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Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run

Madness

Tim

‘I think we hurt him,’ Rina murmured as soon as Simeon was out of earshot.

I shrugged. ‘The truth hurts.’

Desperate for some kind of reassurance, she wound her fingers into mine, holding onto my hand tightly. She looked into my eyes, hoping for...I didn’t know what...but she didn’t seem to find it.

Jake was staring out the door.

‘I’ll go,’ he said.

‘Sorry,’ Rina said, untangling her hand from mine abruptly. ‘You stay, Jake. I didn’t mean to make you feel awkward.’ She laughed delicately, but I could detect the frantic fear behind it; the tone that suggested she was mere seconds from breaking down completely.

‘No, I mean I’ll go to Europe,’ he announced quietly.

We both turned to stare at him.

‘You what?’

‘I’m not letting him go alone,’ Jake said. ‘He’ll kill himself!’

‘Jake—‘ I began. As much as the guy irritated me, I was not going to let him walk to his own death.

‘I don’t care what either of you say,’ Jake said, cutting me off. He was not angry; he was merely passionate. But that passion was enough to silence me. ‘I’m going.’

‘But you were against it a moment ago,’ Rina protested, her voice shrill, beginning to panic. ‘You agreed with us that it was a crazy idea. I won’t let you go, Jake.’

‘I have to,’ he said. ‘Sim’s right. If we stay here, we’ll be Operated on.’

‘Not necessarily,’ I said. ‘They still have to catch us first.’

‘If we go out, they’ll catch us,’ he said, his voice remaining calm, which somehow made his words all the more meaningful. ‘Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe in ten years time. But it will happen. I tried to overlook it; to think like you’re thinking, but it’s no use. It will happen. I’d rather chase a dream than just watch it get out of my reach completely.’

‘Then we’re coming too,’ Rina decided.

‘Since when?’ I cried.

‘Simeon won’t go alone,’ she said, looking at me with those eyes that would make me cross oceans to reach. ‘That’s why I wasn’t worried when he stormed off. But if Jake goes too, then they’ll go together, and they’ll end up getting caught.’

‘Then so will we,’ I said.

‘There’ll be twice as many of us,’ she said.

‘Twice as many people to see.’

‘Or twice as many people to fight.'

I rolled my eyes. ‘Rina, you were against this whole thing from the start. What’s changed?’

‘Jake’s right,’ she said. ‘And Sim’s right. They’re the cleverest and the bravest people I’ve ever met—working out a way to escape, and then having the guts to go through with it.’

As much as I hated it, she was also right. But five minutes ago, we had all said that we were going to quit this insanity whilst we still could. And for just the briefest moment, it had seemed possible—likely, even—that I would get to go back to Utah and see all my friends again.

‘It’s dangerous,’ I told her. ‘It’s suicidal.’

‘So is staying here.'

‘You agreed with me five minutes ago!’ I said, feeling irrationally betrayed. ‘You were the one who told Simeon how we were all feeling.’

‘And then Jake said he was going, and I realised I couldn’t leave them,’ she said, clutching at my hand. It was as if Jake was no longer in the room.

‘So you’re going because of him?’ I asked, hurt.

‘No!’ she cried. ‘I’m going because of all of us. I’m going for the sake of our freedom.’

‘It’s a mistake,’ I said. ‘If we go, we can’t come back. Possibly not ever. And things over there will get worse, just like they have done over here.’ It was all too much. This entire journey had been in a downward spiral ever since we began, and just by getting to Europe it wouldn’t necessarily get any better.

She held my hand tighter, pulling me closer.

‘I’m not going without you,’ she whispered.

‘Well I’m not going.’ She could be stubborn, but I could rise above it. I wasn’t giving in.

‘Tim—‘

‘I mean it,’ I said adamantly. ‘We’ll go to the airport with them, if you like. That way, we can look out for them—we can be their bodyguards if that’s what you want. But I’m not getting on that plane. That is, if it’s even possible to get on it. Chances are, they’ll be caught whilst they’re trying to sneak on with the crates of food.’

‘We’ll go to the airport then,’ she said, and she looked torn.

‘Then you can decide,’ I told her. ‘Stay with me, or go with them.’

‘You mean, you’re really not coming?’ Jake asked, aghast. ‘I just thought—‘

‘I don’t change my mind so lightly,’ I said. ‘What I said this morning, I meant. I meant it more deeply than any of you two possibly could have done. This is all madness! I was never sure about it.’

‘But you still agreed to come,’ Jake said, his tone accusing. ‘Why?’

I looked him in the eyes, feeling that sincerity was the only option. ‘Because I never realised it would be this hard.’

He turned away, which meant that there was no reply to what I’d said.

I got up. ‘I’ll be back in a minute,’ I announced. ‘Tell Simeon what’s going on.’

Rina was right that we should, at least, try and stop Simeon and Jake from getting killed. And I wanted to show that I was on their side. I was going to keep up the fight they had begun, even if it was only over here, in the States, where no one seemed to believe in the dream anymore.

‘So, Tim, what’s up?’ asked Zav as I walked in. Even though it was not even seven am, he was already in his study, freshly washed and dressed.

‘I was wondering, Zav,’ I began unusually apprehensively, ‘if I could borrow a gun.’

‘A gun?’

‘Well, not borrow as such,’ I admitted hastily. ‘I mean, I probably won’t be coming back here anytime in the near future.’

‘Uh, sure,’ he said. ‘What kind of gun?’

I shrugged. ‘Anything small. And anything that kills.’

***

It was long since dark by the time we arrived on the outskirts of Washington DC, but Simeon and Jake both cheered ecstatically as we passed the sign welcoming us in. Rina cheered a little too, but it faded rapidly when she realised that I had barely managed a smile.

The journey had been quiet all day. Things had changed beyond repair, but I didn’t regret my decision. If I had a sudden change of heart by tomorrow morning, then I would be able to go. But more than likely, I wouldn’t. My only task now was to convince Rina to stay with me. If Simeon and Jake were captured or killed during their attempts to escape, it would be sad, undoubtedly. But if Rina died, it would be a tragedy. I would be unlikely to ever get over it.

And yet, I’d heard the cliché too many times: “if you love someone, you have to let them go.” Did that mean I had to let Rina go? Did it mean that, if I convinced her to stay with me, I didn’t love her as much as I thought I did?

All I knew was that I needed her. After knowing each other for just one week, I knew that I wanted to be with her a hundred times more than I had ever wanted another girl before. If she really said she was going, would I have the heart to watch her disappear through the sliding doors of Dulles International Airport?

‘Where are we staying tonight?’ Rina asked, even though she was the one driving. All the tensions of yesterday and this morning seemed to have dissipated and everyone, even me, to an extent, was in a much better mood than they had been in for days.

‘Just keep driving,’ Simeon said. ‘If I see a hotel, I’ll shout.’

Simeon shouted—quite literally, in fact, which made us all laugh—less than ten minutes later, and so we pulled up to the tall, skyscraper hotel and went to book two rooms.

It was not yet nine o’clock. That gave me a good two hours before Rina insisted we had to get a decent night's sleep to try and convince her to change her mind.

Or for her to convince me to change mine.
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Gah, it's getting good now! And it's (hopefully) only going to get more exciting!