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Minho and Newt, with the other Gladers close behind, attack the Grievers at the Cliff and try to make a space for Thomas and Teresa to get through. Because of his strong affection for Chuck, Thomas decides to take him along, and he, Chuck, and Theresa race forward. The Gladers run alongside them, protecting Thomas, Teresa, and Chuck while getting picked off by Grievers. At the edge of the Cliff, Teresa jumps first and disappears into the Hole, and Thomas helps Chuck into it before catapulting himself into it with his spear.
Thomas, Teresa, and Chuck find themselves in a cold, oily tunnel. Teresa uses her flashlight to point out a computer against a wall. She runs to it and begins typing in the code words. Meanwhile, a Griever appears down the Hole and Thomas fights it with his spear, cutting off two of its arms, then jumping on it and stabbing it. The Griever oozes yellow blood and dies. Teresa, meanwhile, has typed in five words but the computer won’t accept the sixth word, PUSH. As Thomas and Chuck try to figure it out, two more Grievers arrive through the Hole. Chuck says they should push the red button under the computer, and Thomas sees the words “KILL THE MAZE” written on it. As a Griever begins to pull him backward, he shouts for Teresa to push the button. When she does, everything goes silent.
The Grievers shut down, and a door opens. Thomas and Teresa celebrate with Chuck, who saved them by spotting the button. One by one, Gladers drop down through the Griever Hole—first Minho, then Newt, Frypan, Winston, and others, until there are 21 in all. The other half of the Gladers on the mission were killed by Grievers. The Gladers walk toward the open door at the end of the long tunnel. It ends in an oily tube and they all slide downward, twisting and turning, until finally landing in an enormous room filled with wires, machinery, and computers. Behind a glass wall they see 20 thin, ghostly creatures sitting behind desks: the Creators.
The Creators, dressed in lab coats, watch the Gladers. A door opens and an ordinary woman enters with a boy whose face is hidden in a hoodie. Thomas recognizes the woman but can’t remember who she is. The woman congratulates them on surviving and declares the test a success. The boy in the hoodie reveals himself to be Gally. Gally starts to say that he is being controlled and can’t avoid what he’s about to do, then begins choking himself like Alby did during the Changing. Gally releases himself, pulls out a dagger, and hurls it at Thomas, but Chuck steps in front of him, taking the knife. As Chuck bleeds to death in Thomas’s arms, Thomas is filled with rage and grief. He attacks Gally, punching him until Newt and Minho pull him away. Then he cradles Chuck, weeping.
Thomas pulls himself together, but Chuck’s death proves there will be no happy ending. Suddenly, screams erupt in the lab and a group of armed people rush in. One shoots the woman, and other shots ring out behind the glass wall. The rescuers hurry the Gladers outside onto a bus. As Thomas waits to board, a crazed, sour-smelling woman covered in sores grabs him and throws him to the ground. As rescuers drag her away, she shouts that Thomas will save them from the Flare. As the bus is drives away, the crazy woman rushes at it and the driver runs her over.
The bus drives for hours, passing destroyed buildings and more people covered in sores. Thomas asks one of their guards what happened, and she tells him and Teresa that the devastation occurred when extreme sun flares burned the earth and killed millions of people. That was followed the Flare, a disease that spread uncontrollably and decimated the population. A rumor says that a cure has been found in the Andes, thousands of miles south. The Gladers are a group of orphans chosen by WICKED, who tested them in the Maze to find out if they were strong and tenacious enough to make the journey to the Andes and bring back the cure. She explains that she and her fellow rescuers believe that experimenting on children is immoral, so they fight against WICKED however they can.
The bus arrives at a building and the surviving Gladers are taken to a brightly decorated dormitory room and given pizza. They feel safe and happy for the first time.
As the survivors drift off to sleep, Thomas has a brief telepathic conversation with Teresa, who is in a separate room, and then thinks sadly about Chuck.
A memo from Ava Paige, the chancellor of WICKED and the woman supposedly killed in the lab, reports that the trials were a success. She reveals that the rescue was a set-up by WICKED. She says the goal of WICKED is to preserve and serve humanity at any cost. She also reports that the Gladers were Group A, and that Group B also did well in their trial. Stage 2 of the experiment will begin the next day; for that stage, a leader must be chosen among the group.
The trip into the Griever hole is a metaphor for growing up as the Gladers leave behind the world full of children and enter the adult world. Chuck’s journey is most transcendent as he metamorphosizes from clownish child to vital hero. Though Thomas’s decision to bring Chuck into the Griever Hole was for the young boy’s protection, Chuck ultimately becomes crucial to the mission: first, when he solves the final piece of the code, and second, when he saves Thomas’s life. In the WICKED lab, Chuck makes the ultimate sacrifice when he steps in front of Gally’s dagger to protect Thomas. His quick recognition that Thomas is the most important member of the mission and must therefore be saved is the most mature and important decision he’s ever made. In the end, Chuck hasn’t made it home, but he has shed the confines of his immaturity in a way he hadn’t been able to within the Glade.
The journey into the WICKED lab is a new form of psychological warfare through sensory assault designed to induce disorientation and fear. Much like their ascent into the Glade in the Box, the darkness of the tunnel robs the Gladers of their sight and prevents them from anticipating what lies ahead. The steep chute they must travel down is covered with a thick goo that mixes with the human blood and Griever fluid on the Gladers’ clothing. The slickness also quickens their decent and renders them powerless to slow down as they slide. The chute’s dizzying twists and turns rob them of their ability to hope that it will end, and it creates a sensation of being suspended in time. Thomas feels as if they are being swallowed by a beast, and the smells of burnt plastic, overused machinery, mildew, and rot sicken him. His urge to throw up leaves him weak, and the Gladers arrive at their destination shaken and afraid, as the Creators have intended.
When the WICKED lab falls to an attack by savior vigilantes, the Gladers are tricked into a false sense of security. Hot pizza, real beds, and clean clothes all symbolize the promise of the better, more normal days they’d hoped to have in the outside world. Thomas feels overwhelmed by the impression of normalcy. Like life in the Glade, which would be paradise if not for the monsters, this safe and nurturing situation may be too good to be true. In the epilogue, a WICKED memo reveals that the dormitory is not a gateway to true paradise and that the Gladers are only one group subjected to the Creators’ cruel tests. After one night of sleep, the life-and-death adventure will begin anew. The Gladers’ journey has led them to a peace and safety that is manufactured and will be fleeting.