‹ Prequel: Hurricane Heart
Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run

A Place to Stay


Thankfully, I had Carl. Grabbing the laptop from the boot, I turned it on before anyone could complain. I needed to ask him to get us some directions into the Chicago base before the others realised I had no clue where I was going.

‘Hey, Simeon,’ he chirped far too cheerfully as he arrived on screen. It was probably the middle of the night over in Germany, but I wasn’t in the mood for being considerate.

‘Hey,’ I replied, forcing a smile.

The other three fell silent, glancing over. Having sat picking at rations and bickering amongst themselves, they hadn’t even noticed me loading up the internet.

‘What are you doing?’ Jake asked. ‘We need to get back on the move.’

‘Just give me a moment!’ I snapped shortly.

Carl’s slightly irritating smile faded. ‘Are you guys alright?’

‘Depends what you mean by alright,’ I replied glumly, launching into a brief but painful account of last night.

‘Wow, that’s a hell of a lot of running,’ he commented when I finished, clearly looking for something to say.

‘Yup,’ I agreed grimly. ‘Anyway, we’re stopping in Chicago tonight, but I need some directions to the base.’

‘You mean you don’t know where we’re going?’ Tim demanded. When I looked at him, I realised he really was a bomb ready to explode.

‘I’ve never been to Chicago,’ I told him flatly, trying not to get irritated. ‘Why would I know the way into the base anymore than the rest of you?’

‘Okay, I’ll look it up for you,’ Carl announced, still looking too happy for my liking. As annoying as it was, though, I appreciated it—the last thing I needed was to talk to another miserable person. I had enough of them with me. I was probably no better, in fairness, but I had at least been trying.

Five tense minutes passed. Tim began pacing, looking increasingly infuriated as every second ticked by. Jake was on the edge of his virtual seat, tensed up and ready to go. He wasn’t happy about being out in the open and discussing Dreamer locations like this. Rina just looked bored—days of not enough sleep and injury and hunger and boredom were catching up with her fast. Rather than exploding like Tim though, she just looked ready to implode; to destroy herself and have a complete breakdown. There had been times over the last couple of days when I’d looked at her and could have sworn that she was fighting back tears. I was treading on very thin ice around all three of them, ready to fall through a crack at any moment. And then I would be drowning.

When Carl announced he had the directions up on screen, I breathed a subconscious sigh of relief. I wasn’t as angry as Tim—I tended to take bad moods out on myself rather than other people when I could—but I was just as eager to keep going as Jake. Right from the day we began, I’d been the one refusing to stop overnight and being reluctant to take detours and being desperate to go faster. That feeling had never left; it had just been put aside recently after being hunted by Dream-Snatchers and having to fight for our lives.

‘So,’ Carl began explaining, ‘when you reach the outskirts of the city, you need to keep west—‘ he stopped talking abruptly, staring at something next to him that I couldn’t see.

‘What?’ I asked in alarm.

‘I just realised the time,’ he said. ‘I’ve got to go.’


‘Hurricane has summoned me,’ he said, putting on a dramatic performance. ‘I said I’d meet her tonight. Sounds like a lot’s been going on.’

Hurricane again. This mysterious, intriguing woman who I still knew such limited amounts about. ‘What’s she done now?’

‘I don’t even know anymore,’ Carl sighed in dismay. ‘Killed some Soulless. Outrun the police. Saved Arjan from imminent death. Did I tell you she jumped out of a window the other day?’

‘Yeah, you mentioned it,’ I laughed.

Jake looked over in disbelief. ‘You’re not wasting our time chatting about that bloody woman again, are you?’

‘I’m not wasting time,’ I said, glaring at him. He was really pushing me today. ‘I’m as eager to get going as anyone.’

‘Then why aren’t we doing 150 kilometres per hour in the fast lane of the highway?’ Tim demanded. He was annoying me too. I could feel my temper rising.

‘Because, if you actually want to sleep in a proper bed tonight, we need to find out how to get into Chicago!’ I snapped, standing up abruptly so that I didn’t have to sit there looking up at them. I was taller than both of them, and I imagined my expression looked pretty deadly right now.

‘And what’s Hurricane got to do with Chicago?’ Rina challenged. She was so rarely confrontational that it shocked me, but she looked so ready to fall apart right now that her words had more feeling than any of the others’ rants.

‘All that happened,’ I said, speaking slowly so that I didn’t lose it completely, clutching at my hair, ‘is that Carl said he needed to go. And I asked why. And he said that Hurricane wanted to see him.’

‘Then why didn’t you leave it there?’ Tim demanded. He looked down at the screen where Carl was sitting, looking rather on edge, watching us. ‘How do we get to the Chicago base, Carl?’

Carl reeled off a long list of instructions. At least this took Jake out of our argument; it was his job to listen to Carl while the rest of us stood there glaring at one another.

‘And then you should be there,’ I heard Carl say. ‘Anyway, gotta go. Bye guys!’

Either he was trying to lighten the mood for us, or he was just simply an idiot.

‘We’re going now too,’ said Jake, and I could hear resentment in his voice. He closed the internet and slammed the laptop shut before Carl had even left his desk on the other end.

‘Come on then,’ I said bitterly. ‘Get in the fucking car.’

I drove this time; talking to Carl had at least woken me up a bit. No one spoke, but the tension was so thick that even a knife would have had trouble cutting it.

By the time we arrived in Chicago, it was well into the evening, and when we located the skyscraper in which the base was partially located, it was long since dark. Exhausted, angry and in downright awful moods, we all waded through the sparkling city night towards the back door of the building. Heading down into the basement, there was a tunnel leading right into a World War Three bunker, which in turn led to one of the smaller base entrances.

On the other side of the door, it was deserted. That made sense; most unguarded Dreamer base doors were deserted on the other side. It would usually deter unwanted enemies. But we knew where we were meant to be going, so we walked on through the labyrinthine underworld of Chicago; a web of interlocking tunnels similar to the one built underneath every city in case nuclear war should ever break out. It had been an all-too real possibility for our ancestors.

Arriving at the base’s hub, we were, understandably, given a few strange glances. Even though Chicago was a big base, with nearly three hundred rebels residing there, four new faces would always attract attention.

With my mood, though, I wanted nothing more than to scream at every wide-eyed face in the room that they should learn to mind their own business. I could see Tim growing restless beside me, and Rina looked hugely uncomfortable. As someone called out to us across the room, I saw her slip her hand inside Tim’s. Was that where they were now, then? It seemed I had missed out on this one bit of supposedly good news in the downward spiral that was our journey.

‘Who’re you?’ a voice demanded. I noticed the gun quickly enough.

‘We’re Dreamers,’ I said curtly. ‘We’re travelling. We just want somewhere to stay the night.’

‘Right,’ the man said, eyeing us all with suspicion. ‘You don’t look like Dreamers.’

‘You think we haven’t been told that enough already?’ Tim snapped.

‘Sorry,’ Jake said, the only one who seemed to be able to contain his manners, though I could see the sarcasm in even his voice. ‘We’ve had a long day.’

Rather reluctantly, the guard, whose name I learnt was Callum, took us to see the Chicagoan leader, who chose to go by the name of Zav. He was one of the youngest Dreamer leaders I’d ever met or heard of, probably no older than me, and a surprisingly nice guy. Therefore, by the time we left his office with directions to some spare bedrooms and to the kitchen, I was in a considerably better mood. He apologised that we had already missed the dinner hour, but said we could help ourselves to anything that we could be bothered to go and find ourselves.

Jake and I shared tonight. Whilst last night it had probably been Rina’s choice to share with Tim, tonight it felt more like we had saved ourselves and dropped her in the deep end. She was the only person who would be able to deal with him. If Jake or I had to spend a night with him, only one person would emerge alive the following morning.

Jake and Rina went to search for some food, both to eat now and to take away, and almost absent-mindedly, I loaded up the laptop. As harsh as it sounded, I didn’t care that it was four o’clock in the morning over there; I needed to talk to someone. I had to prove to myself that there was still some sanity left in this world.

Carl was either still out or asleep, so for a moment, there was no one around. I sent out a message, which made the computer in Berlin beep loudly, announcing there was another rebel trying to contact them.

A moment later, a pale, black haired man walked in. He looked tired, but was wearing jeans and a jacket, therefore suggesting I hadn’t just woken him up.

‘Hello?’ he asked to the screen.

‘Hey,’ I said, wondering how best to proceed. ‘Uh, I’m guessing Carl’s not around.’

‘No, he’s asleep,’ the man replied. Even from the few words he had spoken, I could tell that he was very definitely English.

‘Well, um, I’m calling from the Chicago base,’ I said, realising I should probably introduce myself.

‘Oh, are you the American guy that Carl was telling me about?’ the man asked, half smiling, his posh accent seeming to grow stronger.

‘Yeah, I guess.’

‘I’m Casper,’ the man announced, sounding more formal than most Dreamers I’d heard talk before.

‘Hey Casper, I’m Simeon.'

‘So you’ve found somewhere to stay for tonight,’ said Casper. ‘I heard you’d been having a bit of trouble over the past couple of nights.’

‘Yeah, we have,’ I said. ‘But we’re in the Chicago base now, so this is luxury compared to where we’ve been staying.’

Casper smirked, rubbing his eyes.

‘What time is it?’ I asked.

‘Four thirty in the morning,’ he replied, yawning.

‘You look bloody exhausted. Did I wake you up?’

‘No,’ he said, ‘I just went out for a walk. The base has been on lockdown for the past few days, so now the lockdown’s been lifted, I thought I’d make the most of it and go out. I only just got back.’

I was so jealous of those Europeans. When was the last time I’d just gone for a walk above ground for the sake of it?

‘Well, that’s good news,’ I commented, ‘that the lockdown’s been lifted. You got any more news?’

Casper thought for a moment. ‘Not really. All the Dreamers here have been laying low for the past few days, so nothing’s really happened. What about you? How’s America?’

‘It’s a shithole,’ I grumbled. ‘I want to hurry up and get to Europe already.’

‘You won’t be much longer though, will you?’ Casper said. ‘I mean, you’re already in Chicago. You’re not far away from Washington DC now.’

How come he knew so much about America? I scarcely even knew where Germany was, and the only German city I had ever heard of was Berlin. It wasn’t because I was stupid; it was just because, over here, we were almost only taught about American issues. What happened in the rest of the world apparently didn’t concern us. So, whilst the dream was dying in the USA, possibly past the point of revival, it seemed to be thriving in other parts of the world.

‘I hope we can get there soon,’ I said longingly.

‘Well, good luck to you.'

The conversation was making me increasingly depressed, so I changed the subject.

‘So, any news on Hurricane?’ I asked, wanting to catch up on what must be the most exciting story of the moment. Carl hadn’t mentioned why he was going out to meet her earlier, but it was probably important.

‘Oh God, you’re talking about Sonja now, are you?’ Casper asked, shaking his head in grief.


‘I dunno why everyone’s so enchanted by her,’ he said resentfully.

‘Well it sounds like something pretty important is going on her end.'

‘She’s just a moody, pretentious bitch if you ask me,’ Casper said, more bitterness in his voice than I could have imagined coming from a person like him. ‘Totally devoid of kindness and emotion.’

‘That’s not how I’ve heard it,’ I said, shocked at how much he seemed to dislike this intriguing girl. ‘From what I’ve heard, she’s risked everything to save this poor Dutch kid’s life time and time again. She sounds damn heroic.’

Casper just laughed.
♠ ♠ ♠
It's the return of Casper! Again. I know it happened already in Hurricane Heart, but I always get excited when old characters come back.