‹ Prequel: Hurricane Heart
Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run

The Illusion of Freedom


For a moment, I felt as though I had been plunged into ice cold water. I tried to move, but I was slow as I waded through, drowning in the bottomless depths, fighting to stay afloat.

But as I heard Tim scream, I resurfaced again. Taking deep, ragged gasps of the oxygen I had been deprived of, the world suddenly transferred from slow motion to fast forward in an instant transition.

The Dream-Snatchers had not yet reached us. And hopefully Carl would be waiting in the car park. If we could get to him, he would be armed, and he would be prepared, and he may have even brought friends with him.

I threw myself forward as Tim and Rina bolted, charging their way across the airport towards the terminal. Once inside, we could get lost. We could find a way to hide from the Dream-Snatchers.

I was barely three steps forward before I heard Jake collapse behind me. Spinning round in horror, I saw how his bad leg had pretty much given way beneath him. He was not going to be able to run.

The Dream-Snatchers were coming closer. They were going to get us. We couldn’t run away. There was nothing to fight with.

Guilty that I had even considered running off without him in the first place after everything he’d done for me, I made a snap decision to charge back, skidding down on the ground beside him.

Go!’ Jake cried, batting my hands away as I tried to help him to his feet. ‘Go, goddamn it!’

‘I’m not leaving you again,’ I growled, fire igniting in my heart. I was not going to let that man out of my sights again. I’d already had to bear him dying once, barely twelve hours ago. It was not happening again. Not today. Not for a very long time.

With a grunt of effort and a movement that set my many burns alight once again, I heaved Jake to his feet, pulled his arm around me and began to drag him off. The Dream-Snatchers were coming. They had seen us. We couldn’t hide. And we couldn’t run either. We were too slow. Even if I abandoned Jake to save myself—something I was not planning to do in a million years—my many injuries would still slow me down. And neither of us was armed, whereas the Dream-Snatchers all had guns. We couldn’t even fight them.

‘Oi! You! Fuckwits!’

I suddenly realised with a lurch in my stomach that it was Tim’s voice that I could hear over the roar of the runway.

Watching as I crouched with Jake beside the metal steps leading into the plane as though it would give us some kind of cover, I saw, to my horror, that the Dream-Snatchers turned to face Tim and Rina, now standing in the middle of the vast, open, concrete space that separated us from the terminal.

‘Yeah, come on, you twats!’ Tim jeered. ‘Or are you all such cowards that you only go after the cripples?’

‘Tim!’ I yelled.

But it was too late.

The Dream-Snatchers were turning.

Even from here, I could see the fear flash across Rina’s eyes.

And I could see how Tim looked at her.

And I could see how his lips moved in a way that looked like he was saying ‘oh, shit.’

And then they both pounced off their back legs and charged towards the terminal.

NO!’ I yelled. ‘Don’t you dare go after them you Soulless bastards!’ Could they even speak English? I had to assume they could, because they had reacted to Tim’s insults.

They ignored me, preferring Tim and Rina’s temptations rather than me and Jake; injured and crippled. They knew we weren’t going to get far. They knew they could probably deal with Tim and Rina and then come back for us, and we would barely even be at the terminal.

Well, I wasn’t letting that happen easily.

Gunshots crashed across the runway, firing through the empty air, thankfully missing Tim and Rina each time. I could hear distant screams from the people in and around the terminal.

‘Come on,’ I said, pulling Jake up off the floor. Wrapping his arm around my shoulder and beginning to run, I didn’t care that my side burned with a new kind of excruciating fire. I almost didn’t care that Jake was hurting. However much pain he was in, it would be over soon enough. But if we were caught, well that was a different story.

‘Where have Tim and Rina gone?’ Jake asked, pulling away from me as I charged on, blind and relentless, to look for them. In my mind, I was back in the Maze, and I had one simple goal in mind—to find the exit before time ran out. Only, this time the exit was Carl’s car, and my time only ran out when, or if, the Dream-Snatchers caught us.

I wasn’t going to let that happen.

‘They’re over there!’ I cried suddenly, watching them reach the terminal doors. We had almost got to the terminal too, now, but we were much further along to the right, propelling through a crowd of tourists as they were painstakingly slowly departing a shuttle bus. Their cries of shock and protest washed over me, having no effect.

And then I saw Tim collapse face-first onto the ground.

‘NO!’ Almost forgetting about Jake, I raced forward. I heard Rina’s shriek from two hundred metres away as she stopped and bent to heave Tim to his feet.

She stopped a moment too long.


Tim was dazed and hurt, but it was a stun that had shot him; not a bullet. Initially I was relieved, but as I heaved him back up and he staggered into me, I suddenly felt rough hands wrapping around me. Screaming in my disorientation, I lashed out wildly, not prepared to go down without a fight. I was not that kind of person. Once I was. But not anymore.

My hand collided with flesh and I heard a grunt of pain. I hit out again, but swung my arm into empty air. I was being pulled away from Tim. He was getting further away from me. In desperation, I strained my arm out towards him, but as he reached out to me, the Dream-Snatcher who was holding him shoved his hands roughly behind his back. The only female Dream-Snatcher produced a set of handcuffs and shackled his hands tightly behind him.

‘Tim!’ I shrieked frantically. I lashed out again, almost breaking free of the tall man who held me, but he grabbed me around the waist, holding me tightly, pulling against my stomach so hard that I could barely breathe.

‘You let her go!’ Tim’s face was almost purple with anger. The other two Dream-Snatchers began marching him off, shoving him forwards, as I wrestled with the third.

‘Get off them!’

Craning my neck over the Dream-Snatcher’s shoulder, I could see Simeon running towards us, clutching his side in agony, running in an awkward manner, too out of breath to even speak clearly.

‘Go, Simeon!’ I shrieked in a voice so high-pitched that all the words merged into a scream. I was shoved forwards so that I staggered, and as I went to lash out again, the man caught my right wrist in his burly hand and wrenched it behind my back. Grabbing my flailing left arm too, he pulled it into place, and was fastening handcuffs round them before I could wriggle away again. Still struggling, fighting no matter how futile my efforts were, I was turned round enough so that I could see Simeon standing there, his eyes wide and his mouth open in horror.

‘GO!’ I shrieked once again. He wasn’t listening. I kicked out at the Dream-Snatcher and, even though I was only wearing light shoes, my foot collided hard with his shin. But it was no use. He was so big and so strong, and my hands were already bound.

Finally, Simeon began to see sense. His eyes caught the sun’s light, and I could see how they were watery, but now was not a time to be afraid. He couldn’t be afraid.

Behind him, I saw Jake desperately limping up. That somehow hurt even more; to see the pure, undiluted terror on his face as he called out my name in agony that stretched far beyond the bounds of mere physical pain.

I was shoved hard in the other direction at that point, pushed after Tim, who was already half way across the concrete expanse. I could see a van in the distance. It was unmarked, but I knew that was where they were taking us. And once we were inside, we would be trapped for who knew how many years.

Janice Hartnett had betrayed us. She said we were free. And she lied.

Shoved roughly in the back, I stumbled forward, and craned my neck round behind me to see the last glimpse of Simeon and Jake, frozen, unable to do anything, but unable to leave.

But there must have been something in my eyes; something so terrible and so hopeless, that they began to back off. I saw Simeon grab out to Jake behind him, and step backwards, and then again, fear and anger on his face. They weren’t going to abandon us. We wouldn’t be in the Institution forever.

And yet, we could be in there for years. I wasn’t sure that I could bear it. There was almost no limit to how long they could sentence us for. I could be in there until I was an old woman. All my memories would have been slowly burnt away, singed at the edges until they collapsed in on themselves. And then, once I got out, whatever anyone said, I wouldn’t remember. I wouldn’t be the same. I wouldn’t be Rina; not anymore. I would be plain old Katherine all over again; the girl who was always in the background, always in the middle, always unnoticed, never expected to become anything special.

The fragile illusions of freedom I had held up for the past couple of years would be shattered, and there would be a dull numbness in place of my imagination. And it wouldn’t change. It wouldn’t be reversed even once the drugs stopped.

So as the man shoved me forward again, I became a dead weight in his hands, almost collapsing under the force of the revelation about the rest of my life. I wouldn’t be a martyr; I wouldn’t go down in a blaze of glory. I would just fizzle away, slowly dying inside as I sat, cooped up, unstable, confused and insane, behind my bars, my days all blurring into one long, perpetual mix of sleep and numbness.

‘You let her go!’ Tim was still fighting. I could hear him. But his voice was distant. It was subdued and muffled, and I didn’t respond back. I should have kept fighting, but the spark within me had been doused.
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Well, I was never one for being nice to my characters. The good news is, though, that I plan to post the final - yes, final - chapter before I go on holiday. Considering I'm leaving on Friday, I'm hoping that's not too long to ask you to wait.

In other good news, I'm well under way with writing Dreamers once again. I've had writer's block for the past three months, and I was beginning to fear that it had really become terminal, but a sudden burst of inspiration last week has left me with plenty of ideas for the later books.