‹ Prequel: Hurricane Heart
Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run

Time to Flee


I’d had a feeling ever since we stepped outside the room that this was a bad idea. But once I’d dragged Simeon out against his will, I couldn’t really have chickened out and gone back inside.

The Dream-Snatcher had seen us before we even reached the tree line. He came out, further round to the left, and we had no choice but to make a run for it.

And he hadn’t been alone, either. There had been a woman with him, but I’d lost sight of her. I didn’t know whether that meant she had just fallen behind, or whether she had gone back to search for Tim and Rina.

After five minutes sprinting through the forest after Simeon, tripping over roots, stumbling over rocks, staggering on uneven ground, we had lost him for the time being. Forcing ourselves into an undergrowth, we waited, breath ragged, to see if we could hear him.

The gunshots were bound to give him away, but they had stopped for now. I had been sure, running through the forest, that I was going to feel one rip through my back at any moment, but so far, none had come.

‘Get to the car!’ I hissed urgently into the phone. I could hear Tim moving around on the other end—packing up, most likely. Why had we left all our stuff in the room? All I had now was a key, and all Simeon had was a torch. Neither makeshift weapon really stood a chance against a Dream-Snatcher’s gun.

‘What do we do then?’ he demanded.

‘Drive into the city,’ I told him. ‘We’ll meet you there.’


‘Just go!’ I hissed, forced to lower my voice to an accentuated whisper. I hung up, looking at Simeon, who, now my eyes had adjusted, I could see reasonably well in the darkness, even though he had turned off his torch. He held out a hand towards me and his face was frozen, light eyes staring back in the direction we had come from.

At least, I assumed it was the direction we had come from. I was totally disorientated now.

Still, we could make it into Jefferson City. The motorway we’d been following led straight into downtown, only a few miles away. The woods pretty much followed the edge of the road, so if we kept close to that, we’d soon find ourselves in amongst the shabbier part of town. Tim and Rina could meet us there.

‘We need to go,’ Simeon announced in a low voice. I looked around me, wide-eyed, expecting to see bullets flying out of the shadows.

There was a crack.

That was good enough for me.

Shoving myself out of the bush, I lurched forward, breaking into a run and charging almost blindly through the trees. Simeon had turned his torch off—it was too much of a risk to keep it on—and, even after my eyes had adjusted, I could only see a very limited amount.

I tripped without warning and flew forwards, my arms shooting out in front so that my hands took the full force of the fall. My wrists clicked painfully and I fell with a loud grunt, rolling sideways, and began hoisting myself up clumsily before I had even finished falling. I almost tripped over my feet in my haste, crying out in shock, and Simeon’s arm jerked out of nowhere to pull me back up, and we both carried on running.

And then the gunshots returned. Had my cry of shock given us away?

Now was not the time to think or feel remorse. I just had to run. As much as my insides screamed at me to slow down, my mind urged me on and my feet pummelled the ground relentlessly, just step after step after step.

Another crack came from behind—too close behind—and I heard a slapping sound, and then a crunching sound, as a bullet hit a tree not two metres away.

‘Hurry up!’ Simeon roared behind him. Although I had started ahead, he was faster, and my fall had slowed me down.

I ripped through the trees, pushing my legs to the limit, running faster than I had ever run in my life. There was a third gunshot, followed by an ugly curse, and I almost tripped again. My hands were stinging from hitting the ground—I had probably cut them on some stones or twigs, and if I didn’t sort them out they’d probably be infected by tomorrow morning, but right now I didn’t have time to care. Even being a doctor I still realised there were more important things to think about right now than potential infection.

I barely noticed the roar of car engines until I burst through the trees and realised I was teetering on a grass verge, the road raging like a fast-flowing river a few metres beneath me. Torrents of cars raced past and I fumbled out either side of me, grabbing onto a tree branch to stop myself from overbalancing and falling forward into the depths.

‘Sim?’ I cried out, my head whipping from side to side. An icy breeze hit me. When had the night become so cold? ‘Simeon?’

No answer. For a moment, I could hear no more gunshots. The Dream-Snatcher had been right behind me...how had I lost him?

And yet, Simeon had been right in front of me, and I had lost him too. I couldn’t remember at what point I was no longer following him—he had been there in front of me the whole time, I had followed his footsteps, and then I was here.

What if he had tripped? It was so easy to do out here in the darkness. What if he had diverted off; he was always so quick with his reactions, and the Dream-Snatcher had followed him?

I made my way tentatively down the verge, careful not to slip, or else I’d go sliding straight down into the rapid current, plunged below the surface of the stream of cars. There was a narrow pavement that hugged the side of the road, and from here, I could see how we were going to get into the city. Not a mile away, all slightly downhill, was a flyover leading over the motorway beneath us. Before that, the forest gave way to a giant sports field, surrounded on the far side by sprawling suburbs and tower blocks, and ahead of that, the city began. The other side of the flyover, we would be able to get lost in the concrete jungle of the city...maybe even find an underground.

No. We were not sleeping in the underground again. I’d had enough of that for a lifetime. I didn’t know if there were any Dreamers around here, but if there were, we wouldn’t be able to find them.

I had to find my own Dreamers first.

Surely Simeon would realise the need to get out to the road. And I’d be on the pavement—when he emerged, he’d see me further up.

If he emerged.


I crossed the gravel car park at a run, Rina only inches behind me. I was almost at the car—I had unlocked it and was practically diving for the door handle—when a woman’s voice screamed behind me.


Oh shit.

Rina near enough slammed into me and I whipped round, instinctively shoving at her and then pulling her back, to see a striking woman emerging from round the side of the hotel. I didn’t even have to wait to see the mask before I knew she was a Dream-Snatcher—the simple fact that she was yelling out our location already meant she was out to get us.

The Dream-Snatchers couldn’t just shoot at us in public. Although they weren’t strictly illegal, the government didn’t like the public knowing anything about them, so they were forced to remain almost as secretive as the Dreamers were. She wasn’t about to fire her gun in a motel car park.

She was just going to make sure that we were caught.

I practically shoved Rina in through the car door, diving into the driver’s seat and slamming my foot down, pulling out of the space, reversing backwards, knowing that we were going too slowly and I had to be careful not to slam into any of the cars surrounding me. The woman cried out again, a high-piercing yell, so violent it seemed as if it could wake the dead.

And then I could see lights switching on and curtains opening, and then even doors opening. People so rarely dared to cause a commotion these days that, when they did, everyone instantly realised there was trouble.

I saw a man come out of a room just the other side of the car park. When he saw me hastily trying to get away—and scrape along the side of a car in my rush—he began running forward.

‘Rebels!’ he cried out, joining the Dream-Snatcher, who was skulking away into the shadows, her cat-like eyes fixed on my face. ‘Get back here! You traitors. I said GET BACK HERE!’ He didn't even know why he was yelling. Most likely, he bore no particular grudge against the Dreamers. But according to every piece of propaganda that had ever been shoved in his face, we were bad people, and by running after us and alerting other members of the public to our attention, he was doing the right thing.

Finally reversing out of the space, I realised there was nothing for it. I slammed down on the accelerator, practically killing the car on the gravel; not something I should really be doing, and headed for the road. More shouts and abuse were hurled at us, but now I had my back to the motel. I could have sworn that a third and even a fourth voice joined in the symphony, but I was indicating to cross the road—fuck these busy junctions—and the second I saw a break, we were flying forward. I slammed down so hard that my neck was thrown backwards and Rina cried out in shock, and I was swerving across the cars, into the other lane, and I was racing down the motorway in the downhill direction of the sprawl of city lights, scattered out as if they were a mirror of the starlit sky above us.

‘Faster!’ Rina screamed, and I knew, as I entered the right side of the motorway, that the people back at the motel would have called the police. As many as a dozen police cars could be jetting out from somewhere in Jefferson City to meet us head on. My only hope was to get past the forest and the scrubby ground outside the city, over the flyover, and in amongst the city lights. Then we could get lost, and if those police officers wanted the greatest car chase they had ever seen, they could have the greatest goddamn car chase they had ever seen.

Without warning, Rina screamed something intelligible.

I swerved violently to avoid shooting straight into the next lane; right into the path of an oncoming car.

‘What the fuck did you say?’ I yelled over the roar of the engine and the adrenaline pumping through my blood.

‘It’s Jake!’ she cried, pointing across me to the far side of the road beside the forest.

I shot a glance to my left and saw a figure whizz past. I had no idea how she could see him in all this commotion—sure, there were streetlights, but he was hardly more than a silhouette, but I took her word for it, and slammed down on the car horn. Sure, it would get us some unwanted attention from the drivers around us, but what did I care right now? Hopefully, that also meant that Jake would have heard us.
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