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Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run

In the Danger Zone


I took the next driving shift as we sped on through the desert. Shortly after midday, we took a minor road over the border into Colorado. Although we would fare better crossing borders now that we had our IDs, I still didn’t want to push our luck too much, so I was thankful when I realised that we were on a small enough road to not be confronted by police.

We went via the city of Grand Junction, and it was virtually the first sign of civilisation we’d seen all day. After that, though we were on bigger roads and in more populated areas, it felt a little better. Eventually, as the sun began to set, we drove into the city of Denver, skyscrapers stretching out as far as the eye could see, sprawling out across the flat plain, with dusty blue mountains rising up like giants in the distance.

Rather appropriately, Simeon gave a loud yawn.

‘Tired?’ I teased, glancing behind me.

‘Kinda,’ he admitted.

‘Are we staying here tonight?’ Rina asked, looking hopeful at the chance of luxury in comparison to the car seat.

Naturally, everyone turned to Simeon.

‘What you looking at me for?’ he laughed.

‘Well,’ Tim prompted. ‘Can we? I don’t know why I’m even asking your permission—I have a right to do what I want—but can we?’

He looked round at the hopeful faces staring at him. As I pulled up to a red traffic light, I gave him the same pleading expression.

‘Oh, whatever,’ he said, giving in. ‘But we’ve got to leave as soon as it’s morning.’

Rina cheered.

‘Hell yeah!’ Tim cried enthusiastically. I drove through the city for another half an hour or so before sighting a hotel. It was fairly small; an ugly box lined with identical windows dropped in the middle of the city; three floors high and with a greyish exterior, but it was functional. It was better than a car seat, therefore tonight, it would do.

As soon as I pulled into the car park round the back, the other three jumped out and began to get their bags out of the boot. Getting out and waiting for them to collect the stuff, I almost absent-mindedly took the tracker out of the glove compartment in front of the passenger seat.

That was when I noticed that there were seven Dream-Snatchers all roaming round this area.

‘Guys!’ I hissed. Simeon and Tim didn’t even hear me, but Rina’s ears seemed to prick, and she glanced up in alarm.

‘Jake?’ she asked, concern filling her wide eyes.

‘Dream-Snatchers,’ I said, glancing back down at the tracker to make sure I hadn’t made a mistake. ‘In the city.’

This time, the other two did hear me.

‘In Denver?’ Simeon asked, bordering on disbelief.

I nodded. ‘Yep.’

We all glanced between each other, no one quite knowing what to do.

‘How close?’ asked Simeon, moving closer to look at the tracker.

‘It varies,’ I said. ‘But some of them are only a few blocks away.’

As I spoke, I saw one of them on the tracker begin moving at a faster pace. Moments later, another one joined in.

They were moving in our direction, swarming towards the hotel.

Looking up, I saw that Simeon’s face was a mask of horror. Neither Tim nor Rina needed to ask what was going on; they could guess only too well just from our expressions.

‘What happens now?’ I asked in little more than a whisper.

Simeon looked at me.

‘We run.’


We ran.

Simeon sprung off his back leg, more like a wildcat than a normal human being, and we all followed. Jake had the tracker in his hand, but we threw everything else back into the car, locked it, and ran for our lives. There was no use trying to drive out of the city; staying within civilisation at least gave us more of a chance at losing them.

We charged past the side of the hotel—suddenly, those cheap, basic bedrooms looked so appealing—and down a side road. Simeon stopped abruptly, pressing himself into the wall, allowing himself to blend into the shadows of the late twilight.

I was the last in; the slowest; the one least accustomed to running. Pressing myself into the shadows, away from the mouth of the alley, as the others did, I leant on my knees for a moment to catch my breath.

‘How do they even know where we are?’ Tim demanded, directing his angry question at Jake.

‘The same way as we know where they are,’ he replied, more out of breath than the other two men. Like me, he hadn’t spent so long as a Dreamer, and also hadn’t had as much practice at fighting and ‘above ground’ work, as we called it back in Oregon. He was a doctor, not a soldier.

‘So how do we get rid of them, then?’ Tim asked, the fury set deep in his face. Things had been going so well, and now they were all so ready to fall apart again.

‘Listen,’ Jake said, stepping forward so he could face us all at once. ‘They’re not animals; they can’t just smell us out or anything. Most likely, they saw us coming into the city. They may have recognised the car—it’s not unlikely that they’ve seen the car being used by Dreamers before, and marked the number plate. Or, one of us may have already met one of them before in our lives, therefore, they might have some DNA from us which they can use to track us. But ultimately, they’re never going to have any more than a vague idea of our location.’

‘So what does that mean?’ Tim demanded. His fear was making him impatient.

‘We just need to keep moving,’ Jake said. ‘The closer they get, the easier it’ll be for them to track us—surveillance cameras, following the car...whatever. The tracker devices themselves don’t tell someone’s exact location; they’re vaguer than that. They cannot hunt us down using trackers alone.’

He paused, waiting for a reaction. I was a little confused; technology was not my strong point, and Tim was just generally scowling, with an angry, but otherwise unreadable expression.

Simeon was the most perceptive towards the situation.

‘In plain English, Jake’s telling us to get a goddamn move on!’ he snapped, just as impatient as Tim, but putting this energy to better use.

And like that, we were on the move again.

We didn’t run; the night was simply too long for us to spend it running. So instead, we walked, but the walk was brisk, and at times I either had to fall behind or jog to keep up with Simeon, Tim and Jake’s long legs.

‘Are there Dreamers in Denver?’ Tim asked, following Simeon into a smaller alley than any we’d been in yet. I wondered how long it would be before we ended up cornered at a dead end. At least keeping to these streets meant that there was less chance of the public spotting us.

‘Not as far as I’m aware,’ Jake replied. ‘But maybe.’

‘But there will be tunnels, though,’ Simeon pointed out.

I hadn’t thought of this.

‘Tunnels?’ Jake repeated as an idea began forming in his head.

He and Simeon seemed to be on the same wavelength.

‘We go underground,’ Simeon said. ‘If one thing’s for sure, it’s that the Dreamers rule the underground. Down there, we’re in charge.’

It was true. But first, we needed to find a way into the underground. Jake kept looking at the tracker, noticing how all the Dream-Snatchers who had information contained on this tracker seemed to be heading in our direction like moths to a flame.

We walked for ten minutes or so before the alarm truly began.

‘Run!’ Jake suddenly cried. We had almost begun to relax; almost fell into a pattern of following quiet backstreets around the edge of the city when the fear and adrenaline came back, full power.

‘Where?’ I cried, panicking as he began to panic.

‘There are two of them, like, two blocks away,’ he insisted frantically. ‘But there’s an underground entrance close to here. If we can get down there, we can keep them at bay.’

He shot down a road to the right, and we all followed. I’d never seen Jake take charge before, but he actually wasn’t too bad at it. He was fast, and we all had to focus our minds to keep up with him. My heart was hammering fit to burst, and adrenaline pumped through my veins, blood beating in my ears as I fought to keep moving.

We charged into a busier road; one lined with shops and cars occasionally passing through. At this time of night, there were few people, which was both better and worse for us.

Sprinting round a wall, we all pressed into it, one after the other, pausing for breath. Even under the unforgiving glare of the orange streetlights, we had no choice but to stop for a moment.

‘Where now?’ I breathed heavily, taking long gasps of air to try and regain my energy.

Jake’s head darted left and right.

‘Down there!’ he eventually cried and, long before I was ready, he shot off again. We all followed, no one willing to get left behind. I tripped on the cracks of the pavement, stumbling often, clumsy and frantic in my haste to keep up. Simeon kept looking back over his shoulder, expecting someone to come up behind us any moment.

The most worrying thing of all, perhaps, was that the Dream-Snatchers had guns. And for the first time ever, we didn’t. For the first time since I had been a Dreamer, I was out in a danger zone completely unarmed.

Without warning, Jake practically dived off down a small road to the left. Tim and Simeon skidded round the corner after him, so fast that I wasn’t sure how they didn’t fall over, and I sprinted after them.

The road was quiet and lit by occasionally spaced streetlamps. It was lined with tall, sleek looking offices, all their windows dark.
Fear began to fill me as I saw Jake slowing up ahead. Were we lost? Did he know where to go? But then he dived off to the right, sprinting again, and slowed as he came to a very welcome sight; an underground entrance.

Breathless and exhausted, I staggered clumsily to a standstill, almost falling into Tim, and then we hurried down the steps into the subway.

Under the ground, it was like being in a foreign country...not that that was something I had ever experienced. I was lost and confused, and I didn’t understand the signposts, and every direction meant nothing. Even the tiles and the lighting down here were different to the underground I was most familiar with; the one in Oregon. Although, back there, a considerable amount of the Dreamer base was housed in a disused military complex in the forest; the perfect hiding place. Underground tunnels ran under the collection of buildings, and some of the facilities were down there, but I still spent more than half of my time above ground. Evidently, this was unusual to most Dreamers, but it was how I’d lived the last couple of years.

‘Where now?’ Tim asked, searching each of the four forks in the road with his eyes. ‘They all look the same!’

‘Just get away from the entrance,’ said Simeon, still a little breathless. ‘Then we can relax a bit.’

Jake took out the tracker again and examined it briefly.

‘They’re still in the vicinity,’ he announced. ‘But they’re not gonna find us just yet.’

He hadn’t even finished speaking before I heard the unmistakeable sound of footsteps. At first I tried to pass them off as a leaking drip or a mouse, but they were too rhythmic, and they were coming from up above and to my left.

I looked back up the staircase leading out of the mouth of the subway at the same time as everyone else seemed to notice my sudden fear.

A masked man was standing on the top step, his narrow lips pulled into a greedy grin.

‘Well, this must be my lucky day.’