The Sequels to Syrrah's Game SGSequels

chapter 52

Wednesday, September 27th, 12:50 PM

Minneapolis, MN

 

Several people near their parked vehicles pointed, stared and spoke some inaudible words, their voices near whispers, but Evan held on to Syrrah’s hand, or wrapped his arms around her shoulders, and kept her moving.

“God, just feels like the same thing we went through after dealing with douchebag Hal,” she said. “Not again.”

“We’ll make it. No one has stopped us yet.”

“Makes me nervous. Those people pointing and gawking at us.”

“I know. Let’s keep moving.”

They soon arrived at a stairwell. Evan didn’t want to attempt taking the elevator. He opened the door and led them up the stairs. It was quiet in the stairwell and he couldn’t hear any police or other people above them. They continued heading up.

But Syrrah was having trouble keeping up with his faster pace. He wrapped his arm around her and helped her along. “You doing okay?”

“The pains, the brandy, it’s all kind of hitting me. Plus the come-down from trying to jump off a tall building.”

“Yeah, I’m sorry hon.” He made sure not to speak too loudly. “Can I ask you something?”

“Well, I guess. What is it?”

“Are you sure you didn’t feel anything influencing you up there?”

“No, not really, surprisingly.” She sighed. “I was just in a state of panic, because…because I knew…I had no choice. I really don’t want to talk about it now.”

“Sure, hon. I’m sorry.”

They arrived at the door for the first floor. Evan grabbed the doorknob.

She took hold of his hand. “Evan. Wait. Where are we going, exactly?”

He recalled that earlier phone call. “To get away from this entire scene. Art wants us meeting him at South Fifth and Nicollet.”

“Art? Can I really trust him?”

“Yes, Syrrah. You can. He has been helping me all along to get to this point, so we can help you, like I explained. I’m gonna open the door now, okay?”

“Okay.” She released his hand.

He slowly opened the door and peered out. No cops or anyone else nearby who could present a problem, at least from his angle of view. He gently grasped her hand and led her out.

But unfortunately, they were in some sort of closed-off hallway, where at one end was a door with a narrow, vertical window, giving view to hotel customers rushing past, and at the other end was one of those fire exit doors. He led her to the fire exit door.

“Really?” she asked.

“We can’t go the other way. We’ll head right into a hornet’s nest.” He pushed on the door’s red metal plate latch. Immediately a loud, annoying smoke detector buzzing sound went off. “Come on. We need to go.”

He continued to hold her hand and led her outside, down a few steps, and then headed right, upon the same wide, dumpster-laden alleyway they took earlier in the day, though much farther away from the Dylan parking lot, along with several, large garbage dumpsters blocking any line-of-sight to them from the cops and fans.

“I don’t see any cops,” she said, “but for sure that alarm will get them going.”

He began picking up the pace. “Can you run?”

“Yeah, I think. Just go. I’ll try to keep up.”

He increased his stride, turning their speed into a jog more than a sprint. He yet held her hand and she was able to keep up with him.

“My fans,” she said, as they kept moving, “most were really great.”

“What…do you mean?”

“They started holding out blankets, shouting they would catch…my fall. But cops directed them away.”

“Yeah…nice of them.”

They were drawing closer in the alleyway where they needed to take that sharp, ninety-degree turn, this time to the left from their current direction. As they neared the turn, Evan noticed some men, rather rough-looking, standing or leaning against the wall of a building, near business exit doors. He was in no mood for any hassles. They better watch themselves.

“You see those guys?” she asked.

“Yes.” He increased their pace slightly. “I do.” It was fortunate Syrrah was to his left, away from them. “I’ll keep us safe. Don’t worry.”

They soon were only feet away from the men. Evan counted five of them.

“Hey,” one of the guys said, “what’s the hurry?”

“Exercise. Nice day for it.” Evan spoke as friendly as he could.

“Yeah,” the same guy said. “You know that.”

The rest of the men chuckled in a rather devious tone.

Evan kept the faster pace, even as they turned the corner down the other alleyway.

“Hey!” one of the men yelled out, from behind them. “I know that broad! That’s Dana Zypher! And wasn’t she about to jump over there?”

“No way!” said another man. “Hey, you two! Come back here. We want a selfie!”

The men all chuckled again.

Syrrah was yet able to keep with his faster jog. But Evan could hear those men behind him. He turned back briefly. Three of the five were trailing not too far behind them. “Great.”

“Ahh, don’t worry. I’ll just sign their arms or something.”

“No. I don’t trust them.”

They were nearing the end of the alleyway, bordering next to the sidewalk along South 5th. Evan glanced back again. The men yet followed them but were a good twenty yards away. He also smelled diesel fuel exhaust and heard the loud, familiar chugging sounds of an idling semi-truck.

He yet held Syrrah’s right hand with his left, the same position as when rushing past those men. He wanted to switch sides with her once they were walking on the sidewalk.

Coming to the alleyway’s end, to their right, just several feet away, was a large, tan, cabover semi, obviously the source of the diesel smell and idling sounds. Only a small portion of the truck’s front end was present, since it was parked inside some sort of lengthy garage within the tall building also on their right. He stopped and looked to his left, far up to the north, same direction as the traffic flowed. Syrrah did too. Police cars and an ambulance, lights flashing, along with crowds of people had filled the Dylan parking lot area and the intersection of South 5th and Hennepin.

But within a very short time span some of those people noticed them. “Hey! Look! It’s Dana Zypher and her bodyguard!” And wasn’t but seconds after that a few began running toward them.

“Come on,” Evan said, heading south, making sure to hold Syrrah’s hand firmly. She didn’t hesitate and went along in his direction.

But he had to stop abruptly. The cabover semi, probably a 1980s Kenworth k100 was just pulling forward. However, the driver saw them and halted the semi. It was too late now to switch sides. He could only hold her hand tightly and keep going forward, taking her around the front end of the semi.

He looked ahead for any sign of Art or Kamal, near that intersection. But his view was blocked slightly by yet another cabover truck, a white Isuzu truck of some sort, with a dumpster bed in the back, judging from the wide canopy ridge over the cab. Regardless, he didn’t see Art or Kamal. And that Isuzu was approaching way too fast through the South 5th and Nicollet intersection, probably speeding.

They passed by the Kenworth semi, sounds of the driver switching gears to pull forward filling the air. But the yells and hollers from the people charging down the sidewalk behind them grasped more of Evan’s attention. He held Syrrah’s hand firmly and kept her moving. 

People heading north on the sidewalk, approaching them, did the same as those men and the charging fans; they were staring, pointing, and speaking out loud about Dana Zypher.

Things were getting too hectic. He needed her to switch sides, to have her by the building front, away from the street and these people. He loosened his grip on her right hand, to make a quick turn and grasp hold of her left with his right. 

Syrrah abruptly yanked her hand away from his grip. “Evan! No! Why are you going that way? Come with me!” 

He couldn’t make sense of her words. He slammed his feet into the sidewalk, halting his fast pace, and turned back. “What are you talking about?”

She had terror all over her face. But worse, she was quickly maneuvering herself off the sidewalk and into the path of the speeding Isuzu, though she had her eyes locked on him.

“Syrrah, NO!” He immediately lunged for her, to grasp back her hand. But even with his arm stretched out to the max, searing in pain, he failed to reach her. His forward momentum kept him going, directly toward the side of the speeding Isuzu truck, until a force yanked him back, hard.

In a split-second that felt stretched in time, terrible sounds slammed his ears. A loud thud. An involuntary expulsion of air that turned to a scream. Deafening tire screeches. Another loud thud, combined with a sickening, glass-shattering end.

His mind couldn’t fully perceive what he now saw. Syrrah lay in a collapsed, lifeless heap on the concrete surface, directly below the passenger-side door of the Kenworth semi. “Syrrah!” He surged forward but was pulled back. He turned around. An older, big guy, in his 30s, held on to a handful of Evan’s jacket and shirt. “Let go of me! What are you doing?”

The guy released Evan. “Hey, dude! I just saved your life!”

Evan gave the guy a disgusted scowl and turned forward, not saying a word to him.

He ran over to where she lay. His eyes couldn’t be functioning correctly. The blood spots, the broken metal ladder on the Kenworth. Her head so close the semi’s massive tire. “This can’t be real.”  But worse, much worse, he could see chunks of brown hair and bloodied flesh on the crushed ladder. “Oh my God, oh my God, NO!”

He dropped to his knees next to her body. “You’ll be all right, baby, you’ll be all right.” He looked at her face, bloodied, covered over with her hair. She wasn’t moving. He reached out with trembling fingers and gently removed the hair from her face.  He instantly regretted doing so. Her left eye was bulging out of her head. Blood dripped from this same eye. “No…no!” Ruptured-like cuts and indents covered her forehead and cheeks. Her right eye was shut, but bulging too. This wasn’t normal. This wasn’t of someone alive and okay. He used both hands and took hold of the back of her head; a terrible, dark feeling exploded through his entire body; the back of her head was soaking wet with blood and crumbled to pieces, most of it missing. Blood was pouring out, pooling, more and more of it, onto the sidewalk, trailing down to the road’s pavement. He looked up. Parts of what looked like her brain was mixed with the bloodied flesh, hair, and broken bone fragments on the ladder and truck’s side. “Dear God, please, no.” His heart wanted to stop but remained beating. “No…NO! She has to be alive!” He quickly pressed his blood-drenched fingers by her neck. No pulse. He checked again and again at different spots along her neck. Still no pulse. He placed his bloodied hand by her ribs. No motion. He leaned down, near her mouth and nose. Nothing, no air flow. He gently grabbed her shoulders and moved them. “Syrrah…Syrrah, you have to be okay!”

“Hey, son,” a man’s voice said, “let the paramedics handle this. They’re coming over here now.”

The sound of approaching sirens cut through Evan. He looked up at the man. “Who are you?”

“I’m terribly sorry. She walked right in front of me, like she couldn’t even see me.”

Evan shot up. With both his hands he seized the Isuzu driver’s T-shirt and slammed the man against the side of the Isuzu so hard the man let out a gasp of air. “Didn’t help that you were speeding! What did you do to her, what did you do to my Syrrah!”

The man’s eyes widened in fear. “I told you! She walked right in front of me, with no warning. There was nothing I could do!”

A hand wrapped around Evan’s arm. “Dude. Let him go. I saw it too. She walked right into the front of his truck.”

Evan turned to see it was the same big guy who held him back from being hit by the Isuzu. “This was not supposed to happen!” Uncontrollable rage surged within him. He released the man’s shirt. He yanked his arm away from the big guy. He drew back a tight fist, wanting to thrust it directly into the driver’s face, but instead plunged his fist into the Isuzu’s driver-side door. His blood-covered fist made a huge, red dent. His knuckles felt crushed, but he could care less.

“Hey, hey. Calm down!” It was a woman’s voice. “Evan? Evan Turrone?”

Evan looked and found a woman paramedic standing next to Syrrah.

He rushed back and knelt next to Syrrah. The woman paramedic did the same. “Yes. I am Evan Turrone,” he told her. “This is…this is Dana, and she needs CPR, right now.” Though the words came out of his mouth, they didn’t sound real. Nor did they make any sense.

“Okay, Evan.” She removed a stethoscope from her pocket, inserted the ear parts and placed the stethoscope’s diaphragm on Syrrah’s chest. Two or three male paramedics stood nearby, watching. “Checking her now.” She placed the diaphragm in several other areas. She next took out a small light from her pocket and shined the light in Syrrah’s undamaged eye. Her motion, and demeanor, was methodical, scientific. When she finished with the light, she carefully lifted Syrrah’s head with nitrile glove-covered hands. Just like those hazmat people, with their hazmat gloves. They work methodically, scientifically. Those type of people, they don’t really care. She looked on the sides, and under, Syrrah’s head, and then stood up.

The woman paramedic walked several steps and stood by the male paramedics. They spoke amongst themselves, but Evan couldn’t hear what they were saying; the sirens of additional approaching emergency vehicles were too loud, drowning out other sounds.

He watched for any movement of Syrrah’s chest, but he could detect none. CPR, she needs CPR!

The woman paramedic knelt near Evan again. She placed a gloveless, clean hand on his arm. “Evan,” she said, gently. “I’m sorry. We are going to take Dana to the hospital. A doctor needs to make a final examination.”

He stared at the woman. “A doctor? What are you talking about? A final examination?” He bolted up to a standing position and glared down at the yet kneeling paramedic. “She needs CPR, right now!”

From his peripheral view, he could see police circling nearby. The Isuzu driver was walking over and speaking with the police. Same with the driver of the Kenworth semi. He ignored them all and focused on Syrrah.

The woman paramedic arose and locked eyes with Evan. “I am so sorry, but there is really nothing we can do.”

“What do you mean there is nothing you can do?”

One of the male paramedics stepped over by Syrrah. He knelt near her and gently lifted her head, placing a towel underneath. The white towel immediately grew blotches of red. From an ambulance parked nearby, other paramedic men and women were removing an ambulance gurney, same as those expandable beds in the tents. When in the hull. This is terrible. This can’t be happening!

The woman paramedic positioned herself, so Evan was forced to look at her. “Evan. She has no pulse. She is not breathing. Her pupils are not responding to light stimuli.”

Of course. He recalled. Dr. Stevens spoke that. But he and Dad did respond, because they were alive. “No, no. This can’t be happening!” 

“I’m so sorry, Evan.”

The male paramedic who had placed the towel under Syrrah’s head was now joined by another paramedic. Both men were attempting to place Syrrah on the ambulance gurney, already lowered to within inches of the pavement.

“NO!” Evan dropped to his knees by Syrrah. He pushed each one of their hands away from lifting her. “Just leave her alone!”

“We need to bring her to the hospital,” one of the men said. “I’m sorry, but we have to do this.”

Tears began filling Evan’s eyes and he didn’t care. “No, please! Just wait a moment, okay? I…I think I’m in shock. She was just fine, walking…just walking with me, and then…and then she did this, just…walked right out in front of that truck! Why? Why did she do that?”

“I don’t know, man, I don’t know.” The male paramedic stood up. “Look. I’ll let you be, for a moment.” He stepped away, along with the other paramedics, toward the police now congregating by the ambulance.

Evan looked at them a moment. The paramedics were talking with the police and the Isuzu driver, the Kenworth semi driver, and even the big guy who grabbed Evan. But he could see more. All those fans who had been running over, or on the ground below, when Syrrah was on the roof, were quickly arriving, stopping in their tracks, phones out, phones snapping photos or taking videos. And then he saw that stupid, annoying pap, Frank Ragno. But police held them all back from getting too close.

He glanced in the direction they had been walking, on the sidewalk. Several police were positioned there too, blocking people.

Why am I even looking at them? He had to check again. He placed his blood-covered fingers on her neck, but her neck felt like it was swelling. This was not normal. And he still couldn’t feel any sign of a pulse. Yet he tried again to feel her breath, placing his fingers before her mouth and nose. But he felt nothing. Her eye was bulging less but was still completely non-responsive. He gently took strands of her hair and placed them over her bulging eye. He gently took hold of her shoulders, softly stroking her upper arm. “Syrrah. Why, why did you do this? We were just running away, we were getting away from all of this. Why?” But he knew why. They had finally achieved their evil goal. “How could this be happening? Art said something disturbing, could happen. Maybe I did this. But he was supposed to protect us. But something went wrong! You are not all right, and I’m absolutely destroyed now.” He leaned down, near her face. “Syrrah. Please. You cannot be gone. You just cannot be. We were going to start a life together.” He released her arm and softly stroked the side of her face. “Please. Why? Why did this happen, baby? How did they do this to you?” Memories slowly flooded his mind, from those videos. Her beautiful face, her beautiful voice. Tears fell from his eyes onto her skin. He quietly began singing Oceans, gently stroking her face as he did so.

A hand pressed onto his right shoulder.

And then he heard some words. Something about the police. They wanted to speak to him. It was that same woman paramedic.

He didn’t move. He continued stroking her face. He continued singing the words he knew to Oceans. More tears fell from his eyes. He wiped his nose and eyes a moment and resumed his quiet singing.

A scream, a woman’s scream filled the air. But he ignored it. Fans upset. Yes, of course.

With each measure of the song, he held the video in his mind, of her beauty, her poise, her beautiful, sweet voice. He knew, she was gone, but now she was alive again, and as she should be, and where she was supposed to be.

Anger crept within him again, but he forced it away. Now was not the time for anger. Only love. Only memories, of how she used to be.

“Evan!”

Someone had called out his name. He heard more screams. And then more call outs of his name, something about Evan! Hurry! Get away from there! But he ignored them. Who cares what they say or think?

Stretching. Some people were yelling out about things stretching. And then more screaming. What?

A strong hand, not from the woman paramedic, grabbed his right shoulder and yanked on him. “Dude! Back away, now!”

He fell backwards, from his kneeling position, but broke the fall with his hands on the sidewalk. “Why did you do that to me?” He locked his eyes on Syrrah. They weren’t going to stop him. “I’m not leaving her!”

But slowly, he realized something was different, several feet away from the right side of Syrrah’s head. Gradually his eyes ascertained a strange, transparent wall of material, like a six-inch wall of clear glass, filling the view, from sidewalk level to higher above, effortlessly cutting into the Kenworth like it wasn’t even there.

Huh? Why is that here? It was thick, much thicker than the hull though similar. The hull? Why would I recall that again now? He lifted his gaze, taking in more. His heart nearly jumped from his chest; the rest of the Kenworth, from the ladder on back to its trailer within the building’s garage was completely gone. He stared directly within the center of the area created by the transparent wall, an area mostly filled with indistinct darkness. The building housing the rest of the Kenworth was not there. Several human-like figures were walking towards him, out of the darkness, their distance maybe ten yards away and closing. He squinted. No, can’t be! One of them was Syrrah, as he recalled her in Heaven. “Oh my God! What is this, what is this?” He scrambled up until standing. He backed away, careful not to step on the legs of his Syrrah below him, until standing on the street by the Isuzu.

Chaotic sounds pummeled his ears again. People were yelling, screaming, more words about getting stretched.

He looked up and all around him, attempting to perceive what didn’t seem possible. That transparent material, like the hull. It was massive beyond belief. The hull-like material appeared as though it had dropped down from the highest heights of the sky like a viscous, connected drop of transparent oil, and had not only arrived here, but had stretched and displaced everything around it. “What the hell?” The rest of the Kenworth hadn’t vanished. The Kenworth, the tall brick and windowed building yet housing most of the Kenworth, and even some unfortunate people in that building or around it had been stretched upwards, vertically, or horizontally, far beyond normal by this massive material’s displacing presence, some into thin sheet layers corresponding to the drop-like presence of the material. The stretched people, though terrified, were moving, yelling, alive. If they were close to the ground, the farther they traveled from the material, the quicker they returned to normal size. Yet he himself was not affected, even as close as he was. His breathing spiked up uncontrollably.

Trying to stay calm and lower his breathing, he focused on Syrrah, the real-appearing Syrrah slowly approaching. Like the hull, the transparent wall wasn’t warping or bending her appearance for anyone looking within. He could see her clearly. She approached closer and now stood about a foot away from the transparent wall, wearing the same outfit, the short, flared denim skirt, and that pink close-fitting, short sleeve top. “What is going on here?” He spoke quietly, but his own words sounded faraway, foreign. Behind the real Syrrah, he could see three angelic beings, one of them floating, two of them only standing on the ground. And like he saw seconds earlier, behind them was mostly dark, not discernable. 

Even with his body so hyped and his mind doing circles, it was all beginning to make sense. “Wait a minute.” He stepped back up on the sidewalk, careful where he placed his feet, and stared directly at the real Syrrah. “Limati? Is that…is that you?”

But this real Syrrah said nothing. She only focused her eyes on him and stared.

Yet then she focused her eyes downward, at Dana’s body on the sidewalk. She directed her right hand at Dana’s body, up next to the transparent wall. She held out her other hand, her left, by her side. Particles, like lighted dust particles began emanating from the palm of her held-out left hand. As more and more of these particles were released, it became clear they were slowly building a 3D model or hologram of Dana, in the exact same ripped leggings and other clothing she was wearing now. But, why?

He stepped closer to the front of the transparent wall, nearer to where Dana’s 3D model was materializing. Voices warning him to stay away, run away, and other screams and hollers reverberated in the background, sounding odd and distorted. And the sirens of emergency vehicles, the rustle of police handling their equipment or drawing out guns, filled the air too. But he couldn’t focus on them. He could only stare at what was continuing to unfold before his eyes.

The lighted particles filled more and more of the model of Dana. And soon it became apparent that this model hologram was not a mannequin, or like some sort of virtual reality 3D game character but was truly becoming the actual human body of Dana herself. Her skin, her face, her hair was unmistakably human-like, very real, yet with none of the terrible injuries she suffered. She was appearing healthy and normal, like she was before the accident.

Unafraid now, even though he felt he should be Evan stepped nearer still to the transparent wall by Dana.

The real Syrrah, standing almost a head shorter than taller Dana, lowered her left arm. She held herself facing Evan, but then turned only her head to Dana. She looked up at Dana’s face. Dana slowly turned until facing Syrrah. Chills rattled through Evan’s body. How could this Dana be alive, and freaking moving, for crying out loud? Dana lifted her hands up, so her palms faced Syrrah. She abruptly flicked her palms downward, until halting them mere inches before Syrrah’s face.

Syrrah’s entire body twitched a moment, and then she jerked her head a little. She looked down, at her palms, and moved her fingers, rotated her hands. She blinked many times and began breathing faster. She looked up at Dana, and jolted back, shocked. She turned until her eyes met with Evan’s stare. Her breathing became more rapid, and she appeared confused. She leaned forward, placing her hands on the inside of the transparent wall. “Evan!” she called out, her voice muffled though audible. “You’re okay!”

“Syrrah! Yes, it’s me! And I’m okay. You can see me?”  

“Yes! I can!”

The transparent wall began bulging forward, at Evan. He backed up, careful again of Dana’s body on the sidewalk and pavement. But the transparent entity soon drifted over Dana’s body, indifferent to her presence, and continued forward. He backed up until near the front end of the Isuzu truck. The transparent wall then ceased its forward motion. Dana within the transparent wall realm moved behind Syrrah. She placed both her hands on Syrrah’s shoulders and pushed her forward. Miraculously, amazingly, Syrrah was able to walk through the solid-looking wall as though it didn’t exist. Soon after she exited, the transparent wall instantly fused, a water droplet sealing in on itself, and appeared impenetrable again.

Syrrah stepped on the pavement, her eyes projecting even more disorientation and shock. She lunged forward and wrapped her arms around Evan.

“Syrrah, my beautiful Syrrah.” He hugged her back, closely, her body so much smaller than Dana. “I got you. It’s all right, it’s all right.”

Dana stepped closer to the inside of the transparent wall. “You must leave, now.” She stared beyond Evan, in the direction of the corner of South 5th and Nicollet. “Your ride is waiting.”

He scrutinized her physical form. She appeared as he always recalled her, though her skin more vibrant, alive, her stance held tall and strong, yet with a stern, unemotional face. “Dana…I mean, Limati. Why did you do this? I mean, thank you, but…why?”

“No time now to explain.”

He caught motion behind Dana. Far back, barely visible, he believed he could see the Savior, the Collector. “Savior? Is that you?”

Dana moved, until blocking his view. “I am always near, Evan.” She nodded toward South 5th and Nicollet. “But now, you must keep Syrrah safe and get to your ride.”

Evan looked in the direction she nodded, making sure to keep Syrrah sealed closely within his arms at the same time. Across the light rail tracks to the other side of South 5th, people occupied the space everywhere, even Frank Ragno, holding up their phones, capturing all of this. Police and paramedics could only gawk and speak on radio transceivers. And he could see what Limati, as Dana, was referring to; a newer, grey Cherokee Trailhawk was parked across South 5th, on the sidewalk. Art was sitting in the Trailhawk’s driver seat.

Art stuck his arm out the window and waved his hand several times signaling to hurry over.

Evan gazed down into Syrrah’s face and felt the wind get knocked out of him; she was far more beautiful than he fully realized. “Are you okay? Can you run?”

She untangled her embrace on him and grabbed his hand. “Just hold my hand. I should be okay.”

“Okay. Let’s do this.”

“All right.” He began leading her, but once getting past the Isuzu and checking for any vehicles coming towards them, he could see police and police cars blocking off any traffic coming up South 5th. And the police themselves were slowly moving towards them. He paused and checked to his left. The woman paramedic and other paramedics showed the same interest, the ambulance still parked nearby.

“Evan.” It was Limati, as Dana, speaking. “They will not interfere. Head to the Trailhawk.”

He turned back to her a moment. “Okay. I will.” He faced at the Trailhawk and headed off, holding Syrrah’s hand securely.

Running with her, he sensed a presence behind them. He glanced back. He was right. Dana in the transparent wall was following, the thing somehow stretching forth and now directly behind them!

An onslaught of numerous sounds and commotion began. People yelling, people screaming again, maybe stretched or relocated by the humungous transparent wall entity, and police and paramedics ordering Evan to stop, to present Syrrah to them, to provide information and evidence of what just happened. And looking ahead at Art in the Trailhawk, he could see police rushing over and creating a blocking row with their bodies, though they were about ten yards away.

But the closer he and Syrrah came to them, the more it was apparent Limati’s looming wall entity was too intimidating; the police reluctantly moved out of the way.

It was clear passage now. Even the fans and other people on the sidewalks scattered away in fear. No one was blocking their path, allowing Evan to keep Syrrah running with him unimpeded.

They arrived at the Trailhawk. Art exited and rushed to open the back driver-side door. He instructed Evan to help Syrrah get in and sit in the middle, since Kamal was already in the back passenger-side seat. Evan guided her, making sure she didn’t injure any part of her body around the opened door’s entrance, and then he quickly helped her get comfortable in the seat. Once she was settled, he positioned his large frame in the seat behind Art’s driver seat, making sure to stay close to her, carefully placing his arm around her. His knees, like usual, had a tight fit because of his large size, but he could care less.

Evan received a welcoming surprise; Freddy was sitting in the front passenger seat. They quickly exchanged fist bumps and short greetings.

Art climbed back behind the wheel and closed his door. He shifted into reverse and cautiously backed up between several gawking, shocked people on the sidewalk. Syrrah nuzzled against Evan’s body, and he drew her closer. But he couldn’t help but direct his eyes out the window on Limati and the angelic beings in their otherworldly structure, though Syrrah showed no interest. As silently and mysteriously as it had arrived, the entire structure suddenly lifted into the sky, completely vanishing, with all buildings, people and other objects instantly returning to their original placement. “Holy unbelievable moly, what on earth did I just see?”   

Freddy turned to see Evan. “Dude. What the super, gigantic freaking heck!”

Art finally backed out so he could get on Nicollet and he headed eastward, a lead foot on the accelerator.

“Dude, Fred, right?”

“Okay,” Freddy said, his face in shock like the people on the sidewalk. “I’m gonna call out the massive elephant in the room and say what the HECK just happened?”

“Freddy,” Art said, before Evan could answer, “let Evan and Syrrah be calm right now. We’ll have plenty of time to discuss this later.”

“Yeah, Art’s probably right.” Evan looked behind, to see if all of it was truly gone. And it was. The buildings, streets, and vehicles showed no sign of them at all. And no police cars were following yet. “Unbelievable. Not a trace of any of it left, not Limati as Dana, not the giant thing itself, nothing!”

“No kidding, dude.”

“All that stretching, altering of the people’s bodies,” Evan said. “I hope it didn’t hurt them.”

“Same here with me,” Freddy said. “But Art believes they should be fine.”

“They are.” It was Art again. “Kamal and I sensed earlier they would be terrified, but then return to normal as though nothing occurred.”

“Thank God. Good to hear.” Evan felt Syrrah loosen her hold on him.

She leaned closer to Freddy. “You’re dating my sister, Neraeh?”

Freddy smiled at her. “Yes, I am. And it’s going super great.”

“That’s enough,” Art said. “Freddy. Sit forward. Syrrah and Evan need to chill right now.”

“Yeah, okay, sorry.” Freddy turned away.

Syrrah settled back against Evan, and she didn’t respond to Freddy’s words.

“Besides,” Art said, the Trailhawk picking up more speed, “things are about to get chaotic.”

“Of all times to bring your goon teammates along, why aren’t they here now, to help out?” Evan asked. “And your Sportsmobile conversion.”

“It’s complicated but trust me when I say Kamal and I determined our current setup was the most desirable. Make sure you two have your seatbelts on.” He glanced at Kamal. “Kamal. Help them.” 

Kamal was speaking something barely audible, under his breath, yet he took hold of the seatbelt and handed it to Evan. Evan carefully wrapped the seatbelt around Syrrah, inserting it into the latch near his lower right side. He pulled his own seatbelt out and clicked it secure too. He then wrapped his arm around her and drew her close again, she eagerly leaning into him likewise.

She picked up his right hand, resting upon her arm. “Evan. What did you do to your hand? It’s all bloody.”

Within her grasp, he spread out his fingers a bit, his trembling fingers, and he observed his knuckles more closely. The cuts from the Isuzu punch were already healing, but his hand did have blood and dusty dirt on the skin. “Was upset. Punched a truck door, that’s all. Forgot all about it actually. Doesn’t hurt.”

She looked up at his neck. “Your neck is healed?”

“Yeah. Wiped the blood away too.” 

“Evan.” She spoke softly, though he could hear her. “I…I don’t understand, all that just happened.”

“I know what you mean, Syrrah.” He kept his voice low too. “I don’t understand all of what just happened too.” He could feel her trembling in his embrace. And, he demanded that his own trembling cease; he needed to be her unmovable, steady rock right now. “This was far too phenomenal for anyone to understand.”

She released his hand and gently pushed his jacket aside and made herself more comfortable, resting her head into his T-shirt covered chest. “I’m totally confused.” 

“I know, baby, I know. It was a miracle.” He wrapped her up even closer to his body. 

Her trembling was increasing, though his own body was obeying his demand to remain still. “I…I just remember, seeing you, about to be hit by that truck, and then…then I was standing in that…in that thing, whatever it was. With another Dana, much taller than me. Did she save your life?”

He kept his close hold on her and gently stroked her head, her hair. “Is that what you saw, me about to get hit?”

“Yes, I did. I couldn’t believe it, when I saw you walking right into that truck. I pulled away, and then I tried to get back to you, to grab you, but I…I couldn’t, my legs, wouldn’t move forward, only backwards…and then, next I know, I was in that…that…thing.” Not only was she trembling, but feeling cold to the touch, the skin on her thin arms like someone exposed to below zero winter weather without a coat.

“Art,” Evan said. “We have a blanket in here somewhere?”

“Yes. Kamal. Get that blanket we brought.”

Kamal, yet strangely mumbling something under his breath, reached behind the seats and lifted over a thick, soft, tan and red plaid blanket. He handed it to Evan.

Evan spread the blanket around Syrrah’s body, from her shoulders down to her legs. Kamal helped placed the blanket evenly. But even with the blanket around her, she was yet shivering. He held her close to his body again.

“Thank you, Evan and Kamal,” she said, speaking into Evan’s chest. “I am cold…for some reason.”

“Of course, hon. And hopefully this gets you warmer.”

She looked up at his face. “But I’m so glad you’re okay.”

“She doesn’t know,” Kamal said, “she doesn’t know what happened.”

“Kamal”, Art said loudly. “You need to shut up now.”

Freddy turned back. “He’s been channeling for a few hours.” 

“Channeling what?” Evan asked.

“We’re not exactly sure,” Freddy answered, “but it’s rather deep.”

Syrrah grasped the edge of the blanket with her trembling fingers and removed it from her body. “Oh my God. I knew something was different, but I’ve been so out of it. What happened to my other clothes?” She held out her arm, lifted her right boot-covered foot. “I think I recognize these. I knew something was wrong, with me so much shorter than you. And running in boots?” She looked at Evan. “And my voice. And my body doesn’t hurt anymore.” Her eyes held confusion. “What happened to me?”

“A miracle. You truly are Syrrah again.” 

“What? That’s absolutely impossible!”

“Here.” Art quickly handed something to Freddy. “Give this to Evan.”

Freddy twisted himself around in his seat and handed a small, round mirror to Evan. Evan reached out for it, his hand trembling again, for some reason. Freddy grasped both his hands on Evan’s one hand, the mirror within. “Dude. It’s all right. Try to stay calm for her.” Freddy pressed with his hands a few more times, emphasizing his words.

“Fred, I know. I was doing far worse earlier. I’m handling it. I’m okay.”

“He’s got it, he’s got it,” Kamal said. “He’s strong beyond words.”

“All right, Freddy, just give him the mirror,” Art said. “Lord knows we don’t need Kamal set off again.”

Freddy chuckled and released his hands from Evan.

Evan held the mirror before himself and Syrrah. “Sorry. Still in a bit of shock. But I’m trying.”

“You’re fine, Evan, you’re fine.” Yet her tone didn’t seem much interested in their conversation. She eagerly took hold of the mirror from his hand and drew it closer. “Oh. My. God.”

He felt her tremble even more within his embrace. He gripped the mirror again, bringing it in view before them both. He smiled broadly. “Hey. Who’s that very beautiful girl and who’s that handsome guy? I should take out my phone and snap a selfie.”

She smiled, but only briefly. “This is impossible. This is like a dream. I don’t understand.” She released the mirror and leaned into his chest. She wrapped her arms around him, shaking against him. “I don’t understand what’s happening.” 

“Just hold her,” Art said. “Keep her warm. We should be there soon.”

Evan wrapped the blanket around her, making sure to seal up the open edges to keep her cozy and warm. And he commanded his body again to become rigid, strong. He held out his hand. His fingers were trembling less. “Where are we going?’

“To a good friend out in—”

“This was not supposed to happen!” Kamal loudly interrupted. “Broke many universe rules.” He didn’t look at anyone as he spoke, his eyes directed down at his lap, his body gently rocking back and forth. “They do not want anyone to know. They will fight to prevent this.”

“Kamal!” Art said. “I told you to stop it. Not now!”

Evan wanted to ask but didn’t. Art obviously didn’t want Syrrah to hear Kamal’s words, for an apparent good reason. She was confused and in a state of shock enough already.

His driving yet fast, but careful, Art took a quick right turn off their current street. Evan caught the name. 1st Street South. Art was heading them toward a parking garage. They passed by a US Postal Service building, and then Art turned onto a ramp going down to the lower level of the parking garage. He stopped at the gated entrance and entered his card. Once finished, he drove the Trailhawk until parking it in a rather dark, hidden location, far from the entrance.

Syrrah released her arms and sat up from her warm, close presence against Evan’s body. He never wanted her to move away but knew this journey was just getting started. She lifted the blanket off herself and Kamal took it, somehow, even within his channeling mode.

Art turned around. He reached out to Syrrah and gently took hold of her hand. “My lovely Syrrah, I am so honored to meet you.”

“Well, thank you, Art. Evan told me about you.” Art released her hand. “But what happened to me, why am I in my body again? How is any of this even possible?”

“I know you are wondering if I was involved,” Art said, “but I was not. I had perceived something like this happening, some time ago, but not all the details. But, we can discuss this later. Right now, understand that I have technology that allows us to travel instantly to destinations. I know you have been through a lot, and you have seen some things, especially given the revelation of your arrival here today, in your own body, so this may not be too shocking, but I wanted to tell you anyway.” He looked at Evan. “And some information for you, my boy. We will be visiting my good friend, Doctor Kwan Halprin, with his underground--”

“They are on their way.” Kamal was doing the same rocking motion, his eyes staring at the blanket crumbled up in his arms. “They will find us soon, if we don’t hurry.”

“I am aware, Kamal.” Art focused on Syrrah. “He does not usually behave like this.”

“I can verify that,” Evan said. “He’s a normal, friendly guy. I’ve never seen him like this before.”

“Yes, but we must get going,” Art said. “We are taking you, Syrrah, to my friend’s home because he is a medical doctor, among his other accomplishments, and he can check your current health. His home is underground, a safe and protective fortress.”

“You mean, I need protection, because of what Kamal said, that this shouldn’t have happened? They, whoever, don’t like this.”

“Yes, Syrrah. You are important, and you need protection.” Art looked out the windows. “No one near us now. Freddy, Evan, please turn off your phones.”

“Will do,” Freddy said. “I get you don’t want them tracking us, but can’t you block all of this?”

“Good point. But no. Can’t do now,” Art answered. “Must conserve my energy to protect Syrrah.”

Syrrah moved over on her own seat, allowing Evan to take the phone out of his pocket. He shut it off, and watched Freddy do the same.

“Appears…I don’t have a phone,” she said, searching around her own clothing, her body.

“Probably for the best,” Evan told her.

Art smiled at Syrrah. “They don’t give out cell phones in Heaven.”

“Heaven?” she said. “I rather doubt I came from there.”

Art gently patted her hand. “Well, not a point of concern right now.” He glanced out the windows again. “Still looks clear. Freddy, Kamal and I will get out first. Evan, you and Syrrah wait for us to open your door.”    

“Yeah, sure,” Evan said, “no problem.”

Art, Kamal and Freddy exited the Trailhawk.

Evan gazed into Syrrah’s beautiful face. “Are you okay, are you ready for this?”

She stared back at him, with her confused, yet stunning green eyes. “I guess I am.”

Art opened the door for Evan. “Come on. No one is nearby.”

Evan stepped out, and took hold of Syrrah’s hands, his mind more relaxed to notice her hands were smaller than Dana’s. He held on to her right hand once she stood on the concrete floor.

Freddy looked up and around. “I see security cameras.”

“No doubt, Freddy,” Art said. “But the cat is out of the bag now, you could say. Not much need to hide. Only a need to get away now. Come with me.” He led them a short distance away from the Trailhawk, near the wall of the parking garage.

Distant police sirens could be heard drawing closer.

“Hold on,” Evan said. “You’re not taking the Trailhawk too?”

“We will be arriving inside my friend’s indoor gymnasium, on the second floor.” Art smiled at Evan. “I didn’t think that would be practical.”

Evan laughed. “Uh, yeah, sure. But then, you’re just going leave it here?”

Art didn’t answer. He entered the yet open door from where Syrrah had exited and he reach over, to the back compartment. He soon lifted and brought forth the main AKTS device. He made sure to close the doors and lock the Trailhawk.

“Is that your technology to travel instantly?” she asked, her voice a little shaky, apprehensive.

Evan wrapped his arm around her, and she didn’t hesitate to lean into him. “It’s all right, hon. Doesn’t hurt, except for the blinding bright light on the eyes.”

“Yes, that would be correct.” Art began touching the light-colored controls on the device’s surface. “And per Evan, yes, the process is bright, but instant. And, I planned coordinates to move the Trailhawk near my friend’s garage, after we arrive. In a few seconds we will be at Doctor Halprin’s, or, as he is known and prefers, Doctor K.”

“Okay.” She sealed her arms around Evan. “I understand.”

He in turn held her even closer, his heart and soul wanting to overflow in warmth and the soothing sensation of her close presence, but the shock of the absolutely insane, unbelievable circumstances wouldn’t allow much of it.

In the darkness of the parking garage, the device did as Evan experienced in the motel bathroom, making its noise, oscillating its shape, and soon after emitting the mesh of fine, thin light rays. Only this time, besides touching upon each of their bodies, the light structure produced an oval enclosure with about a foot of distance from each of them to its height, not much different from a hull enclosure. It would only be a matter of split seconds now.