‹ Prequel: Hurricane Heart
Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run

Plan B


We got changed in an alley. There was no space for privacy, but it was so dark down here anyway that we couldn’t actually see each other anyway. Eventually, we moved, half-blind and disorientated, through the tiny roads until we came to one that was lined with streetlights. As a car rumbled past, my initial thought was to shrink back into the shadows, until I realised that, for the first time in five years, I actually looked like I belonged around here.

By sheer luck, I had managed to give everyone the right clothes back in the dark alley, and most of them fit fairly well. Jake’s top was a little baggy, and my trousers wouldn’t hurt if they were an inch or two longer, but we could manage. Apparently, we only had to stay dressed like this until we got back to San Francisco.

‘We should go find a motel,’ Tim suggested.

‘Hell no!’ I cried in outrage. ‘Didn’t you listen to anything I said earlier?’

‘What, that we should just continue walking indefinitely?’ Tim asked. ‘I dunno about you, but I’m seriously exhausted. I need rest!’

‘I...agree with Tim,’ Rina said a little meekly. ‘Today’s been a long day.’

‘Come on guys,’ I urged, ‘just for tonight. The sooner we get back to San Francisco, the better. Then we can worry about things like sleep.’

Jake was staying silent, but at least he wasn’t disagreeing with me. I knew where they were coming from—my feet were killing me, and I was practically falling asleep as I walked—and it was only eight or nine pm—but it was essential that we put some distance between us and the Institution before we allowed ourselves to stop.

‘How are we even going to get to San Francisco with no money anyway?’ Rina asked, bringing up a point that I had only recently even considered.

‘I have an idea...’ I said, trailing off. Suddenly, the exhausted faces surrounding me looked up with renewed intrigue. ‘But it will require us to stay out all night rather than find a motel.’

‘Go on,’ said Tim, reluctant yet interested.

‘We’re Dreamers,’ I said simply. When they continued to look confused, I added ‘we’re experts at navigating underground tunnels. So, we head to the nearest station now. We try and find a way through the underground onto the platform, thus avoiding the ticket barriers.’

‘Why does that have to happen now?’ Tim asked, ‘and what if we can’t find a way out?’

‘That’s why we need to go at night,’ I explained. ‘If we can’t get under the barriers, then we remain hiding in the tunnels until the station empties out for the night. Then, when the place is deserted, we jump over the ticket barriers, and camp out somewhere on the platform until morning.’

‘There’ll be security,’ Jake warned, looking fearful at the prospect. ‘It’s suicidal.’

‘We can’t risk it,’ Rina said sadly. ‘There’s no way we can afford to end up back in the Institution.’

I looked to Tim for support, and my spirits rose greatly when I saw he didn’t look entirely unwilling.

‘It’s the only way,’ he admitted to the others, wavering. ‘We could wait until tomorrow though...’

‘No!’ I cried out abruptly. ‘We can’t wait. That’ll give the police more chance to catch up with us. And besides, by tomorrow, the world might know our faces. We’ve got to get away, and get back to a safe base, as soon as possible.’

‘So dangerous though,’ Rina was murmuring, but her voice was losing conviction.

‘What’s the other option though?’ I challenged, not wanting to sound so abrupt, but coming across rather harsh all the same. ‘We walk? We hitchhike?’ There was silence. ‘I tell you: unless we somehow walk all the way to LA and then ask the Dreamers there if we can borrow a car, or at the very least a lot of money, there is no other way. Do you guys get that yet?’

Once again, they were silent. Therefore, I knew I had won.

Walking into Rancho San Diego’s train station, which was quiet but not deserted, we found an inconspicuous little door that led us into the tunnels running directly beneath the station. Having been a Dreamer for five years, you became used to the fact that virtually all train stations, particularly the larger ones, were portals into the underground world that existed parallel with the one on the surface.

Wandering round and round the tunnels for well over an hour, however, we began to realise that there was no way up onto the platform other than through the ticket barriers. The tunnels carried on way beyond the station platform, but there was no actual way to get up there.

‘Well, time for Plan B then,’ muttered Tim as we all crowded in the darkness of the underground corridor, able to do nothing but wait. Without torches or any other kind of light, I literally couldn’t see my hand in front of my face, and I could only pray that every footstep belonged to one of my company; that every minor scuffling sound was just that of a rat or a leaking pipe; that every time someone gasped or shrieked it was only because they had bumped into something and not because they had just seen a security guard venturing down after us.

‘What time’s the last train?’ Rina asked. Stupidly, we had all forgotten that part.

‘Twenty past twelve in the morning,’ Jake announced from the back of the group.

‘How do you know that?’ I exclaimed.

‘I checked as we were coming in. It's a Saturday, right? The trains run later on Saturdays.’

Damn, he was clever.

As midnight approached, we ventured up as near to the edge of the tunnel as possible. Taking turns at peering out, we saw a small surge of activity in the last few minutes as everyone made their way back from restaurants or clubs or friends’ houses to try and get on the last train back to wherever they needed to be. By twelve fifteen, however, the only people left in the station, besides a group of men running to catch the very last train of the night, were two security guards and a couple of cleaners sweeping up sweet wrappers and mopping the floors and emptying the bins.

At precisely twelve twenty, the guards began to walk away from the barriers.

‘Are you guys ready?’ I asked.

‘There’s no rush,’ Tim insisted, ‘we have all night, man.’

He had barely finished speaking when the guard walked to the end of the corridor and pulled a lever. Then, to my horror, a wire mesh began descending down above the ticket barriers, about to barricade us off from the platform. It was obviously an extra security measure to make sure that, well; people couldn’t do what we were trying to do.

My heart began to race as the security guard, satisfied that the extra security barrier was coming down as expected, switched the lights off, plunging us into blackness, and turned and left the building.

I fumbled for the nearest hand to mine; it was probably Jake’s. In the light that was slowly disappearing from the station, I caught a flash of Rina’s eye.


We ran.

Like the criminals that we weren’t, we charged towards the barrier, trying to be swift and quiet at the same time, hearing the gentle humming sound as the wire wall descended from the ceiling on top of the ticket barriers, stopping people from illegally entering the station, and I leapt over the barrier, falling forward clumsily in the darkness, only narrowly avoiding smashing my face into the tiled floor. I heard a shriek as Rina half-climbed-half-fell over the barrier, and then someone’s foot landed in my shin—I couldn’t tell whether it was Tim or Jake—and there was a grunt, and someone staggered forward, and I caught a flash of light in somebody’s eye, and the barrier came down further and further until, putting my hand underneath it, there was only six inches between the bottom of it and the top of the barriers, and Jake was still clambering over, calling out, trying to get his leg over, and then he staggered forward—or so I heard in the blackness, as I could scarcely see a thing, but he was over. He crashed into me, stumbling in his haste, and the wire mesh hit the top of the ticket barriers with a small thump, but we were all here, all through, and we had made it onto the platform.

‘We did it,’ I breathed, hoisting Jake up.

‘We did,’ Rina echoed, and I could hear happiness in her voice.

We were one step closer to home.
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PLEASE READ! Just to let you guys know, I'm going on holiday on Saturday so it may be a while before I post again. I'll hopefully post one more chapter tomorrow night, and if we have wi-fi in Spain I may update once or twice while we're there, but probably no more than that. See you soon!