‹ Prequel: Hurricane Heart
Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run

Flee or Fight


Whilst I was fucking up my nails, my fingertips jagged and bleeding as I tried to rip up a fence in the little, square courtyard we had ended up in behind a shop, Jake had decided to answer his phone. Eventually, I gave up on the wire and metal, and scanned the car park with my eyes to see if there were any other potential weapons lurking. I wasn't going to be able to break the chain link fencing as easily as I'd thought.

My eyes rested on a pile of white tiles, some of them chipped and broken, that were stacked up next to one of the bins.

Jake ended his phone call and watched me with confusion.


‘Wait a minute!’ I snapped, picking up one of the tiles, and then dropping it on the floor. Jake winced at the smashing sound, but I didn’t care—the Dream-Snatchers probably already knew where we were anyway, and holding them off for a bit longer wouldn’t really do much.

‘What are you doing?’ Jake hissed. ‘The entire city will have heard that!’

I decided to just ignore him this time. The tile had cracked into three main pieces, plus lots of smaller bits, and I picked up one of the larger pieces that had snapped into a long, triangle shape, a perfect, sharp point at its tip. Sure, it may not do much good against a gun, but if a Dream-Snatcher was to misplace their gun just for a moment, this knife-like piece of porcelain could do a reasonable amount of damage.

‘Come on then!’ I snapped at Jake, gesturing to the pile. He could take his pick. However, he just looked at me with repulse.

‘We need to go,’ he said slowly, almost patronisingly. ‘What’s a piece of tile going to do against a gun?’

I didn’t like his tone; the tone he always adopted with me. It was the tone that implied he knew everything.

‘Go?’ I repeated incredulously. I could hear movement from out in the road—clacking heels, probably the woman’s, on the pavement. ‘We need to fight!’

I ran over to the wall, pressing myself into it to keep hidden. If I could time this perfectly, I could wait until she stepped into the courtyard and, in the split second where she hesitated to look for us, I could launch myself at her, driving the sharp tile right into her face. It probably wouldn’t kill her—it wasn’t that sharp—but it would hurt nonetheless, and maybe, just maybe, she would drop the gun in her panic.

Jake, however, seemed to have other ideas.

His eyes darting from side to side for just a moment, he seemed to make a decision.

‘Come on!’ he called.

He ran across the concrete courtyard. I cried out after him before I realised what I was doing, and out on the road, the clacking footsteps stopped.

I had no choice but to follow.

He ran to the wire fence that I’d been unsuccessfully trying to rip apart a few moments ago, the scratches and cuts on my fingers proof of my futile attempts. Instead of trying to tear it from the wall and scramble through as I had done, though, Jake had a different approach.

Launching himself at the fence, he leapt, his hands flailing out above him and gripping onto the top of the fence. The wire buckled a little under his weight, but he used the mesh like footholds and began to climb his way onto the top.

‘Well hurry up then!’ he snapped.

This was going to be embarrassing if I got it wrong.

Before I could even plan my run-up, however, I heard a gunshot.

The big plastic bin not so far to my left seemed to explode with the impact of a bullet.

‘RUN!’ Jake screamed at me, holding onto the top of the fence, looking unbalanced and uncomfortable. I leapt as he had done, taller than he was, and probably stronger too, but he must have had practice at these things, because my hands missed, scraping the edge of the wire as I fought to claw on.

A hand shot down from nowhere, grabbing my right wrist, leaving me hanging in the air.

There was another gunshot.

‘Hurry up!’ Jake snapped, his eyes wide. I grabbed onto the fence and, as he lifted me up, I grasped the top. As soon as I had a firm hold, he jumped down the other side, surprisingly lithe, so that the fence didn’t completely collapse beneath our combined weights.

‘Come on!’ he urged as I scrambled my way to the top. I had no doubt that I looked clumsier than he did—why did he have to be so good at everything?—but I didn’t care right now. I pulled myself up the fence a little further, hoisting one leg over the top so I was straddling it. I was just in the process of hoisting my other leg across when there was a colossal cracking sound from not far below me and pain more intense than any I had ever felt before tore into my right shoulder.

I lost my balance and half-fell off the fence as I screamed out in agony, but I just managed to hold on with one hand until my other leg was over. In desperation, I threw my piece of porcelain tile at the woman with my good arm, screaming out as the excruciating pain of the gunshot wound stung me. I aimed true, and the tile smashed into the woman’s face. She cried out, and I could see blood beginning to drip from her cheek.

Then my weak hold on the top of the fence gave way and I all but collapsed off the other side of the fence, falling clumsily.

Thankfully, I just about landed feet-first, but I fell to the ground, blood smearing right up my body, gasping in pain, too shaken to get up. Jake was hoisting me to my feet and gave me a rough shove in the other direction. I ran, half-blind and disorientated, not knowing and not caring where I was supposed to be going.

‘Go left!’ Jake yelled from behind. There was no doubt that the Dream-Snatcher, and her friend, would be launching themselves over the fence by now. We just had to keep going.

‘Straight on!’ he commanded as we reached a crossroads. I staggered into another side street, running on.

‘We need to get to...the others,’ he insisted, out of breath behind me. The pain was excruciating in my shoulder, and I could see blood running in miniature red rivers down my arm. Nevertheless, I pressed on against the darkness that threatened to consume me.

‘Down there!’ Jake shrieked. I looked round to him, almost losing my balance in the process, and saw him pointing left.

There was a staircase leading into a subway.

Without hesitation, we hurried frantically into Dreamer territory—we seemed to have lost the Dream-Snatchers for now, and I all but collapsed on the ground. Before I hit the floor, though, Jake shoved me forward, pushing me down a corridor. My instinct was to protest—I was definitely losing too much blood here—but I ran on all the same. He took the lead, seeming to know where to go.

‘Simeon!’ he called out. ‘Rina!’

‘Jake?’ The voice was distant, coming from further down the corridor perhaps. Spurred on with renewed energy, I charged the remaining distance, following Jake through an archway into a small chamber.

Tim!’ It was Rina, but I could barely make her out anymore. I was already falling, but somehow her arms were all around me before I could hit the ground. ‘What happened? Jake—what’s going on?’

The voices around me were beginning to grow distorted. ‘He was shot. Come on—help me mop up the blood—Simeon, what happened to you?’ Jake sounded worried and unusually frantic and illogical. He was hurrying about, and his face was in front of me.

‘We need water,’ I heard him announce urgently. ‘Simeon...?’

Even though the world was slowly spinning, I could see that Simeon was injured. He was covered in a mixture of mud and blood, and the wound in his arm from earlier on was beginning to look rather unpleasant.

‘There’s water in the car,’ Rina was saying, but she looked uncertain. I looked to Jake, and he was shaking his head.

‘We can’t go back there, not whilst the police are still in the vicinity,’ he said. ‘Tonight we’ll just have to manage on our own.’ I didn’t say anything, but it was obvious that this was not going to be an easy task by any means. The bonds of friendship that existed between us all were already wearing too thin for a situation like this to go by without incident.
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Sorry that the updates are becoming more and more irregular - I could've sworn that I posted a new chapter two or three days ago, but apparently not. :/