The Sequels to Syrrah's Game SGSequels




CHAPTER 18

 

OCTOBER 7TH, 8:28 AM (7:28 AM MOUNTAIN TIME)

 

That high ceiling, made of artistically sculptured marble – why was that before him now?

Still breathing hard, his body yet shaking, Evan quickly realized he wasn’t in that laboratory room anymore; he was lying on a floor, the commons area floor.

He moved his arms. They moved freely. He moved his head to the left and looked out across the floor. He was definitely smack dab on the floor, the hull’s outer surface around his back pressing right up against it.

Awesome. What a relief. The hull wasn’t making him float anymore.

He heard slow, clunking steps to his right. He turned in that direction. Two DFRs were approaching, their M4 Carbines nearly pointing at him. Bad news.

He scrambled up, able to move his legs easily again, until he was sitting bent-knee style. He stared up at the two guys. 

“Halt…Don’t…move.”

Just like those other DFRs, and those robots, these guys were speaking and moving even slower. That last decrease event really seemed to have given a bad kick to things, though especially in Evan’s favor. But, who cares. Being shot at wasn’t something he wanted to go through again. He launched up his trembling arms, showing the DFRs he wasn’t a threat. 

“Evan!”

It was Dad’s voice, and he just screeched it out sounding both worried and relieved. Evan stayed still, so the DFRs wouldn’t get jumpy, and only rolled his eyes to the left, toward that long hallway where he had gone through the wall. Though the three commons area steps blocked his view a bit, he still had a good glimpse. Dad was running straight toward him and just passing the examining room.

“At…ease…off…i…cers.” This time the slow voice came from a different direction. He turned until seeing General Tauring running in slow motion, coming right at Evan face-on. “Stand…down.”

The DFRs lowered their M4s in annoying slowness.

Evan brought his arms down, his hands yet shaking. He tried to relax, to stop the shaking, but couldn’t.

It wasn’t too much longer, time behaving strangely for Evan, and his thoughts cloudy since he was still so stressed-out, that Dad, Colonel Stevens, Major Ko and that nervous Captain Indalo were all surrounding him. General Tauring stood over to the side a bit and talked to the DFRs.

Dad tried to hold back the tears in his eyes, but he couldn’t. They formed a few streams down his cheeks. “Evan. Thank the Lord you’re all right.” Dad seemed eager to give a hug, but he of course couldn’t do that too. “I was so worried, especially since we had that other decrease event at 7:07.”

“I know, Dad. I saw it too.”

“They started using a tablet now, at times, for us to communicate.” Dad slipped his hand out of the hull’s arm sleeve and quickly wiped his nose and eyes with his fingers. He took in a deep breath and let out a sigh of relief. “They’re having trouble speaking fast enough for us, and it’s hard for me to slow down enough for them. But they can type faster. I’ve typed in a few things too. It’s only when we can’t understand each other, though, not all the time.”

“Oh, wow. I guess…I guess that makes sense.”

“It helps.” Dad gave Evan that probing, worried stare. “Evan. Where on earth did you go? We couldn’t find you anywhere. And why are you shaking so much?”

“I, umm…” The answer would have to wait. Colonel Stevens was leaning down, rubber gloves on his hands, to help Evan up. “I’ll tell you later, Dad.”

Once Colonel Stevens had Evan standing, he told him to sit on that nearby sofa, the one facing the TV. Even though they were speaking and moving slower, Evan quickly found himself adjusting to the new slowness, especially once the men tried harder to speak faster.

Darnit. It was even more difficult to get on the sofa now, as short as he was. And his continuing shakiness only made it worse.

He finally had to hop up a bit to sit down comfortably.

Dad had less trouble and sat to Evan’s right.

A glance around showed that most of the men’s faces weren’t too pleased with things. That was especially true for the grumpy general, still speaking with the DFRs. That guy didn’t seem too happy, for certain.

Evan didn’t want to lie, it was wrong, but he just sensed that what he had seen shouldn’t be shared. At least not right away. And he needed to protect Dad, and Colonel Stevens and his men too.

“Evan. You were gone for about thirty-five minutes our time,” Colonel Stevens said. “Where did you go?”

Had it really been that long? Then he had to have been gone even longer, in his time. He shrugged, still shaking. “I really don’t remember. I just suddenly came here, lying on the floor.”

Colonel Stevens knelt down, right near the end of the coffee table before the sofa. He stared with kind, understanding eyes. “You’re trembling. You all right?”

“Yeah.” Evan took in a deep, relaxing lung full, trying to suppress those shakes. “I think so. I was just scared a bit.”

“Why were you scared?” Dad asked. “What happened?”

“It was just strange. I went through the wall, and now I’m here.” Change the topic. “Did the computer keep repeating those lines? My PSP stopped, finally, once I went through the wall.”

Colonel Stevens shook his head. “No, Evan. Major Ko had to do a hard shut down to stop the repeating lines.” Even though the colonel spoke faster, his words still dragged.

General Tauring was obviously done with the DFRs. He sat down on the coffee table, in front of Evan. “Son, where did you go?” The general’s gray eyes glared, daring Evan to lie. “We had this entire facility in lock-down. No one in, no one out. And yet, you were nowhere to be found. All personnel searched everywhere.”

 “I don’t know.” Talk fast, leave him guessing. “After I saw the repeating lines, I felt angry, and scared, and then, it just hit me – I didn’t want to be here anymore. So, I was trying to leave, however I could.”

 It worked. The grumpy general showed signs he didn’t understand everything, but tried hiding it. He wanted to look in-charge probably. “You’re not answering my question.” Now his voice and eyes were more demanding. “Where did you go?”

Evan shrugged. “I might have seen some things. I don’t know. But then, I ended up here.” The shaking was finally subsiding some. “I guess I’m all shook up because I remember being on the floor somewhere, and then…and then I just appeared in this room.”

“Why were you on the floor?”

Keep playing unaware. “I don’t know why.”

“Sir, if I may,” Colonel Stevens said.

“Go ahead.”

“Evan may not be remembering everything because he is too traumatized. We can work at regaining his memory.”

The strange, dragged-out noise of a cell phone ring tone bellowed from somewhere around General Tauring. The general stood up. “Fine, Colonel. I will speak with all of you later.” He walked away, towards the long hallway that had the entrances to the rooms with the fish tank-like pool and the Suburban’s testing room.

 “Evan.”

Evan turned enough to see Dad’s face.

“You really can’t remember?”

“I don’t think so. I’m not sure.”

“Are you well enough to walk to the examining room?” Colonel Stevens asked, rushing through his words, though it didn’t help much.

Evan shrugged. “Sure.” He reminded himself to speak slowly. “I am just shook up from everything that happened, that’s all. I am not injured.”

So they walked there, mostly in quiet.

Once in the room, Evan again sat on the left side of the sofa couch, Dad on the right. The memory of what happened a short time ago made Evan’s pulse pick up, but he ignored it and let the men go ahead with their usual examining stuff.

But after Colonel Stevens told Evan to check his own pulse, using his PSP as a stop watch for the correct beats per minute, his pulse was definitely higher than earlier – ninety-six beats per minute. And Dad’s wasn’t much better, at eighty-eight. Obviously, the hull’s need to drop him off in other locations had really messed up both of them.

Colonel Stevens went ahead and checked Dad’s eyes.

Evan snuck a glance at Captain Indalo, with Dad now preoccupied. Captain Indalo was camcording with a happier face like he used to have. He looked less tense and his arms hung more relaxed. But why? He couldn’t yet know what had been seen. Or could he?  Or maybe he just finally realized he needed to act tough, and not be so nervous.

The door opened. Slowly one of the DFRs walked in. Colonel Stevens turned and faced him.

“Sir!”

“Yes, Airman?”

“General Tauring wants to speak with you, Major Ko, and Captain Indalo, in the hallway.”

Colonel Stevens nodded. “Of course.” He looked at Dad. “We’ll hurry back. Hang tight.”

All three men walked out of the room.

Dad had a sad, downcast face, but then he looked Evan in the eyes. “I thought God had abandoned me.”

“You didn’t feel that comforting sensation in your chest?”

“I wasn’t really paying attention…Evan, we searched everywhere. Halls we hadn’t been down. Rooms I’m sure a civilian shouldn’t see. But then, finally, the DFRs in the commons area called on their transmission devices, stating they found you. You have no idea how relieved I felt.”

“I could tell, in your voice. And Dad. I’m really sorry I got so mad at you. I was just…I was just scared, and really upset.”

Dad let out a shaky exhale. “I know, Evan. It’s not your fault. I’m just so relieved you’re here now.”

It hurt to hear all of this, but Evan had other things on his mind. “I need to tell you something.”

“Tell me. I’m listening.”

“I think I know why this is happening, this hull stuff, all of it.”

“Why?”

“Maybe Major Eiken was trying to tell me something. Maybe we really are like superheroes, to help and protect other people.”

Dad smiled. “Well, would be nice. But I don’t think Captain Indalo would believe that.”

 “Yeah, true.” Evan wanted to smile back, but couldn’t. Frightening memories forced their way into his head. His eyes were tearing-up, but he forcefully blinked the tears away. “I didn’t tell you guys everything, because I just couldn’t, not in front of the general.”

Dad sat up straighter and his eyes became more alert. “What didn’t you say?”

 “I saw, well, I saw--”

The door swung open. General Tauring entered, and he didn’t look happy, just like earlier. He was carrying something, but tried to hide it, snuggling it to the back of his forearm. But his motion was so slow compared to his reflexes, that Evan caught a glimpse; it was a small, black club. Why would he have that?

Colonel Stevens and his men entered too, but Captain Indalo wasn’t holding the camcorder. And all of their faces had a cold, sharp change from earlier.

Something felt very wrong.

Ha, no problem, Evan realized; after what he’d just been through, it was doubtful the grumpy general could hurt him now.

Still trying to hide that club behind his arm, General Tauring leaned back against the front of the desk. But Dad caught a glimpse of that club too. And Dad’s expression took on surprise, and then concern.

General Tauring stared dead on at Evan. “I just received a call from one of my superiors.” He was doing a good job at speaking faster yet not stumbling over his words. “They found you, Evan, in one government facility, snooping around, and then later found you in another government facility. Not only that, they said you were able to talk to the military police each time you encountered them. You still want to say you don’t remember anything?”

 “I am…I’m still not sure what I saw.”

“The hull must have caused it,” Dad said slowly. “Evan would not deliberately do something like that. He knows the limits of where he should go and what is right or wrong.”

General Tauring stood up straight and stepped closer to Dad. “And you know, I believe you. I believe you taught him well. Maybe Evan actually can’t remember what happened to him. And so, I’m having someone assist me who can bring back his memory.”

That didn’t sound so good. What the heck was the grumpy guy talking about now?

Dad stood up and stared right up into the general’s face, surprising Evan. “What exactly do you mean by that?”

General Tauring raised an eyebrow. “Now settle down. I don’t know what you’re thinking, but I was--”

“Sir. I’m sorry to interrupt, but you wanted me to inform you.” A DFR had entered the room. “Sir, Dr. Hakan is here.”

Standing in the open doorway, behind the DFR, was this huge, hulky man, possibly of Native American or Spanish descent. He was wearing the same tan, cammie Air Force clothes just like most everyone else wore here, except his clothing size was a lot larger.

“Thank you, Airman,” General Tauring said. “Resume your position.” After the DFR left, General Tauring invited the new guy to walk closer, until he stood next to the general. “Lang. Evan. This is Dr. Joe Hakan, our resident civilian psychologist.”

Evan took a good gander at him. Psychologist? A shrink? This guy looked more like a paid assassin. What the heck did they have going on in this place? Recalling where he had just come from, and now this, a dark, sinister feeling pulsated inside Evan.

But obviously Dr. Hakan wasn’t prepared. His cold, black eyes, widening, darted back and forth between him and Dad. Dr. Hakan didn’t like or couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He blinked a lot, and tried to remain tough, but it was transparent. His big, strong presence wasn’t so strong after all. Ha, what a joke. The sinister feeling lessened, and instead, Evan felt power building.

“Dr. Hakan has a method for transferring a person’s consciousness into his own mind, thereby enabling him to acknowledge the thoughts of another person.” General Tauring stared down at Dad. “He would like to try this on Evan, if you approve, so we can determine what happened to him.”

Dad’s demeanor softened and he slumped down into the sofa, his face exhausted. He looked up at the general. “Is this really important? Did Evan really travel to some top secret government compound?”

“The good news is not only will we be able to determine how he got to, yes, very guarded, very important compounds, but maybe we can also finally know what the hull is thinking, what it’s up to. And though I know you two are Christians, remember that--”

“I know,” Dad interrupted, his tone giving off frustration, “the hull is already manipulating all our minds anyway.”

“Fight fire with fire, wouldn’t you say?”

Dad sighed. “Yes. You’re right. Sure, fine. You have my permission.”

Wow. The hull had really changed him. “Dad, you sure?”

He nodded, but didn’t look at Evan. “I guess we need all the help we can, to figure this out, Evan.”

“Very well, then,” General Tauring said. “Dr. Hakan. Continue.”

Fear disappearing rapidly, his trembling now a thing of the past, Evan stared straight up into Dr. Hakan’s eyes. Go ahead, hit man, read my mind.

But Dr. Hakan barely stared back much, his eyes glancing away a lot. He turned to the general. “I need to talk to you. Outside.”

“What?” General Tauring swallowed, but then cleared his throat, a cover up. Don’t they realize we can see every slight movement now, Evan yelled in his mind, since they’re so slow? General Tauring looked at Dad. “Excuse me, Lang. We’ll be right back.”

They walked out of the room, and then Colonel Stevens closed the door.

“Evan, why did you go to those compounds?” Dad asked. “What were you thinking?”

“No, Dad. I didn’t! The hull took me there!”

Colonel Stevens did his slow-mo walk until closer. “What do you mean, Evan? How did it do that?”

“I don’t know.” He reminded himself to speak slowly. “It had me floating along, off the floor about six inches, like I was a balloon…and, and just took me wherever it wanted. I had no control over it. You have to believe me!”

“I’m trying, Evan.” Colonel Stevens folded his arms over his chest and gave a serious stare. “What did it show you?”

Too much was let out now, and it was getting harder to hide the rest. “I, um…I’m still not sure. The hull was moving me pretty fast. I only saw glimpses of things.”

General Tauring came back into the room, but Dr. Hakan wasn’t with him. Major Ko closed the door this time. But Evan’s eyes quickly centered on Captain Indalo’s behavior; he kept glancing at General Tauring’s arms now and then. The black club?

“Sir,” Colonel Stevens said, while the general walked to the front of the desk again. “I would like to discuss something.”

“Speak, Colonel.”

Evan eyed General Tauring carefully. He still had the short black club, but was trying to keep it hidden. Evan was about to ask him about it, but then the grumpy general leaned against the desk and concentrated on Colonel Stevens.

 “Evan has recalled a few things,” Colonel Stevens said. “The hull had him floating above ground, by about six inches. The hull moved him wherever it wanted, and Evan could do nothing to stop it.”

General Tauring smiled. “Well. I see we’re getting our memory back.”

Yeah, and you have an infuriating attitude.

“What did Dr. Hakan find out?” Dad asked. “Did he transfer Evan’s consciousness?”

The smile on General Tauring’s face slowly melted away. “Even before you gave permission, Dr. Hakan was applying a pre-transfer process, to both your minds. He found out he couldn’t proceed. Sometimes this happens.”

 “Well, thank God,” Dad said slowly, clearly. “I really did not like the idea anyway.”

“Sure. Not a problem to you. You don’t need to be concerned with breaches of national security, now do you.”

Dad immediately stared straight on up at General Tauring, slowly jolting the grumpy guy back an inch or two from Dad’s so much faster motion. “Excuse me, General.” Dad yet spoke slowly though. “But this is not Evan’s fault!”

“Well, I don’t know Lang. Let’s find out.” General Tauring stared at Evan. “You had plans on visiting any place in particular before slamming that wall?”

It was bad enough he and Dad had to wait forever for any of them to finish speaking. Evan envisioned steam arising from his nose, his ears, anger simmering. “I already told you. I was scared, and angry. I just wanted to get away from here. If there was any place, any place at all I wanted to go, it was home, or back in school with my friends. Anything normal, anything but here. Anything but some stupid, weirdo, government compound, you freak!”

“Evan!” Dad said. “That was uncalled for.”

General Tauring stepped forward, away from the desk. “Son, you’re trying my patience.”

Dad stood up. “He didn’t mean that. He’s scared.”

“I’m not scared.” Evan shot up, stood his tallest, and thrust a pointed finger up at the general. “I don’t care if you don’t believe me. You think I enjoy what’s happening to me?”

Dad reached for Evan by his shoulder, and the repulsion kicked in, the force of it immediately pushing Evan back down into the sofa. “Evan. Please. Getting angry won’t help. Just sit down and answer the general’s questions, calmly.” 

“No, Dad.” Thinking quick, noticing the gap between Dad and General Tauring closing in, Evan jumped up onto the sofa. He ran to the sofa’s end farthest from the door. He jumped off the sofa onto the floor and stared back at the general. “I’m fed up with this! I’m tired of watching and listening to people move in slow motion and hearing the weird sounds from all of it.” He started backing up. The wall farthest from the door wasn’t too far behind him. “I’m tired of shrinking. I’m tired of not knowing what the heck is going on. And I’m tired of being questioned by people who expect me to have all the answers when I don’t even know what’s happening!”

“Evan! No! Please!” His hands shaking, Dad reached out in Evan’s direction. “Don’t leave me again.” He began sobbing. “I…I can’t take it again. Please.”

Evan stopped moving. He stared at Dad. Memories of Mom were probably flooding Dad’s mind now, but he wasn’t alone. Evan was remembering her too now, numerous, intricate memories filling his head, and he wished so much he was with her at this moment, at home. Anything normal, anything but here.

 “General!” Colonel Stevens called out in that loud, sluggish tone. “Indalo’s premonition!”

The memories filling Evan’s head vanished. His thoughts were instead replaced by comprehending General Tauring charging right at him, that black club now extended in length.

Evan turned to get away. But his motion wasn’t quick enough.

Damn. Shouldn’t have stood there so long!

The thin upper length of the black club whipped right through Evan’s upper chest. And he didn’t feel a thing.

Yet he froze, confusing cementing his motion.

“Evan? Are you hurt?” Dad yelled. “What the hell are you doing to my son?”

“Sir! General!” It was Colonel Stevens again. “Is this necessary? The boy has been through enough!”

General Tauring glared at Dad. “Do you realize, Mr. Turrone, that your son survived forty rounds from a semi-automatic weapon? Was tasered with five thousand volts of electricity, and felt nothing? And you’re worried about a stick hitting him?”

“What are you talking about?” Dad was angry, unafraid, walking toward the general. “Why would anyone shoot at, or taser, my son?”

“Because he was told to halt, several times, Mr. Turrone, and he did not!”

Evan got his senses back and was able to move again. He stepped closer to the general. He was not scared. That black club meant nothing. “Because the hull was moving me, you big jerk! Colonel Stevens already told you that!”

General Tauring’s face slowly twisted in disgust and he lifted the black club, readying to strike again.

But a blurring streak plowed into the general, slowly slamming him to the floor on his butt between the desk and the wall. Evan blinked a few times, making certain his eyes saw correctly. And they did.

Dad had done it!

Colonel Stevens ran over, his motion like a slow-mo video. He knelt down next to the general and held out his hand. “Sir. Let me help you up.”

“Cut it out, Stevens,” General Tauring said, pushing the colonel’s hand away. Colonel Stevens slowly stood up and backed away. The general pointed at Evan, and then at Lang. He started laughing, his laugh an eerie, deep chuckle probably from rumbling so sluggishly. “The perfect weapon. You two are the perfect weapons.”

Dad approached him. “General Tauring. I am sorry. I should not have pushed you over, but I had no choice.” He turned back to see Captain Indalo, and then stared down at the general again. “Look. If you do not want us here, that is fine with us. Put us somewhere else. Your doctors and scientists cannot seem to help us anyway. And time is running out. So sure, get us out of here. We are more than willing, especially after this…this fiasco.”

Good ole Dad. He spoke the truth and gave the stupid general exactly what he had coming to him.