied behind his back. There is a nasty bruise on his temple, exactly at the place where Gally hit him with the brick.

Despite the three boys that are standing in front of him, he doesn't show any fear. Victor respects that; he is quite sure that he would be scared if Gally and Billy would be standing in front of him, especially if they would be this angry.

Nobody replies. Billy and Gally are just staring at the tied up boy, with evil grins on their faces.

"What are you going to do with me?" Josiah asks again.

Gally smirks wider. "You're about to find out, Runner."

"Yeah. This is for killing our friend," Billy adds.

Faster than Victor's eyes can follow, he punches Josiah in the stomach. The boy doesn't make any sound; he only doubles over.

Victor is just standing there, frozen.

Gally pushes Josiah against the concrete wall, face-first. The Runner can't use his hands to catch the blow, so his nose hits the wall hard – Victor can hear it crack – and blood stains the grey concrete.

Josiah growls and tries to kick Gally, but the Builder grabs his foot and throws him onto the ground.

Billy smirks evilly at the boy on the floor and kicks him in the ribs. This time, Josiah does make a sound; a quiet, pained whimper. Victor is quite sure that the boy's ribs are broken.

How could I ever be so stupid to join this? he wonders. You're a coward, Victor. You're a dumb, scared Greenie.

Gally and Billy are both kicking Josiah, now, who is lying on the hard floor, quietly moaning.

How dare they? Victor thinks uselessly. It is wrong to kick someone who is lying on the ground, just like kicking a helpless puppy or bunny.

Billy pulls out his knife, making Josiah shrink even more.

"P-Please... Don't..." he whispers hoarsely.

Gally barks a laugh, pulling out his knife as well. "Do you hear that, Billy? He's begging! The mighty Josiah is begging!"

He holds up his blade, ready to strike.

Now, Victor can't take it anymore. He rushes forward and pulls Gally's arm away.

"Don't!" he yells.

Billy turns around.

"Did you say something, Greenie?" he asks threateningly.

Victor straightens his back.

"Yes, I did," he says, trying to sound as brave as Josiah at first. "Don't kill him. Stop."

The two other boys burst out in mocking laughter. Gally pushes Victor hard, so that the smaller boy hits the ground.

"Shut up, Greenie. Let us take our revenge."

The Greenie stands up, ignoring the sharp pain in his shoulder.

"No," he says, trying to prevent his voice from shaking. "Leave him alone. You've already done enough."

Gally turns around again, grinning cruelly. Victor would love to run away, and he is pretty sure that he would've done that if feet wouldn't feel like they were glued to the ground.

"You better regret saying that, Greenie," Gally says, throwing his knife.

Victor can duck just in time to dodge it. Climbing on the Builder's back, he starts to punch, even though he knows very well that he doesn't stand a chance.

Gally throws the smaller boy off him, onto the ground, making pain flash through Victor's entire body. He can tell by the look on Gally's face that his hour has struck.

Billy is hitting Josiah with his knife on the background. A large puddle of blood has already formed around him, and Victor knows that he, too, will die very soon.

"That's enough," Gally says to his friend. "Let's finish this before the Doors close. Leave him there to die and give me the knife."

Victor wants to scream, cry, sob, but it feels like an icy hand is squeezing his throat shut.

Gally's fingers play with the knife, just above the Greenie's eyes. The Builder smirks at him.

"Goodbye, Greenie."

He pushes the sharp weapon down, and a horrible pain explodes in Victor's chest. He doesn't have to look to know that it is fatal. Gally never misses.

While black spots appear in front of his eyes and pain is blurring everything, he sees that the two boys walk away.

The last things he will ever see are Gally's ugly sneakers.

The black spots and the pain take everything over, and then there is nothing left anymore.

Nothing at all.

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