‹ Prequel: Hurricane Heart
Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run



Half an hour later, the information that Dr Jameson had squeezed from me was very limited. He was no policeman; he was no detective. This wasn’t his forte, and he was tiring of it.

I had lied twice during the course of the mini interrogation, and received electric shocks because of it—I’d heard of much worse from other people than what I’d had, but most of them had to have a criminal investigation. I had been caught in the act of leaving a suspected Dreamer base. I was already one of America’s most wanted ‘terrorists,’ mostly due to my recklessness and frequent taking part in any kind of resistance activities, and they had video evidence. I needed no trial—not that many, if any, people got a trial before being thrown in an Institution anymore. There was no use in even fighting it.

But that meant that, for the most part, my interrogation was limited. It was not pleasant—I’d been electrocuted twice, plus hit and shouted at on multiple occasions—Dr Jameson really wasn’t a nice guy, but most of the talking had been done last night at the police headquarters. Of course I had no trial—what rights did I possess to deserve that?

‘Very well, Simeon,’ he finally said. ‘I think that is your interrogation done for today. Of course, once you have been weakened a bit, we will persevere, but for now, that is that. It seems that rebellion is simply an evil seed within you, and one that we must destroy. It is for your own good, and for the good of the country.’

‘No it isn’t,’ I muttered. ‘It’s not good for anything.’

Dr Jameson was becoming increasingly gifted in the talent of ignoring me, so he said nothing and unhooked me from the lie detector.

Being free from all the wires, however, was very momentary. No sooner had I been unstrapped from one, were more wires placed on my forehead and in a band round my hairline.

‘Are you ready?’ the doctor asked, a sadistic smile cracking across his face.

‘Don’t you fucking—‘

My words were lost in a scream of agony. Blistering pain shot straight into my mind, frying it; frying every inch of my body, ravaging my insides like a violent fire. I screamed, and I swore, and the world around me spun and blurred, until I could make no sense of it. My entire body was imploding, and as I kicked the ground and dug my nails into my palms so hard they began to bleed, the only thing I could focus on was the fire in my head. And all the time, the doctor sat there, an emotionless expression on his face. Every time I did something particularly violent, however, I could see faint traces of laughter cross his features.

After what could have been forever, it stopped. I took a long gasp of air, my heart hammering so viciously that I feared it might explode.

‘What the fuck are you doing to me?’ I roared. ‘What was that for?’

‘It’s all part of the procedure, Simeon,’ the doctor said coolly. ‘We need to erase the imagination from your brain. You see, most people in today’s society do that willingly, but if they don’t, then we have no choice but to try and rid you of it through force.’

‘You can’t do that to me!’ I cried. ‘It’s inhuman!’

‘You’re a Dreamer, Simeon,’ said Dr Jameson, and for the first time I could see traces of the beastly animal that lay beyond the mask of cool, calm, collectiveness. ‘You don’t count as a human.’

‘You—you bastard!’ I cried, feeling an overwhelming surge of power inside me. That was probably not a good thing in this situation—there was nothing I could do—but I couldn’t do anything but utilise it. That was what made me human.

‘We still feel pain!’ I roared, my voice raw with emotion. ‘We still think! We still see and hear and breathe! We’re humans as much as you lot. No, in fact, we’re much more human than you! You have erased everything human about yourselves, and locked it away where no one can ever see it again. You’re the aliens; not us. We’re just fighting for our freedom.’

I retched, coughing and gagging violently for a moment as the dizziness of the electrocution caught up with me, and the doctor watched me. Once again, a faint smirk traced his face. I wanted nothing more than to see some emotion on his face—to see him fearful or angry. Even if he revelled in all the pain he put me through, that would be better than this unending nothingness. But there was nothing. He just watched.

‘Well,’ he said, after my dizziness ceased and I said nothing more. ‘Thank you for that, Simeon. I’ll bear that in mind next time I’m performing the Operation on some of your friends.’

‘You fucking—‘

‘Language, Simeon!’ Dr Jameson said curtly, the hint of a sadistic smile hidden once again behind his cold expression.

‘I don’t give a shit about your bloody language rules!’ I roared. ‘They can go fuck themselves! But I’ll report you—don’t think I won’t! However heartless and inhuman you’re told to act towards your patients, you’re supposed to be a professional man. And that ain’t professional! That’s disgusting.’

‘Sit down, Simeon!’ Dr Jameson snapped. I hadn’t even noticed that I’d risen up off the seat until he mentioned it. ‘I will get security brought in if I have to, and I can have you punished or tortured or put into Isolation if I feel the need. Like I say: you’re not citizens; you’re Dreamers. You gave up all your rights when you chose to betray your country. And for the record, if you think that I’m the only doctor who does this, then you’re sadly mistaken. I think you’ll find that every doctor in every Institution in the world goes through these same procedures with their patients.’

I could have said so much more, but I didn’t. Instead, I sank back. And that short moment of weakness was enough for Dr Jameson to prey on. He grasped the chance with both hands, and took from a clinical metal tray behind his shiny desk a long, thick syringe, full of yellowish liquid.

‘Don’t you—‘ I yelled, raising my hands in defence.

It was too late. Dr Jameson slammed his hand down under his desk, and a light began flashing in the corner. Not ten seconds later, two large, burly security guards, most likely Shadow Police, burst in through the door, and grabbed me, one arm to each of them. As much as I tried to wrestle—I was tall, and I had decent muscles—these men were huge, and I stood no chance.

‘Hold him down,’ the doctor ordered. He came at me with the syringe, and the sleeve of my grey top was wrenched up above my elbow.

The tip of the needle pricked my skin, and slid deeper and deeper in. I couldn’t look, but I couldn’t turn away. The liquid from inside it drained away into my bloodstream, and I cried out in pain as the needle remained there; longer; longer; the doctor’s face sickeningly pleasurable—he enjoyed hurting his patients as much as possible; there was no doubt about that, and Dreamers were his favourite prey.

Finally, the needle left my skin, and my limbs were already growing heavy and numb. It was as though a large amount of liquid had just rushed into my brain—I was going dizzy and blurry, and my eyes were involuntarily closing.

‘Get...the fuck...away from me,’ I mumbled.

My eyes closed, and I felt nothing more.


I opened my eyes, still dizzy and blurred, unable to remember anything. Had I just been brought to life? No. There was something; something before all this. I wasn’t just brought into existence here and now; there was something else, and I had to remember it. But I couldn’t. My mind was dazed and slurred and filled with all kinds of drugs. I was in a room...a small room; dim, but not exactly dark. The walls and floors were all padded, as though I was in some sort of mental asylum.

Asylum...the word triggered something within me. Something almost like an epiphany.

And then the walls of my mind broke down, and the memories came flooding back. Well, almost all of them. I grasped at them desperately, groping through all the darkness and confusion, trying to regain any control and knowledge that I had.

I was in not an asylum as such, but something similar. It was called a...what...an Institution. Yes. And I was in here because I’d committed a crime...what was the crime? Something I didn’t do. No. Something I did do, but it wasn’t a crime at all; it was just perceived as a crime by these people in here. Yes. That was it. And what was the crime? Oh, something...something beginning with D. No, I. No, there was a D and an I. Yes! Imagination! That was it! I was some sort of fighter for imagination—what were they called? They had a name—that was the D word. Dreamers! Yes.

My name was Simeon Stryder, and I was a Dreamer, locked up in an Institution for no good reason.

I also knew what had just happened to me. I fought through the strange, murky waters of my memories to search for names; faces; time. Someone had told me something about this—what was his name? Or her. No; it was a he. Cole! That was it! He’d been in one of these places before. And he’d said that they injected you with drugs to make you forget. But it was only temporary. But then, as the weeks wore on, the memories became more and more distant so that you could barely remember anything. But you never quite forgot, because in the words of the police and the government, forgetting would make you happy, and they most certainly did not want us to be happy. So you never completely forgot these things; not until the day of release, when you did forget it all—even your own name, so that you could have a second chance at a crime-free, law-abiding life. Apparently, your memories only came back after that if someone told them to you. So, if no one in your life mentioned the Dreamers ever again, then it was unlikely that you would remember those times. Of course, though, they would tell you your name and your relatives and how old you were, so that was why you remembered those parts quickly enough.

That thought scared me. I could only hope that, on my day of release, the Dreamers found me rapidly, and made me remember everything that made me who I really was. I couldn’t bear to lose all the memories and knowledge that there was more to life than just what we were told.

But for now, this was only my first day, and the drugs made slow progress, so I was able to remember almost everything almost immediately.

Almost everything. I was yet to come across any potential stumbling blocks, but there were bound to be some.

I looked towards the door to my cell; as I did so I noticed a cheap, plastic tray had been pushed through the letterbox shaped opening. It contained food and water, and only as I saw this did I realise how ravenous I was. Touching the plate of bread and rather unpleasant looking canned slush, it was almost completely cold. It must have been here for a while then. How long ago did they bring it up? How long was I out unconscious? Aside from everything else, the mere thought that I could have wasted many hours of my life in a deep, dreamless slumber scared me.

I had barely taken the last mouthful of food when my door slid open. I managed to scurry out of the path of a burly guard just in time.

‘Well, you’re awake then,’ he said coolly. He, like all the others, was dressed in black, with a gun. His hair was dark and his face was broad, but I wouldn’t be able to tell him apart from all the others. They all seemed the same here. Everything was the same. Individuality was banished. It was one of their many ways of destroying the dreams we might have possessed on the way in.

‘It’s social time now,’ the guard said. ‘Get up. Now. You’ve only got an hour.’