231.04.04 | 7:48 p.m.

In the Maze Newt did his best to focus. But it was a fact that he had not seen Kat for days now. He missed their regular meetings, their talk… and smiled a sad smile as he became aware that this had mostly happened when she was in the slammer.

So he had made a decision. Time to talk. This evening.

Wait for me”, he panted, exhausted from the day in the Maze and one desperate last sprint to make it back in time.

Record the results of the day in the Map Room, a hasty shower to wash away all the sweat and dirt, a fresh shirt…

And there she was, sitting on the floor, leaning against a tree trunk.

He stretched out a hand to help her up.

And looked closer.

“What's this?”

Hastily she pulled her long sleeves down to cover her wrists. “Nothing.”

“That's not nothing. Looks like…” Newt tried to get a closer look. He pushed the sleeves back again. Small red lines and triangular marks formed a semi-circle on her arm, just above her wrist. Newt turned her arm, and yes, he was right: “Have you been bitten?”

“It's nothing!” With a vehement move Kat tore her arm from Newt's grip.

“Have you been with the Slicers today? Was it an animal?” Newt shook his head. Has anyone in the Glade ever been bitten by an animal?

“No, Baggers. How can people want to be a Bagger?” It was obvious that Kat was eager to change the subject.

But you need to go to the Med-jack! The wound might be infected!”

“It will heal. All on it's own. They have far worse things to heal than this minor scratch!”

“Can you at least tell me what has bitten you?”

“Can you now just leave it alone?”

“Listen, girl, last time I saw a bite wound like this the shank had been bitten by another Glader who had turned crazy.”

She shrugged. “No one turned crazy on me.”

“Then who has bitten you?”

“Just give it a rest, now will ya? Do you make such a fuss about any other kid in the Glade?”

He just stared at her.

“Then leave me alone now! I am nothing special!”

“You are. To me.”

Her jaw dropped, and for the first time she looked at him. Looked right into his face, but he avoided her gaze. He had not meant to concede that. Not now, not like that. Probably never.

His face was now deep red. Hastily he turned round and stomped off.

With her mouth open she stared after him, witnessed him shouting at the other boys for being in his way. She could see him kick at things.

Five minutes later Jeff, one of the Med-jacks headed over to her. She sighed.

“So… let me have a look on your hand, then. Newt says you've been bitten.”

Jeff took her hand and winced. “Ouch. Looks nasty. What did you say was it?”

“Definitely nothing venomous! Just leave it alone. Why does everybody make such a fuss about me?”

Jeff defiantly raised his hands. “I don't make a fuss, I'm just doing my job, okay? Now you just stop making it complicated. Come along, I'll put an ointment on it, and it will heal even better.”

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