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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8. Shock and Loss

     I ran out and ducked into one of the small alleys between the buildings. I didn’t think I’d ever been so embarrassed. My cheeks heated just thinking about what Tammy had been about to tell Amber.

     Sure, Ryan was nice and considerate towards me, but it wasn’t like Tammy thought. It’s not like he liked me. That would just be too weird. He was my friend; one of my only friends now that I was an Outcast and hadn’t met anyone else yet.

     I leaned against a concrete wall and took a deep breath. Yeah, Ryan had been overly nice by taking me into his room because I was hurt, but that’s the only reason he’d done it: because I’d been hurt.

     I rubbed my eyes, trying to clear my head. Taking another deep breath, I banged the back of my head softly against the wall behind me.

     “There you are.”

     I looked up and saw Ryan standing a few feet away from me. He frowned.

     “You ran out of there pretty quickly. Are you feeling okay? We could go back to my…”

     His sentence hung in the air as he stepped forward. Automatically, I took a small step back, trying my best for a smile.

     “I’m fine. Actually, I should go back inside; Tammy seems to think… something. And I should tell her she’s got it all wrong,” I said, laughing nervously. The whole time I stared down at my shoes, refusing to meet Ryan’s eyes. I could feel him staring at me, his piercing blue eyes searching for answers.

     “What did she say? Nothing that insulted you I’m sure,” he said, walking forward until he was a couple of steps away.

     “No no, nothing like that. I should go though…” I trailed off. Gathering all the strength inside of me, I took a couple steps forward and tried to brush past him.

     A hand lashed out and gently, I was pushed back against the concrete wall. Shocked, I looked up at Ryan. His pale eyes were lit with amusement.

     “Tell me.”

     “Sh-she said, well Tammy im-implied that-”

     Suddenly, I felt a slight pressure against my mouth and my eyes widened when I realized that Ryan had leaned forward and he was kissing me. I was like a cartoon character, the way my eyes practically popped open. I felt him smile against my lips and saw him pull back grinning.

     “You like me,” I finished, my voice barely a whisper. My lips were trembling from the kiss and I struggled to take a breath. I looked up at Ryan.

     He’s messing with me. I searched his face for any signs of mocking, but found none. He was smiling and it seemed genuine.

     “You know,” Ryan said, his breath warming my face. “I think Tammy knows what she’s talking about.”

     He put his palms against the wall, his arms brushing against mine, and effectively blocked my escape. Ryan loomed over me, his grin never wavering.

     “You’re serious,” I said. It wasn’t a question. From his expression, I could see he meant everything he’d said and done.

     Ryan smirked.

     “Huh." I wasn’t sure how I felt about the situation. I wasn’t angry, but I wasn’t sure if I was happy about it either. I was just shocked really.

     “Huh?” Ryan asked, clearly amused.

     “I don’t know what to say,” I admitted.

     “Well superman. You don’t really have to say anything,” he whispered, leaning forward again.

     Ryan’s hand came up to cup the side of my face as he kissed me once more. Immediately, my hands pressed against his chest, feeling his heartbeat underneath my fingertips. I felt one of Ryan’s arms wrap around me and I was tugged closer to him. I pulled away from the kiss and gave him a small smile.

     “So, I hear you’re coming to train with everyone today,” I told him.

 

 

     The sun was at its highest and the merciless heat was cooking us all. There were about fifteen others outside with me as we ran, jumped, kicked and punched our way through the rigorous training. After about three hours of exercising, most of us were ready to throw in the towel. It had gotten so hot, many of us had decided to take off our shirts; the only poor soul left covered up was Amber.

     I glanced over at her as we lined up for the next drill. She looked tired, but I knew there was no way she was going to give up. I watched as she reached the front of the line and approached Ryan.

     He held a long wooden stick and was standing completely still. When Amber was only a few inches from landing a kick to his jaw, he sprung into action, swinging the pole with deadly grace. One strike to knock her off balance, then another to trip her and she was down. Not surprisingly, Amber hadn’t managed to beat Ryan either. Almost all of us had gotten a turn to try and take him down, but no one had succeeded yet.

     I gulped when I realized there was only one more person in front of me. Soon, I’d have to face him. The guy in front of me took off and I recognized his curly red hair as Collin charged at Ryan, running at full speed. I flinched, sure that they were going to collide, but at the very last moment, Ryan ducked and Collin was swept off balance. With a loud thud, he crashed into the ground.

     “Sorry man,” I heard Ryan say to Collin with a smile. “Come on, next.”

     Mentally preparing myself, I took a few steps forward and—

     Suddenly, an enormous crash sounded throughout the Outcast camp. I jumped and turned frantically to find the source of the noise. A large cloud of dust was in the air, temporarily blinding all of us. We were training only a few hundred feet from the center of the camp which was where the crash seemed to come from. Everyone around me tensed as they tried to see through the hazy air.

     I felt someone behind me and turned to find Ryan frowning. He put a hand on my shoulder.

     “I guess they brought the fight to us,” he mumbled. I felt my heartbeat double in pace as I realized what he was saying.

     “You mean—”

BEEP!

     A shrill beep emitted through the air and shivers ran down my spine at the memory of the torture the S.R.U. had put me through. Ryan’s hand tightened and he pushed me back, moving to stand in front of me.

     An electronic voice sounded through the air, cutting off the harsh beep.

     “This is the Department of Correctional Behavior. We have come on behalf of Region 29 to cleanse the area. Resistance is pointless. We are here to take you back into the city and reeducate you. We have come to help.”

     Murmurs sounded through the crowd of Outcasts and my eyebrows rose; I was shocked that the S.R.U. was being so generous. Maybe it was in our best interest to take this opportunity. This was a rare chance. We were going to be let back into the city! Into society…

     “Ryan!” I said, the hope obvious in my voice.

     “They’re lying, superman,” he muttered, turning around to face me. “Promise me, you won’t believe the S.R.U. no matter what they tell you. Promise me you won’t give in.”

     I was surprised at the affection in his voice.

     “I won’t,” I promised. Then, a different voice began talking.

     “Outcasts of Region 29 please proceed in an orderly fashion into the vehicles. You shall be reeducated and then be given the chance at a normal life. Do not waste this opportunity.”

     Someone nearby gasped. I looked over and saw that Amber was staring at the person who’d spoken with her mouth wide open.

     The dust was clearing so now we could see the people who’d come into the camp. There were five vehicles and around a hundred Correctional Officers scattered. They were all heavily armed and wore masks to cover their faces. Only one person stood apart from the crowd.

     On top of one of the trucks, stood a tall guy in all black holding a megaphone. His expression was indifferent as he stared us all down. I frowned, unable to see what had gotten Amber so worked up.

     Then, the wind blew and I saw it: a red bandana tied around his forehead.

     “Brother…”

     Before anyone could stop her, Amber started running towards the Officers. I moved to run after her, but found Ryan’s arm blocking me. Quickly, he turned me around and pressed his hands against my ears.

BANG.

     Even with his palms muffling the noise, I heard the unmistakable sound of a gunshot. Tears stung my eyes and I shut them tightly so I wouldn’t let them out.

Amber…

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