‹ Prequel: Hurricane Heart
Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run



I walked back over with the laptop, turning it on as I sat down in the dirt, and saw that Jake had reverted back to the tracker. Glancing over, I could immediately see, even whilst being far from an expert, that this one was a step up from our old versions. The screen was clearer; it was more accurate; it was easier to read.

It worried me, though, when I saw Jake frowning.

‘What’s wrong?’ asked Rina.

‘Not wrong as such,’ he said absent-mindedly, ‘just strange.’

‘Care to explain?’ I prompted.

‘I've got it programmed to Europe at the moment—‘

‘Europe?’ Tim asked disdainfully. ‘What good’s that gonna do us?’

Jake glared at him. ‘It’ll do us a lot of good, actually. In a couple of weeks' time, we’ll be living over there.’

If nothing else, that shut Tim up.

‘Anyway,’ Jake continued, ‘I’ve just noticed: there are tons of Dream-Snatchers hanging around Germany and Poland right now.’

‘Why’s that strange?’ I asked. ‘Maybe they’ve just got a big base over there.’ In truth, I knew scarcely anything about the distant lands of Germany and Poland. We hardly got taught anything besides information on the US in school these days; American history; American geography; American politics; American culture. Not that there really was such thing as culture anymore.

‘It just seems weird,’ Jake mused. ‘I mean, they’re sort of spread out, but they’re all moving, and most of them seem to be moving in the same direction. It’s like they’re chasing something.’

The internet finished loading at that moment, so Jake’s puzzlement over what was going on in Europe was quickly forgotten. Instead, all attention turned to the screen as I loaded up the webcam and requested to chat with Berlin.

Clearly they were prepared for us, because my request was accepted quickly and, shortly after, Carl’s face appeared on the screen.

‘Carl!’ I cried, subconsciously holding my breath, waiting for everything to go wrong.

‘Hey guys,’ Carl said cheerfully. I watched his eyes dart around the screen and glanced behind me to try and get an idea of the view he was getting on his webcam. ‘Where are you?’ His eyebrows lowered quizzically.

‘In some forest...somewhere,’ said Tim, somewhat unhelpfully.

‘Oh,’ Carl said. ‘I thought I could see trees, but I couldn’t really work it out. Anyway, what’s the news?’

I thought for a moment and then realised that I hadn’t specifically contacted him for news; I’d just contacted him for the sake of contacting him. I wanted to keep in touch with Berlin. I wanted to make sure they didn’t forget about us.

I couldn’t really tell him that though—it would sound pathetic and irritating and needy. So instead, I decided on a different angle.

‘You guys have trackers, right?’ I asked.

‘Of course,’ Carl replied. ‘Why?’

‘We have new ones.’ I saw his face lift.

‘We met with a group of Dreamers in Salt Lake City a couple nights ago,’ Tim began to explain, ‘and they stole it straight from the army only a few weeks beforehand.’

‘Seriously?’ he asked, growing excited. ‘Can it track Soulless?’

‘Soulless?’ Rina repeated.

‘Dream-Snatchers,’ I filled in for her. Funny; their official name was ‘the Machine,’ yet I had never met one Dreamer anywhere in the world who called them by that name. Dream-Snatchers, Soulless, Marauders...they were nicknamed basically every appropriate word under the sun somewhere in some Dreamer base, but never just known as the Machine.

‘Oh,’ she said. ‘Yeah, they can track Dream-Snatchers.’

‘In fact, I’ve been taking a look at central Europe,’ Jake said, the tracker in the palm of his hand as he spoke. To be honest, he was the only one who really knew how to use it. ‘There’s been some weird stuff going on.’

Carl grew nervous. ‘What do you mean; ‘weird’?’

‘Well, there are huge masses of Dream-Snatchers in Germany and Poland right now,’ he said, ‘but they all seem to be heading in the same direction—east, roughly, and fast too. It’s like they’re chasing something.’

‘Oh,’ Carl said, relaxing ever so slightly. ‘That’ll be Hurricane then.’

‘Hurricane?’ I repeated. I’d heard the word being used last time I spoke to Carl, but only when he was having a discussion with the Master, not in direct conversation with me. The fact that it always seemed to be used out of context suggested it could be a codename for something.

‘Yeah, Hurricane,’ Carl said. ‘Also known as Sonja. You see, a couple of days ago, there was some weird stuff going on in Hamburg in the north, so she went up there and found the Soulless trying to kidnap an innocent man; not a Dreamer. So she’s taken him in, a bit like a hostage really, but the Soulless are following them, so they’re sort of on the run right now.’

‘Seriously?’ I exclaimed. ‘You mean, the Dream-Sna—Soulless were actually targeting a civilian?’


‘Why?’ asked Tim, clearly not thinking things through.

‘I wish we knew,’ Carl said, shaking his head. ‘But yeah, that’s Hurricane for you. She’s not doing too badly for now. I mean, sure, she’s got herself into some pretty deep shit, but she’s doing an alright job of digging herself out of it.’

‘What do you mean?’ I asked, suddenly intrigued by this story. I’d never heard of the Dream-Snatchers following an ordinary civilian before, let alone trying to kidnap them. And as for being on the run...well, I could identify with her on that part.

‘Well, let’s just say that she jumped out the window on the fourth storey of a building last night,’ Carl said.

‘She what?’ Jake exclaimed in shock.

‘They were about to be cornered by police,’ Carl said, as though that was a reasonable explanation for doing such a crazy, reckless thing. ‘And she left one of the Soulless handcuffed to a drawer in the hotel room before she went—I heard the police got a bit of a shock when they barged the door down and discovered him.’

I couldn’t help but laugh. In California, I didn’t come into such regular contact with the Dream-Snatchers; they were more prevalent in the eastern states for whatever reason, but I’d heard that the Europeans were inundated with them in comparison to over here.

‘Sounds like she’s having a pretty good time of it,’ I commented. Although I was still laughing, I felt the chuckle turn bitter in my mouth, as I realised that this was another thing we were missing out on. Once again, I was reminded of the great European party that we hadn’t been invited to. It seemed such a silly way of thinking in a world where there were so many more things going on, but that still couldn’t change how I felt. I just wanted to be out of America, where the Dreamers hid and disguised themselves, only venturing outside when really necessary, and over in Europe, where they actually did things; where they actually fought for the freedom they were always preaching about.

‘Well, you’d better not say that to her,’ Carl said. ‘She’ll probably bite your head off.’


‘She’s...’ Carl searched around for an explanation. ‘She’s just that kind of person.’

One thing was for sure: the more things I heard about this mysterious ‘Hurricane,’ the more I wanted to meet her.

‘So,’ Carl said, changing the direction of the conversation a little, ‘are you bringing any of those trackers over with you?’

‘We only have one,’ Jake admitted, holding it towards the screen as though it was proof. ‘Still, once we know how to use it, maybe we can copy the technology and upgrade some of the others.’

‘And how the hell do you plan to do that?’ Tim muttered, probably too quiet for Jake to hear. He seemed to still be in a bad mood. On the contrary, Carl’s eyes seemed to widen in excitement.

‘Sounds like a plan,’ he said eagerly. ‘I’ll certainly help you.’

‘In the mean time, we’ll inform you if we notice any irregular Dream-Snatcher patterns over in Europe,’ Jake said.

‘Thanks,’ Carl replied. It was as if I could see the cogs whirring in his brain as he considered how to upgrade the trackers. Allowing my mind to drift a bit, I wondered what it would be like to be as clever as those two.

‘So, have you got any news?’ Rina asked.

Carl thought for a moment, and then shook his head with a shrug.

‘No. Not that I can think of. Is that all you were calling for?’

‘Pretty much,’ I said. ‘I just like to keep in touch, if that’s possible.’

‘No problem,’ Carl said casually. ‘There’s always someone at the computer, so call anytime.’

‘Thanks, man,’ I said. ‘Anyway, we’d better go now, or else we’re not gonna get to a decent sized city before night-time.’

‘Sure,’ Carl said. ‘I’ll talk to you soon.’ He ended the conversation and I exited the internet, feeling, as I had done last time, as though the void between us and Europe was only ever growing bigger. It was ridiculous, but I felt so goddamn left out. We four were simply the uninvited guests to the world’s biggest party. Hearing about Hurricane only made it worse; I’d always been the sort of Dreamer who jumped out of windows and tied up Dream-Snatchers and ran for my life on a daily basis, but over here, I was something of an exception. Whenever I wanted to do something reckless, I was all too frequently greeted with the reply of ‘it’s too dangerous’ or ‘don’t be stupid.’ Well, sometimes I wanted to be dangerous and stupid! We weren’t going to win back our freedom without being dangerous and stupid on occasion.
♠ ♠ ♠
I feel Simeon's pain...since writing this story I've been using webcam rather a lot in my life, and I know how he feels. XD