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Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run

Chasing a Dream


Walking to the kitchen, I wanted desperately to ask Rina about her and Tim, but nerves got the better of me. As I watched her open one of the fridges and examine it for anything that could be eaten without being cooked first, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like if she had chosen me. Of course I would never do anything to jeopardise her and Tim’s relationship—love was the most beautiful thing in a world so drenched in hate—but it was a question that wouldn’t stop playing on my mind.

I’d always been unlucky in love. I was now twenty-five years old, and I was still yet to have a proper, long-term girlfriend. There had been a girl back at medical school who I’d been seeing for six months, but that was just about it. If I still lived in the real world, we’d have probably married—everyone had to be married by the age of thirty under the Realisten government, or else they’d have passed their chance and be alone for the rest of their life, and more than likely be put to work for twelve hours a day, six days a week, and no one wanted that. But I had ended up with the Dreamers less than a year ago, and since then, there had been no one. I had many friends; lots of whom I was very close to, but never anyone who was going to become anything more.

And when I had met Rina, although we had been half-dead and barely thinking, we got on so well, so quickly, that I had considered that maybe, just maybe, something good could have come out of my stint in the Institution.

And then she met Tim. And even though she had known him for little more than a week, they already seemed closer than I had been with any girl in years.

‘There isn’t much in here,’ Rina said, shocking me back to reality. ‘Most of it needs cooking, and I don’t know about you, but I can’t be bothered.’ She moved across the room and I could see how she was limping slightly. I knew she’d hurt her leg last night. I desperately wanted to be able to help her, but if she’d twisted an ankle or pulled a muscle, there was nothing I could really do.

She had cheered up a little since we’d been in Chicago, but she still looked exhausted. We all wanted nothing more than to sleep, but it was getting on for eleven o’clock, and we were also starving hungry. Chances were, I wouldn’t be in bed before midnight. And then Simeon would have us up at the break of dawn to head off which, as much as I agreed with the plan of travelling for as much of the day as possible, was really annoying. I just wanted to sleep for twelve hours straight for one night. Once we were in the car, I would be too wide awake, and then I’d have to wait until tomorrow night.

‘Check the store cupboard,’ Rina suggested whilst I stood there, watching her.

I had more luck in the cupboard—there was an unopened bag of bread rolls and a packet of biscuits, which I took. Then, I took a second packet for the road tomorrow. Rina found some empty bottles and filled them with water, and only after having my first sip did I realise how thirsty I was. I drank an entire bottle in one go, relishing the cold taste—the only water I’d had for two days had been old and warm—and then filled it back up again to take back to the bedroom.

‘We’ve brought food!’ I said triumphantly, walking into the bedroom with my half of everything Rina and I had managed to grab.

‘Well, your mood has improved, hasn’t it,’ Simeon said grimly, staring at his hands as he sat on the end of the bed. My smile faded. I knew he was still pissed off with me. I hadn’t exactly been pleasant to be around all day.

After that, we ate in silence.

When dinner was over, I made it a priority to examine everyone’s wounds from last night. Going to the medical room with Tim, I managed to extract the bullet from his shoulder, clean the wound, and bandage it up. All of it was, of course, amidst lots of unnecessary screams, gasps and bursts of profanity.

Then I checked Simeon over. Although he didn’t moan like Tim, he was an even harder patient, because I could see that he was angry with me. I cleaned all his wounds; the bigger ones and the smaller ones; with antiseptic solution. It turned out that none of them seemed to have been infected by the dirt anyway; it must have just been a rare burst of luck. Sadly, there wasn’t a lot I could do about Rina and her injured leg.

I wandered off to find a bathroom, which took me nearly fifteen minutes to locate. I showered, realising we’d be pushed for time in the morning, and changed into some joggers and a t-shirt that I could sleep in. I passed Simeon coming into the bathroom as I left, giving him nothing but a passing nod, and then went back to the bedroom.

I practically fell onto the bed, and was nearly asleep when Simeon came back in, not exactly making a huge attempt to be quiet. He switched the lamp beside his bed on, making me jolt up in shock, and dumped his bag down with a thud.

‘You couldn’t tone it down a bit, could you?’ I demanded irritably. Sleep was calling me, but I was being deprived.

‘Well I’m sorry,’ he said, his voice thickly laced with sarcasm. ‘’Cause everything’s got to be perfect for Jake, hasn’t it?’

‘Fuck off.' Hopefully the words were barely audible. I rolled over to face the grey wall, pulling the quilt up over my head.

After that, though, it was useless. I couldn’t sleep. Simeon switched out the light, and I could hear him begin snoring quietly after barely ten minutes, but I had to lie there, tortured slowly as I watched the digital clock counting away the minutes until morning. One o’clock...one thirty...two o’clock. Why couldn’t I sleep?

In the end, I got up. Half walking, half shuffling to the bathroom, I switched the light on and stared at my peaky face in the mirror for ten minutes, just for something to do. I examined the bags under my eyes, which seemed to be growing darker every day.

When I got back to the bedroom, it was nearly half two. If anything, I felt more awake, so I figured I’d check the times that planes were flying out of Washington DC. There were only a few a day, most of them cargo planes, though we were about as likely to sneak onto one of them as we were to a normal plane and, as we were unlikely to get there for mid-afternoon tomorrow, I looked at the ones departing the day after; on May 30th.

For once, luck was on our side. There was a cargo plane to Paris at eleven o’clock in the morning. Or, better still, there was one to Berlin’s Brandenburg airport at eight in the evening.

I was ecstatic, until I realised that it was nearly three am. I had to go to bed. That gave me approximately three hours, and that was assuming I got to sleep immediately.

After that, sleep came quicker, but it seemed to be in the blink of an eye that I was being jolted awake.

‘We’ve got to go,’ Simeon said as I rolled over, moaning. Normally, I would be the one waking everyone up, but today I was just so tired. Glancing at the clock, I saw that it was just before six am. So, I’d had less than three hours sleep, despite being exhausted for days on end.

‘It’s six in the morning,’ I commented unpleasantly.

‘I know,’ he said, ‘and it’s a twelve hour drive to Washington DC. Plus we’ve got to allow for getting lost.’

‘There are no planes to Europe today,’ I told him. ‘And then tomorrow, the flight to Berlin isn’t until six in the evening. So we’re in no rush.’

‘We’d still better get there early, just to be on the safe side.' It was a sensible statement, but he said it so grumpily that I just wanted to ignore him. Or rather, I just wanted to go back to bed.

When Simeon went off to see if there was anything we could have for breakfast, I went into Tim and Rina’s room. They were sitting there, both looking as exhausted and angry as I was sure I was.

‘What is wrong with him?’ Tim huffed disdainfully.

‘He’s chasing a dream,’ Rina said suddenly, her tired eyes brimming with tears. ‘If Europe isn’t what he expects it to be...then what? We’re all going to suffer.’

Suddenly, we all realised that it was true. What could Europe really offer us that America couldn’t, besides an extra chance at the Institution? And even then, once they got word of what was happening over here, they’d start doing it too.

‘We’re running away,’ Tim said bitterly. ‘We’d do a better job of fighting if we actually stayed in the right country. And I can’t take any more of this.’

‘How will we even get through the airport anyway?’ Rina asked. In truth, I hadn’t thought of that. ‘If it’s a cargo plane, then how can we expect to get through unnoticed?’

‘There’s a passenger plane to London in the morning,’ I said, but I knew my argument was weak. ‘We could pretend we’re getting on that—it’s for government officials only, of course, going over to discuss how they invaded the London base, but we can pretend...’ It was so pathetic I didn’t even bother finishing. Rina was right. It was something that I had so stupidly overlooked, but getting through the airport was potentially our biggest hurdle yet.


When I returned to the room, my arms full of bread and fruit and near enough anything that could be eaten cold, my energy was suddenly stripped from me. I was staring into the faces of three hopeless people.

My smile faded. ‘What’s this?’

The three of them turned and glanced at each other. They looked like they wanted to say something, but were perhaps too afraid.

That was when I knew things were really bad.

Rina looked at me, those big, glassy blue eyes of hers wide and terrified.

‘Is it really worth it, Simeon?’ she asked, looking as if she dreaded having to speak every word.

‘What?' For a moment I was confused. 'Of course it’s worth it,’ I insisted, suddenly scared.

‘We all kind of feel the same,’ Tim interjected. ‘What’s the use in getting to Europe when there are still so many Dreamer colonies over here? Why don’t we just stay in Chicago for a bit?’

‘Well you do that then!’ I snapped, bitterness overflowing from my mouth, shocking everyone, even myself. ‘You go back to Mexico, Jake! Rina, you run along back to your Oregon friends. And you stay here in fucking Chicago, Tim! I don’t get that choice. My base was invaded. Everyone I know is either dead, locked up, or on the run like we are!’

They were stunned into silence. Eventually, kind-hearted Rina, the warmest, most loving person I had ever met, spoke out.

‘They’ll have gone somewhere else,’ she said. ‘They won’t all be in trouble. They’ll have gone to LA, or Arizona, or Oregon, or maybe even Jake’s base in north Mexico. What they won’t be doing is what we’re doing.’

I hated arguing with a person like her, but sometimes you had to fight if you wanted to get anywhere in life.

‘I don’t get it,’ I said, my anger waning but still there. ‘You’re all Dreamers. And what I have is a dream: a dream to get to Europe. And I’m simply chasing that dream. Is that so bad?’

‘You’re chasing shadows, Simeon!’ Jake cried. ‘You’re running after this dream, but you’re never gonna catch up with it!’

I looked at them all in disgust. How could they?

‘If we stay here,’ I explained, my voice low as I forced it to stay calm, ‘we’ll all be Operated on one day, whether it’s now or in ten years time. And I won’t live my life fearing that. At least if we head over to Europe we stand a chance. The Institution is one thing: we all have one more chance left. A guaranteed Operation is entirely different. And I won’t risk it. But at the same time, I won’t let it scare me into silencing my own dreams and living a life in the shadows. I’m going to Europe, even if none of you are coming with me.’

I strode out, and heard whisperings spring up behind me. Right now, I didn’t care what they were saying. I just had to get away.
♠ ♠ ♠
'love was the most beautiful thing in a world so drenched in hate.' - I think that's my third favourite Dreamer line of all time. (Well, of the things I've written so far.)