‹ Prequel: Hurricane Heart
Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run



‘Shit,’ Simeon gasped before bursting into raucous laughter. Slowly, I righted myself again, looking out of the subway entrance and up through the tunnel of skyscrapers to where I had a clear view of the sky. Jet black, it was impossible to tell whether it was covered with clouds or completely clear, but the approaching storm suggested the former.

‘God, look at us,’ Simeon said in mock despair. ‘We’re on the run from the government, but we’re scared of a thunderstorm.’

As if to prove its point, a second fork of lightning tore through the black sky, momentarily igniting the earth in blinding white, and it was followed by a second eruption of thunder.

My heartbeat drummed in my ears, twice its normal speed and volume. With my neck craned back so that I could look out of the portal and into the sky above, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from this event; so extraordinary; so powerful.

Simeon seemed as rapt as I was, held enthralled by the power of nature.

The sky seemed to be holding its breath; all the hot, muggy air deathly still, waiting for a spark to ignite the rain. It was biding its time, drawing out the tension for as long as possible. The rain had to come, yet there seemed to be not a single droplet of moisture in the atmosphere.

One thing was for sure: an event like this really made me feel insignificant. In the blink of an eye, it made the entire human race seem so small and pathetic against the mighty power of the world. We could do what we liked; we could create and destroy as we pleased, but only nature had the power to truly change things. Everything that we did was only an illusion.

And I was beginning to feel more and more disillusioned by it all with every passing day.

‘We’re not gonna be leaving anytime soon,’ Simeon said. When I looked at him, his eyes, which had been ignited by the storm just a moment ago, were disdainful.

I shook my head in way of agreement. ‘No, we’re not. It’s too dangerous to drive off into the desert in weather like this.’

He grumbled something which sounded like ‘stupid weather.’ And yet, standing here, the weather seemed to be anything but stupid. I could stand watching it all night, but unfortunately Simeon had other plans.

Initially, when he started walking, I thought he was retreating back down the stairs. I was about to protest when I realised he had actually started moving forward.

Breaking into a run, Simeon charged up the remaining steps towards the surface, running straight out into the road above.

‘Sim!’ I cried, left with no choice but to run after him. When he looked round, his eyes were possessed. It was as if the storm had changed him in some way, and with every new crash of thunder or flash of lightning, he seemed to grow a little more restless and energised.

Looking up at the sky, he spread his arms wide.

‘Well come and fucking get us then!’ he roared to the lightning; the only living person in this deserted city. Everyone else was cowering in fear from the storm, hoping to stay hidden and under the radar; we were running towards it.

‘I’d like to see you try!’ he yelled as a scar of lightning slashed its way across the clouds.

‘Simeon!’ I cried out, wanting him to get back inside. Although getting struck by lightning was hardly a concern when we were surrounded by skyscrapers, I was rather more worried of getting seen. Unusual behaviour was considered suspicious, and suspicious behaviour had to be reported to the police. I was confident that standing in the middle of a storm and shouting up at the sky would be considered ‘unusual’ in most people’s eyes.

‘Come on!’ Simeon bellowed. ‘I fucking dare you!’ As the storm reached breaking point and the lightning was so close that it seemed to reach down and touch the earth nearby in the city, I realised there was nothing for it. Whether it was through being caught by the police or a natural disaster, Simeon was going to get us both killed.

Marching up to him, I grabbed him by the shoulders, and threw him with more strength than I thought I possessed in my thin arms across the road. He staggered, falling backwards, ripped out of his trance as suddenly as it had seemed to possess him.

‘Fuck!’ he cried, getting to his feet. Initially, he seemed angry, but as the anger died down, he looked almost apologetic.

‘What the hell were you doing?’ I shouted over another roar of thunder.

‘I...I don’t know,’ he admitted, moving closer so we didn’t have to talk so loudly. ‘I have no idea.' He shook his head, eyebrows lowered as if in disbelief. 'I was just...so angry, what with being here and being on the run and not being able to leave and after everything that happened back in San Francisco and Lomax and the government and just this whole world!’ He paused for a moment, allowing himself to take a long breath. ‘I guess I just needed to let it all out.’

‘I know. We all show our anger in different ways,’ I said. I went to walk off, but Simeon called out.


I turned.

‘Uh, thanks. You know, for pushing me over an’ all that.’

I smirked. ‘You’re welcome.’


Back in the safety of the base, Jake, Rina and I sat in the main room, waiting out the storm. It was gone half ten by the time the climax was over and it began to drift away, each roll of thunder growing a little more distant. It was also around that time that Tim reappeared.

‘Where the hell have you been?’ I asked irrationally, already fuming. Rina put out a calming hand to steady me, and I sat down again, the anger quickly subsiding.

‘Sorry,’ Tim said. ‘I didn’t expect things to take this long. Fraser’s been working on our IDs—we’ve got passports too now, y’know.’

‘Seriously?’ I asked, my mood rapidly rising. It was something I’d stupidly never considered; what we would do once we actually reached Washington DC.

‘Yeah,’ Tim said. ‘And I’ve also got my laptop. I’ll bring that with us. The guys here have managed to establish Internet contact with Europe.’

This really lifted my mood. Within a few moments, I’d gone from being a grumpy arse to the happiest man in the base. And it was a pretty big base.

‘Oh my God,’ Rina said, as ecstatic as I was.

‘How?’ Jake asked. ‘I thought they shut off all overseas Internet connections on the same day as they announced they were gonna perform the Operation on us all.’

I hadn’t even heard that part, but for years now it had been hard to connect with any Internet program based outside the US.

‘I dunno how,’ Tim said with a shrug, ‘but they did. They established contact with Berlin—they’ve given me directions on how to talk to them. They’ve barely talked to them yet though—they only made first contact this morning.’

‘Wow,’ Rina mused, her eyes light with hope.

‘Talk to them now!’ I said eagerly.

I was met with a highly disapproving glare from Jake.

‘Simeon, it’s half past six in the morning over there,’ he said curtly. ‘If they have any sense, they’ll all be asleep.’

‘Oh.’ I allowed my mild embarrassment to hang in the air for a moment, and then Tim saved me.

‘Oh, and we’ve also been given a tracker.’

‘A tracker?’ Rina asked. ‘What, a Dream-Snatcher tracker?’

‘Yep.’ Once again, Tim looked proud of himself. ‘New ones, though. Better ones.’

I was, somehow, growing even more excited.

‘What do you mean, ‘better’?’ I asked.

‘I mean, technology stolen from the army only a few weeks ago-type-better,’ Tim said, his smugness completely igniting him.

‘Seriously?’ This time it was Jake’s turn to be overjoyed. ‘That’s insane!’

‘I know,’ he said, smiling in a way that, if I wasn’t in such a great mood, would kind of make me want to punch him.

‘So,’ I said, once Tim had finished his fantastic showing off, ‘are you guys ready to go?’

‘Give me half an hour,’ he said.

‘Sure,’ Rina replied.

‘Which way’s the storm going?’ asked Jake, in a typically Jake manner.

‘I have no clue,’ I told him ostentatiously. ‘We’ll fucking chase it if we have to, though. I’m not staying here much longer.’

‘Storm-chasers,’ Rina mused. ‘I like it. Makes us sound powerful.’

I looked her in the eyes. ‘Soon, we will be powerful. Not so long from now, we’ll catch up with that storm, and we’ll start a war.’

As we left that night, getting in the car and driving off through the silent streets of the city, thunder still occasionally crackling in the distance, rumbling dreamily over the mountains, spirits were at an all time high. They were so good, in fact, that Tim actually offered to drive.
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I'm not sure if this chapter is really horribly cheesy, but I kind of like it. I enjoy all that deep, meaningful stuff. :D And besides, storms are amazingly symbolic.