The Sequels to Syrrah's Game SGSequels

chapter 57

Wednesday, September 27th, 4:47 PM

Grand Marais, MN


With Dad’s help, Syrrah walked over to that king size bed, while Neraeh pushed Mommy in the wheelchair until placing her nearby too. Dad even kindly helped Syrrah sit down on the bed and then attended to comforting, speaking softly to Mommy. Tate sat down to Syrrah’s left.

Tate gently grasped and lifted Syrrah’s hand until giving a soft, dry kiss on her hand’s backside. He then pressed her hand against his cheek and closed his eyes. She watched carefully as he did so, and even felt a smile draw across her face without even trying. Tate opened his eyes, kissed her hand again, and lowered her hand back on her lap but still held on. He gazed into her eyes. “Syrrah. I’m not even going to try to understand how this happened to you, but up front I’m going to say some major lawsuits appear to be on the horizon.”

Of course. Memories were materializing. Tate could correlate a dollar sign to anything. “Lawsuits?”

“I think he means whoever was responsible for doing this to you,” Dad said, “needs to be held accountable.”

Tate held her hand tighter, and she searched for meaning in his eyes. “I haven’t wanted anyone since you, Syrrah. I have dated, but no one, no one ever, could take your place. I’m sorry, about what happened to you. You know, after you went to Minneapolis, that night, from that time forward, you never seemed quite the same to me.”

Dad stood up by Mommy. He stepped over and sat on the bed to Syrrah’s right. “But your mother and I didn’t really put it altogether. We knew something was off, but we just figured it was typical teenager issues, especially since you were a senior that year.”

“But I said some things, to both you and Mom,” Neraeh said, yet holding on to the back handlebars of Mommy’s wheelchair. She looked at Syrrah. “Dana Zypher, in you…well, she listened intently to Dad’s Bible stories. You already knew them all. But it was like she, Dana, heard them for the first time.”

“Really?” Syrrah felt some emotional weight lighten its burden. “Wow. I guess she wasn’t so bad, if she actually listened.” 

Neraeh shrugged. “I suppose. She wasn’t as nice as you. The real kicker was when she played one of Dana’s songs, and hummed to it, sang a few lines, and then she told me she wrote it.”

“What song?”

“Hater of My Hated is My Friend.”

“Oh, wow. I never liked that song.” 

“Same with me. I just figured it was a new sense of humor or silliness from you, and that’s why you said that. But still, had me wondering.”

Syrrah gave her best effort to listen to further talk about how Tate wasn’t sure if something was wrong, and how Neraeh felt something was amiss but couldn’t convince anyone, and how Dad and Mommy were preoccupied with Dad’s Van Meir Custom Concrete business. Yet, in actuality, their words didn’t comfort, or make things better, and instead a draining, inner trembling sensation hit, like her entire sense of self was becoming unraveled.

She continued to listen, though, since it was the right thing to do; Dad and Mommy hadn’t seen her in years. And it was especially encouraging to hear Dad and Neraeh notice more and more positive responses and interactions from Mommy. And of course, she hadn’t seen Tate in years too. 

Tate. She eyed him over, and over again. And he did to her as well. But something was wrong. Or missing. She used to feel so in love with him. And he was so smart. Jumping ahead a year in his medical degree? How impressive. And he was going to make his medical degree emphasis in oncology. This was so noble, and could make him so successful, both financially and as a doctor.

But no. This was all wrong! What Evan mentioned. Was it really true, should Tate have foregone all just to make sure she was safe? And the other thing. Tate’s preoccupation with money. Yet, he wanted to help people too.

And what Art last mentioned, that she should stay close to Evan, and to all of them.

Neraeh was watching intently for some reason. Did she know too? She also kept an eye on Tate, seeming to size him up by his words or behavior, ultimately leading to a few disdainful expressions on her face. She definitely didn’t look at Tate like she looked at Freddy. A few times she would step away, speaking quietly with Freddy; their conversation couldn’t be heard by any of them or by Mommy.

And then talk shifted. Neraeh explained what Freddy had told her, about what happened to Evan, his family, and those other people involved. Syrrah listened, like she had never listened before. In a brief, summary-like manner, Neraeh explained it well, but what Evan went through, and his connection with Limati, who he thought was her, Syrrah, was fascinating yet terrifying.

She also mentioned a few things about Evan’s current life, even his ex-girlfriend Heidi.

That draining feeling was getting worse.

Neraeh finally finished speaking.

Syrrah didn’t hesitate. “Neraeh, could we, well, could you, help me walk to the bathroom, please?”

“I could help you there,” Tate answered, before Neraeh responded.

Dr. K entered the room. “Couldn’t help but overhear.” The door had been left open, so sure, that was understandable. He walked over to their little group. “Is something wrong, Syrrah? Can I help you with anything?”

“Well, no, I mean, I don’t feel sick. I just, umm, want to discuss something with Neraeh, something rather personal.”

“Are you sure?” Dr. K asked. “You certainly can speak to me about it. I want to make sure you’re okay.”

“Yes, I’m sure.” She attempted to stand on her own, but the weakness in her arms and legs that was coming and going made her attempt a bit wobbly. Tate immediately stood and grasped her upper arms to help, but his touch felt tighter, rough, not as kind. She didn’t recall Evan grabbing her like that, except maybe after she cut his neck today and that animal of a guy went after her, on the bed. Yet regardless, Tate’s touch felt different.

Neraeh walked around the wheelchair and held out her hands. Syrrah willingly took hold of them. “Tate, I do this sort of thing all the time at SC Intermediate,” Neraeh explained. “I got this.”

Tate released Syrrah. “And I’m sure you do. Go ahead.”

Wrapping one arm around Syrrah’s back, Neraeh took hold of Syrrah’s right hand and began leading them both out of the room, with Tate and Dr. K following.

They walked out into that large mancave room, like Evan had mentioned. Even the word he used felt so good to hear in her mind. But when she looked around, she could only see Evan’s parents and little brother, Matti, but not Evan. Freddy and his mom Rochelle had already walked out a few moments before, and they were now mingling with Art, Kamal, and Belinda. She wanted to ask about Evan but figured she would wait.

She explained to Neraeh that she wanted to use the bathroom in the hallway, between the mancave and the gym, since it was nicer, so Neraeh headed her in that direction. Though Tate was told not to help, he took hold of her free hand anyway, which felt nice. His touch was gentler now. Her legs still felt weak, but the more she walked, the stronger they felt. Maybe I just need to use them more?

Soon they were in front of the bathroom doorway.

She looked at Tate. “Thank you for helping me, Tate. I’ll have Neraeh help me into the bathroom now.”

“Sure, darling.” He opened the door for them both. “Go ahead. I’ll be right outside here.”

Dr. K said something similar but remained outside like Tate.

Neraeh guided her into the bathroom.

“You seem to be walking better, the more we did,” Neraeh said, looking around the room at the same time. “Oh, wow. Quite the stunning bathroom. Really beautiful, with the marble, the lights, and the pastel colors.”

“Yeah, I know, I saw it briefly earlier. But you really think I’m doing better?”

“Yes, I do.”

“But I need to sit down.”

Neraeh guided her over to a plush white stool in front of a tall, lighted mirror.

She sat down and looked up at yet standing Neraeh. “Thank you, for helping me, but though I walked better, I’m actually not doing so well.”

Neraeh grabbed another white seat, pulled it over, and sat down before her. “Should I get Doctor K?”

“No, that’s not necessary.”

“You know, Doctor K asked me if Dana, as you, might have contracted Lyme disease. But, I don’t recall noticing any signs of it, or her telling me any symptoms. But, I just can’t say for sure.”

Syrrah sighed. “I know. I guess we’ll find out, if I test positive for it...eventually.” She studied Neraeh’s face. “Look at you.” She gently touched her sister’s hair, her cheeks, and her chin. “I cannot believe I’m seeing you, and that you’re older than me.” She looked in the mirror, reflecting them both. “Damn. Look at us!”

“I know.” Neraeh smiled. “I’m like the big sister now. Both in age, and size. After seeing how you look, really makes me want to try my usual low-cal diet again.”

“Yeah, but I’m too thin. Dana really got me too thin. I need to gain some weight. Evan thought so too.”

“But back to what you said. I know something is bothering you.”

“Yeah…I feel, just, like I’m shaking inside, like the jitters, and an unexplained emptiness. And I just noticed I’m having some trouble breathing, since we walked here. I don’t know why, but I feel it has to do with Evan.”

“So what if Tate and Dad want something else?” Neraeh’s face showed irritation, a face Syrrah recognized, but hadn’t seen in years. “You do what you want.” She made sure not to speak too loudly, however.

“I don’t want to hurt either of them, though.” Syrrah spoke quietly too.

“You don’t know how lucky you are.” Neraeh took hold of both of Syrrah’s hands. “Didn’t you see in those videos how absolutely destroyed he was, after you had died, as Dana? That boy, Evan, would move mountains for you. Could you expect the same from Tate?”

She stared into Neraeh’s eyes. “I…I don’t know. I don’t think so.”

“You know what Evan told me? That he was excruciatingly in love with you. That’s a painful, intense love. I can only imagine what that must be like.”

“Yeah, he said something, similar, before I was about to jump off the building, like an absolute idiot. But I thought he just said that so I wouldn’t jump.”

“No, Syrrah. You’re wrong. Not sure why they allowed Tate to even be here. But I suspect they’re testing Kamal’s channeling, to see if it leans true.”

“I thought about that too. That I’m supposed to be with Evan. Does seem contradictory. But, he really, truly loves me that much?” 

“Yes. Absolutely. I have no doubt.”

“When I was Dana.” She sighed. “Her memories. And even the guys I dated. Just went south, horribly, all the time. I mean, I thought they loved me, but it was really about Dana, her fame, her money, not who she was inside. Made me feel sad for Dana, and for me. As much as she had positive in her life, there was so much more wrong, and messed up.” 

“But that’s not how it is with Evan. Trust me. I can tell.”

She gave Neraeh a smile. “Gosh. Again. This is so odd. I’m younger than you now, but my experience in years, especially combined with Dana, is older than you.”

“But Syrrah. I know. You’re missing the point here. Evan wants to be with you, more than anything.”

“I’m not missing the point, I’m just letting you know. But you really think they’re testing Kamal’s channeling?”

“I guess. Only thing that makes sense, really. Or maybe they had to bring Tate so he wouldn’t tell authorities.”

Syrrah looked down at her hands and touched them together softly. “And well, if they’re testing this, I would say…” She looked at Neraeh. “It’s true. Please. Tell me. Where is he?”

“Freddy told me Evan was very upset, and needed to get away. He is on the fifth floor, the highest floor of the two floors above ground. We just need to get in the elevator.”

“But how? Tate is going to try to stop me.”

“Do you think you could walk up a flight of stairs?”

She thought a moment. “I think so.”

“Once we go out the bathroom door, we head right, to that spiral staircase, and then once on the floor above, we get in the elevator. Okay?”

“But, again, how?”

“Let me go check if anyone is right outside the door now.” Neraeh stood up. “Hold on.” She walked to the door and placed her ear against it, waiting, listening.

Syrrah tried to suppress the internal jitters, to stay calm, yet the urge to be near Evan was growing stronger, an impulse she could barely contain. And it was getting to the point where it wouldn’t matter what Tate or Dad thought.

But more importantly, this feeling maybe wasn’t only coming from something supernatural, or inexplicable, but she sensed it was coming from within her, in her own needs and desires.

Yes. She wanted to be with him. Only him.

She held on to the side of the counter and slowly stood up. So weird. Though she yet felt that weakness, she sensed a mild energy building within. 

And why had she wanted to be near Tate? Actually, thinking about him now she felt disgusted with him. But Tate was so handsome, so strong, so smart and successful. Something felt amiss.

Neraeh quietly opened the door, peeked outside, and then softly closed it. Her sneakers treading quietly across the floor, she rushed back to Syrrah. “Come on. Do you need help to walk again?”

“Just take my hand. No one’s out there?”

“Not really.” She grasped Syrrah’s hand. “I think we can escape now.” 

“Well, I don’t really care anymore what Dad and Tate think.” She commanded her weakened legs to walk, and it seemed to be working. “I want to see Evan again, but then spend more time with Mommy. I know she needs me now too.”

“Yes, she does.”

When they arrived by the door, Neraeh opened it slowly and snuck her head out. Syrrah gradually peeked around Neraeh and did the same. Tate was talking to Dr. K, and Dad was there, along with Art and Kamal, but their backs were mostly facing her and Neraeh. When Syrrah was able to glance right, she could see it was only about a six-foot distance until the gym floor.

Neraeh took the chance and pulled Syrrah out, getting them both to rush toward the gym floor. The bathroom door fortunately closed on its own, in a soft whoosh, barely making a sound. On the gym floor, Neraeh nudged Syrrah against the side wall of the gym, so she couldn’t be seen. Neraeh sneaked a look back down the hall. She quickly hid back against the wall. “They’re coming to the bathroom now,” she whispered. “We need to head up the stairs, quickly.”

The spiral staircase was just a few steps away. Neraeh held Syrrah’s arm and lunged toward the first step, quietly helping her to continue up. And funny. Like she noticed moments earlier, energy seemed to be generating within her legs, the more she used them. 

From down the hallway below, Syrrah heard Dr. K and Dad call out, asking if she and Neraeh were still in the bathroom.

“They still think we’re in the bathroom,” Syrrah said quietly.

“I heard them too. Good. To our advantage.”

Neraeh didn’t let up moving them, until they were finally on the second floor. She guided Syrrah across the running track, her sneaker-covered feet a quiet touch, though Syrrah’s slippers clunked a bit. And then they headed down a hallway. They soon had a pair of silver elevator doors before their eyes. An elevator. Like where Evan brought me earlier today, after I nearly jumped off that damn roof…and told me he was deeply in love with me.

But that felt like years ago. Too much was happening today, too much too soon.

Her breaths inhaled, exhaled harder, and seemed to be from more than just the stair climbing and rushing around.

When in the elevator, Neraeh pressed the silver 5 button.

“The highest level for this home?”

“Yes,” Neraeh said, the elevator quietly ascending. “I haven’t been up there yet, but Freddy was earlier, and he said the view is beautiful.”

“But…should we be up here?”

“No, not really. I don’t think Doctor K wants anyone up here, especially you. You need to get that boy and bring him back downstairs.”

“I will…I mean, I’ll try. He definitely has a mind of his own.”

“A mind obsessed with you. Believe me.”

Syrrah inhaled slowly and stared at the numbers increasing on a small blue display embedded in the silver panel. 4…and then 5.

This was it. This was Evan’s floor.