Newt’s eyes fell over an absolute swarm of party hungry teenagers. It was odd. He remembered Thomas explaining it’s chaos in strangely accurate detail… yet, Newt didn’t believe him. He blamed it on the drink.
Now he was wishing he was a little more considerable to his story. As if frozen in place. An impatient Markus carelessly shoved the injured man into the fray. He landed, despite his struggle, limply onto his side. His bruised ribs screamed in protest, making his eyes shoot open at the speed of a starved crank. Grunting irritably at his inability to move, despite his body telling him to. He knew now, that it wasn’t just the drink.
Something was wrong.
Feeling fearful, he itched away at his right arm as his limbs slowly let him rise to his feet. He heard Markus’s taunting laughter echo through the walls of the labyrinth Newt was now trapped inside of. Swallowing in his urge to check his now strangely irritable feeling eating at his arm, he pressed both of his hands in his pockets. Afraid of what to find, he simply blamed the drink.
Throughout the constant war to keep his senses from drowning his own maddened mind, Newt continued to subtly worm through the sea of lustrous and reckless youths having their way on the floor. Instead, he pulled himself a chair at the bar. His pale fingers gingerly graced a cool marble painted with a vibrant red. He could make out the blurry words of the man behind the bar offering a glass.
“ M’good. Thanks.” Newt replied, uncertain, his eyes catching onto the loud activity on the corner of the rave. He could make out an echoing, inhumane howl that split through the atmosphere like a knife. Feeling his curiosity pull him towards the group, he leaned his arm onto the nearby railing as he looked out over a truly horrific scene.
A crank, tied and beaten, was crying out savagely to the immune that was dancing smug circles around the beast. Someone who used to be human… someone,
Like me .
The chromatic offset that let a ghosted trail follow the dueling pairs’ movement’s, slowly morphed into a haunting image that Newt believed wouldn’t ever escape his memory. The man’s face slowly shadowed over to become his own. He saw himself… in that pit. With the rope slowly tightening around the coils of his neck, his bloodied wrists started to leave specks of black ooze onto the floor below him. The men who held him so mercilessly, brought him down to his knees like an animal. The subtle skylight leaked from above, making his blond hair glisten in contrast with the pistol that was slowly inched its way closer to his forehead. The crank’s eyes closed in on themselves, leaking black tar from their eyelids.
“ Please… please To-”
The sound of a bullet meeting the skull made Newt nearly collapse in horror. Faltering a few steps backward, he ran a hand instinctively through his hair. The sound wouldn’t ever leave him. It made his mind travel to the past… What if Thomas wasn’t quick enough? Would he hear that same noise? Would it haunt him? Shaking away the image of his face on the now fallen crank, he instead ventured back to the dance floor. The sensual dances of both boys and girls alike made him feel overwhelmed, uncomfortable, and…
Newt groaned annoyed at the thought. That was a lie. He didn’t care for Thomas in that way. Despite what the others may think, he wasn’t. It was just the thought of being by someone’s side… he's been alone for so long. He—
But in the most platonic way.
“ It’s in your head…” He repeated to himself endlessly as he walked, providing a small bit of confidence from his own comfort. Newt then saw the same man from earlier at the entrance staring out anxiously over the crowd. Deciding he needed more distraction from the raging emotions slowly storming inside his pit, he slowly approached the barstool next to him.
“ Hey. Looking for someone?”
The man glanced over with an offended expression, before seeing the genuineness in Newt’s chocolate hues.” It’s… my girlfriend. Loretta. She was literally right by me, and then Markus took her with a group of other kids, and… I- I was just told to wait here for her.”
Newt then felt his eyes focus through their drunken state. An idea suddenly made his entire face grow a few shades healthier than the hopeless pale previously shadowing him.” And that doesn’t seem at all suspicious to you?” The man shook his head.” Nah. This Markus guy seems okay… for the most part that is. I hated how he kept looking at her.” He spoke the last part in a bitter whisper, making Newt shrug nonchalantly.” Probably right. I mean, it’s not like he’s hiding anything. Sorry for the paranoia mate, served’ me well in the past.” He slurred, running a dirty palm over the side of his sweaty face.
The statement made the man slowly glare with rising suspicion.” Yeah… Um, thanks. I’m going to find my friends, and-” Letting out a shuddered exhale of sudden tension, Newt watched as the teenager quickly approached a trio of men who all seemed familiar.
Newt’s grin returned to his lips.
A hand then gracefully tapped his shoulder after what seemed like mere minutes after he aroused alert amongst a fellow stranger. Markus’s show woman, glared seductively down on the boy. From his seated position, she seemed to be intentionally towering over him, the harsh illumination of the pink hued spotlight making her frizzy blonde hair highlight her dangerously close proximity to Newt’s face.” The boss is waiting for you… congratulations.”
Newt’s eyes suddenly lit up with realization. He made it. It was just about as awful as he pictured it being, but even then… it went by strangely fast.” Good that… You lead I’ll follow.” He spoke, shakily coming to a stand. The woman giggled slyly and showed him to a door right outside the second story. There, she whispered sweet nothings to the doorman, making him quickly open the door for the two.
Markus stood over a stained and dusted studio window, staring out over a busy marketplace below him. Letting out a sweet sigh, he twirled his wine glass with a smirk.” Tell me, Newt, how did you come to wind up here… so far away from your romcom cast of friends?”
“ I’m the one who’s supposed to be asking the questions.” Newt growled, rubbing at his baggy eyelids. Growing increasingly more frustrated, he finally surrendered to his built up anger.” And it’s none of your business either. All you need to know, is where in the bloody hell I can find them?”
Markus let out an amused cackle.” An uncharacteristic burst of emotions there, blondie. Alright, I’ll tell you what, answer the question, and I won’t have my doorman shoot you in between the eyes.” Newt scoffed.” Do you think your petty threats can strike a nerve? Do your math, you invite me in here, and expect me to actually come unarmed—” Markus’s woman gasped fearfully at the sight of a handgun’s silver barrel gleaming against the Scorch’s rays.
Markus’s security instantly tensed, eyes fixated on a single target.” Put the gun down!” They would order upon deaf ears.
“ Tell me where they are. I’m a dying shank anyway.” He whispered with an unexpected waver in his depressing words.” I won’t care. All that matters? Is getting back to them.”
Markus visibly swallowed the lump that seemed to choke him.” Alright. The abandoned docks… By Ruthsfort, have you heard of it?” Newt grinned.” A car?”
“ Christ… you people with my cars, no.”
A cock of his pistol echoed subtly through the large room.
“ Alright! Alright! Jesus… Here.” The redhead then tossed over a pair of bronze keys.” That goes to Priscilla. She’s the blue Jeep.” Newt felt his eyes slowly narrow on themselves at his words, seemed he was close to a hallelujah.” Right, now, tell them to drop their guns.” Markus nodded his head to the three men that had their guns trained on the boy. Slowly, the dropped their guns to the floor, leaving Newt to start slowly exiting the room to the patio outside.
“ You never answered my question, blondie.”
“ It’s nothing that concerns you.” He quickly retorted from over his shoulder, making Markus chuckle darkly.” Now see, that’s where you’re wrong. Business is my business… and, it has come to my attention that you are of great value to me.” Suddenly, the same woman from before sent a small needle to penetrate his arm. His eyes lost focus with the blaring bass from the floor below them. The world around him seemed to be spinning nauseatingly slow. He whimpered weakly as Markus pressed a boot to his sloppily bandaged chest.” And you’re going to make me a very rich man…”
Markus then turned to the three behind him.” Make preparations. Tell Director Janson that I have his crank.” The men collectively nodded their heads in agreement, and set off for their separate tasks. However, the sound that escaped the fading boy’s lips sent a nervous shiver down his spine. A chuckle, a dry, sarcastic one.
“ You’re even stupider than I thought.” Newt muttered, making the man lean in close. An angry expression dawned on the redhead’s face.” What’s that to mean?”
“ Now… Tommy, is someone who brings people together, a rallier yeah?” Markus glared suspiciously.“ And… well, me? I’m a bit of’a firestarter—”
Markus’s eyes then trained on the now broken down door. A group of pissed off teenage boys stormed in with guns, and angry drunken expressions.” Where is she? WHERE IS SHE?!” The man from before thundered furiously, shoving the older man into the wall behind him.” You son of a bitch, I know… I know what you’ve been doing. I know!” Markus sobbed silently under the pressure of a large barrel capturing his bobbing Adam’s Apple.” Now now… let’s be professional about this.” He pleaded with a nervous grin, making the sunkissed man on the lead’s left smirk threateningly. Cocking a small pistol to his head, he counted down slowly.” Ten, nine, eight, seven—“
“ You’re seriously going to believe some stranger over me?! Someone who gave you shelter at your lowest! Accepted you!” The men glanced at one another with an equal understanding of his deception.” Tell me, where, she is.” Suddenly, a few dozen bullets erupted in the room, causing the teenagers to scream in pain at the electric surge parading recklessly throughout their bodies. They then fell, one by one, only sign of movement being their chests going up and down. Regris, the immune leader from Group X stood over the bodies menacingly. Markus scoffed, pulling up his jacket’s collar.” Took your long enough.”
“ Where is he?”
“ What’re you talking about? Where else could he go? He’s right there—“
But Newt was gone.
“ I… I don’t understand. I drugged him!” Regris scoffed.” Stubborn little prick.” He then pressed a piece to his ear.” We’re heading out. Our mutual friend has failed to return his end of the bargain.” He growled irritably, earning a denying shake of the head from Markus.” No, no no no! I swear to you, he was—“
“ “ Was.” I need a “He is here”. Was, is a word of the past…”
“ --An expensive word… one that costs time and resources we don’t need to expend.”
Markus slowly pulled his gaze to the door to see a familiar face. One that struck fear into the hearts of the young.” Janson…” His scarred face showed angry black veins slowly overtaking his right cheek and temple. One eye turned from a blue to a hazy and sickly gray. A dry huff escaped the man’s lips.” Markus… I know you. I know, how unreliable you are at times. But I? Gave you the benefit of the doubt. Tell me where he’s headed.” He spoke with an unreadable expression.
Markus let out a hoarse pant, a if it was a plea.” To Ruthsfort Bay. Vince is there.”
A quiet nod.
And the sound off of a proud pistol.
“ Thank you for your cooperation.” He muttered halfheartedly, an exhausted sigh escaping lips as he brought a charcoal stained handkerchief to clean off black ooze.” Teresa. Gather the caravan. We’ll beat him to the port… and kill Vince while we’re at it. Y’know. To be smart with our time.”
“ Of course…” The woman spoke hesitantly. Vince was a hero to the immunes. It’d tear them apart to kill the inspiring leader, father he became to her former friends. But she saw the reasoning behind it. Without Vince, the generation would be leaderless. That would make things easier… almost easy.” Regris, take a few soldiers and round up the immunes downstairs.” At that, Regris felt hesitation befall his features.” But, if we have the crank, we could find the cure—“
“ We’ll need the immunes to continue the cure. There’s only so much blood one person has… You understand, don’t you? Tito, he’s dying because of you.” Janson spoke heartlessly, eyes a blank glare. Regris’s lip visibly quivered at that. During one of their travels, he left Tito as a lookout… when they came back, they saw him struggling against a crank. The boy ended up getting bitten clean in the arm. He was rushed to the lab after that. They did all they could, practically giving him more time… but only that.
The guilt wore him down like an anchor on the daily.
“ I understand, Mr. Janson.” He growled, cocking his weapon before descending the stairs.
Teresa watched Janson’s frown slowly turn into a grin.” I like people who can get things done. Teresa… you’ve had your fair share of displacency, but… never did I doubt, in the end, you’d be for our cause.” He spoke emotionlessly.
Teresa let out a small smile.” Thank you sir—“
“ Just don’t misplace my trust for comfort. You’re still just as much of a traitor in my eyes.”
Newt’s back slumped against the wall, eyes fighting themselves to stop from closing them all together. They were here. He couldn’t give up now. He wouldn’t.
But the toxin flowing through his veins told him otherwise. He could feel his body slowly shutting down to rest.
He couldn’t let himself fall asleep. Newt hesitantly grabbed a knife from his pocket, and let the blade slowly dig into his arm. He let out a muffled scream through the cloth that he had implanted in his mouth. He couldn’t afford giving away his location by a noise. As soon as he made the cut, he swiftly pulled the knife away from his pale skin, and took in the image of his arm as a horrifying whole.
“ Here goes…”
Hesitantly, he rose his arm to his lips, sucking on a crimson cut before spitting it back out. A continuous cycle, back and forth, back and forth. Instinctively, his eyes started to water with agony. But he continued to drain the toxic that was slowly starting to exit his body with the rest of the blood that Newt was drawing. After a few minutes, he felt his strength returning, in surrender of a now worsening cut on his arm. Quickly, he shot off of his good leg and ran as fast as his legs could carry him. He heard a shout from behind which caused him to trip on himself. Falling face first into the dirt, he winced with pain and continued forward. Sprinting as hard as he could, the boy found himself facing a baby blue Jeep with the sly painting of a woman on it’s hood.
“ Hello Priscilla. I’m Newt.”
Revving his key into the drive, he glared down the same men who were advancing on him. The threatening purr of an engine made the trio instantly aware of their endangerment.” SHIT!” The man in front shouted fearfully as Newt’s foot met with the floorboard. His car flew passed the maneuvering men in a blur.
The chaos of the marketplace behind him was an ambience against a quiet radio. Groaning softly as the new wound that pulsated against his arm, he simply continued to drive forward. He was a wreck… he knew that. But he was willing to do whatever it took to get back to the others… to Thomas.
Despite what it came to, Newt considered today a victory.
“ Almost there.”
“ Were you able to find him?”
“ No… I wasn’t.” Teresa muttered defeatedly, earning a sigh from Janson.” Well… that’s disappointing. At least we know where he’s going. I honestly feel bad… the kid’s going through so much trouble, only to find out it’ll be for nothing.” He smiled.” Be ready to leave tonight. We’re going to the beach.”