The Sequels to Syrrah's Game SGSequels




CHAPTER 38

 

OCTOBER 8TH, 4:55 PM (3:55 PM MOUNTAIN TIME)

 

Ignoring the looming, threatening helicopter, Lang kept his sight on the small stretch of dry field bordering the tree line. The slow, loud pattering ended, with a short diminishing in volume, strangely similar as would be heard at the end of any mp3 song.

Gradually the grass-covered ground changed into gray-colored, powdery sand, with small and large depressions here and there, apparently from dark shadows and bright light emphasizing their forms. But no plants, no animals - why? There was little hilliness, or any rocks. He knelt down and looked out the window, up at the sky. The sky was pitch-black, though bright light obviously shone on everything. For a split second, it felt like that same spot as that spaceship. But no, Evan would never take all of them there. “What the…”

“I did it!” Evan shouted out. “I can’t believe I could move us here in the bus!”

“Yeah, but move us where?” Lang looked around the bus. The same bright light as outside beamed through the windshield, lighting Evan, Kyleigh, the seats, and everyone and everything else in the bus. “The sky out there is black, but there’s light everywhere.”

“It’s the sun, Dad!”

Kyleigh took held of Lang’s hand. Her palm was a bit sweaty. And worry gathered in her pretty blue eyes. Poor girl.

“Evan,” Lang said, “from now on, you need to tell us first where you are taking us.”

Robert carefully maneuvered across the seats until he got to the aisle. He stood there, arms folded across his chest, and stared at Evan. “You took us to the Moon, didn’t you.”

“Yes.” Evan shrugged and stared down. “I’m sorry. It’s just…it’s just that we have been studying the Apollo 12 landing site in school lately, so, I figured they couldn’t find us here.”

“Yeah, well, I’d say a definite NOT on that,” Robert said. “Unless they have a lunar satellite orbiting with a video camera on us right now and the hull allows it to record us.”

“But there still isn’t anything they could do to us here,” Alan said.

“Should we be concerned about breathing?” Akina said. “No atmosphere, and so very cold or hot. Should we be worried?”

“Let’s find out.” Alan had reckless eagerness filling his tone. “I’m heading out.” He clumsily slipped around Robert, Akina, and Nahas, and rushed to the handle by the driver’s seat. He yanked on it, opening the doors and then rushed down the few steps.

“Akina, we are fine,” Nahas said, reassuringly. “Remember, the hull doesn’t want us to die, so I’m certain it wouldn’t have allowed Evan to take us here otherwise. Besides, we’re not really in this solar system’s dimension anyway.”

“If Lang could be underwater, and feel nothing,” Robert said, “and we can walk through walls, and breathe easily in the tight space of our own hull enclosures, then I agree. We’ll be fine.”

But Lang wasn’t feeling so fine. He looked at Evan. “Maybe you need to put us somewhere else, if Akina doesn’t like it. Heck, I’m not sure I do.”

“Screw that!” Alan said abruptly. “You guys, hurry! This is the real deal, even if the hull is only making this scene for us. Because I’ll tell you what, I can see the Earth from here, and it looks amazing!” He stepped down to that hull floor area right below the bus’s door, and pushed against the outside hull wall of the bus.

“What?” Evan said, bolting toward the aisle.

Lang reached over the seat and took hold of Evan’s jacket, stopping him. “Hold on. I don’t want you running out there yet.”

“Dad, come on.”

Robert didn’t wait and went right after Alan.

Nahas watched them work on leaving the bus. “Oh, for heaven’s sake, those two.” He gave Akina a kind gaze. “I better go after them. I’ll make certain everything is all right, but I’m sure it is.”

“Please be careful,” Akina said, staring up at him.

Staying put to yet hold Evan, Lang ducked and moved, to avoid the poles and seats in his view line, until he could see Alan out the windows near the bus’s door. “Nahas, wait. Alan is fine. Look at him. Arms up, head back, smiling like a fool. He’s reveling under the glow from the Earth out there.”

“Ha, look at him!” Evan laughed, and tugged a bit at Lang’s grasp on his jacket.

Kyleigh, Akina, and Nahas laughed too, once they noticed him. Robert was soon by Alan, though without the same jubilance, instead giving a scowling, disapproving glance at Mr. Powderkeg’s behavior.

“Let me go out and make certain anyway,” Nahas said, “being I’m the only doctor in our group.”

Lang nodded. “Yes, go ahead.”

Akina didn’t say anything. She only smiled and nodded at Nahas.

It wasn’t long before Nahas was standing on the Moon’s surface by both Aussies.

“Wow,” Kyleigh said, looking outside, “it’s not very often someone gets to be on the Moon, even if we don’t know it’s for real or not. Does seem to be, though.”

“Dad, please. Can you at least let go of my jacket now?”

“Oh, sure.” Lang suddenly realized his fingers had been clamping down rather tightly upon the reddish-brown, coarse material. He released his grip. “Sorry, Evan.”

“Hey, why are we even wearing these now, anyway?” Evan wiggled and shook off his jacket and placed it on the seat nearest him. He removed his PSP from the jacket and shoved it into his back jeans pocket, from under the low hang of his tee shirt. “Dad. Take yours off too.”

Huh? And expose his slightly bulgy abdomen, and thin, un-ripped arms and chest to Kyleigh? No, not really. “I’m fine, Evan.” For the past depressing months, exercising simply hadn’t been a top priority.

Nahas rushed back up into the bus, grabbing the front rail to break his hurried motion. A smile beamed across his face. “We’re safe I am sure. None of us out there had any trouble breathing, and as far as solar or cosmic radiation, or extreme heat or cold, I’m sure that shouldn’t be a problem, since.--”

“We’re not really here,” Nahas, Akina, and Kyleigh said at the same time.

Lang and Evan laughed.

“We sure got that down pat, don’t we,” Evan said.

After filing out one at a time, Lang and the rest of them soon all stood on the Moon’s surface. And Nahas was right; their comfort level, their breathing, their core temperature, everything was just as it always had been in the hull.

Robert and Alan were walking down an incline about thirty feet from the bus’s right side.

“This is Oceanus Procellarum,” Evan said, “where Apollo 12 landed, on November 19th, 1969.”

“You remember all that from school?” Kyleigh asked.

“Yes, I do. I really like learning this stuff. Oh, and it means Ocean of Storms.”

“Oh wow, Evan,” she said, her tone happier than it had been for quite some time. “That is interesting.”

Lang gazed toward the sun, directly across from the bus’s front end. It was a blinding orb, about the same size as on Earth, except enveloped against a black background. “Wow. The sun is near the horizon, but still so bright.”

“Not much of an atmosphere here.” Nahas looked up, and to the south of where they stood. “But it’s not bright enough right now to block out our view of the Earth.”

“Oh wow, yes, our Earth!” Kyleigh pointed in that direction. “Lang, you see it?” 

 He could. “It’s only a thin, crescent-shaped portion. But yeah, I do. Amazing.”

Evan mentioned he found a small crater nearby, and Nahas and Akina began following him toward it. Lang felt a twinge of concern, for Evan’s safety, but quickly realized the hull would most likely not hurt him, and Nahas could make certain.

“I think I see North America, and South America, but only part of both,” Kyleigh said.

“Yeah, I see what you mean. Most of the eastern part of the U.S. is dark. But where we were, in Wyoming, it’s still light. Makes sense.”

“Since it was daylight when we left.” She spoke joyfully, and smiled.

This was obviously a special sight for her. So Evan hadn’t totally messed things up for everyone.

Evan ran back over. “Dad. I don’t feel that weightlessness, like we should feel.”

Lang watched Akina and Nahas walking around. Their motion wasn’t really Moon-like at all. “Hey, Nahas.” Lang made sure to speak loud enough. “Why aren’t we bouncing around since we weigh less here?”

“I’m not sure,” Nahas yelled back. “Probably the hull controlling it, or because we weigh so much more now, for our size. But look…we can talk to each other, like we’re on Earth, even though it’s like a vacuum here. That makes no sense likewise.”

“Yeah. That’s for sure. Nothing does anymore.” Lang turned back to see the bus. The sharp contrasts of sunlight and shadows highlighting the bus, and the hull surrounding it, all against a black sky were absolutely stunning. “Wow, Kyleigh. You see how your bus looks here?”

“Just look at this place.” Her pretty blue eyes glanced around at her bus and everywhere else. “That’s all you see, really, barely any color, except for my bus. The ground here is basically sand in shades of white, gray, and black, with even a little brown in some places.”

“Yeah, I know.”

Evan jumped up and down. He was getting some springiness, jumping higher than normal, but not what was normally expected on the Moon.

Kyleigh stepped closer to him. “Evan, thank you. I’m really glad you brought us here.”

Evan became still and stared up at her. “Really? I thought…I thought maybe you would be upset.”

“No, no. This is simply amazing. Once I realized we are safe, and can breathe fine, I find it really spectacular.” She looked up at the Earth again. “How many people can say they’ve been here?”

“You still really think we’re on the Moon,” Robert stated, arriving abruptly. “All mirages. All a joke. This can’t be real.”

“Yeah, whatever,” she said. “It is still grand to look at.”

Nahas walked closer, with Akina near his side, her sun-brightened red sweater adding some reassuring color to the plain scenery, even if the color appeared from under the annoying hull.

Lang looked up at the black sky, focusing on a section above the end of the bus, without the sun or Earth nearby. A few stars dotted the darkness here and there, but only brighter ones stood out. “Why aren’t there more stars?”

“I believe it’s a combination of the sun’s bright light, a scarce atmosphere, and light reflecting off the lunar surface,” Nahas said. “It will drown out any starlight.”

“Yeah, makes sense.” Lang gazed at the ground. “And why is it mostly flat here, with few of those craters?”

“I can answer that,” Evan said. “They wanted Apollo 12 to land in a flat area, safer for landing.”

“Hey!” Alan called out, from far to the southeast of the bus’s front end. “I think I found part of that Apollo mission. Come look! Hurry!”

“He sure knows how to lay the drama on thick,” Lang said, his pulse suddenly elevated.

Robert snickered. “You got that right, mate.”

His demeanor changing in an instant, Robert suddenly charged away toward Alan’s position, egging on Evan to race with him. Evan did, laughing, pumping his arms faster, and surprisingly keeping pace with Robert. Nahas and Akina took off with a light jog, Akina doing well, even though she kept on those pump shoes. Strange, and otherworldly, it was, watching them. “Kyleigh, you see how they look?”

“I know what you mean. The sun, shining right on them. Lights up the hull, so it looks like were in clear plastic spacesuits, all lit up. A few times I’ve see bright sparks shine off.” She held out her hull-covered arm, turning it slightly. Lang could see what she meant; brief, thin sunlight rays sparkled into his eyes a few times. “I think I know why I like it here. We’re not used to it, so whatever we see, seems normal.”

 “Yeah, maybe. Unfortunately, I have to say, the hull can do some good at times.” He noticed Evan and Robert were just about by Alan now.

“Hey, race you.” She smiled at him, and readied her fists and elbows in a sprinting stance. “I ran a marathon once when I was twenty.”

 “Oh yeah? I played football in high school. Sure, I’m game.”

Lang let her run off first, but then followed tightly behind. She was pretty fast! She was pulling ahead, and his out-of-shape body was feeling it in no time, even with that extra springiness from the Moon’s lower gravity.

He tried to keep up, sucking in plenty of air, from who-knows-where within the small confines of the hull space, but he soon had to jog slower. He finally stopped and plopped over from exhaustion. “Okay…you win.” He looked up to see her.

She jogged back to him, a big smile on her face. “Ha, you did good…though.”

“At least…it’s a smooth, sandy…surface here,” he said between breaths.

“I know, not much to trip on.”

Wow, and she was barely breathing hard after running like that.

Healing for his broken soul was coming more and more from this dear lady.

They were now close enough, after a quick walk to get near the others, to finally take a good look at Alan’s find. It was a large, metallic structure. Calculating in terms of the real world, by using his own current known height, Lang figured it was probably about twelve real world feet high, so large compared to their short size. It had four legs. The legs were like grasshopper legs, bent at the knee, with one end attached to the structure, and the other end, a circular foot, embedded in the Moon’s soft surface. Gold colored foil or paint, dusted with fine lunar sand, covered most of the object’s surface. On the leg closest to Lang were nine ladder rungs.

Lang suddenly recognized it. “It’s the lower part of the lunar module, right?”

“Yeah, Dad.” Evan walked closer. “It’s called the descent stage. It stayed behind while the astronauts fired off with the ascent stage, up to the command and service module orbiting the Moon.”

To view better its underlying structure, Lang took a gander beneath it. All sorts of metal hunks and pieces lay on the lunar ground, some charred black. “Gosh, what a mess.”

“I know. I didn’t expect it to be so destroyed and all.”

“Hey, Evan.” Robert stepped nearer to another large object. “What’s this?”

Lang walked over to this other object, with Kyleigh close to his side and Evan not far behind. Now what were they seeing? It was round, metallic, and composed of many folded triangular sections. “Some sort of satellite dish?” It was also tall, taller than six real world feet, and covered in dust like the lunar descent stage.

Evan stared at the object. He shrugged. “Yeah, that could be it. A satellite dish. Otherwise, I don’t remember what my teacher said.” 

Alan started running north of where they stood, his attention on something else. “Hey! The U.S. flag! It’s awfully beat up, and covered with dust, but it’s here.”

They all headed after him. And yup. It was the American flag, though tattered with small holes and hanging very close to its pole.

“I knew it,” Robert said, walking over and inspecting it. “I knew those conspiracy nuts were wrong.”

“What, about Americans landing on the moon?” Alan asked. “You sure go for a lot of that fringe stuff.”

“Hey. I like to keep up with things, all right?”

“Yeah, whatever. That’s even if what we’re seeing is for real.”

“True.”

“Well, I’ll tell you one thing.” Alan held out his arm and stared at it. “The hull sure is the perfect spacesuit for astronauts. If that was one of Tauring’s goals, to replicate this, can’t blame him.”

“Hey!” Nahas called out, swiftly dodging away from something.

Lang’s heart jumped to his throat. “What is it?”

“Oh, nothing bad. This…this tiny piece of stone or rock just flew right through me, and very rapidly I might add. And then I saw another one, but I moved away before it got me.”

“Micrometeorites!” Evan said excitedly. “They of course can’t hurt us, but they can travel at like twenty-two thousand miles per hour!”

“And there’s not much of a lunar atmosphere to stop them, nearly a vacuum,” Nahas said.

“Yeah,” Robert said, “and I see they have done quite a bit of damage to your old red, white, and blue here.”

They all started closely examining the descent stage of the lunar module, noticing its surface had been hit by the same micrometeorites. And as they had already observed, lunar dust coated almost everything. But there seemed to be more wear and tear than from just those processes. Nahas, and Evan too, mentioned Fahrenheit temps of 260 degrees in the sun, and negative 380 degrees possible, on the Moon’s dark side, besides the intense solar and cosmic radiation all around. Yup, all those things probably had to be the other corrupting culprits.

“Dad, I see another NASA device down that hill.” Evan was pointing southeast of the descent stage. “Can Alan and I go check it out?”

“Akina and I will go with them too,” Nahas said. “We’re quite curious about it as well.”

“All right.” They probably would be fine, Lang reasoned. “I want to stay here and look some more at the descent stage.”

“Thanks, Dad. We’ll be back soon.”

All four hurried down the sandy hill.

Lang looked more closely at the metal parts and charred pieces on the ground. “Appears like what Evan said, that the ascent stage of the lunar module rocketed off and exploded away hunks of the descent stage.”

 “Yeah, seems that way,” Robert said, his face and voice more serious than usual.

Kyleigh smiled. “Just look at that wide rocket funnel under there.”

Lang saw it too. “Yeah, I know. They really put together impressive technology for the late 1960s, I’ll tell you that.”

Robert folded his arms across his chest under his hull. He stood very straight. He stared up and around, his face stern.

“What’s wrong?” Lang asked.

“I don’t get it. I thought all along the hull was just showing us images that we want, or expect, to see.”

Lang thought a moment. “Well, Evan wanted to see this. He’s been studying it in science.”

“Yeah, but…the details. The hull could have shown us the lunar module still intact, like it was. But Evan just said he didn’t expect it to be so destroyed.”

“So, what’s your point, Robert?” Kyleigh asked.

“I don’t know. I can’t quite place it, but I have a really bad feeling about this, like something…something that--”

A sudden orange light flash completely surrounded them. The sting from its severe brightness was unmistakable. Lang sealed his eyes shut. Kyleigh let out a quick yelp. Robert moaned.

“Crap!” Robert called out. “We’ve been so caught up in this lunar nonsense we forgot about the impending decrease event! Has to be 4:00 PM Mountain time right now.”

Opening his eyes, Lang could see right away that his height relative to the lunar module’s leg with the ladder steps was now lower. “Great. Much as I’d like to say it was some freak solar flare, that was another decrease event.”

 “No, not again,” Kyleigh nearly cried. “Please, Lord, why?”

“Dad!” Evan yelled, closely eying his PSP. “Did it happen again?”

“Yes, it appears so.” Worry surged through Lang’s core. “Evan! Come up here right now!”

He and the others ran up the incline, and they were all soon gathered by the descent stage.

Evan rushed over to Lang and held out the PSP. “Robert is right. For some amazing reason, I can access Google’s time for the base, Mountain time, and it did just happen at 4:00 PM, their time, just like it was supposed to.”

Akina shuddered. “I know we should stay away from populated areas, but I don’t like the decrease events happening here. I want to go back to Earth.”

“Me too,” Kyleigh said, “much as I like it here on the Moon.”

“If Akina wants to go back to Earth, then so do I,” Nahas said, and he smiled at her.

“Okay, you two love birds,” Robert said. “It’s probably time we check my plan anyway, to see if they’ve placed those notices in our homes. So, Evan. Let’s head back to the bus.”

“Dad, is that okay?”

“Of course.” Unfortunately, it was the only answer, since decrease events occurring here was far too strange and eerie. “We should go, now.”