It was a time of peace in the Glade. Normality. Routine was set in the ways and it seemed nothing could change that.
It had been one year since the first gladers came to be. Twelve people bought up in the box in a large field surrounded by the four walls.
Only elven made it to the next month.
Ryan was reckless and with no leader established it seemed his recklessness caused his own death. He thought he could survive the maze at night. It was Nick who found his remains the next day.
It was obvious that the leadership needed to be established. Not a dictatorship but someone who could make decisions. The when's and the where's. The who's. Who could run the maze? They explored it for the first time three days after arriving, all four too frightened and they heard the screeches of the monsters of the maze on their first night. But the got the pattern soon enough. The stone walls open at sunrise and shut just before.
Nick and Ryan ran the maze through the day as Alby, Siggy and the others worked with the supplies they had been sent up with to establish a base. A home of sorts. They never saw a monster and Ryan was sure they were just a scare tactic by the people who put them there. So off he went, into the maze as the doors closed.
They heard his screams along with those of the monsters and they were certain then that the maze was not survivable of a night.
The next month, exactly four weeks after their own arrival, a large siren sounded throughout the field. It took them a while before they thought to check the box which had sent up supplies each week. Sure enough, along with the usual, there was another boy. Another boy who had no memory who had been sent up to the prison they now called home. The boy's name was Newt. And the next week it was a boy named Clint. Then Alex. Then Dillan. Then Minho. For months it continued the same things.
After one year the 'Glade' was up and running. They had lost many. To sickness, the maze, fighting. Nick became the leader and the jobs were established. Keepers elected as a council to help run the sections of the glade. Homestead was small and rickety but up. A place for Clint to work and store medicine and anything else alike from the supplies. A small kitchen and tables for Siggy – or Frypan as the boys affectionately called him. Hammocks lined up for their bedspace and a small garden which grew small fruits and vegetables.
They even had livestock.
Runners, Trackhoes, Builders and Bricknicks, Medjacks, Sloppers, Disher, Slicers, and even Baggers. Each had a few members in them as the new gladers who arrived each month were evaluated by the Keepers.
A certain type of peace became of this order. And nothing could rock this. Not even when the Creators sent up a girl.
It was dark but the light flashed through the holes in the metal. It was going faster and faster each second. I looked up towards the ceiling but nothing came through. Only the same darkness. Outlines of boxes and object lay around me. I pushed through them, only to reach a metal wall on each side. Panic grew in my throat as I struggled to bring in enough air into my dry lungs. Sweat along my forehead and neck stuck my hair against my skin and my back drenched.
Who knew how long I had been in here. This box. Going up fast. No recollection of memories served me in telling me why I was here or even who I was. It was as though I was being reborn but into a developed body. Maybe I was in an accident or knocked my head. Amnesia. Or maybe I'm a coma and this is a wild dream – a nightmare I was experiencing. Would I wake up or would my body be lying asleep forever?
It didn't matter anymore. Because as I was thinking the top of this channel was going to hit the roof. I could see it now. I fell against the boxes, knocking myself around. It became silent as the box stopped moving but streams of sunlight made their way through as shadows moved through them.
Shadows meant people. People meant answers.
The metal roof was pulled back and opened by a few arms. Masculine arms. I scrunched my face as the sudden light met my eyes. Voices came from all directions and I couldn't pick out any particular conversation. That was until one voice seemed to control all the rest.
"Alright. Slim it you lot!" it called out. All the others seemed to listen to his command. I stood up from my place amongst the crates. The man who spoke out was at the front, right by the edge. He was tall and muscular but slim. His blond hair curled around his forehead and his mouth was wide. Around the box – in the ground it seemed – stood around twenty bodies. All males. There didn't seem to be anything special. They all looked different; although all teenagers.
Curly blonde guy sunk into the box with me but kept his distance, his eyes raking over her curiously.
"You alright girly?" he asked, holding a hand out to her beckoning her to come over. I looked up at the people surrounding me. Gasps could be heard.
"Did he say 'girly'"
"Shuck. We gonna get girls now."
"Damn. I can't remember what they look like – move so I can see."
They were kids. Perhaps she was a kid as well. I wasn't saying she could trust them but they didn't exactly match the picture of serial killers I had envisioned on my way up. I was about to respond to tell him my name wasn't 'girly' but I did not have a name to replace it.
"I-I don't remember my name." Was the first thing I said. The boy in front of me only nodded, not surprised.
"None of us did. Don't worry greenbean, it'll come to you soon enough. Everybody has got one." The way he phrased it seemed as though they've been where I'm standing now.
"You came up like this too?" I ask. He nodded again then gestured to everybody else.
"You. Me. Every unlucky shank in this place. Memory loss and all. We'll explain everything we can to you but we'll take it slow so you don't overdo yourself. Good that?"
He's vocabulary sure had some weird phrases but context served me in understanding.
"Yeah. Just get me out of here." He laughed before pulling himself out and leaning over the edge, holding a hand down for me. I walked over and grasped his forearm and more hands came down under my arms as he lifted me out of the box. As I had thought, there were about twenty boys of all backgrounds. Slim, big, short and tall. Their clothes are dirty and stained. Some had mud on their face or sweat along their neck. Many had hair due for a haircut but I couldn't judge. I had no idea what I even looked like.
"Welcome to the Glade!" somebody yelled out. Glade huh? Is that what they called this place? Somebody shushed him, a boy with dark skin.
"Well somebody already beat me to it but this place – the Glade – is our home. It's now yours too. We call ourselves the gladers." I went to open my mouth but he cut me off. "Now, I know you have a lot of questions but please, let me explain what I can then ask away."
"I just want to know your name," I respond but I do not deny that questions were on my lips ready to spill. The boy chuckles.
"Sorry shank. I'm Nick. They like to think of me as the leader here." He replied a smile traced his lips as he fondly looked at the boys around him. "This here is my second in charge- Alby get your arse over here."
The dark-skinned boy who looked around seventeen walked over. His was stiff but offered me a small smile.
"If you need anything I'll be around yelling at these shuck faces." The crowd that was close laughed, slapping their buddies. "You'll get the tour then find your place here. Simple as long as you don't cause a ruckus." I only nodded, getting the drift.
Looking around I saw a large field in every direction surrounded my four walls. Each wall had an opening in the middle that led into an unknown corridor. It was obvious the boys lived here. There were structures that showed me that, suggesting they had been here for a while.
"Are you all boys?" I asked what had been on my mind.
"Yes. You're the first girl. Who knows, maybe they'll be sending girls from now on. Even it out a little." I laughed despite my nerves.
"Come on. I'll give you the tour, introduce you to some of the gladers."
The boys scattered soon enough, going back to where I assume they were before my arrival, chatting excitedly to their mates.
"Well, this here is the box. Once a week it comes up and brings us stuff. Mostly supplies to keep us alive but every now and then we get a nice surprise. Last week we got chocolate. Can't remember when we last had it. Literally." We both let out a small laugh at the joke. "Then once a month we get a greenie which is what you are now. Greenie is just a name we call them. You will notice that most of us have developed a bit of what I call glader slang. It's easy enough to catch onto."
I nodded in agreement. We walked around the glade as Nick pointed out different things. We walked towards the garden and he introduced me to Zart who was the 'keeper' of the trackhoes. He tried not to show it but he was upset when I accidentally stepped on a newly planted tomato plant. I blushed and kept my eyes down. We moved onto the group of guys who were moving around a building, carrying tools and talking amongst each other.
"Greenie, this is Gally, Keeper of the Builders and the Bricknicks. Bricknicks fix stuff mostly while the builders, well they build." Gally, who was much taller than me had short brown hair and wicked eyebrows. He smirked as he walked up to us.
"She looks strong, maybe she's our newest builder. Think you could be up for it greenbean?" he asked. He was obviously joking as the muscle on most of these guys were the size of my head.
"Sure. I'll do the heavy lifting while you guys nail everything in" I sass back. Both Nick and Gally laugh and he patted my shoulder.
"Sounds like a plan greenie."
We spoke a little more before moving on the homestead. Inside a boy with a bit of a pudgy face and curly brown hair was inside, bandaging a boy with blood on his arm.
"Hey, Clint. Slicers at it again?" The boy scoffed.
"They're my main customers. Wouldn't have a job without them." Around the room, numerous medical equipment she knew they couldn't have made themselves were stored. Some miscellaneous items lay around too.
"Clint this is the Greenie, Greenie this is Clint our one and only Medjack – in charge of patching up everybody." I smiled and shook his hand. Maybe I could work here. Again, a bit of small chat before moving on.
We saw Winston and the slicers. Frypan the cook and his assistants the Dishers; who did most of the cutting and washing up. There were only two. Frypan was one of the nicest she has met so far, smiling brightly at her and wished her well.
They passed by the baggers who kept to themselves before I found us standing outside one of the four gaps in the wall.
"Now, I know you're buggin curious. You've been looking at these walls every thirty seconds. Usually, I wouldn't tell a greenie straight away or they klunk their pants but you seem to be holding up pretty well. Are you even scared Greenbean?"
"Oh, I'm terrified but... I just don't know anything else so I need to take it as it comes. Figure it all out and going with the flow seems the best option now. If I go crazy nobody is going to tell me anything." Nick smirked.
"Good that. If you ain't scared you ain't human. Anyways. Here is the Glade which you know. But out there – that's what stopping us going home or anywhere really. Out there is a maze, surrounds the whole bloody place. The Runners – which you will meet soon run the maze. They're our hope out of here."
"What's out of here?"
"Shuck if I know. We know just as much as you. Creators put us in here. Watch us and we gotta find our way out."
"Tell me about it."
"How long have you been here Nick?" He let out a long sigh before answering.
"I've been here a year. I was one of the originals. So was Alby." A year. A whole year and they haven't found a way out.
"Must be some maze."
"Have you been in there?"
"Yes. I used to be a runner when we didn't have many people but now I stick to making sure the Glade is running. And in saying that, to finish the tour, we have three rules that everybody follows here no question. One, always do your job, don't slack off. We need everyone doing their part to keep this place up. Two, never harm another glader or you'll find yourself in the slammer or even banished." I remember seeing the slammer.
"Where are we banished?"
"Into the maze. Every night those doors close. Every night the Grievers come out." My eyes widen at the name. "'Grievers are these monsters that roam the maze at night. Nobody can last the night. The doors keep us safe." I look into the corridor which seemed to get longer each second. "Which leads to the final rule. Never go into the maze unless you are a runner. It's not safe and we can't risk losing people."
I nod and swallow the bile rising in my throat. It all made sense but didn't at the same time.
"Why are we here?"
"I wish somebody could tell me."