The Flare (virus VC321xb47) is a man-made disease created by the Post-Flare Coalition. It is a virus that slowly eats away at the brain, eventually turning its victims into bloodthirsty and irrational humans who consider, killing, torture, and cannibalism an everyday objective. It is known to mutate rapidly. People who have the Flare are commonly called Cranks. Every large remaining city in the world has a special holding place for Cranks known as a Crank Palace.
After the Sun Flares, the Post-Flares Coalition had conducted a six-month survey and comes to conclude that only 70% of the remaining population will have resources while the rest will not. Fearing of war and civil unrest, the PFC has decided that there were not enough resources for the remaining population, and they searched for a means of population control that would eliminate large numbers of people quickly and humanely. The Flare was discovered by Katie McVoy, a scientist of the Post-Flares Coalition (PFC), after she researched the biological weapons that AMRIID had in containment. McVoy believed that the disease worked quickly and painlessly to shut down the brain of its victim and that the infection rate would slowly weaken as it spread to different hosts, eventually stopping altogether. However, after Chancellor John Michael approved the systematic release of the disease, its true effects soon became apparent.
The Flare was unstable and has mutated further, resulting in the virus becomes airborne, turning anyone who was in contact with the virus into cannibalistic savage beings with no humanity left. The virus had spread throughout the globe, affecting city safe areas, and infecting the majority of the population. The rate of infection was skyrocketing that quarantining the infection is impossible for the PFC to handle.
As a result of the outbreak, WICKED was formed in an effort to find a cure for the dangerous disease. A small percentage of the population, most under the age of twenty, were labeled as Immunes, people who were not affected by the Flare. WICKED attempted to use the Immunes to find a cure by looking at how the brains of the Immune people reacted to certain situations, as well as the physical make-up of the brain of the Final Candidate. Immunes were very rare, comprising less than 1% of the Earth's population, and as such, they were given the nickname "Munies" by those not immune out of spite and envy.
There are various stages of the Flare. Early on in the disease.
The earliest stage of the Flare will often have infected individuals feel "off" somehow, exhibiting symptoms such as sudden mood swings, paranoia, poor balance, headaches that get worse as time goes on, irrational anger, and aggression.
These symptoms gradually worsen, as the virus rapidly infects the cerebral cortex, resulting in suffering from dementia, temporarily memory-loss, Alzheimer-like symptoms, and soon after, psychotic mental disorders, stripping the victim of their humanity and turning them into a demented, cannibalistic, zombie-like lunatic. When they have gotten to the point where sanity is completely lost, they are referred to as being past a stage known as "the Gone." Those who are past the Gone often have horrifying injuries, presumably gained through fights with other Cranks. An example is a Crank in The Scorch Trials that is bereft of his nose.
An extremely active brain, often triggered by stress, will quicken the rate at which the virus does its damage. Due to this, a treatment known as the Bliss was created to sedate a person's senses and neural activity. However, the drug is only affordable by the extremely wealthy, due to its high price, and simply delays the inevitable, thus not making it a cure. The Bliss slows the brain's activity, making a person seem more relaxed in various situations. It is quite easy to tell if a person has been taking the drug.
The second film portrays Cranks, victims of the Flare, as black-veined, long-armed zombie-like creatures. Strange vine-like growths protrude from their bodies, and in that film, they do not seem to be capable of speech. However, in the third film, they do speak. However, unlike in the novels, Cranks seem to able to transmit the Flare to others (possibly Immunes, even) via forms of physical contact, such as scratches.
- 99% of the human race:
- In The Game of Lives (book three of James Dashner's Mortality Doctrine series), the protagonist is described as a Flare-infected Crank.