Region 29

Jack Taylor is a 19 year old boy, but to Region 29 and the S.R.U. Corporation, he's Employee #7905. Because of a crime his family committed against the S.R.U, he's reassigned to the Department of Correctional Behavior.
As soon as he's reassigned, Jack knows his life will never be the same. He will be a prisoner of the Region. When he learns that there's a worser fate in store for him and all of those condemned to the DCB, how will Jack escape this sentence?
With the help of all those that have also been cast away by society, Jack slowly uncovers the dirty secrets of Region 29 that the S.R.U. Corporation has been hiding. But will finding the truth cost him his life?

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4. Burn

     “No. No. No. No,” Amber repeated, shaking her head and stepping away from me. I looked down at her sadly.

     Her eyes were shining with tears, but she wasn’t crying just yet. I didn’t reach out to her, knowing she just needed some space for the moment. But, eventually, we’d have to start looking for a way out.

     “Amber,” I said softly. She glanced up at me and I took one of her hands in mine.

     “Amber, you know if we find a way out, it’s possible that maybe your brother took the same route.”

     She stared at me, expressionless for a moment. Then, her mouth curved into a small, sweet smile.

     “My brother was always really smart, you know. You’re right, Jack. He’s probably waiting for me.”

     I smiled and nodded slightly, feeling horrible about myself. Giving Amber false hope was a terrible thing to do, but if it got her out of there alive, it seemed worth it. If we did make it out safely maybe there was an actual chance her brother was waiting for her somewhere.

     Amber wiped her eyes dry with her jacket sleeve and took my other hand.

     “Let’s go, Jack,” she said firmly.

 

 

     “What about the vent you came from?” Amber asked. I pointed upwards and she frowned.

     “We’d never be able to get up there,” I said sadly. Frustrated, I threw myself onto the ground, covering my face with my hands. Amber settled down next to me.

     Together, we’d searched along all four sides of the room and had found nothing. There were no air vents, open doors or ways to get through the closed doors. It seemed like we were actually trapped in the dump. There was no way out.

     “Jack?” Amber’s anxious tone surprised me. I lifted my head.

     “Are we going to die in here?” she asked. I sighed.

     “I don’t know,” I answered, closing my eyes and laying back against some kind of appliance.

     She frowned and scooted closer to me; her head rested against my shoulder. I felt her take a couple deep breaths.

     “Hey Jack,” she whispered.

     “Hmm?”

     “I'm kinda sleepy...” Amber whispered, her voice getting softer. I opened my eyes and looked down at her. Both her eyes were closed and her mouth was slightly open. Amber was fast asleep.

     I sat there and watched her sleep for a bit. She furrowed her eyebrows and whispered something multiple times; she was probably dreaming.

     Poor thing. What type of torment had she gone through? How long had she been in the DCB? What had she done to get there?

     Even though those all seemed like pretty important questions, the only one on my mind was: How are we going to get out of here? Looking down at her peacefully sleeping, I knew that failure was not going to be an option. I was going to get both of us out of there.

     I’m going to keep you safe, Amber.

     With that promise clear in my mind, I drifted off to sleep, only to be awoken soon after by the smell of smoke.

 

 

 

     I held Amber firmly by the shoulders and shook her. She wasn't responding. Then, her eyelids slowly opened and I exhaled with relief.

     “Jack?” she whispered, looking up at me.

     “We’re out of time. We need to find a way out, now.”

     I coughed; the smoke was getting thicker and harder to breathe. A large noise sounded from the other side of the room and I looked up to see the piles of garbage aflame and falling over. The smell that reached my nose was barely breathable. I rolled down the sleeve of my jacket and pressed it over my face to block out the odor.

     “Jack,” Amber coughed out. I grabbed her hand and hauled her up.

     Half of the room was already in flames; the heat was starting to reach us and I felt sweat building up on my forehead. Momentarily I imagined what it would feel like to be burned alive: the fire first setting your clothing ablaze, then the heat reaching your sensitive skin, turning it red. Eventually, your flesh would begin to peel off from the heat and you’d scream. No one would hear me though. I’d die with my own cries for help, echoing off the walls of the incinerator.

     No, there was no way I’d die like that. I hadn’t done anything to be sentenced to this kind of death. I glanced down at Amber briefly.

     What had she done to deserve a fate like this? I wondered. Her emerald eyes met mine and I saw the fear in them. She was just as scared.

     “Jack, we have to move,” she said. I took a quick look behind us and saw she was right. The flames were quickly making their way across the room and if we didn’t move, we’d be swallowed up by them.

     The smoke being created by the fire was making it very hard to see. My eyes started stinging from the fumes and I rubbed away the tears that were forming. Navigating my way through the room became a difficult task.

     My foot got caught against something and I tripped. I stuck my hands out to stop myself and something sharp cut my palm. I cried out in pain, but it was barely audible in all the commotion.

     Down on the ground, the air was cooler and somewhat clean. I closed my eyes, not wanting to get up. I lay on the floor with my hand bleeding heavily and the world above me burning.

 

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