Alby objects to Thomas's plan. He argues that Thomas can't be trusted, he could be working with the Creators. Thomas is angry at first, then just sad to see Alby behaving like this. Something is wrong with him. Finally, Alby breaks down. He tells them that they can't go back. He confesses to burning the maps. Alby says the world outside was affected by something called the Flare, a terrible disease.
Those words trigger something in Thomas's mind. He has heard that term before. Alby argues that it's better to stay here in the Glade and die than it is to go back.
Argument ensues. Thomas calms everyone down. They have one advantage: the Creators don't want all of them dead. It seems clear the Grievers were meant to kill only one of them a day. If someone sacrifices himself during the escape, they should be able to get out. Winston asks who this kid would be. "Me", answers Thomas.
Newt walks over and tells Thomas to leave the meeting. Thomas confides that he feels he has to save everyone. He feels guilt over his involvement in creating the Maze. Newt feels sorry for Thomas. He tells him that he's just a child. He was forced to help. Nonetheless, Thomas is willing to sacrifice himself to get the others out. He holds out hope that maybe someone will punch in the code before he dies.
Newt leaves Thomas outside. As he walks back to the Homestead he tells Thomas the best time would be to go at night while more of the Grievers are out in the Maze. He feels they should go tonight, before anymore of them are killed. Thomas agrees but wasn't expecting this to happen so soon. He wonders if Alby is right about the Flare. He calls to Teresa and explains the plan to her. He tells her to come and meet him.
She appears and sits next to him on the bench, holding his hand. He tells her everything he told the Keepers. He is terrified. Teresa tells him that he's only human. He should be scared. Thomas sits there, holding Teresa's hand, trying to enjoy it.
Newt emerges from the Gathering to tell Thomas and Teresa that all of the Keepers have agreed to his plan. He is sure that convincing the Gladers will not be as easy. Some of them will stay.
Newt leaves the code to Teresa and Thomas. He tells Thomas he'd place him in charge of the whole operation but that might make the Gladers upset. He tells them to run the whole thing from the background.
Most of the Gladers agree to go, more than Thomas thought would. The few that decided to stay are loud and adamant. Everyone else works to prepare supplies. Serum is stocked. Backpacks are filled with food and other supplies. Minho takes the Runners to the Griever Hole to test out the portal one last time. Weapons are distributed. By the end, Thomas has small, ill-prepared army of Gladers.
He and Teresa meet up in the Deadhead and decide that they have to be the ones to punch in the code. If they get separated they can still communicate. They will need another back-up. Minho and Newt know the code words. They will have to punch them in if Thomas and Teresa are killed.
Teresa's thoughts turn to WICKED. What does it mean, she asks. Thomas thinks of the plaques hanging on the walls of the Maze. He makes the connection. WICKED is an acronym for World in Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department. He is not sure what that means but one thing is for sure. They have nothing to lose.
Frypan prepares one last meal to prepare them for the night. Thomas eats, sitting next to Chuck. Chuck says he's glad to be going, as frightening as it is, it's still better than waiting in the Glade for the Grievers to come. Leaves only one of them to die instead of all of them.
Thomas is sickened to think that people are placing their hopes on the idea that only one of them will die. The more he thinks about it, the less convinced he is. Thomas reminds Chuck of his promise to him.
Alby and Newt begin gathering the Gladers, telling them it's time to go. Minho tells Thomas that he hopes his plan works. If it doesn't, he says, he'll kill Thomas before the Grievers do. Thomas fears that the memories he's had were put there by the Creators too. He pushes the thought aside.
Newt goes over the plan with the forty-one Gladers that have gathered. Thomas watches Alby standing on the side. He seems stable but Thomas still fears he will do something to screw everything up.
Newt delivers a spirited pep talk. Someone cheers, then another. Soon the Gladers are all cheering, ready for battle. Thomas feels a bit of courage inside him. Newt turns and runs off into the Maze, the Gladers following. Thomas feels a strong sense of responsibility to these people, his friends. It makes it hard to run, but he is determined.
Thomas and the Gladers run the halls of the Maze, the Beetle Blades in the ivy watching them. There will certainly be a fight. The Creators know their plan.
Every step is filled with dread for Thomas. He wonders when the Grievers will appear. Finally, after an hour they reach the Cliff. Minho stops the Gladers. He hears Griever sounds. He peeks around the corner. There are at least a dozen Grievers waiting for them, blocking the way. He wonders if perhaps they've already taken a boy at the Glade. Maybe they can just walk past them.
Behind them is a loud noise as more Grievers appear. They are soon surrounded on all sides.
Alby begins to doubt the plan. He tells Thomas they shouldn't have come. Thomas is in no mood for whining. He reiterates that one of them dying is better than all of them, hoping it is true. Alby considers this then charges the Grievers guarding the Cliff. The Grievers descend on him, demonstrating their cruelty. Newt and Thomas can't believe what they are seeing. Alby was so afraid of what he might encounter in the real world, he decided to end his life this way.
Minho decides they have to move forward with the plan now. Alby sacrificed himself and the Grievers are not attacking. He announces the plan to the Gladers. Just as he does the other Grievers come to life and begin to move toward them.
The plan remains the same. Fight and make a path for Teresa and Thomas. Minho leads the charge. Teresa and Thomas watch them all run past, covered in sweat and fear. Thomas grabs Chuck and tells him that he's with them. They may need him in the Griever Hole. Thomas doesn't want to risk Chuck's life. Chuck protests meekly but is clearly relieved.
The three push ahead as a path opens for them. They run at full speed for the Cliff. Teresa is the first to go over, disappearing into the hole. Thomas then helps Chuck, who just barely makes it to the hole. Thomas feels a deep love for Chuck, as if they had the same mother. Finally Chuck follows, catapulting himself with his spear into the Griever Hole.
The Griever Hole is freezing cold and covered in grimy slime. Thomas lands on a slippery surface and falls back into Teresa's arms. The three of them are standing in a ten foot high stone cylinder. Teresa points out the computer. They hurry over and Teresa begins to enter the code words.
Suddenly, a Griever comes down the Griever Hole behind them. Thomas pushes Chuck behind him and holds up his spear. The Griever draws out three arms with revolving saws and begins to move toward him. He diverts one of the blades back into the Griever. The monster shrieks. Teresa tells him that the computer won't let her enter the last word. Taking advantage of the Griever's weakened condition, Thomas leaps on top of it and thrusts his spear into its flesh. The monster howls as yellow oil begins to ooze out of it. He has defeated a Griever!
Thomas turns his attention to the computer. Teresa has entered all the words but the computer won't let her enter the last word: PUSH. More Grievers are approaching. Chuck suggests they push the button underneath the computer. Teresa is down on her knees looking at the button. Thomas joins her, forgetting about the Grievers. A small red button is set into the wall with the following words printed above it: KILL THE MAZE. A Griever grabs him from behind and begins dragging him. He screams at Teresa to push it. She does. Everything goes silent. Somewhere down the dark tunnel they hear a door open.
The Grievers fall silent, turned off. Teresa hugs Chuck. Without him, they never would have seen the button. Minho descends after them. He's covered in cuts and bruises. He tells them that many are dead but that the plan worked. Twenty one Gladers remain. Too many have died, thinks Thomas.
They make their way toward the door that Thomas heard open. In the dark they stumble upon a greasy slide. Their bodies shoot down a steep, nauseating decline.
Thomas emerges, landing on top of Teresa. Thomas scoots away and throws up. They have arrived in some sort of huge underground chamber. In front of them are twenty or so darkly tinged windows. Behind each is a man or woman, all pale and thin: The Creators.
Thomas and the others are in shock. They wonder what the Creators are waiting on. They are all exposed. A beeping sound interrupts their thoughts. A door opens and a woman emerges with a young boy. A WICKED logo is visible on her shirt. Thomas believes he knows her. She congratulates them on making it this far with so few dead.
Minho is incensed. The woman reveals the young boy with her to be Gally. Minho demands to know what Gally is doing there. He wants to see the police, the mayor, the President, anyone who can tell him what's going on. The woman dismisses Minho's attitude and says that they will one day thank her for what she's done. She says there is one more Variable.
Gally begins to shake. His eyes are red. They are controlling him. He pulls out a knife and throws it at Thomas. A figure steps in front of the knife. It's Chuck. The knife lands in Chuck's chest. The boy falls to the floor. Anyone but Chuck, thinks Thomas. But it is too late. Chuck implores Thomas to find his mother. Thomas is overcome with a dark and terrible anger. He rushes forward and throws himself on Gally, holding him down as he delivers punch after punch into Gally's face. Minho and Newet pull him away. Gally lies still not moving. Thomas holds Chuck close. He promised him he would save him. Thomas cries like he has never cried before.
Thomas pulls all the emotional pain back into his heart. Chuck had become a symbol to him - a symbol of hope that they could make everything right again in the world and live normal lives. With Chuck's death Thomas now wonders if such a world was ever possible, or if it even ever existed. Even in escape, dreary days lay ahead.
Thomas takes Teresa's hand and stands up. No one speaks. It is utter silence until the woman from WICKED says that all things happen for a reason. Thomas shoots her a hateful stare but does nothing. Teresa asks Thomas what they should do now. Thomas is unsure but his thoughts are interrupted by the sound of shouting nearby. The woman's face drains of color and she appears worried.
Several men and women in grimy jeans and soaking-wet coats burst through the entrance with guns in their hands. Two of them tackle the woman from WICKED to the ground. They stand over her while one draws his gun and aims. Thomas cannot believe it. Bullets slam into the woman's body. A man orders the Gladers to follow him and run like their lives depend on it.
After a series of hallways and stair, the man leads the Gladers outside into a massive downpour. A huge bus waits for them. The man orders them aboard. Suddenly, Thomas is grabbed from behind. He falls to the ground and looks up at a hideous woman with sores all over her face. "Gonna save us all! Gonna save us from the Flare!", she cackles.
The rescuers pull the woman off Thomas and order him onto the bus. Thomas is terrified by the ordeal. Teresa asks what that was about, telepathically. Thomas cannot answer. Thomas's thoughts return to Chuck.
As the bus moves forward Thomas can see the crazed woman running in front of the bus. With a sickening thud and two bumps, the bus runs her over.
The driver drives at reckless speeds through towns and cities. At one point a group of people rush the bus, their hair matted, sores on their faces like the woman. They pound on the bus as if they want to get on.
Finally, Thomas asks the woman sitting near them what is going on. The woman says that that is a very long story. It will be awhile before they get their memories back, she explains. Their memories may never return for all she knows. Thomas is saddened even more by the thought of this. The woman explains that there was a series of unprecedented sun flares that destroyed satellites and killed millions in days, reducing whole areas to wastelands. Then an illness, called the Flare, became prevalent.
As the ecosystem collapsed, it became impossible to contain the disease. Only the richest can be treated, but there is no cure. However, rumors from the Andes state otherwise. The woman tells them that they were selected to undergo severe testing so that someone capable of helping them find a way to beat the Flare could be found.
The Flare is a terrible disease that lives in the brain. It's better to die than get it, she says. Still, they freed the Gladers because they don't believe children should be subjected to the kinds of tests WICKED is running. Their goal is to cross the Scorch, the area of land that used to be the equator, and try to find a cure. Thomas absorbs this as Teresa falls asleep next to him. He can only think of one thing: Chuck.
Two hours later, the bus stops. The rescuers shuffle the nineteen boys and one girl into a huge dormitory lined with a series of bunk beds. The walls are painted and there are curtains and blankets. The rescuers leave them in the care of nine or ten men and women all dressed in pressed black pants and white shirts.
Thomas is overcome with a feeling of being safe for the first time that he can remember. Beds are assigned and clothes distributed. Dinner is served. It's pizza. Soon afterward, everyone retires to bed.
Thomas shares a bunk with Minho. Newt and Frypan are next to them. Teresa has a separate room of her own. Minho asks what Thomas thinks happened to the Gladers who stayed behind. Thomas hadn't thought about them. He is sure they are dead. Minho asks if he thinks they are safe with these people. Thomas replies that he believes they are.
Teresa calls to him, in his mind. She asks how the room is. She says she's sorry about Chuck. Thomas feels a sharp pang at hearing his name. Thomas is wracked with guilt. Teresa tells him to stop beating himself up. She reminds him that all of them would be dead if he hadn't lead them out of the Maze. He died saving Thomas, she says. Don't waste that.
Thomas tells her he wants to remember how they were before. It seems they were...he doesn't know how to say it. He wonders what tomorrow will be like. Teresa says good night. They'll know in a few hours. Thomas is glad it is dark in the room so no one can see the expression on his face. It's not a smile exactly, but almost.
This chapter comprises a WICKED memorandum to associates from Ava Paige, Chancellor. The subject is listed as THOUGHTS ON MAZE TRIALS, Group A. She writes that she believes that the Trials were a success. The letter reveals that the "rescue" was a staged event. She expresses some remorse that the subjects believe themselves to be in a safe place. There is a clear leader among them, she writes. She doesn't name names but feels there is no contest for the position.
The subjects will eventually remember the purpose of what has been done. The mission of WICKED is to preserve and save humanity. The memorandum also reveals that there is a Group B of subjects that were involved in the same Trials.
In this final section of the novel we can see Thomas assuming control of a makeshift army to challenge and topple the old existing order. As he crosses the threshold from the Glade to the Maze, there is truly no going back. Their mission cannot be delayed. The Gladers must succeed or die trying.
The fear that Thomas experiences in preparing for this assault is again tempered by Teresa's presence. Her support and enduring belief in Thomas gives the hero the necessary courage to push past his fear and take on the Grievers while simultaneously confronting and assuming the true self. Thomas is a leader, pure and simple. His intuition and quick wit has got him this far. Now the entire Glader community is dependent on his skills for their survival. The crushing responsibility he feels can only be shouldered by such a character.
Thomas's importance is not lost on the Gladers. Both he and Teresa are protected as the Gladers open a path for them to pass the Grievers. Thomas and Teresa emerge as a sort of seed of hope for the future. Their dual masculine/feminine identities as well as their shared mind almost present them as a single entity, the King and the Queen united in a sort of androgyne. As such the hero myth and its profundity begin to apply to both of them. Clearly their pasts were intertwined. So shall it be with their futures. Together, with Chuck, the surrogate brother or son at their side, they descend into the underworld of the Griever Hole ready to face the unknown.
Here, Thomas again confronts the monster from before. This time he is triumphant in slaying it. He has nowhere to run to and if he fails his surrogate family, Teresa and Chuck, are at risk. He kills the mythic beast once again doing something no one else has done before. This symbolic death of the great threat is mirrored by Teresa's action of shutting down the whole Maze. Both the literal and figurative monsters are defeated. No matter what, Thomas will not look upon a Griever in the same way again.
Finally, Thomas is able to come face to face with the Creators. Dashner does not simply allow Thomas to complete the classic story arc by defeating them and disbanding their power. Instead, they are rescued, but not without tragedy. As has been foreshadowed for quiet some time throughout the latter half of the novel, Chuck dies.
With this, Dashner provides a fairly open interpretation of what Chuck symbolizes. Along with innocence, Chuck also represents the "normal" life that he and Thomas so aspired to finding upon their escape. With his death Thomas feels this dream die as well. There can be no home without the family. Thomas has lost a symbolic brother (and, it is strongly implied, possibly a biological brother as well), thereby fracturing the family dynamic that he, Teresa, and Chuck were beginning to build. Chuck's death is all the more bitter because it is both his observational skills that helps them in the Griever Hole as well as the fact that he sacrifices himself so that Thomas, the hero, may live. The sudden loss of Chuck, a guiding light for Thomas, sets off his darkest impulses. He beats Gally to within an inch of his life. There is a rage in Thomas, a violent and dangerous anger that can consume him. Chuck and Teresa have both helped Thomas stay in the light.
Thomas's role is not completed, however. The encounter with the crazed woman reveals that Thomas may be more of a prophetic figure than previously realized. It appears that he is not only meant to save the Gladers but to save humanity from the Flare. This casts the hero in the role of the savior. Although it may be a reach to see Thomas as a Christ figure, the notion that he could be seen as harboring a healing energy does suggest that a character whose attributes do approach the spiritual.
Looking back at the characters of Teresa and Chuck, we can now see that both have served as catalysts. Both trigger action in the hero character by bringing his beliefs and conviction into sharp relief while signaling his greater, even divine, abilities. Teresa's greatest contribution isn't the triggering of the Ending, but triggering Thomas to become his true self. Chuck gives Thomas something to work towards, a goal that is heroic precisely because it is so basic. Thomas doesn't want accolades or riches, he just wants a safe home for himself and his friends.