The Sequels to Syrrah's Game SGSequels




CHAPTER 26

 

OCTOBER 7TH, 11:56 PM (10:56 PM MOUNTAIN TIME)

 

Savior, please, forgive me, and Evan, for our sins. But, please, please, I beg of you, please stop these decrease events. Lord, I’m only forty-two inches tall now, and Evan, he’s…he’s… Lang swallowed, hard, but reminded himself to stay calm. He’s only thirty-seven inches tall now, the size of a two year old. Please give me strength, because I am scared and worried. And please give Evan comfort too. He glanced at Robert sitting across from him, looking like an angry young boy on a big brown sofa; the man’s eyes yet stared daggers. And please help Robert. Something I did, I think, bothers him. And please help all of us to get along well together. Evan was running over. Amen.

“Dad. Nahas and Akina are going to discuss what happened to them. You need to hear this, especially about Akina’s story.”

Lang sat down upon the sofa and smiled. “All right.”

Evan rushed back to walk by Dr. Maplen, who was just exiting his room and heading for the entrance platform’s ramp to the commons area. Akina, Nahas, Kyleigh, and Alan were following Dr. Maplen. 

Trying to ignore Robert’s angry stare, Lang looked up and around the room again. Maybe what Robert said earlier, soaked in that cynicism tone of his, was on target; maybe Colonel Stevens did bring all of the hull people here now, in a more pleasant environment, to soften the brutality of the next decrease event at 11:07 pm.

No. Ignore that. Remember to pray, that’s all. And that warmth, that good feeling near his heart. It was there, but not like it was earlier. But still, it was enough.

Once Evan was between the sofa and coffee table, he hopped up on and sat to Lang’s left. Surprisingly, Evan’s PSP wasn’t in his hands. Dr. Maplen sat on the sofa nearest to the entrance, his tablet ready. Akina and Nahas stood in the open space between Dr. Maplen and the coffee table and Alan leaned against the sofa across from the coffee table, the one Robert sat upon.

Kyleigh waved at Lang, just before she leaned against the sofa on Evan’s left side, the side closest to Dr. Maplen. “Hi again, Lang.” She gave him a warm smile.

Nahas began speaking, so Lang wanted to keep it short. “Hi, Kyleigh.” He smiled at her too.

So weird it was to see a human being, Kyleigh, wave with a hand and arm entirely enclosed by this clear, plastic-like prison. Goose bumps and chills passed up through the length of Lang’s body, but he quickly forced them away.

“Dr. Maplen was questioning us about any significant differences, when the hull first captured us,” Nahas continued. “And Akina has quite the extreme one.”

Akina stood closer to Nahas, their fondness for each other obviously yet growing. “It was the weird empty subway car,” she said softly, though her English was distinct, not muddled too much by her Japanese accent. “And how the subway attendant tried to grab the other Akina, but his hand went right through her.”

“You don’t say,” Kyleigh said. “His hands went right through her? But did the empty subway car happen first?”

His face twitching slightly, revealing a somewhat disturbed psyche, Robert folded his arms over his chest under the hull, hopped off the sofa, and intensified his stare on Lang. What exactly is his problem?

Lang ignored him and just focused on Akina.

“Yes. The empty subway car had happened first. I had just finished work at Kireina Yama Hotel Sendai.”

Alan copied Robert’s behavior, folding his arms over his chest, beneath his hull. A possible sign of solidarity between the two Australians? But Alan kept his eyes on Akina.

“You mean, in Sendai?” Robert asked.

“Yes. That is the hotel’s name. I know it sounds a little funny, how we place our adjectives, but--”

“So, you were on the subway car?” Kyleigh asked, her tone emanating irritation, for some reason. But it couldn’t be at Akina. Akina was too sweet and nice.

“Uh, yes. It was after 10 PM. I was so tired, from work, and depressed again. Ever since my husband died, four months ago, it…it has been hard.”

Four months ago? Deidra’s passing began seeping into Lang’s thoughts. No, no. Not now. Evan, and the promise! Still, that was interesting. A connection, maybe?

“But for some purpose,” she continued, “I found a seat on the last subway car. I usually never do. It is usually so packed and crowded. And then I fell asleep, in the seat.

“But then, sometime later, I woke up. And it was very strange. The subway train was still moving, but no one was in my car, except me. I became frightened, and even more depressed.” She glanced around at all the other hull people. “I am a born again Christian, just like most of you. But I was worried a terrorist attack had occurred. And I regret, that I had prayed for the Savior to take me to Heaven now. I wanted to be with my husband, but I know it’s wrong.”

And the same type of prayer, Lang realized. Again, a possible link?

But Evan. He’s content at the moment, not even on his PSP. Don’t say a word.

“It’s all right, Akina,” Kyleigh said. “The Lord knows your heart, and understands your pain.”

Akina’s eyes became a bit teary but she smiled at Kyleigh. “Thank you.” She looked at Nahas. “Then, like Nahas, I felt a vibration, like an earthquake.”

“I felt it too,” Lang said. “And so did Kyleigh.”

“Curious,” Nahas said. “Something we all shared.” He nodded at Akina, encouraging her to continue.

“I stood up, and checked my cell phone. It was 10:26 pm. I walked to the next car in line, expecting to see people in a panic. But, so weird, they were calm and behaved strangely, even though they were packed so tightly. No one had felt the vibration. I asked them why so many people left on my car and most just said they wanted to be closer to where the subway would stop. Or some people said they weren’t sure. They just felt too cramped in my car. It made no sense, since they were really cramped in this car.”

Lang had a thought. “Do you have subway workers, or I mean, attendants, in these subway cars?”

 “Oh, yes,” she said. “I asked a subway attendant if he felt something was odd. But he said people just like to move to other cars sometimes. It was…it was as though they all had blinders on, and couldn’t see what was wrong. They couldn’t see my car was completely empty.”

“Wow,” Evan said. “How weird.”

Lang wondered of Robert’s disposition. He sneaked a glance at him; the man’s eyes yet glared. Lang looked back at Akina, but her words sounded faraway, indistinct, clouded by his thoughts. Why was Robert so upset?

After Dr. Maplen requested Akina to slow her speech, since the hull wasn’t letting him pick up any of her conversation on his tablet, she continued. Lang kept listening, though, and got the gist of it anyway. The subway train eventually stopped at the Kuromatsu Station, her usual exit spot. Once everyone got out, a few passengers noticed a lone subway car parked some distance down the dark tunnel, from where they just came. These passengers then alerted subway attendants, and before long, all sorts of commotion broke out, with other passengers exclaiming about it to each other or telling riders about to board.

Akina ran over to the safety rail near the tracks, but at first she couldn’t see. Eventually, as people moved and gave her an opening, she peered down the tunnel, seeing inside the car. As with Kyleigh, she could see herself, a motionless mannequin sitting in the same position as when she felt the vibration. She took a photo with her cell phone, but later, like they had discussed already, the photo simply vanished from her phone.

After some minutes, this other subway car slowly began moving, gradually picking up speed until it sped right into the original car.

Lang glanced at Robert again. Thankfully, Robert was keeping his eyes on Akina.

Nahas eyed her. “Akina says it looked like the original car simply sucked up the other car.”

“Yes, really,” she said. “It just pulled it right in, so fast. We all expected a really loud crash, but it was so strange, since it was so silent, not even a whisper, or light wind. Nothing. And then the hull formed around it.”

Evan shook his head. “Wow. Crazy.”

“Yeah, no fooling,” Alan said.

“And then your copy followed the same steps as before, going into the other car,” Kyleigh asked, “talking to people who weren’t there, and then leaving the car?”

“Yes. That’s what happened. She walked right out through the hull, like it was nothing. It was very disturbing. Many passengers and subway attendants were calling on their phones, snapping photos. And I heard some people yell out, that the subway car and my copy weren’t in the photos. But we could see both were still there!”

Dr. Maplen held out his tablet. “Akina. Please tell us about the subway attendant who touched the other Akina.”

“Oh, this is remarkable,” Nahas said. “Listen to this.”

Akina smiled humbly, but then became engaged in her recollection. “Yes. My replica came out, running down to the rail, like I did. But many people thought she was a robot, since we have human-like robots there. But she was not a robot. When she started getting closer to me, speeding up, the subway attendant tried to grab her. But his hand went right through her! I was so disturbed and scared. I started running away. Everyone was screaming and yelling. I was too. And then, just before the hull captured me, and she was running right at me, that same man…he stood in front of her, blocking her, but she ran right through him!”

“Unbelievable,” Kyleigh said, “and ghostly, creepy.”

Those horrible, frightening early memories filled Lang’s thoughts. “That’s exactly what I thought when Ron, the police chief I told you guys about, put out his arms, and…and our copies passed right through him.”

Kyleigh eyed Lang with concerned eyes. “Gosh. Gives me the creepy-crawlies.”

“So two of us had this occur,” Nahas said. “Anyone else?”

No one responded, and Robert was looking angry again. And Alan didn’t seem much better.

Lang noticed movement across the commons area. Colonel Stevens, Captain Indalo, and Major Ko were walking down the steps and heading toward everyone.

“Akina,” Evan said. “Did you try to punch it and kick it off you?”

Akina shook her head in a shivering manner. “No. I froze in panic. I could barely breathe. The subway attendants, and some police, came near to help me. But many of the other people were yelling and running away.”

“Did you?” Robert asked Evan.

Well, that was surprising. And Robert’s glare actually diminished once speaking to Evan.

“Yeah, I did.”

“He fought like crazy,” Lang said, feeling pride. He smiled at Robert, but the man only kept his eyes on Evan and didn’t speak to Lang. “But of course, it didn’t do a thing.” Lang looked at Akina. “There was nothing you could have done anyway.”

She nodded. “I know.”

“What about you, Dr. Tjirange?” Alan asked.

“Please. Call me Nahas.”

“Sure, Nahas. Anything unusual happen to you?”

Colonel Stevens team was now nearby. Dr. Maplen spoke with Colonel Stevens and began explaining that they were all listening to different accounts of the initial capture by the hull.

Nahas watched the slow, giant men for a moment, and then eyed Alan. “Only that I was driving to Korle Bu Hospital, where I’m a pediatrician, as I told all of you earlier. It was 1:30 in the afternoon.”

“And you felt that explosive vibration?” Alan asked.

“Precisely. I felt what we all experienced, a vibration, like an earthquake. So, I slowed my car, came to a stop. Pedestrians were walking nearby, and let me tell you, they were shocked, with some even laughing.” It was fun watching and listening to Nahas; he used lots of hand gestures and made funny expressions. “They said, how did you do it, make your car split in two? I didn’t know what to say. I hadn’t done anything.”

Lang chuckled quietly and a few of the others did too.

“I walked over, looked inside, and there I was, sitting in the driver’s seat, motionless as a rock.” Nahas smiled. “Now, I was shocked.”

More laughter came from all of them.

“I think you said before, you have a Ford Mondeo?” Robert asked sternly, though he wasn’t glaring at Nahas.

“Yes, a red one. A rather common car where I am from.” He laughed a little. “I miss my Chen-che-ma. Oh, my apologies, that’s just a Ghanaian term for old car.”

Kyleigh and Akina giggled. And a smile couldn’t help but form again on Lang’s face. Nahas’ accent blurred his English a bit, so it was nice he translated that word.

“But, anyway, we all stood there gawking at me in the car. It made no sense at all. I clicked a quick picture with my phone’s camera, the one that later disappeared. Then, a couple minutes later, this same car started moving forward, heading right for mine. I’m sure just like with Lang’s suburban, the bus, Akina’s subway car…we braced ourselves for a crash, running away from it too. But nothing, no sound, only the two cars becoming one and the hull surrounding it now.

“But, not to bore everyone. Once my other me had left the car, through the hull, the only difference that happened at this point, was foolish me, I tried to talk to my other self!”

“You did?” Evan asked, smiling. “That’s cool. What happened?”

“Well, young man, it might seem cool now, but it wasn’t then. As soon as I saw that the only response I got from the other me was the same speech and motion I just did earlier, I became very, very distressed, to say the least. The other people told me to run, that it was spirits or demon possession, which of course didn’t help. But I ran, and just like all of us, the other me finally caught up. And here I am, just like you.”

Evan didn’t miss a beat. “Did you fight it?”

“Yes, I did. I kicked it and punched it, like you. But you know? Nothing worked! And not one of our top scientists or emergency personnel could help me. Same as each one of you.”

Colonel Stevens stepped closer, his presence quite towering. So this is what it must feel like to be a toddler staring up at a parent. With Nahas finished, Colonel Stevens held out his tablet and asked Kyleigh, Robert, and Alan if they could tell their hull capture account again. Kyleigh and Alan began to do so, with a few words thrown in here and there from Robert.

Lang’s eyes and thoughts wandered; it was disturbing enough to hear any of these accounts for the first time. A second time? Not really. He eyed Captain Indalo. As usual, the captain had his camcorder pointed at Colonel Stevens and the hull people surrounding him. But where was Major Ko? Lang scanned around. Dr. Maplen had left the sofa area and now stood by Major Ko, both of them standing by the common area’s stairs leading to the long hallway for the examining room.

And it seemed both men were caught up in a heated discussion.

Funny, it was, but since they spoke so slowly now, it was easier to catch their words from a distance. Maybe it was a combination of reading those slow-moving lips and hearing the muddled, slower sounds, though Lang wasn’t sure. But either way, things definitely didn’t look so cheerful. Besides witnessing Dr. Maplen’s agitated demeanor, Lang got the general gist of the conversation: Dr. Maplen didn’t want any nuclear reactions or particle accelerators coming near the hull vehicles, because it could affect the hull people too.

And Major Ko didn’t appear as concerned as he should be.

A surge of fear swept through Lang. He turned away, and looked at Evan. Surprisingly, Evan was looking right back, not listening to the bus account neither. 

Without being too obvious, Evan quietly slid off the sofa and navigated between Lang and the coffee table until he stood by the sofa’s far end by the TV. He then approached Lang. “Dad. I want to go ask Dr. Maplen a question. I already heard about Kyleigh and the bus.”

Lang gave Kyleigh a smile, while she continued speaking, and then motioned for Evan to follow him to the backside of the TV.

“Evan, this might seem rude,” Lang said, once they stood there.

“Dad, come on. I want to ask him before I forget. It’s something Freddy told me.”

“Freddy? Really?”

“I know, I’m mentioning him again. Just some more of his strange stuff that might help us.”

“I’m glad your finding something good in him again.” Lang looked over at Dr. Maplen and Major Ko. Their speech and behavior had mellowed down a bit, thankfully. In fact, maybe Dr. Maplen had finally convinced Major Ko to stop the nuclear and particle accelerator attempts. “All right. Let’s walk over there.”

But Dr. Maplen looked more than ready to leave his spot by the stairs. He stared at Lang, and Evan, the moment they headed in that direction and slowly began walking right toward them.

Before long Lang was experiencing another unnerving toddler verses parent experience, what with Dr. Maplen looming over him and Evan. This was getting exhausting.

And for some unknown reason, Robert wasn’t participating in retelling the bus account but instead had his eye on Lang.

Great. Here we go again. Lang turned away from his stare, keeping only Evan and Dr. Maplen in his view.

Dr. Maplen put his tablet out, ready for either of them to speak.

“This kid I know, Freddy.” Evan made sure to speak slowly. “He says the universe refreshes itself every ten to the negative twenty-third seconds. What the heck does that mean?”

Soon after Evan finished speaking, Dr. Maplen was typing on his tablet. It took a while, but less time than waiting to hear him speak. He held out his tablet. “Many grand unified theories abound. Maybe Freddy was referring to certain virtual particles, which have very short lifetimes, most averaging a magnitude of ten to the negative twenty-three seconds. Virtual particles exist in the vacuum, as zero point energy, or ZPE. Virtual particles also facilitate field forces, such as electromagnetism and the strong nuclear force. So, without virtual particles, atoms and molecules could no longer remain together.”

Evan got his perplexed look and stared closely up at Dr. Maplen. “You mean, without virtual particles happening at ten to the negative twenty-three seconds, atoms and molecules would come apart?”

It was a rather short and confusing explanation to give to a twelve year old, especially from a professor, so Evan’s perplexity seemed warranted. But Dr. Maplen’s face showed fear and unease again. Poor man.

Without warning, Robert walked over, his motion confident, and proud. He stood near Evan. “You know the parts of an atom, Evan?”

“Well, yeah. The electron goes around the nucleus, which has protons and neutrons.”

“Right, that’s the basic layman’s explanation.” Like earlier, Robert crossed his arms across his chest, under the hull, and stared up defiantly at Dr. Maplen. What is this guy’s aggression issue? “I’ve heard this crap before. I’m sure Dr. Maplen’s suggesting that without God repeatedly popping virtual particles in and out of existence, through the ZPE, all physical existence would vanish.” He spoke slowly, deliberately. “Am I correct, Dr. Maplen?”

Whatever Robert’s problem was, he sure could speak more intelligently than in his earlier conversations, if he wanted to, obviously.

It appeared Dr. Maplen had heard all of Robert’s words. The distraught professor frowned and just plain looked sad. “Somewhat,” he said vocally. “But I never mentioned God.”

“Wait a minute,” Evan said. “So that’s why the universe refreshes itself. If it didn’t, everything wouldn’t be here.”

Fortunately, Robert didn’t say anything derogatory to Evan. He just kept staring up at Dr. Maplen. “Lang saw a spacecraft, for crying out loud! How does that fit into this theory? Do you even know what is happening to us?”

Again, Dr. Maplen seemed to have grasped Robert’s words well enough. “I have some idea,” he said vocally.

“And let me guess. It involves zero point energy, right?”

Dr. Maplen lifted his tablet to answer, but then stopped, since Colonel Stevens was slowly lumbering closer. Captain Indalo, camcorder ready, followed closely behind him.

Colonel Stevens held out his tablet. “It does, possibly.” Alan and Nahas walked nearer too, though Akina and Kyleigh, talking to each other, stayed behind, next to the sofa directly across from the TV. “Dr. Maplen supplied correct mathematical evidence of the time and dimensions for the eighth decrease event, before even hearing the details and numbers. His theory is the only one that could predict the outcome before it occurred.”

Robert snickered. “Yeah, whatever.”

From his left eye’s corner, Lang could see General Tauring walking toward the commons area, coming down the hallway opposite the main entrance.

“Whoever or whatever is controlling the speed of light within the hull,” Dr. Maplen’s tablet said, as he held it outward, “is most likely controlling it through managing levels of zero point energy.”

Amazing. How did Evan know to ask all of this? Pride swelled in Lang’s heart again.

“Oh my Lord!” Kyleigh called out.

Lang shuddered, startled. He looked at Kyleigh, as did everyone else. She and Akina pointed at the clock on the wall.

“It just went past 11:07 pm,” Kyleigh said, “and a decrease event didn’t happen!”

Colonel Stevens’ jaw dropped, his eyes widened.

“This is what I prayed for,” Lang said quietly, turning away, staring toward the floor.

“Dad, does this mean the decrease events are stopping?”

Lang gave Evan his full attention and could see the boy’s dark brown eyes were wide and full of hope. “I’m not sure, but maybe this is an answer to my last prayer.”