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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9. Promises

     Something tore inside me as the gunshot echoed in my ears. Time seemed to slow as I turned around and saw Amber. Though Ryan was clearly trying to prevent me from looking, I could see her a few feet away, clutching her chest.

     The seconds seemed like hours; she was thrown back by the force of the shot and was doubled over in pain. Her eyes met mine briefly as she turned slightly, but the moment passed too quickly and then she fell. As soon as she hit the ground, I knew she was no longer breathing.

     My legs tried to take me over to her, but Ryan was in my way. Tears were spilling from my eyes so quickly I didn’t bother wiping them away. I felt weak. My hand pushed against Ryan’s back, but I wasn’t strong enough to move him.

     “Ryan…” I pleaded quietly. Without turning to face me, he shook his head. His shoulders were stiff and his body tensed as Amber’s brother began to talk again.

     “As we said before, resistance is futile. Do not make this harder on yourselves. Take that girl as an example.”

     Suddenly my vision blurred red. Amber’s brother had just witnessed her death and he was telling us to use her as an example. His face held no remorse, his voice was indifferent, something was wrong.

     His eyes met mine as I watched him step down from the truck. His pupils were dull black and his face held no emotion. It was like he wasn’t fully conscious of what he was doing or where he was. Robotically, he stepped into line with the rest of the Officers and loaded his weapon.

     Silence. No one moved on either side. None of the Officers so much as blinked as they watched the Outcasts. The only thing audible was the gentle wind blowing through the empty buildings.

     I turned my head slightly as someone behind us started walking slowly. The crowd parted for him as Collin walked to the front to stand next to Ryan. I noticed a large firearm swinging in his right hand as he moved.

     “Ah bloody ‘ell. This is for Amber, ya arse!” With those final words, he charged forward, his weapon aimed at the line of Officers. Multiple shots sounded and many of the stunned men on the other side fell as they were hit.

     Everyone burst into action. The Officers returned fire and I gasped as one of the boys standing near me, toppled forward. The Outcasts charged after Collin, each with a new weapon in hand. People fell from both sides as the battle commenced.

     I felt bullets flying past my ears, missing me by a few inches, and heard screams from both sides. Someone from our side was throwing small explosives into the group of Officers and the ground shook violently as one of the S.R.U.’s trucks blew up.

     “Let’s go,” Ryan said, grabbing my arm. I took a step forward, ready to run into the fight but was yanked backwards instead. I was barely able to keep up as Ryan led me away from the battle and into a nearby abandoned building. He kicked in the door and pushed me inside. I stumbled, but caught myself before falling.

     “Ryan, what the—”

     “Stay here. Do not move no matter what you see or hear,” he said firmly.

     “I can help! I don’t have to hide!” I yelled, gunshots and explosions nearly drowning out my voice.

     “No! Stay here Jack!” Ryan ordered, turning to leave.

     “No!” I insisted, following him to the doorway.

     Then he turned and grabbed me. Suddenly, I was in his arms and my lips were pressed against his. Ryan hugged me fiercely and kissed me with the same amount of force. Our lips melted together then parted and I felt a sigh escape from my mouth.

     Just like when Amber had been shot, time slowed to a sluggish pace. The moment was perfect; nothing mattered but the two of us. Ryan’s heavy breathing masked the sounds from the fight outside, his scent hid the smell of gunpowder, his touch erased the fear.

     Too soon, he pulled away, leaving me lightheaded and warm. His forehead pressed against mine and my nose bumped his gently.

     “I don’t need you to help. I need you to be safe,” he whispered. Then without another word, he turned and ran out of the building.

     I shivered slightly from the absence of body heat and stepped back as all my senses returned. Just outside the walls that surrounded me, I could hear voices, young and old screaming, crying, begging…

     I dropped down against one of the cold concrete walls, hugging my knees against my chest. I knew there were people dying not too far from where I was safely hiding. I was a coward. I was no hero: nothing close.

     The earth shook with the force of another explosion and I braced myself. Parts of the ceiling above me broke loose and I rolled away, trying to avoid them. My knee slid against something sharp. I hissed and glanced down at my pants; they were starting to stain red from the blood. I groaned and applied pressure to the cut.

     I lost my balance as yet another explosive detonated and fell onto my stomach. The unmistakable sound of concrete cracking echoed through the building and I looked up just in time to watch a large chunk split in half and fall. I tried to duck out of the way, but was too slow. The slab smashed against my back and I instantly knocked out.

 

Ba-bump. Ba-bump. Ba-bump.

     The pain and sound of my throbbing head slowly woke me up. My eyes fluttered open and I groaned. The sides of my skull ached terribly and the hunk of concrete was still pressing me into the floor.

     I blinked rapidly, trying to focus my blurry eyesight. Once I was seeing somewhat clearly, I pushed against the stone. Though I wasn’t able life it completely, I did manage to slip out from underneath it. Taking a deep breath, I sat up slowly and check myself for major injuries.

     The sides of my vision were still hazy, but I could see well enough. When I pressed my hand against my head, I felt blood in my hair, but it was coming from my forehead. Using my high-school science education as a reference, I was sure that as long as I didn’t pass out or fall asleep for the next 24 hours, I’d be fine.

     After great difficulty, I managed to tear off one of the sleeves from my shirt and used it to bind my bloody knee. Slowly, I stood and tried walking. A small pain ran up my leg, but it was tolerable. After assessing myself for any more injuries and finding none, I started limping towards the door.

     It was quiet. The sounds I’d been hearing from before were gone. Nothing was exploding and there were no voices audible.  I took a deep breath and stuck my head out of the doorway. Quickly, I looked around and then took a step out.

     The ‘battlefield’ was deserted and the S.R.U. trucks were gone. Bodies were strewn all over the camp; some those of Officers but most were Outcasts. I cringed as I walked through the aftermath of the battle.

     A shiver ran up my spine as I saw the corpse of a child lying among the dead. I spotted several others near him and felt my heart drop. Amongst those who had lost their lives, there were Officers and fighters, but also women, children, and some elderly. My eyes scanned face after face, searching for one person in particular.

     My anxiety grew more and more every time I did not see Ryan. If he was not injured or dead, that meant he’d been captured by the S.R.U., which seemed like an even crueler fate. I leaned over the last body and closed my eyes. Ryan was nowhere to be seen and neither were any of the others; Cameron, Collin and Jean were also missing.

     I covered my eyes with my palm, knowing the torture they were going to endure. None of them deserved that type of punishment. I needed to do something, I—

     Suddenly, something wrapped around my ankle and yanked me down towards the ground. I yelped, but managed to hold my balance.

     “Jack…” someone whispered. I froze.

     I looked down and saw a girl lying sideways on the ground. She was obviously injured and barely able to hold onto my leg.

     “Tammy!” I screamed, dropping down to my knees.

     “Are you okay? Where are you hurt?” I said frantically searching for her injury.

     “The bombs. They caused some shrapnel to fly into my back,” she said, her facing contorted with pain. I moved to look at her back and saw pieces of metal and wood embedded in her skin.

     “Do I take it out?” I asked, uncertainly.

     She nodded slightly, closing her eyes.

     “Okay, stay with my Tammy. I’m going to help,” I whispered, grabbing a piece of metal.

     Gently, I wiggled it free and cast it away. I felt her breathing hitch and knew that she was in pain.

     “Don’t worry, it’ll be over soon.”

 

 

     After about five minutes of carefully removing the shrapnel, Tammy was finally able to move freely. She sat up and tried her best not to cringe. Her back was covered in cuts, but if she moved cautiously and was treated correctly, she’d live.

     “Let’s find some medicine for your back,” I said, supporting her as she stood.

     “No Jack,” she said firmly. “We need to find the others, they were taken by the S.R.U.”

     I felt my heart drop into my stomach as my assumptions were confirmed. They were inside the Region, in the Department of Correctional Behavior.

     “You need to recover.”

     “No, we need to rescue them before it’s too late. We can’t waste any time,” she insisted. We started walking towards what was left of the Outcast camp.

     “We won’t be able to do anything if your injuries aren’t treated.”

     “Forget about me for a second!” she said so suddenly, I stumbled a bit. “Think about Collin, Cameron and poor Jean! Don’t forget about Ryan! They need our help, Jack! These monsters killed Amber! We need to do something!”

     She pointed to the edge of the battle field where Amber had been shot. All that was there now was a small mound of dirt where I assumed someone had buried her quickly. I looked back at Tammy and saw tears in her eyes. Adrenaline was clearly running through her veins. She was ready to burst into the Region with just me as back-up to save our friends.

     “Jack, we need to show them that we won’t be defeated by the S.R.U.  Show them that they can’t just do whatever they want. We took down the asshole that killed Amber, but that's not enough. They need to realize they can’t just treat us like garbage. We need to try, Jack. We’ll either take down the S.R.U. or die trying. Don’t give up.”

     Promise me you won’t give up… I’d promised Ryan I wouldn’t.

     I'm going to keep you safe, Amber... 

     I'd already broken one promise, I couldn't break another. I needed to get Ryan back; I wanted him back.

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