‹ Prequel: Hurricane Heart
Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run

An Exit


The shower was almost unbearable on my ravaged skin as I stood under it—I tried it first hot, and then cold, but both hurt too much. In the end I ducked my head under the waterfall, washing it through, and then made do with simply using a flannel to gently dab lukewarm water onto my many injuries. I washed the blood off of my face, touching the ugly gash on my forehead self-consciously, and then got changed and stepped out.

It seemed to take Jake longer to remove the thick layer of ash that seemed to be embedded into his skin. When he finally stepped out, he was clean again, but somehow looked even worse than before—without the protective layer of dust, his numerous cuts and bruises showed up more prominently. He seemed so fragile as he moved to the bench in the middle of the room, limping slowly, holding himself, as though at risk of shattering at any moment.

‘You look awful,’ I commented as he took fresh bandages that had been placed in our sack of clothes and wrapped them neatly around the cut in his lower leg. It wasn’t even that big a cut, but it was deep, and that was what had caused the blood to flow so much.

‘I feel awful,’ he grumbled. I could see his hands shaking, and noticed how he winced in pain as he leant forwards, and then winced every time he moved his ravaged arms to wind the bandage round.

‘Do you want some help?’

‘I’m fine,’ he said dully. When he’d finished, he remained sitting on the bench, his back against the wall, his eyes gently closed.
There was a bang on the door. ‘Come on!’ the guard called impatiently.

‘Coming,’ I muttered, helping Jake to his feet. Still he was dragging his left leg, and that worried me. He wasn’t going to be able to use that for a while.

Still helping me support Jake, the guard escorted us out of the building and to a car parked in the space outside. Hartnett was standing there with two ever-present guards and a man dressed in black; most likely our driver.

‘Well,’ she said briskly, looking eager to get this over with more than anything, ‘hopefully I won’t be seeing you again.’

‘Hopefully,’ Tim said, and I caught his eye and smirked. Trust him to always get the upper hand in a conversation.

‘I guess that’s everything then,’ she said coolly. ‘Try not to get into any more trouble. You may not be so fortunate next time.’ There was a prolonged silence in which I realised that maybe, just maybe, we should thank her.

‘Thank you, Ms Hartnett,’ I said sincerely, surprising even myself.

‘Don’t mention it.’ Her eyes flashed, and I knew that she meant the statement more literally than most people. We were forbidden to mention it.

The driver gestured at the car. ‘Well, in you get.’ Rina slid into the middle, and I followed her in, leaving the front passenger seat for Jake.


‘Montez!’ Hartnett snapped from behind me. I turned and limped towards her, pain in every step.

‘I hear you’re a doctor,’ she said.


Wordlessly, she thrust a black suitcase into my hands. Curious, I pinched the zip between two fingers, but her cold hand slapped down on top of it.

‘Later,’ she instructed me curtly. ‘Wait until you’re on the plane.’

‘Okay,’ I mumbled, limping back to the car. I hoped I knew what was in there.

‘What’s in there?’ Tim asked once I had finally clambered into the front seat and shut the door; a task that was much harder and more painful than it should have been.

‘Later,’ I murmured, turning to face my three friends in the back.

The journey back to the airport was quick and quiet. As we drove, however, I contemplated. For the first time today, it was truly beginning to sink in that we were free. Yes, we were being exiled, but only from America. The rest of the world belonged to us as much as it ever had done.

And besides, the rest of the world was where we wanted to be right now. America was as good as forsaken—we could come back with a huge army, perhaps, but it would take a colossal force to overturn the evil that had arisen in this country in the last few weeks.

But we were escaping. We really were. The moment I had found myself facing the doors of the Maze, I had assumed—no, I had known—that either Simeon or I was condemned. And I wasn’t prepared to let Simeon sacrifice anything for me. In other words, I had fully expected to either be dead within the next couple of hours, or to find myself tied down to an Operating table shortly after.

And I had avoided both.

I was beyond lucky. And I had the most incredible friends that anyone could possibly have.

‘We’re here,’ the driver announced, pulling up outside the quiet terminal doors; the same door that Simeon and I had walked through a few hours previous, fully expecting never to see Tim and Rina again.

So much had changed since then.

It wasn’t even fully dark yet. My entire life had changed this afternoon—I had fought, I had overcome fears, I had been scarred both physically and mentally, I had been shot, burned, exploded, tranquilised, attacked, I had been blown up by a bomb on live TV, I had been prepared to kill myself, I had been condemned...all in the space of just a few hours.

Tim and Rina came round and helped me out of my seat. I was worried about my leg; I couldn’t deny it. Even touching it made it explode in pain. Walking on it was unthinkable, and I couldn’t see that changing in the near future.

A car of three soldiers pulled up behind us. They were here to walk us through check-in and customs and passport control. After all, I didn’t even have my fake ID card anymore—that had been taken from me when I’d stepped out of my clothes and into the Maze’s uniform.

Tim and Rina helped me through the building—after all, for all that Simeon had done for me today, he was still in great pain. He walked awkwardly next to us, limping strangely as his new clothes rubbed against his burns. At least his Maze uniform had had holes in it where he had been burnt.

We got right through check-in and customs without a problem. Then, we were taken through to a basic, sparsely furnished room with plastic chairs and told to wait. One of the soldiers disappeared whilst the other two waited with us.

‘I hope you’re not expecting first class,’ said one of them, smirking at the other as though he had come up with a brilliant joke.

‘No, we’re not,’ said Tim coolly. ‘We know this is a cargo plane and, believe it or not, we’re not idiots.’

‘You could’ve fooled me,’ said the other soldier, showcasing his own pathetic attempt at cracking a joke. It was true; humour did require imagination. That was why people were so terrible at being funny these days. Apart from the Dreamers, of course.

When the plane had been loaded up with cargo, we were all escorted through, given cards with Special Permission written on them. Tim helped me slowly clamber up the metal staircase leading into the plane with painstakingly slow progress. When we got inside, Simeon and Rina had already made us a seating area.

I had never been on a plane before, but I had seen enough pictures of them. The cockpit of this plane was much the same as it would be on any plane, but the rest of the plane, where the rows of seats would be on a passenger plane, was one large room, empty of any kind of furniture. It was loaded full of cargo boxes—I didn’t know, or particularly care, what was in them. Some were the right sort of height to make suitable seats though, and Simeon and Rina had taken four of these, moving them so that they were in a rough circle, making us a little sitting area. There was a little bit of space for moving around at the front of the plane, just behind the cockpit, but not much; not that I would be doing much moving around in my present state. There was also a tiny toilet, which was intended for the pilots to use if necessary, but we were able to use it too.

‘I would advise you all to hold on tightly during take-off and landing,’ the pilot informed us. ‘It’s not particularly safe for you all to be sitting back there, but...’ he shrugged. ‘Hartnett’s orders.’ For the first time ever, I was glad that Hartnett was one of the most powerful people in America.

About half an hour after take-off, during which time we were all quiet and all secretly rather scared—none of us had been on a plane before, and none of us was particularly comfortable with the experience—I remembered our suitcase. Considering that its contents were the only things, besides the clothes we currently wore, that we were taking with us on our journey, I was eager to know what was inside.

‘Open it,’ Simeon said. Rina knelt down beside it on the floor considering I wasn’t up to the task and unzipped it, flipping the lid off.

Inside were multiple packets of food—stuff that could be eaten cold; biscuits, crisps, packets of sliced cheese and ham, and bottles of water for each of us. Well, it was generous of Hartnett to give us that.

And then I saw the medical supplies.

Despite my injury, I half-jumped-half-fell down beside Rina, rifling through the food to the bottles and boxes and packets underneath.

‘Oh my God,’ Simeon said. ‘She’s given us all that?’

I examined the first bottle I’d picked up. ‘That’s an antiseptic—stops cuts getting infected,’ I said, showing it off and then placing it down beside the case. ‘And that,’ I picked up a tube and examined it, ‘is for skin rashes, though I don’t think we suffered from any of them.’

The next thing I picked up looked hopeful. ‘That’s to help cuts heal faster,’ I announced excitedly, handing it to Simeon, who examined it.

‘I didn’t know a thing to help cuts heal faster even existed,’ he said.

‘It does when you work for the government,’ I said. ‘I was shown how to use it in Med school. But it’s expensive stuff—it’s normally only used when someone really needs to heal quickly.’

I looked deeper into the case, which contained an entire roll of bandages, a box of plasters, a cream to combat swelling, a cream to ease bruises, hundreds of boxes of painkillers.

And then there was a tube near the bottom. Holding it up, it felt like I was holding the Holy Grail.

‘Burn cream,’ I announced.

Simeon had to restrain himself from snatching it straight out of my hands. But I knew how much pain he was in, so I allowed Tim and Rina to excitedly rifle through the remaining medicines, and I limped back over to where he was sitting.

‘What does it do?’ he asked.

I smirked as though it was obvious. ‘It speeds up the healing of burns. It eases the pain. It probably helps stop scarring. Come on, lift up your shirt.’

Obediently, Simeon pulled up the right hand side of his top to reveal the ugly red gash that stretched from just below his armpit to his hip. Squirting a little of the cream onto my finger, I attempted to rub it into the hideous burn. There wasn’t much cream in the tube, so I didn’t want to use anymore than I had to.

‘Oh my god,’ Simeon suddenly said. ‘It’s...it’s barely hurting.’ I continued rubbing more cream into the burn until I was sure that it was all covered. Simeon went to touch it.

‘Wait for it to soak in,’ I told him.

‘Shit, Jake, this stuff’s amazing,’ he declared excitedly. Moving on swiftly, I rubbed small bits of cream into the numerous burns he had sustained during the gas attack.

It took a lot longer to treat myself, having to rub antiseptic and then wound-healing cream into every single one of my cuts. After that, I moved onto the bruises, took some serious painkillers for my leg, and then, when it had almost gone numb, I attempted to flex my knee and ankle. I even managed to take a couple of steps on it, only limping a little, but that still caused me some pain pretty quickly.

We then spent the remainder of the journey talking. We just talked about anything and everything. I realised that, despite all the endless hours we had spent stuck in a car or trudging through a forest together, we actually knew next to nothing about each other. And now that we were all in better moods than we had been in since we’d escaped the Institution—after all, the only achievement that could topple that was escaping the Operation—we were all talking freely.

Once the conversation about one of Tim’s high school teachers died down, though, and the co-pilot appeared to announce that we were descending, the talk turned back to this moment.

‘We did it,’ Simeon murmured. None of us could quite believe it. Touching his burn delicately, realising that, whilst it still hurt, it was nowhere near as painful as it had been earlier, he grew contemplative.

‘We’re free,’ Rina said melodramatically. I’d never seen her smile so much as she had done since the moment she’d opened the medicine case. The food wrappers now lay beside the empty bottles and packets of medicine in a pile on the floor. Only after finishing with the numerous creams did we all realise how hungry we were.

The co-pilot reappeared. ‘We’re about to land,’ she announced in a business-like tone, not understanding and not particularly caring what nonsense we were up to.

‘Thanks,’ I said, packing up the suitcase. Being considerate, we packed all the empty food packets and medicines into the case as well, realising it wasn’t very polite of us to leave a huge mess in the plane.

When we touched down, a weird surge of adrenaline shot through me. We were in Germany. Over here, it was early morning, even though it was still the middle of the night back in Washington DC. But more than that, it was the notion that I was thousands of miles further away from home than I had ever been before. We were half way across the world. We were in unknown, unexplored, unfamiliar territory.

And it was the most incredible feeling ever.

The door to the plane slid open, and I could see a metal staircase being wheeled up outside. Simeon went first, not walking so awkwardly anymore now that his burns weren’t causing him so much discomfort, followed by Rina who was carrying our suitcase, and then me and Tim, our arms round each other as I limped my way out.

Germany was sunny. After so long inside a windowless chamber, I squinted in the brightness of the early morning sun. Somewhere close by, I could hear a plane taking off, and another one was moving in the distance. I could hear the rhythmic roar of engines close by and further off, and on the other side of the runway, just leaving the great, shiny, glass terminal, I could see people making their way onto a little bus which, presumably, would take them to their plane. People. Flying. People flying for leisure. It had happened within America until recently, but now almost all pleasure-based flights had been cancelled.

Europe was a utopia. As I staggered down the steps, I was standing in a wide space of nothingness, surrounded by fresh, crisp morning air, the sun beating down, not yet warm enough to cast any real heat on us.

‘Come on,’ Simeon said, and his face cracked into a smile. I could see how he was fighting to keep his expression neutral, but failing too.


The voice came from my right, and belonged to a male. Turning roughly in the direction of the terminal, I could see three people hurrying towards us.

I noticed a moment later that they were wearing masks.

And a moment after that that they were carrying guns.

It was as if I was back in the Run again, and the nightmares were descending upon me. I was unable to tell whether they were real or a figment of my tainted imagination.

That was until I saw the horror in Rina’s eyes.

And heard Tim scream ‘run!’
♠ ♠ ♠
Well, I couldn't just let them off that easily, could I? :P