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War for the Youth

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“ Tommy... Kill me!”

 

The words rang in Thomas’s head like a broken church bell. The sight of thick, nearly ebony blood oozing endlessly from a man he held so close to his heart, he thought he couldn’t breathe... let alone feel the soft noise of a beating heart. The former Glader never felt a pain like this before... ever. It physically hurt to see his dearest friend in such agony.

 

“ If you’ve ever been my friend, you’ll stop me from becoming one of them...”

 

Thomas bit back the sting behind the white’s of his eyes. Those words, hurt. Hurt worse than the gash in his side, than being stung that faithful night in the Glade. God, looking back on it now? He sure did feel like shit... So many people died, so many people who trusted him. Winston, Zart, Jeff, Alby, Chuck...

 

And now Newt.

 

“ Please Tommy... Please—“

 

“ Shut up...” He silently told the venomous serpents coiling their toxic lies onto his mind. His guilt, manifested into a creature of anger, hurt, and lastly... loneliness.

 

Despite being around three of his wonderful friends, Brenda, Minho, and Gally, there was still something missing.

 

Tommy.”

 

Tommy...”

 

His... best friend, the one who deserved to be here on the ship with them, more than anyone, was rotting underneath the collapsed city of WCKED. Life had a funny way of surprising people. That day Newt showed Thomas his arm, the day he confessed wanting to die all those years ago in the glade...

 

Why would life, treat a boy deserving of everything in Thomas’s eye-

 

Backhand him?

 

It didn’t make sense... he couldn’t make sense of it, no matter how hard he tried. All he could think about, was his long lost friend. The one who put kindness above himself. He remembered on their long journey through the Scorch, he practically had to beg Newt to stop pretending to be of adequate health... The blond simply replied,

 

“ Are they okay?”

 

Thomas glanced at the group behind him, he wouldn’t describe them as... okay, but they were okay enough.” Yes?

 

Then I’m okay.”

 

“ I’m okay” Newt would say that every, damn, day. And it scared Thomas. The way he’d give him that masked grin. It made him truly believe that he didn’t need to bother with him. If only he knew the amount of reassurance he got from Newt those days in the city... Were all a lie. He could’ve read the signs. The way he suddenly slowed when they were outrunning the train to the city... when he fell, and Thomas thought he had lost Newt even then.

 

Two times, two too many times...

 

He couldn’t describe the level of shock that coursed through his body as Newt, normally the quiet, negotiator of the group; the one who didn’t pick sides... rather, chose what would be best for the group as a whole, suddenly snapped.

 

DON’T LIE TO ME

 

He was slowly losing Newt... he felt it, yet— was powerless against time.

 

And then? The world stopped.

 

Thomas’s, world, stopped.

 

He stopped breathing.

 

Staring at nothing,

 

Simply nothing.

 

Tommy..”

 

“ No.”

 

 

There was no warning, no goodbye, just... a sudden halt, of... everything.

 

Watching as Teresa, a woman who no matter how hard he tried to forget about, he cared so deeply for.... A woman that he grew to know over the span of most of his short life. Teresa was a woman who he thought he could trust... but Thomas learned quickly that she wasn’t sharing that same love. Rather, she was simply profiting off of Thomas’s love for something else. She wanted his blood... and Thomas wanted her heart. A toxic relationship, and a bitter ending to it... didn’t change the fact that Thomas was screaming out in misery at Teresa when she plummeted to her death.

Two of the most important people in his life, stripped away from reach, in the span of what felt like heartbeats...

Growing faster,

 

And faster.

 

Then slowing down...

 

And stopping, all at once.

 

Writhing in agony at the bottom of the cockpit, Thomas had a million flashes of a familiar blond fly through his mind like a polaroid. Every laugh, smile, and irresistibly familiar frown, he couldn’t take it anymore. He knew he was dying already, there was no point in trying to fight it off anyway. Simply collapsing to the floor below, he watched as Brenda and Minho’s faces twisted in fear and shock at the gunshot wound that was enveloping his lower torso.

 

“ Thomas hold on!”

 

...

 

“...”

 

Too little too late.

 

And then his mind travelled to a eerily familiar place...

 

 

 

 

 

Staring out over the flat wasteland ahead, he listened to the soothing melody of wood crackling underneath intense flames. Winston, had died, and Thomas was just about ready to throw in the towel, but then he heard footsteps from behind. Newt. And parallel to their first night in the glade together, the two boys sat shoulder to shoulder against a log, staring out over their obstacle, which this time happened to be the possibility of there not being an ending.

 

“ Don’t mind Fry. He was just letting off steam...”

 

“ No, he’s right. I did this Newt. I’m the reason we’re stuck out here.”

 

Newt glared softly at the sentence.” You’re the reason we’re free... Tommy, the group may have their doubts, but you know they’d follow you anywhere.”

 

Thomas glanced over at the blond at the statement.” They’d follow you too Newt.” The boy huffed at that.” Nah, it’s different with me. You know it is... Listen, we all have our roles to play, mine’s being there to make sure you don’t shuck up.” He teased lightheartedly, making Thomas let out a sharp inhale of a laugh.

 

But his expression soon glazed over to meet with the previous grief stricken exterior,” Newt, I dunno if there’s a way out of this. I don’t know where we’re going.” He confessed softly, eyes reluctantly watering, making the man by his side exhale deeply through the nose. Staring up at the stars, he spoke softly.” There is a place out there... for us somewhere.” As Thomas observed the boy’s face further, he noted how the stars reflected over his onyx eyes so clearly... that you could chart a course through the cosmos within them.

 

“ I dunno where it is—“ Newt laughed lightly, continuing forward to say,” But I know an awful lot of our friends have died to get us this far.” Turning to face Thomas he spoke confidently.” So we can’t give up.”

 

“ You, can’t give up. I won’t let you.” He chuckled brightly, an emotional grin crossing his face as Thomas’s world faded to the same familiar darkness of his sleep. Reaching out for Newt, wanting desperately to hug him, joke with him, do things that they’d normally do. Yet the memory slowly faded to dust.

 

But Newt was right.

 

He, along with thirteen other Gladers,

 

Died to get him here.

 

So he couldn’t give up.

 

He wouldn’t.

 

For Newt.

 

“ Good that, Tommy.”

 

 

 

 

 

Awakening in a tent, Thomas glanced around at the warm palette of sunlight that greeted his adjusting eyes. He heard incoherent chatter and laughter outside, a haunting reverb that he didn’t believe in, joy. It was all too good to be true. Why wasn’t he bleeding out? Why was the atmosphere so... welcoming? He didn’t want to get his hopes up. And so, the brunette lowered his expectations as he slowly made his way out from the cold reality of last night.

 

The sun blinded him for a few slow moments. Squinting his eyes, Thomas stared in awe and disbelief at the atmosphere around him. There was no way... the people here... they were—

 

Happy.

 

Thomas?”

 

A soft and quavering voice sounded off from behind. Thomas then turned his head around to meet Minho’s disbelieving gaze. The boy’s eyes were glistening with unshed tears, his shocked face... then molding into a bright beam. The corners of his mouth tugged upwards shakily, letting out a few soft and choked laughs before enveloping the brunet into a large hug.” Welcome back... Ugly shank.”

 

 

Thomas sobbed softly into the embrace, eyelids shutting to trap the tears that threatened to fall down his cheeks.” Minho. Is it—“

 

Minho exhaled shakily from the nook of Thomas’s neck.” Everything we pictured and more... He would’ve thought so too.” He spoke, making Thomas’s eyes inevitably shed large streaks of saltwater down his tan complexion.” God...” He still couldn’t grasp the concept. He always had the motivation to move forward, thanks to his friends. Newt, Minho, Gally, Brenda, and Jorge... Newt, amongst it all, was the one to bring peace and light.


’Stay strong, Thomas... Later.’

 

Minho noticed the expression, and his face visibly shadowed over.” I uh... I found this in your pocket when you got back.” Thomas hastily wiped his wet cheeks with his chalked knuckles in a presentation of resilience. The necklace. The one that Newt gave him, that... necklace.

 

“ Thanks Minho.” He smiled sadly, but soon found his eyes focusing on two familiar faces chatting rather friendly towards one another.” Is that—“

 

“ Gally and Brenda.” Minho cut in with a chuckle.” The two shanks haven’t been apart since they met back up after the battle. Gally can’t ever shut up around her it seems.” Thomas couldn’t help but feel a genuine grin return to his face. Gally and Brenda. Two people who have been through hell, deserved to make each other happy.” Good for them... I could’ve guessed that one coming I guess. They seemed to click pretty quick.” Minho concluded with a soft chuckle.

 

Thomas smiled at the realization that they found love through each other. Even now, they seem...

 

Happy.

 

He was using that word an awful lot. But he liked it. Happy, a word that was used to describe a pleasant experience or feeling. Thomas at the moment, felt happy. For his friends...

 

All but one.

 

Minho patted his back gently.” C’mon, we’ve got one of Vince’s long and scary monologues coming up tonight.” He shuddered comedically, making an older voice sound off from the distance.” I heard that you little bastard.” He muttered with a wise grin, playfully swiping at the teen’s hair, making him laugh. Smacking him gently across the head with a hat, Vince spoke once more.” Thomas... it’s good to see you up and at em. Tonight we’re having a feast... in honour of the people who— couldn’t make it here.” He whispered solemnly, making Thomas nod his head distantly.” Is there anything I can do to help you, Vince?”

 

“ For tonight? Take care of yourself, my boy. We live in a world of—“

 

“ Ah, I’ll take care of myself on the sole condition that you promise to keep the long stuff for the speech.” He grinned nervously, making the older man huff.” Very well, Tom.” He spoke gently, sauntering to the campfire in front of him that was slowly being prepared.


Take care of yourself’ he repeated the words in his head like a distant echo. He had several sentences that’d ring hauntingly around the corners of his mind, several.

 

“Ah, my knight in shining armor… what, don’t think I can fend for myself?”

 

“Don’t worry Greenie. I’ve been in the maze for a month now, I know it inside and out. I’ll take care of you… You can count on Chuck!”

 

“You’re not like the others, Greenbean. You’re curious.”

 

“Thomas… take care of them.”

 

“Please… Please Tommy, please.”

 

Shuddering at the distant cries of his ghosts, he stared out over an endless horizon. Waves, repeat my overlapping against crystalline shores. The view… It was so incredibly, wonderful.

 

Yeah,

 

Wonderful.

 

That was the word for it.

 

Biting down on his bottom lip, he suppressed tears that slowly started to build behind his eyes. He could feel it. The presence of guilt, shame, he wasn’t a leader. A leader, would’ve gotten all of his friends here. Alby, Winston, Chuck, Teresa, and Newt… five people that meant so much to him, followed him...

 

And they were gone.

 

Letting a few silent tears streak down his face, he glanced down at the small necklace he was fiddling instinctively with. The gentle breath of the southern breeze suddenly shifted into a violent wind, sending the small necklace flying out of Thomas’s hands. The man let out a grunt as he launched himself forward, lunging for the small trinket of his greatest friend. Falling to the sand with an overwhelmed heart, he shakily opened his palms, scared to discover whether or not he lost the small memory. To his relief, the necklace laid limply between his hands. Letting out a shaky exhale, the brunet started to get back up, until something caught his eye. A soft tuft of paper, hanging loosely from what seemed like a compartment within the small capsule. Blinking with surprise, he was quick to unravel the small piece… a note.

 

Running a fearful hand through his hair, he read through the writing slowly… taking in every word like a song, a melody… Newt’s, sweet, and unique voice, ringing through his head as he imagined the boy himself saying the words—

 

 

 

 

Dear Thomas,

 

This is the first letter I could remember writing. Obviously, I don't know if I wrote any before the Maze. But even if it's not my first, it's likely to be my last.

I want you to know that I'm not scared. Well, not of dying, anyway. It's more forgetting. It's losing myself to this virus, that's what scares me. So every night, I've been saying their names out loud—

 

Alby.

 

Winston.

 

Chuck.

 

And I just repeat them over and over like a prayer, and it - And it all comes flooding back. Just the little things like where the sun used to hit the Glade at that perfect moment right before it slipped beneath the walls. And I remember the taste of Frypan's stew. I never thought I'd miss that stuff so much.

 

And I remember you.

 

From the first time you came up in the box, just a scared little Greenie who couldn't even remember his own name. But from that moment you ran into the Maze, I knew I would follow you anywhere.

 

And I have.

 

We all have.

 

If I could do it all over again, I would. And I wouldn't change a thing. My hope for you: when you're looking back years from now, you'll be able to say the same. The future is in your hands now, Tommy. I know you'll find a way to do what's right. You always have. Take care of everyone for me.

 

And take care of yourself.

 

You deserve to be happy. Thank you for being my friend.

 

Goodbye, mate... Newt.