‹ Prequel: Hurricane Heart
Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run

The Secret Compound


‘Give me a leg up,’ I suggested, looking at the wall as a challenge.

‘Are you mad?’ Jake hissed. ‘This is a government compound! They’re not merely going to be protected by a wall—there’ll be surveillance cameras and armed guards and it’s probably electrified—‘

‘Well we gotta get in there somehow,’ I said, cutting him off.

‘It’s suicide,’ he insisted.

‘Look, either we try and save Sim, or we don’t,’ I said, my passion making me sound aggressive.

‘We’ve got to find another way in,’ Jake protested.

‘Like what?’ I challenged. ‘What’s going to be easier?’

‘Please you two!’ Rina said in exasperation. ‘Just shut up for five minutes!’

Jake and I were both stunned into silence.

‘If we’re going to have a hope in hell of saving Simeon, we’re going to have to actually work together for once!’ she snapped.

Jake shrugged at me. ‘She has a point.’

‘Whatever,’ I muttered, not quite meeting his eyes, surveying the wall instead.

‘I just think—‘ he began, but I interrupted him again.

‘Look,’ I said, ‘surely anyone looking to break in would realise that they’ve got to be a bit more secretive than just climbing over the wall. It’s the most obvious thing in the world. So if we climb over, it’s exactly what they won’t expect. The guards won’t be prepared.’

Rina laughed. ‘Only you would even suggest that, Tim.’

Jake was surveying the wall, saying nothing. Did that mean I’d actually come up with a good idea?

‘Well, I guess there’s no harm in trying.’

‘Seriously?’ I couldn’t believe that he was even considering my idea; not to mention the fact that that kind of statement was very unlike Jake. After all, logically speaking, there was every bit of harm in trying. If we failed, we would either be shot, or thrown in an Institution to await the Operation.

But this was Simeon we were talking about. Simeon, who had fought until the very end to keep the dream alive.

We weren’t going to let it die now.

‘Come on then, guys,’ I said enthusiastically. I was ready for this. Of course I was scared, we were about to do something that no one in their right mind would even contemplate, but I was born a fighter, and I was going to stay that way. The dream wasn’t going to die. By doing this, we could prove that it still lived.

‘Well, give me a leg up then,’ I said to Jake.

Getting up proved to be harder than expected. Even with Jake helping me up, I couldn’t reach the top of the wall, which must have been twelve feet high or more, and had no visible footholds whatsoever.

In the end, after I fell clumsily on top of Jake in the dirt, we changed plans, wandering through the forest, round the compound perimeter until we came across a tree that had a large branch almost overhanging the wall. It didn’t quite reach, but I watched Jake almost enviously as he climbed it.. Carefully, he slid along the branch, which creaked a little but didn’t really bow, keeping low to avoid anyone who might happen to be looking up on the other side.

He was only a few inches out, though, when he seemed to freeze.

‘What?’ I asked. ‘Can you see anything?’

But Jake was not staring out across the wall; he was staring at the ground several metres beneath him as if frozen. His eyes were locked onto something, unmoving, unblinking.

‘Jake?’ Rina prompted gently.

As if shaken out of a trance, he blinked and his head tilted upwards so that it was back looking straight ahead.

‘Sorry,’ he murmured. Taking a deep breath, he shuffled forward, inch by inch, taking far longer than I hoped. I was desperate and impatient, moments away from shouting out at him to hurry up, but I didn’t want to cause another scene. His hands were clenched tightly around the bough, his legs locked into place beneath it, as though he was terrified of falling.

There was a gap of about two feet between the end of the branch and the wall. Once Jake reached it, the tree now groaning a little louder, he built up momentum to propel himself forward.

‘Ready?’ he asked. The end of the branch was also nearly a metre below the top of the wall. Even when Jake was sitting on it, he wasn’t quite high enough to see over, which was a little unnerving.
Swinging forward, though, he looked more monkey than human. I didn’t know how he could be so intelligent and also so skilled in, well, climbing, though I assumed his long, skinny limbs helped a bit.

‘Shit!’ he cried out, leaping into oblivion, arms flailing as they reached above his head and grabbed onto the wall. Before he could fall, he pulled himself up, heaving his head and shoulders up onto the wall, allowing his legs to dangle for a moment as he surveyed the area. He clung on tightly, his fingers clenched around the top of the wall as he hugged it, and I could hear his heavy breathing from down below.

I couldn’t see anything from down here, so I had to take his word when he said things were alright. He swung his legs up again, heaving himself further over the top to bring them up level with the rest of his body. Eventually, he was lying face-down on top of the wall, his face pressed into the concrete for a long moment. Even from below I could see how his sides heaved as he fought to regain breath. I momentarily considered that he was going to be sick.
‘Well come on then!’ he laughed, looking up sharply. His chuckle had an air of hysteria about it.

Once I reached the top of the wall, I realised that things were easier than I’d expected them to be. On the other side was a colossal building, at least five storeys high, and made of concrete. The initial building was a great slab of grey, but numerous extensions had been built off the sides, most only one or two storeys, and dwarfed by the initial block, until the whole thing looked like some odd pile of boxes, some of which were stacked rather haphazardly on top of each other.

Between the wall and the compound, there was a stretch of gravelly ground that was maybe fifty metres wide. It seemed to circle the whole building; there was no way we could jump down and be immediately under cover of the compound.

‘We have to get down,’ Rina said.

Strangely enough, there seemed to be no guards around. I could see three men in black suits further round the wall, presumably where the cars drove in—where we would have driven in if we’d got through the initial barrier. We were, hopefully, too far away for them to see us. This whole compound was built on a pretty large scale.

‘Do you think we should jump?’ I asked. Only now, looking at Jake and Rina, did I notice how tightly Jake was clinging to the wall in comparison to the rest of us. His knuckles were white, and he was staring down at the ground as though it was a million miles away.

‘What?’ I asked.

‘Are you alright?’ Rina asked, sounding altogether more considerate.

‘It’s a long way down,’ Jake said in a monotone.

No. Seriously. He could not be scared of heights! Not now.

‘But you climbed that tree like it was a flight of stairs,’ I complained.

‘Going up’s normally alright,’ he said, his voice low as he stared avidly at the ground. ‘It’s...it’s that jump, more than just a fear of heights.’

‘But you’re a climber!’ I cried, not able to put two and two together. ‘You jumped over that fence the other night when we were running from the Dream-Snatcher like it was nothing.’

Jake glared at me with those dark eyes. ‘You don’t know anything, Tim.’

Oh God, what was I getting myself into?

‘I’ll go first,’ Rina suggested. Swinging her legs over so that she was sitting on the wall, completely visible if anyone decided to look out of the compound’s windows...not that there were many of them, she slid gracefully off, falling to the ground and landing on her feet, then falling onto her backside.

‘You next, Jake,’ I said, gesturing down.

‘No, you first,’ he said.

‘Whatever,’ I muttered, sliding down off the wall as if it was nothing.

It was actually further than I realised. Landing a little clumsily, I fell backwards like Rina did, and I could hear her laughing as I got to my feet in a rather ungraceful manner.

‘Come on then, Jake,’ I said as he tentatively slid his feet round, ready to go, staring intensely at the ground.

‘Uh, Tim...’ Rina began.

‘Okay,’ Jake said.


A bullet flew past me, smacking into the concrete wall.

A siren began to blare.

Over it, though, I could hear footsteps and, as I turned to the left, I could see armed guards charging towards us, their guns out ready.


My gun was out before I knew what I was doing. They were still a good distance away, and I fired repeatedly, catching one in the shoulder. He collapsed, ignored by his peers, as they charged on towards us.

‘Come on Jake!’ I bellowed. He had just about lowered himself down so that he was half-hanging in mid-air when he cried out in pain, falling forward off the wall and only just about managing to land at the bottom, his legs giving way beneath him.

Stop!’ a voice yelled.

As Jake got up, I saw a small black dart lodged in his shoulder.

He staggered back, leaning against the wall, rubbing the side of his leg, which he had half-landed on.

‘No,’ Rina whispered.

‘Go,’ Jake said. He pulled the tranquiliser out of his arm, examining the small pinprick it had made.

It was too late for him.

‘GO!’ he yelled again, and I staggered back, confused, grabbing onto Rina for some grounding. Everything suddenly felt so distant. This wasn't happening. Surely this couldn't be real.

Another bullet brought me back to my senses. Spinning round, I fired repeatedly at the guards, managing to catch another one, this time in the leg. He fell forward and I heard his cry even from a distance away. I stood, horrified, watching Jake as his legs gave way beneath him. Everything suddenly felt so far away, as though I was watching another life; the lives of strangers, of movie characters. This wasn't happening. Surely this couldn't be real.

Another bullet brought me back to my senses.

‘Stop!’ a voice yelled again, and a dart missed my head by inches. Rina was standing, motionless and staring, and I grabbed her tightly, pulling her backwards.

It was too late for Jake. If he blacked out, he would slow us down.

I staggered backwards, turning and breaking into a run, keeping a firm grasp on Rina’s wrist so she didn’t run back for Jake. I could see tears in her eyes as a little part of her seemed to be left behind with him. But I was not letting her out of my sight too. Our only hope was that they would take him to wherever they were keeping Simeon.

I didn’t realise I could sprint so fast, but two of the three remaining guards were focused on Jake, hoisting him up as he collapsed against the wall, already slipping out of consciousness. Those tranquilisers were small, but they were powerful. Another ran after us, and darts rained down all around us, but as I crashed into the safety of the wall of one of the smaller extensions of the compound, I spun round, firing shot after shot at him.

Somehow, I managed to get him right in the head.

With an ugly explosion of hot red blood, he staggered forwards, falling face-first towards the gravel, dead before he could hit the ground.

I thought Rina was going to be sick, but we had no time. They’d know we were here. They’d probably put the entire building on quarantine. How stupid had we been? How the fuck had we assumed we could get into a government compound undetected?

But by some luck, I found a small back door. It only led into some kind of store cupboard in one of the smaller extended parts of the building, but it was still connected to the main compound, and therefore, it could give us a way in.

Slamming the door shut and shoving a metal table—the first thing I could find in the storeroom—up against it, I staggered back into the wall, comprehending what had just happened.

They had Jake too.
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I'm worrying that, considering what actually happens in this chapter, it's quite poorly written. I certainly wasn't feeling any suspense as I re-read it. Hope it's alright.