The Sequels to Syrrah's Game SGSequels




CHAPTER 10

 

OCTOBER 5TH, 3:43 PM (2:43 PM MOUNTAIN TIME)

 

“Dad, I’m sorry you don’t like the name I chose.”

Lang looked at Evan, sitting on the bed, his eyes sad, face glum, beneath their ever present plastic-like imprisonment. Though at times barely noticeable, the thought process to remove their imprisonment reigning paramount over the stuff itself, right now, with Evan’s distraught expression, the awful material burrowed mercilessly into Lang’s eyes and mind. “It’s all right. I just wish you chose another name besides ‘the hull’. You didn’t like ‘armor’, ‘shield’, or, better yet, ‘super-hero force shield’?”

A smiled refused to crack across Evan’s glum face. “No, because it’s not really like that. It’s not really protecting anything but just causing us to be scared and locked away…and yeah, like putting us through hell, Dad.” Evan shrugged. “But it is like a shell or husk…or a hull, so…”

Lang slumped down on the bed next to him. “No, it’s okay. It’s just a name, that’s all. You’re right, my boy in the plastic bubble.” He smiled at Evan.

Evan’s demeanor finally lightened. “Boy in the plastic bubble? Ha-ha, L-O-L, Dad. What about Pops in the plastic bubble?”

Lang smiled some more, his own heavy burden elevating slightly. “Yeah, yeah, I guess you got me there.”

“It’s okay. I know you’re just trying to cheer me up.” Evan sighed, and then his dark brown eyes became edged with seriousness. “But speaking of names, have you thought about why all these military people are telling us their full names?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, if this is such a secretive, classified place, even though it’s not Area 51, shouldn’t they be keeping their names hidden from us, since we could tell people once we get out of here?”

An uncomfortable thought seeped into Lang’s mind, but he ignored it. “Maybe those names aren’t their real names.”

“I don’t know. I’ve been watching them communicate with each other, and they really seem comfortable with those names, like they’ve always used them. Maybe…maybe they’re just going to make us forget, somehow, once we leave here. No matter what Major Eiken said.”

If they ever let us leave. No. Don’t think that. Ignore it again. “Right. Maybe. But I wouldn’t worry about it, and it’s probably the last thing on their minds. I think they just really want to help us, that’s all.”

“Yeah right, Dad. You can’t get phone service down here and they won’t let me connect my PSP to the Internet. And all the stupid tests they’re doing aren’t doing anything. Those x-rays and CT scans didn’t show anything. They couldn’t even detect your belt buckle, cell phone, or my PSP with that metal detector. And those electric and magnetic field detectors showed nothing. And that ultrasound on you just made the…this hull thing, just gobble up the gel. And then they seemed more interested in watching you sign the treatment consent paper on the video camera, because it looked like the pen was moving by itself, than helping--”

“Evan! That’s enough. You’re just…you’re just getting yourself more upset.”

Evan shot up from the bed and stood before Lang. He pointed at the doorway. “They’re getting me upset! Why did they have us look in mirrors, or check to see our reflection in those windows in the CT scan room? They seem more interested in finding out what this hull thing can do than helping us.”

“Well, those are some good points, but it’s not completely true. They checked our vital signs, and are very concerned with our mental state, which is why they asked all those psychological questions.”

“Yeah but I’m obviously not doing so good, mentally.” Evan made a sudden turn, his motion rigid with anger, and rushed toward the door.

Lang stood up. “Evan, what are you doing?”

“I should kick on that stupid door! That’s what I should do.”

“No. Now stop it.” Lang followed after him. ““You just need to calm down. We don’t need those DFRs coming in here.”

He turned back, fists clenched, and glared up at Lang. “Well, why did they leave us in here while preparing the stupid MRI for us?”

“You know why. They wanted us to rest a while. It’s been a long day.”

“Rest, Dad? How can either of us rest?” Evan whipped his arms out wide. “We’re trapped inside some weird alien stuff.” He yanked his arms inward. He began throwing random punches at the hull, even kicking his feet a few times. “That makes anyone who sees us treat us like freaks, or watch us on cameras as we pick things up!” When he looked at Lang, tears were noticeable; but he blinked a lot, trying to fight them away.

“Evan, I wish I could give you a hug,” Lang said, drawing closer, his heart aching. “You should just calm down now.”

 “Yeah. Another thing. We can’t even hug each other anymore.” He looked up and around the room. “I bet they have a camera in here, watching us. But, what am I saying? What would it matter? They probably won’t see us or hear us anyway!”

“Evan. Please. They will be here soon. Just calm down. And do what I suggested earlier. Just pray.”

“Dad. Are you listening to yourself? We’re surrounded by this alien material, that wants to shrink us and speed us forward in time, and you still want us to pray? I don’t think God and the Bible really matter much now.”

Lang froze in his motion. He could only stare at Evan in disbelief. “Ouch. That hurt.” He let out a rough exhale, hung his head down and walked over to his bed and sat down upon it.

“Dad. I’m sorry.” Evan stepped closer. “I didn’t mean that.”

Lang maneuvered himself until he had his forearms resting directly upon his thighs, the newly-named hull quickly accommodating by doming outward some. He stared down at the maroon rug. “I know. You’re just upset.”

Evan let out a shaky sigh. “All right. I’ll calm down.” He was quiet for some time, his agitated breathing slowly diminishing, but Lang didn’t look up at him. “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure.”

“When they used that x-ray gun on you, did you think you would see that spaceship again?”

“Sort of. I was scared, but I didn’t care too much. I just wanted them to figure something out for us.” He looked up at Evan; at least Evan wasn’t crying or glaring now, his eyes only curious. “I was actually more bothered by this stuff…the hull, sucking up all the ultrasound gel. So now I have ultrasound gel and some doctor’s instruments hiding somewhere inside this stuff.”

“No you don’t, Dad. All those things are on the alien spaceship somewhere. It must be their way of collecting things.”

A knock sounded on the door.

Lang stood up. “They must be here for the MRI.”

He walked over to the doorway and it slid open. Colonel Stevens entered their room.

And then they walked the hallways again, with those ever-present DFRs following not far behind. Lang kept track of Evan, but mostly his mind went numb, even the thought of praying nearly evaporated, and his walking and other mental processes running on autopilot; everything felt so unreal and impossible now.

He couldn’t recall how they arrived, zigzagging around a maze produced from all those gray hallways, but soon they were standing in a room before a stand-up MRI. The thing was huge, about twelve feet high, a towering mass of cream-colored plastic material shaped like the mold for an enormous, wide-centered hourglass. Within the hour glass’s middle was a seat bordered by flat-surfaced adjustable walls. Colonel Stevens explained the seat could be adjusted forward, up, or down, or could even recline, allowing many positions to view a body.

“Why do you guys need this?” Evan asked. “Why not a regular MRI?”

“Efficiency,” Major Ko answered, as Colonel Stevens and Captain Indalo entered the MRI control room behind them. “Patients can be imaged standing, reclining, bent over, or picking up objects, to better determine injury status. And stand-up MRIs are better for claustrophobic patients.”

“Yeah, tell me about it,” Evan said. “Felt like I was in a clicking coffin when I had mine done.”

Major Ko looked at Lang. “When was this?”

“About a year ago,” Lang answered. “Evan was hit in the head with a baseball. The doctors were worried about an intracranial injury, a concussion, but he just had a bruised scalp, thankfully.”

“Good.” Major Ko pressed some buttons on a nearby control panel. A low humming commenced and the distance between the two adjustable walls bordering the seat began growing. “MRIs are a safer choice than CT scans.”

“Dad. You still going first?”

“Yes,” Lang answered.

Major Ko led Lang to the MRI’s seat. “This is of course redundant, given the metal detector couldn’t detect a hint of ferrous compounds, but any pace makers, body piercings, metallic implants?”

“None of those.” Lang stepped upon a small plastic step attached to the seat and then sat down. Major Ko adjusted a black cloth seat belt around Lang. “Just tooth fillings. Do they count?”

“No.” Major Ko clicked the seat belt’s clasp together. “But don’t be too concerned. Even if this does work, we will only subject you to temporary instances of the MRI, so your belt buckle should only tug momentarily.” 

“If you have any doubts, then why are we even doing this?” Lang asked.

Major Ko stared into Lang’s face and in a brief moment, Lang saw in those eyes a man who struggled to find compassion and bedside manners when scientific procedures held much higher importance. “We need to keep trying standard treatment methods until Colonel Jennings and her team alert us to anything else we can attempt.”

Evan walked closer. “Doesn’t an MRI have to do with large magnets and radio frequencies?”

“Yes,” Major Ko said, “and finding the one or two hydrogen protons per million that don’t cancel in a spin. Then send radio frequencies to the protons to spin differently, and when we cancel the radio signal, they stop spinning and give off energy that forms the images.”

Colonel Stevens approached. “Are we ready?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Wait a minute,” Evan said. “What about my dad’s ears? Don’t you need headphones on him?”

A smile drew across Colonel Stevens’ face. “Not necessary, Evan. This MRI is silent, except for a slight, low humming noise.” He began leading Evan and Major Ko into the control room, but glanced back at Lang. “We’ll be able to communicate on speaker phone.”

Lang nodded. “Thanks. That’s fine.”

Straight across from where Lang sat was a rectangular window to the control room. They were all in there, along with Captain Indalo, yet pointing that darn camera at Evan and then through the window at Lang. Above the window on the wall was a flat-screen TV, but it wasn’t on.

“Okay, here we go Lang,” Colonel Stevens said on the speaker phone.

“I’m ready.” Lang smiled and waved at Evan. Evan quickly waved back and immediately Lang’s spirits darkened; Evan’s motion, contrasted against those men, was far too fast.

The MRI began.

Well, they weren’t kidding; this was far quieter than Evan’s MRI. Basically it sounded like a radio left on, with the volume up, but not tuned in to any station.

Colonel Stevens stared at the computer monitor. “Damn. Nothing.”

“Sir,” Major Ko said, “should I try some adjustments?”

“Proceed, Major.”

Major Ko positioned himself in front of the keyboard and typed away.

Suddenly intense yellow light flashed all around Lang. He squeezed his eyes shut from the brightness and pain. “Ahhh!” The clasp on the seat belt dropped, from its former secure tightness, clunking lightly against his hull-covered thighs. His heart pounded harder. “No! Not again!”

“Dad!”

Lang opened his eyes. Those flash spots hindered his vision again, but he could still see most of everything.

Evan ran out of the control room, the others lumbering along behind him. “Get my dad out of that MRI, now!”

Lang’s pulse hammered faster; Evan was now even shorter compared to Colonel Stevens than he had been earlier.