The Sequels to Syrrah's Game SGSequels

chapter 10

Tuesday, August 8th, 11:30 AM

Near Summit, SD

 

Evan drove the Ram onto the road adjacent to the rest area, Highway 15. He glanced at Neraeh. “Now, I don’t want to be too repetitive here, but I need to be certain. Are you really, truly positive you want to come with us now?”

“I’m sorry for putting you through this, Evan. Yes. I definitely do. Like I said, you believe me, and you want to help. I’m not pushing you away again. And again, I’m very sorry.”

His eyes on the road, steering wheel steadily controlled with one hand, he reached his other hand over to her. “Neraeh. Take my hand.” She did, somewhat hesitantly. He wrapped her small hand up gently, warmly. “You don’t have to be sorry. You don’t know me, or that crazy dude sitting back there, well enough yet. It is totally understandable.” He released her hand.

“Crazy dude?” Freddy leaned forward. “Hey, I bet she knows me better than you.”

“Yeah, right. She doesn’t know you’re actually a science nerd.”

Neraeh laughed. “A science nerd? Is that true, Freddy?”

“I’m all sorts of science and physics, you have no idea. Don’t be fooled by my chilled persona. I plan on getting a physics and computer science double major. Same college as this dude here. NDSU. But, enough of that now. So, who do you know better?”

“Well, both of you equally, I would have to say. At least for now.”

“Okay,” Freddy said. “I can accept that.” He leaned back into his seat.

Evan laughed. “Yeah, sure. Me too.”

“But, not to change the subject,” she said. “Evan. What happened with that guy back there, or should I say, my stalker?”

“He got stupid, even more stupid than when he was with you, I would imagine,” Evan told her, his concentration mostly on I-29, the highway now ascending, with many small, tree-less hills and open fields of crops spreading out in all directions across the South Dakota landscape. “Did he touch you or hurt you?”

She exhaled a breath. “Well, yeah, he did. But only in a nice way, I guess you could say. Like place his hand on my shoulder, or my thigh, but only briefly. He was definitely interested in me.”

“That would explain a lot, with his behavior. I’m glad he didn’t hurt you.”

“Why, what did he do to you?”

“Grabbed my arm, as I was trying to leave. I’m fine, though.” Evan glanced at Freddy in the rear-view mirror. “Fred. Could you do me a favor? Find out who manages that rest area, please. I want to file a report.”

“Sure. Absolutely.” Freddy held his phone on the middle compartment and began typing away. “You would think he would have thought twice, with security cameras rolling.”

“Yeah,” Evan said, “I was thinking the same thing. Maybe he had them turned off.”  

“I thought about that too. Would explain his touchy-feely behavior with Neraeh, but he’ll be getting huge ramifications, like a visit from the police, for having them turned off. Can’t be part of his job description.” 

“Well, he most certainly deserves ramifications, for scaring me like he did,” Neraeh said. “Harmless or not.”

“He wasn’t harmless, trust me on that,” Evan said. “Fred. Just glad you left with Neraeh right away.” 

“No problem, dude. I know the procedure. We think the same.”

“Evan, did you strike him or something?” she asked.

“No, no. Of course not. I only slipped out of his grip. I try not to ever fight unless absolutely necessary. Winning without ever fighting is always best. Know what I mean?”

“Oh sure, I do. Sounds like the nicer thing to do.”

“Smarter thing, I would say. Not always nicer.”

They continued the drive. Evan kept them on I-29 this time, instead of Highway 12 to Waubay. He explained I-29 to I-90 might take a bit longer but would not endanger them to two-way traffic, since he didn’t want to risk any head-on collisions.

Discussions varied as they traveled along, with the main one, at first, centering on Neraeh’s dad. She either texted or talked to him, for long, drawn-out conversations, about how she was convinced of her safety, that Evan and Freddy were both trustworthy, and MOTC was not a cult, they were not satanists. But it wasn’t until Evan, and next Freddy, spoke to Hanson, her father, that he finally seemed somewhat convinced she would be safe, though he made a point of telling her to return ASAP. Evan explained he would most definitely bring her back promptly.

But the one thing all of them did not explain was why. Neraeh simply could not tell her dad she believed Syrrah to be Dana Zypher. They really didn’t lie. Evan merely explained they were visiting a town he was familiar with, Riverton, Wyoming, with a stop at Casper along the way too.

A short time later Dad called, but Evan didn’t answer. At that point, after all the discussions with Hanson, Evan only wanted to drive. But he did text Dad a few times, when they stopped for food and to use the bathrooms, though it was difficult; Dad was quite upset, brought up Bison football practice, their band, Master Ren, but none of it mattered. This had to be accomplished and nothing was getting in the way.

Other conversations took place. The South Dakota landscapes. Neraeh asking Freddy more about his college plans. And Freddy giving more details about his MS, with Neraeh kindly showing concern and compassion.

In between conversations and their frequent food or bathroom stops, Freddy eventually found an online contact form to file a complaint against the rest area guy. Ha-ha, Evan thought, the man calling him a Rez punk? That could really destroy his life, if pursued. But no point, really. He only told Freddy to emphasize how he mistreated Neraeh, truly scaring her.

Yet even though Neraeh seemed more comfortable, things weren’t exactly right. Each time Evan questioned her about Syrrah, in their past, their childhood, Neraeh was hesitant, explained she really didn’t want to talk about it. And eventually the conversations dwindled altogether. She became quiet, not even speaking much to Freddy. She put on her headphones and focused her gaze out the window at the passing scenery.

Doubt began seeping into Evan’s thoughts. He could only conclude she simply had to do this, for herself, no matter any perceived risk, and really wasn’t too interested in becoming close friends with him, or Freddy, at least not yet.

Finally, nearing 10:45 PM, darkness filling the sky, Casper’s nightlights came into view up ahead in the distance.

Freddy and Neraeh checked on their phones, with Evan joining in the discussion about prices, star ratings, and co-joined rooms, and they eventually agreed upon a Motel 6.

Evan parked the Ram near the motel’s office. They all walked in together.

Much to Evan’s disagreement, Neraeh insisted on paying for her own room. He finally sighed, agreed, and only paid for a room for himself and Freddy.

Since all the co-joined rooms were taken, they could only receive two rooms next to each other, though fortunately on the first floor, with doorways leading directly outside to the parked Ram. Evan told Neraeh that if she needed anything, anything at all, to text or call. He would then walk over to her room first before she opened the door. He didn’t want her walking outside alone, whatsoever, since that could be very risky in this unfamiliar area. 

Once Evan made sure she was settled in her room, her door locked, he walked back to their room. He could see that Freddy had already brought in the guitar and backpacks, placing both near a small lamp table by the window.

Freddy was lying on his bed, the one at the far end of the room. He was looking on his phone.

Evan plopped down on his bed, phone in hand, and lay back until comfortable. “Well, here we go.” He clicked on his text message icon.  

“What do you mean? Your dad?”

“Yup. Exactly. And Matti too, of course.”

“Oh yeah, poor little dude.”

“I know.” Evan checked the time. 11:51 PM. “Damn. It’s late. Dad is already in bed. But I need to get back to some of his texts, about why we came out here, and how close we are to Riverton.”

“So. You going there tomorrow?”

“I think so.” Giving what details he thought would be believable, and not too shocking, Evan texted about Neraeh’s belief a soul switch occurred between Syrrah and Dana Zypher. “I think I should check it out, Fred. Prove it really occurred.”

“You still have doubts?”

“Always. I mean, I know what we all experienced was extremely real, in our eyes, in our minds. But we were being mentally manipulated, so it’s hard to know for sure what locations were actually real. That’s the main question, what actually existed in the external physical reality.”

“But now with Neraeh…”

“True. Gives me something to grasp on to. I just hope she stays with us on this. She would be the only real proof we have, since Syrrah, the real Syrrah, apparently never saw me.”

“If it’s true.”

“I know.”

“Is she okay in her room?”

“I think so. I told her to text or call, for anything at all. She was quiet, seemed content about it. She really is a sweet girl.”

“I know, I agree. Just went through a lot.”

“Right.”

A text alert buzzed Evan’s phone. It was from Dad. He was still awake, but as expected he didn’t truly believe Neraeh’s theory, about the soul switch. Oh well. Regardless, plans were moving ahead, and Dad would just have to accept it. After texting a few more messages to Dad, Evan texted good night, I love you, and that they were all very safe.

The weight of everything was making Evan quite tired. And Freddy was in total agreement.

Evan texted Neraeh, alerting her he would be walking over to her room one last time. When he arrived and she opened the door, he again repeated how very important it was for her to contact him if she needed anything at all, and then to wait for him to arrive at the door to get her. 

Once back in their room, Evan took a quick shower. He dried off, put on his sleeping clothes, and shortly after that turned off the lights and got in bed. He kept his plugged-in phone next to him by his pillows.

Soon he could hear Freddy snoring, even with the AC running near full blast. It wasn’t too much longer that he dozed off himself.

He was in the dream again. Not the one where Syrrah is his beautiful, healing angel, but the other one. That horrible, gut-wrenching, ear-shattering-loud accident. But this time, he wasn’t in their Suburban. He stood on the shoulder of the highway near the accident scene. Vehicles were slowing, rubbernecking, people gawking. But he directed his eyes ahead on Syrrah’s totally demolished jeep. Suddenly she materialized up from the ground until standing upon the pavement. Slowly she walked toward him until he could see her eyes. Her eyes were kind, sincere, so much unlike the blank, penetrating gaze she had in Heaven. The more she approached, though, her eyes revealed sadness, even panic. Even more confusing, she was physically fine, whole, not injured. “Evan. Please. Help me.” Her words came frail, desperate. “You’re the only one who can.” She was now only about a car-length’s distance away. Her height then increased, by several inches. Her clothes transformed from the short, flared denim skirt and pink top to a shape-fitting white and black dress with a low neckline. No. She wasn’t Syrrah anymore. Dana Zypher was before him now. And she looked far too real. “Help me, Evan.” Her voice was pitiful, frightening. “You’re the only one who--”

Loud buzzing snapped Evan out of the dream. His phone, of course. He picked it up and could see Neraeh was calling. He swiped to answer and thrust the phone by his ear. “Neraeh?”

“Hey, Evan. I’m sorry. I hope you weren’t sleeping yet.”

“I was actually, but don’t you worry about that. You okay?”

“If…if you don’t mind, could I come over to your room?”

“Absolutely.” He sprung up and sat on the bed’s side. “Hold on. I’ll be right there.”

He got out of bed. Not too surprisingly, Freddy was yet snoring away. Didn’t hear a thing. But that loud AC was a great cover.

Careful not to make too much noise regardless, Evan unlocked their door and stepped outside. The air was still quite warm. More vehicles were parked nearby though he didn’t see anyone out and about. He walked to his right, to Neraeh’s door.

She was already standing in the open doorway, her phone in her hands. She was wearing a tan T-shirt and some grey, loose-fitting shorts, not much unlike his white T-shirt and navy jogging shorts.

“Neraeh. I told you to wait until I come to your door. We have no idea what sort of people hang around here.”  

She gazed up at him with sad eyes. “I’m sorry. I just stood here this moment.” She walked out and closed the door behind her. Evan heard the door lock automatically once closed.

“After you,” he said, gesturing with his hand for her to walk in front of him and enter their opened doorway.

She smiled and walked into their room.

Evan closed the door behind her and made sure it was locked properly. He turned to see Neraeh looking over at Freddy, snoring away. The goofy guy was sprawled across the bed diagonally, and it definitely would be a chore to move him. Evan walked over to her and gently placed his hands on her shoulders. She startled ever so slightly, but he didn’t care. He leaned close to her ear. “See what I have to put up with?”

She began to laugh, but then covered her mouth, muffling a giggle. But didn’t matter. Freddy continued to snore away.

He released her shoulders and took hold of her right hand. He guided her over to his bed. He sat down first, near the pillows. She sat next to him, on his left.

He leaned down and near her, gazing into her face. “Neraeh, hon, tell me.” He tried to speak quietly, yet audibly. “What’s wrong?”

She eyed her hands and grasped them together, wringing them a moment. “I know this may seem a bit, well…forward of me…” She spoke at nearly a whisper, though he could hear her words. She looked at him. “But would it be okay, if I sleep next to you tonight?”

Her words pierced directly through Evan’s heart and mind. And he could not help but see Syrrah again in her pretty blue eyes, though not like what happened with Heidi. Had been trying to ignore this, all day, but a big fail right now, for sure. This was not going to be easy. But he would do anything for her. He had told her this and it was the downright truth. He could make this work. “Uhh, now wait a minute. You sure you don’t want to sleep next to snoring dude over there?”

She let out another laugh, but again covered her mouth. She composed herself, smiled, and looked at him. “No, no. Don’t think I would get any sleep at all.”

“Actually, though, Neraeh, I was thinking of shoving him to the other side of his bed and sleeping next to him. Then you could have my bed all to yourself.”

She shook her head a little. “No. Really, Evan. I need to be near someone. And I want it to be you.” 

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, if it’s okay.”

“Sure, yes. We can make this work.” He stood up. And she did too. He glanced over the bed. Two blankets were on this bed. The top blanket, orange, which he could use, and the other, beneath, a light tan one Neraeh could use. As he quietly separated the blankets, Freddy’s earlier conversation with him came back to haunt. ‘But I blew it, didn’t I.’ ‘Yeah, you sort of did. Didn’t see that she’s attracted to you too.’ And then his reply. And then Freddy’s response after that. ‘And I’ve seen the way you look at her at times.’

Didn’t matter. Neraeh needed to be near him now.

Evan smoothed the top sheet under the pillows and across the mattress with his palms. He then handed the light tan blanket to Neraeh. “Here you go.” He touched her shoulder gently. “I’ll be right near you, okay?”

She smiled, her smile so sweet and entrancing, softly highlighted from the outside red and blue light seeping between slits in the curtains. She took the blanket. “Thank you, Evan.”

“Of course, hon.”

With both the blanket and his phone in one hand, Evan climbed on the bed and placed his phone on the small table separating his and Freddy’s bed. He glanced over at Freddy and that kid had yet to wake up from all their soft speaking and rustling about. 

Evan lay down on the side of the bed nearest the small table. He grabbed the pillow under his head, folding, fluffing it up, making sure it was comfortable. He began spreading the blanket out over himself, keeping an eye on Neraeh while doing so. She was gingerly lying on the bed’s other side and in the same manner adjusting her pillows, and soon began covering herself with the blanket. She was having a little trouble covering herself completely and so Evan turned on his right side and helped spread the blanket over her upper body. 

She turned on her side so she could see him. She smiled and gazed at him. “Thank you.” She adjusted her pillow once again, so she had an even better view of him. But then her eyes drew sad, frightened even. “Evan. Please.” Her whispering voice sent powerful impulses throughout his body, but he was determined to keep them in control, harness them down.  “I don’t mean to be a bother, but do you think you can hold me, please?”

Well, that just changed things drastically. “I can, but are you sure, Neraeh?” he spoke quietly.  “Not going to lie. Things could get a little out of hand.”

She gazed into his eyes and then glanced around his upper body. “I know, I have seemed like I don’t trust you. But I do.”

“All right.” He moved his hand out from under his blanket and wrapped his arm around her back and drew her closer, while she at the same time maneuvered herself nearer to him, and under his blanket. “Is that comfortable for you?”

But she didn’t answer. Her breathing was increasing, her body trembling. Something wasn’t right. But, of course. This was similar behavior she had before crying, like yesterday in Syrrah’s room when he had embraced her in his arms. She still didn’t respond and only wrapped her hand around his upper arm and then pulled herself so close until she was nuzzling against his chest. She was sniffling, and he could feel tears soak through his T-shirt onto his chest. She removed her hand from his arm and wiped her eyes, then keeping her hand near her face.

Evan embraced her and drew her closer, until every part of her feminine body pressed against him. Let any uncontrolled arousal be damned. He wasn’t going to let her down, especially someone so dear, so special as Neraeh. “Are you okay?” He released his hold on her and gently stroked her upper arm and back. “Tell me what is bothering you, Neraeh.”

She moved back a little until she could look into his eyes. Even in the dim lighting, he could see her eyes were tear-filled. He felt his heart breaking for her. “I fell asleep. And then I had a dream…with Dana Zypher, I could see her, walking toward me. She looked so sad, and then she told me, to help her…but it wasn’t Dana Zypher, it was Syrrah’s voice.”    

“Wait. What?” He could barely believe what he had just heard. “Are you serious?”

She blinked several times and stared intently into his eyes. “Why? What do you mean?“

“I basically…” He stopped himself; his voice came too loud. “I dreamt the same thing,” he said quieter, no need to risk waking Freddy, “just before you called me.”

“What? Really?”

“At first, I saw her, Syrrah, like I usually do in my dreams. She arose from the accident, somehow…no wounds, nothing wrong. She said, Evan, please, help me. But this time as she walked closer, she turned into Dana Zypher, and pleaded for me to help her. And I…then…” That familiar, recent sensation, whenever he recalled Syrrah, or her tragic death, gradually rattled his body, brought tears to his own eyes. No, no! Cannot let Neraeh see me like this! Freddy’s words again reverberated. ‘You just need to get a grip on it, dude.’ He had to be a rock for her now, not this. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her against him tightly, his crying obvious to her now, no point hiding. But her closeness was helping. “I’m sorry, Neraeh, so sorry.” He spoke near her ear, the pleasant scent of her soft hair lessening some of the pain in his heart and mind. “I haven’t been myself lately.”

She glided her hands around him and held him closely. “Evan, dear. It’s okay, it will be all right. Don’t feel ashamed. I am just as shook up as you are, if not more so.” She was trembling, yet less than previously. She gently smoothed her hands over his back and upper arms, doing the same he had done to comfort her. “But that is really interesting, that our dreams are so similar.”

“I know. It is. Like something is influencing us, that we just have to find out if Dana is really Syrrah. We just have to.” He was about to hold her tighter still, even wrap his leg around her, but that memory of Heidi, her sensuous voice, please, Evan, you’re holding me too tightly, I can barely breathe, and then not soon after his terrible mistake, all of it plunged into his mind at once. He loosened his embrace on Neraeh. 

She moved back some and looked at him. “I know. That’s why, I feel so horrible for being so stupid, for making you leave me, and then coming back.”

“No, no. It’s okay, Neraeh. Please don’t worry about that at all.”

She removed her hand and wiped her eyes and nose a moment. “I know, but still bothers me.”

The impulse for his own stupid crying was ending, thankfully. “Don’t let it, hon.” He gazed into her pretty face for some seconds. He was feeling intense love, even desire for her. No! Remove those thoughts. Besides, he persuaded himself, she simply wasn’t Syrrah, and never would be.

She smiled at him briefly and then place her hand on his upper arm, gently brushing her fingertips over his muscles. “Your arms are huge. Your whole body is just built.”

“Yeah. Fred and the other guys I know. We work out often, usually every day, especially for football. No big deal. Keeps us in shape.”

She continued to feel his upper arm, along his biceps and triceps, then trailing her touch down across his forearm. “I better stop.” She removed her hand and placed her hand near her breasts. She drew in a deep breath and let the air out gently. “You’re a very hot guy, Evan. And so handsome. Wow.” 

He smiled at her. “Thank you, Neraeh. And you are pretty cute yourself.” He placed his hand behind her upper back and leaned down and kissed her on her forehead. He moved back so he could see her again. “But. Yeah. We could get out of hand here. And poor Freddy is just a few feet away, and of course, still snoring.”

She smiled and covered her mouth to muffle another giggle.

“I think we should get some sleep now,” he said.

“Yes, I agree.”

“You still want me to hold you?”

Her eyes and brow etched seriousness. “Please? I’m still not feeling right.”

“Of course, hon.” He wrapped his arm around her and embraced her against his body. “I’ll keep you near me, but we need to go to sleep. Lots to do tomorrow.”

She drew in a deep breath and nuzzled closer to his chest. “Yes. You’re right.”

Evan closed his eyes and attempted to fall back to sleep, ignoring Neraeh’s soft, feminine body and only trying to focus on helping her, keeping her near him to comfort her.

But after some time, even with the AC kicking, their close, warm body temperatures became too much. Neraeh moved onto her back, though she stayed close to him and continued to hold his hand from beneath their blankets. He remained on his right side, so she kept in his view. He eyed the door a moment, but knew it was already locked securely. 

And finally, for some reason, maybe since the dude turned on his side, Freddy quit the snoring.

Wasn’t too much longer until Evan fell asleep.