The Sequels to Syrrah's Game SGSequels

chapter 39

Saturday, September 23rd, 6:15 PM

Minneapolis, MN


This had to be secure, so, no other choice; Evan removed the Unihertz from his backpack.

He pressed the icon for Neraeh’s phone number.

He waited. He held the phone in front of his eyes. The time. It was 6:16 pm. Hopefully she was going to answer.

Finally, she did. “Hello, Evan?”

“Hey, Neraeh. So, like I told you. I don’t have much time right now. But I figured this would be too hard to text, so best to speak on the phone.”

“I understand. Don’t worry. Are you at that beautiful Hilton now?”

“Yeah, it is amazing. Has this spectacular high ceiling entrance. Spent the night in one of the rooms. Awesome.”

“So…you’re not there now though?”

“No. I’m in a bathroom at a convenience store, a couple of blocks away. Nobody is in the store, really. I wanted to be alone, away from everyone.”

“I see. Okay. I thought about what you said, and there is something that only Syrrah and I would know.”

“Oh, thank you, Neraeh. I’m so glad you remembered something. So, what happened?”

“When we used to live out in the country. There was this rumor at school, that the farmer living next to us, we didn’t really know him, had a two-headed lamb, or adult sheep, something like that. And rumor was they kept it in their barn, to hide it away from everyone. Sort of weird.”

“Really.” Evan chuckled a little. “Bizarre.”

“Oh, definitely. So, it was, gosh, ironically, in the month of September, and…oh this is weird too.”

“What is?”

“It was probably right around September 23rd, like today.”

“How do you know?”

“Because Syrrah had just turned eleven, on September 21st, her birthday.”

“Damn. Wow. That was just Thursday.”

“I know,” Neraeh said sadly. “I try not to think about it anymore.”

“I’m sorry, Neraeh. But go ahead, tell me what happened.”

“Okay. Syrrah knew we were not to leave our property. But, their barn wasn’t really that far away, maybe just like a quarter mile walk, but through some woods, some fields, nothing too dangerous.”

“So you two went anyway.”

“Oh yeah we did. It was an older barn, the paint worn off, with some large windows. We went to the side near some trees, hidden from the house so they couldn’t see us. And luckily, they had a bunch of hay bales stacked by one window. We climbed them and looked into the barn. There was some light coming from windows on the opposite side of the barn, but not enough. Too much reflection from the sun on the window. And, well, Syrrah started getting all excited, yelling a soft whisper, ‘I see it, I see it!’”

Evan smiled. “Really? Syrrah? Ha, wow, I would have loved to see Syrrah all animated like that, doing something she shouldn’t have.”

“Yeah, she sure was animated, and yeah we could get in big trouble. So, anyway, we found a door, on the same side as the window, a short distance away. The door had a latch, we just pulled it sideways, and the door opened. We snuck inside.”

“What did you see?”

“Well, what my excited older sister thought was a two headed lamb turned out to be a litter of Great Pyrenees puppies.”

“No way.”

“Yup. They were all piled around each other in the hay, sleeping. A couple of them were sleeping next to each other, very close, so it could be mistaken for a two-headed lamb, ha-ha. We sat down, on the hay, in a corner of the barn, and just played with these cute puppies. Some of them ran away, but most stayed by us, though some ran back later. And Syrrah fell in love with the smallest puppy, mainly since this puppy stayed near her. She named it Snow White. She seriously really liked that puppy. And we kept wondering, where is the mother, where is the mother? And sure enough, after a while, we saw this huge Great Pyrenees barge through an unlatched door on the other side of the barn. Right away, Syrrah told me to get out. And so I ran out the door we came in. But Syrrah was trying to take Snow White with her. Syrrah got to the door with the puppy, but then the mother dog started growling and getting aggressive. So she put the puppy down and slipped out, just before the mother charged at the door.”

“You two closed the door securely?”

“Oh, yeah. Syrrah made sure it was latched shut, and then we ran. We kept running, fast as we could, since the mother could get out that other door and come after us.”

“Did she?”

“We were lucky. By the time we were on the front porch of our house, we saw the mother coming out of the woods near the border of our property. We rushed inside our house. We were safe, and that mother dog eventually went back to the barn. We watched from our window. But, we could never tell out parents. And Syrrah wanted Snow White so much. She would ask, sometimes, about getting a white dog, but couldn’t say anything about the farmer’s puppies. But then one time the mother dog came on our property again, and Syrrah asked our dad to please go over there, find out if they have any other white dogs. And my dad did, but by that time the owner had given them all away.”

“What was the farmer’s name?”

“He was married. No kids. Earl Swanson, and his wife, Lela. We became friendlier with them, over the years, but when Syrrah and I found those puppies, we barely knew them.”

“Did you ever find out the truth about the two-headed lamb?”

“Actually, Earl did tell my dad something one time. He said one of their female sheep gave birth to a deformed lamb, had what looked like was a double head, but was just some tumor thing, and eventually the lamb died. But, rumors spread at school, and that’s how things go.”

“Oh yeah, I sure do know about that.”

“Also, about a year later, finally, our dad and mom did get us some pets. My dad knew someone at work who was giving away Newfoundland and Bernese Mountain dog mixes. Wasn’t white, but mostly black, with some brown markings on his face and feet, long fur, but so cute. But both Syrrah and I were really excited, happy, said sure, sure. So, my dad brought one home. Cutest puppy ever. And then a short time later, we also got a cat, almost the same coloring, and long fur too, but mostly dark brown, with some tan spots here and there.”

“What were their names?”

“Well, Syrrah wanted to name our dog Charcoal, and I liked it too. But, eventually, she, and the rest of us, ended up calling him Coal most of the time. And the cat’s name is Stormy.”

Evan wondered about something. “Hey. Why didn’t I see either of them when we visited your house?”

Neraeh sighed. “Coal. Well, he died, back at the end of May. He had doggie cancer.”

“Oh, damn, Neraeh. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s all right. I’m okay about it now.”

“What about Stormy?”

She laughed softly. “He’s fine. He’s just a timid little guy, doesn’t like strangers. I’m sure he was well hidden away behind the couch or in another room when you and Freddy showed up.”

“Oh, I get it.”

She let out a gush of air, causing static on the phone. “Oops, sorry I did that.” She sniffled a few times.

“It’s okay. Are you all right?”

“No, honestly, not really.” Her voice sounded on the verge of crying, similar to how Dana sounded yesterday. “But I’m trying to keep steady here. But gosh. I miss her, Evan, when we were young. Thinking about this story, about the Great Pyrenees puppies…” She sighed and became quiet, sniffled a few more times. 

“I know, I’m sorry you had to recall this. But listen, Neraeh. We are going to work this out, one way or the other. I mean, there’s Felicia, you know?”

“No one can ever replace Syrrah. Really isn’t possible, Evan.”

“I understand. But Neraeh. We ARE going to fix this. We are going to make this better, one way or the other. I mean that. As the Lord is my witness, I promise I will not rest until we resolve this, however we can. Don’t forget. We have Art, and Kamal. You feel they’re rather trustworthy, right?”

“Yes, I suppose I do.”

“I trust them for the most part too. Just sorry about yesterday, about Lloyd. Felt I definitely could have done more.”

“No, Evan. I told you. You did the right thing. If you attacked him, or took Dana away from him, you could have made things much, much worse. Just be glad they didn’t fire you on the spot.”

“I know, I know. Carter said they decided to keep me until the end, since it’s only Thunder Bay, Ontario and then on to Winnipeg after that.”

“What days is she playing those two cities?”

“Thunder Bay, the twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh, and Winnipeg is the twenty-ninth and thirtieth.  And then that’s it.”

“Well, at least you’ll be close to home once done.”

“Yeah. My dad said he’ll pick me up. But I rather it be you and Freddy, honestly.”

“I know, but he misses you Evan.”


She was quiet for some moments again. “Evan. Can I ask you something?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Everything I told you. Well, most of everything I told you. Lots of people know about Charcoal, Stormy and the Swansons. Only Syrrah and I know about our two-headed lamb adventure and seeing those puppies. But how can we be sure those EBE forces, or supernatural forces, behind all of this, don’t just put the answers in Dana’s mind?”

“Yeah, but hold on. Why would they do that? If their intent is to keep a soul switch intact, why would they want to reveal that information? If anything, they would make her forget. I mean, who knows? Maybe a lot of her memories are gone. But I still want to try asking her, if, and when, the opportunity presents itself.”