“Type faster!” Aris shouted. A Griever slipped in. “I’ll get that.” Aris charged the Griever, and Amy gripped her sword, prepared to defend Rachel if Aris was unsuccessful. Aris screamed as a blade ripped through his shoulder, but kept fighting.
“Aris!” Amy shouted. Another Griever had entered the Griever Hole. She prepared to attack, but Aris protested.
“No! I can handle them. Keep defending Rachel!” Amy sheathed her sword and took her bow and arrows, trying to help the boy by shooting at the Grievers.
“Thanks!” Aris nimbly ducked and dodged, not eager to have anything else sliced open. His cut shoulder dripped blood, but it was nothing too serious. He kept at it, hacking away and dodging, but anyone could see that it was hopeless.
“Rachel!” Amy shouted, still shooting. “Get the shucking code in now!”
“I am!” Rachel shouted back in frustration. “It won’t accept the last word!”
“What’s the last word?”
“Then maybe try and push the shucking button there, shank!” Amy paused for a moment to point at a red button below the keyboard. In the second she’d stopped shooting, Aris had been overwhelmed. A frenzy of events happened at the same time.
“PUSH IT!” Aris screamed, stabbing his dagger at the Griever. The Griever knocked it aside and raised it’s leg with a sharp blade in the air. An arrow flew at the Griever, and the Griever wailed in pain and reared back for a moment.
The other Griever pounced at Rachel, but Amy dove at it.
“NO!” Rachel shouted. A piercing, bone-chilling, agonized scream filled the air, and Rachel did the only thing she could do. She jammed her palm onto the red button.
Kill The Maze.
All at once, the Grievers stopped and slumped to the ground, lifeless. Aris was panting as he shoved the Griever away from him. “What happened?”
“We-we did it!” Rachel said breathlessly. It was over. The Maze was over. Then her heart sank to her stomach as she remembered the fighting outside of the Griever hole. And the moments before she’d pushed the button. “Is anyone up there alive? And where’s Amy?”
“Amy!” Aris repeated, sounding shocked, as if he’d forgotten she had been with them. “There.” They hoisted the Griever up and off Amy, and what they saw almost made Rachel sick to her stomach.
Amy moaned in pain, the agony of being stabbed with the Griever’s long blade multiple times and being crushed too great to hide. There were stab wounds dotting her legs, arms, and torso, along with bruises and cuts and scrapes. Blood oozed out of them, as well as soaked her head from the cut across her forehead. But the worst part about it was her torso. She’d been stabbed there twice-one in her chest, one in her abdomen.
“We need a Med-jack,” Rachel breathed. “Someone.” As if on cue, Harriet slipped into the Hole.
“Harriet. Are you okay? Who’s still alive?”
“Yeah. We’re all pretty banged up. But around thirty of us are still alive. Nia, Sonya, Michelle, pretty much all the people you would know. Others. Ivy, Hat, Vicky, and Cleo didn’t make it, though. Where’s Amy?”
“Amy’s…” Rachel struggled to find words, and Harriet looked into her eyes and saw the truth.
“Oh, no.” Harriet looked behind Rachel, and her eyes widened at the battered girl lying on the floor. She crouched next to her. “What happened?”
Before Rachel could answer, more Gladers came in. Ten, twenty, almost thirty of them filled the darkness. They spotted Amy, and murmurs filled the silence.
“Where’s Michelle and Nia?” Someone said.
Michelle. Nia. Rachel dreaded the moment when they would find out how bad off Amy was. Where were they?
They slipped in, panting. Michelle’s arm was draped across Nia’s shoulders, her ankle broken and bleeding. Michelle made eye contact with her.
“Amy,” She panted. Harriet looked up, something like panic in her eyes. The room was silent as both Runners caught sight of their friend with wide eyes.
“Amy!” They both limped over to Amelia and knelt beside her. Amy stirred slowly back into consciousness with a pained moan. Nia carefully moved to crouch on the other side of Amy. Harriet stood up and joined the rest of the girls. Nia and Michelle each took one of Amy’s friends. Her grey eye fluttered open weakly.
“Michelle. Nia,” She rasped. Tears sprang in Michelle’s eyes.
“Shh. Don’t talk,” Michelle whispered. She stroked Amy’s hair. Amy ignored her.
“We made it out. It’s over.” There was a tinge of relief and pride in her voice. “I knew we would.”
“That’s right,” Nia murmured. Her voice was soothing. “We’re out. We’re safe now. It’s all over. Now we get to go home. Get our memories back. Meet our families.” This was obviously a lie, but no one objected.
“It hurts.” Tears began to slide Amy’s cheeks as she closed her eyes.
“It’ll be over soon,” Michelle and Nia said together.
“I can’t wait,” Amy mumbled. Michelle’s shoulders shook with sobs. She turned towards the other girls, her eyes puffy and bloodshot. She made no attempt to conceal her grief and fear now.
“Med-jacks,” She said desperately. “Can’t you do something?”
Esther and the other Med-jacks looked down, avoiding the girl’s eyes. Michelle turned back to Amy.
“You two are my best friends,” Amy mumbled. Michelle sobbed harder.
“Don’t do that. It’s not good-bye. Stop saying good-bye.”
“You’ve supported me during my darkest times. You were my running partners. You lightened up the run and made it less...dreaded. For two shucking years,” Amy sighed.
“Stop it! Stop!”
“I’m sorry.” Amy’s eyes opened, and they flashed with sudden anger. At herself, Rachel realized. She was angry for causing everyone so much grief. “I’m making you upset, and I’m sorry for that. I should have defended myself better. I should have thought about how it would have affected you two-and everyone-if I got injured or killed. I was so bloody stupid.”
“Stop.” Rachel was dismayed to hear a quaver in Nia’s voice, which was usually so strong and steady and unemotional. “Don’t hate yourself. What’s done is done. You did what you could.”
The anger drained out of Amelia’s eyes and she squeezed her friends’ hands. Michelle’s shoulders shook uncontrollably with unstifled, echoing sobs.
“Thank you,” She whispered. “Thank you for being my friends.” She gave one last breath of air, then became still. Michelle clutched her body, crying into her shoulder. The rest of the Gladers looked down to the ground for their fallen leader. Nia turned away so that her face was hidden from view, silent tears streaming down her face. It was silent for a few minutes. Then Nia stood up, wiping her eyes on her sleeve. She faced Harriet.
“You lead now.” Harriet gave her a look, and something was exchanged between them. Then their new leader nodded. Michelle sniffled, then wiped her eyes, accepting Nia’s helping hand to stand. They started jogging down the long corridor. Michelle and Nia glanced back at their friend’s lifeless body one more time, each wearing an expression of grief. Nia crouched down once more, kissed Amy’s bloody forehead, and closed Amelia’s piercing, stormy grey eyes forever.