seven

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WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE DEATH CURE, HERE. IF YOU HAVEN'T FINISHED I SUGGEST YOU- WELL ACTUALLY I DON'T KNOW BC THIS IS PRETTY VITAL STUFF BUT JUST PROCEED WITH CAUTION

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I paced anxiously outside of the West Door, where Newt would exit the Maze that night. I couldn't bring myself to stand right at the edge in fear it would suddenly slam shut on my leg- a bit of an irrational fear, maybe, but it was still there. I stood about ten yards away from the entrance and walked back and forth with my arms crossed over my chest.

Alby had gone into the Maze after Newt in an attempt to find him and tell him to "hurry his shuck butt back to the Glade," as he so kindly put it. That was at 7:10. Minho and I had taken all of eight minutes to equip him with the bare essentials for a quick run- a few knives just in case, a watch, and a pair of good running shoes. There was no way Alby could move too quickly in his worn-out sneakers that were barely hanging on by a thread.

I glanced nervously at my watch for the millionth time in the past few minutes. It was 7:25, and neither of them were back yet. Five minutes.

Suddenly I became stricken with fear that maybe Alby didn't know his way around the Maze, though it had been essential for us to teach the routes to the two leaders. What if he had taken a wrong turn? All I had told him was that Newt was running in Section Six. What if he didn't know what way that was?

One of my hands subconsciously went up and toyed with the locket around my neck. The metal was cool in the darkness of the evening. My skin was hot. I kept feeling like I was going to collapse, and the invitation to lie down in the dewy grass became more and more appealing as the minutes ticked by.

"Look!" Clark shouted at the top of his lungs, effectively breaking me out of my trance and attracting the attention of the whole Glade. "Nick! Nick, look! Alby's back! He's back!"

Our leader came charging closer the moment his name was called. He towered over me as he paused beside me, taking in the scene before him. I couldn't bring myself to face forward. Instead, I focused on his face as his expression crumbled before my eyes. Nick, the boy who always seemed so collected, was falling apart and all I could do was watch.

After Clark's call, the entirety of the Glade crowded around the West Door, just at the edge of the grass where the stone met green. The suspense suspended in the air like a thick fog. I still couldn't push myself to look forward.

But when I did, I wished I didn't.

Alby was there, all right, and he was carrying a limp body in his arms that was most definitely Newt. I felt my stomach drop into a pit of acid as numbing shock spread through my veins. Alby had tears streaming down his face. Newt's leg was bruised and mangled to the point where it didn't look much like a leg anymore. He was so pale and still that I thought he was dead.

As two boys pushed through the crowd with torches in their hands, Alby came closer to the Glade. He was barely jogging at that point. It was more of a hurried hop more than anything, the movements of someone struggling not to fall to the ground. With the shadows of the Maze still over the two of them, Newt definitely looked dead.

"No," I mumbled so lowly that I could barely hear it. The numb shock turned into liquid that quickly filled my eyes, distorting my vision until it spilled down my cheeks. "No! No!"

Pretty soon that word turned into a mess of sobs that wracked my entire body. I could hardly stand. Weight was crushing onto my shoulders, almost as if I had been bestowed the burden of holding up the sky.

And when I actually did fall, Minho was there to catch me. He had pushed through the crowd until he found me at the very front and center. He grabbed my middle before my legs could give out on me and made an effort to hold me up. The tears were now pouring out of my eyes in such a constant manner that I never thought they'd stop. I had never cried like this before (except when the accident happened). I had never felt so heartbroken before- it was as if someone had taken my heart and repeatedly stomped on it with a spiked boot until it bled out.

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