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Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run

***ers and Criminals


It felt like we were the contestants of Martyr’s Run; not Simeon and Jake. After roaming the compound for the best part of half an hour, we had got nowhere, and we had somehow ended up back at the hospital bit.

The one stroke of luck was that, so far, we hadn’t been caught. Either this place was even bigger than I had assumed, or they were just really bad at searching. After all, they probably didn’t get too many intruders. The only times we had been in any real danger was one time when three soldiers had rounded a corner, but Tim had dragged me into a conveniently placed cupboard just in time, and when we had heard a voice talking about ‘the intruders’ being broadcast over the comms system.

We had ended up back in the hospital area. The one good thing about this part of the building was that it was pretty quiet; there were few people bustling around. Some of the rooms seemed to be occupied, but there were only ever occasional people walking down the corridors.

‘What the hell is this area?’ I asked, peering in through the little window in a metal door. I wished I hadn’t. On the other side was a bright, white tiled room, and in the centre was a steel bed surrounded by hefty medical equipment.

When I looked at Tim, he looked serious.

‘I think this is where they probably treat the contestants after the Maze,’ he said. ‘People often come out of there pretty bashed-up, and they don’t want people being thrown in Institutions and undergoing the Operation whilst they’re recovering from injuries. It’s counter-productive.’

‘Operation.’ It was like all the thoughts had left my mind but that one word. I suddenly realised what I had been missing. ‘This is where they perform the Operation.’

Tim looked uncomfortable. ‘You don’t know that for sure.’

‘I do,’ I whispered ominously, shuddering with fear, feeling sick with how disgusting all this was. ‘Some of these rooms are used to heal injuries once people come out of the Run. Then, once they’re healed, they’re either carted to the Institution if they’ve successfully made their way out of the Maze, or if they’ve failed, they’re taken straight to the Operation.’

Tim’s head nodded ever so slightly. ‘And then, once they’ve been Operated on, they probably keep them here too. You know, to re-educate them, if they’ve temporarily lost the ability to speak or walk or whatever. And then they probably brand them here too, and maybe cut out their tongues, if that’s what they’re planning on doing to them.’

I felt like I was about to be sick. It was all too much. We were on the run from the government and we had broken into their compound—and not exactly secretly, either—and were now standing right next to where the sickest procedure known to mankind took place.

And if anything went wrong, we were its next victims.

I collapsed into the wall, holding my hair off my face, suddenly too hot. The room seemed to be spinning.

‘Rina.’ Tim wrapped his arms round me. ‘It’s alright.’

‘It’s not,’ I told him adamantly. ‘It’s all so wrong!’

I saw panic flash across his eyes. ‘We can’t stay here. Come on, honey. We have to go.’

Once the worst of the spinning was over, I righted myself, holding onto his arm for a little extra support. There was no way I was looking through any of the windows of those rooms.

And that was when I saw it.

Rounding a corner, we seemed to come to a dead end. Well, there was a set of metal double doors at the far end, but I was not walking through them if my life depended on it.

On them was a little plaque that read Operating Theatre.

A siren began to scream from the wall like a fire alarm. Jumping almost out of my skin, I whipped round to face charging footsteps.


The man was dead before he could even finish the word. Tim was firing repeatedly, but I was unarmed but for a pathetic little knife, and before I knew what was going on, rough hands were grabbing at me, and I was screaming and fighting them, but then they went limp and the man staggered backwards, screaming, only for his scream to be silenced by Tim’s gun.

‘Run, Rina!’ Tim yelled, grabbing me by the wrist and dragging me—dragging me towards the Operating theatre.

‘NO!’ I shrieked, batting his hand away, confused to the point of delirium. ‘No! I’m not going in there!’

His harsh grip softened and he stopped suddenly, firing his gun almost absent-mindedly at one of the three guards who had found us; the only one who was still twitching.

‘We have to hide,’ he said.

‘Not in there.’ I couldn’t even bear to look at those doors. I wouldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it.

‘Alright,’ he whispered, and when he helped me walk away again, we were slower, and his grip was softer. He picked up one of the dead guards’ guns and handed it to me as though it was some kind of gift. Taking it, hating the look, the weight, the feel of it, but keeping it in case I had to use it, we continued on. Eventually, we broke into a run, and the sirens stopped a moment later, evidently having alerted everyone in the entire compound, and we burst through some doors that I realised a moment too late said Medical Testing on them.

It was like the Institution all over again. Testing on Dreamers; testing on criminals; testing on anyone who was not of enough ‘value’ to society. No one was supposed to know about this testing, but after a few people had been in the Institutions and faced it, word got out among the rebels pretty quickly.

Tim and I stood, mesmerised by the rows of identical metal doors. For the moment, the corridor was deserted, but then I saw a man dressed in the soldiers’ regulation navy blue appear at the far end.

Tim fired and, by some miracle, he hit.

‘What—‘ I began, but he silenced me. When I looked at him, his eyes seemed to be brimming with excitement. It was such a strange expression to be wearing in such a desolate, disgusting place that I was rendered speechless.

‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking?’ he asked.

I shrugged. ‘Probably not.’

His smile faded. ‘Oh. Okay then.’

‘What are you thinking?’ I had to know now. Whatever was making him smile after entering into the Medical Testing part of the hospital had to be something pretty good.

Wordlessly, he went and peered in through the nearest door.

When he turned away, his expression held more of the horror that I would expect in a place like this.

‘There are people in there,’ he said.

‘I know,’ I said, looking in the same door as he had done. Inside, it was a bit like a cell, but there was a woman lying on a bed, looking pale and sickly. Her eyes rested on me. I didn’t know whether she was a genuine criminal, a rebel, or just some poor, unfortunate person who was paying the price for an accident, but I felt a huge amount of remorse that I had escaped my terrible fate in the Institution before I could be subject to Medical Testing, whilst she was forced to face her turn here, in the government compound.

‘Rina, if we could get these people out, we could let them run riot around the compound.’

His words were so unprecedented that it took me a good ten seconds to comprehend them.


‘Think about it,’ he said. ‘We let them out. Then, not only are we helping them, but we’re creating a diversion. There could be twenty people in here—or more—and, whether they’re criminals or not, there’s no way they deserve this fate. And if we let them out, they’ll charge off, and the soldiers will have to fight them. That gives us a chance to move through this place undetected. Think about it.’

I froze. It wasn’t a good idea. Maybe some of these people were Dreamers, but generally speaking, the Dreamers were put through testing in the Institutions. Therefore, most of these people would most likely be criminals, or low-lives who did nothing good for society.

But then again, Tim was right. There could be a mass murderer in one of those cells, but there was also a mass murderer standing right next to me. Why should I support Tim in his killing, yet be so prejudiced against another who did the same thing? What was the difference, really?

‘Come on, Rina,’ Tim insisted. ‘We can create a diversion. For Sim and Jake.’

‘For Sim and Jake,’ I echoed absent-mindedly. In my fear of seeing the Operating Theatre and Medical Testing, I had forgotten why we were really here. And now Tim said their names again, I felt ashamed.

‘For Sim and Jake,’ I repeated, louder, with more conviction.

‘Yes!’ Tim cried enthusiastically. He made to run off but I stopped him with a hand.

‘Where do we get the keys from though?’ I asked.

‘Are you forgetting something, Rina?’ he said. ‘I just shot the goddamn prison guard!’

Suddenly, it felt as if our impossible goal was finally within reach.