‹ Prequel: Hurricane Heart
Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run



As the walls slid down around me, I staggered out of the tube into a room not so different from that which I had used to enter the Maze.

In the room stood Hartnett and five other soldiers.

I didn’t care that I had just been in a claustrophobic tube. It didn’t even register in my churning mind. All I cared about was Jake.

‘You’re a liar!’ I screamed, blindly staggering into the centre of the room, away from the tube. ‘You’re a fucking, fucking liar. You bitch! You monster!’

My breath caught up with me then and I began to retch, choking up my insides, falling to my knees. When the coughing finally subsided, Hartnett was looking at me with an expression that made me want to rip her fucking eyes out.

‘Are you finished, Mr Stryder?’ she asked. When I didn’t respond, too sick and exhausted to do so, she continued. ‘Good. Now get up.’ Reluctantly, I got to my feet, only because it made me taller than her.

Without warning, the ground shuddered beneath me. It was like an earthquake. Almost falling over again, I regained my balance, and looked at the fear on Hartnett’s face. That wasn’t something she had been expecting.

‘What was that?’ asked one of her guards.

‘I don’t know!’ she snapped irritably.

‘You said that he could come with me,’ I blurted out, almost too choked up to talk. The pain from my numerous burns was blinding, but right now, I couldn’t care less. All the physical agony had given way to the storm inside my mind. ‘You said there were no catches.’

‘That was before your friends decided to infiltrate my compound,’ she replied coolly. I was about to speak again when she pressed a finger to her ear, which I noticed had a little black earpiece in it, and her eyes turned to the side as she listened to whatever the person on the other end was saying.

‘Seems your friends have been up to a few little tricks,’ she said, a malicious smile spreading across her face. My friends? Did she mean...

‘I’m assuming you know Timothy Roth and Katherine White,’ she said, confirming my hopes.

‘Yeah,’ I breathed.

‘Hobbs!’ She turned briskly to one of her guards. ‘Bring them in!’

‘They’re coming to Europe with me!’ I announced, making sure it sounded like a demand and not merely a request. I didn’t even care that they didn’t want to go. I wasn’t letting them stay in a country where atrocities like this happened.

‘Oh, go!’ she snapped briskly. ‘The lot of you! I don’t want you in my country!’

Was it really that easy?

I suddenly realised something. Hartnett hadn’t explained her whole earpiece conversation.

‘Wait,’ I said, ‘what ‘tricks’ have my friends been up to?’

‘Well,’ she said, smiling smoothly, ‘why don’t you wait just a moment? Perhaps then they can explain for themselves.’

The door slid open and Hobbs, now accompanied by two more guards, shoved Tim and Rina, both of them with their hands cuffed behind their backs, into the centre of the room.

‘Simeon!’ Rina cried, her eyes overflowing with tears. ‘You made it!’ Her face was pink and blotchy, her eyes red-rimmed. It looked like she had already been crying for some time.

‘Oh take those shackles off!’ Hartnett snapped irritably, as if the sight of them annoyed her. Mildly confused, a guard moved first to Tim and then to Rina, removing the cuffs from their hands. Tim shook his to the floor like they were infected. As soon as Rina’s were off, she threw her arms round my shoulders, pulling me close, her hot tears wet on my shoulder. I had to bite my tongue so as not to scream in agony as she brushed against my burn.

‘Jake,’ I eventually whispered once she moved away. ‘He didn’t make it out.’

There was a moment of silence as Tim and Rina shared a glance. I felt I was missing something, and I didn’t like it. Hartnett, meanwhile, pressed a finger to her ear as she listened to someone on the other end.

‘We know,’ Tim eventually said solemnly. Another silence. Rina was fighting back tears.

‘What?’ I asked, almost overwhelmed with rage. It was the only emotion that had not yet been eradicated from my body. Even after making it out of the Maze and being reunited with two of my friends, I could not bring myself to feel happy. ‘What are you not telling me?’

Rina’s eyes fell away from mine. She couldn’t look at me.

‘We set off a bomb in the Run,’ she whispered.

I couldn’t understand what she was saying.

‘It was more powerful than I anticipated,’ she continued, more tears falling freely down her cheeks. ‘I’m sure you felt the ground shake a moment ago. And Jake was right in the middle of it.’

Time seemed to stop.

‘What?’ I just about stammered.

‘Jake’s dead, Simeon,’ Tim said, his voice giving a note of finality that one only had in a situation as irreversible as this.

Rage overwhelmed me.

‘What the hell did you do that for?’ I yelled at Rina. I knew it was wrong, but I could not stop. ‘Why? Are you crazy?’

‘I’m sorry,’ she blurted out tearfully. ‘But it was that or...or the Operation. And I would not let him become like that!’

It was ridiculous, but I felt that, somehow, in some strange world, I could have persuaded Hartnett to let him go. I would give myself over to free him. He had been taken unfairly and unjustly. I owed everything to that poor man. But now he was dead, and I was free. And there was no way I could ever get him back.

I wanted to shout again; I just wanted to scream blindly in rage and agony, but I was stopped by Hartnett giving another of her many orders.

‘Johnson! Simms! Go find the cleaners. Send them into the Maze. Find the boy’s body.’
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The next chapter will be up within the next couple of days - I promise! I feel like it needs to be posted pretty shortly after this one. I wanted this one to be up sooner rather than leaving such a huge gap after the bombshell of the last chapter but, well...life got in the way. As always.