"Hey!" Newt calls, trying to get the assembled Gladers' attention. "HEY!" Still almost no one seems to be paying any attention.
"Shut the shuck up, Slintheads!" I yell, and smirk at Newt as everyone turns to look at me. "All yours," I say, motioning to him.
"Thank you, Minho," He rolls his eyes then turns his attention to the Gladers. "So, as I'm sure all of you know...we need a new Runner. We need one of you...but we can't just take any one of you."
"We're holding auditions!" I yell.
Someone laughs. "Auditions? What do you expect us to do, Minho? Sing and Dance?"
"He is not our Runner," I whisper quietly to Newt.
"Why?" he laughs, "Cause he's just like you?"
"What?" I demand. "He is not!"
"Minho," Newt frowns, laughing.
"Think what you want. I admit nothing."
Newt rolls his eyes. "Come on, Minho. We have to get the auditions started." He starts off, walking towards the Maze, with me following close behind. As I look back I notice that the other Gladers haven't moved an inch.
"Well? Are you coming or what?"
"You're taking us out into the Maze?"
"Anyone too afraid to follow us shouldn't even be thinking of becoming a Runner. Now get your shuck rears in gear and follow us." I don't look back again to see if they are following. I know they are.
"Alright!" Newt yells, his voice echoing off the stone corridor of the Maze. "Everyone line up here!" He motions to a spot just in front of himself. Everyone does as they are told. "Now, as you can all see, this is a dead-end. All of you are going to run the length of this corridor, down and back, five times. The last four to finish will be cut. Those who are not will move on to the second stage of try-outs. Clear?" Everyone nods. "Good. Ready. Get set. GO!"
As one the Gladers take off, one or two boys pulling ahead early. One or two falling behind.
"I still think we should just make the bloody slintheads run and run. First four to puke are cut."
"And what exactly would that prove, Minho?"
"The same thing this is, but it would be a heck of a lot more fun for us."
Newt had to hide a smile. "It's a shucking good thing you're not in charge of anything."
"Admit it. You'd be bored without me."
By this time the group of boys was finishing their second repetition of the sprint, with more and more beginning to trail behind. But still there were two who lead the pack. Leo and Len. "We should keep watching those two," Newt says to me. "Chances are one of them will be our new Runner."
I nod, and lean against an ivy covered wall, waiting for the group to be done.
Finally, the boys come straggling over the line, some collapsing from exhaustion. "Alright!" Newt calls. "Like we told you before, the last four to finish are cut. That means you four," he points to three boys on the ground, and one leaning against the wall, all three with red faces, and breathing labored. "There is no need for you to return to your jobs today. Get some rest. Recover. Tomorrow everyone will return to their normal routine."
The boys nod, and begin to head back to the entrance of the Maze. "The rest of you follow us!" Newt takes off at a jog, and I follow behind him.
"Keep up!" I yell over my shoulder to the remaining Runner candidates, and Newt and I pick up the pace a bit. "Last one out of the Maze is cut!"
We reach the finish line a few minutes later, with most boys huffing and puffing.
"This is pathetic," I mutter, shaking my head sadly and looking over at Newt who barely nods in agreement.
"What's next?" Len asks. He and Leo are the only two not doubled over panting.
"An obstacle course," I say, and look over at Newt. "I did remember to tell the other Runners to set that up right?"
"No," Newt says. "You didn't. But lucky for you, I did."
"Oh. Good. Well, that's why you're the leader, Newt."
"Yeah. That's why," Newt mutters. Lucky for him I chose to ignore that comment. "Follow us!" Newt calls back to the boys, and starts walking. As we round the homestead I see the other 5 Runners waiting at the start of the obstacle course.
"So here's how this works!" Newt calls out. "You will run this course repeatedly. Each time the boy with the slowest time will be cut! You will run it until only one of you are left. Last one standing will be the new Runner. Are these rules clear?" All the boys nod. "Good that."
"Who has the fastest record in the Runners?" Leo yells up to Newt.
I smirk. "Me. Thirty-two seconds." I look at Newt. "I'd say if anyone can beat that they're the new Runner regardless. What say you, Newt?"
Newt nods thoughtfully. "I'll agree to that. Original rules stand, but if anyone beats Minho's record they become the next lucky shank to become a Runner. Clear?" Nods from the boys again. "Great. Minho, care to demonstrate the course."
"Sure," I smiled. "Time me. See if I can break my own record."
I take my place at the starting line. "Ready Minho?" I nod. "Alright. Take your mark," I bend over into a starting position. "GO!" I take off like I was shot from a cannon. The first part of the course is a ladder on the ground. I move side to side and forward. In, in, out, out, to the end of the ladder. Next is a vertical net that I have to climb over. I leap onto it, and at the top drop to the ground on the other side, not taking the time to climb down again. The next hurdles are, well, hurdles. I leap over one after another, after another, after another to the end of the line. Seven of them in all, and finally I come to our make-shift monkey bars that we can set up and take down as we chose. In a matter of seconds I'm through them as well, and across the finish line.
"Thirty-four seconds Minho!" Newt calls. "You're losing your touch."
"I'd like to see you do better, Newt!" I smile, and walk back to the starting line. "Now." I look at the Runner prospects. "Who's first?"