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Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run



The following morning; a bright, yet windy day, we exited the hotel as the four of us for what could be the last time. Getting in the car, we were all strangely silent. It was not a long drive to the airport, but it could have lasted forever. I’d suggested that we arrived for eleven o’clock, so that we could pretend to passport control that we were going on the government trip to London, which departed at one. Carl had said he’d do his best to try and work out a way of getting us on that plane. I knew he was skilled with computers, so I had to put some trust in him. It was the only passenger flight leaving Dulles International for three days, and it was taking the Minister of Policing and the Minister of Imagination Regulation and Control, as well as plenty of other staff, to have a meeting with the English government.

‘Government’ was a loose term these days. The president did what he or she wanted. And they employed a large team of Ministers and Executives to oversee different things. But, ultimately, no one but the president; in America’s case, Tamara Lomax, had any power.

The MIRC, Cameron Wallace, was, without a doubt, one of the most hated ministers. He was the one who helped invent Martyr’s Run. But ultimately, he’d have had no power to bring in the gameshow if John Kempton hadn't agreed to it.

That didn’t mean I despised him any less, though.

The airport had a large car park, but a lot of it was deserted. The only people who really needed to use it were the staff and the lorries that brought in stock to send off around the world. We drove up close to the terminal entrance, which was quiet for now apart from two men walking through the glass doors. Once they disappeared, we all left the car, and headed towards the same doors. As we got closer though, we all seemed to slow down, as though wanting to prolong our departure from everything we knew for as long as possible.

Simeon was the only person brave enough to approach the dreaded question.

‘So, are you coming?’

Tim and Rina just stared at us in silence. Then they glanced at each other. But I could see the sorrow in both of their eyes.

Rina slowly began to shake her head, and I felt my heart sink deeper than I thought it could possibly go.

‘No,’ she whispered. ‘No, we’re not.’

Simeon sighed heavily. ‘Well, it’s your decision. Just remember: it’s now or never.’

Tim nodded. ‘We know that.’

No one spoke for a moment. I felt empty. I felt like I had suddenly had a part of me torn away.

‘Well, good luck then,’ said Simeon, and his voice sounded hollow.

Rina practically leapt at him, throwing her arms around his neck.

‘Good luck to you too,’ she said, burying her head in his shoulder. It sounded like she was crying. ‘You’re gonna need it.’ She kissed him delicately on the cheek, and then moved far enough away that she could look at him properly.

‘We’ll see you again,’ Simeon assured her. ‘I promise.’

‘We’re gonna fight,’ Tim said, his eyebrows set low and stern over his face. ‘We’re not gonna give up until this thing’s over.’

Rina stepped sideways then, looking at me.

‘Jake,’ was all she said for a moment. Then she flung her arms around me as enthusiastically as she had done with Simeon, holding me close. She was crying properly now, the tears rolling down her cheeks. I rarely cried, but I really had to force the tears to stay down this time. It was so much harder than I’d expected.

‘I’ll miss you, Rina,’ I said, holding her tightly. She kissed me on the cheek.

‘I’ll miss you too.' She removed her hand just long enough to wipe her face. ‘You’re an amazing person, Jake.’

‘We’ll see each other again,’ I said, lost for words, so deciding to echo Simeon’s.

‘We will,’ she assured me. ‘I promise.’

She moved away then, leaving me facing Tim. For all the time we’d spent disliking each other, I suddenly realised I was really going to miss him. It didn’t matter that we’d shouted and argued and fought; we were still friends, in some strange way. And the thought that I might never see him again hurt a hundred times more than I’d expected.

‘Well, good luck Jake,’ he said, half smiling.

‘And you.' For a moment that seemed to last forever, we stood just staring at each other. And then, rather awkwardly, he threw his arms round me, giving me a small but friendly hug.

‘We’ll see you soon, man,’ he said, patting me on the back as he let go.

‘You keep fighting now,’ I told him.

‘Wouldn’t dream of anything else,’ he said with a smirk that hid his true feelings.

A taxi pulled up a short distance away at that moment, and Rina hastily wiped away her tears. If we were just going on a business trip, we’d be back in a week’s time. There would be no need for all the drama. We probably seemed rather suspicious right now.

And yet, I quite simply did not care.

‘We should go,’ said Simeon, glancing at the woman who got out. She was probably only one of the extras; a secretary or a helper, perhaps. Nevertheless, she glanced at us as she walked past in her tight business suit, through the sliding doors.

‘Come on, then,’ I said, and we turned towards the doors.

‘Good luck!’ Rina cried.

I turned as I stepped through the doors. ‘And to both of you,’ I said sincerely. I took one last look at both of them as they stood, holding hands, the tears streaking back down Rina’s face, before the sliding glass doors engulfed me completely.

‘Well,’ said Simeon, trailing off. I could see his eyes, red-rimmed and watery, trying to fight off the tears. ‘Have you got the passports?’

‘Yeah,’ I said, fumbling around for the fake ones we were given in Salt Lake City and holding them out. No longer were we Simeon Stryder and Jacob Montez; now we were Samson Stroud and Jack Montgomery. They were close enough to our real names for us to remember to be called by them, but not so close that we were likely to be suspected.

The large foyer was almost empty apart from the woman who had gone in before us, who was standing by passport control. First, we had to go and purchase tickets, which was an uncomfortable experience, as the woman so clearly suspected us. All the people who were on the government flight would already have tickets.

‘One pm to London, please,’ Simeon said. I left him to do the talking; he was much better at that kind of thing than I was.

‘Can I see your ID passes, please?’ she asked curtly.

Simeon handed her our ID cards, which matched the names on the passports.

‘No, your government ID cards, please,’ she said.

Shit. We’d forgotten about that.

‘Uh,’ said Simeon, feebly handing over our passports. ‘We were asked to come at the last minute. We didn’t have time to get government passes or anything.’

‘Right,’ she said, eyeing us and pursing her lips tightly together. She began tapping on her keyboard; I could see from the number of letters that she was typing in the name on my passport; Jack Montgomery.

Did we have time to make a run for it?

‘Oh, here we go, Mr Montgomery,’ she said suddenly, her tone brightening a little. ‘You’re on the database.’


As she began typing in Samson Stroud, Simeon and I exchanged a glance.

Carl. He mouthed to me.

Wow, the guy really was amazing with computers. He said he would help us—I hadn’t expected anything quite to this extent. Had he really managed to somehow hack the government database? I didn’t know how he even knew our fake names—I certainly didn’t remember showing him, although Simeon had been alone with him at times before. Could he have done it then?

I made a mental note that Carl was going to most definitely be my new best friend.

‘Very well,’ the woman said, printing off our tickets. ‘Here you go. Head right, and you will find passport control.’

‘Sure,’ Simeon said, smiling with relief. ‘Thanks.’

When we were far enough away from the desk, we both did some kind of silent cheer.

‘That’s insane!’ I whispered enthusiastically.

‘Come on,’ Simeon said, heading towards passport control.

The man sitting lazily at the desk had a stern face. Simeon went first, handing his passport over, and the man examined it closely, his gaze flickering between the picture on the passport and Simeon himself. It seemed to take too long.

‘Alright then,’ said the man, handing back the passport and tapping something into his computer with harsh, stubby fingers. ‘You seem to have been given last minute permission to leave the country. Off you go.’

‘Thanks,’ said Simeon, looking just as relieved as he had done when we’d managed to purchase our tickets. He stepped aside to allow me to step up to the desk. The man was looking at his computer for a moment, and then glanced at Simeon with mild disinterest.

‘I said off you go,’ he said curtly. ‘Up there, through the doors.’ Beyond the desk was a short corridor with a set of sliding glass doors at the other end.

Simeon glanced at me. ‘I’ll see you through there.’

I held out my passport and the man continued glancing at his computer as I waited with bated breath.

‘Mr Montgomery, your name is nowhere on this list,’ he said.

My legs seemed to buckle and my breath caught in my throat.

So Carl’s hacking skills weren’t as foolproof as I had hoped.

‘Are you sure?’ I asked, peering forward, trying not to show the intensity of my nerves. ‘And Samson’s is there?’

‘Yes,’ he said. He tapped some things into the computer and started clicking around. ‘May I ask what your purpose is on this trip?’
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So sorry I haven't posted for so long - my life has been rather hectic recently. Please comment!