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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11. Epilogue

     “Ryan?” I said, looking up at him. He glanced down at me and smiled sadly.

     “Yeah, superman?” he answered, brushing back some hair from my face.

     We were back in his room relaxing after the trying adventure we’d had a few hours before. Ryan’s injuries were healing and my head was still pounding from the concrete falling on me so neither of us was able to sleep. Instead of joining the celebration with everyone at the camp, we decided to turn in and try for a relaxing night. Ryan was sitting on his bed, reading a book, with his back against the wall and I was lying down with my head in his lap.

     “What are you reading?”

     Ryan sighed and closed the book, tossing it onto the floor.

     “Wasn’t really reading. Can’t concentrate,” he admitted. I frowned, noticing the thoughtful look on his face.

     “What’s wrong?”

     “Just thinking,” he said. I didn’t push him further. We’d both been through a lot; it was normal for him to seem a little distant, right?

     I sighed softly and shut my eyes. Then, just as sleep began taking over, I felt something warm on my neck. Slowly, I reopened my eyes and saw Ryan’s finger gently running along my jaw and cheek. He lightly outlined my lips and traced the tip of my nose, giving me a look I couldn’t decipher.

     “Ryan?”

     “You know why you ended up in the DCB, right?” he asked suddenly.

     “W-what?”

     “You know why you ended up in the DCB, right?” he repeated. I frowned up at him.

     “Um, yeah. My family: they committed treason against the Region,” I answered.

     “Wrong,” he whispered.

     “Huh?” I said, sitting up. He smiled like he knew something I didn’t.

     “You’re wrong. Your parents were trialed as traitors, but they weren’t,” he said, wistfully. “They were heroes...”

     I waited for him to continue. Since my parents were executed for ‘treason’ when I was fairly young, I really didn’t know them and my foster mother never told me any stories about what they were like. I grew up believing that my parents had been rightfully punished for going against the Region.

     “They were sent to the DCB, for ‘treason’,” he said the word with disgust. “And executed because of their crimes, but really they only did what they thought was morally right. I-I’m sorry, Jack.”

     “Sorry?”

     “One night, Officers caught me stealing some sweets from the candy shop on our block,” he sighed. “My mother was on her own since my father died before I was born. It was just she, my sister and I. She was working two jobs to support us and even with all that work, we were only able to afford the necessities. I must have gone months eating the same chicken and rice every day and night.”

     “So one afternoon, I was walking my sister home from school and I saw the candy shop. I told her to go on ahead and then walked into the store. Long story short, the owner called the Officers and I ran. They chased me for blocks, until I got to the edge of the city, then I was able to hide in some bushes.

     "Of course, there was no point in running or hiding. I had been scanned before entering the candy shop, so the Region knew who I was and all they had to do was turn on the tracker to find me. So, like any child, I started crying. I didn’t have much time though, so I decided to keep going and see as much as I could before the S.R.U. came to get me. That’s when it happened.

     “I stumbled upon a house practically hidden in the trees. There were two people living there: a couple named Charles and Lisa. As soon as they spotted me, I started running. Charles came after me though and when he caught me, he assured me that they were not going to call the Officers. After disposing of my ring, he took me back to the house and Lisa told me that they were actually against the Region and all that it stood for. Apparently, Charles and Lisa had been planning a mass escape from the city.

     “Later, they took me down into their basement and showed me how they’d been planning to flee from the city. Underground, I found other people digging a tunnel under the wall to the outside. Everything had worked out somehow: my mom would now only have to worry about feeding one mouth, I’d be able to escape the city and its flawed way of life and I’d found a new temporary family.”

     Ryan smiled sadly and sighed. I scooted close to him; eager to hear the rest of the story, although I was pretty sure I knew what was going to happen.

     “So for a couple of hours I was safe,” he continued. “I met Charles and Lisa’s son (cute little guy), I helped dig the tunnel, and was able to talk about freely about the Region. For a few hours, everything was perfect.”

     He paused, obviously lost in thought, and I waited for him to continue.

     “Then it happened. The Officers stormed in, almost a hundred of them, and grabbed everyone: all the people digging and Charles and Lisa. They grabbed them all and took them. Luckily, when Charles heard them coming in, he’d shoved me into a cabinet and that’s where I hid while the Patrols ransacked the building. But, the Officers did find Charles and Lisa’s son, who had been upstairs, and they took him. As they were taking him out the door, he turned around and our eyes met. He saw me hiding, but he didn’t say anything.”

     Ryan glanced down at me, smiling, and then put his hand over mine.

     “That’s the day I fell in love with you: the first time you saved my life.”

     I gave him a small smile.

     “Do you, um, think you can tell me more about my parents?” I asked shyly. He grinned and nodded.

     “Yeah, but some other time, ‘kay? Let’s just relax for tonight. Tomorrow, Jean’s going to tell everyone his plans for the Region so I have a feeling we won’t have free time like this for a while…”

     I nodded and lay back down into his lap. Sighing, I closed my eyes as I felt Ryan’s fingers run through my hair.

     The past two weeks contained memories of the worst and the best times of my life, the scariest and happiest times, the times when I've felt most trapped and most free.  I resisted sleep as it drifted nearer. I didn't want to wake up in the Region and find that it had all been a dream. I was afraid that I might wake up and find that cursed ring around my finger…

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