‹ Prequel: Hurricane Heart
Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run

Never the Same


‘Uh, thank you,’ I said a little sheepishly as the three rebels walked forward. There were two women and a man, and one of the women already had a gun; probably one that she had stolen from another soldier. I had no idea how, but I instantly admired her. I recognised her and the man from when I’d opened up the prison cells. Presumably, the other girl had been freed by Tim, because I hadn’t seen her before.

‘That’s alright,’ said the woman at the front casually. She was tall and slender, with brown hair cut short like a boy’s. She didn’t seem to have any visible injuries from Medical Testing, but there were heavy, bruise-like shadows of tiredness under her eyes.

‘Where’re the other prisoners?’ Tim asked. ‘Are you all that’s left?’ For a moment, he sounded worried.

‘I saw five leave the building,’ the woman said sternly. ‘I dunno if they made it off the site. We were separated from the rest. Too slow if you ask me. They weren’t gonna make it out.’

For a moment, time seemed to slow down as we all contemplated this potentially dramatic loss of life.

‘We’ve got to go,’ Tim began, before another idea tripped over his first statement. ‘Wait—can you help us?’ The tall woman was just turning back to the other two.

‘Help you?’ the woman asked. ‘What with?’

‘We’ve got to break into the control room,’ Tim said urgently. ‘We don’t have much time, but with five of us we stand a bit more of a chance.’

The man, who looked older than the other two—probably around forty, as opposed to the late twenties of the two women—laughed.

‘Sounds like your new best friend, Nissa,’ he said to the short haired woman.

‘That’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last two hours,’ Nissa explained. ‘The others think it’s impossible, but we’ve gotta try. How else do we un-quarantine this place?’

‘That’s a good point,’ I said. I had planned up until the point of rescuing Simeon and Jake; I hadn’t given half a thought to what we were going to do after that. ‘But we need to rescue our friends. We need to break them out of the Maze.’

‘Break them out of the Maze?’ the second woman asked in disbelief. She was a pretty girl, but when she stepped forward I could see how her skin was pink and blotchy with some kind of strange rash.

She caught me looking. ‘New cough medicine gone wrong,’ she said with a grim smile, referring, presumably, to some hideous drug they had tested on her in Medical Testing.

‘Yeah,’ Tim said. ‘They’re in there now.’

‘How long have they got?’ the man asked.

‘No more than half an hour.'

‘Not long then,’ Nissa mused. The other two looked uncertain, but a smile was slowly spreading across her face. Despite being a little intimidated by her, I decided that I also quite liked her.

‘Do you think we can do it?’ asked the girl.

‘Of course we can fucking do it!’ Nissa insisted passionately. ‘I’ve only got a stun gun, though.’ She tossed it casually in her hand, acting like it was barely a weapon at all.

‘So have I,’ I said. ‘But Tim’s got bullets.’

‘Well,’ said Nissa, raising her eyebrows, ‘looks like our hopes are on you, Tim.’

Without another word, we turned back the way we’d come, heading towards one of the entrances into the control room.

Just before turning into the corridor leading up to it, we pressed into the wall round the corner, just out of sight of the guards.

‘Who’s got the best aim?’ Tim asked in a hushed voice.

‘That’ll be Niss,’ said the other woman. Nissa nodded confidently.

‘Yep, that’ll be me,’ she confirmed. ‘Give me the gun.’ She swung round the corner and I heard two shots fired in quick succession, almost immediately followed by two screams. There was a loud thudding sound and then, evidently not satisfied with her work, Nissa fired two more shots, and there was a second crash. Beneath the sound of the omnipresent sirens, everything was quiet.

‘Well, that’s that then,’ said Nissa, peering back round the corner. The other four of us rounded it, seeing two guards slumped either side of the doors, lying in ever-growing pools of their own blood.

When we reached the door, the man was the first to notice that, in order to gain access to the control room, there was a fingerprint scanner.

‘Help me lift him!’ the man suddenly suggested, bending and heaving one of the security guards off the floor. I felt ashamed, but I instinctively shied away, not daring to touch his cold, stiff body or his bloody clothes. Nissa and Tim were less concerned; they both grabbed a limb, and the three of them lifted the guard in a puppet-like fashion. The other woman rather more tentatively lifted his right hand and pressed his index finger against the little blue pad to the side of the door, and we all hoped that this man had been trusted to have access into this most important room.

After a tense moment, a light above the door, which had previously been red, blinked green, and, before we were even ready, the automatic doors slid open. Tim and Nissa dropped the guard’s body as though it was infected, watching it fall awkwardly to the ground, and then we had no choice. Before we were even prepared, we were rushing in, and I was in the lead. With a rush of adrenaline, all my fear left me, and it suddenly seemed as if the world was mine. It was under my control. I was going to do this. I was going to save Jake and Simeon.

‘Everyone down!’ Tim was bellowing, firing bullets into the air to get everyone’s attention. I swung my gun round wildly, Nissa and the other man and woman beside me, daring anyone to disobey.

We had come in through the door that was on the same wall as the TV screen showing what was happening in the Run. In front of it was an open space full of nothing but seats and benches.

‘Over in the corner!’ I commanded, charging after Tim. He bombarded his way across the room, finding a cluttered desk and leaping onto it so that the whole room could see him.

The room was full of scientists and office-style workers and designers. They were not fighters. They had no weapons. So, terrified and confused, they hurried to the left of us; to the part of the room away from the computers and the equipment. The man who was with us; the man whose name I still did not know, followed Tim across the room, rounding up the stragglers. I followed too, ushering them all over, a gun as my protection, as Tim continued to yell hurried commands.

‘Get a move on!’ he snapped.

‘Graham!’ Nissa called. ‘Come help me over here!’ The man, whose name was apparently Graham, did as he was asked, running back past me and over to the masses of workers. There were easily forty people in this room; possibly more. Nissa, Graham and the woman with the damaged skin stood like sentinels, hoarding the frightened, unarmed people right into the corner. As I watched, Tim leaped from one desk to another, making his way across the room without ever touching the floor, searching for something. I searched with my eyes, scanning for some kind of control panel. But there wasn’t just one; there were many. There were computers, and electronic tables, and screens on the walls, and levers, and dials.

As my eyes swerved back to the crowd of workers, the screen caught my eye. I took a sharp intake of breath as I saw how the left side of Simeon’s face was smeared in blood, and he was limping dreadfully—when had things become so dire? His eyes were haunted, and I could see Jake just a few paces ahead, a determined but pained expression set on his face, his trouser leg still soaked in blood.

And I also saw that they only had nineteen minutes and thirty-eight seconds until the Maze claimed them once and for all.


Every step was agony. I didn’t know how I was still going. I just wanted to curl up and die...anything to be out of this living nightmare.

‘Come on!’ Jake urged me, practically dragging me onwards. I batted his hands away furiously.

‘Just go!’ I screamed at him. ‘Just fucking go! I’m holding you up.’

When I looked up, I saw how his face was an almost unrecognisable mask of fierce determination.

‘I’m not leaving you here, Simeon Stryder,’ he told me. ‘I don’t care what you say.’ He pulled my arm up round his shoulder and tried to support me a little as we struggled on, battered and bruised, through endless white pathways.

Voices screamed around me; some projected and some probably just inside my head, and lights flashed on and off. As we reached a crossroads and paused for a moment, the world began spinning around me. I felt dizzy and sick. I had no idea what was real anymore, and what was a horrific trick of my mind. This was what the Maze did to you. It sent you insane. No one ever came out the same again.

‘This way,’ Jake decided, pulling me left. I had no idea whether he knew where he was going or whether he was just as lost as I was.

The floor suddenly heaved beneath me and I was thrown sideways, flung clumsily into one of the walls. It was hardly a big obstacle, but considering I had landed on the burn in my side, I was suddenly in agony. I felt myself falling, sliding down the wall, burning all over as if I had been consumed by fire. Hands were suddenly pulling me to my feet and dragging me onwards. I lashed out at them blindly, and then realised it was only Jake. I had been plunged into the unknown too many times already today. Staggering on relentlessly, I followed him, a silent scream of agony sitting in my throat, waiting to burst out as soon as I opened my mouth. I bit my bottom lip to try and withdraw some of the pain that seemed to be slicing through the great, ugly burn in my side, but it did little to help.

For all that Jake was looking after me, he didn’t seem much better. He was limping badly, his left trouser leg still soaked in blood, and every so often he seemed to lose his balance entirely, as though concussed, and stagger into one of the walls, or stumble a few steps forward. The lights flickered above me, only adding to the storm that was pounding away in my head, sometimes leaving us in darkness for several moments, other times merely flashing like some kind of lightning storm in reverse. It didn’t matter. It was all just adding to yet more confusion.
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