After a few moments, Thomas stands up and notices something flash silver and red and then dart behind a tree. Thomas investigates, but finds nothing. Behind him, he hears a boy says that it’s a “beetle blade” and that it won’t hurt him unless he touches it. The boy, who’s around twelve years old, introduces himself as Chuck. He says he was the the last kid to come from the elevator before Thomas’ arrival. Chuck says that Thomas looks like he is around sixteen years old. There is another scream. Chuck tells Thomas that the screaming boy was stung by a Griever, but that the boy won’t die because he got back to the Glade in time to get the “Serum.” Thomas asks for more information about the Grievers. Instead of answering his question, Chuck rolls his eyes at Thomas’ ignorance.
The Glade’s dark side continues to reveal itself: suddenly the seemingly idyllic surroundings are marred by screams, stings, and a mysterious life-saving “Serum” (another word for antidote). The orderliness and tranquility of the Glade seems to mask an undercurrent of danger and disorder. The theme of Growing Up appears in Chuck rolling his eyes at Thomas: he’s treating him like a child just because he doesn’t yet know about the Grievers. Learning about looming threats like the Grievers will enlighten Thomas, but will also make him lose his childhood innocence.
Chuck asks Thomas what his name is, saying that Thomas must at least remember that much. Thomas tells Chuck his name and realizes that all the boys must have had their memories wiped except for the knowledge of their first names. Chuck tells Thomas that although he’s only been the Glade for a month and can’t offer that much information, he’ll be his friend. Thomas says he doesn’t need a friend.
Annoyed that Chuck cannot give him any information, Thomas goes looking for answers from Newt. Thomas follows the sound of the screams to a large wood-framed building. Inside several boys are gathered around a staircase. One of the older boys starts mocking Thomas, saying he must have “klunked” his pants when he heard Ben scream. Thomas tries to push past the boy and go up the stairs, but the boy says that Alby doesn’t let the “newbies” see someone who’s been stung. The boy then tells Thomas that he saw him during Changing.
The insult about “klunking” his pants is intended to make Thomas seem like a baby. Like a newborn, Thomas the newbie can’t even control his bowel movements. The older boy’s use of the Glade slang word “klunk” also makes Thomas feel like an outsider. Language is a key part of identity, and here Thomas seems like a baby in that regard as well: he can’t yet speak the language of the Glade.
The older boy, who introduces himself as Gally, says that he’s the “real” leader in the Glade and that Thomas should call him Captain Gally. Wanting to embarrass Gally, Thomas does an exaggerated salute, which makes some of the other boys snicker. Gally lets Thomas pass him, hoping that Alby will punish him for breaking the rules.
Thomas mocks Gally as retaliation for his condescending insult. Thomas’ willingness to stick up for himself shows that he is already starting to grow up. This scene also hints at Alby’s reputation as a strict domineering leader who won’t tolerate the type of mockery or dissent that Thomas has just directed at Gally.
At the top of the stairs, Thomas opens a door and sees Alby and Newt sitting by Ben who is writhing in pain on a bed. Large green veins crisscross Ben’s body. Sickened at the sight, Thomas thinks that the disturbing image of the boy will be seared into his memory forever. Alby notices Thomas in the doorway and yells at him for coming upstairs, saying that if he sees him again before tomorrow, he’ll throw him off the Cliff. Thomas runs out of the building and, once outside, shudders at the thought of the pain that Ben must be going through.
If growing up is the process of honing one’s identity and losing the innocence of childhood, Thomas does both in his first few hours in the Glade. He’s heard about threats of deadly stings, life saving serums, and now he witnesses a boy just like him suffering from some unknown but seemingly life threatening ailment. He also receives his first death threat (from Alby), and feels a rush of a grown-up type of emotion for Ben: empathy. Thomas is growing up fast, experiencing things and creating memories that will form the basis of his new identity.