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- Before we get into the plot, there's one thing we should mention: right before Chapter One, in huge letters, is "Thirteen Years Earlier."
- So basically, we're in the world thirteen years before the whole maze-trials fiasco.
- The protagonist, Mark, is just waking up; the world he lives in is ravaged by heat because of the sun-flares.
- There's an older man in a cot near Mark—this man's name is Alec, and he's a hardened former soldier. He's all business.
- Mark's been fighting for his life for more than a year now with Alec and others, including Lana and Trina.
- Since Mark is pretty comfortable with Alec by now, he figures he'll throw a shoe at the old man for snoring so loudly. (That'll teach him.)
- Alec wakes up all grumbly and threatens (but not very threateningly) Mark, then gets dressed.
- We learn that at the time of the sun-flares Alec was a contract worker for the defense department.
- Mark then goes to find Trina by a stream; she usually reads books by the stream in the morning.
- On his way to Trina, Mark passes tons of scrawny, dirty people who look like they're almost dead. It's obviously a rough time in the village he's living in—food is pretty scarce.
- Mark reaches Trina and starts spying on her behind a tree. And from the narration, we can tell Mark has the hots for this girl.
- You know, on account of the, "Man, she was pretty," line (1.17).
- Trina hears Mark, so she knows he's there. She makes a joke about reading with a creepy guy watching her.
- Mark then walks over to her and they hug (aww), and he tells her: "Today is going to be a perfect, perfect day" (1.25).
- Er, that's probably not a good sign.