‹ Prequel: Hurricane Heart
Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run



We stepped inside and, looking around, I concluded that whilst the LA Dreamers were apparently small, they were definitely bigger than the Dreamers in Portland, and therefore that made this the biggest Dreamer base I had ever been in.

Dressed in our hideously plain, fashionable clothing, we definitely stood out around here. Especially as there were four of us, everyone seemed to turn and stare as we walked past. I had a strange urge to scream out ‘we’re Dreamers too!’ but I didn’t dare. I wasn’t normally that sort of person. I didn’t usually lose my temper and shout things out for no apparent reason.

Johnny led us through the maze of the base and into Sophia’s room, which apparently doubled up as her office, and was also evidently an old World War Three bunker, probably belonging to one particular family or group of houses, that had been connected up to the main set of labyrinthine tunnels meandering under the city, just like they did under every city. It was such a weird, twisted idea that, in actual fact, World War Three had a positive outcome for the Dreamers; where would we hide otherwise? Although in fairness, without World War Three, we probably would never have ended up with our authoritarian, Realisten government in the first place.

Johnny knocked and Sophia came out. She was not a young woman, but she boasted a powerful appearance all the same. With long, reddish hair that fell down her back and a tall, thin figure, she was a dramatic looking lady. Her eyes were the colour of ice and were heavily outlined in dark eyeliner, but she seemed to have a kind face all the same. Nevertheless, her eyebrows lowered in confusion when she saw us.

‘They’re us,’ was all that Johnny had to say, and her face relaxed.

‘Well, come on in then,’ she said, gesturing for us to follow. Her room was definitely larger than any of those in the Portland base, and it was split into two sections: her bedroom, and her office.

‘So,’ she said, surveying us each in turn, ‘who are you all, and where are you from?’

We told her our story—well, mostly Simeon and Tim did, and she nodded occasionally, interjecting with comments or questions whenever she felt it appropriate.

‘And you got nearly all the way to San Francisco, only to find out about...’ she gasped in horror. She couldn’t even finish the sentence.

‘Yup,’ Tim finished grimly. Simeon fell silent at this point, averting his gaze.

‘I’m so sorry,’ she said sympathetically, her voice lowering almost to a whisper. ‘So, are you guys planning to stay here? We’re a bit tight on space—not that that’s a bad thing, it means the Dreamers are growing—but we can make room.’

Simeon pulled a face. He was the only one who could do this. ‘Actually, we were planning on leaving soon. But we were going to ask for some help.’

‘Go on.’

‘You see, we were planning on going to Europe.’

Europe?’ Sophia asked incredulously. ‘And how in hell are you going to do that?’

Simeon pulled a face. ‘We don’t quite know yet. But we have to. And we’re here to ask your help.’

Sophia looked helpful, yet reluctant. ‘What do you need?’

Simeon decided to put it bluntly. ‘A car, if you have one to spare. And money. Any food and clothes that you have going would be a great help, too.’

Sophia seemed to ponder over the idea. ‘A car...’ she mused. ‘I guess we won’t be needing cars too much in the near future; we haven’t used a lot of them recently.’

‘Really?’ Simeon asked, looking more hopeful than I’d thought possible after his solemn face all day.

‘I’m sure we can lend it to you. We’ll have to be a bit tight on money though—you won’t be able to afford hotels or anything. But I’m sure you can take some food and spare clothes. You’ll want surface clothes, I’m guessing?’

‘Yeah,’ we all agreed. That was another sign of the dire situation the Dreamers were in. Normally, we went about in Dreamer clothes even when we were on the surface, though we obviously toned them down a bit so as to attract minimal attention. But now, we were clearly all resorting to wearing surface clothes, i.e. fashionable clothes, only. No one was willing to take any chances anymore.

‘What are you going to do when you get there, though?’ Sophia asked, her face set in stone. ‘I mean, without sounding rude or anything, why are you going, when the rest of us are still going to stick it out here?’

We all looked at each other. It was a good point, and no one had a good enough answer for it.

Simeon met her eyes, his growing wide and confident.

‘Because we want to,’ he replied.

It was a bold card to play, but for some reason, Sophia seemed to accept his move.

‘I guess that’s fair enough,’ she said, smiling slightly. ‘If you’ve got the guts to try, then don’t let any of us hold you back. Just don’t expect it to be easy, and understand that there’s no guarantee of success.’

‘Thank you,’ said Jake. Even though her words were harsh and true, they were also strangely uplifting. If nothing else, it showed us that we had some support. Even if the rest of the world was hunting for our heads, there was someone else on our side. And she was going to help us. With a car, money, and a certain amount of basic necessities in the bag, the ambition suddenly seemed a little more plausible.


We left the base having taken showers, eaten with the rest of the Dreamers at dinner, and changed into some new clothes. We also had a bag each, filled with clothes, food and a reasonable amount of money, and Simeon was also carrying a set of car keys. As well as all of that, Sophia had given us a few other useful things—torches for one, which made finding our way back up to the surface a much easier and faster process. She even offered to give us somewhere to sleep for the night, but Simeon declined, saying that we should leave as soon as possible.

‘Could we not have even stayed for a night?’ Jake asked in dismay as we walked down the almost deserted LA street.

Simeon shook his head. ‘Every moment we waste they’ll be increasing their search for the escaped Dreamers, tightening border controls, securing the new laws a little more firmly. There’s no time to spare.’

As usual, he made such a convincing argument that the rest of us just shut up.

‘Who’s driving first though?’ Tim asked as we neared the road that the car was parked down. ‘Shotgun not me!’

‘Whatever,’ I sighed. ‘I’ll do it if you really want.’

‘I’m sleeping,’ Simeon warned. ‘I refuse to drive tonight.’

‘Well, you can take your turn!’ Tim retorted, refusing to be treated unjustly. The Dreamers were a democracy; we would all take a fair turn at driving.

‘I think Rina should do it,’ Simeon suggested. At the same time, I stifled a yawn. I kind of wished I hadn’t offered now, but someone had to do it.

‘Yeah,’ said Tim, weirdly enthusiastic now that we were clean, full and had our own vehicle. Some men were so easy to please. ‘Let’s make the girl do all the work!’

‘Funny,’ I said sarcastically, but I couldn’t help smiling too. Sophia’s generosity had put us all in a good mood. Now the Dreamers’ kindness just had to continue until we could make it to a safe house in Europe.

When we reached the car, which, for Tim and Simeon, was disappointingly bland and ordinary, but still a moving vehicle all the same, I succumbed to the peer pressure and took tonight’s driving shift. Put simply, all the guys owed me one now. And I’d make them make it up to me over the next few days.

Within ten minutes, Simeon was snoring quietly in the back, and Tim, who sat next to me, was leaning, eyes closed, against the window, his face pressed against the cool glass. Only Jake was, from what I could tell, still awake. I’d gathered he wasn’t the sort to sleep much; he was always so alert.

We sped out of the city and onto the highway. I wasn’t able to give myself any more specific destination than east; Washington DC was east, and that was where we needed to be. Other than that, I just took whichever road seemed to be heading in that direction. Sadly, Sophia wasn’t able to lend us any spare navigation devices, so we were stuck with the more traditional signposts. I’d never driven without a satellite navigator—few people had these days, so signs were scarce—though thankfully, Jake had a little more practice.

By morning, we had left all traces of cities far behind us, and we were way out in the desert, heading down some deserted, godforsaken road into Nevada. Jake had advised me earlier on to keep to smaller roads, as many main roads in and out of states contained state border controls, and we both realised almost simultaneously sometime in the middle of the night that none of us had ID cards on us. That could be problematic, but we agreed to wait until Simeon and Tim were awake to discuss a solution.

Also on Jake’s advice, I skirted way round the edge of Las Vegas. Secretly, I kind of wanted to see it—I’d heard about the sort of place it used to be before the Revolution—but since imagination was banned (and casinos, flashing lights, night clubs and fancy hotels along with it), Vegas had become pretty much abandoned. It was so remote and inaccessible, and so few people other than those working in clubs, hotels and restaurants actually lived there, that most people either left or were forced out. The government didn’t want people living there as, being so remote, they would be harder to control and keep a close eye on than the rest of the population. Now, it was just full of criminals and people who wanted to try and avoid the rules. Not Dreamers though; more like alcoholics and drug addicts.

As the sun began to rise over the Nevada desert, the colossal nature of our situation, along with the sheer loneliness of being four people against the rest of the world, really began to set in. The endless black sky, scattered with more stars than I had seen in the rest of my life put together, full of constellations and distant galaxies so beautiful that words could barely describe, began to fade, and a line of pure silver spread across the low horizon. It seeped further into the sky like watercolour paint, making the dawn glow a pearlescent grey. In the back, Jake had fallen asleep, his head lolled against the window, mouth slightly open. There was no one else around as far as the eye could see; no houses, or buildings of any kind, and not even any animals. I was the only living person in the land of the dead.

And yet somehow, the beauty of the desert night and the perfectly clear sunrise was enough to make me want to carry on driving to the edge of the earth. The undeniable gloriousness of the eternity above put our tiny little planet into perspective. Everything was so huge out there; so many millions of light years away, and so unknown and unexplored that it had fuelled the imagination since the dawn of time, that whatever happened on our pathetic, sad world suddenly seemed so insignificant. It was so lonely out here in the desert, but maybe that was a good thing. Only alone was I truly allowed to appreciate the wonders that surrounded me; wonders that I had been barred from for my entire life.

We were going to make it to Europe. I knew it.
♠ ♠ ♠
So a few weeks ago, I mentioned that there might be a small surprise coming up. Now, I can reveal it (not that it's hugely exciting): the start of my Dreamers art project! So far, I've only got one picture, and it's of Hurricane and Arjan - I have a drawing version and an oil painting version.

So this is a chance for you to see what the characters look like (the drawing looks more like them than the painting does, but the drawing is only in black and white). Oh, and the scene portrayed is not exactly a direct scene from any of the books; it's more of a general picture used to represent the theme of betrayal, which is a theme that crops up so many times in Hurricane/Arjan plots.