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Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run

Breaking Point


As the headlines started, we all leaned in a little closer. Even though the presenter’s voice was subtitled, we still all wanted to hear what he was actually saying.

And in the headlines today,’ the presenter announced, ‘a rebel base in San Francisco, California, has been discovered and invaded by the police.

My blood froze in my veins. Slowly, almost robotically, I turned to Simeon. He was staring, entranced, at the screen, his eyes wide like small planets, his face drained of all colour.

The stronghold of imagination terrorists, who all call themselves Dreamers, and which is said to be the largest rebel base in the state, was discovered by police last night, and officially broken into at just after four this morning. It is said that the rebels were completely unprepared, possibly even having been taken totally by surprise, and fighting is still continuing as we speak. So far, nineteen rebels have been captured, and a further five have been confirmed as dead, as well as three police officers.’

We all looked to Simeon; terrified, distraught, unsure of what to think. When that bitch Lomax had come into power, we’d heard about the crackdown she was going to have on all Dreamers. We didn’t think that these new regulations; first the Operation and now an increase in searching for us; would come into practice quite so quickly.

‘No,’ was all Simeon said, little more than a whisper. He couldn’t make a scene; not here, right in the middle of a densely packed public place, especially one so full of security guards and surveillance cameras. Without warning, however, and without saying anything else, he stood up abruptly, his chair scraping back against the wooden floor, and he marched swiftly out of the coffee shop.

I turned to Jake and Rina, all of us stunned into silence. What were we supposed to do?

What had just happened?

It had all been so sudden that, as much as it hurt, I had to keep looking back at the TV screen to make sure that I hadn’t just imagined the entire scenario. Sadly, though, it was all too true. They were showing footage taken last night of police cars with sirens blaring and officers dressed in riot gear with helmets and shields and Tasers, and men and women being shoved up stairs and towards cars, fighting every step of the way, handcuffed and powerless and screaming for help.

If they were merely going to the Institutions, the situation would be dreadful. But not anymore. Now, every single one of them was going straight in for the Operation—no questions asked, and not even much time to wait. And that made the situation critical. Right now, the Dreamers were at breaking point.

Rina was glancing, teary eyed, out the window of the cafe.

‘Where did he go?’ she was whispering. ‘We have to find him.’

‘Give him a moment,’ I mumbled, still trying to listen intently to the TV. It was only the headlines, however, and without any more news on the Dreamers, the presenter moved onto talking about something else.

This was bad. This was really, really bad.

‘Come on,’ Jake said, standing up. We’d already paid at the counter; we just needed to go now.

‘Where are you going?’ I asked, looking up at him but not getting to my feet.

‘I have no fucking idea,’ he said, with more bitterness than I thought he was capable of. ‘But that’s why we need to go.’

I knew what he was saying—now, we had nowhere to go; no safe refuge at the end of a treacherous journey. In an instant, I felt like all the strength had been drained from me. It didn’t matter that I’d never met a single Californian Dreamer besides Simeon; they were still my people, and I still felt the loss almost as deeply as he did. And on a more selfish note, what the hell were we going to do? San Francisco had been our final destination ever since we left San Diego, and now...nothing.

I stood up, quiet, calm, collected. There was no way we could risk making a scene or attracting any kind of suspicion in here.

‘Let’s go find him then,’ I said. ‘Where do you think he’s gone?’

No one answered. There was only one thing I knew: we had to find Simeon. And then we had to get the hell out of here. Destination: unknown.

After looking up and down the busy station for ten minutes or so, I found Simeon down a little alleyway just outside. Jake and Rina were close behind, examining the pavement on both sides of the road and, spotting him from a distance, I called them over.

‘Hey,’ I said softly, moving into the intense shadows of the alley. Simeon’s face was pink and blotchy with the effort of trying not to cry, and as he moved his hand to his face, I noticed a bloody graze right across his knuckles. Momentarily confused, I glanced to the brick wall opposite and saw small but tell-tale smudges of red across the bricks. Well, at least he wasn’t taking out his rage on us.

He didn’t answer me for a moment, glancing at the wall as though he was longing to punch it again, but then he put his hands to his face and swore quietly.

‘It’s all gone,’ he mumbled. ‘All of it. My home. My friends.’

‘They might have got out,’ I said, trying to stay true to my optimistic self. ‘They might have escaped.’

‘Not all of them though,’ he said gruffly. ‘Five dead, and nineteen due to suffer an even worse fate. And more will follow. I don’t care who it is; the fact that anyone is a part of this shows what a disgusting world we live in.’

Rina and Jake stood in silence behind me. I didn’t blame them. Simeon turned away from us all then, striding a few paces down towards the end of the alley, and then stopping. I was just about to break the silence when he whirled round and spoke.

‘Fuck it,’ he announced. ‘I’m going to Europe.’

It was not what I had expected, to say the least.

‘What...what do you mean?’ asked Rina softly.

‘I said I’m going to Europe,’ he said louder, clearer. I saw Jake flinch at the volume—if there were any police around right now...

‘But...but you can’t,’ Rina said, her voice meek, little more than a whisper. ‘Can you?’

‘Of course I fucking well can,’ he said, so angry he looked ready to attack someone. ‘What else can we do?’ He spread his arms out, taking us all in with a wide, dramatic sweep of his gaze. ‘Stay here; wait until they find us.’ He strode forward, murder in his eyes. ‘Because I tell you now, I am not gonna sit around and wait for that day. Because it will come. I don’t know when, but if we stay here, we’ll be caught one way or another. And I’m not gonna let everything I’ve done be in vain. I’m going to fight. And I don’t care if I have to march across the entire country alone, I will get there!’

We were never going to make it, but somehow, I didn’t care. Because we couldn’t stay. I’d had no idea how critical things were becoming for the Dreamers until fifteen minutes ago. But now; now I realised we were at breaking point; in critical condition, well that changed everything.

Simeon swept us with another one of his powerful, fire-tinged glares.

‘So,’ he said, ‘anyone want to come with me?’
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