‹ Prequel: Hurricane Heart
Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run



We had stood there for too long, just staring. Only now did it fully dawn on me that we were never going to see either of them again.

Eventually, Tim persuaded me to go back to the car. Reluctantly, I turned away from the doors and began walking the short distance across the car park.

We were only a few steps away from the car when I heard a sudden cry and heavy footsteps from behind me.

I knew that voice.

Whipping round, my heart lurching and my breath catching in my throat, I saw Jake pounding towards me, breathless and eyes wide.

The shock of seeing him knocked all my strength out of me.

Why was he here?

And why was he alone?

‘Jake?’ I cried, stepping towards him.

‘Get to the car!’ he ordered, shouting wildly and charging towards us.

‘What’s going on?’ I asked as he slowed beside us, throwing the door open and jumping in.

‘They’ve got Simeon.’

‘What?’ Tim and I both cried.

‘They’ve got Simeon,’ Jake repeated. ‘Now get in the car!’

We ran to the other doors without argument, jumping in and letting Jake slam down on the accelerator.

‘What are they doing with him?’ I screamed from the back seat over the engine’s roar. ‘Where are we going?’

‘They mentioned Hartnett,’ Jake said raggedly.


‘They’re taking him to the Run,’ Tim confirmed in a low voice.

NO!’ I shrieked. It was so sudden and so loud that Jake nearly crashed the car as he sped out of the car park. ‘They can’t! Jake—‘

‘They can,’ he said, his voice grim. ‘And they will.’

‘We have to help him!’ I cried in desperation.

‘What do you think I’m doing?’ he demanded, slamming on the steering wheel so that I flinched. ‘They said they were taking him to a car. There’s another parking lot round the other side of the terminal. They’ll be going there. We have to find them so that we can follow them!’

We sped down the long road that led round the terminal, and Jake slammed on the brakes when we reached the second car park.

Then we waited.

I could see people leave the building in the distance; three of them. From here, it was hard to tell, but it seemed as if the one in the middle; the only one not dressed in black; was slumped and stiff.

‘They’ve sedated him,’ Jake said, confirming my thoughts.

‘What do we do?’ I cried frantically.

‘We follow them to this so-called compound,’ Jake said. ‘Then we...’

‘Then we fight our way in and break him out whatever the cost,’ said Tim in a low growl. He sounded so deadly that, as dangerous as it was, I didn’t dare argue with him.

‘It’s not going to be easy,’ Jake said, watching as Simeon was hoisted onto the back seat of a car. ‘We don’t even have any weapons!’

‘Oh, but we do,’ Tim said with a sinister smile. We both turned to him. I was about to ask what on earth he was on about when he produced a small gun from his pocket.

‘You were carrying a gun in public?’ Jake exploded. ‘And what the hell were you gonna do if we were caught?’

‘Only since this morning,’ Tim said, defending himself.

That stopped Jake. ‘Why?’

‘Even if we weren’t planning on coming with you, we had to protect you somehow,’ Tim said. ‘We weren’t abandoning you.’

This caught Jake off guard, but he was roused when the large black car across the other side of the car park started up.

‘Come on,’ he said, edging forward. ‘They’re moving.’

We followed the car, which travelled ridiculously fast, down the highway round the outskirts of the city. We stayed close enough behind not to lose them, but not so close that we became suspicious.

And then, they turned off into a side road concealed by trees.

‘Wait a moment,’ I murmured. We waited ten seconds before taking the same turning and following them down the road.

And then, turning a corner, we came across a heavily guarded barrier.

‘Oh fuck it,’ Jake muttered. As a soldier strode towards the car, Jake hastily rolled down his window.

‘Sorry,’ he said when the soldier looked in. ‘Wrong turning.’ The guard fixed him with a hostile glare, and mumbled something unintelligible, waving us on our way. Without another word, Jake reversed back until there was space to turn, and then hastily did an about turn and hurried back out to the main road.

‘What now?’ Tim asked as we parked the car just beside the side road.

‘We go on foot.’

Armed with nothing but Tim’s gun between us, we left the car by the roadside and began running through the trees, careful to stay far enough away from the road in that we wouldn’t be noticed by the soldiers.

It was well over a mile into the compound; we must have walked for more than half an hour by the time the trees thinned and we came to a small clearing.

And we were faced with a concrete wall at least twelve feet high.


Waking up in a small, white cell, it only took me a moment to remember exactly what had happened.

In despair, I sank back into the hard, concrete-like ‘bed’ that was attached to the far wall of my cell. It was the only piece of furniture in here.

I groaned loudly in anger. How had I not seen that guard’s trap? How had I been so stupid? In my frustration, I punched the wall hard, wincing in pain. Then I punched it again. Then I clawed at my hair viciously.

The door slid open.

‘Alright, Stryder,’ the security guard said coolly. He watched me with mild interest until I had calmed down, and then gestured at me to get up. It was like being in the Institution again.

Only this was worse. This time, there was no exit after six months. This time, I was either dead, or in for the Operation.

I had been so angry since waking up, but now all the fear came flooding back to me. I couldn’t deny for one moment that I was terrified.

Getting up, my energy suddenly dissipating, I moved towards the door. I had been unconscious when they’d brought me in, so I knew nothing about my surroundings. Glancing around, the corridor, which was all stark white and spotless and brightly lit to the point where it felt clinical, was lined with doors similar to mine.

Some kind of high-tech prison, then.

This really was like another Institution.

I was ordered onwards, through the prison, with the guard’s oversized gun pointing into my side at all times. There was nowhere to go. There was no way out. With any luck, I’d be spared my brain, but what were the chances of that? I was looking straight at the Operation, for sure.

We walked silently through more corridors, and up a flight of stairs, then another, and through some more corridors. Everything was bright and either white or metallic, and the lights had an ever so slightly blue tint. Furniture was virtually non-existent, and when I did come across some; a chair, a table, a lamp, it was all minimalistic and as blank as the spotless walls surrounding me. Whatever this compound was, it was huge.

At last I was nudged through some metal double doors and into a wide corridor. We were clearly several floors up and, whilst the right hand side of the corridor was as plain as any of them, the left hand wall was entirely made of glass, and from here, you could look down into the heart of the building. We were in some kind of gallery, and down below was a factory like room, full of machines and technology and computers and people working in every way imaginable, all of them wearing identical white suits.

‘Where are we?’ I asked, curiosity just about overcoming my fear. I received no response.

The corridor curved slightly to the left, encircling the wide room below, and as we continued round about a third of the way, we came across three people standing, watching the people down on the ground floor. Two were wearing plain white suits identical to those worn by all of the workers below, and another was a woman in a slightly more stylish, grey suit. When she turned to me, I realised I recognised her.

‘Hello, Mr Stryder,’ she said. Smiling falsely, it clicked where I recognised her from—I’d seen her interviewed on TV on numerous occasions.

Janice Hartnett.

‘Hello,’ I replied curtly. Inside, my mind was whirring fiercely. Janice Hartnett...did that mean we were at the scene of the Maze?

‘Now, Mr Stryder,’ Hartnett continued, her vibrant eyes staring at me. As I looked into them, I noticed they were a particularly strong shade of brown; almost with an orange tint to them. They couldn’t be contacts—that would go against everything she worked for—but I’d never seen anyone with eyes quite like them. Combined with her dark brown hair, pale skin, sharp features and above average height, she gave off a striking impression. ‘It seems that you have been causing quite a disturbance around our country.’

I smirked. I liked the fact that I was causing a so-called ‘disturbance.’ It was more than any of the other American Dreamers were doing, anyway.

She glared at me. ‘I wouldn’t be so proud if I were you. You haven’t exactly succeeded with your little adventures, have you?’

I shrugged. ‘If I’ve helped to keep the dream alive, I’ve succeeded.’

Her gaze lingered on me for a little too long before she eventually replied with ‘if you say so, Mr Stryder,’ in a very curt fashion. ‘Now, under normal procedures, you would be on your way to the nearest Institution in Pittsburgh at this very moment, and you would be kept there until doctors are ready to perform the Operation on you.’

‘So, what am I here for?’ I asked.

She smiled in a way that suggested she was patronising me. ‘This is a government compound, Mr Stryder,’ she said, shaking her head. ‘This is where the Maze takes place.’

‘So, you want me to take part in Martyr’s Run?’ I asked, loving how she almost seemed to flinch at the Dreamers’ name for the Maze.

‘I do, yes,’ she said.

I saw a light at the end of my tunnel. ‘And what’s in it for me?’

I asked so abruptly that it took her a moment to come up with a reply; she clearly hadn’t expected my rather abrasive form of communication.

‘Mr Stryder, there’s nothing in it for you,’ she said, shaking her head in disbelief.

‘So what happens if I win? Do I get to miss out on the Operation?’

‘Of course not,’ she said, sounding shocked. Clearly, she hadn’t thought this through.

‘Then why should I do it?’ I challenged.

‘Well, we’ll give you a chance to appeal for your freedom,’ she said. ‘The other rebels aren’t even getting that opportunity.’

I smirked. ‘That isn’t a prize. I haven’t seen any of my family for the best part of six years. Do you really think they’re gonna care about me enough to put their positions in society on the line? And when has a Dreamer ever won an appeal? It must be decades since that last happened.’

‘Well, that’s your loss, Mr Stryder,’ she said. ‘Now, we’re airing in a little under two hours—‘

‘What if I refuse though?’ I didn’t even let her finish. The permanent frowns that sat on the guards’ faces remained set in stone, but I could detect intrigue behind their eyes.

‘Refuse?’ Hartnett asked in disbelief, looking to the silent men on either side of her. ‘You can’t refuse!’

I made eye contact with her, daring her to look away.

‘Of course I can,’ I said firmly. ‘You just watch me.’
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So sorry about my lack of updates recently! I would really love to receive some more comments though, I don't even know if anyone's still reading this anymore. I really hope they are, and that I'm not just posting this for the sake of it. :/