‹ Prequel: Hurricane Heart
Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run

Everything Burns


Ten minutes remaining.’

‘Come on, Simeon!’ I urged. ‘Freedom!’

I rounded a corner only to have gas explode in my face. Choking desperately and heading back out again, I hurried further along. Seemingly from nowhere, ghostly apparitions appeared. They took the forms of people; of monsters; of demons; they swarmed around me, they reached out with white hands, they disappeared once again.

The lights flickered ominously above me, but that no longer seemed to bother me anymore. Every now and again I would lose control, staggering or falling into the wall, confused and disorientated beyond belief. The world had been spinning faster and faster for fifteen minutes or more now. Every muscle in my body ached; I still felt burned and blistered from countless bombs, but I was unable to stop. Simeon was always behind me, or next to me, or in front of me, unspeaking, his lips pursed shut in silent determination. I feared for him. Martyr’s Run was breaking him. I knew it without a doubt.

And as a hand reached out of nowhere, clamping around my arm and pulling me towards it, I realised that I was losing a grip on things as well. It was not a hand; it was a rope. But for a moment, my eyes had seen it, out of the periphery of my vision, as a hand. It had been a hand; it was.

The ground lurched beneath me as if the whole Maze was being tilted to the side, and rapidly I felt the temperature begin to increase. This sudden heatwave sent my head spinning and I lurched forwards, falling to the ground and rolling over.

‘Jake!’ Simeon was heaving me back to my feet, crying out in pain and anguish as he did so, before I even knew what was going on. He dragged me on, running awkwardly as though to try and lessen the agony of his countless burns, burns from the gas attack, burns from the bomb, burns from the next bomb...everything was burning. We would never stop burning. I could feel it all over me; fire; heat; torture. It blistered up my skin, it boiled my blood, it fried my brain, it drowned me. I was burning. The Run was burning. The entire world was burning.

And then I blinked and it was all gone. I was hot, but I was no longer on fire. I had no idea whether it was a projection, or a strange induced sensation, or something that was completely in my head. I didn’t know. I didn’t care. One thing was branded into my mind: the view of that exit. So close; surely so close. Footsteps surrounded me now, ghosts reappeared, their gnarled hands clawing at me and, even though they were mere projections, I could feel them; feel their cold, clammy skin. They were appearing behind me, screaming at me, screaming in anger, in fear, in agony, in sadness. They were all screaming; a symphony of screams, and then the ghosts were gone, but the screams were still there, or maybe they weren’t—maybe it was all inside my head—maybe the ghosts were never there in the first place.

Five minutes remaining.’

They were the single three words that threw me out of my twisted imagination and back into the cold light of reality. As though I had physically crashed into something, I suddenly felt bruised and exhausted. Simeon and I no longer spoke; we just ran. Still there was no sign of the exit. We had been running so much we had to have scoured the whole level by now, but I refused to believe it was anywhere else. The traps were too intense up here. We could have run to the edge of the earth and all the way back again; we had run so far. The lights flickered; pitch black, bright white, pitch black again, and then so bright it was like staring at every surface was staring straight into the sun. I couldn’t see, I was blind, the world was glowing, on fire, white hot like the surface of a star, burning...everything was burning.

And then it was black again. After the pain of so much light, the darkness was almost calming.

But then eyes leered at me out of the darkness, and voices whispered in my head, and then the floor was thrown beneath my feet so that I was flung through empty air, sure that I had to crash into something soon, sure that no pathway was this wide. And then I hit the ground, falling, skidding, crying, and the lights were back, and Simeon was nowhere to be seen, but then he was there, right above me, his hands grabbing at me until I was on my feet again.


I heard Graham scream. He was terrifyingly close by. But I didn’t have the time to turn and check whether he had been hit by a stun or a bullet. I did, however, hear a furious cry from Nissa and her gunshots increased, fired again and again and again, and there were more screams, this time from the soldiers, and it made me fear the worst, but it also made me wonder whether she, alone, could fight this battle.

‘Look,’ I breathed to Tim, struggling to keep calm and concentrate on the task ahead. ‘The Run’s exit is a portal in the floor, but it’s right next to one of the outer walls of the Maze. And on that wall,’ I pointed to the screen, ‘is a bomb. And it’s labelled red; that’s the worst kind. It’s not programmed to activate automatically; we’re gonna have to activate it ourselves.’

‘You’re going to set off a bomb?’ he asked incredulously. He seemed to be questioning my sanity. Maybe I should be doing the same. Maybe I really had gone mad.

Nevertheless, I nodded, breathless. ‘If I set off this bomb, it’ll blow apart the outer wall. And beyond that outer wall is a corridor leading away from the Maze and up into the rest of the compound.’

‘What if it doesn’t, though?’ Tim challenged. ‘What if the wall doesn’t blow up?’

I thought, taking a deep breath. ‘It’s a chance we have to take. Listen, my theory is that, as there’s no way in or out of the Maze, the cleaners use that as a way in.’

‘You think they blow the Maze wall up to clean it?’ Tim asked. I nodded.

‘They only use each Maze design once, remember,’ I said. ‘The cost of rebuilding one wall several times over is tiny compared to the cost of redesigning the whole thing.’ It actually seemed like a plausible idea. I never knew I could be so logical.

‘When are you going to detonate it?’ Tim asked.

‘At the last possible moment,’ I replied. ‘Where are they? How long do I have?’

Tim turned briefly to look at the screen at the far end of the room. Amazingly, none of the gunshots had hit it, so it was still fully functioning.

‘Two minutes twenty-three seconds.’

‘Okay,’ I breathed, readying the computer. Taking a few deep breaths, I prepared myself. This had to work. If not...well, I didn’t know what I would do.

And then I heard Nissa scream.
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So...I would love love love some comments. :P I actually really like this climax, but I'd also really like to know whether anyone else actually likes it too, or whether I'm just being delusional.

Oh, and chapter title credit goes to the song with the same name by Ben Moody. :D