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Silent Hill 2 Fanfic

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Mutou Yami
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« on: October 16, 2010, 03:36:08 am »

I didn't write this, but I stole it from a prick from a forum I used to go to and he, and a his bunch of **** mods, got the admin on their side, and she was a stuck-up ****, who was rude and cruel to everyone, minus her mod minions, and they all got me banned, because I spoke my mind, and corrected the wrong, in which her mods WERE wrong, and I still got banned. I don't remember the site, but I wish it dies. All they cared about was being cruel to others, and the fact when they were given the right info, they were total dicks. The pages will get long, so I thought I'd share this. It's pretty good.

Prologue
I Got a Letter

From the moment it happened, everything was dark for me.

I'm such a mess now. Everything has really gone to **** in my life. I don't know how I've managed to hold down my job, because there are times when I don't bother getting out of bed in the morning. The alarm will go off, and I'll just ignore it. It's not that I'm tired, not at all. Usually I just wake up and just stare at the ceiling, thinking about nothing because my mind's not in the groove. I suppose I do still have a job because my boss is quite a sympathetic person, but it has been three years now and I'm pretty sure even her patience is wearing thin. God knows I know what my co-workers think. It's getting to the point now where they don't even bother waiting for me to leave when they ask each other why I can't just get over it already.

Well, **** them. None of them know what this is like.

It's not just work, either. I don't speak to my friends anymore. My father actually tried to be a father to me when Mary's illness really started to take a toll on me. Why he did this, I don't know, but after she died, his visits and his phone calls became less frequent in a hurry. I don't know what made him bother. We were never close in my childhood, or even through most of my adult life. He almost didn't even make our wedding. But, when she got really bad, even Dad's presence was welcome. It was human contact, when I was becoming more and more convinced that I was losing that capability. For a good long while, I felt my only friend was the bottle. After she died, the bottle got a lot closer to me. Thankfully, I was able to stop, because even I saw where it was leading.

Nevertheless, life was still a big drag for me. I existed. My body functioned. My lungs breathed, my heart beat, I still ate, still pissed and ****. My brain's more basic functions were just fine. But my soul was gone. It left with Mary when she died. They say your soul goes to Heaven when you die, but my soul didn't wait for me to die. The longer it went on, the worse I felt. Every new day had that dark feeling setting in just another inch or two deeper in my heart.

I guess everything changed when I got that letter, but I like to think it started the night before.

I remember sitting in my bedroom. I still had the king bed. It had been years since I had really shared it with anyone, but I never bothered getting one smaller. I had sat on the edge of the bed, with a shoe box in my hand. In this shoebox was a Colt revolver, with a single speedloader. Six large .357 bullets. I had a slight fascination with handguns in my youth, and I fed this fascination thanks to my uncle Steven, a career police officer. He must have had a dozen different weapons, rifles, a pair of shotguns, an old Revolutionary War musket in working condition, and several handguns. The Colt was always my favorite, and he gave this to me as a wedding gift. I kept in the shoebox ever since. I don't think I ever took it out until the night before I got the letter.

I held the Colt in my hands. It was still as shiny as the day my uncle gave it to me. The mechanisms were still pretty well clean and lubricated, surprising considering how long it had been neglected. I toyed with the gun, dry firing it a few times. Then I slowly removed a bullet from the speedloader and chambered it. I closed the chamber and spun it, like I was playing a game of Russian Roulette. I was laughing. Had anyone else been there, they would have certainly thought I had finally jumped off the deep end.

Maybe I really did, because I then put the barrel in my mouth. I stared at the ceiling, and I looped my finger around the trigger. I closed my eyes and I saw her face again, just like in the photo I still carry in my wallet. That picture of her in the pink sweater. It’s her, it’s Mary, still smiling at me. God, I love her. I miss her so much. It was the first time in a good long while that I had actually thought so clearly about her, and the grief hammered me like waves, strong and potent even after three years.

I took the gun out of my mouth, dropping it on the floor at my feet. Then I buried my face in my hands and I cried. I cried like a god damn baby. Three years it's been, and yet she still haunts me. My body was racked with sobs, and I felt the strength drain out of me. I fell back onto the bed, weeping tears from my eyes and dripping snot from my nose. I made no attempt to wipe either away. I just lay there crying, until I finally passed out.

It was light when I woke up, still in my clothes. Thank God I didn't have to work this morning, because I didn't really think I was going to stay awake long. I sat up in bed, and I wiped the dry snot from my face. I went into the bathroom, took a long ****, and tried not to look at my reflection in the mirror as I went back to the bedroom.

I picked the Colt up off of the ground, and stared at it, remembering how close I had come to using it last night. It was a game of Russian Roulette after all, with just one player. I didn't know if pulling the trigger would have ended my life. The odds were against it, but I was still quite curious.

I pointed the gun at the ceiling and pulled the trigger. The hammer struck, but instead of a thundering roar, all I heard was the sound of it hitting an empty chamber. No worries then. Without even looking at it again, I placed the gun back into the shoe box and put it back on the shelf in my closet that it had been sitting on ever since we moved in here.

I started walking to the kitchen to get a bite to eat, when I heard a very loud bang on the front door, very loud. And it wasn't like someone hitting the door with their hand, or even with a stick, it was more like someone drove their car into it. The house reverberated and shuddered with the impact. It would have scared the living **** out of anyone, and with me and my hair-thin nerves, well, I know for sure I would have pissed my pants if I hadn't already relieved myself.

I ran to the door, expecting to see it caved in or even knocked off of its hinges, but when I got to it, I didn't see any signs of damage. I looked out of the small window, but I saw nothing, except the stairs leading up to the small porch, enough that a car could not have hit it, certainly not with the force I just heard. Gingerly, I unlocked the door, and pulled it open. It moved with its normal fluidity, and the front of the door showed no damage, not even a slight sign of impact. It was very confusing.

Then I saw the envelope on the ground, lying face down on the welcome mat.

I reached down and grabbed it, then shut the door. I got all the way to the kitchen and had a glass of orange juice in my hand before I even looked at the thing. It was a rather fancy envelope, and small, much like the kind Mary and I used to mail our wedding invatations. It was creamy-white and embossed with floral designs. I turned the envelope over in my hand and looked at the front. What I saw absolutely blew my mind like nothing I had seen before.

“Mary.”

My wife's name.

My heart slammed against my chest, and my breathing was quick. Mary! The envelope had no return address. I slid my finger under the seal and nearly ripped the flap off from the force. There was a piece of paper inside, folded into quarters. I pulled it out and unfolded it.

It was a letter. And it wasn't written to Mary at all. Maybe if it was, things would be very different right now. But it was not. It was Mary who wrote this letter. And, it was written to me.

"In my restless dreams, I see that town, Silent Hill. You promised you would take me there again someday, but you never did. Well, I'm alone there now, in our special place. Waiting for you."

Waiting for you. Waiting for me.

No **** way, Jose. I could not believe this. I CANNOT believe this. Mary is dead! How can she write me a letter? What the hell was all this about?

Never once then did it occur to me that someone could be playing a cruel joke on me. Not once. I knew right away that it was her handwriting, and her words. They seemed terribly familiar for whatever reason, but there was no mistaking this, in my head. My dead wife wrote me a letter.

Reason totally abandoned me. I guess that finally pulled that final guitar string that was my sanity a little too hard and I could almost hear its terrible plucking sound as it snapped. The feeling was sudden and strong, it was like having a good drunk, really.

I had made up my shattering mind to go there. God only knows why, but she said she was there. It was the first dim ray of hope I've had in far too long, there's no way I could ignore it. It was an incredible feeling. I didn't make any special preparations for the trip, just a few sodas in a cooler and a map of the town I kept from our last visit, right before she started getting really bad.

Not even twenty minutes later I was in my old Dodge, at the Interstate 95 junction, heading north towards Augusta, Maine. Once I was a bit north of Augusta, I would take SR 201, which would lead to the western part of Maine. Western Maine has many lakes, the most beautiful of which is Toluca Lake. Around Toluca Lake is the small resort town of Silent Hill. Our special place.

Mary was there. I know it. The letter said so.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2010, 03:47:33 am by Mutou Yami » Report Spam   Logged


All Hail The Strogg!
R.I.P. Paul Gray - April 8, 1972 – May 24, 2010.


"Stay...
 I Need You Here, For A New Day To Break...
Stay...
I Want You Near, Like A Shadow In My Wake...
Stay...
Here With Me... Don't You Leave...
Stay...
Stay With Me, Until The Day's Over..."
I love you Mutou Yami... Forever.


Long Live, Mr.Yamaoka Akira, The Silent Hill Legend.

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« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2010, 03:37:47 am »

Chapter One
Prefatory Matters

The drive was a long one. Maybe it was just the state of mind I was in, but it seemed much longer than it did the last few times I attempted. I think the fear and the anticipation may have played a role in that. Don’t get me wrong, I had been here before a handful of times with Mary. She loved this town to death, and while I can’t really say it had the same effect on me at first, I’d say by the end of the second visit, it really began to grow on me as well. After that, even I was excited to go, and it became an annual tradition, one that started as a random getaway and ended as our anniversary getaway.

But never did the thought of going to Silent Hill seem the way it did today, and why would it? I had not even thought about going back since the disease really began to bury its claws deep within her. Now I was going again. Maybe it felt different because she wasn’t with me. I had never come here alone before. But of course, it was more than that. Would I be alone when I got there? What was I going to find? My imagination supplied me with plenty of possible scenarios, ranging from a tearful reunion to something out of The Exorcist, but if my rational mind even bothered to chime in how utterly ridiculous this whole idea was, I guess I wasn’t paying attention. Lord knows I wasn’t in the mood to hear it anyway.

I crossed the Maine border around noon, and almost immediately after I did, clouds shrouded the sun from view. I didn’t take much notice, it was summertime in Maine, and it wasn’t unusual at all for thunderstorms and overcast skies to be prowling about. For the next hundred miles it was like this.

I stopped in Augusta, at a burger joint. I got a fairly decent burger and fries, but I ate them in an absolute daze. I can’t even remember the name of the place or what the interior décor was like. I remember stopping there, I remember eating, and I remember having the burger in one trembling hand, and that photograph of Mary in the other. I just stared and stared at it, as if seeing it for the first time.

In a way, I felt the same kind of dumbstruck when I first met her, but this was quite different, a feeling I had never experienced before and one I couldn’t even begin to describe. That first time, I was taken by her beauty, her grace. I was amazed that such a wonderful woman (close description, I met her not long after she turned eighteen) would give her attention to a quiet loner like me, but she did. That was love at first sight, so I felt at the time. I suppose it really was. John Lennon was certain that it happened all the time, I guess I could believe in it too. What I was feeling here and now, though, was a terrible, oily mixture of longing and incredibly crazy hope. I would not have ever admitted it then, but I was a terribly desperate man, and this really was my last hope.

I finished the meal, tipped the waitress my last two bucks, and got back in the car. I still had the photograph in my hand, and I sat there staring at it again, unsure of what to do with it. On one hand, I couldn’t bear to hide it back in my wallet again, but on the other hand, the more that I looked at this picture, the more I felt strange vibes from it, as if the serene, smiling face of my wife now carried a subtle undertone of accusation in her eyes that I couldn’t even think to explain. In the end, I kept it out, clipping it to the dash. As I continued north past Augusta and onto SR 201, my eyes were almost constantly taking glances at her.

So distracting was this photo that I covered a lot of 201 without even realizing it. I saw a road sign telling me that I was less than ten miles away. I guess I wasn’t much farther than that when I ran into the first of the fog, which was a little odd. Not that fog was an uncommon sight in western Maine, especially around the lakes, but it was the middle of summer. The temperatures were peaking ninety, and it was cloudy and overcast all day, conditions that aren’t really conducive to creating fog.

That wasn’t the only odd occurrence though. After passing that road sign, I did not see a single vehicle of any sort. There was no traffic at all, and here it was, the height of tourist season. There was a dread silence, and my car was a loud, singular contrast to it.

The strangest thing I didn’t really notice until I was just outside of town.

I got off 201 at the Nathan Avenue exit, one of Silent Hill’s main thoroughfares, looping all the way around Toluca Lake into the homes of the locals north of the lake in the Old Silent Hill district. Yet, at the town’s limits, Nathan Avenue was blocked off, and not just with sawhorses and barricades, but the entire entrance underpass was blocked. It looked as though some heavy-duty construction was going on. I couldn’t believe they would seal off one of the major entrances to town with the tourist season just around the corner, yet there it was.

Out of options, I parked the car nearby at a rest station, and got out. That’s when I noticed the strangest thing of all.

It was cold as hell. Not chilly, not even merely cool. It was cold. It felt like it was in the forties. Halfway to June and barely above freezing! Thankfully I had an old fatigue jacket in the backseat, another gift from Uncle Stephen. I threw it on. It wasn’t going to be perfect, but it was better than just a T-shirt.

I grabbed the map and the letter from the passenger seat, and had to double-take to grab the photo. As much as that thing had occupied my attention for the last few hours, I couldn’t believe it wasn’t the first thing I took. I stretched a bit and headed to the little outstation, for nature was calling.

The restroom was one of the absolute filthiest I had ever seen, and it looked quite neglected. Graffiti stained the walls, which were crumbling and pitted with impact damage, the toilets were stained with urine and ****, and it looked like some parts of the floor were too. It smelled like it hadn’t been cleaned since roughly the end of the Civil War. The lights were still working, but the plumbing apparently did not, as the toilet did not flush when I pushed the handle, nor did water flow from the sink.

The mirror above the sink was as filthy as the rest of the place, but there was enough clear that I could see my face. I can’t say I really liked what I saw, either. My hair was greasy and there were dark circles under my eyes. My nose was red, as the sudden cold was making me sniffle. I still had lunch on my breath. I looked like hell, to be sure, but I like to think I didn’t look insane. Doing what I was doing certainly qualified, but I knew something would come of it. I had to believe it. Otherwise, I would have realized just what it was I was doing, and God only knows what that would have done to my mind.

I wiped my face with the sleeve of my jacket, twisted a crick out of my neck, and walked outside, towards the overlook.

The view from here was really quite nice, I could almost see all the way to the lake. The overlook was quite elevated, and on a clear day I imagine you could even see the houses of Old Silent Hill from here, but today was anything but clear. The fog was very, very thick. That and the biting chill I was at a complete loss to explain.

I pulled out the map and looked at it, then at the letter again. Mary did not specify a particular location. All it said was that she was waiting at our “special place”. But what was our special place? I felt more than a little crappy for not knowing, but we did come here quite often, and in our travels had seen a great deal of the town. What could she mean?

I found the overlook on the map, and from there I saw a twisted path leading into the South Vale neighborhood, which, as I remember, was a bunch of shops and a few apartments. That’s when my eye caught a name.

Rosewater Park. That was definitely a name I remember. Rosewater was a lakefront park not far from here, a nice little place with a statuary and gardens. I remember sitting on the benches with Mary, holding hands and daydreaming together as we gazed upon the beauty of Toluca Lake. I remember actually doing that on more than one visit. She did really love it there. Of course, I did too. I didn’t know for sure if that was the special place, but it was as good a place to start as any.

I walked towards the nature trail, tucking the map, letter, and photo in my pocket. There was a set of concrete steps leading down to the trail, but the fog was so syrup-thick that I couldn’t see the bottom. It was, in all honestly, quite scary to look at. I felt even then as if I were at a threshold, that right now I had one last chance to think straight, turn around, get in the car, and drive all the way back to Ashfield. I’d still be miserable, but maybe I wouldn’t be crazy. There was such a foreboding about the descent in front of me that it almost felt tangible, like it was a snake coiling around my ankles. Then I thought of the photograph in my pocket, and of course, the letter as well.

She’s here. It may have been nothing but my own wishful thinking, but I thought I could feel her presence here, in this little lakeside town. She’s here.

My brain made one last attempt to warn me off and go back to the path of reason. I ignored it. I may be crazy, I may be totally off-the-rocker batshit, but right now, crazy was sounding leagues better than the misery and emptiness that had been consuming me for the last three years. I started down the stairs, into the swirling gray fog, towards Silent Hill, and Mary.
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All Hail The Strogg!
R.I.P. Paul Gray - April 8, 1972 – May 24, 2010.


"Stay...
 I Need You Here, For A New Day To Break...
Stay...
I Want You Near, Like A Shadow In My Wake...
Stay...
Here With Me... Don't You Leave...
Stay...
Stay With Me, Until The Day's Over..."
I love you Mutou Yami... Forever.


Long Live, Mr.Yamaoka Akira, The Silent Hill Legend.
Mutou Yami
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« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2010, 03:45:18 am »

Chapter Two
Forest

I took each step down, one by one. I had to, for the fog was much thicker down here. I couldn’t see more than four or five feet ahead of me. Tripping over myself and taking a nasty ride to the bottom was a distinct possibility.

After what seemed like an eternity, my feet found themselves planted on soft soil instead of hard concrete. Visibility was horrendously low, and the only sound was the soft swirling of the wind, and the soft rustling it made as it passed through the tree branches and bushes. I started to walk along the path, treading carefully.

If you’ve ever walked through a really thick, nasty fog, you’ll know that it makes seeing things quite difficult and it’s not just because the fog itself conceals everything. It’s made worse by the nature of fog itself. Fog is blurry. Fog makes everything appear ghost-like. For me, even looking at a blurry photograph can do it. It didn’t take long for it to start the coming of a nice headache. I actually didn’t completely mind that, the pain would help me focus.

Down the nature trail I went. The soil was sandy and damp, and a few times I got my foot caught a bit, or slipped. To my left was foliage of all sorts, bushes, many pine trees, a few broad-leaf trees that were in full despite it being so cold. To my right was a very steep drop-off, a cliff that likely would take me right into the lake if I were unlucky enough to fall over it. That thought compounded in my head once I noticed that there was a complete lack of railing. How ridiculous it was to not have any here, I thought. Once some kid takes a tumble and kills himself, I bet they’ll be up here faster than you can say “whoopsy-doodle”.

Suddenly, I heard something. I immediately came to a halt and cocked my ear. The most prevalent sound was the hollow, soft moan of the winds blowing from the direction of the lake. For a good minute I stood there like that, but I heard nothing else but that. I relaxed a bit, and started walking again.

Not even three paces forward, I heard it again, and much more distinctly this time. A harsh rustling sound was coming from the trees. I wanted to believe it was just the wind taking out a weak branch here or there. At first I believed it even as I listened to it, but something was wrong. It was too deliberate, too evenly-spaced. I tensed, and I was sweating even in the chill.

I think it was the growl that did it. There was no mistaking what that was, and though I couldn’t say with any certainty what was making the sound, I could say with complete certainty that I did not want to find out. Something large and nasty was stalking me, and I heard it too clearly now to ignore it. I thought it sounded like a dog. My nerves were completely on the edge now, perhaps more so than ever in my whole life.

That’s when the growl suddenly intensified. It wasn’t just an animal sound now, oh no. Now it was slavering and slobbering. It sounded like it was very hungry and possibly eager to perhaps take a bite out of this intruder. I couldn’t even begin to see what it was, but unfortunately my mind was very helpful in creating a few imaginative possibilities for me. My nerve completely broke, and I ran yelling, in a total panic.

In my terror I forgot several things, notably the visibility, the poor footing, and how close I was to the edge of oblivion. My right foot got caught in the soft dirt and I overbalanced. I shot out my right arm to soften the blow, and it did that, but it also made me roll to the right unexpectedly. I just lay there, moaning, waiting for the beast of the hills to come get his happy meal. I lay there for a very long time, too terrified to open my eyes. I was certain that when I did, I would be staring into the eyes of something with huge, sharp teeth… the better to eat you with, my dear.

However, it seemed as though the growling had ceased, and I heard no movement nearby. I didn’t hear anything at all, save for the ever-present wind. I had broken into a sweat, which made the cold wind feel colder. I shivered as I waited for my heart to stop beating at five hundred per minute. It seemed an eternity had gone by before I was finally able to screw together what little courage I had left and forced my eyes open.

I did not see the eyes of a monster from hell, but what I saw was frightening enough. I was staring straight ahead into nothingness. My acrobatics had landed me about two inches from the edge of the path. I looked down the slope and saw where the rocks and dirt faded into the fog, perhaps a dozen feet down. Two inches from me and a free-fall into nothing. I felt surprisingly calm about it.

I stood and brushed myself off, feeling like an idiot for panicking over nothing. I started back down the path, and the embarrassment I felt was surprising. There was no one there to see me, so why feel embarrassed? The feeling did help me focus myself though, and I started to better get the hang of walking on the soggy terrain. I did not hear the growl again. I wondered if I ever really had.

It brought to mind a story I had heard as a child about a monster called a wendigo. The wendigo was a beast that tormented those who traveled alone, without ever showing itself, until it drove them insane with fear. That being done, it would then attack and devour the hapless fool. Certainly seemed to fit here. It wouldn’t even have to put much effort into driving me crazy. After all, if I had all my marbles, I probably wouldn’t be here in the first place.

After perhaps a half-mile or so, the path turned from the cliff and onto soil that was much rockier and more firm. At this junction was an old well, which looked just a little too creepy for me to worry about. I’ve always had a fear of holes, you see.

A few more paces and a large wrought-iron gate appeared out of the fog. It had no lock, and there didn’t appear to be any branches in the path, so I pulled it open. It did not give easily. It was old and scaled with rust. When it gave, it gave grudgingly and with ample noisy protest. I finally squeezed my body through the gap and continued on.

The path quickly became a clearing, and the clearing wasn’t empty. There were shapes sticking up out of the ground, and as I approached them, I realized that they were headstones. I was in a cemetery. What a place for a cemetery, this close to a cliff.

I inspected the headstones. Most of them looked really old and well-worn. I could tell by the inscriptions on some that they dated back over a hundred years, and I assumed that the ones faded beyond recognition were older still. I didn’t see one with a bereavement date more recent than 1967, belonging to one Ronald Harris, Jr.

I heard movement again, and it made me jump. This weird, foggy town with the unseasonable Christmas weather was bad enough. I didn’t need strange noises in a cemetery, of all places. But unlike my slavering stalker on the trail, this noise had a visible source.

A figure knelt among a group of head stones. I had to move closer to recognize any features. It turned out to be a woman dressed in a cream sweater and red pants. She heard me approaching, and she must have been as edgy as I was, because she leapt up with a gasp of shock and a frightened look on her face. She backed away from me, and she really looked like she didn’t expect anyone to find her here.

“I’m sorry!” she yelled, “I wasn’t doing anything, I was just…” She was in near-hysterics. Her skin was very pale, and I wondered if it was a reaction to being frightened, or if she just never got any sun.

I placed my hands up, trying to calm her down. I didn’t understand what had her like this. “Hey, easy, it’s alright. I didn’t mean to upset you.” She didn’t say anything, but instead gave me a look that told me too late, you’ve already quite upset me.

“Hey, take it easy,” I said, as soothing as I could manage. “I was just on my way to Silent Hill, but I think I’m a little lost.”

The girl cocked her head at me, as if trying to understand. “You’re lost?”

“Yeah”, I said, “The road into town is blocked off, so I came down this trail instead.”

“There’s a road up there, it’s the only one. You can’t miss it.” She was pointing to the left.

I thanked her, and started off in that direction. She tugged on my arm.

“What’s up?” I asked her.

She paused for a moment, and damn me if she didn’t almost look ashamed. Finally, she gathered herself together.

“I think you ought to stay away from Silent Hill,” she said, “There’s something not right about it.”

I had already gathered as much, but I didn’t want to insult her. Besides, there could be more to it.

“Is it dangerous?” I asked her.

“Maybe,” she said, “and it’s not just the fog either, it’s…”

I held up my hand to stop her. She was obviously very uncomfortable with my presence, her speech was halting and very careful, and she fidgeted. I wanted to leave her alone.

“I got it, I’ll be careful,” I said. Apparently I sounded a little more curt than I wanted, for she appeared to be insulted by my interruption.

“I’m not lying!” she told me.

“I believe you,” I said, and I really did. “It’s just that, I don’t really care if it’s dangerous. I’m still going to town.”

Again I came across the wrong way. She looked hurt.

“I’m sorry I sounded so short with you,” I said, “There’s someone here I need to find, someone very important to me. I’ll go through hell to be with her again.” Oh, how true that was.

She seemed a little relieved. “I’m looking for someone too, my mama… I thought she’d be here, but she isn’t.”

In a cemetery? How odd. I thought.

“I thought for sure my father and brother would be here, at least,” she continued, “But I can’t find them either.” She must have seen the strange look on my face, because she stopped, and that odd look reappeared on her face, that sheepish look that suggested she had done something bad. “I’m sorry, it’s not your problem,” she finally said.

“It’s alright,” I said, feeling somewhat relieved that she had stopped. “I hope you find them.”

“You too,” she replied, and turned away from me.

What a surreal meeting that was.

I waved goodbye to her, silly as she wasn’t able to see, and then I started walking in the direction she had pointed to. The fog was even thicker here, and I had to use barriers to guide myself.

I first came to a small pond, which had reeds growing out of the water. I followed that until I came to a short wall. Following this led to another wrought-iron gate, which seemed to be the way out. Next to this gate stood what appeared to be the groundskeeper’s quarters, or maybe a mausoleum. It was small, but imposing nonetheless, and it could have just been my imagination, but I was getting some sinister vibes from the place. I decided to ignore it, and continue though the gate to the town.
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All Hail The Strogg!
R.I.P. Paul Gray - April 8, 1972 – May 24, 2010.


"Stay...
 I Need You Here, For A New Day To Break...
Stay...
I Want You Near, Like A Shadow In My Wake...
Stay...
Here With Me... Don't You Leave...
Stay...
Stay With Me, Until The Day's Over..."
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« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2010, 03:50:29 am »

Chapter Three
Alone In The Town

The trail continued onward, though on this side of the cemetery, it seemed like I was quite a bit closer to civilization. There was evidence of construction all around, equipment, barricades, and tools here and there. If I had to guess, I’d think they were paving this stretch of path, which, according to the map, led into Wiltse Rd. and into town.

It was still dirt here, though, and the same problems with footing were quite apparent. I took my time; there was no need to rush. There was still a total lack of noise around, and the closer I got to South Vale, the more and more I wondered if the presence of that young woman in the cemetery was an anomaly. There were way too many things wrong with the picture for my liking.

Eventually, I saw an underpass come into view. The map told me this was Nathan Avenue, and that meant I was close now. I picked up the pace a little.

And then I stopped. I wasn’t sure, but I thought I heard footsteps, and not ones belonging to me. I stood still for a moment, and then continued walking, keeping a slightly slower and softer pace this time.

They were there again. Slower, plodding, more deliberate than my own, as though I were being stalked. I did not stop walking right away, I just listened. They kept going as long as I did. When I suddenly stopped, the footsteps did too. I scanned the path all around, but there was no sign of anyone.

I shook my head. If I kept letting noises bother me, I would certainly lose it. I resolved to ignore the noises, and started walking towards the underpass again. The phantom footsteps reappeared as if on cue, but I paid them no mind. They disappeared once I reached the concrete flooring under the pass.

The little area here was strewn with old newspapers and garbage. I bent down and picked up one of the papers. It was a morning edition of the Silent Hill Tribune. The front page was dominated by the latest news about the Whitewater scandal, and the date was May 4th, 1994. So there were people here at least ten days ago then. I tossed the paper down and proceeded through the chain-link door.

On the other side was Wiltse. It was paved, though obviously not meant for automotive traffic. It seemed about wide enough to be an alley. Looking to my right I saw that we had once again met the cliff, but now there was a guard rail, and through the soupy fog I could see platforms below, so there was no chance of an inadvertent swim happening anymore.

I proceeded on Wiltse, seeing little of interest but a few old billboards and the Silent Hill Ranch, which I had never known about before. There was the odd car parked on the sides. Log fencing gave way to painted slat fencing, and before long, I found myself between actual buildings. On both sides of me were what seemed like small houses, and through the fog I could see a floral boutique across the street. I had reached the mouth of Wiltse, and was now at a real road, Sanders Street.

It was about here that I heard yet another new noise, but this one wasn’t the same as the others, in that it didn’t sound like something that was an imminent threat to me. It was a broad sound, faint and yet strong, as if something was generating some noise, but it was of such a distance that it diminished by the time the sound reached my ears. And it wasn’t just that, but the sound was simply odd in another way.

At first I thought it was an odd sort of scream, but the second time I heard it, I could tell it was definitely not a vocal sound. The best approximation I can offer is that it sounded like someone was pulling a sliding metal door open and shut, repeatedly, and in very deliberate rhythm. Every few seconds the noise repeated itself perfectly, my ears could detect no notable variation in the noise. The ghostly, echoing quality to it made it apparent to me that the source of the sound was nowhere nearby, but it was still unnerving just the same.

According to the map I had, I wanted to go north on Lindsey Street to reach Nathan Avenue, so I turned right onto Sanders.

The whole neighborhood seemed to be in much the same condition as everything else I’d seen so far. There was no one on the streets, no lights shining in any of the buildings, no cars driving around. It looked as though the whole place had been abandoned, as if one day everyone in town had suddenly decided to pick up and take off, and leave no forwarding address. Empty cars lined the curbs, “Sorry, We’re Closed” signs hung in every shop window and door, and not a single sign or sound of life was apparent anywhere. There wasn’t even any evidence of animal life, no birds, no cats, no dogs, no nothing. It was the middle of the afternoon on a warm spring day, not the peak of tourist season but not goddamn January either. Tourists should be out in some numbers by now. Yet, not a single one of them was here, or anyone else for that matter.

I continued west on Sanders, absorbing the sights and sounds, and I was just too dumbfounded to be scared by any of it. At first, I wondered if maybe some kind of sickness had swept through and incapacitated everyone, but I immediately dismissed that as the garbage sci-fi nonsense that it was. There’s no way a whole town could be taken out by a bug and it didn’t make headlines. Also, there would be bodies, living or dead, somewhere around. I saw none at all. It was confusing as hell.

On the way, a newspaper dispenser caught my attention. It was for the Tribune, as was the paper I saw back at the underpass. But that paper was several days old. Whatever was in the stand here should be as recent as possible.

And it was. When I looked through the glass and saw the newspaper on display, today’s date stared right back at me. May 14th. Whatever happened in this town happened very recently, and very quickly, as there was no evidence of anything wrong on the front page. All that I saw was a headline about hurricane season, as if anyone here would ever have to worry about that. I kept finding myself with more questions than answers, and it made me wonder about the letter I carried. Was there a connection between a mysterious letter from someone three years dead, and a town that was completely devoid of life, save for one girl in a graveyard that may have been a cards short of a deck?

No way to find out but to press forward.

And I didn’t need to press forward very long before I reached the next intersection, Lindsey Street, and yet another twist made itself visible. Only, this wasn’t a phantom noise or an imagined monster, this one was very real and undeniably disturbing.

Blood. A long streak of crimson stained the pavement on the road. It looked as though something very heavy was bleeding here, and worse yet, had been dragged several feet. The trail of blood seemed to turn the corner, heading north on Lindsey. I stared at it for a long moment, and I shivered, a shiver that had nothing to do with the cold. A new kind of fear was tickling my skin, a fear of something I couldn’t even begin to imagine. This blood didn’t come from nowhere, something had to have bled, and something had to have dragged it.

Then, something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. Something was moving.

My head snapped in the direction of the movement, and I had to squint through the fog, but I was able to see through the milky blur. Something was moving. I could only make out the vaguest of shapes, but as close as I could tell, it looked to be a person, roughly my size and build.

I was quite afraid at the possibility that I may be encountering the perpetrator of this grisly scene, but it was overwhelmed by the possibility of relief, of finding someone here who could tell me just what the hell was going on. I took off running, trying to catch up to the figure.

I supposed that whoever it was heard me coming, and my mind tried to tell me that they took off running themselves, that perhaps this poor fool was as frightened as I was, that perhaps he or she may think that I caused whatever happened here. It also could be that perhaps he was hiding, waiting until I passed and my back was turned, so that he could repeat what he had already done once.

And when I reached Vachss Road a few blocks north, that second feeling intensified greatly.

There was another streak of blood on the road here too. And as the first one had, this one turned the corner before disappearing. I only saw what I thought were faint traces of blood up Lindsey Street, I couldn’t say for sure whether this large puddle of gore came from the same source as the last. Frankly, I did not care to know. And yet, I had a feeling that the person I saw had gone this way too. I now felt much more afraid that this mystery person could be dangerous, but I felt like I had to find out either way. The bloody trail on the ground seemed as a sign, telling me to venture up this lonely road. I had no idea what I thought I would find, for Vachss was a dead-end road that, like Wiltse, didn’t really look to be much more than a glorified alley.

So, against all logic, I started down little Vachss Road. And just as Wiltse before it, Vachss didn’t go but maybe a hundred feet before the macadam gave way to more unpaved dirt. This dirt seemed drier and more firm than that of Wiltse, which actually disappointed me, for I was hoping to perhaps see the footprints of my phantom friend, and I did not.

It seemed like this area also was construction, though whatever they were doing here, they were in a much more advanced stage of completing. There was a gate sealing the area off, though it was slightly ajar and I was able to enter easily. Several small buildings stood on the fringes of the road, and the road itself was cordoned off by fencing and even barbed wire. The road, or path, or whatever you want to call it, was hardly of a uniform width. Near the apex it seemed barely wide enough for three people to fit through side-by-side.

The Nathan Avenue underpass had just come into view when I heard the static. It was very loud and very distorted, a tinny, shrieking whine that pierced the relative quiet like a knife. From my guess, it sounded like someone had the thing on AM band and the station’s reception went out.

The underpass itself was blocked off by a wooden barricade that seemed very hastily-built. I approached it slowly, and from just outside I spotted the radio sitting atop a painted steel chemical drum. Carefully, I climbed inside the barricade, and picked up the radio. As I held it in my hand, I tried adjusting the station. Not one came in. Every single frequency gave me nothing but piercing static.

Okay, I thought, I am beneath an underpass, that could explain it. But FM stations should have had no trouble coming in, even here. And when I tried the FM band, I got nothing but much softer, much quieter static. I flipped the band toggle back and forth idly, not sure of what to do.

Then, to my left, I first heard a sound unlike any I’d ever heard in my life. It was a wet, strained gurgling noise, as if someone with congested lungs was trying to breathe through a thin layer of water.

That was bad enough. When I saw what was making the noise, I felt fear. I felt a cold, clamping fear, because I was seeing something unreal. I was seeing something that could not exist.

I was seeing what I can only describe as a monster.

It stood, and I suddenly realized what my phantom friend really was.

It did even now look very vaguely humanlike, but only vaguely. The entire upper body seemed to be encased in a slick sac-like material, something like a sausage casing, only it was totally opaque. It looked like it was skin, like it was filthy human skin. It had a disgustingly slick sheen to it, and it smelled fantastically terrible, as if it had been left in a garbage bag in direct sunlight for a week. It was making indescribable noises. And it was coming for me.

The noises on the path, the imaginary stalker, the wendigo, all of it vanished from my mind. This was worse. And yet, I didn’t panic totally. I backed away from the hideous thing in a total haze, my mind simply not allowing itself to believe what my eyes were reporting. Maybe the monster would have gotten me if I hadn’t hit something that jerked me back into full consciousness.

The barricade.

I looked around frantically, certain I wouldn’t be able to dive out before this terrible thing from hell would reach me. My eyes quickly scanned my surroundings, and I was praying that they would find a means by which I could drive the thing off.

Oddly enough, my eyes found it without any help from the eyes. In my terror, my right hand had tightly gripped the barricade, and when I jerked my arm forward, and chunk of the wood came with it. It was about three feet long, and on the end were a pair of nails.

I danced to the side, for the monster was nearly upon me. I yelled and swung the stick at the thing. Unfortunately, I only grazed it, and didn’t hurt it badly enough, for it turned quickly to face me and it reared back, as if it were a snake about to strike. For all I knew, that was exactly what it was going to do.

I leaped to my left, nearly tripping over something soft. And I heard more than saw the creature spit a large spray of something nasty, something brown. And when a bit of it came into contact with my hand, I learned that it was something that burned. This God damn thing was spitting acid! Had that thing hit me a direct shot, I could be blinded and totally incapacitated. God only knew how quickly it would be able to try that again.

So, I steeled myself, and I swung the stick again, striking the monster in the head (I only assume it was the head, I had know way of knowing for sure). It fell to the ground, twitching. I yelled a hoarse, animal scream of fear and disgust as I struck it again, once, twice, three times. Blood sprayed from the thing as the nails tore gouges in the fleshy sac around its upper body. Finally, it stopped moving.

I stood for a full minute staring at the damned thing, part of me furiously trying to deny what I just saw, the other part of me completely on edge, just waiting for it to so much as twitch so I could waylay it some more. My heart was racing, and the smell was making my stomach turn. I tried to hold it as long as I could, but I couldn’t forever. I turned aside and retched, my decent cheeseburger lunch vacating me. Twice I did this, and once it was all out of me, I dry-heaved a bit more. I couldn’t stand being in there with it, I had to get away, get back into the fresh air.

I stumbled out of the underpass, nearly tripping over the barricade. Once I was out, I stood and sucked in the air, trying my best to get the smell out, knowing it was going to be more than this alone could do for me.

Then, the radio squealed again. I had totally forgotten about it in all the excitement. Again I fiddled with the tuner, expecting nothing.

This time, I did hear something. At least, I thought I did. It was very faint. I dialed back and tried to tune it as finely as my shaking fingers would allow, but it didn’t help much.

It was a voice, saying something I could barely make out. It was a woman’s voice. And then, I was not sure at all if I really heard what I heard, but at the same time, I could’ve sworn I heard one word clearly through all the static, and that I could also recognize the voice of the speaker.

The word was in fact a name. My name. And even more impossibly, the speaker was just as familiar as my own name was to me. The speaker’s voice, rather. It made my heart jump right into my throat.

The speaker was my wife. The speaker was Mary.
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« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2010, 03:55:22 am »

Chapter Four
A World of Madness

The radio calmed down after a few seconds. I tried my best to get my mind to follow suit, but I couldn’t. Too much was happening too quickly, and I doubt that even under normal circumstances I could process so much at once. As it was, the only way I could force myself on was to try and ignore at least some of it.

I looked at the radio. I wasn’t really sure what to do with it. Had it not been for that message, that one with Mary’s voice, I’d have just tossed the damn thing. Hell, if I could have convinced myself that it wasn’t her voice, I’d have left it, but I suppose my desire to believe was just too powerful, too consuming.

Plus, it was her voice. It was. And because it was, I slipped the radio into my pocket, leaving it on just in case I could hear her again. Maybe she was trying to help me, trying to tell me where she was, and I was too far to pick it up. In a normal world I would have dismissed all of this as nothing but a crock of ****. Of course, I’d have thought the same thing if someone had told me they saw a monster thrashing about in a bag of human flesh too. Maybe they would be right. Nevertheless, that nail stick was staying with me. This world was proving to be anything but normal.

I looked at the map, and decided it was time to strike out for Rosewater Park again. Back towards Lindsey Street I went, carefully and with even more trepidation that before, for now I knew something really terrible was going on. What it exactly was, I couldn’t even begin to guess, but plainly, disaster had decided to visit Silent Hill today, right before I did.

I made my way back up Vachss Road, keeping a keen eye out for anything moving, though it was anything but easy. Not only did the fog make it difficult to see anything that might be coming my way, it also fooled the eyes into thinking something was coming my way, to say nothing of the damned headache I was getting. Here I was, scared shitless and growing more paranoid by the second, and I have this nice juicy thumper upstairs to make things even more fun.

Lindsey Street again. I squinted, scanning north and south as far as the fog would allow, but it didn’t seem like anything was moving, nor did it sound like it either. All I could hear was that omnipresent sound, the one like a giant steel door swinging slowly on old hinges. I must have looked both directions five or six times, not at all sure I was happy that no warped, monstrous forms made themselves visible. The tension was as thick as the fog. My hands were gripping the edge of the wall so hard that my fingers seemed bloodless. The ever-so-slight breeze danced across my sweaty skin, making me shiver almost uncontrollably.

I finally had to force myself to leave the ersatz safety of the alley, lest I stood there forever. I didn’t take off running, exactly, but I did head north on Lindsey at a hell of a brisk pace, my head constantly darting towards every possible nook where dark things could hide.

It was this lack of immediate attention in front of me that almost killed me, because while I was busy looking for boogeymen, I failed to notice that Lindsey Street presented a problem that was going to severely impede my progress, that problem being that the road stopped being there. Lindsey was supposed to empty onto Nathan Avenue, but instead, I was seeing it empty into a dark, empty chasm, one that went very far and very wide. It looked as though some giant shovel tore a divot right through this entire part of town, for the devastation didn’t just take out the road, but also the buildings lining this part of the road. The line of storefronts and houses was severed just as abruptly as the street was. One of the houses was torn almost completely in half. The right half was completely wiped out, but the left half still stood more or less like it should, looking perfectly normal until the aluminum siding and roofing ended in a jagged rip that extended straight from the foundation to the roof, and still stood nice and erect, in what could only be a sick denial of several laws of physics. The fog made it impossible to tell just how wide the chasm was, but it didn’t really matter, what I could see was still far too wide for me to even think about crossing, and too long for me to skirt it here.

When it rains, it pours, I thought, and it seems like in Silent Hill, when it pours, you get a hurricane. I’d only seen this one small stretch of town, but I couldn’t even imagine that the rest of the town was anywhere near normal. The apocalyptic appearance of South Vale was terrible, far too much so to be contained just here.

And to my more immediate chagrin, my direct route to Rosewater Park was now anything but. I pulled the town map out of my pocket, noting that it had gone slightly damp with my sweat. The next closest conduit to Nathan was Neely Street, two blocks west. It was all I could do, for while things were getting crazier by the minute, I couldn’t stop. Nothing was going to stop me.

That’s what I thought at first. And the thought stuck with me for a few seconds. I didn’t exactly dwell on it. It felt more like I didn’t want to let go of it, not out of consideration but out of reluctance, I suppose.

That lasted until my ears alerted me to something, a noise that was very faint against the dinosaur sound of the huge metal gate, and the whispering of the wind that presumably moved it.

It was a tapping noise, the sharp, staccato noise evident even through the filter of distance. It was a deliberate noise, and it was most certainly getting closer. I gripped the stick tightly in my right hand and watched for whatever it was.

Before I saw it, however, I heard another. At first I thought the first had just gone arrhythmic, but the alternate sound was in its own rhythym… and then a third sounded in just as the first came into view. I broke out in a fresh sweat, and my breath caught in my throat, like a car slamming headfirst into a brick wall.

The monster was back.

The malformed thing came towards me in a shambling gait that seemed both unseemly and careful at the same time. And I saw that, perhaps ten feet behind, a second one. They looked more or less identical, both exactly the same size, both exactly the same proportions, both walking at the same pace. Hell, their movements were even the same, but in different stages of procession. It was like watching a mirror that returned an image on a time-delay.

I can’t really remember if it was the appearance of a third shambling creature, or if it was the realization that the closest one had halted and was rearing back that finally snapped me out of my fugue. Either way, I rushed forward, desperate to avoid getting a direct blast of that acidic **** it was going to spray. Thankfully, I was quick enough, and when the first one let loose, the bile-green spray hit nothing, and instead splashed onto the macadam. Turning just for a second, I could see the asphalt smoking where the acid landed. The cold sweats renewed afresh. Couldn’t let that stuff hit me, no way, buddy.

The second one started to rear back as the first recovered from its assault, and I did not wait around to see any more this time. I broke into a flat-out run. Fear and disgust prompted my stomach to prime me full of more adrenaline than I’d ever felt in my life, and I took full advantage of it, pumping my legs like machine pistons, switching my grip higher on the stick to avoid puncturing my leg with the nails.

The third creature made as if to cut me off, not coming towards me, but instead in a direction in which it would intercept me. And the fuckers were fast. But I wasn’t about to be stopped now. My terror was great, but it wasn’t exactly panic. I had enough presence of mind to remember that I was not helpless, that I did have the means to defend myself.

Without breaking stride, I lifted the board over my shoulder, gripping it with both hands. When I was just close enough, just as the thing began to rear back to launch its attack, I swung the board like Mickey Mantle with a Louisville Slugger. It connected with the creature’s head squarely. The impact caused the weapon to fiercely vibrate in my hand for about a second, and the shock almost numbed me. The impact also obliterated the thing’s head, the fleshy membrane covering it darkened with its inhuman blood, and if there really was a skull beneath that membrane, it was no longer intact. It folded inward, looking pulpy and deflated. It was a disgusting sight, but I felt just a little flash of triumph. It teetered on its booted feet for perhaps a second and a half, and then crashed suddenly to the pavement, not a folding, controlled collapse, but a sudden drop, like rocks.

I checked over my shoulder. One of them was still on my track, coming at me at a medium pace, but far enough away that it did not pose an immediate threat. The one further away seemed quite disinterested. It trudged around randomly, without a clear purpose. Not that I minded.

I turned, and began running south on Lindsey Street, the tap-tap-tapping of the two remaining creatures fading softly.

Suddenly, that tapping was drowned out by a terrible shrieking noise, not at all human and coming at me with incredible speed. It sounded like someone scraping two large pieces of steel together rapidly, an almost mournful moan of grief. And then I felt a sudden, sharp pain in my ankle as something heavy struck me right at the base of my right foot. It was powerful and I was caught totally unaware, and I lost my balance completely, falling backwards without enough time to shield myself with my arms. I fell flat on my back, my body bending like a whiplash, and ending with the back of my skull striking the pavement with a dull click. Thankfully, it wasn’t a very hard blow. Had it been enough to blow my consciousness, I had no doubt that I would be dead, but as it was, I was just dazed a bit.

I sat up, shook my head and allowed my vision to clear. My right hand had never let go of the board, and the impact had driven a splinter or two into the palm and possibly a finger, but I didn’t really register that. My attention was totally focused on what had struck me.

The monster, the disgusting thing in the fleshy straight-jacket, was lying prone about ten feet in front of me and aimed away. Suddenly, its legs churned impossibly fast, and it shot across the pavement like a bullet, accompanied by that same stressed-metal sound. A small trail of crimson marked its procession as it flew with insane energy back and forth, in every direction and seemingly at random.

Hoping madly that it didn’t decide to come at me again, I leapt to my feet and stole a glance behind. The other two were back there, I could hear them faintly over the metallic shriek of their brother, but I couldn’t see them, they were far enough away.

Keeping my eye totally trained on the quicksilver monster, I took off running again, wincing a bit at the pain in my head, and doing my best to ignore it. I had no clear idea of where I wanted to go, but it seemed as though Neely Street was the next best chance of accessing Nathan.

I turned right onto Katz Street, and not seeing any other immediate threats, I slowed to a jog. I could no longer see nor hear the three monsters anymore, and things settled back to wind and that odd deep metal noise. I was curious as to its nature, but I saw nothing to indicate what it was. It wasn’t important anyway.

Neely Street wasn’t very far, and it looked no less desolate than Lindsey. The coast seemed clear, and I sped up a bit, the desire to reach the park almost solid and tangible in my body. Surely, this nightmare was happening for a reason, right?

It didn’t look like I was about to find out just yet though, for whatever terrible disaster that tore a path of destruction across Lindsey Street had not stopped there. It had plowed right on through and had torn a similarly ugly laceration right through Neely Street, destroying the adjacent buildings as it had over there.

What the hell is this?

Whatever had happened here was beyond terrible, but I couldn’t shake the notion that something seemed out to stop me personally. It was ridiculous, of course. I was hardly so important as to be worth destroying a city over, but even still, the thought rattled around in my head anyway like loose change.

I let out a long sigh, full of physical exhaustion and mental strain, and looked at my map again. The next available access was Munson Street, another block west. I was going to try it, but I had this sinking suspicion I was going to find yet another annihilated road and more frustration. Likely I would, but I had no choice in the matter. I was here for a reason and damned if I wasn’t going to try everything I could. There was too much at stake for me.

Back down Neely I walked, making no effort to hurry. I played football in high school, and I wasn’t too bad, but that was over a decade past, and unfortunately, I wasn’t nearly as in-shape as I was, or as I should be. The pace I had been keeping had me winded, and the fear and near-panic I’d been in was not helping at all. I turned west on Katz again a minute later.

To my right, the storefronts ended abruptly, replaced by a ten-foot tall chain-link fence that ran for quite a good distance. There was a large building behind it, I could have guessed that even without seeing it, but I had no idea what it was, for I could only see its vague outline through the swirling mists. It looked to be at least three stories high, making it a damn sight taller than many of the buildings I’d seen in the area so far.

Maybe thirty feet down I spotted an entrance gate. It was just as rusty and old-looking as the rest of the fencing, but this part was adorned with a dented metal placard which read “Woodside Apartments” in bold letters, and below that, “Visitors Must Register In Office!”. It’s the sort of thing one might see in a slum perhaps, but while South Vale wasn’t exactly bright and bustling, it was far from what I considered a bad sort of place. Did it look this run-down when I was here with Mary? I couldn’t remember. I thought I remember seeing these Apartments, as I knew the complex was directly opposite of Rosewater Park on the other end, and together, Mary and I walked every inch of the park. And we had walked through South Vale before! We had stopped at the Mexican restaurant a few blocks over. We even had drinks at a small bar on Neely Street. That I remember very well.

It was the second time we’d been here, maybe six or seven years ago, and we were here for our wedding anniversary. It was the height of spring; the trees were lush and verdant, the air pleasant and warm. It was full of the sounds of birds and the smell of blooming flower buds. We spent the first day at the park, I remember, it was an almost absurdly-gorgeous day, we spent hours there, until the sun set over the western edge of the lake. Mary, ever the photographer, snapped a picture of that, and when we got home, she had it expertly enlarged, and it was still sitting in a dusty frame in our bedroom, the fiery sun shimmering its dying glow over the placid waves of the lake.

Anyway, after the sun set, we walked the south side of Silent Hill. Tourist season had just kicked off, and it was very lively, all of the storefronts were well-lit and the streets were full of tourists and fun-seekers from hundreds of miles away. Mary and I visited several stores, bought a few insubstantial trinkets, and had my first chimichanga at that Mexican place, Gonzales’.

After all that, stomachs full, fat and happy, we held hands and walked some more. It was still early evening, and neither of us had any desire to go back to the hotel just yet. Eventually, we passed by a small corner bar called Neely’s, presumably after the street it was addressed to.

The inside was elegant and so warm, the walls were paneled nicely, the bar itself was made of immaculate shined mahogany and didn’t bear a single detectable scratch or mar. I would have thought the place was brand-new, but brand-new bars don’t have the same smell to them. This place was well-established, and you could tell because the scent of beer and liquor was embedded in every solid object in the bar, noticeable even under the sharper, stronger odor of the fresh firewater. It wasn’t packed, but it was pleasantly full, there were perhaps a dozen people in there already, and it looked like there was just enough room for two more.

Mary sat at the bar, and I went over to the jukebox in the corner. I dropped a quarter in the machine, and as I walked back over to join my wife, Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” issued forth from the old Wurlitzer. If we ever had a song that we could call our own, this was it. She and I made love to this song in the car, and easily a dozen times otherwise in more traditional lovemaking settings, she and I danced to this song on our wedding day, and now, on our fourth wedding anniversary, we sat in perhaps the calmest place in the entire universe listening to it again, not dancing or making love, but enjoying each other’s company and this most perfect of nights. She held a martini in her right hand, I held a glass of rocky bourbon in my left, and our other hands were locked in each other’s tender grip.

What a tangent. Having this memory strike me out of nowhere felt like getting struck by that straight-jacket monster, only ten times more powerfully. A sob clenched my throat shut, but I couldn’t let my emotions overwhelm me now. I had to press on.

But I didn’t have to press on much farther, for as luck would have it, Katz Street was blocked off as well, not by a gaping wound as the other two, but rather by a tall construction barrier. It was odd to see such a thing here, it was as if they were constructing a building right across Katz Street. Fences and other buildings pre-empted any way around it, but…

To my right was a door. And beside that door was a message of some sort. It was written in blood-red spray paint (so I fervently hoped).

The door that opens in darkness leads to nightmares.

Well, wasn’t that just cheerful? Heedless of the ominous message, I tried to open the door. The knob turned loosely, far too loosely, as if it weren’t actually installed. Yet, the door was shut solidly, there was no place to grip, and it opened towards me, so I couldn’t bash it though. Just my **** luck.

Tapping noises, from behind.

Oh no…

I spun around, and, yes, the tapping was coming from those damnable straight-jacket creatures. I saw two of them, then three, and four, five! Five of them! They had fanned out while I was screwing with the door, and they now flanked me. Just as before, they all looked identical and going through the same freaking motions in different timing. I was able to bum-rush through three, but there’s no way I could make it through five, they’d burn me for sure with that acid spray and I was in no mood for that.

My heart racing, I looked around in a near-panic for a way out, some escape from a painful encounter with these monsters. The only possible access was the fence, but there was no way I’d be able to climb it in time…

The gate!

Yes! There was a gate, and I would be able to reach it with a few seconds to spare. I ran towards it as fast as I could, hoping against hope that the stupid thing wasn’t locked. I almost cried when I saw the rusty chain snaking through the links of the fence, holding them together, but I fortunately had the presence of mind to note the absence of a padlock. It was just a chain.

I grabbed one dangling end of the chain and pulled it with all my might. It didn’t give easily, it was rusted and catching on the links, but it was luckily not tangled, and with a burst of strength, I yanked it right out. Tossing it aside, I fumbled with the latch, slipped through the gate, and slammed it shut again with the closest monster about ten seconds away. There was a small trash bin nearby. I pushed it across the path of the gate, and then I hastily retreated from the gate.

I could see no monsters in the courtyard of the apartment complex, but the five outside bashed angrily against the gate, screaming their inhuman gurgling scream and some of them spitting angrily at me through the fence. I was far enough away that the acid dissipated long before it got close enough to harm me, but I wasn’t at all sure if it could eat through the old, rusty steel of the fencing, and I was in no mood to stick around and find out. So, I turned around and pushed open the front door, and entered the dark interior of the Woodside Apartments lobby.
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« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2010, 03:57:52 am »

Chapter Five
Legs

It was cold inside the lobby, cold and almost pitch-black. The only source of light was from a broken window higher up, on the third floor. The pale light, filtered by the fog, drifted through, casting a ghost-like luminance across the empty area. To one side were the tenants’ mailboxes, all of them rusted, some of them broken, hanging on smashed hinges like baby teeth a few wiggles away from release.

To the left of the mailboxes was a map, showing the three floors of Woodside. I carefully pulled it off of the bulletin board and studied it.

As far as I could tell, there was no back exit, and I almost smiled in spite of myself. There was a courtyard, but it appeared to be enclosed. I could try it, but the map showed a wall, and I didn’t have much hope that it was one short enough to climb over. Nothing had yet been easy, why should this be any exception?

Looking at the second floor map, I saw what might be another option. Apparently, there was a fire escape on the west side of the floor. That might very well allow me to get around that strange construction barrier outside, and it definitely seemed like a better bet than the courtyard wall.

The courtyard was accessible through a door in the back of the lobby, and I decided to try that first, since it was closer. It was at the end of a short, empty hallway, one that was lit by feeble, buzzing fluorescent lights.

So at least something’s working in this town.

There was a small slat in the door, roughly at eye-level, and I could see out into the courtyard, which was just as fog-shrouded as ever. I saw an intersecting path, but I could see where none of them led. The map indicated that going left brought one to a large object, one that I assumed was a swimming pool based on the shape. Going right would take me into another grouping of apartments, and going forward apparently was a one-way ticket right into the wall. I neither heard nor saw any creatures outside, but as poor as my line of sight was, that assessment wasn’t worth the breath I’d waste saying it out loud.

I gripped the plank tight, and slowly turned the handle. It did not give, it was quite locked.

But of course.

I tested the door, as I was hardly averse to bashing in a door or two if I absolutely had to. After all, Silent Hill itself seemed totally abandoned. I didn’t know if that was really true, but it seemed much more likely that this particular apartment complex was. The whole thing seemed in a state of complete disrepair. It didn’t really matter though, because the door in front of me was shut tight and solid. It was made of metal, aluminum probably, and I would wear myself ragged without ever making this thing budge an inch.

Instead, I tried the stairs. I climbed them very carefully, one by one, trying to squint through the darkness to ensure I had good footing. Once I reached the second floor foyer, the light from above offered slightly more to see, which really wasn’t much besides more evidence of neglect. The walls were a mess, pocked with holes, stained by water, the paint cracked and peeing. Also, there was a little intentional damage done, in the form of graffiti. There was a myriad of colorful slogans and designs adorning the walls, most of them illegible. More than even the environmental damage, the graffiti gave me the clearest concept of how long it had been since Woodside Apartments had been inhabited long-term. There was a lot of it, some of it old enough to be fading on its own.

This mural of teenage vandalism continued along the wall until it ended perpendicular to a door. There was a mess of debris around the door, but the door itself opened quite easily. I pushed it open all the way, and stepped through.

I found myself in another hallway, this one much longer than the one downstairs. Weakly blinking flourescents lit the hall with a half-hearted effort, but I couldn’t see more than twenty feet in either direction. I listened for the distinct tapping of the straight-jacket creatures, but there was a lot of ambient noise, hell, ambient racket, if I’m to be honest. The most prevalent sound among them was a throbbing, rhythmic hum which sounded like a furnace. A building this old just might even operate on a boiler.

But who on earth would operate a boiler in a place like this? Good question. Boilers, even the more modern ones with automatic pressure dumps, required some decent supervision in order to operate correctly, and I doubted whether anyone had looked at the boiler here in years.

No matter. What was important was that I heard nothing a tap-tap-tapping upon my bridge, so I turned left and headed in the direction of the fire escape. The path led me down a narrow hallway, and the decay and neglect was just as evident here as it was downstairs. Trash and debris was strewn about, I passed one apartment with its entrance plastered over, and another that was simply boarded shut. In some spots it looked as though the floor was about to cave in.

The fire escape was the only object to greet me at the end. It appeared to me as a blue door marked with chipped, peeling paint, and it was very locked. I couldn’t understand why a place this run-down had so many locked doors, but what could I do?

The door was made of wood, and I gave it a good, solid kick to the center. It seemed to give just a little bit, enough to make me try again. The second kick struck just as forcefully, but the results weren’t quite as heartening. The third kick just made me figure that I had somehow shifted it, but it wasn’t going to open for me this way unless I really wanted to tire myself out, and considering the danger about, I wasn’t really up for that.

Now I didn’t really have any idea what to do or where to go, but I much preferred to find my way through here. The thought of going back out into the streets was anything but appetizing. There had to be a back door, and the only way I was going to find it was by searching.

I made my way up the hallway in the other direction, testing every door I came across – those that weren’t boarded shut. One door was locked, but I found that a good deal of them had broken locks. Three in that first hallway alone had knobs that turned far too loosely, and would keep right on turning, because the lock mechanism was disabled, yet the latches themselves must still be in place, because there was no opening these doors. I hardly felt like wasting my energy bashing them open, either.

I was nearing the end opposite from the fire escape when I came to a door that had a small halo of light emanating from the crack at the bottom. I turned the knob, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was actually a functioning doorknob on this floor. I slowly pushed the door inward and stepped inside.

Standing dead center in this room was a clothing display, something like a department store mannequin, but just the torso, no other distinguishing features. This particular display was draped in a sweater and knee-length skirt. At first, neither of them seemed like anything special. The sweater was the pale pink color of calamine lotion, and the skirt was white with a floral motif. Clipped to the inside neckline of the sweater was something far more interesting.

It was a pocket flashlight. It was a bit heavy, and it was hot. Someone had obviously left it on for awhile, but it couldn’t be for very long, I mean, how long does a flashlight battery last? A few hours, right? Who could have left it? I didn’t know, and I can’t really say I cared much, but I was happy that they did, for this would come in very handy.

Something moved.

I shoved the flashlight in front of me, scanning everything, certain I had seen movement. All I saw was a sewing table, a few nondescript pieces of furniture, and what I thought at first were body parts. I bent down to look at one of them, and found that they were just mannequin parts, though that only settled me just a bit, because it still looked pretty damn morbid.

I stood, and turned.

And I found myself face-to-face with the most horrible looking mannequin I’d ever seen in my life, a hideous-looking creation that essentially looked like a torso and two pairs of legs, one where arms should normally be. I had all of maybe a second to register this when one of the legs on top flashed out and slammed me right in the collarbone.

It felt like being sucker-punched, and the pain was quite dramatic. The impact of the blow sent me reeling backwards, tripping over the scattered mannequin parts and onto the chambray sofa, dropping both the flashlight and the plank in the process.

The light fell face up, and I could see that this disgusting abomination was coated in something slick, for the light cast an oily sheen over its form. It looked repugnant, just as the straight-jacket monsters, but in a different way. They were nasty because they looked human. This thing… this was something that was just impossible, a form and design that offended every notion of reality that I had.

It was disgust, and of course, the sense of imminent death, that got me moving. I twisted and threw my body off of the sofa about a half-second before the mannequin’s top leg came crashing down. A hole appeared where the mannequin struck the cushion, it was that powerful. I hurriedly grabbed my plank and scrambled to my feet just as the mannequin turned to face me.

I backed up a step, holding the plank with both hands in a ready position, my senses at their height, just waiting for it to make a move. I didn’t have to wait long. Again, the arm-leg flashed out in a fast motion that I would describe as chopping had it been a real arm. I quickly swung the plank upwards with a great deal more strength than I had really meant to use. The nails in the plank struck the arm-leg in its first joint, and the force of the blow tore it right out of its socket, the now-disabled limb flying across the room and striking the floor.

The mannequin didn’t fall, but it did pause, as though surprised and suddenly unsure of what to do. I suffered from no such problem. I swung the plank, twice connecting with the torso of the creature. It gave a strange cry (I have no idea how, I never once saw an orifice that could pass for a mouth), and fell to the floor. I looked at it, as it thrashed and writhed. Was it in pain? I wasn’t sure if it had that capacity, but it was, if it did.

It was only then that I noticed another noise, a hissing, screeching sound that at first I didn’t even register, until I realized it was coming from me. With one eye on the mannequin, which was still making like a fish out of water, I reached into my pocket.

The radio. I had completely forgotten the radio. I supposed I had turned it on inadvertently when I hit the ground a moment ago, and now, loud, silver static cascaded from the tiny device.

I was about to toy with it a bit more when the mannequin started trying to pull itself back up. It wasn’t quite able to, missing one of its four legs, but I wasn’t about to even let it have a fighting chance. I drew my leg back and gave it a vicious kick right in the torso. I was wearing hard shoes, and apparently, the thing was like a mannequin in more than just appearance. It must really be made out of plastic, or something like it, because my right foot went right through the side of the monster. And plastic skin or not, what was inside was definitely not something you found in the women’s department at Sears, to be sure, because a torrent of blood and organs poured out of the hole my foot made. The stench was tremendous, and I would have thrown up right there if I hadn’t already spent it on that straight-jacket monster back in the tunnel.

The radio gave a tinny whine, and the static died off just as the mannequin’s final death throes ceased. At first I thought its batteries finally gave up the ghost, but it had just quieted down, without me even touching the volume knob or the tuner. I had last set it to AM 710, and that’s where the little red needle still pointed. Turning the volume back up produced a steady, low static, one that lacked the squeal and noise I had just been hearing. I was pretty intrigued, and I placed it back in my pocket, leaving it on this time.

I bent down to retrieve my flashlight, and the beam caught the clothing display, and that which it displayed. I took another good, long look at the pink sweater and skirt, caught again by my curiosity. Why did it make me think like that?

Then, I had a sudden flash of inspiration, and I yanked my wallet out of my back pocket, desperate to know if I was really thinking what I thought I was thinking.

I flipped through it quickly, dropping some kind of card, not caring which. Then I saw the photo, the one of Mary. The photo of Mary that I snapped several years ago, one in which she was wearing a warm, loving smile that I supposed attracted me to her the first time we met and definitely many times since. She also happened to be wearing a sweater, a sweater of pale pink, one that matched exactly the one that I saw right in front of me. And though it was a portrait shot, I would have bet my ass that she was sitting on that bench wearing a soft white skirt. And I bet it had flowers on it. I’d have bet anything.
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R.I.P. Paul Gray - April 8, 1972 – May 24, 2010.


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Stay...
I Want You Near, Like A Shadow In My Wake...
Stay...
Here With Me... Don't You Leave...
Stay...
Stay With Me, Until The Day's Over..."
I love you Mutou Yami... Forever.


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« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2010, 04:01:02 am »

Chapter Six
Masque of the Red Death

I don’t know how long I stood there staring at the outfit. I was in a sort of a daze, maybe even what a writer calls “the zone”, only instead of being suddenly graced by a muse, I was swimming in my memories. This is not to say I was reminiscing about Mary, because I can’t really say it was exactly like that. It was more like my mind was being bombarded with images, but in a haphazard and random fashion. My mind could not keep up with them, and therefore none of them stuck with me, none of them made an impression. I gained no understanding from the experience. My memories of the past three years were always shrouded in fog, maybe even more than the town was right now. What I could recall was only in the most broad fashion. I could recall doing things I would always do, things that were part of my life and daily routine. By that very nature, were they even really memories? Nothing of any substance stood out in my mind, nothing except a long, drawn-out period of loneliness and pain. Had it always been like this? I couldn’t remember, and it scared me.

The only thing I really did get from the fugue was the vague impression that I was on the right track. In fact, that very message rang clear in my mind, but it felt as though it came from the outside, and not as a thought that my own mind created.

Past all that, I placed the flashlight in my breast pocket, and the radio in another, it still emanating a light, dull hiss of static. The department store reject from Hell still lie motionless on the floor, in a pool of its own inhuman blood. Not until I laid eyes upon it did my nose report to my brain the rotten stench of the thing. I hurried out of the room, desperate to be away from it.

The hallway was still empty, a fact I was happy to discover, although it was only a temporary thing. It did nothing to change the fact that I had no idea where to go next, and the idea of wandering randomly wasn’t exactly attractive to me.

There was a short extension of the hall to the right, but all three of the rooms were inaccessible, with the same busted doorknobs I found earlier. No go.

I looked at the map again. There was still one more hallway on this floor. Upon reaching it, I started trying the doors again. The first two were broken. I reached the third, but before I entered it, I noticed that the rest of the hallway was blocked off. Someone had erected a very crude set of iron bars here, for what reason I couldn’t even begin to guess. Crude though they may have been, they were also planted quite solidly in the ground and ceiling, so they did their job effectively.

The third door was locked, with a working lock. I would have ignored it like the others, except from within I heard noise. A very soft light seeped out from beneath the door, much softer than the light cast by my flashlight in room 205. I also thought I heard something, and when I pressed my ear to the door, I actually did hear something, a low, harsh hissing sound that could only be television snow.

I knocked on the door three times, feeling silly even as I was doing it, but I had to try. No one answered, and it was foolish to expect anyone would. I didn’t feel like forcing the door open, but I was intrigued. I decided to try searching the third floor, but I marked 208 on the map with a pen. Even something as simple as television static was a sign of life, right?

So was the flashlight. Remember what that got you?

Nevertheless… If there’s another one of those things in there, I was able to kill the first one.

And what if there are three or four of them in there? My mind would not leave me alone. The old caution instinct was still working as well as ever, it seemed. So what if there were? If the third floor doesn’t pan out, I’ll worry about it then.

I turned back around and exited the hallway, then turned up the stairs. I had seen nothing so far, but the momentary surge of confidence I felt earlier deflated once I reached the third floor. Instead of the mechanical thrumming I heard on the second floor, up here it sounded a lot like something large and heavy was breathing. It was more unnerving for how non-mechanical it sounded, and it gave me pause for a few seconds, but once I caught how regular it was, I couldn’t believe it was anything but mechanical. It was an old building, after all. I entered the third floor hallway, only half-convinced of that.

The hall ran in two directions. I shone my light to the left side first. The hallway didn’t run very far in this direction, maybe twenty-five or thirty feet. I could see clear across to the door, and the hallway was pleasingly empty. To the right the hallway extended down quite a bit farther, but I wouldn’t be able to tell just how far because some wet end placed bars here too. For the life of me I couldn’t understand the logic of bars being placed across hallways of an apartment complex, but understanding the reason wasn’t going to make them disappear. And yet…

On the other side of the bars, the flashlight’s beam caught on something small but shiny, a flash of reflected light drawing my attention. It was a key, and it had a label attached to the ring, presumably with a location written upon it. It was pretty far on the other side, but just possibly within arm’s reach.

I dropped to my knees and stuck my right arm through the bars. My fingers groped near the key but were just about a half-inch too short. I turned my head away and leaned into the bars, trying to stretch and fit my shoulder in just enough to give me the extra reach. I slapped my hand down, trying to at least be able to get enough of it in my grip to pull it. Finally I felt the touch of cold metal under the tip of my middle finger, and I started to press down and pull it closer.

I didn’t hear anything coming, and my head wasn’t aimed in the right direction to have seen anything coming, so when it happened, I felt it before any other sense could register. Something hard and heavy slammed down on my outstretched right hand. I jerked my hand back and yelled in surprise, certain that a straight-jacket monster or mannequin, or maybe even something worse, had snuck up on the other side and was ready to try something even worse against me.

But what I saw was nothing monstrous at all, if anything, it was perhaps the least-threatening thing I’d seen since I parked the car earlier.

A little girl stood behind the bars, staring at me with her hands on her hips, as though she were about to chastise me for being a naughty child. She had plain-looking clothes and hair the color of summer wheat, but her eyes, her large and shining eyes, they pierced me when I looked into them. I don’t think I saw hate in those eyes, at least I hoped I didn’t, but there was something there that didn’t belong in the eyes of a little girl. Accusation, maybe?

We both stood still for a hanging moment, doing nothing but staring at each other, neither of us saying a word. Suddenly, a mischievous smile flashed across her features, and she kicked the key. It flew up the hall, striking the paneling and bouncing up the hall. I didn’t see where it stopped, but it was now most certainly out of my reach. She looked back at me, her face this time glowing with amusement over stomping my hand and kicking the key, and also challenge, as if she dared me to try and do something about it.

“Hey!” I yelled at her, “Why on earth did you do that? Who are you?”

She answered me with a laugh and ran away, down the hall and out of sight, her light, childish mirth following her and fading with her as she disappeared.

I just sat there on my ass, my hands propping me up, feeling a little dumbstruck. Only after she left did it occur to me that I finally found another human being in this otherwise-dead town, and that made me feel just an inch better about the whole mess. Her attitude didn’t seem to be right though, considering everything I had seen outside. The town, at the very least this part of it, was in complete shambles, and almost completely deserted, yet to look at her, you’d think she was just outdoors to play, or having a nice, casual summer stroll and just happened to find a hand to step on. And as for why she did that, I couldn’t guess. Even when a shade of something normal appeared, it only seemed to pose a dozen more questions for every answer given.

I stood and squinted through the bars. I saw what might have been the key sitting a considerable distance away, but I couldn’t tell for sure, and it didn’t matter either way. If that really was it, even using the plank wouldn’t allow me enough reach. I turned away from the bars and walked down the hall towards the two new rooms ahead, trying to ignore the thought in my mind that that key might have actually been something important. Crazy. For all I know, it could have opened a broom closet. No sense in worrying about it now.

Room 301 had a working, non-locked door, and I pushed it open. The living room of the apartment was pretty empty of furniture, but there were two very odd things that immediately caught my attention. A shopping cart sat all alone in the middle of the floor, bright and red as a fire-engine. On the side was stenciled “Shop N’ Save”. Much stranger and considerably more disturbing were the walls of the apartment. Looking at them, you would have thought World War III had taken place right here in this very room. The walls were pocked and stitched with bullet holes, and not just a few. It seemed like every square inch of surface was blasted. There must have been literally thousands of them, and that wasn’t counting the larger holes where the bullets had simply torn gouges out of the drywall. Someone really had some nasty kind of fun here. I would almost call it thorough, but I have trouble using that word to describe something that seemed so maddeningly chaotic.

I stepped into the room, and I quickly found a third piece of the room’s oddity by almost tripping and breaking my neck. When I shined my light on the floor, it glittered with spent cartridges. Hundreds and hundreds of tiny brass jackets littered the floor, stretching from wall to wall, which made a sick kind of sense, all things considered. Those bullets had to come from somewhere.

The shopping cart, by comparison, seemed like a bright beacon of normalcy in this little sea of madness, but when I looked inside, I found that even it had something to offer. Sitting in the child’s seat of the basket was something so blatantly ironic I almost laughed.

It was a handgun, a Glock 19. I picked it up, felt the weight of it in my hand. It was a reassuring weight, a safe weight, at least until my fingers touched the barrel.

It was hot. Hot as if it had been fired very recently.

I almost dropped it right then, but I didn’t. Creepy though this whole room was, and even if the gun in my hand had been used to create this disgusting piece of abstract art, it was still a gun, and upon checking the magazine, it was fully loaded, ten rounds. It was a gun and a gun meant a little extra safety for me. And what was that in the bottom of the shopping cart?

Three clips of ammo, that’s what. They sat, arranged neatly in a row, the dull charcoal color offering a muted counterpoint to the flashy color of the basket they lay in. I felt as though someone above finally loved me enough to help me out in the form of gift-wrapped firepower, though the wrapping itself was interesting, to say the least.

I placed the ammo clips in my pockets and holstered the gun in my belt. Though it was nice to pack a little heat (oh thank you Uncle Steve for teaching me enough not to blast my foot off), the plank had served well thus far and I wasn’t willing to part with just yet. I had no idea how long I might be stuck in this nightmare. I didn’t know how long forty rounds might last me, or if I would ever find more. Best to conserve them in case I really found myself in trouble.

I exited the room, careful not to trip and fall on the expended cartridges on the floor (and noting the absence of spent magazines… odd), and continued down the hall. 302 was a bust, and the door at the end of the hall was boarded over. Nowhere to go but back downstairs, I thought. At least it wasn’t a total waste coming up here. I had a gun now, and if I wanted to, I could shoot the lock to room 208. I held no illusions as to how safe doing that was, but if I were forced to, at least I now possessed the means.

I hurried back to the second floor, anxious to pursue the only lead I had left. And I hadn’t gotten even five steps into the hallway when I heard a scream, one that was unmistakably human (or at least, it didn’t sound like the screams I had heard from the monsters), and it sounded like it was quite thick with fear. I knew I sure was.

When I reached the section of the hall that led to 208, the rush and bravado had completely evacuated me. I had the plank under the crook of my arm and the Glock gripped tightly in my sweating hands, going step by step, scanning for threats, but not seeing any that made themselves obvious.

I saw room 208’s door, it was now open slightly. The sound and shine of the television still emanated from within. I gripped the door handle, ready to enter, when suddenly, a different kind of static scratched at my ears, louder and much closer. It was the radio in my pocket. I had been forming a theory of why it sounded the way it did, and I wheeled around.

There. Through the bars. I didn’t see it a minute ago, but now I could have even without the flashlight. It was red, and it was glowing softly.

It looked like a man, somewhat, but on its head was a strange sort of headgear, at least, that’s what it looked like. It was a darker red than the rest of him, and it was enormous. It was shaped like a four-sided pyramid with skewed dimensions, and it ended in a point above his head that made it look a good seven feet tall. It wore what looked like a butcher’s apron, like a butcher’s because it was stained dark and light with what could only be blood, blood as bright as its own glow. It stood there, and I could feel it watching me, observing me, even though there weren’t any eyes that I could see. It was watching me, and it gave off waves of terrible feeling, of hate and anger and fear. I could feel how much it hated me, and its very presence terrified me in a more primal way than either the straight-jacket monsters and mannequin had. Those were abominations, but whatever this was, this pyramid-headed monstrosity in human form, it was pure hate, hate and vengeance and all of mankind’s worst emotions and thoughts distilled. Just its eyeless gaze made my skin turned to ice. My spine was an icicle and my hair stood on end, as if I had walked into some sort of static bubble. The pyramid-head made no move, it just stood there, staring black hate and thinking vile, damning thoughts at me. I couldn’t take it any longer, I felt such chronic, mortal fear that I felt sure I was going to **** myself.

I ran inside of room 208 and slammed the door behind me, completely unmindful of whatever dangers might await me inside. I didn’t care one bit, none of them could be worse, nothing in the world could be worse than the buffeting evil aura of that pyramid-headed thing. I leaned against the door and closed my eyes, trying to force myself back to normal while choking back sobs from the object horror of the encounter.
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All Hail The Strogg!
R.I.P. Paul Gray - April 8, 1972 – May 24, 2010.


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Stay...
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Stay...
Here With Me... Don't You Leave...
Stay...
Stay With Me, Until The Day's Over..."
I love you Mutou Yami... Forever.


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« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2010, 04:04:41 am »

Chapter Seven
Violation

My headache came back, stronger than ever. My hands were pressed against my temples, and I could feel them throbbing. Everything was throbbing. My heart was racing at about three hundred beats per minute, and with each beat I felt blunt hammers pounding inside of my skull in perfect yet furious rhythm.

I don’t know how long I stood like that, at least a minute, maybe more. I couldn’t move, couldn’t even dare it. Whoever – whatever – that thing was in the hall, it paralyzed me, made me feel terror in ways that nothing had ever made me feel before, worse even than the inhuman monsters I had seen in the time I’d been in town. This was something far worse, far deadlier, and it was that sense of mortal dread that convinced me. Physically, it wasn’t too bad. If anything, it looked more human than the mannequin and the straight-jackets, but that rationale didn’t fly when you saw it. It was maybe my size but to look at it, well, it looked like it was fifteen feet tall.

I think it was right then and there that I first seriously questioned what I was doing here. It’s not as though seeing some of the other things I’d seen didn’t bring to mind some serious doubt, but I suppose this is the first time I really stopped to think about it. I came here looking for Mary, and all I’ve found so far is something not too far removed from the back of Lovecraft’s twisted little mind. Something seriously ****-up was going on, but only now did I wonder if it wasn’t just coincidence that everything hit the fan the very day after I get a letter from a wife three years dead?

I still had the letter in my pocket, and I leaned against the door staring at it. It was so perfect, that handwriting. Slight tilt to the left, flowing but not overly-fancy, and far more legible than mine ever was. It was her handwriting, and more importantly, it was her words. I knew that as well as I knew anything else about her. I could hear her speaking them to me in my mind, with her voice.

So was it really her after all? Only now did I doubt it in the slightest. But as I folded the letter and put it back in my pocket, the things I had seen so far flashed across my mind in an instant, just too fast for me to catch any in particular except for the Pyramid Head. I was knee-deep in **** and sinking fast, there was no question about that, except why. The answer was the letter now in my pocket. The letter that appeared out of nowhere yesterday morning, its arrival heralded with what felt like a miniature earthquake. It felt too real to be a hoax, and I continued to believe that despite the house of madness I seemed to be trapped in.

And this particular room of that house quickly proved to be as mad as the rest. The very first thing that caught my attention was the television set in the corner on the opposite side of the room. It was an old console unit, it looked like the one we had when I was growing up, old, bulky, and unremarkable. Except, that was, for the large crimson stain that spread all over the top and halfway down the front, dark and evil-looking in contrast to the snowy static that blared from the screen.

Even from this distance I was pretty sure what it was I was seeing, and from ten feet away I was more than pretty sure. Blood soaked the television set, an explosion of it. Dripping gore leaked down the sides and the screen, still mostly wet and fresh, judging by the sheen from my light upon it. Some of it had begun to congeal though, and within it were specks of white and chunks of milky gray and pink, some of them revoltingly large.

There was a chair parked in front of the television, a ratty-looking old thing upholstered in ugly yellow plaid. On the floor behind it I could see skid marks left on the dirty, dusty floor, indicating that it had been dragged towards the television quite recently. I really didn’t want to look at this macabre display anymore, and I was about to turn away – I would have just walked right off – except, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a human arm dangling limp over the chair’s arm. If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have looked. I could have safely ignored it. But once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it. I couldn’t stop myself from getting closer now.

Curiosity killed the cat, my mind told me.

I knew even before I got close enough that I didn’t want to see what was in that seat, that I would very much regret doing so if I did. That knowledge did nothing to stop me from doing it anyway. Boy, did I ever wish it would sometimes, and now in great particular.

The limp arm was attached to a very limp, very dead body. Said body was soaked in even more blood and gore than the television screen in front of him. The top of his head was an utter ruin of skull shards and pulped brain. Even now I could tell that this wasn’t a suicide, the angle was completely wrong. He’d have to have been shot in the back of the head for any of this to make sense. The position of his body seemed wrong too. He sat in the chair, relaxed, almost comfortable. I don’t know for sure if that meant anything, but it was creepy.

Nothing, however, was as bad as when I saw the man’s face, when I really gave it more than just a cursory glance. The eyes were open and the mouth hung slack, the whole face distorted in utter shock and surprise that was a huge contrast to the absurdly relaxed look of the rest of his body.

That wasn’t what unnerved me so much though. It was the face itself. I knew that face. God knows I’ve seen it enough times. And once I saw that, once I realized what exactly I was seeing, I choked on my own breath. No way was I really seeing this. No way was I seeing the obliterated face I was seeing. I couldn’t look any more, I had to stop. If I kept staring at that face, I would lose it. I would lose whatever was left of my mind, too much to even end my misery. I’d fall to the floor and babble like a lobotomy patient until I starved to death probably. Because that face was…

I ran. Not towards the hall, even then I had the presence of mind not to go back that way. I ran into one of the bedrooms. It was the only way out that I could see, the only escape from the terrible scene in front of that television. That face. That horrible, ruined face. Oh God! Even now in my nightmares, after everything that happened, that probably sticks with me more than anything. But I didn’t fall to the ground sobbing again. I couldn’t do that. Even now I was beginning to come to grips with the reality of my situation. I kept encountering one thing after another that was bending my sanity just that much further, and if I succumbed every single time, I had no chance of figuring out what was going on, and no chance to find Mary. That was my focus. I yanked the photo out of my wallet and stared at it, the photo’s gloss reflecting the harsh glare of my flashlight. Mary. She was why I came here, fake letter or no. I took a deep breath and returned the photo to my wallet.

I found myself in a small room that was in bad disrepair, paint flaking and wallpaper peeling off of every wall. The room itself was completely empty except for a clock against the far wall. It was a grandfather clock, and an old one at that. It was probably quite a beautiful-looking item once upon a time, but it was as much a victim of neglect and age as the room around it. The wooden frame was chipped and the glass on the doors was almost opaque with dust and dirt.

I noticed that the section of the wall behind the clock was in considerably worse shape than the rest. It seemed as though the clock was concealing a gigantic gouge in the wall, one large enough for me to fit my body through, as I could trace the jagged edge of the demolished wall all around the frame of the clock. I could get through if I could get the clock out of the way, and that didn’t seem like a hard task.

Yet, when I tried pushing the clock, it did not budge, not even an inch. I threw my weight into it, lowered my shoulder, and charged it, and was rewarded with a sore shoulder and nothing more.

I looked down at the floor, to see if it had been anchored somehow. There were runners on the floor, extending to the left of the clock’s base, one runner for each pair of legs. It was designed to be moved, apparently, but it wasn’t. I could see nothing blocking the runners. They looked pretty clean except for the layer of dust that pretty much covered everything in this whole building. Who would design something like this? I was in no position to guess, but it was blocking a way out, and perhaps the only one. It seemed too coincidental that it happened to be locked in a position that covered a hole in the wall that obviously was not intended to exist, but what could I do except find a way to move it?

I lay on the floor and inspected the runners more carefully. I couldn’t see any sort of catch that prevented movement, likely meaning I couldn’t just trip it with my hand. I stuck my hand as far as I could fit it under the clock and fumbled around. I felt no latch or lever, but I did feel something, a piece of paper, it felt like. It was pretty far back, but with a little work I was able to clamp my middle and index finger on it and pull it out.


It was a poem.

“Three different sizes,

time on the run.

Three young men circlin'

round the sun.

Henry is short and

very, very slow,

Scott can't stop,

he's always on the go.”

It didn’t make much sense the first time I read it, until I thought about it. Henry’s short and slow, Scott can’t stop, on the go. It was describing the clock, or rather, the hands on the clock. My suspicions were confirmed when I saw the note scribbled on the back, in a different hand: “The scars of the past shall remove the nail that stops Time.”

I stood and brushed the dust off of my clothes, then I pulled open the glass door on the front of the clock. It was stopped at about 7:20. With my finger I turned the minute hand clockwise, looping it around. When I passed 9:10, I heard a very loud click. At first, I wondered if I had broken it, but when I turned it back to 9:10, I heard it again.

I closed the door and pushed again from the side. The clock slid smoothly along the runners. The hole was now exposed, and I poked my head through to see if there was any threat inside, hoping that if there was, it wasn’t standing right there. I shone the light around, but the new room was almost as empty as the one I was in. Holding my breath, I squeezed my body through the hole. It was a pretty tight fit, and I caught my shirt on one of the exposed mini-beams.

This new room held nothing of interest whatsoever. It was completely devoid of furnishings except for a battered old TV tray in the corner. It was also completely devoid of things that go bump in the night, so it wasn’t a total loss. There was only one door, leading to the hallway. If my guess was correct, I was very close to where the red pyramid thing was standing before, and I really had to screw my courage together to push the door open even so much as a peek. This time I had the pistol in my hand. If it really was standing out there, I wanted to be as prepared as I could be, especially if it turned out to be as hostile as I felt it would be.

I finally pushed it open ever so slightly, holding my breath and feeling a dread sort of anticipation I don’t think I’ve ever felt before, ready to empty the clip at a moment’s notice.

The hall was empty. There was nothing in either direction. I stepped out, my gun arm almost completely extended, but there was nothing, no sound, and definitely no sickly red glow. My breath released in an almost explosive burst, and I almost laughed at myself. Not because I was afraid, I had every reason in the world to be afraid. I laughed because if I had fired that weapon one-handed, I’d probably have broken my wrist from the recoil. I knew enough about firing handguns to know that the one-handed crap you see in movies is bullshit.

I holstered the gun in my belt and continued to the end of the hall, as it was the only way to go. Providentially, the blue door at the end was in perfect working order, and it opened into a stairwell. I pulled out the map, scanning the first floor. And I almost cried with happiness. There was a way out! I couldn’t believe my luck! I shoved the map back into my pocket and raced down the stairs. At the bottom was another blue door.

And it was locked. The knob turned, but the door did not give. It was bolted shut.

My euphoria suddenly crashed, and now I wanted to cry for a very different reason. I pounded the door in frustration. It was made of steel, and was quite solid. There was no shooting this lock off or kicking in the door. No amount of action hero crap was going to solve this one.

Goddammit!

There was still the third floor, and I climbed the stairs toward it simply because there was nowhere else to go. This too had a blue door, and unlike the one on the first floor, this one opened quite easily.

I didn’t see anything inside, but I could hear, and I knew this hall wasn’t empty. There was a raspy tapping sound and that strangled choking sound, which I recognized as belonging to one of the straight-jacket monsters. I placed the plank on the ground, it would be useless in such cramped quarters, and instead held the handgun, this time with a correct grip. Closer and closer I inched, and I could hear that it was actually moving away from me. I was about fifteen feet inside when I saw it, the flashlight reflecting its oily sheen as it lurched aimlessly down the hall. I raised the gun and aimed at its head. I was only about six feet away, and I was good enough. The shot was deafening in the small hallway, and it made my heart race even though I was expecting it, but the shot was a good one. The bullet passed right through its head, sending a small shower of blood and ichors flying. The creature dropped to the ground, twitching and heaving convulsively. I almost thought to just let it die, until I remembered when that last one nailed me after I assumed it was finished. I gave it two solid kicks, one striking its head and the other its torso. The torso kick was rewarded with a sickening wet crunch. The monster shuddered and finally lay completely still.

I found myself standing outside of room 307, and the door was open a crack, though I could see nothing inside. There was a light on though, and I could hear some sort of sound inside. I tentatively poked in the door to see, the gun still tight in my grip.

The door opened into a small alcove, and it prevented me from seeing into the whole room right away. A few steps forward placed me where I could see. And I found myself looking at something that made me wish I hadn’t taken those steps.

It was here. That red pyramid thing was here. The waves of fear and anger radiated from it as strongly as before, if without the same focus, because this time it wasn’t staring me down. No, it was actually rather busy. It held a mannequin in its hands, one of those four-legged monstrosities that I encountered downstairs. It was pressing the thing against a counter in the kitchen nook, and I could see another mannequin behind it, lying limp against the counter. And the pyramid head was thrusting his body at the one that he held, moaning as it did so, an impossibly low, almost dinosaur-like moan. It was **** the monster. I know that sounds crude but I can think of no better way to describe it. It was savaging the mannequin sexually. The mannequin was thrashing violently, obviously not at all willing to be a part of the action.

Just when I thought I saw it all…

My breath caught dead in my throat and I stood there for about three full seconds, shocked stupid and scared as a puppy, watching this grotesque **** scene play out five feet in front of me. Suddenly, the pyramid head dropped its weakly flailing victim to the ground, and that brought me out of my shock enough. I looked around wildly, looking for some way, any way out. I should have run for the door, but the first escape I saw was a linen closet. I leapt inside and quickly closed the door. I could see through the slats at the pyramid head. It still faced the sink, and I wasn’t sure if it saw me or not, but was turning. It took two steps forward, and then stopped, flailing about itself. One of its red-stained hands grabbed at its odd-shaped headgear, and the other grasped out blindly in front. It groaned and screamed, but only for a few seconds. Then, it seemed to compose itself and started moving again, a slow, plunking movement. It took a second for me to realize that it was coming right at me.

The flashlight! ****!

I completely forgot to shut it off, and it was doubtlessly shining bright through the door slats, providing anything that had eyes a large, glowing sign pointing it right at me. I panicked. My imagination was providing me with many unpleasant scenarios that could possibly take place if it got me, **** hardly the least among them, but there was no way out. It was too close, it could easily grab me if I tried to run.

I raised the gun and aimed at its head. If this was the end, I wasn’t about to go down without a fight, which was an amazingly courageous thought considering how close I was to a complete mental breakdown at that moment. I fired the gun, fired it as fast as I could, each shot punctuated by a flash and deafening blast. I fired all nine shots, emptying the clip and never taking my eyes off of the monster. I ejected the clip and fumbled in my pocket for one of the extras I had found with it in the shopping basket.

I couldn’t tell how badly I had damaged the pyramid head, if at all, but it did scream and thrash about some more. I finally grabbed a loaded clip and slammed it in, but the pyramid head turned away from me and plodded towards the door. I heard him push it open hard enough to slam it into the wall.

It was gone.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2010, 04:07:52 am by Mutou Yami » Report Spam   Logged


All Hail The Strogg!
R.I.P. Paul Gray - April 8, 1972 – May 24, 2010.


"Stay...
 I Need You Here, For A New Day To Break...
Stay...
I Want You Near, Like A Shadow In My Wake...
Stay...
Here With Me... Don't You Leave...
Stay...
Stay With Me, Until The Day's Over..."
I love you Mutou Yami... Forever.


Long Live, Mr.Yamaoka Akira, The Silent Hill Legend.
Mutou Yami
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« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2010, 04:10:11 am »

Chapter Eight
The Foul Altar

My head was ringing.

Firing the gun in such an enclosed space is a really bad idea under normal circumstances. Granted, it was necessary this time, what with the pointy-headed spawn of Hell lurching my way, but it’s murder on the ears.

I looked out into the hallway to see if the pyramid head was really gone, and I was satisfied. There was no evidence of anything moving out there. I ducked back inside 307 and closed the door, wanting to give myself time for my ears to start working again. The blasts had effectively deafened me, and it would be a bad idea to venture out like that. The lack of light made eyesight an unreliable sense, and since I entered the apartments, my ears had definitely been the bulwark of my survival.

While I recovered, I searched the room, keeping a wary eye on the two mannequins. They looked dead, they weren’t moving at all, but neither was the one that ambushed me in 205, and that one nearly knocked my block off. I had no desire to take on two at once. Thankfully, neither one so much as twitched the whole time.

A quick search of the room revealed two items of interest, and both of them were inside of my little closet sanctuary. One was a fully-loaded clip of ammunition, and the other was a key with the word COURTYARD etched on the head. The clip was not the correct type for my gun, but the ammunition inside was, so I emptied the clip and fed the bullets into the empty that I spent fighting off Pyramid Head. Pennies from heaven, it felt like. Satisfied that I found everything the room had to offer, I exited 307, the ringing not completely gone but receding to a manageable level.

I proceeded north along the hallway, careful to step over the corpse of the straight-jacket. I heard no other signs of life, and the radio in my pocket was silent.

I reached the end of the hallway, and I peeked around the edge of the corners to observe any threats, when my right foot slid out from underneath me. My grip on the wall was strong enough to keep me upright, but I still stumbled and barked my knee on the wall, which smarted dully.

A small piece of metal lay on the ground nearby, certainly what I had almost tripped on. I reached down and grabbed it, not allowing myself to believe how lucky I might be.

It was a key, and attached to it was a tag on the ring with FIRE ESCAPE written in marker. To my right, the hallway was blocked by iron bars, which only now seemed significant. This was the key that little brat kicked away from me earlier! My luck seemed to be on a rollercoaster to be sure, what with things going from okay to rotten and back so quickly, but at least some breaks did go my way. I wondered which way I wanted to go. I only saw one fire escape in the whole building so far, and it was likely this key would open it, but I was also curious about the courtyard. Both seemed possible exit points, and assuming that the door at the end of the hall wasn’t in the same state of terrible disrepair many of the building’s doors seemed to be in, I could probably get to the courtyard just as easily.

In the end, the courtyard won out, though I had to double-back down the hallway and retrieve my plank before I went on. It was too versatile a tool to leave behind. And it seemed as though my small streak of luck hadn’t yet abandoned me, for the door leading to the east stairwell was wide open and inviting.

I stepped through with hesitation. If Pyramid Head went this way, I didn’t want to be following too closely behind him. But the stairwell seemed empty, at least up here, or at least, I could hear nothing.

The second-floor entrance was blocked by tons of debris, but the front door in the lobby was open, swinging gently. I saw out of the corner of my eye that I wasn’t exactly alone down there. A straight-jacket monster lay crumpled on the ground, and I knew this one would be no threat. It seemed as though someone else had gotten to it first, and whoever did seemed to be packing some large-caliber heat. When I shot the one upstairs, the bullet penetrated the head and disabled it. This monster’s head was missing whole pieces. Whatever gun was fired at this one had some huge bullets inside, for it had torn away entire chunks of its head, and one apparently blasted its entire foot off at the ankle. No way was it that little kid. This gun had balls, and even if I could assume that little kid could use a gun, this one was too strong for her, the recoil would send her little body airborne. I grinned at the mental image of that. Teach the little brat to stomp on my hand.

The fog outside was as thick and soupy as before, although the yard seemed blessedly empty. I crossed the front lot towards the west entrance, and I seemed to be alone. Even the gang of straight-jackets that forced me here in the first place appeared to have lost interest and moved on. The dumpster was still blocking the entrance gate, and the west entrance was still open.

The lobby was unchanged, and I passed through straight to the back, and the door to the courtyard. The key fit and the door opened into more fog. There were no monsters immediately visible, but a few steps forward brought my radio to life. The static was shrill and soft. I started towards the swimming pool, and the radio noise got louder and more intense. Over it I could hear tapping, and a lot of it. Straight-jackets, a group of them nearby. I was hardly in a mood to tangle with even one of them, much less two or three, and I retreated.

The courtyard was completely enclosed on all four sides by brick walls, so climbing out here was completely out of the question, but there was a second entrance that led into another part of the complex. It happened to be the part that led to the exit I had noticed upstairs, the one that I couldn’t reach because of the locked steel door. I approached that door, holding my breath and preparing for the worst.

The door did open, but the joy was very short-lived, for the supposed exit was at the end of a short hall directly in front of me, and I could instantly see that I could forget all about that. It seemed as though the ceiling itself had collapsed right in that hall, plaster, brick, and a support beam forming an impenetrable barrier to yet another escape.

A loud blast of sound made me almost jump right out of my skin. It came from the south, and it repeated again about two seconds later. I knew the sound. Gunshots, from a large piece. I was willing to bet I found the person who blew away that straight-jacket in the east lobby, and as I approached the south end of the hall, I found two more straight-jackets lying dead in the hallway, both showing obvious signs of abuse at the end of what looked and certainly sounded like a goddamned hand-cannon.

Room 105 was the last apartment, and I opened the door, feeling a little hope. Obviously, someone else was trapped in this nightmare, someone who had some **** weaponry, and possibly someone with answers, who could explain what turned this little town into Hell on earth.

I didn’t see anyone in the room at first, nor did I see any dead monsters, and for a moment I thought that I entered the wrong room, that the action was taking place next door in 104. But a closer inspection of the room proved that I was in the right place, particularly the kitchen.

A small refrigerator sat in the middle of the kitchen nook. It was positioned at an odd angle and the door was wide-open. Strange, but not until I gave it a second look did I even know the half of it. The kicker was the distinctly human feet I saw poking past the edge of the door.

Those feet, I found, were attached to a body. The body appeared human, and not quite man-sized – perhaps large enough to be a teenage boy - and was in terrible shape. It was in utter ruin, and it had no recognizable features whatsoever. A thick gummy stain of blood and gore pooled around the body and smeared most of the fridge’s interior, as though someone had tried to stuff the body inside. I didn’t dare touch it, but I didn’t need to. I was sure this poor bastard hadn’t been dead ninety seconds ago. The blood was still wet, and its coppery scent was all that I could smell, no rot or decay.

I turned away from the scene, thoroughly disgusted and suddenly feeling far less anxious to meet Dirty Harry and his hand-cannon, when I heard a new sound, a wet, strangled sound. For a split second I thought that perhaps my friend had missed one of the monsters, but it was coming from one of the adjacent rooms, and the noise repeated. Hearing it again dispelled the notion. It was wet and chunky-sounding, but it was almost certainly human, as I had heard it myself less than an hour ago when I was on the giving end of it. It was the sound of someone throwing up, and rather violently.

There was only one door that seemed accessible, and I opened the door. My hand itching to dart for my pistol, but I thought better of it. Best not to antagonize the guy if it came down to that.

The door opened into a small bathroom. My attention flew straight to the toilet, for a body was perched over top of it. I found my guy, and he was apparently feeling under the weather, for he was blowing chunks into the john, completely oblivious to my presence. He was a big boy, big and quite overweight, two-sixty, two-seventy at least, and he wore a striped shirt, short-pants, and a cap turned backwards with greasy blond hair poking out wildly from underneath it. Boy’s clothing, in other words. It looked absolutely ridiculous on his massive frame and probably would have even if he weren’t so big, because he looked to be in his twenties. The whole display, coupled with the puking, was so absurd that I had to stifle a burst of laughter. For I saw the gun on the floor next to the toilet, and it was almost as large as I thought it would be. I wasn’t about to laugh at a guy carrying one of those.

He continued to vomit for another few seconds

Where was it all coming from?

and finally appeared to get himself under control. He wiped his mouth with a chubby arm, and looked over at me, squinting at the flashlight. He had beady eyes and a piggish face, which fit, I guess. He turned back to the toilet, and finally spoke, the words muffled.

“It wasn’t me! I didn’t do it!” he said.

“What are you talking about?” I said, not wanting to let on that I saw the body.

“I swear man, I didn’t do it!”, he said, “That guy was like that when I got here!” Well, considering all that I’d seen so far, I had to admit it was possible. Yet, I know I heard shots fired here…

“Well, I’m just glad to see another human being,” I said, “My name is James. James Sunderland. Who are you?”

The man hesitated for a moment, as if unsure he wanted to respond. Finally he did.

“Ummm, I’m Eddie. And I… yrrrk!” He heaved up some more. Good lord, but he must have had a better lunch than I did. Or a larger one, at any rate.

I decided to try and carefully inquire further. “Eddie. What’s going on? There’s a dead body in the kitchen, looks like someone tried to stuff it in the fridge…”

“I told you!” he yelled, interrupting me and looking right at me. “I didn’t kill the guy! I didn’t kill anyone! I swear to God!”

I wasn’t entirely sure I believed him, but I wasn’t going to press it any further. I decided to change the topic, for there were a few hundred other questions I was interested in knowing answers to.

“Just what the hell is going on in this town? I haven’t been here long, but it seems like the whole place is a damn disaster area. Do you know what’s up?”

Eddie shook his head, which was once again aimed at the toilet bowl. He coughed up a little more and finally answered me. “I don’t have any idea, man.” He paused for a moment, probably expecting more. When none came, he continued. “I don’t live here, you know. I’m from Pleasant River, just over the border, you know? I got here a few hours ago, but the place was already like this when I got here.”

“You haven’t seen a guy walking around wearing a red headgear, have you? Shaped like a pyramid? Nasty looking, intimidating.”

“Nah, I didn’t see nobody like that. But I did see some monsters, and they scared the crap out of me, so I ran in here.”

I shook my head. “It’s not safe here either. I’ve been seeing monsters all over the place. You should get out as soon as you can.”

Eddie’s vomiting had subsided, and now he sat on the floor, looking at me. “Yer probably right. What about you?”

“I have something I need to do here, but once I’m done, you better believe I’m getting as far away from here as I can, and preferably to a police station.”

His eyes widened a little at that, but his expression remained otherwise.

“Why don’t you come with me?” I asked. Two guns would definitely be better than one, the kitchen scene aside.

“Nah. I think I’m gonna stay here for a bit. I shot one of them… you know, those things. Out in the hallway, yeah? All that blood, and that smell, it makes me sick as hell.” He turned back to the toilet, presumably awaiting another stomach turn.

“Alright then, Eddie.” I said. “You watch your back, okay?”

“Yeah, you too,” he said, and I left, closing the door gently behind me.
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« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2010, 04:12:05 am »

Chapter Nine
Always Another Way

It took little to get me away from Eddie. I didn’t know if he was telling the truth about the body in the fridge. He did admit to killing the monsters in the hall outside the room, and I certainly couldn’t fault him for that, but that body in the room sure as hell didn’t look like any monster to me. It wasn’t right to assume he did kill the guy for any reason besides perhaps fright. God knows there were enough moments since I came to town where I had been jumpy enough to possibly pull the trigger on someone unintentionally. Nevertheless, he made me feel quite uncomfortable, even beyond what he did to his roommate. I was glad to put distance between us.

There was little left for me that I could tell. The fire escape on the second floor seemed to be the final option, and I was anything but unhappy to finally utilize it. I re-entered the main building and ascended the stairs.

In the hall, I heard the tapping of a straight-jacket, one that I didn’t think had been there earlier, but it was distant, and in the other direction. Good. I dug around in my pocket and fished out the fire escape key. It slid in with a little resistance, apparently it hadn’t been used in quite awhile, but when I turned it, I heard the satisfying click of the lock turning. I almost allowed a bit of a smile to creep across my face as I turned the knob and pushed the door open, squealing on its old, rusty joints.

It fell off of my face before it even had time to fully form.

There was no fire escape. That first step was a good twenty-five feet down. Instead, I found myself staring at a large brick wall. It seemed as though the fire escape didn’t survive the construction of a newer building next door. There was perhaps a three-foot gap between it and the Woodside building, and directly across was a wide-open window. I groaned in frustration, though I have to admit it sounded less like a groan and more like a strangled cry. This was my way out, apparently, and I had no desire to stick around here any longer.

It didn’t turn out to be as difficult as I thought it might be, pulling myself across that gap. With barely any strain, I gripped the window frame and basically jumped. I landed on the floor inside of the new room, my fall punctuated by the dry crunch of broken glass beneath my shoes.

It was a pretty pathetic room I landed in, that was certain. The only things in here was a broken-down old bed that reeked of **** and a closet sliding door that half hung to the ground. I stepped over the bed and crossed down a pitch-black hallway. There was a bathroom directly ahead, and the smell from in there was even worse, so I went down the absurdly-narrow hallway instead. It emptied into a dark, crummy room that was mostly empty, save for a large steel safe perched precariously on an old dinner chair. Nothing else of interest, so out the front door I went.

I found myself in a hallway not very unlike the apartment building next door, but this place looked to be in considerably worse shape, and I suppose the entire place had its own varied collection of bad smells, I’d had plenty since stepping through the window. The smell out here was of rotten wood and flashing, and the source was obvious. Puddles of water soaked the floor everywhere, water that was as black as old motor oil. There was water rot on the walls as well, and probably more than a little mold, making me wonder just how safe it was to even breathe the air. Woodside had its own share of neglect, but it seemed to permeate this building with greater malignancy. The stench of decay was thick and solid in the air, and I had to breathe through my mouth to keep from gagging.

The map I had was no good to me here, and it was disconcerting to suddenly have no idea where to go. Best thing to do was to assume there was a front door and look for that, I figured – for all the good it had done me in Woodside. I tried a few doors, finding one with a note taped to it, though it was obviously around for whatever flooded the place and was completely illegible. I finally spotted a door that looked distinct from the others, and not a moment too soon; the radio started squealing, and in the distance, the light reflected off of something standing still about fifteen feet away. It looked like another one of those mannequins, but I didn’t stick around to make sure. My collarbone was reminder enough of how that went last time. I ducked inside the white door.

The upper levels were blocked off by a good ton of debris that had cascaded down the stairwell. Down I went, the plank gripped tightly in my right hand. I opened the door on the first floor, but it hit something before it opened enough to allow me through. Whatever it was, it was solid, but it moved when I pushed harder. The third time, I threw most of my weight at the door, and the obstruction fell away completely. The force of the movement made me stumble and almost plant my face into the wet, pockmarked wall. I didn’t dwell on that much though, once I saw what had been blocking the door.

A mannequin. Couldn’t tell for sure if that was what I had seen upstairs, but there was no doubting it this time. It lay flat on the ground, thrashing and twitching just like the other one. I didn’t waste any more time staring at the thing. I kicked it, three, four, five savage blows right to the middle. On the fifth kick, my foot punched through the side of the disgusting thing, drenching the tip of my shoe with dark crimson. It shuddered, and finally died.

I made for one end of the hallway, hoping to find the exit, hoping not to find any more animated obstructions. None on this end, and when I made my way to the other end of the hallway, I found none there either. No exits on the ground level. Normally I would just give a bitter laugh and complain about shitty building design, how the hell would someone get out of here in a fire? Right now, it was a little more pressing to get out though, and I didn’t let my inner sarcasm rise here. No point.

It was with a sigh that I resigned myself to trying doors, and as with Woodside, most of them here were boarded over or made inaccessible thanks to busted lock mechanisms. Room 109 was the first to open, and the room it opened into was about as clean and inviting as any I’d seen so far, which is to say, it was a train wreck. A ceiling beam was hanging from above, inches above an old TV cart and a rank old sofa.

There didn’t appear to be anything unusual in here, until I saw the door. There was one, boards nailed across it like so many others, but directly next to it was a white door, and it was what stood out, for it was perfectly white and clean to the point of being immaculate. There wasn’t a speck of dirt or old water stain to be seen on it. It looked like it had been installed perhaps five minutes ago. Too intriguing to pass up.

The door opened into a small bedroom, so I assumed from its size. There was no bed, though, no furniture except for the small table next to the door. There really wasn’t much of anything except for the huge mirror that dominated the opposite wall. It definitely added the illusion of doubling the room’s size, but it also reflected the image of a woman on the ground, a woman in a grey sweater and red pants. It only took me a second to recognize the outfit, it wasn’t but maybe an hour or two ago that I last saw it.

She lay on her side on the floor, parallel to the mirror and staring into it, looking lost for a second, until I noticed her head **** slightly as she noticed my presence. I also noticed she held something in her hands, something that I found rather chilling. It was a large butcher’s knife, and even from here I could see blood stains spotting the blade. She was clutching it very tight to her body.

“Oh… it’s you,” she said. Her voice sounded dull and rather dead, quite unlike the scared kitten she seemed to be back in the graveyard. I didn’t like what I thought I was seeing.

“Yeah,” I told her, “I’m James.”

She sighed, as if my presence was something unwelcome and she had to bear it. “Angela,” she finally said.

“Angela… okay,” I said, and I hesitated for a second or so before I continued. “I don’t know what you’re doing with that,” inclining my head towards her knife, “but don’t be rash. There’s always another way.”

A sneer crossed her face. It was slight, but I caught it in the mirror. “Oh yeah? That’s a funny thing for you to say. You’re just like me, you know. On the run. It’s the easy way out. People like us don’t deserve any better.”

It was a shock to hear her group me in with her. I may be slightly off my rocker for being her, but I wasn’t sitting on the floor clutching a knife, either. Frankly, I was a little offended, and I made little effort to hide it.”

“I’m not like you. You don’t know me.”

She laughed. “Hah! You sound like you’re scared. Did I touch a nerve?” Before I could respond, she rubbed her forehead, and then she spoke again, to apologize, and it was creepy how completely different her voice was. Gone was the sharp, bitter Angela, replaced in an instant by the meek little mouse Angela I first met.

I accepted her apology. Then I asked about her mother, as I had remembered her being the focus of her search here. Anything would have done, to get her thoughts away from me.

“No, I haven’t found her. I can’t find her anywhere. She’s not anywhere.” Meek mouse still.

“Well, you’re here… is this where she lived? Did she live in these apartments?” The question sounded a little funny in my ears even as I spoke them. I didn’t look like anyone had lived here for a good decade or so, though it could have been that long.

She just shrugged, and turned back to the mirror.

“She did live in this town, right?” I asked.

She abruptly got up and faced me, looking straight at me with a wild kind of desperation. “How did you know that?” she asked, and the tone of her voice was strained. I couldn’t tell if it was surprise or accusation I was hearing, not that either would have made sense.

“Take it easy, it was just a guess. I mean, you’re looking for her here; it only made sense to me. How else would I know?”

“Yeah.” Disappointment.

“So I’m right, then?”

She turned back to the mirror again, but didn’t lay down. Instead, she buried her face in her hands for a moment. “Sorry. I’m just tired.” This conversation was going nowhere fast.

“You are here looking for her, aren’t you?” I asked.

She seemed to think about that for a second. “I’m sorry,” she said once more, and it seemed as though the topic was closed. Then she looked at me again. “Did you find that person you came here looking for?”

I shook my head. Then, just in case, I pulled out my wallet and showed her the picture I carried. “Her name is Mary. She is… she was my wife.” I corrected myself in mid-sentence, but she didn’t seem to catch it. She just looked at the photo and shook her head.

“Worth a shot anyway, I guess. Anyway, I don’t really know why I’m looking for her here, or anywhere at all.” She inclined her head at that. She caught on this time. “She’s… she’s dead.” I added.

Her eyes widened.

“Don’t worry,” I said, putting my hands up, “I’m not crazy. It sounds crazy, but… ah hell, I don’t know. I don’t think I’m crazy. I know I’m not.”

The look on her face told me that she definitely did not agree. She stood up, still gripping the knife, and tried to advance towards the door, her eyes still locked on me. “I’m going to look for mama,” she said, with a slight bit of determination.

I moved ever so slightly to block her, and she flinched visibly. Her grip tightened on the knife, and I’d lie if I said that didn’t worry me. She made it this far somehow, and those nasty things out there hadn’t gotten her. Perhaps she was better with that knife than she appeared to be. Yet, that look in her eyes made me wonder if she’d just as soon use it on a human…

“Do you want me to come with you? Now I know what you were talking about when you warned me back in the cemetery. This place is a god damn insane asylum.”

“Oh, no, no, that’s okay. I’ll be alright on my own. I don’t want to slow you down.” She moved quickly past me towards the door.

“What about that?” I said, pointing at her knife. Damn, but that was disturbing. Her response was no small shocker to me.

“Will you keep it? I don’t want to hold onto it. If I do… I don’t know what might happen…”

Fantastic idea, Angela. Fantastic. I wholeheartedly agree. I reached out to take the knife from her. I abruptly jerked my hand back, as she screamed and turned the knife on me. Her eyes were wild, wild and totally insane for a second. My heart was racing like a motor in overdrive and I started sweating. I didn’t want to hurt her, because she was obviously not all up there, but I wasn’t in the mood to get cut or stabbed, either.

I was very relieved when she backed away and placed the knife on the small table, apologizing profusely and babbling about being a ‘bad girl’. She then slid out the door, in a strange and graceful serpentine motion that was completely unlike her usual jerky, almost tentative movements. I didn’t move a single inch until I heard the outer door open and close again, and even then, I had to will myself back into motion, and that motion was just as wooden as hers. My hands were shaking and I felt the strong and sudden urge to urinate right where I stood.

I took a few seconds to compose myself, and I did the best I could, but as my fingers closed around the knife, they still quivered, and I didn’t know what I could do about it. I stared at the blood staining the blade, examining both sides. I wondered briefly if it wasn’t the blood of some real person, and not the monsters that she had surely seen in town. I had no way of knowing short of asking her, and in all honestly, the idea was anything but appealing to me. I hooked the knife in my belt and made sure it was secure. As I did, I noticed something on the floor, something that looked like a piece of paper. I bent down to retrieve it.

It was a photograph, and it had been ripped clear in two. It was a family portrait, apparently, and in it were four happy, smiling people, a mother, father, a daughter, and another child. I couldn’t tell what the other kid was because the tear crudely bisected the face. The father, a large, burly guy, was alone on the left side, and the mother and daughter alone on the right. It had to be Angela’s, for her description of her family matched more or less what this photo told me. She was looking for her mom, and they were together on one half of the photo. I also remember her mentioning her father and brother, and I couldn’t help but wonder if there was some bad blood going on. I didn’t know and I doubted I’d find out anytime soon.

I dropped the torn photo on the floor where I found it, and took my leave of this strange room and its strange mirror. I wasn’t unhappy to be rid of it, either.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2010, 04:12:26 am by Mutou Yami » Report Spam   Logged


All Hail The Strogg!
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 I Need You Here, For A New Day To Break...
Stay...
I Want You Near, Like A Shadow In My Wake...
Stay...
Here With Me... Don't You Leave...
Stay...
Stay With Me, Until The Day's Over..."
I love you Mutou Yami... Forever.


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« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2010, 04:17:10 am »

Chapter Ten
Sirens

I found myself back in the hallway, once again with no clear goal in mind other than to start checking doors again. I had to get my bearings back, and then I started towards the other end of the hall, having already checked everything on this side.

I didn’t make it a dozen paces before the radio in my pocket suddenly came to life, and the noise alone made me jump, to say nothing of why it was making noise. I held the plank out, ready to attack whatever was there.

The trouble was, I didn’t see anything. The flashlight showed an empty hall in front of me. I could see the wall at the end of the corridor, and there was nothing of any size between it and myself.

Then I saw, at my feet. The mannequin! I backed up slowly, my eyes locked tight on the wretched thing, waiting for it to spring to life and attack.

It didn’t stir. Didn’t even so much as twitch, and from my experience so far, they rather enjoyed that particular activity. I quickly stole a glance behind me, but there was nothing there either. This worried me a bit, because I had been growing to rely upon the radio as sort of an early-warning system and…

I heard something above the radio, a rough, wet crunching sound. I turned the radio’s volume knob down a notch, and I was able to hear it clearly. It sounded like something was chewing on dog food, almost.

Then the mannequin did twitch, but it wasn’t the same kind of twitch. The movement was weak and limp, and a second later, I saw that it was being moved. I ran my light along the shape of its vulpine body. It got as far as the hole that I had kicked into its side moments earlier.

The wound I had caused it hadn’t been larger in diameter than perhaps a tennis ball. Now, I saw a hole that was easily twice as large, and it was torn open. The mannequin’s strange flesh was flayed and chewed along the edges, and the meat underneath seemed to have had the same thing happen to it. The wound was nearly hollowed out.

Suddenly, the twitching intensified, all of the movement emanating from the mannequin’s savaged torso. I watched as it settled down and came to a stop, backing away from it as I did.

It was a good thing I did too, because not even a second later, a sudden, pealing crack issued from within the corpse of the mannequin, and then something burst out of its torso, suddenly and violently. A spray of meat and gore flew in every direction, a little of it hard enough to hit my cheek. I paid it no mind, though, because my attention was firmly rooted on what had emerged from the mannequin’s body.

Slick as it was with blood, the creature I saw on the ground was quite recognizable, at least, in a primary sense. It was an insect, and by far the largest I have ever seen in my life. It looked very much like a cockroach, and it was enormous, almost the size of a small puppy.

The cockroach stood where it landed, not making a move save for its dripping antennae darting about. It was a revolting sight to see, but fascinating in its own way. Perhaps this was because I didn’t view the thing as much of a threat.

It moved, and it instantly destroyed my misconceptions about its ability to threaten me.

I’ve seen my fair share of cockroaches in my day. My old man was the superintendent of an apartment complex in Ashfield. I lived there with him until a year after Mom died, and I worked for him there a little longer besides. I had most definitely seen my share of cockroaches. Typically, they don’t bother me much.

But then again, I’ve never seen a cockroach large enough to eat a cat. And I’ve never seen a cockroach leap into the air, either. Not until today. Lot of things I hadn’t seen until today.

The roach launched itself directly at my leg, and I didn’t even have half a chance to react. It landed on my left leg, just below the knee. I felt it attach itself to my leg with long legs that were surprisingly powerful and barbed hook-like tips. And not even a half-second later, I saw its alien head burrow into the fabric of my jeans. Then I felt pain. It was biting me!

I shook my left leg madly, trying to dislodge it from my pants, the image of the hollowed-out mannequin still very prominent in my mind and causing me no small measure of panic. I was yelling, almost screaming, as I tried to remove the attacker before he did some real damage. It was attached quite firmly though, and shaking my leg didn’t even make it pause.

In desperation, I reached down and grabbed the thing with my right hand, trying my best to keep a grip despite the magnificently uncomfortable feeling I got from touching it. With a savage bit of effort, I yanked the roach away from my leg. I felt a sharp tang of pain when I did, and I also felt the denim tear slightly, but I was successful.

It was hard not to drop the bastard, slick as it was, not to mention, the terrifying feel of its free legs contorting and scraping the exposed flesh of my hand. I leaned back a bit, and threw the thing right into the wall. It struck with a dull thump, and left a tacky stain of blood on the wall where it hit. Hitting the floor on its back, it flailed its long, impossible legs wildly. The bloodstain on the wall came from the mannequin’s remnants (and my own?), but not from the roach itself. It seemed uninjured, but it was incapacitated. On its back as it was, it would be unable to right itself. I smirked in spite of myself. Little bastard. Little **** bastard.

It struggled uselessly as I stared at it. It still struggled as I slowly lowered my foot upon it. For the briefest of moments, it caught a hold of the sole of my shoe, but I gave it no time to capitalize. My leg drove my foot into the ground with all the force I could muster.

The roach did not splat, as I expected it to. Rather, it burst open, as if I had done the same thing to a ripe watermelon. It crushed under my weight, and several streams of blood and ichor blossomed around it, making it look for all the world like an obscene flower. A fresh wave of stink followed, strong and putrid.

I yanked up the leg of my jeans. The little bastard got me, all right. There was a ragged wound about the size of a quarter on the inside of my calf. It was bleeding, there was a nice spot of it already on my jeans, and it didn’t hurt so much as it stung. The thing had torn right through my flesh and had started on the muscle underneath, thankfully not getting too far, but it was still amazing, in a sick way. Had I waited just one or two more seconds, it could very well have crippled me.

The bleeding wasn’t terribly bad, and I used the receipt tape from the diner as a makeshift bandage. It wouldn’t do for long, as I couldn’t find anything to make it stick, but it was better than it sticking to my pants.

Having finished, I found myself facing Room 105, and it turned out to be one of those rare few doors that actually functioned. Behind door 105 was yet another empty old hovel that looked like any of the other dozen or so that I’d been in already. The only notable item I saw was a wooden hinge box on legs, propped up against the wall. It was old, but rather beautiful and looking far better-kept than it had any right to, considering where it was. I would have totally ignored it had there been anything else in the room to distract me, but besides the hinge box, the place was completely empty. Why would such a thing sit by itself like this, unless there was something special about it?

The box was locked, I found, and quite securely. Curious, I lifted the thing and gave it a good solid shake. Something inside bounced around inside, something small and solid. I set it back down and examined the front. There was a large brass plate on the face of the box, so bright it might have been polished as recently as yesterday. My flashlight played across the plaque, and I saw that it displayed a rather long and confusing poem about snakes, mistresses, prisoners, and a set of coins, nothing that made the least bit of sense to me.

I saw then that above the plaque were a series of steel-rimmed depressions set into the wood, each about the size of a quarter. Examining it further, I found nothing that I would have called a keyhole. Not that I had a key for it, anyway.

Then I remembered the poem mentioning coins, and it hit me: this was a puzzle box of some kind, and there must be pieces to it, pieces that would fit into the depressions on the face.

I made another thorough search of the apartment, but I found nothing at all that resembled a coin. They could be anywhere, even lost somewhere, and what was in here that was so important anyway?

Then, I got a flash. Sometimes the correct answer is the most obvious. I grabbed the lockbox by its mahogany stilts and swung it into the exposed edge of a wall, the part that has steel supports. It took about a dozen tries, but finally the box cracked, and two blows latter, it was damaged enough to where I was able to pull it open with my hands, cracking the surely expensive wood even wider. I sure hoped the owner didn’t mind too much.

Sure enough, a small piece of cool metal fell out of the broken box and into my hand. It was a key, one that appeared well-used, and attached to it was a tag that read “Stairwell North”.

I couldn’t believe my luck. The stairwell I had been in earlier was on the east side of the building, and it had no exit thanks to the strange positioning of the two buildings, but this north stairwell might very well have a working exit… and even if it wasn’t working, I would make it work. I twirled the key on my finger as I left Room 105 and its sole, shattered possession.

I tested the key on every door on the first floor that didn’t obviously seem to be an apartment, but it fit none of them, so I made for the east stairwell and the second floor. I had the sudden notion that perhaps this odd stairwell was accessible only from the third floor, which made it inaccessible. I had to really swallow back that thought. So far, I had been finding ways to advance, even if some were unorthodox. This would be no different, I told myself. The power of positive thinking, and all that. It didn’t stop nervous sweat from breaking free on my face and arms. I couldn’t wait to be free of these apartments.

I had my hand on the knob of the door leading to the second-floor hall when I heard a noise on the other side. It was a wet, sloppy click-click-click, loud and regular, but muffled through the door. Something was moving behind it, and I had a rather good idea of what it was. The mannequin clicked its way down the hall, away from me, the sound dimming as it retreated. I opened the door a crack and peeked out just in time to see its shrouded form disappear in the distance. I stepped out into the hall. I had a comfortable distance to get away now, if I had to. I went down the hall in the opposite direction, hoping my friend was alone up here.

Doors lined the hall, some intact, some boarded up, one of them wide open but leading into some sort of structural collapse. The one I found at the very end was unique, covered with peeling sky-blue paint and featuring a small window. It was smeared and filthy, so I couldn’t see through into what lay beyond, but it didn’t matter. I knew I found my stairwell. I pulled out the key I found downstairs, only to find it unnecessary. The damn thing was already unlocked. I went inside.

It was very dark inside, lacking the ambient light the hallways had thanks to the odd functioning ceiling light. That was the first thing I noticed. The second was a sound, a very strange sound. It was a low, guttural groaning, sounding only vaguely human, and it puzzled me for perhaps a second and a half, and then filled me with complete terror once my flashlight pinpointed its source and I recognized it. My radio chose that moment to come to squealing, scrimming life, as if to hail the coming of Death himself. It wouldn’t be inaccurate in the least.

It was him.

He had his pale, blood-crusted arms around a form that I recognized as a straight-jacket. The slick, slender monster writhed and struggled uselessly as Pyramid Head did something to it, something that, as best I could tell, seemed like it was finishing what I had interrupted the last time our paths crossed. Pyramid Head seemed to be shoving the straight-jacket’s head into his own crotch, forcefully, and not with the repetitive motion that might have suggested sexuality. It wasn’t sexual in the least, to me. It was horrifying though, and all the more so because it made no **** sense whatsoever.

I don’t know how long I stood there, transfixed by what I was witnessing, but Pyramid Head was definitely more alert than I was. He abruptly dropped his victim to the floor, where it thrashed about chaotically and mindlessly. Alertness returned to me when I saw Pyramid Head bend over and close his hands around an object on the ground. Lifting it seemed to cause him quite a bit of effort. Once I caught sight of it, I could see why.

It was an enormous sword.

It looked to be a good four feet long from hilt to tip and almost an entire foot wide. It came to a point about a foot from the tip. It was stained with something scummy, blood, dirt, filth, all three and more, most likely. It had to weigh a good fifty or sixty pounds, awkward weight to carry in the form it was in.

He didn’t bother carrying it, he merely dragged it. The blade screeched as it scraped against the concrete floor. Scraped on the floor as it was being dragged, dragged towards me.

That sound, horrible though it felt on the ears, was a godsend, as it shocked me into motion. The plank was in my hand, and I had already managed to drive him away with the Glock once, but the only thing on my mind right now was getting right the hell out of here and as far away as I could, and there was one obvious option: the stairs!

I almost choked as soon as I saw them, on disappointment or on terror, I couldn’t tell. Water flooded the entire stairwell. It was brown going on black, oily, smelled wonderful, too. A smell of ****, bile, grease, and of course, defeat. That was my way out.

I had no time to dwell on it, though. The huge knife and its wielder still scraped inexorably towards me, and I had to get away from it. I could worry about the stairs later. I could climb out the god damn windows if it came to that, but that feeling from before, that buffeting, bludgeoning feeling of fear beat against me, that same gut-wrenching sensation I got when I saw him through the bars next door, and all I could think about was escaping it, getting away from it, and purging the feeling however I could.

My hand flew right to the doorknob. Turned it. It didn’t budge. Not even when I put my weight into it.

Locked.

No way. No **** way!

I wanted to vomit again. I wanted to cry. Lay down on the floor, roll into a ball, and cry. It was a miracle that I didn’t, right then and there. I’d like to say that it was because I didn’t want to die without finding Mary, that sounds nice, but hardly true. I think it was noting that the scraping had ceased, and when I looked at Pyramid Head, he had the great knife behind his back, unmistakably in a position to attempt an overhead chop right in my direction. The reality of it read more like my self-preservation instinct kicking in just in the nick of time.

And how true that was, for I darted towards the opposite corner of the room, getting away just as Pyramid Head heaved his giant blade over his head and crashing down, striking the concrete floor instead of my soft flesh. The room brightened for a split second as sparks cascaded from the impact.

I tossed the plank aside, it would be of no help now. Instead, I drew the Glock and held it, trying to hold as steady an aim as my quaking hands would allow. The effort of the swing left my adversary vulnerable for a second, and knowing I’d never have a better opportunity, I pulled the trigger.

The muzzle flash was blinding, the blast almost deafening, but over them I heard a metallic clank and I saw the Pyramid Head jerk his head to the side, not from pain or injury, but from surprise. He turned towards me, first his head, than his whole body. One foot stepped forward, then the other. Then the scraping of the knife on the ground. Completely undaunted.

I fired the gun again, this time at his chest. It was a perfect shot, there was no way I could have missed. Yet, I saw no wound appear, no blood flow. Pyramid Head slowed for perhaps a second, but it did no more good than that. Still he came at me, step by ponderous step, single of mind and purpose.

The gun barked again, and again, and again still. I fired repeatedly, and I’m sure after the fourth or fifth shot, my sweaty palms and quivering hands prevented me from even having a chance of a good hit. At least two shots clearly went wide of the target. The sixth struck him in the leg, and it might as well have been a mosquito bite, for he stopped moving and drew the knife behind him, readying for another chop, looking for all the world like the headsman from hell.

I was backed into the corner now, there was no way I could dodge it again in time, and my rational mind wasn’t even entertaining the possibility. I fired my gun again. Seven, eight, nine, ten, right at its head. I clearly heard each one clang as before. That finished off my clip, yet that information had not yet reached my brain. Nothing did. It was stuck right where it was, telling my trigger finger to keep pulling and pulling, even though I was getting nothing but dry clicks as a reward for the effort. I was still dry-firing the empty weapon as I slid to the floor, my mouth gibbering and my eyes snapped shut with terror as I waited for the blade to fall. In the darkness I only saw Mary’s face, and I wondered if I would see her in the next life…

I waited for it.

Waited.

I wondered what it would feel like. Would I feel it? Would I feel, briefly, what would feel like to be cloven in half, before my brain shut down for good?

I waited. I waited and I felt nothing. But I did hear.

A siren. A loud, mournful sound, this siren was. Unless I missed my guess, it was a World War II-era air-raid warning. Puzzling, certainly, but not enough to get me to open my eyes. I was still waiting for the end.

The siren moaned on and on, and under it I heard a squeal, the sound of metal dragging on concrete. Splashing, rhythmic and deliberate. The squealing turned into a clang, clang, clang, which muted more and more each time and finally ceased. The splashing noise stopped a few moments later, and everything was still for a second.

I heard a door open.

My eyes snapped open, and when they did, I saw a room that was completely free of Pyramid Head. I also saw the old blue door I had entered. I didn’t know if it was still locked, but it was certainly still closed. I wondered what I had just heard, but then a few seconds later, I looked down the stairs, and what I saw flooded by body with a strange mix of relief and apprehension.

The water was draining, very quickly receding. The level decreased at almost a foot every other second, and within thirty seconds, I heard the wet rush as the last of it emptied out to wherever the rest had gone. My escape route was revealed to me. It felt to me like it must have felt to Moses when God parted the Red Sea for his Israelites. The only problem was, Moses had his Pharaoh behind him. Unless my ears deceived me, mine had already gone down before me.

I descended the stairs, which were slick with water and scum, careful not to take a tumble. At the bottom I found a wide open door, and this door did not lead into another hallway or room. It led out into the outside, the fog still hanging as thick as before.

I didn’t care one bit. A more welcome sight I couldn’t have imagined right then and there. There was no sign of Pyramid Head anywhere, and that only made things better. The noise of the sirens faded and dimmed as I stepped outside, back into the town, and hopefully towards my destination.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2010, 04:17:33 am by Mutou Yami » Report Spam   Logged


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« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2010, 04:22:10 am »

Chapter Eleven
The Child and the Butterfly

The air outside was just as frigid as before and still shrouded in that inexplicable fog, but despite it all, it felt good to be out of the dead, hollow confines of those rotting apartments. It felt good to have some open space and sunlight, obscured as it was. I flicked my flashlight off, remembering this.

The town map was in my hands now, and it told me the best news I could have hoped to hear. The building I had just escaped was the Blue Creek Apartment complex, and the exit I found deposited me almost directly across the street from the park! Little jog around the corner and up the street and I’d be there, no problem!

That, of course, made me wonder what sort of problems I would encounter on the way, for something that looked so freakishly easy. Maybe there was an army of straight-jackets lying in wait around the corner. Maybe the ground caved in somewhere between here and there. Maybe Godzilla would make an appearance, just for the hell of it. I mean, if you’re going to play crazy, you might as well go all-out.

I walked up the alley at a slow pace. The radio was silent and I could see nothing out of the unusual, but there was no such thing as too careful. It was at that moment that I decided to adjust my grip on the plank, as I had done almost constantly since picking it up…

…and it wasn’t there. Then I remembered. It was laying in that stairwell in Blue Creek, laying with that twisted freak Pyramid Head was having fun with when I walked in on them. I thought of going back to retrieve it but decided not to. Certainly there was a suitable replacement out here somewhere, possibly something even better, and besides which, I had no desire whatsoever to go back in there. He might be waiting for me. I wouldn’t go in even if I knew he wasn’t, though. I had enough of that place for a lifetime.

Fortunately, no army of inhumanity lay in ambush around the corner. There wasn’t much of anything, really. The alley continued far beyond my range of sight, and there was still nothing unusual. Damned if it didn’t almost feel peaceful, strange as that sounds. It looked empty and also lonely, in a sort of way. I’d take it. Considering the company I’d managed to find lately, I’d definitely take it.

And then I heard something, carrying lightly over the slow, mournful howl of the wind as it glided down between the buildings (and that strange sound of the giant door swinging on its hinges, that was still here too, distant and yet omnipresent). It was hard to catch at first, floating just at the edge of my hearing like ether, but a few more steps forward brought clarity. It was humming. A child, humming a tune.

There was a wall on my left, maybe ten feet in height and nondescript in every way except that there was graffiti pasted all over… no, that’s not entirely accurate. Not graffiti, but children’s drawings, done in paint. I saw a large, happy sunflower and an equally large, equally happy bear, among other things. It was a mural, of sorts.

My eyes shot up to the top of the wall. A small girl sat on the edge, a piece of paper in her hand, her short little legs kicking lightly into the air.

I’ll be damned…

I recognized her immediately, and anger welled up inside of me. She didn’t appear to notice my presence. Good.

“Hey, you!” I shouted to her. I had hoped to give her a bit of a scare from that. I’m not normally an ****, but she deserved it. However, she was one cool customer. She just looked sideways at me, and her look was far closer to annoyance than fright or even surprise.

“It was you back there in the apartment buildings, wasn’t it?” I continued, with a little less intensity, “You stomped my hand!”

“Oh yeah? I dunno. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t.” She smirked, by God. The kid certainly wasn’t short of nerve.

“Well, why the hell for? I didn’t do anything to you.”

“Cause I felt like it. It’s a free country.”

I felt like showing how that worked both ways, but I declined. I was the adult here.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“I ain’t tellin’ ya.”

“How come?”

“Don’t feel like it.”

“What’s that in your hand? Is that a letter?”

She stood up and faced me, her hands on her hips, as if to scold me. “What are ya, playing Twenty Questions? This letter ain’t none of your business. You didn’t love Mary, so why do you care?”

I felt stunned, absolutely stunned. I said nothing as she turned and climbed down the other side of the wall and out of sight. Finally I yelled to her, asking her how she knew Mary’s name. There was no answer, not that I was expecting one.

How surreal that was. Could she have been talking about someone else, some other Mary? It’s not as though it was an uncommon name, by any means. There were millions of Marys in the United States, you have to practically push them out of your way when you walk down the street. But there was no way I could even begin to believe that. She obviously knew my wife from somewhere, and me by extension. She was definitely talking about my Mary. But who was she, and where would she know this girl from?

Mary was a housewife, in the literal sense of the word. She didn’t hold a job, she didn’t need to. I did well enough for both of us. She held up the house while I did my thing, and since holding up the house was nowhere near a 24/7 ordeal, she had a lot of time for extracurricular activity. She did spend a great deal of that time working with the church, organizing activities, bake sales, pig roasts, that children’s fair they held every spring. Maybe that’s where she knew the kid from. God knows there were plenty around to get to know. But why on earth would the kid be here, hundreds of miles from home and on her own? How, why, all these questions, and the kid seemed absolutely reticent with the answers. Every new encounter with people in this town seemed to pile the questions on.

There was nothing to be done about it, though. The kid was gone, and the park lay ahead of me. Best to try and solve the problems with which I had at least a semblance of understanding.

The alley went on for no more than a tenth of a mile, and it was quite sudden when the buildings stopped and the stone-paved courtyard began. Earth-colored masonry formed the half-walls, and they were lined with bushes and shrubbery, and a little bit of litter, a cigarette butt here, a candy wrapper there. I hadn’t been here before in such strange conditions, but I recognized the general design immediately.

Even if I didn’t, I soon came to a large sign with “Rosewater Park” engraved upon it, to erase any doubt. I continued forth. The radio remained silent, and I wasn’t even really concerned about the icky creature population at that moment, anyway. Going straight would take me to the edge of Lake Toluca, and with each step, my stomach turned circles and pirouettes, as if I could look inside and see a whirling dervish straight out of a 40s movie. An amusing thought, but what I was really feeling was this strange and strong anticipation. This sense of anticipation was locked in mortal combat with an equally-powerful sense of apprehension. That small, niggling bit of my mind that wanted to pretend it was still rational was telling me how crazy I was acting. Maybe it was right, but I was fifty country miles too far in now. There was no turning back.

The hedges and bushes gave way to iron railings and a concrete base. I stood at the railing, near one of those coin-operated binocular devices that were stationed every dozen feet or so, and I stared out to the lake. Through the murk I could just barely make out the waves of Toluca, softly lapping against the concrete below me. It was beautiful and calm, even now, but a lot of the appeal was lost without bright sunlight, warm air, and the sounds of other human beings. Still, I felt a wistful twinge, and suddenly I felt that wicked longing for Mary again, a forceful reminder of how much I missed her.

And what are you here for, Sunderland?

Of course.

I headed west along the lakefront, that mixture of fear and anticipation multiplying to the point where I thought I might lose it. I had no idea what to expect. I had little idea that I should expect anything. I mean, for Christ’s sake, I’m here looking for a woman who’s dead. Three years dead. And on the strength of one letter? One short letter that came from out of nowhere and could have come from anywhere? Maybe I was insane.

The closer I got, the more certain I felt I was getting closer to something. Something, whatever, I couldn’t tell and I could only hope. Yet, that little bastion in my head, the rational regiment, kept shooting off warning flares in my skull, turn back now turn back now turn back now but that wasn’t even an option. I don’t know what awaited me, but I could not go back to my lonely, tired existence. It was worth nothing to me, and the more I saw here, the truer it rang. My future, whatever it might be, was here. I had to know, I had to know, dammit. Was there life for me beyond…

“Mary!”

Her name came out of my mouth completely unheeded, and hearing it shocked me just as much as if it had come from some unseen stranger behind me. Yet, my attention was completely facing forward.

It was her! Christ on his holy cross, it was her! Her size, her build, the shape of her body, I knew it like I knew my own God damn name.

She turned to me. And I think my internal organs picked this moment to all crowd into my chest and try forcing their way up my throat.

That fiery feeling instantly glazed over with a sheet of ice as Mary faced me. It was her, and yet, there was something strange, something wrong… She looked similar to Mary, extremely similar, to a scary degree, but…

“No… you’re not…” I said.

She flashed a smile at me, one that showed amusement but lacking any illusion of warmth.

“What, do I look like your girlfriend, big boy?” she said. Her voice was sultry, and boy, did that ever fit. She was dressed in a way, well, definitely not in a way that Mary would dress. Mary was no prude, a fact to which I could personally attest, but she favored modesty in public, and this lookalike in front of me was wearing clothing that certainly skirted some borders of good taste.

“No,” I answered, tentatively, “not my girlfriend, my late wife.” She said nothing, just kept giving me that look that spoke of amusement and mild irritation, and I went on, circling her as I did. “You look so much like her, it’s creepy. I mean, your hair, your clothes aren’t anything like hers, but your face, your body… You could almost be her twin, you know?”

“My name,” she said abruptly, “is Maria. I’m not your wife, and I’m sure as hell not dead.” The smile dropped for a second, and then popped right back into place. She grabbed my hand and placed it on her chest, bare above the neckline. “See? Feel how warm I am? Don’t feel like a ghost, now do I?”

I could indeed feel how warm she was. She certainly wasn’t a ghost, no **** there. I felt distinctly uncomfortable touching her though, and she must have seen it, because she let me go, that smirking smile deepening if anything.

“You’re really not Mary,” I said, as if stating common knowledge. My new friend shrugged and brushed past me.

“I already told you, handsome. They call me Maria.”

“Yeah. Sorry, I guess I got a little confused.” Boy, if that wasn’t ever the understatement of the century. Still very much in effect, actually. I felt all those emotions from before suck down into a pit somewhere deep in my bowels. That fear, that anticipation, the wonder that I might find closure here on the shores of Toluca Lake, and all I got for my troubles was a few brushes with death and this strange doppelganger that looked so much like Mary that I wondered if she wasn’t some living, breathing punchline to the sickest joke I could conceive. I started walking away, with no idea whatsoever what I was going to do now.

Maria caught me from behind as I did, looping her arm around mine. I could tell that she didn’t stay strangers with anyone for very long. That was probably true, and in more ways than one, if her manner of dress was any indication. She got familiar in a hurry.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m looking for Mary,” I said, and I guess that was still true.

She looked at me sideways. “I thought you said she was dead. I’d think you would know exactly where to find her.”

“Well, I don’t know. I got a letter from her, without a doubt, it’s from her, and she said she was here in Silent Hill, waiting for me in our special place.” I felt silly telling her that, it was the reasoning of a mad man, no two ways about it.

If Maria agreed though, she gave no indication. “This is your special place? This park?”

“It was the first place that came to mind, yeah. Her and I used to come here all the time, and this was one of our favorite spots.”

“Oh yeah? Well, I certainly haven’t seen her around here. This isn’t your only special place, is it?”

Suddenly, my mind flashed, and a memory came back to me. I saw Mary in that room, the same room we booked every year, 312. Nicest suite available, the manager told us that first year, and by God, he was no kidder. I suddenly remembered it inch for inch, as if I had been in there five minutes ago instead of three going-on four years ago.

“No,” I finally said, “There’s also the hotel, too, the one that’s across the lake. I wonder if it’s still there after all these years.”

“The Lakeview Hotel?” she asked.

“Yeah, that’s it.”

“It’s still there, last I saw.” She paused, and that salacious grin appeared again, looking almost predatory. “So that’s your special place, huh? I’ll bet it was.”

It wasn’t so much what she said, but her tone was so mocking and almost condescending, it felt like she was toying with me and it was pissing me right off. The hotel? Consider me there. I started away from her again.

“Hey, wait a minute!” she called. I ignored her, until she grabbed me again. “Don’t get so sulky, I was only kidding. You know which way to go, right?”

“Sure do,” I answered, and kept walking. I heard her following me, and I tried not to acknowledge it. She didn’t grab me this time, instead, she tried to get alongside of me, bumping me with her shoulder. I finally looked her way.

“What, you’re going to follow me?” I said, not sounding quite as irritated as I felt.

She had less trouble hiding her feelings.

“Oh, I see, so you were just going to leave me here, all by myself, huh? Isn’t that nice of you?”

“You were already here,” I said, “I have my own way to go.”

“Oh yeah, it’s like that? There are monsters everywhere! Maybe you’re a he-man, but frankly, they scare the crap out of me! You’re just going to leave me here alone with them?”

The guilt trip. Classic. Yet, it was working. Damn it for her looking so much like Mary!

I stopped, and she leaned against the railing. “I’m all alone here. I haven’t seen another soul until you came along.” She paused, gauging my reaction, probably. I kept my expression neutral. She picked up on it right away. The salacious look reappeared like a mask. She wore it well, probably had plenty of practice. How many men had withered under that look? I wasn’t going to be one of them.

Then, she swerved her body in a subtle motion, smooth as velvet it was, and it undoubtedly was intended to look sexy.

“You said I looked like Mary, right?” she said. My stony expression crumbled in an instant, and she knew it, she knew it and went for the kill. “You loved her, didn’t you?” She smiled, and looked me dead in the eye, and it was a look of almost pure malice, a look I never once saw upon Mary’s face. It was frightening.

“Or… maybe you hated her.”

Now my expression was the opposite of stone. I was hot. Who in the hell did this ****, this, this tramp think she was, that she could talk to me like that? I’d been taught from the get-go that striking a woman is one of the most dishonorable acts a man can perpetrate, and I followed that to the letter my entire life. I didn’t break now, but oh, how close I came. How terribly close I came.

My anger deflated fast, though. Yes, this woman was a **** towards me, and she was definitely strange in many ways, but she was right, it was a dangerous place we were in, and that same sense of honor that kept me from landing my fist in her face made me decide to keep her close, but only until I found a safe place for her. The sooner, the better. My conscience felt soothed.

She read it all on my face, I knew without having to ask. She was a piece of work, all right. Mary could do that, too. It was so hard to keep a secret from Mary, good or bad, she always knew, even if only deep down. It made surprising her a challenge, but a worthy one. There were too many similarities at work here, probably too many for stupid coincidence, but I decided that was the easy answer for now and I would stick to it. When I continued west through the park, Maria followed. I didn’t say a word to her, but neither did I try to stop her.
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Stay...
I Want You Near, Like A Shadow In My Wake...
Stay...
Here With Me... Don't You Leave...
Stay...
Stay With Me, Until The Day's Over..."
I love you Mutou Yami... Forever.


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« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2010, 04:26:23 am »

Chapter Twelve
The Long Road to Nowhere

It was a strange feeling having someone tag along with me through the town. Had you asked me at practically any point before this if I would have preferred a partner as opposed to going it alone, the answer would have been resoundingly affirmative. And honestly, Maria was the fourth human being I had encountered in the three or four hours since I got to town, and with the exception of the kid, she was certainly the most normal. I guess I would have preferred her over Angela or Eddie, as they were both at least a little on the loopy side.

Then there was also the kid. Part of me was totally okay with not wanting to be the escort service for the little snotnose, and the other part felt bad thinking that. Yet, she never appeared to be non-plussed. I can’t believe she would see any of the monsters I saw and still be able to act so nonchalant. ****, here I was, twenty-nine years old, and scared halfway to hell, but the kid seemed just fine, not scared in the slightest. It made no sense at all.

Yet, even though Maria was the most ideal travel partner I had yet to meet in this town, even she gave me this decidedly uncomfortable feeling. She was strange as well, if not in the same way that the others were. She seemed totally sane and in command of her mental facilities, yet I just felt a sort of vibe from her, an icy one. At first, I kept a fast pace, mostly to spite her for the hurtful things she had said to me. I might have kept doing it, too, but I just didn’t like the idea of her being out of my line of sight, so I slowed a bit and we exited Rosewater Park alongside each other. It was a quiet walk, so far. I felt no desire to speak to her, and she seemed to have enough tact to realize it.

Nathan Avenue stretched wide and long in both directions. We both stared as far as our sight would allow, looking for threats, but none made themselves apparent. Satisfied, I headed west, and Maria followed.

I decided that the safest course of action would be to stay close to the center of the road and keep my radio cranked to the max. It would give us both the best chance to evade any monsters we might encounter, by my reasoning. There would be no obstacles to prevent us from getting around one of them, and no place from which they could ambush. The radio would alert me before they could get close enough to do anything. Thus, we walked down Nathan, keeping as close to the double-yellow dividing line as we could.

If anything, it was a rather uneventful journey. Every so often the radio would buzz softly, meaning we definitely weren’t alone out here, but the local creepshow population seemed thinner than in the eastern side of town, and less determined. I heard perhaps five or six of them thanks to the radio, but we never saw any. Keeping away from the edges meant there were no landmarks to see, so it was impossible to mark our progress, but I had been down this street many times. I knew that before long, we would reach a small bank of streams that flowed from the southwest mouths of the lake and carried its silver waters along to places unknown, and there were bridges built to span them. From that point on, there wouldn’t have been much in the way of landmarks even on a crystal clear day, just a few houses opposite of the lake, until we reached the hotel and that amusement park that was across the street. I have to say that there was a little too much tension and residual fear in me to make it boring, but that’s as close as it ever came. And, even though Maria was with me, we didn’t say much to each other. I was still too pissed off, and she seemed to sense it, so we kept to just basics, “watch your step”, “boy, it’s cold”, that sort of thing.

Then, the asphalt under our feet suddenly brightened in color as it ceased being asphalt and became concrete and metal. We had reached the first bridge. And, we didn’t get another ten feet before we finally saw something distinctly unusual.

We didn’t really see the body, at first. What we did see was a long, pasty smear of blood that led to it, a smear that stretched a good six feet and ended in a pulpy mass that I can only describe as human, once upon a time. Maria turned green at the sight of it, and refused to even go near it. I probably wouldn’t have either, except that I noticed two things about this particular unfortunate: One, he was apparently carrying a gun and ammunition, as a pistol lie on the ground about a foot away from his outstretched arm. The second was that his other hand was grasped tightly around a large piece of paper.

I bent down and retrieved the gun. It was sticky with blood, which I wiped off with the flap of my jacket. Once it was mostly clean, I checked the magazine. It was also a ten-shot, and six of the 9MM bullets still sat in the rack. I offered the gun to Maria.

“No thanks,” she said. “I don’t know the first thing about them, and I’ve got you, crack-shot. I’ll be okay.”

Yeah, some crack-shot. Only now did I remember that the last time I used this gun, I had emptied it, and I had never bothered taking the time to reload the damn thing. Here we were, trotting merrily though this wasteland, and our sole means of defense would have been useless, as I would have raised it to fire without even thinking. Angry with myself, I slammed one of the loaded clips into the chamber, and fed the dead guy’s last six into my empty. I wanted to search him and see if he had any more, yet I was very hesitant to touch him. He hadn’t been dead long, a few hours at most, but he already smelled bad, and it was nasty even still. Yet, my desire to survive overrode my dainty senses, and I dug through the guy’s pockets. I came out with about thirty cents in change, a crappy little pocket knife, and two more loaded clips of ammunition. How incredibly lucky. I also kept the pocket knife. It was cheap and dull, totally useless as a weapon, but as a tool it might be handy.

Then I pulled the paper from his other hand, almost tearing it in the process, since it had been glued to his hand with dried blood (making me wonder just what the hell happened to him, he was literally drenched). I opened the roll and looked at it. Maria came alongside of me and peeked as well.

It was a map of Silent Hill, more detailed than the one I had. I would have kept it had it not been in such terrible shape. The area depicting Old Silent Hill was soaked stiff with blood and almost unreadable. The South Vale area was still in decent shape though, and it looked as though our new friend had tried to keep tabs on where he had been. A large X marked Nathan Avenue a little further down, with an arrow leading in the reverse direction and ending in a point that aimed at a small building labeled “Pete’s Bowl-O-Rama”. There were a few other marks, but none of them seemed to be important, being in areas I had no intention of visiting. I dropped the map, and the wind made it skitter across the pavement. We continued ahead.

We didn’t even it another fifty feet before we learned what the X signified. When I saw it, I almost literally felt my stomach drop to the bottom of my feet. I honestly felt like crying.

The bridge ended very abruptly, the concrete bending downwards to the point where it had been torn completely off. Steel support cables hung out limply past the edge of the broken concrete like beard stubble. The railing on the lakeside looked like a massive dog had chewed on it for a few hours.

“Motherfucker!” I yelled at the top of my lungs. I felt like I was being overwhelmed by a wave of futility and despair. It had all seemed so easy, so easy. Too good to be true, in other words. If God, or whoever was pulling the strings around these parts, was going to allow me to find what I came here looking for, He sure as hell had no intention of gift-wrapping it for me.

I felt a warm hand touch mine.

“Hey, James,” Maria said, “Calm down. Don’t go crazy on me now.” I looked over at her and for the first time, I didn’t see condescension or chilly mirth in her eyes, but a look of concern that looked completely genuine. The slight tremble in her voice made it sound even more real. She wasn’t Mary, despite the similarities, but when I looked into those eyes right then, I could’ve sworn they were the same eyes I looked into when I spoke my wedding vows. It was god damn uncanny.

It did the trick, too. I did calm down.

“So, what do we do now?” I asked.

“I don’t know. There aren’t any other bridges crossing here. Short of boating across the lake, I’m fresh out of ideas myself.”

That might not be a terrible idea, really. Still…

“That map pointed at the bowling alley. Let’s go there.” I said.

Maria looked at me sideways. “What are we going to find in a stupid bowling alley?”

“Beats the hell out of me. But right now I can’t think of anything else. Besides, he did mark it for a reason, there could be something useful there.”

She smiled at me, another one that didn’t ice my spine. “Maybe you’re right. Come on, let’s go see.”

We did exactly that. And as we passed the savaged corpse, I remembered that Maria had called me by my name, which was kind of funny since I didn’t remember telling her what my name was. I thought of asking her about it, but I didn’t in the end. I probably did tell her and forgot that I did.

Still couldn’t shake the feeling, though.

Pete’s Bowl-O-Rama was a little corner building, and it was definitely an authentic piece of vintage, judging by its size. I was never really big on bowling, and neither was Mary, but once or twice we still went for an evening or an afternoon, when we were still dating. Now, nobody in their right mind would ever confuse Ashfield, Massachusetts for a small hole-in-the-wall like Silent Hill. Ashfield was actually a rather busy little place, not quite close enough to Boston to be considered one of its suburbs. A bowling alley in a city like Ashfield is going to have at least twenty lanes and the works besides. Pete’s couldn’t be anywhere near that, it couldn’t hold six lanes to save its life. It was these kinds of differences that made you realize you were in a real, honest to God small town, and not one that merely thought of itself as small just because there was a large metropolis nearby.

I had the door open and was halfway inside before I noticed that Maria was making no attempt to follow. I turned to her, shooting her a glance that she obviously recognized.

“You go ahead, James. I think I’ll wait out here. Never cared to go bowling, you know?”

“Well, it’s not like I came here looking to hit a three-hundred myself. I’m just going to see if there’s anything here that we can use.”

“Yeah, okay. Do what you want. I’m not going inside.” She wrapped her arms around her body and shivered. She had to be cold in that skimpy outfit of hers, but until now, I hadn’t seen her show it.

She noticed me watching her, and shot me an annoyed look. “I’m fine. Just go, and don’t take too long.” I didn’t answer her, I just shrugged and went inside. She was a grown woman, she could do as she pleased.

The door led into a narrow lobby area, and it was a complete shambles. The floor was littered with a million fragments of broken glass, some of it from the door, some of it once belonging to the divider from the ticket area. There were only two doors, and I entered the one closest to me. It was the deathly silence that brought a little sense to me, and I drew the Glock, not wanting to be taken by surprise.

This looked to be a storage area and employee lounge of some kind. Old bowling balls, their once-bright colors dimmed with time, lined several specialty shelves, some of which had collapsed and spilled their contents all over the floor. This room looked like hell too, but this whole place didn’t look destroyed so much as it looked like a victim of long neglect. Had the bowling alley been abandoned when we were last here? I couldn’t remember. The first time Mary and I came, we joked about playing a game here, but we never did, and I don’t recall the place entering my thoughts ever again until I saw its name on the bloody map, the focus of an arrow. I wondered what was supposed to be here. I didn’t know. It sure as hell wasn’t our special place though, that much I was certain of.

I stepped through the room, treading carefully to keep from tripping over the garbage in the floor, when I heard a voice, close but muffled, coming from the next room. As I got closer to the door, I heard a second voice, both clearly human and both of them familiar to me. The first voice I heard was a husky, boyish male voice. Eddie, I was certain. The other voice was instantly recognizable, not just from the sound but from the tone, she was being as sarcastic and teasing to Eddie as she was to me. It was my little friend, the hand-stomping rugrat.

There was only one other door in this little backroom, and it led to the actual business area of the place. It was open a crack, but I didn’t enter right away. Instead, I listened to them talk.

“What’re you doin’ wandering around all by yourself, anyway?” That was Eddie, and his voice sounded a lot softer than it had when I saw him perched over the john earlier.

“I already told ya,” The kid said.

“Well yeah, I know that, but I mean, it ain’t safe out there. That’s why I’m carryin’ this gun.”

She paused for a moment. “It’s okay. I’ll be just fine all by myself.”

Eddie spoke again, and this time it sounded as though he was speaking with a mouth full of food. “I can come with ya, if you want.”

“No thanks,” she said, “A fatso like you would just get in my way.” No response from Eddie.

“So, whatdja do? Robbery? Murder?” She asked, a moment later.

“Nah, I didn’t do nothin’ like that. I just ran away ‘cause I was scared.”

“Scared?” she said, and her sharp edge was back, “You’re runnin’ from nothing? You’re just a gutless fatso, that’s all!”

“Hey, why do you gotta make fun of me for? I ain’t saying nothing about you!”

“Yeah…” Her voice had softened considerably. “I run away all the time, too. That’s sorta what I’m doing now.”

It wasn’t an apology, but Eddie seemed to take it for one, because he didn’t argue or raise his voice.

“So, uh, did you find that lady you came here looking for? God, what did you say her name was?” He paused for a moment, obviously trying to remember, and the kid didn’t offer him any help. “Oh yeah, that’s right, her name is Mary.”

I coughed. It was the quickest ad-hoc response my body could provide for the surprise I felt, hearing that name coming from his mouth. I pushed the door open slowly, feeling embarrassed for eavesdropping yet trying to play off as if I hadn’t been. It opened into the main lobby of Pete’s Bowl-O-Rama. My appraisal of its size from outside was generous, I found. There were only four lanes, and they stretched into the distance. The ends were dimly lit. It was sort of surreal to watch, and strangely enough, it was calming, even dreamlike.

I saw Eddie sitting at the scoring booth, and either he didn’t notice my presence, or didn’t care to acknowledge it. Atop the booth table was a box of pizza. Honest to God, the man was shoving pizza in his face. Where he managed to find it was totally beyond me. He was eating it, as I mentioned, and making noises of contentment as he did, like a child might.

The kid, however, was nowhere in sight. My presence obviously wasn’t much of a secret, after all. And only one person here could shed any light on the situation…

“Hey, Eddie?”

He turned to look at me very briefly, then turned his attention back to his food. He finished chewing and swallowed his bite, and to me it seemed to take an eternity.

“Oh… yeah, you’re… ah…”

“My name’s James. We met at the apartment building, remember?”

“Yeah, sure I do.” He took another bite of his pizza, a large bite that he tore off by jerking his head, looking for all the world like a lion tearing chunks of flesh from a freshly-killed zebra. I could picture a kid doing that, and it wouldn’t bother me. It was creepy to watch a grown man do it. Damned creepy.

“So, Eddie…” I continued, feeling just as uncomfortable as I did talking to him the first time, “I thought I heard someone else’s voice in here. You’re not alone, are you?”

“Nooo…” he said, drawing out the word as he looked to the floor beside him. My eyes followed his gaze.

A bowling ball rolled slowly across the hardwood floor, the soft, dull thrum barely noticeable even in the quiet din. It came to a stop about six inches from my right foot. At once, Eddie and I both darted a glance in the direction it came from.

Sure enough, there she was, leaning against the far wall, looking at the two of us. My mouth was open and Eddie's was full of pizza, but hers was drawn into a tight sneer, the look full of childish derision. I couldn’t tell if Eddie was the target, or if it was me. Maybe both.

She suddenly broke into a full, open grin and waved at us, and then made a beeline for a door in the corner. I yelled to her, telling her to stop, but she didn’t pay me the slightest bit of mind. The door slammed shut and she was gone. I was a little worried for her. I mean, the little **** had made my trek through the apartments quite a bit more difficult than it should have been, and she was taunting me by dropping Mary’s name on me when I was in a clearly vulnerable moment, but for Christ’s sake, she was just a little kid, and there was some very dangerous **** going on in this town. So far she had apparently been blessed with the devil’s own luck and had yet to run across any of the town’s unsavory new population, but that couldn’t be expected to last forever. She’d probably **** her pants if she came across Pyramid Head, and that was only partially a nasty thought. Much of it was rooted in reality. God knows I damn near **** myself on each of the three occasions I had the misfortune to make his acquaintance. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy, and the child was a brat and a half, but miles away from an enemy. She was in danger.

“Eddie!” I yelled, “Come on, man. We have to go after her!” I waved at him to follow me, and took a step forward expecting he would do just that. I stopped dumb in my tracks when I realized he had no intention of coming along. He simply sat at the scoring book and chomped on old pizza, a new slice flopping limply over his right hand. I stared at him for a moment, wondering what he was doing, but he didn’t mind me a bit. To him, there was the pizza, and the world might very well have ended three feet beyond him in any direction.

“Hey Eddie, come on! We’ve got to go after her!”

He paused to swallow his food, but made no attempt to get off of his ass. He just looked in my direction. “Why bother? Laura can take care of herself. She doesn’t need a gutless fatso getting in her way.”

Interesting, a name for the brat. “You said her name is Laura?” I asked.

“That’s what she told me.” He turned away and resumed his meal.

I was getting just a little pissed off here. The kid – Laura – could get herself hurt out there. I didn’t want that on my conscience. Of course, I wanted to get ahold of her because of that one provocative statement that I’m certain was about my wife, but there was, deep down, an honest concern for her safety. She was just a kid, after all. I had no idea why she was here or what she was about, hell, I just learned her name, but she might definitely find herself in over her little head. Apparently, Eddie held no such concerns.

“Eddie!” I said, my voice rising, “The town’s full of monsters! We can’t leave her on her own out there!”
“So go ahead then. You have a gun. You can handle it.”

I felt like hitting him.

“I can’t believe you’re just going to sit there and eat that damn pizza.”

I expected him to get pissed at me in return. I wasn’t really intending to bait him into an argument, yet I couldn’t exactly blame him if he took it for exactly that. He didn’t, though. When he responded, he sounded agitated, but calm.

“She said she was fine by herself.” And that, apparently closed the discussion.

“The hell with you, then!” I hissed, and I stormed towards the door and out of the alley. Eddie sat just as he had the whole time, eating a hot pie from Victory Pizza.

The door led back to the entry area of the place, and from there I let myself out the front door. I was surprised to find that it had gotten darker outside. The ever-present fog and mist, milky-white all along, had taken on a distinctly darker tone, along with a reddish tinge. The sun was setting. I wondered just how much worse things would be after dark, and of course they would be. That’s simply the way it works, isn’t it? Watch any horror movie. Once the lights go out, the **** hits the fan with great, renewed intensity. That’s when Jason suddenly appears behind you, or Freddy suddenly appears in front of you.

Or Pyramid Head, of course. I didn’t need to think about any over-the-top invincible movie monsters. I already had one of my own. What on earth was I going to do when darkness fell? I had to force the thought out of my head, just the notion of it filled me with fresh dread. I couldn’t prepare because I had no idea what I was in store for, so all I could do was be careful and stay alert.

I also noticed something else that made me instantly uncomfortable; Maria was gone. I called her name, but she didn’t respond.

I ran around the side of the building to see if I could find her, and I did just that. In fact, we almost knocked each other over, as we collided just as I turned the corner. I’m sure it was a rather humorous thing to see from someone else’s perspective, what with her and I bouncing around like characters in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, but it sure didn’t seem funny to me, not in the least. It scared the living **** out of me, because until my brain registered the fact that it was in fact Maria that I had collided with, that revelation was not an instant one, and for a moment I was dead certain I had just made very personal acquaintance with some shambling monstrosity from Hades. However, I had yet to encounter any such monstrosity that wore a leopard-skin printed skirt, a red sweater, and dyed its hair tips red. I was surprised, but I was enough on the ball to grab her hand and prevent her from taking an unnecessary spill. She said nothing, and in fact appeared to be out of breath.

“What happened to you?” I asked.

“A kid just ran out this way, darted past me and took off down the alley that way,” she said, pointing behind her.

Laura. Of course.

She grabbed my arm and pulled. “Come on, James,” she said, “We’ve got to find her!” I nodded agreement, and we took off down the side parking lot. She led me through a door in a rusty old chain-link fence, and we found ourselves in a small, cramped alley. It wasn’t very long in either direction, and it ended not perhaps forty feet from one end to the other.

The end I found myself at was strewn with old trash and debris, prominent among which was a variety of old liquor bottles, old labels that I was quite familiar with, like Johnny Walker and Jim Beam, and a clear bottle of Stolichnaya that seemed to have a little left. There was a gap between two of the buildings. I stared down that gap. I felt sure that was where Laura had gone, for it was narrow enough for her body, but certainly too much so for Maria or myself.

I turned to her and shrugged.

“Nope, I don’t see that happening either,” she said, a trace of that annoying smile creeping back for a moment. There was one door, but the knob refused to turn. Not broken, but definitely locked. I kicked it in frustration.

“Hey, calm down, tiger,” Maria said, and gently pushed me out of the way. I watched her as she turned her back to me, and appeared to reach into the front of her sweater. Intrigued, I leaned in closer to see what she was doing, only realizing after she leaned farther away that she mistook me for trying to look down her shirt. I stepped back and I could feel my face flush. When she was finished, she displayed for me what she found.

It was a key. I reached for it, but she pulled it back, and inserted it into the keyhole in the knob. She turned it back and forth several times, and I would have thought she was trying to jimmy it open if the movements weren’t so smooth and careful. Finally, the lock disengaged with a startling click, and together we entered the building.

It was dark inside. I flicked on the flashlight and had the gun out and ready, but to my surprise, Maria took the lead and led me up the stairs with a confidence and lack of hesitation that made me strongly suspect that she was quite familiar with this particular establishment. We went down a dark hall at the top of the stairs, passing another large pile of firewater bottles, most of them full. Seeing them brought back a fleeting sense of familiarity, and rightly so, for how often had I looked to Mr. Daniels in a glass to escape the hell my life had been descending into for the last several years? Too many times. Just looking at the bottles made my stomach clench.

We ended up in a large room that was lit by several neon displays, some advertising beer, one of them a curvy broad in a seductive pose over the phrase “Paradise”, which I assumed was the name of the bar right underneath, a small deal that seemed well-stocked, and one by the front door that read “Heaven’s Night.” There were tables and chairs and several booths, all with ashtrays and drink coasters, and some assorted other things here and there. But dominating the place was a stage, and the long brass pole extending from the floor to the ceiling left no doubts as to just what type of bar it was. I could almost hear the bump & grind music playing, the cheering of hormonal men, and I could definitely catch the sour, mellow scent of old beer in the air, the kind that sets into any bar on earth that sees years of operation. It was almost unreal, and it made me a little uncomfortable, especially when I thought about why someone like Maria would have a key to a place like this. Of course, considering her rather slutty manner of dress, it was hardly impossible to assume that she had herself been on that very stage, her long, coltish legs wrapped around the pole, slithering gracefully around it like a coiling python. Not a stretch by half, though I hadn’t the slightest intention of asking her, and she didn’t seem willing to put it forth on her own either. I followed her out of the front door.

A long, narrow set of stairs led down to the ground, and a few feet in front of us, the alley opened into another street, which the map told me was Carroll St. To our left, a large, shabby construction barrier had been erected, blocking access to Nathan Avenue. Neither of us really had any solid ideas about where to go.

And as we started south along Carroll, it didn’t take long for it not to matter a whole lot. The line of buildings didn’t extend very far, and they were replaced by a long chain-linked fence that enclosed a pretty wide-open area. Through the fog I could see a large building on the grounds, though the only hint I had to its purpose was on the fence. It was topped with rolls of razor wire. So, a secure area of some kind. A prison, maybe? Strange place for one, but while the map I had did display names for several key locations in town, this particular building was anonymous.

I almost crumpled the map when I heard the tapping noise in front of me, both hands darting in opposite directions, one to give me a line of sight and the other flying for my pistol, when I realized that the tapping wasn’t the deep ,rhythmic sound of a straight-jacket, but the light, fleeting tap of human feet. Children’s feet. Laura’s feet.

I took off running after her, and so did Maria, even calling her name. I got close enough to see her, and she had to have been able to hear and know we were nearby, meaning that she was ignoring us.

We followed her until the line of fence suddenly ceased, and became a concrete path that led to concrete steps. Laura darted down this path, up these stairs, and opened the large gilded door, slipping inside easily and closing it behind her. Neither of us immediately followed her inside. Instead, I looked at the sign that was displayed above the front door.

Brookhaven Hospital, it said, in large, beveled letters, complete with a little Red Cross insignia. A hospital. Of course I would have to end up at a hospital. As if I hadn’t spent the better part of several years in and out of them, with Mary and her sickness. I hate hospitals, hate them to death. I hate that smell that hospitals have, that weird, sickening odor that is an impossible mixture of sterility and death.

There was more, too. I had no idea why, but for some very strange reason, I experienced the briefest flash of deja-vu. I couldn’t explain it at all, and it was gone as quickly as it came. I shook my head of it, and together with Maria, I pushed open the fancy front door and we stepped into the cold, oppressive darkness of Brookhaven Hospital.
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« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2010, 04:30:15 am »

Chapter Thirteen
Angels With Filthy Souls

The lobby of Brookhaven Hospital was as silent and abandoned as anything else I had seen in the last few hours. The main corridor split into two directions, both going farther than my eyes could see, and there was a registration desk in front of us. I didn’t know just how expansive a place this was yet, but our footfalls echoed strongly, bouncing around wildly in the emptiness, and it gave me a good idea. I was actually thankful for the echoes, for hopefully it would help alert us to the presence of any threats.

It was a rotten place, to be certain. It had that same feeling that the apartments, the bowling alley, and other places around here seemed to have, that air of long neglect. That feeling that everyone got up and walked out of town, taking nothing with them, and leaving everything to the fickle winds of nature.

And, of course, the inexplicable children of H.P. Lovecraft that shambled around town. They ruled the roost here, now. Where did they come from? How long had they been here? I remembered that newspaper rack I had seen shortly after reaching the town proper, the newspaper that displayed today’s date, a newspaper that was printed on a local press.

And now I found myself in a hospital that had that displayed ample evidence of being ignored by people. I think it might have been because of where I was, a hospital, that it stood out so much stronger to me here. Hospitals are supposed to be sterile, as antiseptic as humanly possible, clean, white, and at least giving the illusion of invitation. Doctors who know it all and nurses who do it all. Or, doctors who are absolutely clueless. There are no shortage of those kinds of doctors. Trust me, I’ve met plenty of them.

Sterile was a word that might applied to Brookhaven once upon a time. If I had to judge by looks, once upon a time might have been sometime around when Eisenhower ran the show. Now though? Well, it wasn’t the same type of decay the apartments displayed. For one thing, it was pretty dry in here. There was a layer of dust on the floor, it kicked up in little clouds when we stepped on it. Also, the apartments looked ripe for condemnation, both buildings looked ransacked and priming for eventual collapse. Physically, this hospital looked in better shape, like it could one day be reopened without an undue amount of hassle.

For some reason though, this place seemed to creep me out a great deal more. It seemed so much more oppressive, the air heavier and filled not only with the wonderful scents of age and abandonment, but the underlying stench of illness, of blood, **** and vomit countered by the power of Lysol, and the result was something else new and unique, and possibly more disgusting than either. That smell, that hospital smell, it was still here. You had to be looking for it, you had to know what it was to even realize it was there, but nevertheless, it was there.

I tried to ignore it as we ventured deeper into this cavern of darkness.

Maria took an obvious approach, yelling Laura’s name. It echoed loudly through the empty corridors, but it was to no avail. If Laura heard us, she wasn’t responding. I was tempted to call out to her as well, but I wondered how wise it was to make so much noise. Maybe Laura could hear us, maybe she had gotten far enough away in here to where she could not. There could be other things here, though. Other things who could hear us, other things I had no interest in making acquaintance with. Just because we couldn’t hear them didn’t mean they couldn’t hear us. Yet, given the perfectly still and silent atmosphere in this particular area, I thought it unlikely that we wouldn’t hear one of them moving around. As far as I could tell, the monsters of Silent Hill didn’t care a whole lot about being noticed.

There were a lot of doors in this main hall, and surprisingly, the first one I tried was a working one. It led into a small room with a desk covered with papers, pens, information sheets and the like. An office. There was a clipboard on the desk that listed patient information for three men, Joseph Barkin, Jack Davis, and Joshua Lewis, one wracked with paranoia and delusions, the second under suicide watch, and the last with a history of violence and a mean streak a mile wide.

I almost just dismissed these notes as unimportant, but then, I remembered the razor wire and ten-foot fencing that surrounded the hospital grounds, and then it hit me. Brookhaven wasn’t a medical hospital, at least, not completely, all hospitals have medical facilities. Brookhaven was a mental hospital. A nuthouse. A feeb farm, as R.P. McMurphy referred to it in Ken Kesey’s famous novel. That realization brought a cold feeling. A deserted hospital in the middle of the Twilight Zone was bad enough. A deserted mental hospital? Absolutely god damn lovely. It would have made a fantastic punchline.

The room offered little else of interest. There was a file room in the back, which featured an ancient typewriter, one of those old monsters that was encased in pea-green steel and weighed fifty pounds.

Next to the typewriter was what seemed to be more patient notes, which I briefly skimmed and found nothing interesting within. They were held down to the desk with what I had taken for a strange, ugly paperweight. It was made of steel and had an engraving of a bull. Rectangular in shape, at least until you saw the bottom. There were things poking out, irregular in length. It looked like someone carved a bar graph out of the end of this paperweight. Then, I saw a handwritten note on the last page of the notes.

I got the key from Joseph. It’s probably for the box.

I looked at the object again, and decided they were referring to this thing. A key? Definitely a strange one, to be sure, but it made more sense than anything else I could think of. I dropped it in my pocket, and looked at the page, skimming it as I had the others, but this one was actually sort of interesting. It seemed to be a page of a doctor’s journal.

NOVEMBER 19, CONT.

This illness is something that absolutely anyone is susceptible to. Under the proper conditions, anyone, man, woman or child, could be driven to “the other side”, just like that poor man. I must note, however, that I am not entirely certain that “the other side” is the proper description for this phenomenon, for the name assumes that there is a solid separation between here and “there”. It lies on the border of reality, where it and unreality intersect. It is a place both distant and close, the proximity being something that is never constant and always changing around the person and their circumstances. Some disagree with the idea that it is an illness, but I cannot accept that. I’m not a philosopher or psychologist, I’m just a doctor. I concern myself less with speculative fancy and more with physical reality.

Even still, at times I find myself pondering the whys and wherefores. To us, his imaginings are nothing more than the product of a busy and overtaxed mind. To him, though, there is nothing more real. To him, there may simply be no other reality. And, what’s more, when he is lost in his own world, he seems happy, free from the torment that plagues him in his conscious moments. What is gained, then, by us dragging him kicking and screaming into “our” reality, one that, for him, is filled with nothing but despair and insufferable pain?


Reading that chilled me a bit, even though I could relate. Who didn’t want to escape from the real world at times? Seemed like the nameless patient wanted to make it more permanent, and leave no forwarding address. Creepy stuff, but it certainly reinforced my guess about what kind of hospital this really was. I set the page back down and exited back to the main hallway with Maria.

“Hey James,” Maria said.

“Yeah?”

“How are we ever going to find her here? I’ve never met a hospital that wasn’t gigantic, and I don’t think this one will be any different.”

“I don’t have a good answer for that,” I told her, “We’ll have to search around until we find her. There’s no other way.”

Maria tried a doorknob, and it turned far too freely in her grip. She let go of it abruptly, with a look of surprise on her face. The door did not open.

“The last place I was inside of had a lot of that too,” I told her. “Doors with knobs that turned but wouldn’t open.”

“What on earth would cause that?” she asked.

“Not sure, but honestly, it may make this easier. After all, if we can’t open these doors, Laura can’t either.”

She nodded at me, conceding the point, and together, we went up and down the halls of Brookhaven’s first floor, jiggling every doorknob we could find. Most of them did not lead to anything. There were a lot of broken door locks, and like Maria, I wondered just why in the hell so many were like that. I could see maybe a handful of them rusting so badly that they popped the moment someone applied pressure to them, but so many? Like so much, it completely defied explanation. For the moment though, it was okay. It was less ground to cover, which meant less exposure to danger, theoretically.

We found that very few doors in this particular part of the hospital were actually in working order. One of them housed a lounge station, and in this lounge were two things of importance. One was a code for a door lock on the second floor, which I scribbled onto the back of the town map, just in case it was still functional. The second was a six-pack of canned juice that sat atop the sink. It was the first time I recalled seeing any sort of food or drink anywhere, except for Eddie’s pizza. I cracked one open and took a tentative sip. Really sweet stuff, tasted vaguely like the oranges advertised on the package, but it didn’t seem to be rancid. Maria refused the can I offered, but I drank mine dry, crushed the can in my hand, and threw it in the corner. I felt better for that. Nothing else turned up, and we went back out into the main hallway.

There ended up being only one other healthy door, and it led to a stairwell. The flashlight showed a pile of wreckage on the downward case, denying access to the basement, so up we went. The stairwell was not a very inviting place, to say the least. Rusty water had apparently been dripping from the ceiling, leaving nasty brown stains running down the wall, and where the walls weren’t rusty, they were mottled with mildew. Dark green and brown splotches of fungus covered much of the walls like the disease it was. It wasn’t like the sections of the apartments that were openly leaking, but years and years of dampness took their toll, and harshly.

Two flights of stairs up, there was a door, painted a dirty shade of brown only made dirtier by the latent decomposition that affected everything else. “2F” was painted upon it in fading white.

I pushed the door open, wincing at the nasty creaking noise coming from the old, neglected hinges. Beyond it was another hallway that seemed to section off in a T-shape nearby. An old gurney sat poking out from around that corner, still propped up in a reclining position, covered in moldering linens and waiting for patients that were never going to arrive. Maria stepped through after me, and the door’s retractor pulled it shut.

It wasn’t tomb-silent here as it was downstairs. I could hear a soft sound, almost like breathing but larger and too deep to be anything living. I guess something was still pushing air through the vents. Considering the sad state of things, I couldn’t imagine how, but when I placed my hand near a vent on the wall, I could feel air being expelled. It was warmer than room temperature, but heavy and tepid. Probably not all that healthy, either.

Then, I heard a different noise.

At first, I had thought it was just one of the many colorful sounds that one hears if they pay attention to air circulation. After all, who hasn’t been at least momentarily surprised by the sudden activation of a furnace?

But it wasn’t a furnace. It was a wet sound. Wet, and nasty. And it wasn’t coming from the vent…

Three things happened within perhaps a quarter of a second.

The radio in my pocket suddenly came to life, blaring out its ever-present static as if it were the herald of sudden doom.

The wet, mushy noise became a crescendo, a wailing scream that skirted such a fine line between natural and unnatural, making it all the more terrifying.

Finally, and definitely worst of all, was the hollow, powerful sound of a heavy object being swung at me. I could just hear the whistling sound it made from its motion before it struck the wall beside me. I had just enough presence of mind to see what had just been swung at me and register it for what it was: A large, rusty piece of steel piping. The business end of it tore a gaping chunk out of the wall, having been wielded with enough force to bury the head several inches into the wall. I cried out and stumbled backwards, losing my balance. I fell, and my ass struck the filthy, muddy tiles of the floor at a less than favorable angle, planting me directly upon my tailbone. Pain lanced up my back like electricity, and I arched backwards, unable to stop myself despite knowing that my life was in immediate danger of being bludgeoned right out of me.

It turned out to be quite a good thing that my unseen assailant had put so much muscle into his attack, for it was trying to retrieve its weapon, and that gave me a few wonderful seconds to recover and attempt to defend myself. I pushed myself to my feet, trying to ignore the red-hot agony that throbbed in my lower back, and retreated. I collided with Maria, and she backed up, pressing herself against the wall behind me. I had to give the woman credit, she was a tough one, not buckling under duress even as I had to fight to avoid doing so myself. At least, I thought that’s why she was silent. I think if I had been able to see her face, I would have known better, for once I looked forward and saw what I saw, I couldn’t have even thought to blame her if she had been scared senseless. It was a hell of an effort to keep my own **** together right now. I couldn’t afford to lose it. Had to try my damnedest not to lose it. Had to fight it.

Then, my eyes fell upon what had swung the weapon and nearly made a radical change to the topography of my skull. Once I did, it was no longer a battle to keep my mind in check. No sir.

At a cursory glance, the attacker appeared quite human, possessing a long, slender figure, and distinctly feminine features as well, round hips, large breasts. It looked quite a bit more human than any of the town’s other inhabitants so far, with the exception of the red pyramid thing. Also unlike the other monsters, this one wore clothing, an outfit, more accurately. A short skirt and a top that displayed some ample bosom, topped off by a cap, one of those little folded dealies that you might see on the head of a sailor.

Or a nurse.

Of course. A nurse. I mean, it was hardly the type of outfit you would ever see a real nurse wear while on the docket, not really. It was a parody of a real nurse’s uniform, one that seemed intentionally designed to appear sexy, something only a stripper or an adventurous lover would ever really wear. Perhaps on a real person, it would look sexy. I bet Maria would look comely in it.

But what stood in front of me, struggling to retrieve its weapon, that thing was not human. Not even close. Those long, slender legs were dead, fishbelly white and covered with thick, crusty scabs, as if entire strips of flesh had been torn off and were in the process of healing. Like the other walking nightmares I had encountered before, its skin was not flesh, but a sort of thick membrane that was coated in some kind of oil slick. Skin, clothes and everything was covered in filth and dark patches of red that were just a few shades north of black, the shade of old, old blood. And yet, that wasn’t even the worst of it.

The head. The head was the worst. No, not the head, not exactly.

The face.

There was no face.

It was completely featureless.

No eyes, nor hollows for the sockets. No nose, no sculpted cheekbones, no mouth, not even a set of jaws. It was as if the front of this thing’s skull had grown just as smooth and solidly-fused as the back of it had. It looked almost like the head one of those artist’s dolls, the wooden ones that have the posable features. A head, no face.

No, it wasn’t a battle to keep my **** together. Not really the correct way to describe it. It was a struggle, a mad, blind, edge-of-the-cliff struggle now.

It finally tugged the pipe free from the wall, and then stood there with the weapon in its hands, not moving, almost as if it were admiring the thing. I took the blessed opportunity for what it was and scrambled to my feet, reaching for my pistol.

I suppose that the monster realized that it now faced a threat of its own, for it turned to face me just as I raised the gun. I could barely hold a steady aim, because my hands were shaking terribly. I aimed at the creature’s non-face, and squeezed the trigger. Brilliant light and percussive sound filled the room for a fraction of a second, both of them stunning to eyes that were used to darkness and ears that were used to dead silence.

The demonic nurse didn’t even flinch, my shot had gone wide. The pipe raised in a jerky arc again. I quickly fired two more shots. One stitched its neck, probably passing right through. The second hit it square in the jaw, or where the jaw should have already been, creating a big punched hole. The monster dropped its weapon, and its arms swung wildly, as if it had lost control over them. Stranger still, stranger and significantly more disturbing, was that its head thrashed about even more wildly. It flew in every direction and it did so with impossible speed, faster than the muscles of anything its size should be able to operate. I half-expected the head to tear itself right off of its neck, but it didn’t. Instead, the nurse stumbled around blindly, head thrashing as it screamed a terrible, inhuman scream, one that sounded equal parts rage and pain. I backed away, and I felt Maria grab my arm, but I barely noticed it otherwise. The creature didn’t seem to pose a threat now, yet the morbid scene was fascinating in a terrible way, and I couldn’t pull my eyes away from it.

The nurse’s blind meanderings eventually made it walk face-first into a wall, making a sound like hard plastic cracking when it did so. It fell backwards to the floor, lying prone on its back. That damnable screeching continued as its limbs flailed uselessly, like an insect.

I wanted to believe it was suffering its death throes, but I was by no means certain and I very much wanted to be. I bent over and picked up the steel pipe it had dropped, gripping it like a baseball bat and lifting it high above my head. It came crashing down upon the nurse’s midsection with as much force as I could manage, and I heard that same crushed plastic sound. I struck it twice more like this, and finally, the nurse’s struggles slowed, and ceased as it finally died, letting out one long, raspy moan as it did.

It was like the others in another way. It smelled like strong, thick rot, like wet meat gone way over. I swallowed back my bile, and I could hear Maria cough heavily. She bent over in the corner as I turned to face her, and I placed a hand on her back as she emptied her stomach on the dirty tiles. I rubbed her back as she coughed up the last of it, and she didn’t mind, but my touch was tentative and the motion of my hand stiff. I was trying to be comforting, but I didn’t feel very comfortable myself, touching her in such a familiar way. It had been a long time since I had touched a woman like that, and it made me feel guilty.

She finally stood, which allowed me to take my hand back, and she wiped her mouth on her sleeve.

“Sorry about that,” she said, another smile on her face. This one actually looked a little sheepish.

“It’s okay. The only reason I didn’t do it right next to you is because I’m already empty from doing it before.”

“You’re a hell of a hero, James. I have to hand it to you.” She grabbed my hand and gave it a playful tap. “This door behind me isn’t opening. I tried it while you were fighting that nurse thing. Let’s go up that way and see if there’s anything.”

I nodded, and when I looked at the door, I could see she was right. It was one of those doors that you opened with a push-bar, but the bar on this one was already in its depressed position, a good sign that it isn’t in working condition.

A quick search of the hallway turned up little. There was a pair of locker rooms that wouldn’t open, as well as a storeroom that was similarly out of commission. There was a broken elevator, and a small offshoot hallway that had a door, but there was tons of crap piled in front of it, old cleaning materials and debris alike, so that was out.

What a crock of ****. I nearly had my head pulped in by that monster, and all for nothing.

Oh well. It was a waste. There was nothing more to see here, so we stepped through the hallway’s only working door, back into the stairwell, and up to the next floor.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2010, 04:34:51 am by Mutou Yami » Report Spam   Logged


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I love you Mutou Yami... Forever.


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« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2010, 04:38:47 am »

Chapter Fourteen
Treasure Box and the Diary

I took a great deal more care when I opened the door labeled 3F. That encounter downstairs had me all nerves and adrenaline, and damned if I was going to let another one of those things take me by surprise again. The whole encounter made me angry with myself. Things had been going a little smoother, so I let my guard down, and it almost cost me my life. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

So, when I stepped through into the third floor hallway, I had that nurses’ pipe in my hands and ready to go. I felt a little strange using a weapon that once belonged to a monster, but only a little. Self-preservation was a rather immediate priority. Maybe if I survived this horror, I could sit back and think about that, but not now. Right now this monster’s pipe made it just a little more likely that I would have that chance, and Maria too.

The hall appeared to be devoid of any undead. My flashlight beam reached the far wall, and nothing moved in its path. I reached into my pocket and raised the volume on my radio, hoping that it would pick anything up. All I got was a thin hiss, which made me feel a little safer. Regardless, when I reached the corner, I waved the pipe around it before I exposed myself, hoping that if there was some manner of demon, it would make its presence known once it saw something moving. Still nothing, though.

Satisfied that there was no immediate threat, I took a look around, and the first thing I saw was a door, identical in appearance to the one below, the one with the push-bar. Said push-bars on this door were functional, yet the doors themselves did not open. I gave it a harder push, which did nothing. This one was closed solid. I had thought to give it up for another broken door when Maria tapped me on the shoulder.

“Before you wear yourself out, he-man, you might want to try that.” She then took hold of my left hand and guided it up to the wall next to the door. There was a keypad there. She laughed as I rummaged through my pocket for the code we found written on the whiteboard downstairs, feeling a little angry as I did. I was starting to get used to the idea of a traveling companion, and honestly, I was rather enjoying her presence. I hated being alone in this town, and she wasn’t being a burden to me. She didn’t freak out when there was a monster nearby. She didn’t get in my way. And, she was attractive, okay? I admit it. I found her attractive. Sure, she was dressed like a tramp, but it was more than that. She was sexy, and she would be even without the clothing she wore. And, damn it, I still thought she resembled Mary. Their faces were so similar, nearly identical. I knew Mary’s face perfectly from our years of marriage. Even three years without her didn’t dull that sensitivity one bit. I knew her face, angle by wonderful angle, and every time I looked at Maria, I saw those same angles, the same nose, even the same by-God eyes. Mary was a rather proper woman, she stopped dressing like Maria around the time she graduated high school. Most people probably wouldn’t call Mary sexy. Of course, I knew better. Mary was sexy, to me. And I think the reason I thought the same of Maria was because of that terrific similarity.

But there was one thing about Maria that she didn’t share with Mary, one thing I didn’t like at all, and that was her attitude. Granted, at times, she was nice, even sweet here and there, but then at other times she was caustic. She had a condescending streak a mile wide, and she seemed to revel in being able to display it. I’m no genius, I’ll be the first to admit that, but I’m no idiot either, and if there’s one thing that just gets my goat, it’s when someone talks down to me. I can’t stand that one bit. Plus, I didn’t forget how she spoke to me back in the park, especially using Mary to manipulate me into taking her along in the first place. I warmed up to her a bit since then, but by no means did I forget that. I doubt I would ever be able to. It was just cruel. There are some things you just don’t say. Ever. She knew that. Mary would never treat me like that. It would be alien to her.

I said nothing, though. I didn’t want to get in an argument with her, not here, and not now. I’m certain she would if I provoked her.

With the crinkled piece of paper in hand, I typed the four-digit code on the keypad. The keypad was filthy, covered in dust and grime like everything else. My index finger had a dark smudge on the tip when I touched the keys. Yet, the pad was still in functioning order. As soon as I pressed the fourth key, the lock disengaged with a loud snap. Now, the door opened when I depressed the push-bar, sliding open with its hinges wailing.

The radio in my pocket started buzzing and squealing, but I already saw why. The door opened into another hallway, with this end being slightly wider and narrowing out farther down. In this little wide area, I saw another one of the nurses standing about five feet in front of me with its back facing me. It looked more or less identical to the one that almost killed me, wearing the same provocative nurse outfit, sporting the same grotesque shapeliness, and carrying a pipe that looked too much like the one in my right hand.

The combination of light and noise certainly galvanized the monster into motion, but I didn’t give it any time. Maria held the door open, and I rushed straight at the monster. I didn’t hit it with the pipe, but instead, I lifted my right leg and delivered a strong kick. My foot connected with its lower back, and the blow sent the nurse flying forward, bashing head-first into the wall, making a sound reminiscent of a watermelon being dropped on a sidewalk. It was obviously unprepared for that. It lost balance when it bounced off the wall, pinwheeling and falling backwards to the floor. The pipe fell from its grip and it twisted and flailed weakly on the ground. Its face – non-face – was a smashed ruin from the impact. It moaned piteously for a few seconds as its movements slowed and finally stopped, and the radio’s mad caterwauling ceased along with it. I kicked it right in the neck anyway. It died rather too easily, and I wanted to make sure it stayed that way. My kick was rewarded with a wet snap, and when the head came to rest, it did so at an unmistakably broken angle. I kicked it again, in the head, just for good measure. It felt good. It felt damned good.

The hallway was dark, really dark. There was a window opposite the door, and it wasn’t boarded over. No light shone through because the sun had finally set in Silent Hill. God help me. Daylight was one of the few rare things I had grown new appreciation for in the last few hours, and now it abandoned me too. I looked at my flashlight and hoped to God the batteries were strong ones. If I were to lose that, Maria and I would be a hundred different kinds of screwed.

But, for the moment, it was working fine, and its light flared down this long, narrow hallway. To the left was a series of doors, the first one labeled S1, then S2 and so forth. They were odd in their placement, spaced very closely together. The rooms behind them had to be tiny, like closets. Or, like cells. Of course. They had to be solitary rooms, given the markings, and the fact that this was a mental hospital. The first two were secured with a type of padlock that held a steel plate in place. Room S3’s padlock hung from its loop at an awkward angle, and the metal plate was drawn open. The door opened easily, and we stepped in together.

The room was very tiny, and unfortunately, Laura wasn’t inside of it. All we had going for us here was a small bed and a bedside table. Nothing doing here. I was just turning to leave when Maria brushed past me and sat down on the bed.

“Hey James,” she said, “Wait a minute.” Her voice was distinctly weaker than before, and she started coughing. She reached into a small pouch on her hip and pulled out a small orange vial, one recognizable to any adult in America as a prescription bottle. She twisted the cap off and shook the bottle. Two small red pills fell into her slender hand, and she popped them in her mouth, grimacing a bit as she dry-swallowed them. She looked at me with that sheepish smile again. Boy, she had a full repertoire of smiles, one for every occasion, it seemed. More expressive than I was, certainly.

“Don’t worry, it’s nothing major. I just have a bit of a hangover, that’s all. I’m kinda tired.”

“Maybe you should lay down and rest for awhile. I’ll go out and look for Laura while you do.”

She nodded, and reclined across the bed.

“Mmm… it’s so comfy.”

I wasn’t inclined to agree. The mattress looked to be about three inches thick on old springs, and it looked pretty filthy, mottled with ****-yellow stains. But I didn’t say anything. Instead, I turned to the door.

“Sit tight. I’ll knock when I come back, so you know it’s me.”

“Okay.”

I had turned the knob but I hadn’t quite opened it when she called my name again. I turned to her.

“Hey, I want to ask you something,” she said.

“Yeah?”

“Well, if you don’t… you know, if you don’t find Mary. What are you going to do then?”

I hesitated for a second. The answer I gave was an honest one, though.

“I don’t know. I came here on one hell of a long shot. I haven’t even considered the idea of not finding her.”

“Even though it’s as hard as it’s been?”

“Even though.”

“That’s dedication for you,” she said, and rolled over. I couldn’t tell if that was an endorsement of my goal or an indictment. I didn’t bother asking. Instead, I left.

Back in the hallway, I started up the hallway, checking each one of the closet-sized rooms. Most of them were still locked tight and had been for a long time. One was unlocked here and there but Laura was in none of them. I was beginning to feel an itching sense of futility prowling the rotten interior of a loony bin looking for this damn kid. It was a hellacious distraction from what I really wanted to be searching for. Sure, I was concerned for Laura’s safety but dammit, this was asking too much. For all I know, the brat was on the ground floor when we got there and bolted out the front door when she saw us pass.

But she knew about Mary, and Eddie said she was looking for her too. Yeah, that counted for a lot, too. And Laura specifically called me out about it, so I had no doubt it was my Mary. How the kid knew Mary was unknown to me. Mary didn’t have a job per se, but she was active with the Methodist church and was always doing extracurricular stuff with them. She could have met her at one of those things.

But no, how likely was that, really? We lived in Ashfield, Massachusetts, it was almost a six-hour drive away if you cared a damn for speed limits on the long, dull back roads of Maine that separated Silent Hill from the more populous eastern part of the state. Mary grew up in the Malden area, though she was actually born in Berlin, New Hampshire, where the Sheperd family had been rooted since before the Civil War. Any way you looked at it, no matter where this kid knew Mary from, she was very far away from home. I didn’t have the slightest clue how she managed to get all the way out here on her own, but even that didn’t matter. What did matter was that this little girl had come a hell of a long way to find my wife, and that had to mean that Laura and Mary were more than just mere acquaintances. There had to be a pretty solid friendship going on here, that much was obvious. So if that were the case, why on earth was I never aware of it? How did something like this so completely fly under my radar? I’m certain that Mary would have mentioned this little girl at least in passing. That she may have done and I didn’t remember, didn’t think it important enough to remember. Had she ever been over to the house? Honestly, that could have happened too. I might have seen her once in passing and just didn’t retain it. But I suspected that this friendship was deeper than that. I couldn’t think that even a child would run off, cross state lines and make it all the way to the boondocks of western Maine to find a missing friend unless that friendship was a damned powerful one.

And then, something else occurred to me that made the situation look even stranger to me. That kid couldn’t be older than eight or nine years old. I’d have bet my own life she was on the short side of ten and done so without reservation. At the very earliest, she wouldn’t have been but five or six when Mary died, and since she had been sick for some time before she died, it would almost have to be even earlier than that. The kid made a friend as a toddler and was now searching this back-ass lumberjack country looking for someone she hadn’t seen in this entire half of her short life? Now that just didn’t make any sense, no matter how you sliced it. That was just all kinds of screwy. When I caught up to Laura – if I caught up to Laura, I reminded myself – there would be a lot of explaining to do.

That did seem to be a bigger if by the moment, though.

The last door, S16, was also unlocked, and I opened the door thinking I would be no more surprised if I found the Pope behind the door than I would be if I found Laura there. I wasn’t disappointed in that respect, at least; the tiny room was devoid of life, human or otherwise. But that didn’t mean there wasn’t something interesting. There was, in fact.

The bed in S16 wasn’t set in the corner as the beds in the other solitary rooms had been. This one was turned perpendicular to the room, nearly spanning its meager width. Resting on top of this bed was a box of some kind. It was an old strongbox, the kind of stuff you put valuables in and hide somewhere in the shoe closet. And whoever owned the box and its contents was, at the very least, interested in their security, though perhaps ‘paranoid’ would be more accurate.

The latch was secured with a strange type of padlock, wider than most you would see on a box like this. There was no keyhole on the bottom, but rather, an indentation on the left side with a long series of strange grooves. But the box’s owner wasn’t just content with sealing his property with a weird padlock, he also apparently was intent on keeping the box itself right where it was, for he had somehow welded steel loops to the outside skin of the box, big, heavy duty ones, and looped through these rings was some **** steel chain, and a lot of it. The chain criss-crossed the entire bed, going under and looping around before finally coming out the other side. Crazy house or not, whoever came up with this was no idiot. He did a great job. The box wasn’t moving. The chain was linked ultimately by a wheel lock, similar to one you see on bicycle locks but much larger and stronger. There were four wheels with numbers from one to nine.

I was about to forget about it and leave when I had a sudden flash of inspiration. I grabbed the strange padlock to make sure, looking at the odd indentation on the side. I reached into my pocket and pulled out that key that I found in the records room downstairs, the unusual-looking thing with the purple bull etched on it, that I thought was just an ugly paperweight until I saw the note beneath.

It’s probably the key to that box.

Of course.

The tines of the key slid into the lock, and I pressed it as it rested. There was a healthy click, and the lock shot open. I removed it from the latch and tried to open the box.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t happening. The chains that held the box secure to the bed also apparently kept the lid from being open even when the box itself was unlocked. No matter how I tugged and pulled, I couldn’t get it even nearly loose enough to pry the lid. Nothing doing there. Congratulations to whatever madman came up with this, I thought. I left the room in disgust, though I didn’t exactly know why. What was the likelihood that the box’s contents were in any way going to be useful to me?

The hall was still silent and blessedly empty. I tried a few more doors on the other side that I had ignored on the initial run. One opened up into an empty shower room with strange green goo smeared around the drain, but that was it. I let myself back into the main hallway.

It was still quiet here too. There were two doors out here that I hadn’t checked either. One door had no marking and was locked tight. The other was at the far end of the far corridor, and this one was labeled Day Room, but the doorknob twirled quickly and uselessly under my grip. As far as I could tell, Maria and I had searched a good deal of this place, and there wasn’t even a trace of the damn brat. There were still stairs leading up, though. There was at least four floors in this place. Nothing to do but either give up and leave altogether, or check this final option out.

I found myself in the stairwell, looking first at the stairs leading down, then at the stairs leading up, actually giving thought to my two options. The desire to leave was a strong one, regardless of Laura’s connections with my wife. Yet, I found myself climbing upward instead of downward, because the chance of discovering what those connections were was just too strong to ignore.

I reached the top, and I found that there were no more stairs. This was it. I also found that there was no fourth floor to Brookhaven Hospital. The letters ‘RF’ told me that I found the building’s roof. I shrugged and opened the door.

It opened into an outdoor area, and it was now completely dark outside. The sky was as dark as pitch. No stairs dotted the sky, which was understandable considering how cloudy it had been, but it was stranger than that. Something else was missing.

Where the hell was the moon?

It wasn’t there, not where it should be. Even with the clouds it should have been noticeable, for the light if nothing else, but there was nothing. No light whatsoever. I flicked the switch on my flashlight, and I was bathed in absolute black. I couldn’t see the fingers on my hand two inches in front of me. I flicked it back on, scared for a moment because I hadn’t thought to check for any walking horrors, but the radio in my pocket was sedate, so I didn’t fret too much.

I scanned the area, but there wasn’t really much to see. It was flat and it was empty. The entire perimeter of the roof was encircled by more fencing that came up to my head, which I surmised was to keep any wandering nutcases from walking or leaping off of the roof to their deaths. There was a pair of oil drums in one corner, ugly and rusted. There was a small building with a door marked “Electrical”, but the knob was as broken as glass on the door’s window. That was it. What a waste of time.

I turned to go back to the door I came in from, when I nearly tripped taking my first step. I looked down and I saw a small notebook, one of the spiral kinds kids take to class. I picked it up, hoping against hope that it belonged to Laura.

Leafing through the pages, I could tell right away that it wasn’t hers. It was a diary, and one that hadn’t been kept long. There were only four days of entries and the rest of the pad was blank. I knew it wasn’t Laura’s because the script was in cursive, and even if the kid knew how to write cursive, I’ve never seen a kid her age write as neatly as I saw in the makeshift diary.

I skimmed the last page, reading the text but not really reading the content. Something was funny about it and I didn’t realize it at first. The last entry was a depressing monologue about being trapped in illusion and how it might be preferable to reality at this point. It ended by saying that perhaps the writer was about to be released, but the entry wasn’t finished. It seemed as though something surprised the diarist, for the last entry was a long, abrupt slash across the paper with his pen, as if the arm had been grabbed while still working.

Then, like a punch in the face, I realized completely why the text itself looked so funny. It was in cursive, and very neat cursive. It tilted slightly to the left, because the writer was left-handed. It was ****-A identical to…! I reached into my pocket, madly grabbing for the letter, the one that had brought my sorry ass out here in the first place.

I heard a door slam. A metal door. The one leading to the stairwell. It was like hearing a gunshot at close range in the gloomy silence, and I nearly yipped in surprise and fear. It was Maria, or maybe, heaven forfend, Laura. I was going to give either a piece of my mind when…

Then I saw him. I saw him at the same time I heard him, heard the scraping of heavy steel on concrete.

It was him!

Fear coursed through my veins and flooded them with adrenaline. My heart rate increased so dramatically I thought it would squeeze out of my ear. I saw him in front of me, his massive bulk topped by that strange pointed helmet, blood-red from crown to tip. I felt him, too. Felt that anger, that hate, that loathing, and that fear. That thick molasses of terror that kept me rooted where I was standing for just a second too long with my eyes googling open and my mouth even wider.

Too long.

With impossible speed, the red pyramid thing swung his oversized sword at my midsection, swinging it sideways. I leapt backwards, the tip of the blade so close to disemboweling me that you could have bridged the gap with a cigarette butt.

I wasn’t cut, but when I did leap back, fear had given me a little too much strength. I overbalanced, falling backwards into the security fence. It was surprising and dazing at once, and I had just enough time to see Pyramid Head approaching me, just enough time to realize that he was going to kill me, when I heard a loud snap and a squeal, and the next thing I knew, the fence and I were both falling backwards, into space. I screamed as I fell, not even fully realizing what happened when my fall was broken by something very, very hard. I heard a loud, heavy crack, one that sounded like rocks breaking, and then suddenly I was falling yet again with a shower of busted concrete falling with me. I didn’t even have time to say her name, and that regret was sure to be my final one, so I thought as I hit something even harder and my head bashed into it, sending me into a void that was even darker and blacker than the unnaturally empty sky my eyes stared blankly into.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2010, 04:39:04 am by Mutou Yami » Report Spam   Logged


All Hail The Strogg!
R.I.P. Paul Gray - April 8, 1972 – May 24, 2010.


"Stay...
 I Need You Here, For A New Day To Break...
Stay...
I Want You Near, Like A Shadow In My Wake...
Stay...
Here With Me... Don't You Leave...
Stay...
Stay With Me, Until The Day's Over..."
I love you Mutou Yami... Forever.


Long Live, Mr.Yamaoka Akira, The Silent Hill Legend.
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« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2010, 04:42:07 am »

Chapter Fifteen
Handwriting on the Wall

I don’t know where I was.

It was bright, yet it was dark. Strange to say out loud, and strange to hear, no doubt, but it’s the only description that works. I was seeing things, flashes of memory, flashes of hopes and dreams given brief visual life just long enough for me to recognize them for what they were. I saw Dad, as I remembered him in my childhood. Steel eyes, jaw set in a perpetual position that always looked like a stillborn scowl. The pale brown hair already peppered with snowy signs of age. I saw Mom, too. She looked as young as I remember, too, but that’s the only way I can ever see her. She was only just past her thirty-eighth birthday when the cancer finally took her away. I saw flashfire snapshots of the times we had together, and of the long four years when Mom fought for her life, a fight she was ultimately destined to lose.

Then, I saw Mary. Sweet little Mary Sheperd, seventeen years old, just a freshman at University of Massachusetts, already knowing she wanted to be an English major, already knowing she wanted to be a magazine columnist. She would achieve one of those dreams, and come close to achieving the other, close but not quite there.

Our first date at the Northstar Drive-In. We saw Back to the Future that night. We had a wonderful time, and it was all set up by Phil Garzman, my best friend and her classmate in Classic Lit. He would end up being my best man eighteen months later when his matchmaking skills paid off.

I gave her the ring on Christmas Eve. We had dinner at her parents’ beautiful old Colonial in Malden. I even managed to get Dad to come along. It was something I wanted him around for. It was a larger get-together than I was used to. We had her parents and my dad, Mary’s two brothers, Nick three years older, and William, three years younger, and Grandma Sheperd, who was one of the liveliest eighty-year old women I think I’ll ever see.

The good times. Mary graduating. Buying our home. Moving into that home, and buying a brand-new bed the day we did so. How many times we made love in that bed I’d never be able to count. I had a job I loved, a wife I loved, and the future was so bright it made my eyes tear. I suppose that the best part about it was that we didn’t know how short the good times would be. A mercy that we didn’t know how quickly and abruptly they would end, to be replaced by the very worst of times.

And they were just that, no two ways about it.

Now I saw Mary hunched over the toilet, dry-heaving because she hadn’t eaten in three days and there was nothing to vomit up but saliva and blood. The first trip to the doctor’s office, an ignorant prick named Dr. Lawrence, who made several hundred dollars telling us that he had no clue what was affecting my wife. I like to think that the insurance paid the bastard to dole out some kind of pills and recommend a specialist, a specialist we didn’t end up seeing for another two weeks because the **** idiot didn’t brush up on Mary’s medical history enough to realize that she had a severe allergy to a particular ingredient in the stuff. I don’t remember what the pills were called, or even exactly what they were supposed to cure, but I do remember very well what they did to her.

She swallowed two of those pills, as directed. Two hours later, her face was red as a stoplight and she was struggling for breath because the pills made her esophagus swell like a mass of bee stings, reducing her windpipe to a pinhole and making each breath a titanic struggle.

I rode with her on the ambulance, and while it didn’t end up being the most heartbreaking moment of my life, it was probably the first genuine one. They had given her a cortisone shot and had an oxygen tube going in her nose. It was helping, but it was only temporary, as is the nature of most such treatments. I held her hand the entire time, and she was crying, crying and coughing and trying to tell me how sorry she was. I held her hand, stroked it, told her it was okay, everything was going to be okay, please don’t cry.

That was our first visit to the St. Jerome Medical Center. Our first of many, of too many. We got a ride home the next morning from Nicky Sheperd. Wasn’t the last of those, either.

My mind flashed through the many visits to doctors, specialists, surgeons, even a faith healer once, when the general situation was desperate going on hopeless. All of them expensive, all of them clueless, all of them useless. No one knew exactly what was ailing Mary, but all of them agreed that it was killing her, slowly and painfully. Her cream soft skin paled, turned a sickly gray as it showed increasing numbers of scabs and sores, all saving their worst for her face. Her hair thinned almost to a baby’s fineness and then just simply started falling out. She lost a lot of weight, and she looked skeletal when she fell beneath 85 pounds. It was horrifying, in so many ways and on so many levels. Mary didn’t deserve this. Good people, good people who love God and children and their husbands don’t deserve to go like this.

The memories and recollections blurred more and became faster and indistinct. They were almost a total washout. I was able to pick out only one with any sort of clarity, and that was me giving her a kiss as she lay dying on her bed. It invoked a terrible sense of futility and something else, something I couldn’t even begin to explain, except to say that it felt like I was being punched in the gut repeatedly. It felt like a full-body beatdown. I was sore. I was in pain. I cried out.

Cried out.

Things faded.

My eyes slid open like the windows of a car, slowly and jerkily. Things were still fuzzy, and at first I thought that perhaps I was still lost in my memories, but as consciousness came back to me, so did my nerves, and a great many of them had loud and colorful stories of pain to deliver to my tired brain.

I pushed myself up into a sitting position, and rolled over to get myself off of a pile of rocks that I had apparently been lying upon. Slowly, recollection of what led me to this point trickled in. Yeah, that’s right. I met with that red pyramid thing again. Somehow he followed me from the apartments, or maybe there was more than one. That thought was followed by one even worse, a mental flash of a group of Pyramid Heads surrounding me, backing me into a corner as he had already done once. Me, cowering on the floor and just waiting for them to finish me off, because I know there’s no fighting them off and there’s no breaking through them. I shuddered, and removed the thought from my mind by sheer force of will.

I scooted over to the wall and pulled myself to my feet, grunting as I did. My right leg throbbed and there was a tear on my jeans on the back of the calf. Blood soaked some of the fabric, blood from a shallow wound that was already drying. I pulled up my sleeve and saw at least four bruises in various stages of development. There was a big, nasty knot on the back of my head. I ached all over but considering that I had been knocked off of a roof and fell through a concrete ceiling, I came out remarkably well. Bumped, bruised, sore, but nothing broken, nothing gouged. Someone up there must like me. My pipe lay on the floor a short distance away, and I retrieved it. Even though it originally belonged to something that shouldn’t logically exist, even though it had been used to nearly decapitate me, the feel of it in my hand was reassuring, giving me at least a slight sense of safety.

Certain that I was going to be okay, I took stock of my new surroundings. I was in a small hallway, one I hadn’t come across yet. There were four doors, spaced sparingly apart like the solitary rooms, but there were only four here. One had a note taped to it, the paper yellow with age. Written in black marker was a single line.

If Joseph looks calm, he can be taken out of his cell.

I opened it.

Now, if there had been any doubt whatsoever as to the nature of this particular hospital, the room I found would have definitely put it to rest. Ladies and gentlemen, we had ourselves one of those sterling trademarks of the mental health business, the padded room. It would be more accurate to call this a padded cell, honestly, for it was quite tiny. The floor was covered about as much area as the bed Maria was now resting upon. And whoever Joseph was, he must have looked calm, because he sure wasn’t in here.

The strangeness of the room was only amplified by its macabre décor, which I smelled before I actually saw. It was old and dull, but it was still rich and coppery. Blood. It soaked the left wall of the cell, a large splash that looked as though someone threw a bucket of the stuff at it.

The center had been wiped clean, which was a matter of degree really. And at first I thought what I was seeing was just random splashes, but I looked closer and I saw that they were anything but. They were numbers, four of them. 9595. Numbers painted in human blood. How artistic. I guess it went to show how much I had seen today in Silent Hill that made this grotesque display seem less abhorrent then one would expect.

I looked closer and I saw that someone had added a message to it, this written in marker of a color that was close enough to blood that one might easily mistake it for such. It was a simple message.

TERN TERN TERN THE NUMBERS. BETTER NOT FORGET THEM. SO I’LL RIGHT THEM DOWN HERE. THE OTHER ONE, MY SECRET NAME.

Cryptic, to say the least. It made no sense to me. I got out of there, and I was glad. The smell was starting to really get to me.

I tried the doors on both sides of the bloody cell, but only the last one opened. The moment it did, my radio sprang to life, hissing like a cornered cat. Over that, I heard a piteous wail, and it was one I recognized even without seeing its source. I quickly pulled the door shut and backed away from it, nearly tripping over some rubble on the floor. There was one of those demon nurses in the cell, and it pounded on the door with its inhuman fists, and I also heard something metallic striking the door, which I assumed was a pipe like the one I had. I assumed that the cell doors couldn’t be opened from inside, it wouldn’t make sense for that to be possible, and I wasn’t even sure if they could open doors, but I had no desire to stick around and find out. There was one last door, opposite of the cells, and mercifully, it did open.

More merciful still was that it led me into familiar surroundings, or at least, into a location I could recognize. It was the third floor hallway. I was back. But, for what? I hadn’t accomplished anything. I hadn’t found Laura. All I found was a diary with impossibly familiar handwriting, a fall through a roof, and a bloody fresco in a padded cell.

Ding!

The cell, the numbers. Tern the numbers. It couldn’t possibly be true, couldn’t possibly be that easy. Yet, I was in the solitary hallway, practically jogging all the way to S16 because I just had to try it. I was all out of leads. It seemed inches away from likely that whatever that box held would be of any use in locating the kid, but even if you had nothing left, you had enough to manufacture a little hope if you needed it badly enough.

I passed through S16’s door and went straight to the box. The wheel lock waited, and I took it, turning its numbers. 9595. What a simple combination that was, certainly not one I would want. At least, not under normal circumstances. Right now I was happy enough to have it.

The lock clicked and popped open proudly, as if to fanfare. I felt a queer sort of excitement as I lifted the latch and opened the box.

If there was a smile on my face, it evaporated the moment I looked inside of the box, like water hitting a hot griddle. I could almost hear it hiss, or maybe that was my breath.

The box was empty. Not empty, exactly, but filled with cotton fluff, stuffing. And, can you believe it, hairs. Strands of human hair, long blonde ones. I almost wanted to laugh. I guess it was just a product of the environment. A crazy man just might place hair in a strongbox and secure it like that.

I pulled out the cotton fluff, hoping against hope that the immediately visible contents weren’t the only contents. I wasn’t totally disappointed, because I did find a piece of paper at the bottom, but I can’t say I was thrilled, either. The paper had some poorly-scribbled handwriting on it in pencil, and whoever wrote it pressed so hard on the pencil that he tore the paper and broke the pencil tip.

Louise! I’ll take care of you four ever. It is my destiny!

I dropped the paper back in the box, then I replaced the stuffing. I was about to close it when my thumb felt something on the inner rim of the lid.

Well, if that don’t beat all…

There was a key. I pried it off. The box’s owner fastened it to the lid with chewing gum, gum so old it cracked when I applied pressure. The key had a small piece of paper scotch-taped to the base with WEST ELEVATOR written in black ball-point. I couldn’t believe how bizarre this was, but I was thankful to regain a little focus, and I left room S16 and its lonely treasure box.

There was an elevator about halfway down the hall. I inserted the key into the hole and turned. When I did, I heard a whirring sound, which I assumed was the sound of its motors starting. I heard some kind of deep, booming growl from far below, which sounded a lot like a generator kicking to life. About ten seconds later, I heard the sound of a bell, and the elevator opened. Fully lit and all. Must be a hell of a generator they have going on down there, because I hadn’t seen any electricity working here at all until now. I stepped inside, squinting my eyes thanks to all that light.

There were buttons for the first, second and third floors. The button for the second floor had apparently fallen off, so I pressed the first floor button. The elevator shuddered as it came to life and began its descent. As it took me down, I prayed that the generator didn’t decide to blow before I got there.

Someone listened, I guess, for it ended its descent where it was supposed to, with a hiss and snap. Then, the doors slid open to admit me to the first floor.

It was actually filthier than the others. Age-old crud lined the floors and actually built-up to give it a rough, disgusting texture. It smelled like old sewage, but the radio was silent. Apparently the monsters were equally repulsed. I started walking these halls to see if there was anything to see.

And there was. There was a set of doors lining the hall, like the row of padded cell rooms but these were considerably larger in size. The intent was to try the doors one by one, but one door, labeled in white as C2, was wide open. I figured that was as good a place as any to start.

C2 was very large. There were several beds and gurneys stacked around haphazardly, this having been their unexpected last home. It was a mess, and no mistake. However –

I heard something, from the back. I didn’t even take the time to try and identify it. Instead, my hand flew straight to my radio to make sure it was working. It was, but it was giving nothing but soft white noise. I shone the flashlight in its direction and approached. As I did, I heard the noise again, clearer, and I realized what it was.

It was the sound of a small child humming.

I leaned over, hoping that it really was a child I found. I was not disappointed. It was indeed a child, a girl with straw-colored head of hair. She was playing with several different teddy bears, giggling and humming and having a good time. When she noticed the light, she turned to me, and I found myself looking directly into her deep cornflower eyes. They widened when the saw me, widened first than became a cold stare. It was one I was becoming well-acquainted with lately.

I found what I came for, for the girl sitting on the floor with her bears was familiar.

I found Laura.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2010, 04:42:23 am by Mutou Yami » Report Spam   Logged


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« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2010, 04:45:42 am »

Chapter Sixteen
Paradigm Shift

Laura squeezed through two of the beds, out into the open area where I stood. She held one of the teddy bears by its limp arm and carried it with her. She looked at me, but said nothing, waiting for me to explain. Damn me if I didn’t. I was that relieved to find her.

“Laura?”

She looked surprised, and her eyes narrowed. “How did you know my name?”

“Eddie told me.”

“Why, that big, fat blabbermouth!” She stomped her foot on the ground.

“Never mind that, it’s not important. I want to ask you something.”

“Why? You gonna get angry if I don’t want to answer?”

“No, I promise.”

“You can ask if you want.” There was the sneer again.

“How do you know Mary?”

The sneer fell from her face, and she looked at the ground as she spoke. “We were in the hospital together. I think we met last year.”

Last year?

“You liar!” I yelled, and I know I sounded pissed off, but that wasn’t it, not just it. It was shock. Surprise. People do stupid things when they’re surprised, and that was a James Sunderland special. I realized it right away, too. Give me that much credit.

“Laura! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…”

“Fine!” she said, “Don’t believe me! See if I care!” She pushed past me and started for the door.

“But Mary wasn’t…” I stopped. Wasn’t she? Of course not. I knew that as well as I knew my own name. So why was there now an ugly little sprig of doubt itching the back of my head now? I ignored it. It was meaningless. I knew everything that happened, and her story didn’t fit. So why?

God help me, I felt like hitting her. But I wasn’t that kind of ****. At least I could say that much.

She had stopped, but her back remained facing me.

“Hey, Laura?” I said, trying to sound soothing. She didn’t respond, but she didn’t bolt, either.

“Let’s get out of here. This is no place for a kid to be hanging around. I can’t believe you haven’t even gotten a scratch on you!” And, she hadn’t. She was the very model of a healthy child, by all outward appearances.

“Why should I have scratches?” she asked. I was a little incredulous. Could she really have managed to avoid seeing any of the monsters that had been plaguing my stay here? I couldn’t believe that. Maria saw them. Eddie claimed to have seen them. Angela, I wasn’t too sure about. But it wasn’t just me, that much I knew for a fact. So why her? How did she get by without seeing one? Could she really have seen one and was just lying? I couldn’t buy that. She sat in the corner of this room with her teddy bears without a care in the world, and I couldn’t imagine a kid of any age being able to do that if they had seen any of the things I had.

Therefore, I had no satisfactory answer to her question, and I said nothing. Instead, I opened the door and held it for her, inviting her to step through with me. I didn’t know if she would, and it was unthinkable to force her to follow me, but it would be best for her safety. She had luck, that much was beyond question, but if that luck ran out, it would definitely be to her benefit if she had someone to watch her skinny little back for her. Even if it had to be me.

Thankfully, it didn’t matter in the end, because she did follow me out of room C2. I was more than a little surprised, but I felt good about it. She looked back at me, motioning to follow, and we began walking towards the elevator, so we could retrieve Maria.

We were about halfway there when Laura stopped suddenly and jammed her hands into the pockets of her faded denim skirt. She plunged them in and out of the pockets frantically.

“Oh no!” she said, her voice shrill.

“What’s the matter?”

“I forgot my letter!”

I shrugged. “Come on, it’s too late to worry about that. We need to get out of here.”

“No!” she yelled, “It’s really important. It’s from Mary!”

Well, that made my heart skip a few beats, of course. “Are you sure?” I said. I would very much like to see this letter. I wasn’t altogether sure now that the Mary she was after was the woman I married, and this letter would almost certainly tell me for certain.

“Where did you leave it?” I asked, even though I had already turned around towards Room C2.

She grabbed my arm and tugged me in the opposite direction. “No, James. It’s over here!” She led me the way we were going, but not towards the elevator. Rather, she led me towards Room C4, and pushed the door open.

I stepped into the room ahead of her. It was the same size as the one that I found her in, but there was far less clutter here, and that gave the appearance of a larger room. Like C2, it appeared that this one had also been put to use as a storage area. There were medicine cabinets, old furniture, a floor lamp, a dismantled sink, and all sorts of other old junk.

“You sure it’s in here?” I asked. Its location wasn’t obvious to me, though that didn’t mean anything.

“Uh, yeah,” she said. “It’s in the back. See the desk? It’s in the drawer.” I did see the desk, an old mahogany relic that may have once looked nice, but was now worn and chipped in a dozen different places. It also had several drawers.

“Hey Laura, which drawer is it in?”

She didn’t answer. I looked over my shoulder at the door.

“Laura? Hey, I don’t know which…”

The door slammed shut.

Oh, hell no. No way, baby.

I ran back to it and nearly yanked the knob out of the door trying to open it, but it was a waste of time. It was locked nice and solid. I pounded on the door.

“Ha ha! Tricked ya!” Laura’s voice mocked me from the other side.

“Hey! Open the door, Laura!”

“Why? You need a liar to open your door for ya?”

“Open the door now!”

“What’s the magic word?”

I wonder how things may have turned out differently if I had just bit my tongue and simply said “please”. I mentioned earlier the James Sunderland special, that certain kind of faux pas that just makes everything go to hell. The kind of open mouth, insert foot that you just don’t ever forget.

“You snotty little brat!” My words were so full of angry force that they hissed coming out of my mouth. “Open this god damn door right now!

The James Sunderland special. This was what it really was. I was trapped and she was my only way out. A clearly-thinking person would tell her what she wanted to hear. A clearly-thinking person would have just said ‘please’. But not me. Nope. I had to call her a brat instead.

As soon as the words left my lips, a sound filled the room. At first, I thought it just one of the several settling noises of the old building. It was a very low thrumming sound, at first sounding like a running furnace.

Then, the sound intensified. It didn’t necessarily grow louder, but it grew stronger, more powerful and more apparent. It also started to fluctuate in pitch, resembling a whale song, if anything. But while whale songs were often melodic, this was not. Whale songs were rather beautiful. This sounded thick and phlegmy.

I looked around the room, to see if I could find the source of the sound. Nothing made itself readily-known, everything looked as it had a minute ago. I turned my attention back towards the door.

Something brushed my ear. It was light, but it was unmistakable, too. The surprise and fear hit me at the exact same time. Desire to get away clashed with the fact that I wasn’t quite expecting to need to. Thus, when I backed up suddenly, my feet weren’t quite geared up for the task. I slipped and fell backwards, yelling as I did so. The pipe fell from my grip and clattered noisily on the tile.

Even as I hit the floor, I reached for my flashlight with one hand and my gun with the other. I aimed the light in each direction around me, trying to determine what was in here with me.

“Why you! You fartface!” Now I’m not gonna open it! Now I’m gonna leave you in there, you hear me? Huh?” I heard her voice through the door, but now I was becoming steadily convinced that there was danger in this room with me, and I ignored her. Something had brushed my ear and it prickled. But, I couldn’t tell what it was. I kept searching, holding the flashlight with my arm fully extended. Nothing that my eyes saw told me anything was wrong. It might just be nerves, which were certainly taxed beyond their limits already. Nerves. I could have imagined being touched. I had the notion that perhaps some of these monsters were invisible to the human eye, but I steadfastly refused to believe that. Silent Hill might have become the Twilight Zone, but if I let my imagination on too long a leash, I would go insane in no time. So it was either my imagination or I was just missing something. And I could still see nothing, so it must be…

There were ceiling tiles missing.

Said ceiling was covered in those insulated foam tiles, the kind you see in basically any kind of public building. Some were yellowed and sagging, but all of them were still intact, except for two. Had they been there before? I certainly hadn’t noticed two black holes above my head a minute ago.

I approached one of the holes slowly, trying my best to move quietly even though anything that might be up there would have to be able to hear me, assuming it had that capability. I was almost underneath it when the low sound suddenly intensified, as if excited. I ducked away quickly, expecting something to come shooting out of the hole above. Nothing did, but my heart was racing, blood was pounding in my ears. Yet, nothing made an appearance so far.

Movement, out of the corner of my eye. I swung around to see.

Feet. There were feet coming out of the ceiling. The curled and flexed repeatedly, rolling around with no apparent thought. Terror seized my chest, steel bands squeezed the breath right out of me. They were lowering. They were descending. Feet gave way to long, thin legs that looked just too small to be human. They were a sickly, jaundiced yellow color, mottled with brown and black spots, as if infected with a fungus. As it lowered, the legs and feet moved with greater excitement. It looked as though they were groping for something.

Then I saw a box of some sort, not a box exactly but more like an iron frame, a cage with no bars that this new creature seemed to be suspended in. Finally, I saw the top of the box, and it stopped lowering. I stood there, numbed by horror and not knowing what to do.

It started moving. It was coming at me.

I almost choked on a scream as I raised the gun and fired off three shots. I paused to see if it did any damage. If it did, it wasn’t nearly enough, for the cage still came forth inexorably, and the bottled bag with legs inside of it still quivered and shook.

I heard a loud, sharp hiss, and I looked up.

The second hole was no longer empty, either. Feet fell from the heavens and were only inches away from my face. Now I did scream. I couldn’t help it. I knew that the door was locked, which effectively eliminated the possibility of escape, but that was all that I wanted now. Thoughts of self-defense factored somewhere in that crazy mix, but the thought of attacking these things, no, that never occurred to me. I couldn’t take both of them out. The door was locked, but I turned to run to it anyway. It was the only option. If Laura was still there, I would appeal to her good nature. I would kiss her ass and make her princess of the **** universe if it made her release me. I would try to shoot the god damn lock if nothing else worked. I would do anything, if it meant I could escape. Anything at all. But I’d have to do it quick, because the second one was now moving. How in the hell was it moving? I could see no support. Was it floating? Was that even possible? I didn’t know and I didn’t find it likely to find out. I had to get out.

Quickly, I aimed at the second monster’s bag-body and fired off four shots, filling the room with percussion. Each shot hit. The bullets caused a shower of blood to almost radiate, some of it splashing me. Its wounds leaked, and a puddle of crimson littered the floor. And for all that, it might as well not have even been touched. I took its increasingly frantic writhing as a sign of pain or injury, but even with that, it still came towards me, now less than two feet away. The first one wasn’t much farther. Now I totally lost my nerve. I turned tail. Discretion is the better part of valor, isn’t it? I know that’s a positive euphemism for cowardice, but damned if I cared right now. A living coward is still living. My desire to live overrode any sense of honor. I turned to run.

I saw them, but not in enough time to do anything about it. Two more feet. Another one had come down behind me while I was worrying about the other two. It was there all along and now I walked right into it like an idiot, though now I had barely enough time to register the fact. The feet lunged towards me like lightning, far too fast for me to avoid. They grabbed me by the throat. They were cold, ice cold. They were slick and they smelled like ancient sweat and **** and oil. And they were strong, oh were they ever strong. They wrapped around my throat and yanked me right into the air.

My head jerked upwards with the pressure, and my eyes felt ready to pop out of my head. I tried to yell for help, tried to scream. There was nobody around but I neither realized nor cared. I couldn’t yell and I couldn’t scream and I couldn’t breathe. The pressure around my neck quickly became pain as I felt my feet leave the ground. I hit the thing with my hands, thought about shooting it but I dropped the pistol and even still I could barely raise my arms. My lungs were on fire as they fought desperately to inhale that wonderful, sweet oxygen they were long accustomed to. Then they too swelled, and the crazy thought shot through my mind, which would go first, my neck or my lungs?

My mind started to drift away. I wanted to grab it with my hands but I couldn’t move them anymore. It felt like I was lifting six-hundred pound dead weights, it felt like they had just shut down and went home, no response. The horrible bag-cage creature filled my vision, but that was fading too. A halo of gray crept in from the edges and made its way slowly towards the center.

As my mind’s grip slipped inexorably away with me in its demonic vise, thoughts of Mary hovered at the fringes. Thoughts of Mary, and my failure to find her. I couldn’t believe it was going to end this way. Tears burst forth from my eyes, and the feeling of them on my nearly-purple cheeks was just about the last of my feeling. The gray halo marched into the center. The capital has fallen. My head rolled back, completely limp, and my eyes rolled back even farther.

The last thing to register was, of all things, a sound.

Sirens.

They sounded just like the ones that saved me from the red pyramid thing. They forestalled my end once. Now they announced it, wailing like a mourner, fittingly.

Then, they faded, too.

Then there was nothing.
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"Stay...
 I Need You Here, For A New Day To Break...
Stay...
I Want You Near, Like A Shadow In My Wake...
Stay...
Here With Me... Don't You Leave...
Stay...
Stay With Me, Until The Day's Over..."
I love you Mutou Yami... Forever.


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« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2010, 04:56:56 am »

Chapter Seventeen
Otherside

More memories. More memories.

More dreamlike, this time. Not the rapid-fire slideshow like last time. This time, it felt more like a slow, leisurely drift through the recesses of my mind. I felt disembodied, an observer from the outside granted access to the inside. I remember only vaguely how I got here, but it didn’t really matter. That I was here was all that mattered.

But where was here?

It was bright. Blues and whites in an endless cascade swirled all around my unusual point of view. It looked like a beautiful, clear sky on a summer afternoon. The edges of my vision were fish-eyed, like a warped camera lens, but that was okay. This was really peaceful.

Ah, I love it here. So peaceful…

Mary?

You know what I heard?

No, honey. What?

I heard that this whole area used to be a sacred place.

Yeah?

Yeah. And you know, I think I can see why.

I agree. It seems different for me this time.

Different?

Yeah. Before, I never really saw anything special about this town. Nice place, yeah, but nothing too special.

Really? I’ve always thought it was special, from the moment we first came.

I didn’t. But I think something’s different this time. Maybe it’s me, and not the town.

What’s different about you?

I love you, Mary.

Ha ha, and you didn’t before?

Of course I did.

So what’s different?

I… I don’t really know.

You don’t need to sugar-coat it, James. I know.

Mary…

No, it’s okay. It’s unfair and it’s messed up, but I understand. Just do me one favor, okay?

Anything.

Promise you’ll take me back here again. That’s all.

Of course. Absolutely I will.

You’re such a good man, James. I love you. I know I’ve been touchy lately, but I love you, and I don’t want you to ever doubt that.

I don’t.

And I never did. I never doubted. Not for a second.

That’s why I came back. That’s why I saw that letter and I came back here. Love and no small amount of faith. Her illness robbed us of so many years, so many opportunities. There was so much I wanted to do, so much I wanted us to do. She wanted children, and I did too. I wanted to be a father, and a better one than my own. I wanted to see them grow, to play with them, help them learn, help them develop. I wanted to see a son play football in high-school, a daughter on her prom night. And I wanted Mary to be right there next to me when I saw these things. She would have been.

Now, all that was out the window. All the domestic dreams I ever had were eaten by that illness as surely and as savagely as Mary was. All I was left with was an empty, day-to-day existence. Living for myself. Some people love doing that. It was ruining me, though. Mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, in every way possible, I was on the fast track to nowhere, and I knew it. And, I have to be honest, that also was a major reason I came here. Hope. What was I hoping for? Mary? Mary’s dead. Only a fool or a lunatic would chase a lead from a dead person. Maybe I was both. She wouldn’t be here. She can’t be here. I know where she is. She’s dead.

Yet, I came anyway. I came because deep down, I think I really believe I’ll see her here somewhere. I think I have to see her again to have any chance at reclaiming my life. I miss her so much. So much.

Why did you have to die on me like this?

Why?

James?

Yeah, hon?

I’m not feeling so well.

What’s the matter?

I don’t know. Threw up all night.

We should go see the doctor.

Why? What good will that do? What good have they done?

They’ll be able to figure out what’s wrong, but it will take time.

Glad they have time. I don’t know if I do.

Don’t talk that way.

Why not?

You’re scaring me, that’s why not.

Scared? What do you know about scared? I’m scared, James. I’m terrified. Something’s killing me, don’t you understand? I’m dying and nobody knows why!

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…

Don’t be sorry for me, James. It’s not helping.

I’m doing everything I can to help!

Too bad God isn’t. I go to church every Sunday of my life and He turns His back on me now.

Don’t say things like that.

Oh, shut up already. Just stop it. Stop it! Stop trying to make me feel better! Stop trying to baby me! Damn it, James, just go! Just leave!

Mary!

Oh, don’t think I can’t tell. You wish I was all nice and healthy again, and it’s killing you that I’m not. Big wrench in your plans, huh? Just go!

But…

GO! GO AWAY! LEAVE ME BE!

…James?

…James!

Where are you? Come back! Don’t leave me! Please! I didn’t mean it! Please come back! I love you, James! I love you! I didn’t mean it so come back please! James!

James!

James!

James!


Where did I go?

I think my eyes are open now. I think I’m seeing something. I know I’m feeling something. I’m rolling. Not like logrolling, but rather, I’m being rolled. Being pushed. My eyes are open but they can only roll so far on their own, and my head wasn’t willing to help out. I don’t think I was tied down, I guess I would have felt the pressure of rope or straps, and I didn’t. But I wasn’t going anywhere on my own. All I could do was lay there with my eyes open, watching the dark ceiling pass by.

There was something really odd about it, though. I didn’t really notice until my vision began to sharpen a bit, but once it did, it was really obvious.

There was no ceiling.

Maybe there was, I’m only assuming. I saw hanging air vents, I saw exposed piping and old, frayed electrical wiring poking out in random tufts like a teenage boy’s first beard. It wasn’t just that everything was exposed, but everything looked really, really old. Hundreds of years old. Everything metal was covered in thick, scabrous rust that was a deep crimson hue resembling fresh blood.

For an eternity it seemed I was being carted along this endless corridor, from where and to where I had no idea. My wits and senses were beginning to come back to me, and with that the less I felt like I was still in dreamland. Though, as I saw more of my surroundings, the more I wished I could return to dreamland. Failing that, I really wished this ride would end. Fear seeped back into me, filling the vacuum left behind by my subconscious detachment. I wanted off, and now.

Then, unexpectedly, I felt my body tilt forward, a lovely and wonderful response to a wish. I should take a picture of that for posterity. I ended up on my feet, and I found that I could move my arms and legs, I could wiggle my fingers and shake my head.

At that moment my entire body was overwhelmed by that peculiar sensation of needles and pins as blood poured into veins and arteries and capillaries that seemed to have been out of use for a hell of a long time. I was seized by the sudden and tremendous force of it, and my body convulsed uncontrollably. It felt like I had been thrown into a river fill of piranhas that had been left to starve for a week, and it was so extraordinarily shocking that I collapsed to the ground, moaning and wailing and wishing for it to stop. It wasn’t exactly painful, but the strength of the sensation, the strength and the extent of the sensation was so completely overwhelming. I was experiencing sensory overload. And, for the moment, there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it except lie there twitching and allow my body to get itself back in gear and get my blood flowing again. It did, but it was a slow, torturous process, and more than once I thought for certain it was going to drive me over the edge of insanity. It was several endless minutes before I was even able to stand.

So, what the hell happened to me? It felt like I had suffered some sort of total shutdown of my circulatory system, from head to toe. I wasn’t expecting any answers, really, and I didn’t get any. I was feeling okay, more or less, and if I was, then it wasn’t a major issue.

What was a major issue was that I was having the worst time remembering how I ended up this way. I tried and strained to find even a sliver of recollection of the events that led me to where I was. It did come back to me, bit by bit. A trickle of images, not unlike that little stream of unconsciousness from before. Laura, Maria, the monsters that hung from the ceiling. Those rotten, stinking flesh bags in wire cages with the happy feet. The happy feet that wrapped around my unhappy neck and choked the life out of me. Just thinking about those things was like taking a baseball to the face, and I could almost see my heart rate double. I remembered encountering them but I didn’t remember how that encounter ended, probably because I didn’t stay awake long enough to find out. Whatever happened, I ended up in a very different place.

Very different indeed.

I somehow found myself outside, at least, in a technical fashion. The area I found myself in was very small, perhaps not even as large as the room I Laura was playing in. On all sides were high walls made of stark, naked concrete, which were stained everywhere by a combination of rust, dirt, and just plain age. The wall behind me was adorned with a double-door, but it was in horrible shape. I don’t know what color it originally was, but now it was red and brown because it was absolutely covered in rust. The surface was a dark, scabrous mess that made the doors look like they had contracted some terminal form of eczema. The dirt beneath my feet actually sported random tufts of grass and low moss here and there. It was soft, spongy and damp.

Of course, even without all of that, I’d still know I was outdoors because it was raining. It wasn’t coming down very hard, my clothes and hair were a little wet but comfortably far from soaked. There were no sounds. The place was almost tomb-silent except for the light patter of raindrops hitting the ground. Honestly, I found it rather peaceful. I hadn’t felt less threatened at this very moment than I had from the moment I walked out of that toilet stall on the lakeside overlook, and that seemed like a million years ago.

There was something else odd, and I realized as much, but the feeling wasn’t anything so obvious as rain. I simply couldn’t lay my finger on it. I gave the little yard here a good second look, but nothing gave me any sort of inspirational flash.

Nothing to do except see what was behind the doors, the rusty red twins with the dragon’s scales. They were sealed with an odd sort of pull-latch. In its salad days, I’m sure that pull-latch moved without a trace of effort, but those days were far away in the mists of time. These days, nothing short of a team of pack horses was going to bring it open. I had to squat on the ground and use my legs to push against it for it to even budge. I did this in a sort of repetition, and eventually I got the bar far enough above the lip to pull the door open. Doing that was by no means easy, but I was able to wedge my leg inside the door and push with my thigh enough for it to let me slip through.

The place I had found myself in outside was hardly an inviting place, but if it wasn’t exactly peaceful, it also didn’t fill me with an overburdening sense of dread as much of what I’d seen in Silent Hill had.

The place I found myself inside was even worse. Far worse. A whole different world of worse.

The appearance of the steel door was only a prelude to what I found behind it. There was a horrid look about everything. The walls of this building, whatever it was, were absolutely caked with all manners of filth and dirt and rust, and some of that rust looked too red to be rust. Some of that rust looked far too much like blood for my taste. A viscous black smear of rot coated the floor and crept up the walls where they met. It looked like the diseased, emphysematic lungs you see in those anti-smoking ads. I thought I could even smell it in the air, along with a myriad of stenches. Death, decay, pestilence hung in the air like a cloud, so thick you could almost grab it with your hands. It was hot, wet and nasty and it made me sick.

That’s it. That’s what had bothered me even outside, where it looked relatively normal.

Where in the hell did all the cold go?

Even before I got into town, the temperature had felt like late autumn, cold, wet, and damp. Nothing even close to the balmy early-summer heat that normally curses the land this time of year. Even inside of the buildings it was chilly at best. Even in the damn hospital it had been cold.

Now, it was anything but cold. Now the air was warm and muggy, and had that sort of unpleasant thickness that made breathing more difficult and was often the unindicted co-conspirator in several deaths among the elderly and the asthmatic in New England every summer.

Inside of this place, the warmth and humidity only served the amplify all of the sensual properties of the nastiness that pervaded the entire area, none of which were pleasant. I stepped through and looked around, taking care with my steps. The floor was slick with wet filth and the last thing I wanted was to plant my ass in it.

The room I was in was pretty small, and blessedly empty of anything moving. There were two doors, and a small hallway led a few feet down, however, a gate of ancient chain-link fencing cordoned it off. I tried the door in front of me first. The knob was covered in dark slime, and I jerked my hand back and wiped it on my pants. I tried again using my jacket sleeve, and gave the knob a good turn. To my surprise, the knob came off in my hand with a dull snap. The neck of the knob was a jagged mess, corroded with age and any number of other elements. I tossed it on the ground and gave the door a half-hearted shove, knowing even before I tried that it wasn’t about to give way.

The knob on the other door wasn’t as messy, and I turned it with less muscle. When it turned, it did so with a dry grinding noise, but it did turn, and the metal door swung open slowly, its joints protesting loudly and fervently.

The world beyond this door was no better than the one I came from. It was another hallway of some sort, and it was in just as generally a wretched shape. What a gift, there were no shambling threats, so I had all the time I wanted to explore this new little pocket of hell.

At first, there didn’t seem like much to see. A few doors lined one side of the hall, all of them in sorry shape, one so encrusted with filth that it held the door sealed like glue. None of them opened. The knob on the last door was bent at a painful angle.

Yet, a second look at this particular door proved fruitful. There was a plate of some sort at eye level, a plate that was probably once shiny brass but was now green going on black with tarnish and crud. I gripped my sleeve and wiped some of it off. It was dried, and crumbled with pressure.

I have to admit that I had no idea what to expect to see engraved on that plate. There were a few things I wasn’t really expecting to see, however, and one of them happened to be what I did see.

The plate read “C1”.

Jiminy **** Christmas. I’m still in the hospital.

Yes, I’m still in the hospital, but what in the hell happened to it?I blacked out, that much I know for a fact. It didn’t seem like I was out of commission longer than a few hours, at least, not to my mind. There was the almost complete cutoff of my blood flow to consider, but even that couldn’t have been more than maybe four or five hours. Yet, if I really was still in Brookhaven Hospital, and I had to judge by my surroundings, I’d guess I was unconscious for a hundred god damn years at least. Before that obnoxious little **** locked me in that room with the fleshbags, the place looked neglected and abandoned, unused for several years. Now it looked like the entire building was suffering from the late stages of some kind of terminal cancer. It looked rotten, it looked diseased. It wasn’t just the look of the place, either. It smelled weak and sickly. The air was heavy and humid and thick on the lungs. It even felt wrong, in some sixth-sense way that’s hard to explain correctly. It wasn’t just the air that was heavy, everything was heavy. It was as if gravity itself were stronger here, the ever-present force pulled downward with greater strength and intensity here.

Fell asleep for a hundred years. Twilight Zone bullshit.

Yet, no sensible explanation made itself readily available. None of this was right. Was I here alone? What happened to Maria? To Laura? It was driving me crazy. But, what was there to do about it? The answer, of course, was obvious. Press on. Maybe something did happen to Silent Hill, something that killed all of the people or turned them into monsters somehow. Maybe it also created the strange, unseasonable weather and caused the severe damage to parts of the town. I could accept all of that as possible. I had to, because there were no other explanations available. But seeing what I was seeing made me question even these loose rules of logic that I had grown somewhat accustomed to while in town. So even the obvious answer wasn’t so obvious at all. I had been scared and shocked more times than I cared to remember since this morning, but until now, I was afraid only for my immediate survival. Now, finding this impossible scenario playing out all around me, I was afraid for more than my own life. I was afraid that I would not die. I was afraid to live in a place like this, to live and possibly forever be denied Mary. I came here for her, after all. I could not leave until I found some way of coming to grips with that letter I received early this morning.

So, even though obvious wasn’t obvious, I decided to press on anyway. It was better to press on and die than to sit motionless in this stinking shithole and spend the rest of my life scared and simply waiting for the merciful hand of Death. No. If I met Death, assuming any of the stories about the entity held even the slightest trace of fact, I preferred that it happened on my terms.

Besides, there was Mary. No matter what, there was Mary. I couldn’t stop, I couldn’t rest until I could find her. That letter in my pocket felt like a single bone that belonged to a larger skeleton buried beneath the earth, one that would not allow me a moment’s peace until it was whole again. I was a man driven, and I had to be, because nothing else could force me to brave this kind of experience.

But where to press on to? There were no more doors left, except… was that the elevator?

It was. And I suppose climbing the shaft wouldn’t be completely impossible, though something I hardly looked forward to. I would have to find a way to pry the door open first. I could have used my pipe, but whoever deposited me in that little courtyard forgot to bring it with them. One of the C-Rooms might have something, though I would have to force my way into one of those too. I stood there trying to come up with some kind of solution, and I pressed one of the elevator buttons on the panel, more out of vacant curiosity than anything else.

Imagine my surprise when I heard the bell ring and the crusty old doors slide open.

The elevator looked different inside, too. The walls were draped completely in white sheets. They were yellowed some, probably from age, but really, so far, this was the most sanitary environment I had seen since waking up. I stepped inside, and the doors slid shut behind me with a smoothness I would not have even thought to expect considering the look of them.

The panel inside was covered in a thin film of dust, but it was very readable. I pushed the button for the third floor, then I stepped back and gripped the rail tightly. I was worried the first time I had ridden this thing. I had no idea how on earth it was still functioning. I was still halfway convinced that some ungodly amount of time had passed while I was under, and if my supposition was even somewhat true, this elevator could very well be a deathtrap.

The elevator’s motor jerked to life and I felt my stomach drop with the force of its movement. I was only going up two floors, but the ride seemed to take an hour as I latched onto the rail and prayed very hard and very strong for this thing to deliver me whole. Finally, an eternity later, the bell dinged again, and the doors whooshed open into the pitch-dark hallways of what was once the Solitary Wing a hundred years ago.

If I held any tiny hope that the third floor would look as I remembered, it didn’t last past my first view. The hallway didn’t have the same look of shithole nastiness that the first floor did, but it was still undeniably different from before. It was darker, for one. The walls were stained green with mold and mildew, and the amorphous coverage was all but total. There was a wet stink in the air from all of it, and it was even warmer up here.

I stepped off of the elevator, and to my immediate right, there was a strange sight. It was a door, but it was decorated in some sort of strange fresco, a three-dimensional bas-relief of a woman. The woman’s face and the décor around it were contoured, but her arms were actually extended away from the door, crafted in full detail. It was rather impressive-looking, and it seemed as though the overgrowth had not damaged the relief, or even touched it except on the edges.

The fingers were slender and smooth, except in two places. Both of her ring-fingers had indentations. Did someone remove her rings? Interesting. I tried the knob, but it was locked.

I turned to go down the hall, and as soon as I did, I found myself facing a nurse. My heart nearly blew out of my chest as my eyes clapped the sight of the rotten, mottled outfit over the plastic-looking body. Providentially, its back was to me, and I had the initiative. I quickly reached for my gun and fired two shots into its head at point-blank rage.

The demon nurse’s wail was cut short as the back of its head imploded and the front burst like a watermelon dropped onto a sidewalk. A steaming splash of gore cascaded against the opposite wall and slid down, leaving crimson streaks as it went. The nurse quivered and shook on its feet for perhaps two seconds, then it fell to the ground in a heap, where it convulsed weakly and then fell still. The smell from its pulped head made my stomach turn like a tilt-a-whirl, and I had to lean against the wall and swallow down my rising bile.

Once I composed myself, I looked down at the monster again, and I was pleased to see, as crazy as it sounds, that it carried a pipe not at all unlike the others I had encountered. I picked it up and tucked the gun in my belt, satisfied to have a good close-range defense again.

I checked my pocket radio, as it had occurred to me that it didn’t warn me to the presence of the nurse. The knob was turned all the way to the left, in the ‘off’ position. I couldn’t remember turning it off, but I was very glad I did, because it still worked once I turned it back on, just as my flashlight did.

I turned left and made my way to room S3, hoping against hope that Maria was still there, hoping that she had survived whatever happened, that maybe, just maybe, I could dream that she might actually know what had happened.

The plates on the doors were overgrown and illegible, but the third door from the end was still unlatched and it was the only one that was. The handle was slick with what felt like fuzzy moss, but the door opened without much trouble.

It was empty.

That was asking for too much.

The room had changed considerably. The bed was still there, but while before it looked old and ****-soaked, now it was saturated and disgusting. A huge blob of black fungus grew from the center of the mattress and radiated outward like an evil little starburst. It smelled like sweet, rotten fruit, and I had to hold my nose because the scent was rather powerful.

However, on the bedside table, there was a clue. Several of them, actually.

Prescription bottles. Several of them. I counted six on the table, and I saw two more on the bed. The labels were still pretty clean, and I recognized some of the drugs listed. Hydrocodone, Valium, Percocet, all of which I remember because at some point or another Mary had been prescribed all of them and then some. All of these bottles were empty but none of them were ancient. There wasn’t even so much as dust on them. They hadn’t been here long at all. And that could only mean Maria was still here somewhere. Maybe looking for me.

And as uncomfortable as she made me feel, right now I would probably kiss her if she were in front of me, because this place was overbearingly depressing, and I felt if I didn’t find another human face soon, I would go nuts. She was here somewhere, though. I put one of the empty pill bottles in my pocket and stepped back out into the hallway, determined to find her.
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« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2010, 05:01:41 am »

Chapter Eighteen
Basement’s Basement

Having a goal was a good thing. Having determination made it a little easier to make myself move. However, the reality of the situation was that I was faced with the task of searching this hospital all over again, and that was hard enough when things looked more normal. What I really wanted was to get out of here, to get out and not look back.

I couldn’t leave Maria here, though. Even though I wasn’t extraordinarily thrilled to keep her around, abandoning her here would be quite cowardly of me. I’m no saint, but I’m also not that kind of ****.

So, I marched up the hallway, examining the doors. Most of them still retained their padlocks. In fact, the passage of time had basically fused many of the locks to the latches they rested in.

The first one without a lock opened only after being kicked, and a wretched smell came from within, thick and choking. It was a smell similar to old ketchup, and it made my throat lock up. I covered my mouth and nose with my jacket sleeve, readied the pipe with my other hand, and peeked inside, wondering what on earth was causing the stench.

It came as no small surprise to find that the room was empty of any obvious source. In fact, the small cell looked quite clean compared to S3. There was no mattress on the bed, just an old, rusty boxspring with a deep sag in the middle. Maybe there was something in the vent shaft. I didn’t know and it didn’t matter. Maria wasn’t here. I quickly got out of the room and shut the door. When I did, I noticed that my efforts to force the door open had broken off some of the encrusted green slop that had grown over most of the hallway and hardened like glue. Chunks of it had been torn right off, and while it was hardly much of an improvement, it was noticeable. If anyone else had tried to open these doors, they should leave similar evidence.

It didn’t really matter though, because this door, S10, was the only one besides S3 that was left unlocked. Even S16 now had a crusty, rusty padlock preventing access, and I knew for certain that it wasn’t there before.

The specialty rooms on the other side of the hall were also all inaccessible. The door leading to the main hallway was still functioning though, and I opened it, which required more muscle-work. I slid through it once it had opened enough to permit it, and the retractor pulled the door shut behind me with a dry, metallic groan.

The radio came to life with a vengeance, and I looked down the hallway as I debated whether or not to use the gun. I only had one clip left, so I really didn’t want to.

At least, not until I saw two nurses in the distance, a distance that was narrowing because both of them had been facing my direction and doubtlessly were attracted to my flashlight. They shambled towards me at a good pace. The one in the lead suddenly halted, and its head quivered and flailed. I don’t know why it did this, but it didn’t seem to faze the other one, which pushed the lead nurse out of the way and continued towards me. The nurse with the spasmodic head didn’t resist being shoved, and regained its composure a moment later and resumed towards me.

I stood my ground, thinking for some crazy reason that I would defend myself against both attackers. It was crazy to think that. Crazy and reckless and stupid. Had I tried, I’m sure I would have died right there.

Therefore, I suppose it was an ironic twist of luck that a third nurse lurched around the corner not even three feet in front of me. It broke my fixation on the other two, which was luck, but it was a costly bit of luck. I was so fixated on the nurses that I saw down the hall that I hadn’t thought to check the small branch to my left, and as the faceless horror raised its pipe, I realized my error and turned to get out of the way.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t fast enough.

The nurse swung its ghost-white arm. The pipe made a buzzing hum as it sliced through the air, and then made a dull thump as the pipe’s head struck me on the side of my knee.

The pain was tremendous, soundless but so loud. I cried out and came this close to collapsing. If I did that, though, I was finished. This nurse would reach me in seconds and club me again and again, and I might survive it long enough for the other two nurses to arrive and join the party. I would die curled up like a baby on the floor, beaten to a bloody pulp. It was this horrible mental image, and the fear of how painful it would be, that made me force myself to stay balanced. I almost stumbled again as lurched towards the door to the stairwell, as the pain flared anew once I put my weight on it, but though sheer force of will, I stayed up once again and I gripped the door handle.

Dear God, please let this knob turn. Please let this door open, and please let there be nothing behind the door. I’ll fall to the ground inside and cry because this hurts so **** bad and I know that’s not dignified but please God give me that chance. Dear God, if this knob doesn’t turn, I’m gonna die…

The knob turned smoothly in my hand, and I pushed the door open, stumbled through, and slammed it shut behind me with the nearest demon nurse less than a foot away. I slid to the floor, clutching my knee and sobbing with pain and fear. I’m not ashamed to admit that. I was in tears. It hurt that bad. And, I was scared stupid to boot, because not two seconds after I shut the door, I heard a muted whack, which was followed by another. A moment later, there were more and more, and soon it was a terrifying, arrhythmic percussion line as all three nurses beat furiously on the door with their pipes. It was a damned lucky thing that the door was made of solid steel. They might be able to break through eventually, but it wouldn’t be any time soon, and it didn’t seem as though they possessed the intelligence to simply try the doorknob. Even this realization wasn’t enough to bring my heart rate down under about two-hundred. As long as I leaned against it, it probably wasn’t going to be opened.

I pulled the right leg of my pants up and examined my knee. The nurse didn’t hit me directly in the kneecap and that was a damned good thing, as it could very well have been shattered by a blow that hard. The right side of my knee was an angry red mass that was swelling and already turning purple. I massaged it with my right hand and it smarted, but once I tried extending and contracting the leg a few times, I was pretty certain that nothing was broken. It would hurt like hell for awhile, and it would be difficult to walk on, but it was definitely a more desirable alternative to having a broken knee. Had I turned a second slower, that’s almost certainly what would have happened. If it did, I would be useless and unable to move. A broken knee would be a certain death sentence here. I would have sat here, immobile, until I either starved to death or the nurses broke through, or, of course, until I decided to turn the gun on myself. If ever I had doubted the existence of God, and during Mary’s ordeal I most certainly did, my belief was somewhat reaffirmed now. That was too close a call for my liking.

The beating eased somewhat as I hoisted myself up into a standing position. I almost lost my balance at first, but I had the wall for support, and I took a few tentative steps back and forth. Evidently, the nurses must have started to lose interest in me, because the thumping on the door became less intense and not nearly as rapid. It finally stopped altogether as I gripped the handrail and started to ascend the stairs to the roof. I found that I was able to climb them without too much difficulty. My knee was sore but it wasn’t as debilitating as I was afraid it would be. I could walk on this knee, run if I had to, and I could climb stairs. The relief I felt was almost tangible.

And it melted away entirely the second I reached the top of the stairs, where the door to the hospital’s roof was.

It was gone. I don’t say that meaning that there was a missing door, I mean, the door and the frame were simply not there. Instead, I found myself staring at a blank concrete wall. It was if there had never been a door there to begin with. I ran my hand along its surface, hoping it was some weird visual trick, or perhaps that my eyes were playing some **** tricks on my brain. But it was smooth, cool concrete that my fingers felt.

I thought perhaps that I had been injured by the fleshbags and through some impossible means remained unconscious for a very long time, years or even decades. There was a lot to suggest that it was possible. Everything did look severely aged compared to how it did before. The climate was completely different.

But there were also things that made me unsure of that theory, and this was certainly the most compelling of them all. A door had simply vanished. Someone would have had to actually remove that. It would require construction, and careful construction at that, to make this possible, and considering the state of things, I could not even begin to accept that as possible, but logic and common sense simply did not hold sway here. I wanted to find Mary, and everything else was secondary to that, but just what in the hell happened here? I had dismissed the idea of being Rip Van Winkle as Twilight Zone crap, but now that was the only sort of explanation that made sense. Maybe I was in some insane alternate universe. Hell, why not? Nothing else in Silent Hill makes any sense. Eat your heart out, Ray Bradbury!

There were things to be done, though. Standing here thinking about it was a waste of time. I didn’t know the answers, didn’t even have so much as a basic grasp of them, and I knew I wouldn’t anytime soon. I descended the stairs carefully, not wanting to overtax my knee. Everything was quiet as I passed the third floor door. Apparently, the locals had better things to be doing. Good for them. I kept going.

The doorknob on the second floor turned, but the door did not budge, even with me throwing my body at it. Of course, I didn’t put all of my weight into that venture, but I don’t think it would have mattered. Something was obstructing that door and it would take more than the likes of me to do anything about it. The door leading to the ground level might not have been blocked by anything, but it was locked, so it might as well have been.

It came from down below. A noise. Something was squealing, and it was squealing repeatedly. Cautiously, I continued downward, listening to the strange noise. At first, the regularity of it made me think it was some kind of mechanical sound, but as I got closer, I doubted that more and more. It resembled a baby’s screech, or perhaps that of a pig, but the pitch was wrong, far too high to be either one.

At the bottom there was a door directly in front of me. The hallway seemed to continue further, and the noise was stronger now. Whatever it was, it wasn’t very far around the corner from me. But I wouldn’t be peeking around to investigate, even if I wanted to, because just like in that one room upstairs on the first floor, someone had erected a length of chain-link fencing that covered the entire span of the hallway. It was secured to the wall every foot or so with strong iron bolts. There would be no getting through it, but I can’t say it was too disappointing, because I wasn’t all that eager to discover the source of that earsplitting squeal.

So instead, I opened the door in front of me.

It appeared to be a storeroom of some sort, though it was in pretty poor shape. Rows of shelves lay tipped and leaning at wrong angles, their contents having spilled out and cascaded across the floor. Most of them were small boxes of things I could barely read because they were so old and worn. Some were bars of soap, still wrapped in silver foil and smelling as fresh as ever. Most of them were hygienic supplies of various sorts, few of them worth keeping. It was the bright blue box that caught my attention, mostly because it stood out quite plainly from the rest.

The box read “Silver Bear”, and it was full of Luger 9mm rounds. Well, mostly full. The box held fifty and I counted thirty-eight, and the box didn’t look too old, not nearly as old as most of the others, so hopefully it was still potent. I couldn’t believe my luck. What a full box of ammo was doing in the storeroom of a mental institution, or where the missing twelve bullets went, was beyond me, but thank God for whatever idiot thought it was a good idea to keep it here. I took the opportunity to fill my empty clip. It might be reckless to fire ammo when you weren’t sure if it was good, but I was willing to take my chances.

Having done that, I noticed that there was still one shelf still standing. It leaned against the wall to the left of where I had entered. A large bloody handprint was smeared all over the side of the unit. Looking closer, I noticed that it didn’t rest completely against the wall, instead sitting at a slight angle. There was something behind it, I could see.

There was too much clutter on the other side of the shelf to push it, and not enough room to pull it towards me, so I gripped it with both hands at the top and tipped it forward. More boxes of cleaning supplies spilled forth from its shelves just before the unit itself hit the ground with a powerful crash. I backed up quickly to avoid getting hit by any of it.

And it was quite an interesting thing that was revealed to me. It was a cubbyhole, not large enough to be considered a doorway, nor having a door anyway, it was a small crevice just large enough for a man if he ducked his head. There was a ladder going down into inky darkness. I stood looking at it for a moment, and then I poked my head and flashlight through the hole. Looking down, I didn’t see anything, and so far, the radio was behaving. I turned to get on the ladder.

Suddenly, the door opened next to me. I cried out in surprise and stood straight up instinctively, which caused the back of my head to strike the concrete wall. It wasn’t a hard blow, but it dazed me for just a bit as I climbed back out and groped for the pipe.

“James!” The voice was female, and so terribly familiar.

Oh dear God, I’ve actually found her. I’ve actually found…

“Mary!” I yelled, overcome by just a quicksilver flash of elation. But it evaporated just as quickly. It wasn’t Mary. It was Maria, and she stood there shaking her head.

“Ah, Maria, I… Jesus, I thought it was… Ah ****, I’m sorry.” She stared at me with her ice-cold eyes. They almost made my voice break as I spoke. “Anyway, I’m glad to see you’re okay.”

In an instant, those eyes changed from ice to blazing fire. They opened wide and she bared her teeth.

Anyway? What do you mean, anyway?” Her voice was filled with venomous anger. “I wander around this dump, lost and scared out of my mind, looking for you, and the first thing you do is confuse me with her. She’s all you even freaking care about! You couldn’t be bothered to give a damn about me though, could you? Why didn’t you even try to find me?

“But Maria, I was looking for you, it’s just that…”

“Oh, don’t give me that, James. You left me in that room and you never came back! You’ve been gone forever, and you’d have walked right out of here without me so you can find that dead wife of yours! The hell with me, right?”

“No, of course not.”

Unexpectedly, she threw her arms around my neck and rested her head on my chest. Her fingers laced through my hair, and I could feel how warm she was, I could feel the hot wetness of her tears as they stained my shirt. I put my arm around her. It was an instinctive thing.

“Then stay with me, James. Please, for the love of God, stay with me. Don’t leave me alone here. You’re supposed to take care of me.” She remained close to me, and it hit me that this was the most intimate contact I’d had with a woman since Mary died. Years. As awkward as it was, as much as I didn’t want to enjoy it, I did. I slipped my other arm around her waist and held her a little tighter. After everything that had happened, this was nice. This was needed. I had no feelings for this woman. On the contrary. But at this moment, I needed to hold somebody. It was an incredible relief.

But it didn’t mean anything. Only Mary mattered. I was glad to know it sounded less hollow in my own mind than I thought it would at this moment, in the embrace of another woman.

Finally, she looked up at me, not yet breaking contact. “You didn’t happen to find Laura, did you?”

“Yeah, I did, but it didn’t go all that well. She ran away.” I was hardly willing to divulge many of the details, and she didn’t seem willing to pry for them.

“We’ve gotta find her,” was all she said.

I looked at her curiously. “You really seem to care for her a great deal. You know who she is?”

She shook her head. “Never met her before. But you know, I feel so sorry for her, wandering around this place all by herself. It’s not safe. And I can’t explain why exactly, but ever since I saw her run from the bowling alley, I feel like it’s up to be to keep her safe.” She laughed softly. “Strange, huh?”

“No, it’s not. I’ve felt the same, really.” Partially true. Part of me did want to keep her safe. Part of me wanted to use her to kick a field goal.

I turned away from Maria and approached the ladder I found.

“What’s down there?” Maria asked.

“I don’t know, I just came across it. Follow me down?”

“Sure.”

I climbed down the ladder. It actually ended about a foot and a half before it reached the ground, and I almost stumbled getting off, landing on my sore knee. I heard Maria mount the ladder as I took a look around.

It was a very small room, not much larger than the solitary rooms upstairs. It was walled on all sides in bare concrete, but the floor was covered in old wooden slats, scaly and warping with age and moisture. The room was completely naked, save for one thing.

An old refrigerator lay on its back in the middle of the room. It was a relic, an old Amana with the rounded edges and chevrons on the front. It was white once but dimmed and dulled with time. I gripped the handle and pulled, but it didn’t budge.

“What’s the matter?” Maria’s voice came from behind.

I pointed at the fridge. “It’s stuck.”

She laughed. “What’s wrong? The big strong guy can’t open it by himself? Need a woman’s touch?”

I hated that mocking tone in her voice, in anyone’s voice, really, but I said nothing. I grabbed the handle again, and she did as well with both hands. Together, we pulled and strained.

There was a bass-like sucking sound as the door pried away from the main unit and the vacuum-trapped air within was released after countless years of confinement. The air was very stale and smelled rotten.

“Huh. What’s this?”

She reached into the fridge and came up with something in her hand. “Wow, talk about ugly. What a weird thing to hide in a fridge.” She held her hand out to me. “Here, you can have them. I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing them.”

I opened my hand and received her treasure. My eyes widened.

A pair of rings dropped into my outstretched hand.

She was right about one thing, they were pretty tacky. One was made of old copper and had a spider engraved on it. The other was at least three times heavier despite being the same size. Lead? I didn’t know. Its face was shaped like a distraught skull, looking kind of like that screaming man in that Edvard Munch painting.

Ugly, yeah, no question. But the image of that amazing fresco on the door upstairs came immediately to mind, and a slightly bewildered expression appeared on Maria’s face as I made for the ladder, not saying a word to her.

They were the missing rings from that bas-relief upstairs, I was certain of it. I was suddenly more than a little curious to find out where that door led to, and I intended to find out now.
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« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2010, 05:08:09 am »

Chapter Nineteen
The Long Run

Maria grunted as I pulled her up off of the ladder. She was upset with me because I didn’t tell her where I was going, and she made that quite apparent to me when she grabbed hold of my arm and tugged me backwards, right before I reached the storeroom door.

“Hold on a sec,” she said, “Where are we going? What’s up with those rings?”

“I know what they’re for,” I said, “They might be our ticket out of here.” I wasn’t really at all sure if that was true or not, but I wanted to believe it.

She crossed her arms. “That’s fine and all, but even if those things can get us out, we can’t leave here without Laura.”

I turned to her. “Maria, she could be anywhere. She ran away from me, and for all I know, she could have left the hospital and made it halfway across town by now.”

“But we have to look! We can’t leave her here in this crud hole!”

“I don’t want to, but we have to look out for ourselves, too. This place can get us both killed. I’ve had more than one close call already. We can certainly keep our eyes peeled for her, but we do need to get out of here.”

Her look was cold enough to make me shiver. “That’s certainly the selfish approach. Yeah, the hospital’s dangerous. Nice work, Holmes. It’s dangerous for her as well as us, if not more so. Besides, where would we go? What if it’s as bad as this outside?” She swept her arms in an all-encompassing gesture. “What would you have us do, swim across Toluca to reach the Lakeview? No thank you sir.” She stared at me, challenging me to disagree. I declined. Instead, I opened the door and went forth. She followed me without saying a word. As we ascended the stairs, I noticed that the high-pitched screeching noise from before continued unabated and still sounding off regularly. I was no more eager to see what made the sound than I was before. I went on.

By the time we made it back up to the third floor, my knee was hurting again. It was a constant, steady pain, as if it were in a vise that was being slowly tightened. I shifted my stride a bit to keep my weight off of it. I was grimacing as we climbed, but once I was on steady ground again, it felt better. I tried not to let on to Maria how much it hurt, and if she did notice, she gave no sign.

We found ourselves standing outside the door leading to the third floor hall. It wasn’t but maybe ten minutes ago that I leaned against this door in abject terror for my life, and with the event so recent, I was very hesitant to open the door again.

The feeling doubled when I noticed that the radio was humming.

It wasn’t the loud, squalling **** of noise it was when the threat was imminent, but it was more than just white noise. It was the first time I had ever noticed it picking up on monsters through walls and doors. I was glad for the advance warning but I was also petrified at the thought of running through this hallway where three of those killers were lurking. We had to get through here though, sooner or later. There was no way around that fact.

With the radio still sounding its muted warning of doom, I carefully turned the knob, making as little noise as possible, opened the door just wide enough, and poked my head around the corner.

There it was. One of them was in the corner, opposite of the door. It stood facing the corner. It wasn’t moving at all, save for a sort of drunken swaying as it stood in place. I turned to look the other way, but I didn’t see much. Either of the nurses might have been as close as seven or eight feet, or they could have both been on the other end of the hall completely. I didn’t dare use my flashlight to check, because it would draw them like lodestones if they happened to be facing this direction. I slipped back inside and held the door closed.

“What’s wrong?” Maria asked.

“I had a tough time coming through here before,” I said. “There were three of them then. I only see one of them now.”

“So?”

“There’s a door on the right, leads to the hall with those small cells. I’m going to run straight for that door and I want you to follow right behind me. But you have to be fast, because one of them is right near that door.”

She nodded, and I felt her hand on my back as I pulled the door back. I still saw the nurse in the corner. It hadn’t moved yet, but it would once it saw the light. I thought about trying to shoot it from here, but I didn’t have that kind of confidence in my marksmanship, and the noise could alert the neighbors. No, best to just run past it.

“Ready?” I asked.

“Yeah, I think so.”

I steeled myself, keeping my eyes on the monster in the distance.

C’mon, Sunderland.

I had been holding my breath and I didn’t realize it until it escaped with an explosive whoosh as I darted out of the doorway towards my goal. The door wasn’t but maybe eight feet away, but as tense as I was, no, as scared as I was, it felt like a half a mile and up a hill to boot.

The nurse sprang to life, incensed by the intrusion. Or perhaps it was thrilled by my return. It turned on a dime, surprisingly fast. But it didn’t face me, the direction was all wrong. No, this one was after…

“Maria!” I screamed, “Hurry up!”

She was already out in the hall but she was standing still. Scared shitless, no doubt, but this was not the time. She snapped back to reality, from my voice or from the sudden moves of the monster nurse, I didn’t know, but either way, it galvanized her into motion.

Unfortunately, her hesitation was going to cost her with interest. The nurse broke into a shambling scoot, not directly towards Maria but in front of me. An intercept course. Bastards sure as hell weren’t stupid.

Maria was in deep now, and she knew it, too. But the look of horror on her face didn’t come close to matching mine, because she was in more trouble than she realized, and she didn’t know it.

One of the other nurses was behind Maria, fixed on her and moving at a clip. I didn’t know where number Three was, but it didn’t matter. Two, hell, even one of them would be more than my unarmed companion would be able to deal with.

I don’t really think I planned what I did at all.

There was a pipe in my hand, and it was her only chance. I gripped it with both hands and I wound up as far as I could manage in such a short time. I was full of panicked kinetic energy, and when it released, it was in a fury. I lashed out at the nurse’s head, uncoiling like a giant spring.

I didn’t aim high enough, though. The pipe delivered a crushing blast, but it connected on the nurse’s upper arm instead. It howled and shrieked and wailed, in fury and pain I supposed. The hit wasn’t nearly as damaging as I’d hoped, though. Might as well have been a love tap I gave. Its pipe was still in its left hand as it wheeled about to face me, and said left hand raised to return the blow with amazing speed.

Thankfully, my reflexes were sharp enough to fire without waiting for conscious command. As the nurse’s weapon arced towards my head, I brought my own steel pipe up to parry. Its pipe glanced off of mine hard enough to make a few sparks flash through the air, but it was enough. The nurse stepped back in surprise, but I wasn’t about to give. I charged forward, shoving the monster with the weight of my body into the opposite wall. It moaned in frustration as it tried to fight back.

I saw Maria run past and through the door as I held it back, and I was thankful she was quick about it because this thing was strong. It struggled against me and definitely had the power to knock me back. If it did, it would be upon me in no time, and the other nurse was only feet away now. I would be done for. So, I had to rely on a third occurrence of instinctive self-preserving tactics to survive.

I looped my right foot around the nurse’s ankle. Not even a second later, I fell back and laid off the pressure. The nurse lunged forward, using more force than it should have. When it did, I swept my right leg to my left. My foot caught the nurse by complete surprise, and it stumbled forward dramatically, striking the wall head-first. A starburst of blood splashed the wall, adding to an already disgusting display. Amazingly, the injury didn’t kill the monster. It still stood on its feet, though its head still rested against the wall where it struck, and its entire body was in tremors, as if suffering a massive epileptic shock. It was fascinating, in a horrible way, but I didn’t give it much attention, because I saw the other nurse coming straight at me. I was hardly eager to face one that was alone, no way did I want to tangle with it with one right next to me, even if it was injured, and of course there was still that third one that I couldn’t account for. Yet, it took Maria calling my name to jumpstart me. I whirled about and dashed through the door she held open for me. I slammed it shut behind me, and together we jogged up the hallway. It was only a push-bar door, it wouldn’t take a lot for our pursuer to open it.

We came to a halt in front of the elevator. It wasn’t that which caught our attention though.

“What on earth is this?” Maria asked, pointing at the relief of the woman etched into a door.

“Nice, isn’t it?” I said. “This is what I came up here for.”

“What do you mean?”

I had the two rings in my hand, one made of old copper and one made of lead. Two old and ugly rings, both too small for my fingers. However, they were an exact fit for the slender fingers of the woman extending out from the door.

I slipped the copper ring on her left ring finger until it rested in its groove, then I did the same with the lead ring on the right hand. When it entered its depression, we heard the sharp snick of the door’s lock as it disengaged. I turned the knob and pushed the door open slowly, wondering just what I might find behind a door like this.

What I found was more stairs. It was a stairwell quite like the other, maybe a little dirtier. There were no stairs going up, although really, the other stairwell didn’t need them either. I started down the stairs, with Maria right behind me.

Even with the flashlight, it seemed as though the darkness got stronger, more palpable as we descended. The walls looked less appealing with each step. And, as we looped around downwards, there were no doors. Four, five, six flights of stairs without any doors leading out into one of the main hallways. There was no noise at all save for the sound of our feet on the concrete and the reverberating echoes that resulted, yet the lower we went, the stronger the bad vibes felt. Where on earth was this leading to, anyway?

The stairs stopped looping around after perhaps eight or nine or maybe ten, I had lost count. Now there was one long, straight set of stairs. By the time we reached the bottom, the bad feeling that had been growing was now so strong that there was an almost-audible buzz in the air, crackling, latent electricity. It was warmer down here, and I was sweating. When Maria took my hand, hers was slick as well. I could hear her chipped, labored breathing against the back of my neck. I didn’t even have to ask her to know she was feeling it too, whatever it was.

The bottom, finally. It felt like we had been going down forever. We had to be below the basement of the hospital now. So where the hell were we? Was this in the hospital before? I had no way of knowing. I was quite increasingly convinced that we were in some sort of strange parallel to where we were before. I no longer really believed that I had been unconscious for years, because Maria had said nothing about it. In fact, she said nothing at all about the changes I was seeing. That did strike me as strange. I should have asked her before, because while I was still very curious about that, I wasn’t in any condition to ask at the moment, and I strongly suspected that she wasn’t in any condition to give me a straight answer.

There was a door, another plain metal deal that was rife with rust and general deterioration. I reached for the knob, and my hand rested upon it for a moment. I closed my eyes and tried to fight this sudden, almost-deafening fear that had wrapped steel clamps on my arms and legs. I was brought back by the feel of Maria’s hands, shaky and nervous, massaging my back lightly. I looked back at her, and her eyes were wide and shiny with the same kind of dread I was feeling, but there was a warmth there. It was that look, absent on her face most of the time, that caused me to confuse her with my Mary all over again. Those were her eyes that I saw for that brief moment. Even the gesture, it was something she would do, even if she was as scared as I was. It gave me the will to go on right then. I thanked her silently.

The knob turned, scratching and grating and finally ending with a dirty click that pierced the blanketing silence like a firecracker. I pulled the door open slowly, exposing a long, narrow hallway that turned a corner ahead but was naked otherwise.

That damned feeling, the dread, it was even stronger here. My breath came in short gasps now. I used my belt as a makeshift holster for the pipe and I pulled out my Glock. I entered the hallway and crept along slowly, trying to keep an eye out for something, anything. Step by step, the pace excruciatingly slow but that fear was deepening into full-blown terror now, all the worse because there was no tangible cause for it. Maria kept very close the entire time.

At the corner, the hall went forward a few paces and then turned right again, running parallel to the first part of the hall. It ran down almost exactly as long, and then turned another corner yet.

What kind of idiot design is this?

There was a sound. It was long and soft, like a sleepy exhalation of air, or perhaps air being shoved through the ventilation system by a distant circulator kicking in. I stopped dead in my tracks along with Maria. My heart was beating like a trip-hammer now, and I was almost light-headed from breathing so heavily. The noise didn’t sound like anything threatening, however…

thump

A new noise. Soft, but not as soft. Louder, too.

thump thump

Again. Louder. Louder and closer.

thump thump thump

Very loud. Very close.

Threatening.

I wheeled around. Maria did too. My heart, my poor, tortured heart which beat so furiously, now made a concerted effort to leap up my throat and completely evacuate, abandon ship. My spine went completely numb and I felt ice cold from my nose to my **** toes.

It was him.

Oh no, oh no, not now not NOW NO

It advanced upon us down the hall we had just passed through. Lithe and tall, taller even then it should be because of the enormous pointed helmet it wore. Terrifying even in its own right. Petrifying to see it stalk you, hunt you.

“Maria! Run!” I yelled as I took off down the hall. I saw her hesitate, saw the numb, terror-stricken look in her large eyes.

Not now, don’t get doglocked now, for the love of Christ

“Maria! Move! Run, god damn it!”

She did. She broke into a full sprint, coming towards me. And not two seconds later, the horrible visage of the red pyramid thing emerged from the corner, not plodding as before. It was actually walking pretty fast. Far too fast. At first I couldn’t figure out why. Then, I saw its right hand.

It wasn’t carrying its oversized knife anymore. It now had a spear, one that was tipped with a long, menacing steel head and had a body made of a long, thick wooden haft. It was almost black, by chance or design I didn’t know. It wasn’t important. What was important was that the spear was considerably lighter and less awkward to carry than that massive blade, and that meant a greater danger for me, for us. It meant Pyramid Head could move.

Please, Maria, run, run your ass off. Run for your life PLEASE.

I took off like a bat out of hell, my legs pumping furiously as I dashed. Panic was quickly overtaking my brain, forcing Rational James out of the driver’s seat and making my self-control erratic. And there were so many **** turns to this hallway! I’d turn one and fine another right in front of me. It was like a **** maze, and we had to run, we had to get to the end, wherever the end was, please God let there be an end, let there be a way out of this madness. I was in complete survival mode now, getting away from the red pyramid thing, getting away from it and back to safety was all that I cared about now. I ran, ran my ass right off, slamming into walls because I was running too fast, but there was no such thing as too fast because it was fast too. I could hear Maria keeping up, trying to keep up. She was moaning. She was **** terrified.

The corners finally, mercifully gave way to a long, straight-shot hallway. It was damnably long, disappearing into the jet-black, but I didn’t care, didn’t even try to guess how long it was and didn’t think about what I might find at the end of it. I simply ran into it, run run run. My lungs were screaming from the strain of exertion compounded by the stupefying terror that nearly seized me. I felt like I was flying and yet I felt the dread certainty that it was insufficient, not enough to escape that dread monstrosity that bore down on us, that leviathan with the pointed helmet and that air of hopelessness that it projected. It was almost certainly what we felt as we descended that improbably long stairwell. It was him all along, and I didn’t recognize it even though I had experienced it several times already.

Suddenly, the darkness was pierced by a slash of light, brilliant, welcoming light. The proverbial end of the tunnel. As I got closer, my crazy terror almost instantly transformed into crazy relief.

An elevator!

By God and Jesus, it was. It was an elevator.

I sprinted towards it with renewed vigor, the thought of safety and escape helping me draw upon inner reserves of energy. I ran for what seemed like hours down this long, endless hall, the welcoming light always seeming to be an extra step ahead of me. Finally I made it and I turned around, waving Maria on, yelling at her to hurry up. I could see her coming, running flat-out and almost sagging with exhaustion, being driven on by the sheer terror of the monster chasing her, the fear of death at his merciless hands. Each step was torturously slow and punctuated almost perfectly by the sensation of my blood pounding through my body by my tired, overworked heart trying desperately to keep everything from falling apart and shutting down.

Then I heard a slow, grinding noise from behind. I wheeled about, and when I did, my stomach almost fell out of me.

The doors. The doors were closing.

I didn’t have time to think. I practically leapt into the elevator carriage and grabbed the doors with both hands, trying to force them back open with all my might. Normally, they open back up with even light resistance, but fate wasn’t that kind today. These elevator doors fought back, fought back quite powerfully, and as worn out as I was, mentally and physically depleted almost to the point of collapse, operating completely on adrenaline and pure survival instinct, I didn’t have enough left in the tank to win this battle. The doors slid shut inch by inch by **** inch, certainly slowed by my efforts but nowhere near deterred. I could see Maria through my panicked haze, running all-out, screaming now, screaming in mortal horror as the same realization dawned upon her.

Closing.

“James!” She howled as she reached the elevator, she made it but she didn’t make it, she was too late, too late. Her arm shot through the door, desperate and futile, clenching and clutching for me, but it was too late. I couldn’t do a thing to help her now. She knew it, too. She knew it and realized it, and with that realization came complete, cataclysmic terror.

“Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaames!”

Behind her. He was there. Pyramid Head. Her screams became a wordless, formless shriek now. So did my own. I yelled and yelled, shouting her name but it was useless, and all I could do was watch and shout.

Suddenly, Maria’s wailing increased in pitch dramatically, a scream that was now pain and agony. Her hand shot out, her fingers extending in a wild starburst. And then I looked down and saw something I wish to sweet and holy God I never saw, something I wish I had died without ever seeing.

It was the red pyramid thing’s spear, extending several inches into the elevator through the door. The steel head was absolutely coated and drenched in blood. For a moment it seemed as though time stopped completely, a photograph that existed for a nearly interminable moment, a photograph that showed Maria, poor Maria, impaled on this **** impossible monster’s spear, her lifeblood soaking this end, dripping revoltingly onto the floor of the elevator, the **** elevator that wouldn’t stay open long enough for her to make it. I screamed. I felt my tortured sanity stretch to the absolute limit. This was it. I’m sorry Mary, but a man can only see so much before it crumbles. I’m sorry.

Then, the photograph disappeared. Maria’s soft, white hand went limp, and then fell. The spearhead slid back out of the door along with her arm, leaving a trail of crimson as it did. I let go of the doors. Why bother now? They slid shut and the elevator jerked to life, carrying me skyward. How far? I didn’t know. I didn’t care. I fell to my knees, and then on my hands, crying and sobbing and choking as I vomited all over the floor. I didn’t know I had anything left, but I did. My cries bounced all over the cramped walls of the elevator car and they didn’t stop, couldn’t stop.

Maria.

I’m so sorry, so god damn sorry. Ah ****, Maria! Why? WHY?

But no one answered.

I felt the elevator come to a stop, and the doors slid open behind me. I didn’t move. Maybe there was a monster or two lurking on this floor, wherever it was. I couldn’t have cared less at the moment. If a nurse came at me with a pipe and bludgeoned the crap out of me right then and there I wouldn’t have lifted so much as a finger to defend myself. I would have simply taken it until I collapsed dead in a puddle of my own puke. What a fitting, dignified ending for James Sunderland.

How long I was there like that, prostrate over my own vomit, I don’t know. I eventually stood up though, and walked almost mindlessly out of the elevator and into another hallway.

Now what?

I wandered around the hall, taking in the sights. I soon realized that I was in this new shitty equivalent of the first floor lobby. I set out for the front door. I no longer cared about finding Laura. She could fend for herself now. I no longer had any desire to find and protect the little brat, and what good would it do anyway? I did an absolute bang-up job protecting Maria, after all. She was lying dead way down there somewhere, alone with Pyramid Head. Lot of **** good I am as a guardian.

I didn’t even bother trying any of the doors this time. Didn’t care to see what was behind any of them. However, there was one ahead of me, and it was wide open. I walked towards it in a stumbling, exhausted gait.

It was an office of some kind, trashed and as filthy as everything else, but still unmistakably an office. There was a large desk that dominated the center of the room, and on that desk was an envelope. There was no name written upon it, but there was something inside. I opened it.

It was a note, written in careful hand on plain white paper.

“He who is not bold enough to

be stared at from across

the Abyss is not bold enough to

stare into it himself.

The truth can only be learned by marching forward.

I’ll be waiting at Neely’s Pub.

There’s a letter and a wrench.”


Who the hell wrote this? A letter and a wrench? At Neely’s? I remembered the place. My map was in my hand a second later, locating it on the map. Not very far. Who was there, if anyone? It was stupid, but the state of mind I was in right then was just ripe for this. I decided I would check it out.

I folded my map and slipped the envelope in my pocket, when I saw movement outside the office window.

It was a small figure skipping briskly along.

Laura.

She was okay after all. She was just fine. Good. She can go her own merry way. I wanted nothing more to do with her, regardless of what she might know about my wife. It wasn’t worth the trouble, as I found out to my extreme displeasure. She could do as she pleased. I had a bar to visit. I opened the front door of Brookhaven Hospital into the muggy darkness of the outside, and finally left this cursed place for good, and Maria along with it.

I couldn’t protect you. I’m sorry.

It felt good to be out of there, but it didn’t make the pain go away.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2010, 05:08:27 am by Mutou Yami » Report Spam   Logged


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« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2010, 05:14:51 am »

Chapter Twenty
There was a HOLE here

Outside again.

It was still warm going on hot and still muggy out here. The air was completely still. There was no fog and no wind anymore. Honestly, it felt a lot more like it should feel this time of year. That wasn’t the reason I felt such relief, though.

My map told me that the best way to get to Neely’s was by going south via Rendell and Saul. I was hardly certain if this route was actually useful, as so many others in town had some kind of blockage or obstruction, but I hadn’t checked Saul Street. It might well have been open, but I never had the chance to see for myself thanks to that army of straight-jackets chasing me into the apartments. Besides, going back the way I came wasn’t an option. No way in hell was I going to go back through those apartments again.

So I set off south along Carroll Street, keeping to the sidewalk and taking in what little I could of my surroundings. This is what caused me to feel a rush of relief.

To say things looked normal would be too much of a a stretch. However, everything still looked the same as it did before I entered Brookhaven and its malignant transformation. The grass was still freshly-clipped, the vehicles I passed looked recently used, and, as I could see in the distance, street lights were still operational. Didn’t even notice that before, but then again, there was still sunlight out when I was last on the streets. So, the interior of Brookhaven had changed, and very dramatically. So why not outside? What was so special about Brookhaven? I remember before we went inside that strange feeling of deja-vu, when I looked at the building from the outside. It wasn’t strong, really, but it was rather blatant. Yet, while I was inside, I felt nothing like that at all.

Except for that diary.

Ah yes, of course. The diary. It had no name, it didn’t mention any names, at least, in the entries that I had skimmed. Yet, the writing style, physically and verbally, was too familiar for me to ignore. Shame that I never found it after taking that fall.

It didn’t matter now, though. Brookhaven was behind me now, decrepit, diseased, and harboring what would surely come to be one of the worst memories of my life. Neely’s Pub was in front of me, somewhere.

Down Carroll Street I went, trying to keep a decent pace. It was hard, though. With the red pyramid thing at my heels

at our heels

I had been so completely caught in the throes of fear and a desperate fight for survival that I was able to ignore my wounded knee. Now that I my body was slowly normalizing itself, now that the adrenaline high was wearing off, I more easily noticed the dull aching in my knee every time I took a step.

However, there was still a healthy element of fear present, and that made it easier to at least pretend to ignore my hurts. Elements such as the radio, which obviously had the ability to sense these monsters. I had no idea how that worked, but it had saved my butt too many times for me to simply take it for granted. Yet, as glad as I was to have this little thing in my pocket, just the sound of static sent a chill down my spine.

And it was picking up now.

I couldn’t see anything, but the static didn’t lie so far, and I could hear an arrhythmic tapping, sharp and easily-heard over the radio. I was fairly certain that it wasn’t coming from anything I wanted to meet. Straight-jackets, I guessed. I had seen plenty of them wandering about the streets. I crossed over to the other side of Carroll to get away from it, and sure enough, the radio settled down.

It was perhaps another two hundred feet before I reached Rendell Street. I turned the corner and stayed on the left sidewalk as I moved east.

Chain-link fencing lined the edge of the sidewalk, cordoning off various lots. Some of them had parked cars, and looked to be a service station. An auto-parts store, a hardware store, havens of the manly-men to my left, and abandoned cars lining the street to my right.

I crossed over as the road emptied onto Munson, which I also crossed. Saul Street was but a few feet further. The corner here was obscured by high slat fencing, and there was a car parked halfway on the sidewalk. I couldn’t even think of that as a sign of distress, considering how utterly tranquil most of the rest of the town had appeared. Granted, I had been in some broken places, but cars were still parked, storefront windows were still intact, and things in general seemed mostly undisturbed. Whatever happened to Silent Hill happened without any kind of warning. That is, of course, assuming something actually did happen to Silent Hill. The experience in the hospital really made me wonder about where I really was. I don’t think I could survive this place without letting my imagination on a longer leash than normal, but if I let it run too far, I might end up in a laughing academy like Brookhaven myself.

So, the car was just parked strangely. The apartment building? Old and broken, ripe for condemnation. I could not explain the hospital, nor could I explain the gouges that tore through the town east of here.

And just as I was chiding myself about letting my imagination run free, I had lost myself in my thoughts a bit. I turned the corner onto Saul Street without paying careful attention.

A mannequin stood there. My flesh prickled and my stomach turned, so unprepared I was. But it wasn’t just the presence of the thing.

It stood perfectly still, as if frozen, and this was all the more unnerving because it stood frozen in a very unlikely position. Only one of its feet touched the ground, the other was lifted slightly and bent. The arms, or upper legs, or whatever the hell they were, reached to the sky like a churchgoer in a Baptist free-for-all, trying to touch God. I had no idea how it was able to balance itself like that, it didn’t seem possible, yet, it looked very much like a real mannequin in that it appeared to be posed.

I hurriedly pulled the steel pipe from its makeshift holster, and held it ready, waiting for it to move so I could clobber it. But it didn’t move. It stood there, ignoring me, not even so much as twitching a muscle. I didn’t know if these things had the ability to breathe, but if they did, there was no sign of it doing so.

I still stood at the ready, but seconds passed, and the mannequin made no attempt to attack me, and I eased my guard a bit. I was intrigued, and I know I shouldn’t have been, but I was, so I backed up a step and poked it with my pipe. It made a hollow plastic knock when did, but it got no reaction from the monster. I struck it a little harder, giving a push. It was heavy, and it didn’t shift at all.

Strange.

I considered attacking it anyway, just to make sure, but in the end, I decided not to. I instead decided to move on ahead. I took a step to move around it, giving it a wide berth, and I jogged past it a ways. Moving or not, I wasn’t stupid enough to take it for granted that it was going to ignore me forever. Twenty feet later, I slowed down to a normal pace.

The silence was shorn by the shrill hiss of the radio, loud, fast, and sudden. I saw nothing in front of me, but something, instinct, maybe, told me that it wasn’t in front. It wasn’t to my side, either. I spun around…

How in the hell?

It was there. The mannequin was right behind me. It loomed large, not even being a foot away from me. I didn’t even have time to think or to move, and it wouldn’t have helped if I did, because the shock of seeing it there was absolutely paralyzing. So when it raised its arm/leg and threw its weight at my left shoulder, I was dumbstruck and powerless to do anything about it. The thick, oily chemical stench of the thing struck my nose first.

Its arm/leg struck my shoulder an instant later. When it did, it was hard and terribly convincing.

My shoulder exploded in a supernova of pain, and the hit was so powerful that it literally sent me spinning. I lost my balance and sense of place. When I fell to the sidewalk, I fell on the same shoulder. The agony was searing, and so intense that I saw spots. My teeth were clenched and my breath whistled through them, hissing as loudly as the radio.

No time to rest, no time to lie there, that bastard’s going to put a hole in your face so MOVE

I did, and not a moment too soon. Its leg, one that it used to walk, was now used to try and stomp my head. No doubt it would have done me in had it connected, but it didn’t. My shoulder throbbed harder as I rolled over it, but I did my best to ignore it as I leaned on my good arm and pushed myself back onto my feet. The mannequin was shuffling quickly towards me, and it wasn’t a slouch. I took off running in the opposite direction, not even slowing down until I could no longer stomach the battle between my shoulder and my knee for attention.

I found myself underneath some sort of overpass. The street continued, but too narrow now to be anything but an alley. Nothing on the map indicated what it was.

It actually looked more like a tunnel upon closer inspection. The walls were made of old stone that had darkened with age and were covered in green moss over much of the surface. It was very damp and smelly, all the more thanks to the summertime heat. It brought the darkness a little closer to home, and the effect was claustrophobic.

Fencing had been erected inside of the tunnel. The fencing had a latch-door, and upon it were several old aluminum plates emblazoned with various warnings. It was a construction zone. I lifted the latch and entered.

The macadam of Saul Street ended about five feet past the fence. Past that was a pit, a dark and bottomless pit. Unlike the scarred knife-wounds that I had seen over on Lindsey Street, this was excavated. I had no idea what was being done here, but the pit extended far beyond my field of vision. However, the pit was covered with a vast expanse of steel grating, and it appeared to go at least as far as I could see. I took a tentative step on the grating, then another. It sagged just a bit, thin as it was, but it did hold my weight, and it seemed solid enough to walk over. Even so, I tread carefully, a decision that was even more justified as I advanced across, for there were several places where the grating was missing. The sound of my shoes on the grating was sharp and loud, piercing the otherwise thick silence. It made me feel exposed, and I didn’t like it.

Strangely, the sound changed a bit as I proceeded. It sounded stronger, louder, and deeper. At first, I didn’t think much of it. Maybe it was the strange acoustics. Enclosed areas would do that. I paused for a moment. And that’s when the warning lights came on.

The sounds didn’t stop with me.

cha-chunk

cha-chunk

cha-chunk


Deep, rhythmic at first, and then not. Something was coming. More than one something, by the sound of it, and whatever they were, they were heavy and moving with purpose. All over again, my body tensed and clenched. I stared hard into the distance, but while the sound got louder and noticeably closer, my eyes saw nothing that made the sound.

cha-chunk

cha-chunk

cha-chunk


Closer and closer. The radio came to life on cue.

It would have been right on top of me if it were really here.

But it wasn’t on top. The sound was close enough now to make that clear. It wasn’t on top of me, or even in front of me. I could hear where it was, and when I looked down, I saw where it was.

Something very large was hanging from the grating just a few feet in front of me. No, not hanging. Swinging. It was using the holes in the grating like a kid would use monkey bars. I couldn’t see anything but its arms, if that’s what they were. They were enormous, each one larger than Laura. They both connected to some kind of body, but I had no idea what it really was or what it looked like. And I didn’t have any time to sit and think about it.

I waited until it was almost directly underneath me, then I leapt forward, running as fast as I could over the part of grating it was on. As I passed over it, I saw something shoot out from below. It looked like some kind of long lance that extended from the creature’s arm. It was thick and black and glistening, it was very noticeably sharp, and it missed my right foot by a distance that you could bridge with a cigarette. The whole movement lasted less than a second but watching that spearing monster, realizing how deadly a threat it could be, how close it came to goring my foot, made it all go in dreadfully slow motion.

I landed on the next one, almost tripping. It sagged beneath me, and I had to fight to keep my balance. Once I did, I took off sprinting across the metal grating towards the other side. It was a battle against my balance, against the uncomfortably soft footing, and against my own fear. Had to run, had to run fast, but I had to be careful. I saw another one, and then yet a third approach me, and I had to run and I had to be careful because if I fell now, I wouldn’t get up. They’d be on me too quickly, and they would skewer me with those spear-pointed appendages of theirs. What a way to go, just like Maria.

I had to fight even harder to force that thought out of my mind, and concentrate on the two underhanging monsters that were coordinating to intercept me. I couldn’t circumvent them, they were moving too fast and there were missing grates on the side.

One of them was not even a foot away when I threw caution to the wind and took a flying leap forward. Almost simultaneously, both underhangers shot their spear appendages firing through the grating, hoping to get a piece of me, to make me fall so they could finish the job. They didn’t make me fall, but they came far too close for comfort. My shoe caught on one of them and I stumbled as I landed on the other side of them.

I overbalanced, landing on my hands as well as my feet. Fear gave way to panic, and I didn’t even take the time to stand up before I tried to get away. I scrabbled forward, gripping the holes in the grating with my hands and propelling myself forward along with my legs. The sounds of the approaching monsters and of the squealing radio echoed and amplified, and together with the painful protests of my injuries, I was being immersed in a sea of bad sensations.

I righted myself after a few moments and ran, just ran, no longer trying to be careful. All I wanted to do was make it to the other side

God send that there is another side

But of course there was. God listened to me this time. The grating stopped and the asphalt of the road began again. There was another fence here, this one with a concealed latch. I tried to pull it, tried so hard it seemed like a fight, with my terror as much as the latch itself, and finally it gave way and the latch-door opened.

I ran through and slammed it shut behind me, then I leaned against it so I could catch my breath and collect myself again. Behind me, through the fencing, I could hear the clattering of the underhangers on the grating, still advancing in my direction. I could also hear the monsters themselves, they were grunting with each movement. It was a chilling sound all on its own, never mind the rest of it. It was enough to get me away from there. I didn’t know if they were able to pull themselves up and follow me, but I did know I sure as **** didn’t want to wait around and find out.

After that grueling mad-dash through the hellish tunnel, it was nice to be out in the open again. The whole experience couldn’t have lasted a whole two minutes, but it felt far longer. Now I strolled along Saul Street on the east side of town. One of the side-streets, Harris, was blocked off completely by construction work, and not far after that, an old ovular motorhome sat parked, not attached to any sort of vehicle. The door was open and swinging in the soft breeze, but I passed it right by. I felt too lucky to have made it out of that tunnel, and the hundred other scrapes I had found myself in so far, and at that moment you couldn’t have paid me enough to tempt fate unnecessarily.

I turned the corner onto Neely Street, crossing over to the east side. The bar sat on the corner of Neely and Sanders. It featured a large window, but I could see nothing through it, because someone covered it entirely with newspaper. Interestingly enough, one of the newspapers had an article that mentioned one Walter Sullivan, and for some reason, the name sounded terribly familiar. Maybe someone I knew. Hopefully not, though, since apparently the guy was a serial killer of a particularly nasty sort. Dead now, anyway. I shrugged and opened the door to the bar.

It was a place that was familiar to me, as Mary and I had made several visits here before. It was a small bar, but a nice one, a perfect small-town watering hole. They even served food, and we had lunch here once or twice. It was one of the more comfortable places in town that I enjoyed. It was clean, well-kept, and had a nice atmosphere. No beer-soaked Eagle’s Club-type joint, this. Neely’s was a step above peddling to the average barfly. It’s why I liked the place so much.

It’s also why it was so terribly disheartening to see what it looked like now.

The place was bare of tables and chairs, of decorations and adornments. The walls were bare, pitted concrete, stained and filthy and chipped and ugly. The bar was still there, and the stools were still bolted to the floor, but the place was completely denuded otherwise. It was ugly now, ugly and empty.

Not all of the walls were bare, though. One of them had a message written in red. In fact, there was more than one, as I saw when I looked at the paper-covered window. Someone had written a few messages.

There was a HOLE here.

And beneath that, as if it were an afterthought,

It’s gone now.

It certainly was. The place was bare of everything, and that included holes, except for the ones that pockmarked the walls here and there. It was on the side wall that the other message was scrawled, this time in smaller handwriting, for it was longer. It was also exponentially more chilling.

If you really want to SEE Mary you should just DIE.

My teeth chattered. I wasn’t reading this. No way, baby. But it wasn’t all, and what remained left no doubt as to whom the intended recipient of this message was.

But you might be heading to a different place than MARY, James.

I felt sick to my stomach, sick and angry, too. Who could have written this? Who would have? And why did they write such a nasty, vitriolic message? Who the hell even knew who I was, or who Mary was? This couldn’t have been the letter that the note mentioned, could it?

A glance at the bar told me that it wasn’t, for a small, cream-white envelope rested there. On top of it, acting as a paperweight, was the wrench that was promised to me. It went into my pocket, and I opened the envelope carefully, pulling out a folded sheet of paper.

Another note.

Or perhaps you are a fool. The truth usually betrays people. A part of that abyss is in the old society. The key to the society is in the park, buried in the ground at the feet of the statue of the praying woman. It’s inside of a box, and to open that box, you’ll need the wrench.

My patient buried it there. I knew about it, of course, but I did nothing to prevent it. I didn’t like having it near me, so uneasy it made me feel. It wasn’t the truth I sought, but rather tranquility. The happiness of ignorance.

I also saw that thing. I fled, but the museum was locked as well. Now, nobody tries to enter the place. Nobody even dares approach it.

If you still do not wish to stop, if you wish to venture forth, then I pray to the Lord to have mercy upon your eternal soul, James.


There was no signature, no name. Just a bunch of clues and a destination. The park. Rosewater, it had to be. I knew of the statue he mentioned, it depicted some religious martyr, I think. And apparently I would find a key there, a key to society.

I can’t claim I really had a sense of where this would take me, but what else could I do? I left Neely’s Pub, once a place of fond memories and good times, now a diseased sham of its former self, filled with bitterness and anger from a mysterious ‘friend’. Rosewater Park wasn’t the special place I thought it was before, but that’s where fate was leading me again.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2010, 05:15:39 am by Mutou Yami » Report Spam   Logged


All Hail The Strogg!
R.I.P. Paul Gray - April 8, 1972 – May 24, 2010.


"Stay...
 I Need You Here, For A New Day To Break...
Stay...
I Want You Near, Like A Shadow In My Wake...
Stay...
Here With Me... Don't You Leave...
Stay...
Stay With Me, Until The Day's Over..."
I love you Mutou Yami... Forever.


Long Live, Mr.Yamaoka Akira, The Silent Hill Legend.
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« Reply #21 on: October 16, 2010, 07:39:51 am »

Chapter Twenty-One
At the Feet of the Faithful

Enthusiasm tempered as I stepped outside of the bar.

I knew I had to go back to the park, and I had a pretty good idea where I had to go once at the park. For the first time, I knew for certain that it was actually possible to get to where I wanted to go, as I had been there once before.

The problem was getting there from where I was. Yes, I knew that it was possible. However, the last time I found myself on this side of town, getting across to the park was seven different kinds of pain in the ass.

From where I stood now, there were two ways to get there that I knew about. One was to go back the way I came, via the tunnel on Saul Street. Considering what sort of company called that particular stretch of the street home, I wasn’t very keen about that route. And of course, there was also the route I had taken to get to west South Vale the first time, that being the Woodside and Blue Creek Apartments. However, that route was much longer and almost certainly more dangerous. No way did I want to traverse that. And the memory of Brookhaven and its wicked-looking transformation was still bakery-fresh in my mind. Who was to say the apartment building didn’t undergo that same shift into an evil, pus-drenched doppelganger? No thanks, the non-evil, non-pus-drenched doppelganger was plenty bad enough.

However unappealing those two options were, there weren’t many others to consider, if any. Both roads leading north to Nathan Avenue on this side were totally impractical, by virtue of them, and the buildings lining them, looking like Godzilla used a sand wedge to tear a massive divot through South Vale. There was no way of telling how wide those horrid crevasses spanned, and unless I suddenly gained the ability to walk on thin air, I wasn’t about to find out.

All in all, the options sucked, every one of them. I eventually decided that the option of going back through the Saul Street tunnel probably sucked the least. It was dangerous, and freakishly terrifying, but it was also the quickest way, and that decided it for me.

So, I turned around and walked back towards Saul Street. Neely’s Pub was very close, and I tried not look at it as I passed it, but I couldn’t help it. The messages scrawled on the pitted walls were simply too much, too sharp to ignore.

And yet, it was those messages that solved my problem. Not the contents of the messages, but the look of them. They looked like they were done with blood-red spraypaint, and that picked at my mind like a toothpick until I remembered that these weren’t the first such messages I had seen around here. In fact, I had seen one other, and as luck would have it, it was very close by. Once it came to mind, I remembered it perfectly.

The door that opens in darkness leads to nightmares.

Well, you couldn’t get any more provocative than that, huh? It most certainly was dark, now. The door didn’t open before, it didn’t even seem to be functional, but it was dark now, and I knew too well that meant more than just the sun being up or being down here in Silent Hill. The sun went down and Brookhaven Hospital turned into something right out of that one Adrian Lyne film from a few years ago. There was no telling how many other changes took place here in town, even if they appeared to be more subtle than Brookhaven offered.

It wasn’t very far to Katz Street, and even as I strolled past the Woodside Apartments, I was unmolested by the creatures of the night.

The construction barrier was still where it was, and the red message was also still in attendance.

How literal was that message going to be, I wondered. Would I step through to find that western South Vale was the sort of pestilential hellhole that the hospital became? Would some sort of new toothy horror ambush me three steps in and make mincemeat of me? Would the door even open?

No way to tell except to try, of course.

I touched the knob, and my hand jumped away, as if shocked. It wasn’t, not literally, but perhaps figuratively. The knob was ice cold. I touched it again, tapping it a bit and finally resting the loop of my hand around it. It was absolutely freezing. I quickly turned the knob, and the first half of the message proved correct. The door knob was no longer broken. The small hairs on my arm raised and bristled as I pushed it open, wondering just what on earth, or not on earth, I would find behind this door.

To my immediate surprise, what was revealed to me was not a Brookhavenesque diseased colon. Things in front of me looked no different than things behind me. I stepped through, and let go of the door handle. Strangely, the handle didn’t let go as easily as it should. It was so bitterly cold that the sweat on my palms had frozen, and fused my hand to the knob. Right away it brought to mind that Christmas movie, the one where the kid stuck his tongue to a frozen flagpole. Luckily for me, I was able to get away from it without the help of the fire department. As if there were a fire department here anymore, anyway.

No, there was no major, world-altering difference on this side of the door, as far as I could tell. It was still dark, it was still warm, and everything had that mournful, abandoned look to it that it had since I came. It was only now that I realized how different the nighttime was. Never in my life had I been downtown anywhere in such darkness. Central Ashfield was always alight, even in the wee hours of the morning. Any good-sized population center in America could undoubtedly claim the same. Even when the summer rainstorms and the November nor’easters came blasting through, knocking over power and phone lines like a punch of tenpins, you could always count on walking down Main Street and seeing the soft, inviting glow of electric lighting.

It wasn’t totally absent here in Silent Hill. Here, as over on the other street, the stoplights still functioned, and still cycled through their different signals. The crosswalk signs also alternated between stop and walk according to their set rhythm. But that was it. No lights in any of the buildings, at least none visible from the streets. No lights of signs or storefronts, no lights from cars…

That’s when I got a bright idea, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t tried it before. Cars! There were cars all over the place. I must have passed a dozen of them since the Saul Street tunnel alone! There was obviously no one around, so why not commandeer one of these? Brilliant, Sunderland!

Parked along the curb was a relatively recent Honda Civic. The doors were locked. I unhooked the pipe from its holster and bashed the window. The first time it bounced off of the glass, leaving a hole and a myriad of cracks spidering from it in every direction. I struck the glass again, and this time it popped like a grenade, sending a shower of tiny shards exploding within the car and without. I unlocked the door and opened it. I brushed the glass off of the seat with my hand (it was the shatterproof kind, which leaves safe little chunks instead of wickedly sharp fragments), and sat in the cab seat. There were no keys, as expected, and I had never hotwired a car before, but I had seen it done on television a million times, and never once did it look like anything difficult. I had plenty of time to play around with it, as it was considerably unlikely that the original owner was about to pop in suddenly and protest what I was doing.

Yet, I didn’t even have time to rip the panel off before it hit me that I didn’t even need to waste my time trying. The darkness of the cab was due to the interior light not working, even when I toggled the switch. I flicked the headlights. Nothing there either. This car was deader than dead, and all the fancy wiring in the world wasn’t going to amount to a damn thing.

I broke into the next vehicle, this one a station wagon. It too had no battery power. I didn’t even bother trying the others. They were all dysfunctional. And of course that had to be the case, because otherwise it would have just been too **** easy. I shrugged. The park was right around the corner and up the road anyway. I could hoof it.

I stepped out of the station wagon and turned towards the Munson Street intersection. I didn’t even cover five paces when the radio belted out a fresh wave of whiny, wavy static. Anymore, the sound of static was toying with my instincts. I immediately got on the defensive every time I heard it. I did this time too. This time, however, it didn’t matter.

This time, I heard what was coming perhaps a split second after I got warned of its presence. It was a squealing high-pitched whine, much deeper and more immediately distant than my pocket radio, like someone ran steel wool down the length of a brushed metal slab, up and down repeatedly and quickly. The sound was almost familiar, dancing wildly on the very edge of my mind thanks to the rush of surprise, but I couldn’t place it right away. Not until I saw the dark shape rush past me on the ground, blurred by the inky darkness.

It was far too fast and far too dark to even hope to follow with my eyes, but it was noisy enough that I could listen for it. It was so amazingly fast though, I could barely keep up. Within the span of a second it would completely encircle me, though it didn’t seem to be making a concentrated effort to attack.

I had the Glock out and ready, because now I knew what I was facing, and if I had to attack it, I wanted to be able to damage it without being in range of its acid should it try to spit up on me.

The screechy Brillo-pad noise continued as the straight-jacket darted haphazardly in random directions. Then, it paused for a moment, and then the screeching was replaced by a loud, sharp tapping. Tap, tap, tap. It had stood on its feet now, and was ambling towards me from the left. The radiance from the flashlight glared hard against the slick, snot-like coating of gunk with which it was covered. It gurgled with anticipation as it closed in on me, the sound as thick and phlegmy as its physical appearance.

It wasn’t close enough to get me though, and I had plenty of time to run before it was a real threat. I jogged down Katz and turned right onto Munson. The radio noise faded away, back to its soft, dormant state. Behind me, the sounds of my pursuer did as well, melting away into the darkness and silence.

I took Munson Street in a light, steady jog. Twice the radio woke up for a moment and then went back to sleep. I never saw what triggered it, either time.

Before long, Munson emptied out onto the much larger Nathan Avenue, the only real main road on this side of the lake. I crossed over to the sidewalk on the other side. A fence lined this part of the road, and I followed it west for a little until it opened up into a path, one lined with trees and neatly-kept hedges and paved with rusty red cobblestones. It was the west entrance to Rosewater Park.

The stagnant air picked up a little into a breeze as I ventured into the park. It carried with it the scent and sound of the lake up ahead. I could hear the ebb of the waves gently sliding against the observation deck and the shores, and the clean, earthy smell that makes a good freshwater lake enjoyable. It was nice to know that even though the whole world seemed to be rapidly descending into madness all around me, one could still find traces of normalcy here and there.

However, the pitch-dark hedgerows of the park helped keep me from getting too comfortable. Never mind whatever might be hiding behind them, the hedges themselves looked imposing and threatening. I think anyone who ever saw that one Stanley Kubrick movie, the one about the haunted hotel, would feel the same way. I followed the main pathway past the park office and down some steps. The half-high brick wall eventually opened up into the park’s interior, and that’s where I was going.

I passed a small, abandoned sitting area and a gazebo, and then underneath a long terrace that was overgrown with verdant ivy. Here and there I made a wrong turn or two, but Rosewater Park wasn’t really that large, and it didn’t take me too long to find the statue.

The statue itself was about life-sized, I reckoned, though it was perched upon a large, waist-high block of marbleized granite. The park had been dedicated sometime in the 1880s, and both statue and base were around almost as long. The sculpture depicted a woman shrouded in a shawl and cowl, her eyes closed, her face cast downward, and her hands clasped together in prayer. Doubtlessly, the ravages of both time and the cruel winters of western Maine were what did a number on this one, though. Most of the fine features were worn completely smooth, and the deeper creases were already beginning to wear themselves even. Nowhere was this more evident than on the dedication plaque. Whoever took a chisel to this didn’t do so good a job, for many of the letters were completely worn away. All that remained was enough to tell that the woman’s name was Jennifer Carroll and that she was a victim of persecution. The details were gone, though given the nature of the statue, one could easily reason that the persecution was of a religious nature. Oddly enough, there were no Christian symbols present on the statue at all. Christians weren’t historically in the habit of being on the receiving end of religious torment in this region, but there were some instances, thanks to a million differences in beliefs. She might have been one of those. Of course, Christians weren’t the only players around. For instance, I had read once of a weird cult that used to be en vogue in these parts once. Can’t imagine a cult would be able to get a statue commissioned in a public place, but you never could tell.

However, what I was looking for was below this well-worn plaque. On the ground at the foot of the statue was a mound of raised dirt, bare in the midst of grass. I knelt down. The ground was soft and damp, I could feel some of it soak into the fabric of my jeans. I plunged my hands into the soft soil and tore away at the mound, flinging dirt to the side.

Sure enough, my mysterious friend didn’t let me down this time, either. Buried about four inches was a metal box. I cleared off the dirt around it and removed it from its hiding place.

The box was made of tin, and was fairly unremarkable save for the fact that this patient who buried it seemed to really value whatever was inside. A solid steel clamp was bolted very tightly around the tin box, tight enough that I couldn’t even budge it. Ergo, the wrench.

Had the box been left here for a few more weeks or so, the bolts would have likely rusted to the point where a wrench might not be enough. Already, small red patches clotted the small gap between the clamp and the bolt, but it wasn’t so bad yet. I wrenched off one bolt, then the other, and tossed the defeated clamp aside.

I lifted the lid to the tin box. Inside of it was an old bronze key, tarnished almost completely green. It was larger than a normal key, and pretty ornate. The grip of the key was stamped with the design of some kind of coat of arms, and the words Silent Hill Historical Society in small, beveled letters.

I had seen the place before, on our prior trips. It was on the lakeside about a half a mile up the road. I wanted several times to go and check it out, but it seemed like every time Mary and I came here, the place was either closed for renovations or repairs or some damn thing. The only time it was open for business while we were here was the last time we visited, and that time, we didn’t really get to do a whole lot of sightseeing. It was a shame too, because it was one of those rare things that both Mary and I both had a steeped interest in. History was always an interest of mine, one of the few subjects in school that really commanded my interest, and New England has about as much to tell about the past as any place in America. Thanks to that, the Society interested me in a broad sense. For Mary, it was a little more concentrated. Normally, as far as I ever knew, Mary couldn’t give half a damn about history in general. However, she was utterly fascinated by the past in regards to this little lakeside town, and from all accounts, the history of Silent Hill, especially some of the recent history, was of a decidedly sordid kind. But, we never got to see it first-hand unfortunately.

Looks like I was going to have the chance now.

I knew where the place was, but I gave the map a look anyway. Sure enough, the map listed the Society as a place of interest, and that was true enough. However, the map also showed a boating dock that was situated directly behind the Society.

A boat. That was exactly what I needed. There was no getting to the hotel via Nathan Avenue, but the hotel was right at the lakeside, and it too had a boat dock. The hotel chartered boat rides, a nice little distraction. Not quite a party boat, but for fifty dollars, you could go for a spin around the lake on the hotel’s yacht. Mary and I did it every time we came, even on the last trip. Assuming that the Society’s dock had a boat handy, and it had to be possible, then I was in business. It would take awhile to row across, and I’d have to take it slow in this damned fog, but I could do it. Though I had to try hard to not think about what sort of monsters might lurk beneath the surface of the lake.

I slipped the key into my pocket and traced my steps back, still keeping a wary eye on the hedgerows and other dark spaces. It was still calm and quiet, the radio included, but I couldn’t help feeling edgy. As peaceful as the park appeared to be, there was no way in hell I could hope to take it for granted. Unfortunately, this also meant that I was exceedingly jumpy, since quarters were so tight.

Yet, I was able to navigate my way out of the park without encountering even one of Silent Hill’s many interesting inhabitants. Once I started up Nathan Avenue though, I didn’t get very far before the radio’s dry, sandy hissing began again in earnest. As before though, I kept to the center, following the solid double yellow lane divider, and I kept the pace brisk. As I moved along, the radio hummed in and out as I came within proximity of things I’d rather not meet. Twice along the way I actually saw them, and once, one saw me. It was a straight-jacket. I had plenty of room to avoid it, though.

It occurred to me along the way that I couldn’t see very far. It was a strange feeling, to be outside in a completely dark place, without any ambient light to help out. The flashlight didn’t see as far as one might think, and this one was only a pocket-sized deal anyway. It only gave me a few feet of visibility. So, as little as I might have wanted to, I moved towards the right side of the road, and stayed within sight of the steel guardrail. If I didn’t, I would pass the Historical Society completely and never know it. Well, at least not until I made it to the ruined bridge ahead.

On the other side of the guardrail there was about thirty feet or so of dry land before you reached the lake, and it was thick with trees and small shrubbery. Just like the hedgerows in the park, I felt distinctly uncomfortable being so close to something so concealing, but also like the hedgerows, there was no avoiding it. At least the monotony of it was broken every few feet by billboards. Some were fresh and clear, some were old and fading. Most advertised local businesses, a few national chains. I almost laughed when I saw one that was pointing me to my ultimate destination. Lakeview Hotel! it said in bold letters, with a panorama view of the building and grounds, set against the backdrop of Lake Toluca with the sun setting in the west. It was almost as if it were teasing me. Well, it wouldn’t be long now. I kept going.

A shape flew through the air, and it made me stop dead in my tracks. I heard it hit the ground in front of me with a clack. As soon as it did, the radio came to life again. The shape was unrecognizable, until it stood and turned to face me.

Mannequin!

I was about to leap to the side and get around it. I didn’t because I was worried my knee might not like it much if I started jumping around like that. It probably wouldn’t be necessary anyway, I could get around it, and I had the pipe to keep it away. The mannequin couldn’t swing a pipe of its own, and it couldn’t spit acid at me, so I might…

Clack.

This time, from behind. Another one!

I was rooted in place momentarily as I tried to think, but thinking was bad. Thinking would get me killed right now. Had to act. And act I did, the sore knee be damned. This time, I did leap to my left. I couldn’t see what the mannequin behind me was doing, but the one in front had moved to cut me off, and they were quicker than I liked. I ran in an arc with the pipe in my hand and ready to deflect the monster. It came close, awfully close, but it didn’t quite reach me, and I took off running once I was past it. My breathing was labored and my steps were irregular because I was trying to keep my weight off of my bad knee, but I wanted so badly to get away from them, and to prevent another ambush, that I didn’t care. I could bear it for now.

The guardrail and greenery finally gave way to an open lot. A parking lot, to be exact, and there were actually a few cars occupying it. Then, I saw the building. I couldn’t tell much what it looked like now. It was pretty unremarkable when I had seen it in the past outside of the Twilight Zone years ago, though. It didn’t matter. What did was that I could plainly see the old sign colorfully announcing that I had arrived at the Silent Hill Historical Society. The front door was green and rather ornamental. It was also locked, as expected. I reached in and picked out the old bronze key.

I had just inserted it into the keyhole when I heard a distressed scream from behind me. For a fraction of a second I thought it sounded human, and unfortunately, that was enough to distract me and make me turn my head to look.

That fraction of a second ended when two things happened simultaneously. The first was the radio crackle. The second was a repeat of the scream, and hearing it again made it quite clear to me that it wasn’t human.

As if I needed any more proof of that, something came from around the corner, just feet in front of me. My breath caught in my throat when I saw it, when I saw the thin and shapely, yet crusted and disgusting legs, the parody of female attractiveness, all the way up to the head. Which, of course, had no face.

How the hell did they get here?

It was a Brookhaven Nurse, all this way away from the hospital. Like all the others, it had a steel pipe in its hand, and it was coming towards me, no doubt intending to put it to use.

I fought down a surge of flashing red panic as I turned back to the door, twisted the key savagely in the lock, and threw open the front door. I practically flew inside and immediately slammed the door shut. I realized then that I had left the key in the door on the other side, but fortune this time decided to smile upon me. The interior of the door had a latch, and I drew it across just as the first sounds of pounding came from outside. Assuming the nurse didn’t try using the key, and as far as I could tell, it probably wouldn’t, I was safe at least from this one. I leaned back against the door, catching my breath and waiting for my heart to slow down.

Once it did, I took a walk around the Society, going through a set of double-doors to the building’s interior, the sounds of the nurse outside undiminished. The next room was a centerpiece of sorts. There were various paintings and portraits lining the walls, each of them set above a plaque that explained the historical significance of the person or place in question. I couldn’t help but look at them even now. There was a portrait of one Silas Tasker, the original director of Brookhaven Hospital. Next to that was a shot of the hospital itself, what looked to be an enlarged photograph. It was dark and blurry and the building itself wasn’t but a shack surrounded by tents. It turned out that it was originally a purely medical facility, built to care for victims of some kind of plague outbreak in the latter half of the nineteenth century. There were a few others, too.

Then there was the one on the back wall, this one all by itself, and it definitely deserved to stand out. It commanded attention, and it had mine. All of it. Right from the moment I laid eyes on it, it had me.

It was a painting, oil on canvas. The name of it was “Misty Day, Remains of the Judgement”. The physical appearance of it was strong. What was depicted on the canvas was absolutely dominating, to a terrifying degree.

What was depicted was Pyramid Head.

‘Misty Day’ was an appropriate description. There was no real background to the painting. There were these strange, wire-frame cages that showed shapes suspended within, shapes that were vaguely but almost certainly human. And then there was the red pyramid thing, holding a spear like the one he used in the basement to skewer Maria. He stood facing the vantage point of the viewer, and even through the age of the painting (The date was unknown, but it was discovered in 1933), even though it was just the work of someone’s imagination (Stephen H. MacGregor), there was a dark, utterly repulsive sort of power exuded from this piece. Not from the physical painting itself, no, not that. It came from the depiction of the Pyramid Head. Even this facsimile, this product of the brush gave off that rotten vibe, just like the real deal, though certainly it wasn’t as concentrated coming from here.

Suddenly, there was a very loud blast, followed by a crash coming from the next room. It sounded like someone had fired a cannon or something. Well, not that loud, but definitely that strong. Icy needles of terror needled my flesh. I felt a dread certainty, right down to the pit of my stomach.

He’s here. He’s waiting for me.

I stood there, both because I was paralyzed with fear and because I was waiting. Waiting for the pyramid thing to crash through into this room and face me again. It finished Maria off, but it hadn’t been able to kill me by pushing me off of the roof, and I had made it to the safety of the elevator after he got Maria. I had somehow managed to escape him several times. Now he was here with a vengeance. Now he wanted the blood he was due. There was nowhere to run. I had no choice but to either die, or to fight and die. Not for a second did I entertain the notion that I would be able to defeat him in combat.

So I waited.

And waited.

And he never came.

He had to be waiting for me, then. I thought about that for a moment. Well, if that was the case, he was patient. And, since I couldn’t run, and I couldn’t hide, I had best go in there. If I’m going to die, I’m going to die on my own terms, not sit here and wait for it. That was a lot more bravado than I thought I was capable of at the moment, but really, it’s all that was keeping me from completely locking up and losing my mind. There was no gallows humor, but there was the certainty of fate. That was all I needed, really.

I turned the doorknob and pushed it open forcefully. As if I was going to take him by surprise or something. I think it was some remnants of my bravado acting there. I had the gun in my hand and it was raised to fire.

And at nothing, as it turned out. Pyramid Head wasn’t there. The room wasn’t empty, but nothing in here was alive and moving. There were more paintings and portraits, and a smashed display case in the center of the room.

There was also a terrifically massive hole in the wall to my left. And it most certainly wasn’t supposed to be there. To hell with a cannon, it looked like someone had launched an artillery shell or bomb at the wall. An entire huge chunk of it was completely blown away, reduced to rubble that littered the immediate area.

The fear came flooding back. Maybe he was here after all. Yet, the crashed wreckage of the wall looked like it had come from the opposite side, as if something from outside had tried to get in, and there wasn’t anything in here. Even the radio kept blessedly quiet.

I looked into the hole, expecting to see trees and grass and the lakeside shore. That is precisely what I didn’t see.

I saw stairs. Stairs leading down, down, down into the empty blackness. The walls and ceiling weren’t, really. It was a cave, or something similar. It looked natural, or at least roughly-hewn. It looked very uninviting. Bob Plant and his friends sang about the Stairway to Heaven. This looked to be quite the opposite. This looked like the Stairway to Hell.

And I took that first step without consciously realizing it. Hearing the sound of my footfalls made me conscious, but it didn’t change anything. Thoughts of the boat dock and even the hotel drifted away as I descended into this impossible place. I could hear sounds as I did, chief among them a horrid moaning sound, far too loud and powerful to be any of the monsters I had encountered yet. It seemed to come from the walls itself, voluminous to the point where it almost seemed physically tangible. The moan was a strange thing, sounding both hideously angry and woefully sad at the same time.

Yet, I had this weird, dreamy certainty that I wasn’t going to find a moaning beast waiting for me at the bottom. That sounds like it should be soothing, but it wasn’t at all. No, my dreamy certainty was that what awaited me down here was going to be worse. Far worse.

I found that abyss, after all. I realized it now. This is where my nameless friend was leading me. Now I was in it up to my neck, and as I descended further, down an impossibly long distance, all I could do was to see where it led.
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« Reply #22 on: October 16, 2010, 07:47:10 am »

Chapter Twenty-Two
The Leap of Faith

I was going in deeper and deeper. Down and down I went, forever and ever it seemed. That terrible, soulless wailing became stronger and more powerful by the second. Eventually it seemed as though there were more than one. Then, it was a chorus of cries, the lamenting howls of the damned. I couldn’t help but wonder if I was coming down here to join them, to be a part of this hellish choir. In these close quarters, the cacophony reverberating and, if anything, intensifying as it assaulted my eardrums.

I started to run.

Then, I started to yell. That was it. I had become one of them. This descent was endless and there was no turning back. Not a chance of that. If I turn around to go back up, I go up and up forever. I knew it. I felt it. I felt like I passed through something, that I left even the barely relative normalcy of the world above. As bad as it was up there, down here would be worse. This I knew.

Down, down, down. I couldn’t even hear myself yelling over the overbearing noise. It was so bad that I felt my equilibrium slipping. Dizziness crept into my vision, and with it, the earthbound corridor shifted slightly, then more, a full turn, and finally, twisted into knots. The flashlight led me into a sort of obscene optical illusion, the kind where one end of the hallway seems a lot smaller than the end you’re looking from. It was disturbing and it made me feel very nauseous. Now I wasn’t just yelling. Now I was actually crying. It seemed as though every time I felt certain I was either going to lose either my sanity or my life, I would survive mostly intact… only to find myself in an even worse situation. Maybe this would be the case now, but it sure as hell didn’t feel like it, not then. This time, it felt like I was doomed to keep running and screaming and crying like a lunatic in a one-man parade until the last shreds of sanity ripped away, and I collapsed on the floor, a gibbering shell of myself, lying there with my eyes as wide as dinner plates, drooling on the floor and shivering until I either had a heart attack or starved to death. This was the only end to this descent. There was no other.

That turned out not to be the case, as I found out a few moments later. I was in such poor control of my body and mind at the moment that I didn’t see the door and completely ran into it without even attempting to stop or slow down or even absorb the blow. I ran right into the door and bounced off of it hard, falling backwards onto the inclined floor, bouncing again when my ass hit the wet, moldy stone surface. It was more shock than pain, really, but the hideous racket didn’t help matters at all. Finally, I pulled myself together, got back on my feet, and took stock of my situation.

Well, there was a door, and considering the dank, dungeon-like feel of this cave, or whatever the hell it was, the door looked completely out of place, anachronistic even. There was nothing really extraordinary about the door, it was your standard metal deal that I had seen perhaps a dozen times today alone. It was painted white and streaked with coppery rust stains. What was unusual was that it was here at all, a hundred feet below sea level at least. My sense of direction wasn’t exactly in top working order at the moment. I didn’t think this tunnel angled towards the lake at all, but if it did, I’d be pretty far underneath it right now, and directly so.

And perhaps I could ponder that after I went through. I didn’t have the slightest idea where I would find myself now. The only possibility would be some kind of **** survivalist’s bomb shelter or something of the sort. Only one way to find out .

The door pushed open on joints so ancient and rusty that I could hear them over the din behind me, and very clearly. It was just as noisy closing as opening, but, oh saints be praised, when I closed the door, I closed out the sounds of the cave along with it, at least, for the most part. I didn’t think the door seemed that thick, but I didn’t care, really. I’d take what I could get right then. Now it sounded like noisy machinery in a distant room instead of an experimental scramjet engine five inches from my face.

I found myself in a small room with a desk and a slateboard. There was something written on the slateboard, though so old and worn-out that I could barely decipher it. There was an in-out box on the desk, with only a single sheet of very old paper sitting in the In-box. Wasn’t very informative, but it was rather interesting nonetheless, mostly because it was dated September 11th, 1820, and because the next line read “Prisoner Number: C221”. Prisoners, down here? Sure, why not? A hundred-foot-deep hole in the ground is a fantastic place to break a man’s spirit. God knows it was working wonders on me so far.

There was a door directly across from the one I entered, and through it I went. It led into a hallway or sorts. The part directly in front of me was framed in iron bars, though the cage had a door and it was wide open. So, a prison it was. The date on that memo back there, 1820… certainly wasn’t a recent one, even in the relative lifespan of this prison. There were several indications that this facility was in use in considerably more modern times than the early 19th century, notable among them the florescent lights that lined the center of the ceiling up and down the hall. They weren’t on, but they weren’t a hundred and seventy years off, either.

There were several more doors leading away from the hall. Three of them didn’t even have doorknobs. Two did have doorknobs that didn’t work. Only one door opened, one that was alone at the twisty end of the hall.

It opened into a very small, very empty room. The walls were bare yellow, the shade of which indicated that the walls were originally white. The floor was dirty, and it was there that the singular object of interest was to be found.

There was a hole cut into the ground. It wasn’t natural, for it was perfectly square-shaped. Complete darkness swallowed the beam of my flashlight. If the hole had a bottom, I couldn’t see it.

In the corner of the room was a small pile of rock and cinder. I picked up one of the larger chunks of rock and tossed it right down the center of the pit. It vanished out of sight in less than a second, but many seconds later, I was still poised over top of the hole, listening for the sound of the rock hitting the ground. The room was perfectly silent, so there was no way I could miss it. I gave up after a full minute. I never heard a thing.

So, now what? There was no turning back, that much was obvious. Maybe it would be possible to go back up that incredibly long passage. Maybe not. But there was no way, no chance that I would be able to make it through there anyway, not with that terrible noise. It damn near made me lose it the first time, and it still rang in my ears now. If I had to go back through it again, that would almost certainly pluck that last string tying me to my right mind.

And yet, the other option was to jump down a bottomless hole. Of course, no hole is really bottomless. This one was bound to be no exception. Why, I was certain it had a bottom, probably one that was really hard, too. Perfect for a broken leg or neck or spine. I had the wonderfully pleasant thought of me striking some kind of debris at the bottom of the pit with my back, shattering a vertebra or two, and lying there completely immobile, screaming but unable to move a muscle below my neck. If I was lucky, I would die of my injuries shortly after that. If I wasn’t so lucky, I’d be dinner for some kind of monster lurking around down there. If I were really unlucky, neither would happen. I would survive the fall and survive it alone, thus allowing me to dehydrate and starve to death over a long stretch of time unmolested.

And as unpleasant as all that was, I didn’t completely rule it out right away, because my mind took a very quick run all the back to Neely’s Bar, and the message left on the newspapered window in blood-red paint.

There was a HOLE here. It’s gone now.

Holes don’t get gone unless they’re filled in, and I sure as hell saw no evidence of that in the bar.

That’s right, Sunderland. The HOLE’s gone because the HOLE moves. It stays out of sight and pops up suddenly, like a rich uncle you never met who dies and leaves you a million bucks. Ain’t that just something? Ain’t that just a hell of a HOLE?

That message had to mean something. There was that one directed to me, and there was the one about the doorway on Katz. They both meant something. So, did that mean I was supposed to jump down here? It was such a god damn crazy thing to even think about, but what else could I do? My nameless friend mentioned a missing hole and directed me to a new one. My nameless friend also apparently had it out for me, though I couldn’t understand why.

I stood on the very edge of the hole, looking down into the endless dark and holding a furious internal debate regarding whether or not I should jump. I guess under normal circumstances, I would really be asking some serious questions about myself right now. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t even give a second’s consideration towards leaping into a bottomless pit.

Circumstances obviously were not normal.

And so, before my rational mind had a fair chance to object and make me stop myself, I closed my eyes and leapt into the pit, softly enough so that I fell down the center and away from the sides. I have never in my life experienced anything like a free-fall before, and it’s exhilarating, utterly, completely exciting. I’m sure that in a controlled environment it would have been a hell of a lot of fun, but when you have no safety harness and no idea how far you have to drop and no idea what you’ll be landing on, you’re a little too busy being terrified to concern yourself with having any fun. I couldn’t keep my eyes shut, either. I had to look down, I couldn’t help it. Whatever I was going to land on, be it a pool of soft water or perhaps a snake pit like in the movies, I had to see. It was rubbernecking your own impending car accident.

So I fell. Down, down, down. Nothing but darkness below, darkness and uncertainty. I tried so hard not to be afraid, but the longer I fell, the harder it became, and I broke. I started screaming, yelling hoarsely and wordlessly as a whole slew of worst-case scenarios played out in my mind in fast-forward. All I could think about was

Oh my God, oh my God, what the hell was I thinking? I’m gonna land on rocks, maybe even sharp ones and they’ll break my body into shattered little pieces oh God oh for the love of God whatever happens just BRING IT TO AN END

I don’t know what happened next. I sure as hell didn’t feel my body hitting the ground. I don’t remember anything after the fall. For that matter, I don’t remember not falling. I guess I was in such a strained state of mind that I blacked out or something.

When I came to, I was yelling still. I don’t know how long I had been out of it. Maybe I had never really stopped yelling. My eyesight was a little crossed, and I had to blink my eyes several times to bring them back. Then, I had to actually make an effort to close my mouth and stop yelling, before I drove myself insane. It was hard, but I did manage that much.

I was flat on my back, staring straight up into the darkness through which I fell. My mind boggled just thinking about how far I had fallen. I felt like I had only been out for a few minutes at most, but my neck felt sore and tingly, so it must have been longer. My neck also felt wet, as did my hair. Must have landed in some water, though there wasn’t much of it. No matter, it was time to get up and check things out.

I tried to push myself up with my arms. I couldn’t.

Terror shot through me like electricity as my worst fear suddenly seemed to hit home, my fear of paralysis and a long, lingering death in this damp hellhole. Frantically, I thrashed my head around, in a state of total panic. I yelled for help, even though I knew that was a laugh and a half.

Yet again though, the metaphorical cavalry arrived just in time to keep my sanity from vacating the premises. As I lay there whipping around like a fish out of water, my brain finally forced my recalcitrant limbs back into service. My screams for help became a wordless, euphoric cry of relief as my arms and legs suddenly came to life and flew around along with my head. Quickly, I leapt to my feet and checked to make sure everything was still in working order. And of course, everything was.

However, it only took five seconds of looking around my new surroundings for my euphoria to fizzle out in a most painful way. For you see, I was in a pit. Now, I know I came down here of my own free will, but holy ****, I think a part of me wanted, hoped, hell, expected something to be down here. So far in my little adventure, there always was something.

Which isn’t to say there was nothing at all here. There was a puddle on the ground and walls made out of brick so old and so long in this dampness that they had completely turned green. Said wall circled the entire area I was in, which was round and maybe ten feet wide. It extended vertically out of sight.

And that was it. Water on the ground and a brick wall. A brick wall that was completely brick from A to Z. No door. No window. No escape.

I heard the howl, heard it loud and clear. It was pregnant with anger, with fearful frustration, with dry hopelessness. It was strange to think I was hearing it as an observer, for it was my own tortured, cracking voice that was echoing about the moldy confines of my prison.

I don’t know how long it took, but eventually my voice just gave out, and when it did, it was as if my will crapped out right along with it. I wasn’t going to find Mary now, unless she thought to drop in and say hello. I laughed at that thought. It was so crazy to think I would come here to this place and find her. That such an insane task would lead me right to where I am, a nasty, stinking wet hole hundreds of feet under the ground. What a way to go. I was up to my knees in irony, but at the moment, I just couldn’t find it in myself to appreciate that, because I was up to my neck in something considerably worse.

I slumped back against the wall and slid down its slimy surface until I landed on my butt. When my back struck the wall, my breath popped out like an uncorked bottle of champagne. My eyes stared straight ahead but they weren’t really seeing anything. My mind was in some kind of working order, enough to let me think. I didn’t really think as much as I simply wondered. I wondered if anyone would ever find me down here someday. I wondered if I would starve or dehydrate first. I wondered if desperation would eventually bring me to drink the rancid, muddy water that had collected down here.

I didn’t know. I didn’t want to know.

I rested my head against the wall. One of the stones wiggled against the pressure. It was loose. It irritated me, and I was in no sweet mood to begin with. At first I ignored it, but it kept wobbling and wouldn’t allow me to keep my head still. Finally I got so fed up with it, and everything else, that I reached around and yanked on it.

I suspected the brick would have come loose eventually, but I didn’t expect it would happen as quickly or as easily as it did. As such, I pulled harder than I should have and the brick slid out with practically no resistance. The excess force made me overbalance and fall, and the slippery piece of masonry slipped out of my hand.

I got back up and examined the wall. To my slight amusement, I found that much of the brickwork in this little stretch was coming apart. Some of the bricks had crumbled outright. A few of them came away when I pulled on them.

Then my eyes lit up like god damn Christmas trees.

The brick was only one layer thick. And behind that one layer was metal.

Couldn’t be…

I rapped on the metal with my fist. The rapping noise was muffled a bit, but it was still sharp. That could only mean one thing.

There was nothing behind the metal.

Before I even thought twice, I had the pipe in both hands, thrusting away at the crumbling masonry. My mind ran in neutral for God knows how long as my arms pumped and the pipe chipped bricks and knocked them out of the way. I did this in a horizontal line at about waist level. The metal, whatever it was, spanned only about four feet or so, because after I had gotten that far, there was more stone behind what I was dislodging. I banged the metal with the pipe, and was thoroughly satisfied to hear a loud, barking report. Hope swelled within me. I fought hard to suppress it. No telling whether or not there really was anything behind it, or if I would even be able to move it enough to find out.

There was a gap between the weak wall and the metal behind it, maybe an inch or two. I jammed the pipe into this gap, in the middle of the area I had cleared. I placed a foot on the solid part of the rubble below and pulled on the handle of the pipe with all of my might. I grunted with exertion. It was stronger than I thought.

When it came down, it came down hard and without warning. There was no give, no bending of any sort. One second I was heaving my entire weight against the masonry, the next second I was backpedaling uncontrollably, finally tripping and falling ass over teakettle across the floor of the pit.

I was stunned for a second, but only about that long. Quickly, I pulled myself to my feet and inspected the wall. What I saw almost made me scream again, only this time in pure, bright joy instead of fear.

The metallic object behind the wall was a door. By God and Jesus, someone had bricked over a door. I couldn’t even begin to figure out why. Hell, I couldn’t even begin to care why. I was just thrilled to see it there. I was thrilled to know I wasn’t going to sit in this rancid hole until my body finally just stopped working weeks from now. It brought to mind one of Mom’s favorite sayings.

“You can pray to God all you want, Jimmy,” she told me one summer afternoon when I mentioned that I was praying for a Red Sox victory against New York. “God might give you what you pray for, yeah, and maybe he won’t either.” Mom was a Catholic born and a Catholic bred, so of course, almost all of her sayings were related. This one was no different.

Then she placed her hand on my shoulder and gave me a funny little sardonic smile. “You can bet your rear-end though, if he does give you what you pray for, he’s going to make sure you appreciate it.” Considering that the Sox still haven’t won the Series yet, I guess that was immediately prophetic. But, it also applied now, as I found out. I got what I wanted, a way out. All it cost me was a little extra heartache, and of course, a little extra sanity. I had more of that to lose than I would have ever thought before yesterday, that’s for damn certain.

God, if you’re still listening, thanks. I do appreciate it. And I’ll appreciate anything else you see fit to do to help me here, in advance.

I don’t know if that was going to work or not. But as my hands gripped the handle of the door and pulled it open, I couldn’t help but remember that it didn’t hurt to try.
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« Reply #23 on: October 16, 2010, 07:52:45 am »

Chapter Twenty-Three
The Concrete Tomb

Obviously, this door was not one that was very acquainted with the motions of opening and closing. It was already thick and heavy, but untold years of rust and crud and gunk caking the hinges and gaps made opening it a battle. It opened into the pit, but at a glacial pace. It took a good half a minute of tugging just to get it to the point where I could hook my fingers around the edge and pull directly. Even then, it was hardly a pushover, and it was no less difficult for the sludgy, silt mess that served as a floor for the place. At least half of my effort was wasted because I couldn’t keep traction.

But I was a good soldier, though, and eventually my Hercules display paid off. I got the door cracked open enough to suck in the old gut and squeeze through, though only barely.

Now, if you’ve ever stepped blindly, you would know that it’s common sense to do so tentatively and carefully. I’ve done it before and of course I knew to do so. However, for some reason, perhaps the effervescent relief of escaping the pit, I stepped blindly through that door and I didn’t take the sort of care I should have. Thus, it was one hell of a shock to me when I brought down my right foot and shifted my weight accordingly, only to find that there was no floor where I had fully expected one to be. No, instead, my foot kept going. I was completely overbalanced, and that made me fall. For a fraction of a moment I was suspended completely in mid-air, and for that fraction of a moment I was completely convinced that I had tripped right into another one of those HOLEs. I had just enough time to open my mouth and scream…

…when I hit not thin air, but water. Warm, tepid water, several inches deep. I fell face-first, grazing my hands on the rocky bottom and submerging some of my head. The water strangled my screams while helping produce fresh ones. I jerked my head up and out of the water quickly, coughing and sputtering. The water tasted bitter and nasty in my mouth, and stung my nose also, for I had inhaled some of it. That was almost as frightening as falling into another hole, since I had no idea what was in the water, but I quickly shrugged off that tangent. If there was something dirty in the water and it was going to harm me, it was beyond my ability to control now.

I stood and looked around. It seemed as though I was in a flooded corridor of some sort. It looked very, very old and unused for ages. The walls were rough and looked to be hewn right out of solid rock. The water beneath me was dark and murky, and it came almost halfway up to my knees. I could feel it soaking my shoes, then my socks. It felt quite a bit colder down there, for some reason.

I trudged off to the left, but I didn’t get very far going this way. Old iron bars, thick and dark from years of rust, prevented further advancement. As weakened as they looked, they were set very solidly, and didn’t even so much as wiggle when I grabbed them. There was no door or latch, either. The corridor went on behind the bars, farther than my flashlight could reach, but I wasn’t going to see any of it. That was okay, it didn’t look particularly inviting anyway.

Of course, the open corridor behind me didn’t exactly instill feelings of warmth and joy either. Yet, that was the way to go, and thus I went. My shoes were completely saturated by this point, as were the legs of my jeans. The soak was spreading up my pant legs, and it was very uncomfortable. You never realize how difficult it is to walk in a foot of water until you’re actually doing it. I held onto the wall for balance as I splashed my clumsy way down the corridor. That wasn’t very easy either, for the walls were slick and slimy, and didn’t allow for much of a hold. It was better than nothing, however.

About thirty feet down, I came to a corner. Not a second before I reached the edge of the rock wall, the radio burst into a sudden **** of noise. The sudden noise made me jump right there in the water. I hadn’t heard the thing go off for awhile, and when it came, it was a bit of a shock. I reached for my pipe, a motion that was becoming almost instinctive, but I didn’t take it. With all this water, it would be very difficult to maneuver. Instead, I took the pistol. The grip was a little slippery in my hand, but I felt a lot more confident with it than without.

Cautiously, I peeked around the corner. I held my flashlight in my right hand and stretched it, trying to see what was responsible for the radio’s racket. It wasn’t easy. Now, I had been in dark places almost constantly since I came to town. My flashlight was a hell of a lifesaver, no question. However, it was just a small pocket flashlight. Even in a normal, darkened room, it only helped so much. In this place, though, this rancid, dripping cavity far beneath the town, the darkness was thicker, stronger somehow. It seemed to laugh at the luminance from my piddling little pocket torch. It seemed to consume it, to remove it. Therefore, my radio was the only reliable equipment I had at the moment.

I slipped the flashlight back into my breast pocket and gripped the Glock with both hands. I approached my unseen enemy slowly, which was more the product of my environment than out of real caution. I knew the glare of the light would eventually attract its attention. I don’t know if the things were able to hear. More than once I noticed that they didn’t seem to respond to the radio alone. They could see though, that much I was sure of.

Sure enough, I didn’t mosh along too far before I caught sight of the monster. It was one of the straight-jackets, and its back was facing me. It looked more or less like any of the dozen or so that I could remember encountering above-ground, but the strange cellophane-like skin that coated the thing seemed bloated and distended slightly. If I had to guess, it seemed to have been caused by all the water, because while other straight-jackets had a sort of messy brown coloring, this one was mottled with greens and whites, pocking the thing from head to visible calves. It was infested with mildew and water rot.

Predictably, the creature reacted to the light in my pocket, but its ability to move was even more reduced than my own. It turned to face me very slowly, like a tank turning in mud.

I wasn’t about to give it a chance to get aggressive with me, though. I brought the gun up and aimed it, very carefully, at the center of its head. The weapon belched sound and flame, which drowned out the sound of its head being transformed into a shattered ruin. Of course, even if it hadn’t, the close quarters and echoing quality of the corridor would have made hearing anything basically impossible. In no way was my eyesight obstructed, however, and I clearly saw the impossible creature and its head, which was caved-in by the impact of the bullet and seemed a sneeze away from imploding completely.

Before that could happen, the thing dropped like a lead weight to the ground. It landed in a strange, prone position. Its ruined head lay against the wall, but the body was propped up on its knees, making the creature’s ass stick up out of the dark murk. It was the only part of the monster still visible, and while one might have found that funny in some circumstances, to me it just looked pitiful, even for an impossible, inhuman creature. I brought up my foot and tipped it over. It splashed down and lie still, now completely submerged and out of sight. I stood still with my weapon trained on it anyway. These bastards were tricky, and if anything, even more dangerous when prone. But thankfully, this one didn’t seem interested in playing anymore, so I carefully stepped over it and continued forth.

Maybe two dozen feet beyond, the ground raised up some. It wasn’t a particularly gradual incline, and I soon found myself out of the water and back on mostly dry land. Up ahead, the hallway came to a conclusion, with two doors leading in different directions. The one directly head had a knob that wouldn’t turn, not even a little. It wasn’t locked, but rather fused solid somehow. Water residue and sediments and rust caking up the lock mechanisms, maybe. I gave a cursory attempt to force it open, but it resisted even the best I had to give.

The other door resisted a little, but not nearly as strongly. It opened with just a little muscle, and I found myself in another hallway, this one much shorter. There was a door to my right, and a barred gate ahead of me that was missing its gates. I went that way first.

And there, I found another hole. Another HOLE. I now realized why my unseen friend laid so much emphasis on that word when he scrawled that message on the window of Neely’s Pub. Did he see something like this in the bar? He did mention odd things in the Historical Society, and he was dead on about that. Where did his HOLE lead? I wondered if even he knew. He clearly knew something about their nature, yet it didn’t seem as though he actually experienced it first-hand. He claimed to have avoided the Historical Society, and how could he mark the disappearance of the hole in the bar if he had jumped in it? Guess it didn’t matter. I wasn’t about to find out what he knew. Perhaps I didn’t need his knowledge. I was getting plenty of it by my own volition.

That, of course, was the HOLE here. Only, this one wasn’t immediately accessible. The barred gate in this small corridor didn’t have doors, but there was another barred gate covering the HOLE, and this one did have doors. Doors that, by the look of them, were latched and quite locked. The latch didn’t look very strong. If I stood on the door and jumped up and down, the force of impact would almost certainly break it before long. Yet, you couldn’t have paid me to try it. I now knew it was possible to leap down one of these HOLES and live to tell the tale, but I wasn’t about to try it that way. I didn’t have that much courage, nor did I have that much stupidity. It’d have taken equal amounts of both to get me to try.

Instead, I backed away and tried the door on the side wall. It opened without hesitation, which was something new. It led into a very small room that seemed bare of anything at all. No furniture, no decoration, no nothing. The walls, floor and ceiling were made of solid concrete, much smoother than the natural, rough-hewn rock walls of the flooded corridor. The concrete was colored from dirt and rust and water seepage, but it didn’t smell as bad as some parts of this underworld had. When I let the door go, it slid shut behind me. That surprised me a little at first, until my flashlight caught the top of the door. It was a spring-hinge mechanism, like one you’d find on any number of doors anywhere that you typically didn’t want left open. It closed with a soft click, and I left it alone.

The room was quite disappointing at first. It took me all of perhaps five seconds to dismiss it as pointless. There was nothing here at all, save for a keypad on the wall next to the door. It looked wholly unremarkable. I was about to turn around and leave, perhaps to reconsider performing a slam-dance on the locked gate overtop of the HOLE, when a glint of metal caught my eye like a fish hook in dark water. I bent over to examine it.

It was a key. Hallelujah, brothers and praise Jesus, for He left a key. Said key itself was rather unremarkable, but the little attachment was pretty unique. It looked like a drill bit, but it was smooth, it didn’t have the proper grooves. It was the phrase inscribed upon the spiral which really caught my attention, though.

‘Tis Doubt Which Leadeth Thee To Purgatory

The words followed the curve of the spiral all the way, and it appeared on each curve. When turned, it repeated itself in a recurring litany of sing-song insanity. I had no idea what the phrase was from, if anything, but it sounded perfectly menacing, and wholly fitting to my current situation. I dropped the key into my pocket.

At that moment, I felt something on my foot. It was moving, and fast. For a moment I couldn’t react, it was as if the senses were working but the brain was voting on a reaction. Then I felt the movement leave my foot and reach the back of my leg, moving with lightning speed. I felt circle my leg and climb up my side.

Something is crawling up my body.

The realization set it instantly, and when it did, panic followed it right through the door. I thrashed about in a frenzy. Rational thought vacated the premises as pure survival instinct took over. I swatted at it, whatever it was, but it wasn’t helping. I could feel it moving around, deftly avoiding the blows.

Get it off GET IT OFF

In utter desperation, I pulled off my jacket and slammed it to the ground repeatedly, hoping to knock it off that way. Then I grabbed it back and balled it up in my hands in an attempt to crush it if it were still there. I felt several solid things, but none were alive, they were the items I had stored in the pockets.

Finally, I was satisfied that whatever it was no longer was in my jacket. It was just then that I felt it scurry up my bare arm towards my hand, it being conveyed by several tiny, needle-like appendages. From the light refracting from the walls, I could see its silhouette, and when I did, terror washed over me like a wave at high tide.

Roach!

I moaned, a toneless, haunting product of utter revulsion, and I whiplashed my arm out, hoping to dislodge it. It worked. I could feel the insect detach from my skin, and I thought I could hear it strike the wall. It was certainly large enough to make noise doing so.

Unfortunately, the roach wasn’t the only thing I dislodged. The flashlight, the wonderful flashlight, my only source of vision in this hell, flew out of my hand as well. I could see it fly away from my panicked, outstretched grip for the fraction of a second it remained airborne. Then, with a sharp plastic crack, it smashed against the concrete wall.

And my world was plunged into darkness.

If I thought I knew panic a moment ago, well, let me just say that it wasn’t even an adequate starter course. The moment the light went out, hell, before the thing even had the chance to hit the floor, I leapt at it like cat chasing nip. My shoulder collided with the wall bluntly, but I hardly noticed. I was way too focused on finding the flashlight and making it work again to care. My hands scrabbled around madly, reaching and sweeping in every direction. I didn’t take long for me to feel the touch of hot metal and plastic under my fingers.

I almost gasped in relief when I grabbed it and flicked the switch. That relief, however, evaporated in a complete instant.

The light did not come on.

I almost lost it right then and there. If it were broken, that was without a doubt the end of me. All these times I kept finding a way out of a mess just kept leading me to new messes, and luck could only overcome so many of them.

I didn’t lose it, because one of my trembling fingers managed to break through the encroaching madness in my brain to report that the battery latch was missing, and the battery with it. Relief made an instant comeback, not unlike the flick of a light switch. I would have laughed if I wasn’t so close to going mad.

My free hand continued its frenzied search for the missing battery. I had to back up on my hands and knees and turn around several times, and as I did, I could feel that relief, and my ever-tenuous grip on sanity, sliding and sliding bit by bit. My breath was getting short and blood was being pounded through my veins, as though my heart was getting pissed off from being sped up and **** with so often, and was taking its frustrations out on the blood by pumping it as hard as it could.

But finally, my fingers closed upon something round, metallic, and heavy for its size. That beautiful, wonderful D-cell battery which paved the way for me to see, it was back in my hands. I practically slammed it in the battery compartment of the flashlight, even before I bothered standing up. The back of the case was gone, but I didn’t need it, and I wasn’t about to waste any more time looking for it. All I wanted to do was get out of here and-

I jerked my hand back suddenly, as if it had landed on a red-hot burner. I felt that scurrying rush of that roach. The motion was so sudden that I almost lost my balance and fell over, only catching myself at the last minute. Quickly I stood, and-

There it was again, this time on my foot. Then on both feet. In several places on both feet. Up my legs! That was where one had attacked me, way back in the apartments, a million years ago. It left quite the nasty wound where it had tried to eat me from the inside out.

And that was just one of them.

Relief finally left town completely. Now I was gripped by terror, even as my finger flipped the switch on the flashlight, because I thought I knew what I was going to see.

I thought wrong. Or perhaps, I didn’t think large enough. What I thought I would see was four or five of those **** nasty puppy-sized cockroaches crawling around me.

The light came on. And I immediately found myself wishing there were only four or five. Or ten. Or twenty. Because there were **** hundreds, thousands of them. Everywhere. Every last inch of this little concrete tomb was a writhing, churning mass of insect carapaces. Many of them were the obscenely large ones I had seen as of yet. Many more still were in increasingly diminutive sizes, all the way down to what was more or less normal, the cockroaches I was used to seeing, the ones the size of nickels and quarters. Not for a moment did I view the small ones as any less a threat than the large ones. Not that I was in much of a state of mind to really differentiate. There were far too many for the difference to matter at all.

I didn’t scream. I did make a noise, but it wasn’t a scream. To call it a scream would be insulting to real screams. What crawled up my throat and died was nothing but a pitiful, terrified whine.

The room was far too small to break into a run, so I leapt at the door, gripping its handle without any regard to the cockroaches crawling upon it. I crushed some of them in the process, but I couldn’t care less. I turned the knob, ready to burst out the door and…

Locked.

Motherfucker.

The epithet was supposed to sound angry, but it came out sounding deflated and defeated. My grip on my self-control was slipping quickly. The writhing, massive horde of insects seemed to intensify in response. Their chittering, chitinous sounds, the soft thumps of the little bastards hitting me as they fell from the ceiling, that totally unnerving sensation of them crawling on me… it was enough to finally do me in. It was plenty.

That’s when a small ray of light caught my eye, as it didn’t come from my flashlight, and when I moved it away from the source, I noticed it didn’t reflect that light, either. It was glowing on its own.

The keypad!

I smacked several cockroaches off of the pad, and with the faint glow from the keypad came a faint glow of hope. Only three of the nine numbers on the pad glowed. The other six were as dark as everything else.

Praying that my instincts were right, I started pushing the buttons, quickly and randomly. I heard an alarm buzz sharply several times while doing so, which I took to mean that I had entered an incorrect code. The buzzing repeated itself over and over again, and I punched the buttons faster and more furiously. With each loud denial, that faint thread of hope frayed more and more.

Just as I was absolutely certain that it was going to snap, that the keypad was just a cruel, false hope to **** with me just a little more before I lost my sanity and my life, I heard a different sound, this one a note of definite approval, which for all its happiness and cheerfulness, was no less loud or sharp than the denial tones. Frantically, I grabbed the doorknob, again crushing several of the insects in the process, and pulled the door open hard enough to slam against the wall. I rushed out the door in a blind panic, slamming into the opposite wall myself. I threw my body around in a frenetic, crazy dance, striking the walls and rolling on the floor and beating myself so madly and wildly that one would have thought I was on fire. I was wailing as I did so, for I was so fantastically desperate to get rid of any and all cockroaches that escaped that cell with me. No matter how I tried though, I still felt the sensation of hundreds, of thousands of little monstrous bugs crawling over every inch of me. The sensation alone was driving me to the brink, and that was unfair after all I had just been through. My eyes popped open as I finally unleashed a good, thick scream…

…and I saw nothing. No roaches. Not a single one. Hurriedly, I sifted through the folds of my clothing, then I scanned the floors and walls. Not even one tiny cockroach was to be seen.

I should have been relieved. I should have been absolutely thrilled. Maybe I was. I don’t know. But I didn’t feel thrilled or relieved. I felt like I was crumbling from the inside out. I felt like my mind had finally had enough and had turned against me. I couldn’t help myself this time. I gripped my knees and rolled on the floor, sobbing. I could hear the choked noises echoing through the corridor, I could feel the hot tears running down my face. Yet, I couldn’t stop. I was afraid I would never be able to stop, that I wouldn’t go out in a blaze of combat with a hellacious demon but curled up in a fetal position, weeping like a **** infant.

I did manage to get myself under control, but it was a fight as hard as any combat I had encountered in town. It felt like I was pushing against a solid brick wall at first, but slowly, bit by painstaking bit, it yielded.

Finally, I was able to stand. I no longer wept, but my face was flushed and my mind felt numb and empty. I walked towards the locked gate and its HOLE with a zombie-like stutter. With a queer sort of detachment, I leaned over and twisted the spiral-writing key in the latch-lock. As soon as I did, the double-doors fell open, and the HOLE gaped wide and inviting.

I stared down that HOLE, the numbness giving way to anger, anger at how unfair it all was. I wound up and threw the key down the pit, hearing it bounce off of the wall with a light ting. The anger left me quickly. There was nothing to do about it. Holding it would only make this painful experience all the more so.

Now there was nothing but this HOLE, which cost me so much upstairs to access. After having to go through all that terrifying **** to open the gate, I felt much less apprehension about this HOLE than I did the first one. I couldn’t see my face at that moment, but I’m sure it displayed that same dull, dim look as it had a moment ago. And I’m sure that it stuck with me as I took a light leap into the cavernous maw of the HOLE, going wherever it decided to take me.
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All Hail The Strogg!
R.I.P. Paul Gray - April 8, 1972 – May 24, 2010.


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Stay...
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Stay...
Here With Me... Don't You Leave...
Stay...
Stay With Me, Until The Day's Over..."
I love you Mutou Yami... Forever.


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« Reply #24 on: October 16, 2010, 07:55:33 am »

Chapter Twenty-Four
Persecution Complex

Time stopped for me again, and there was more of that same darkness. Unlike last time, I couldn’t distinctly remember the sort of rush that rendered me unconscious, yet the slight awareness I did possess did not notice the sensation of falling, so I guess I did go out again. I don’t remember hitting the ground, either. I know I did, I know I must have, because it was just bound to happen. No hole in the world was truly bottomless.

Were any of the HOLEs bottomless?

Didn’t know. Didn’t care. I was engulfed in other kinds of sensations. Some of them were warm and pleasant, some of them were cold and evil, but even the good ones seemed tainted. I had lost Mary, after all, and the process was anything but pleasant. By the end… what? It was troubling to me that my memories seemed so fuzzy, awake or in dreamland. Nothing seemed to change, here, there, or anywhere. I was here looking for my wife, even though I knew she was dead. I was already resigned to the possibility that I was a few lights short of a Christmas tree, even though I did still possess enough lucidity to realize what I was doing and how crazy it was. Was it insanity that drove me on? I certainly hoped not. Desperation, even to this degree, was something I could handle and accept. Losing my mental facilities was not. If I lose my mind, I lose myself, and if that happens, what’s the point of going on?

No answer was forthcoming, but I wasn’t expecting one anyway.

All those swirling, whirling colors, all formless and amorphous, faded slowly, became shades of gray that all turned white slowly, dissolving and dispersing like smoke in a windstorm. Then, the whites changed direction, turning gray again, and then black. Feeling came back to me, no scares like last time. I could feel my feet and hands even before my eyesight returned to me. I moved them, feeling strange, as if I had never possessed extremities before. What a novel concept, hands and feet.

Finally, the lights and flashes of my mind misted away, and I found myself staring at yet another concrete ceiling, this one just as dark and putrid as any other I’d seen down here. Wooden beams criss-crossed the span, all of them completely green, and in a brighter shade. My field of vision came down, which revealed to me that I was surrounded by tables, every side of me had them. None of them looked special in any sort of way. Many had chairs, parked under or nearby, several skewed and none of them neat or clean. The floor beneath me was dirty as well, the same sort of overgrown cave-like neglect evident all over, but there was more here. Chunks of material were scattered about. Most of them weren’t of a size worth noting, but several were, and all of them were black as night. I touched one that lay near my hand. It was very dry, lightweight, and smelled faintly of sweet rot. Then I saw the emaciated white chunk that stuck out of the side. It was a bone. I had a piece of meat in my hand, from animal or from human I couldn’t guess. It was practically mummified with age, and the realization made my stomach churn. With a grunt of disgust, I leaned back and chucked it across the room, over the crusty, dusty tables and chairs. I heard it hit the wall with a soft thonk, then the floor with a softer thonk.

I stood, massaging a back that was sore but blessedly undamaged. My understanding of these HOLEs was hardly near comprehensive, but I was beginning to at least form a theory or two. Whatever their nature, I was twice able to jump into one, fall quite a long way, land on hard ground both times and live to tell about it, so obviously, there was some kind of unnatural property involved.

How many more would I have to go down, though? How deep did this ****-up rabbit hole go? My mind was rife with possibilities, and none of them were pleasant. They were forced away quickly. The only way I could cope with my situation was by ignoring the likely outcomes. If I let them manifest, if I let myself become distracted by them, I might give up. I might not be able to go on, convinced I will find nothing. Mary is at that hotel. She is there. She said she was.

I scanned the room, looking for any threats that the radio hadn’t caught. I didn’t see any monsters. I did see several old pots and a ton of filthy serving trays, some littering the floor, most littering the tables. The bowls and steel pots were encrusted with the remnants of some ancient dinner. Spoons, a hand-cart, even scraps of clothing lay strewn about. It looked a riot had broken out and nobody bothered cleaning up afterwards. The walls were thick with stains of all shapes and sizes, surely some of those could have come from these trays. After all, meat can stain as easily as anything. A painting hung on the wall behind me. Strange place to find a painting, but this one was rather interesting. It showed the very room I was in, with the viewpoint facing where I was standing. On the far wall, you could see this painting, creating a strange infinity effect. I’d have found it fascinating in nicer circumstances.

The flashlight beam swept in that direction, but it stopped as if frozen solid when it fell upon something that was just a little more provocative than dirty tables and messy counters. A man sat at one of those tables, over in the far corner. Upon closer inspection, I realized that he wasn’t really sitting, not so much as he was slumped over. He was resting, although it was rather obvious that it was of the eternal variety. The poor bastard’s head was pulped, a complete wreck. The skull was smashed, and a macabre mess of blood, bone shards and shredded chunks of pale pink brain spread in front of him on the table, like a fan. The smell was thick and meaty and of rich copper.

I’d like to say it was the first time I’d seen a person mutilated in this manner, but it wasn’t. Just a few hours earlier Maria and I had found that guy on the Nathan Avenue bridge, and overall, he was in worse shape than the man in front of me. He wasn’t fresh, though. Whoever he was, he had been dead for at least several hours. The guy at the table here, he was. He was very fresh. The blood hadn’t even started to congeal yet. What the hell happened to him? And how had he gotten down here? It looked like someone had taken a large gun of some kind and…

Then it hit me. I had seen someone **** up this badly, and not just the bridge guy. My mind’s eye flashed helpful imagery; a small, half-size refrigerator, literally soaked in dark, smelly blood. The door open, and human feet poked out beyond it a foot or so. It was a kid, a teenager at best, certainly too young to buy a pack of smokes without some trickery. He was killed, butchered really, and stuffed halfheartedly into a refrigerator. He was dead maybe a minute when I found him, and this guy here likely wasn’t dead much longer. And not another minute after I saw that terrible work of art, I came across the guy who was almost certainly responsible. Found him kneeling across a toilet, puking his fat guts out and denying any involvement.

And in that moment, before I even thought about turning, I knew what I would see when I did. I knew I would see Eddie. The two deaths were just a little too similar. I knew Eddie would be nearby.

I didn’t have to look far, either. He was only a few feet away, sitting on the ground and leaning up against a door. His legs were splayed out in front of him and he stared straight ahead, totally unmindful of me and the flashlight I shined in his face. His eyes were blank and unmoving. I could see his pupils contracting, and that was about all the movement I could see going on. What hair I could see poking out from the rim of his baseball cap was thick and matted. His striped polo shirt sported thick, dark sweat stains. Dust and dirt caked much of his exposed skin. His arms lay slack and limp.

And yes, friends and neighbors, Eddie’s revolver was loosely nestled in his pudgy right hand.

I shined the light in his face, moving it back and forth, hoping it would get his attention. At first, there was nothing but the blank stare. He seemed to be in some sort of trance, but he wasn’t unconscious. I could see his chest expanding and contracting, and it was doing so too rapidly for him to be asleep. He looked to be slightly catatonic, if anything. I wanted to help him snap out of it. Sure, the guy gave me definite bad vibes, and he had this irritating habit of being in the company of recently-made corpses, but I couldn’t leave him like this.

So, I kept waving the flashlight across his face. It didn’t seem to be getting me anywhere. I could shake him, but the thought of physical contact was a little disturbing. After all, he did have a large gun in his hand. What if I surprised him? What if I scared him? What if I broke his little fugue and he came out of it completely disoriented and started firing off that revolver without even knowing it?

What if he was a killer? What if he liked it?

Didn’t want to dwell on that one.

I was just about to give up and force myself to shake him awake when he suddenly turned away from me, throwing his arms up. He was trying to shield his eyes. I heard him muttering something, but it was too quiet to be intelligible. I angled the light so that it no longer shined in his face. He looked back towards me, his face still pasty and pale from whatever had happened to him. I saw a sneer flash across his face, a look that seemed almost contemptuous, and it was directed at me. It was only there for a moment though, then it was gone. He leaned over and tried to use his arm as leverage to stand. I offered my hand and he took it. His hand was clammy and sweaty, and cold from resting on the floor.

Once on his feet, Eddie looked around nervously, as if expecting someone else to suddenly appear. His roving gaze finally fell upon the grisly corpse slumped over the meal table. He snorted when he saw him. Then he looked to me, out of the corner of his eye, as he remained facing the body.

“You know what?” He said. His voice sounded dry and raspy.

“What?”

“Killin’ a person. I used to think it was a big-ass deal, you know? I used to think you had to be some kind of tough-**** to kill someone.”

I said nothing.

“It ain’t, though,” he continued. “Killin’ a person ain’t no big deal at all.”

“You killed that guy?” I asked. I tried to hide the edgy discomfort in my voice. To my chagrin, I wasn’t doing a good job of it. He could tell, too. I was sure of it.

His expression changed suddenly from one that looked smug and satisfied to one that looked afraid, and in over his head. Likely all of it was true.

“You don’t get it, man! It… it wasn’t my fault! That guy, he made me do it!”

I held my hands up, and he stopped. That was good. The last thing I wanted was for him to get excited and hysterical while he still had that gun in his hand.

“Easy there, Eddie. Calm down and tell me what happened.”

He pointed at the corpse, never taking his eyes off of it. “It was his fault! I didn’t do nothin’, and he was just comin’ at me! Kept on comin’ and he wouldn’t stop! He was askin’ for it, James! Ya see what happened to him? He had it coming!” He paused, and his eyes opened wider, giving him the look of a pulpit preacher with a serious case of righteous ****-off. “Besides, I didn’t like the way he was lookin’ at me. Son of a **** was laughin’ at me the whole time, laughing at me with his eyes. Maybe he thinks I’m stupid, but I ain’t stupid. I could see it. He’s just like that other one…” He spit in the direction of his victim. “Ain’t neither of ya laughin’ now though, now are ya?”

“Eddie!” I cried, “You killed him? Just for that?”

Now he turned that gaze on me, and it sent shockwaves of ice through me. ‘“Whaddaya mean ‘‘just for that?”’ The look in his eyes was nothing short of lunatic. There was black murder in those porcine eyes, and if I didn’t tread really carefully, I might find myself on the receiving end of it. I swallowed nervously, and considered my next words a little more carefully.

“But Eddie, you can’t just kill a person just for looking at you funny…

Yeah, nice choice of words. Obviously, he can kill a person just for looking at him funny. The body at the table provided mute evidence to the effect.

“Why the hell can’t I? I’ve been taking **** from assholes like him my whole life, James! They’re always pissing on me, walking all over me, treating me like ****. Even that stupid dog, even he was giving me that look! Well, he got his, dammit!”

Oh boy oh boy, this guy isn’t just a little crazy, he’s a **** grade double-A batshit psychopath

He must have seen the look on my face, and if he considered it a valid enough pretext for murder, I was as good as ****. If funny looks warranted a death sentence, my face should have earned seven generations of Eddie’s crazed, paranoid wrath. For several agonizing seconds, I just stared at him, wondering if he was going to bring that gun up to my face. There’s no way I would be able to get my gun in enough time. I might be able to dodge the bullet, maybe, but I had no idea how loaded the revolver was, and with the limited space to maneuver, he would have all the time he wanted to finish me off before I would even have the chance to reach for my own gun. And, if I reached for mine first, then of course he would respond in kind. Even still, I really wanted to. I wanted to have the upper-hand. This man, this overgrown boy, was dangerous and crazy. Yet, he was as much a victim of his environment as I was. I couldn’t exactly blame him for losing his mind. Regardless, I didn’t want to die, and I didn’t want to kill him, but if it came down to it, I’d fight for my life. I’d kill him if I had to, and right at that very moment, it looked too likely that I would have to.

Just as I made up my mind to reach for my pistol, he laughed. It was a creepy, hollow laugh, and it didn’t even begin to put me at ease.

“He he, I was only kiddin’ with ya, James.” He looked at the corpse now with good humor that looked genuine. Now that did disarm me a little. But only a little. “I found him like that when I got here. He was already dead like that, swear to God.”

I didn’t believe him, not for even a second. Not after that little tirade a minute ago. Thankfully for me though, I was able to keep my feelings hidden this time. If Eddie was going to drop the matter, I would be an idiot to keep pressing.

Now he turned towards the door, looking at me as he did so. “I gotta get going now.” He opened it and was halfway through when I stopped him. I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t help it.

“You’re going to go out there alone?” I asked. I was hardly excited about the idea of roaming this area with him, while not knowing where he is and when. I was even more reticent to team up with him, for obvious reasons. Well, there was another door over near the painting, I can try going that way.

“I’ll be okay, don’t worry,” he said as he slid through the door and pulled it closed behind him. Nope, no worries. I shuddered violently. Couldn’t help it. I lost a few too many nerves during that encounter.

I turned towards the other side of the room and the door that was over there. I pointedly ignored the corpse at the table, the man Eddie both confirmed and later denied was his own victim. His denial would fool no one, least of all me, but there was nothing I could do about it now except to do my best to avoid being the next one. Beyond this door was any number of nasty things that could kill me, and I had spent many dreadful hours encountering and avoiding them. The last thing I needed was another human being, who was undoubtedly quicker and more aware than the ghouls of the town, and more deadly to boot, stalking me through this nightmare. Life was complicated enough as it was, thank you very much.

Apparently, it wasn’t. The doorknob turned, and I was able to push on the door enough to know the lock wasn’t active, but no further. Something on the other side obstructed it. I couldn’t see what it was through the crack, but whatever it was, it was heavy and unyielding, even after I threw my body against it repeatedly. Damn thing didn’t give even an inch.

I stood back, sweating both from the effort, and from the prospect of following Eddie through the other door. I didn’t want to do it. I fervently didn’t want to do it. I almost preferred finding a way to climb back up that HOLE, as impossible as I was certain that was. Of course, life generally doesn’t give a **** what you prefer, and this was one of those times when that was made readily apparent.

It was with a resigned sigh, and not a little fear and apprehension, that I crossed the cafeteria, again trying to ignore the body, and went through the ancient steel door. I had my gun in my hand this time. I was in no mood to take chances. Yet, as I closed the door behind me, I wished the weight of the weapon in my hand would make me feel safer and more reassured than I felt. Of course, you can wish in one hand, **** in the other, and see which fills up first. That was one of Dad’s favorite bits of wisdom. There was only one answer, of course. I cursed my luck for the thousandth time.
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All Hail The Strogg!
R.I.P. Paul Gray - April 8, 1972 – May 24, 2010.


"Stay...
 I Need You Here, For A New Day To Break...
Stay...
I Want You Near, Like A Shadow In My Wake...
Stay...
Here With Me... Don't You Leave...
Stay...
Stay With Me, Until The Day's Over..."
I love you Mutou Yami... Forever.


Long Live, Mr.Yamaoka Akira, The Silent Hill Legend.
Mutou Yami
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« Reply #25 on: October 16, 2010, 08:01:06 am »

Chapter Twenty-Five
Penitentiary

The cafeteria was definitely deteriorating, but at least it was dry. I think that since I entered the Historical Society, it may have been the only place so far that had been. For that alone, I liked it best of any place in the Abyss that I had seen.

The place I followed Eddie into wasn’t half-underwater as was the natural rock cavern God knew how many feet above, but it certainly was wet itself. Water dripped from cracks in the ceiling, filling the quiet chamber with a soft litany of hollow dripping. Puddles of the stuff collected here and there on the floor. The crooks where the floor met the wall had sunken a bit with advanced age, and the runoff pooled along them. It was humid, but it was colder down there than up above. Colder, in fact, than it had felt since Maria and I entered the hospital. It made the place feel even more depressing than it should have, and that was plenty itself. The change sure wouldn’t be nice to my immune system, but death by pneumonia was closer to the bottom of the list of possible outcomes. At least I still had my jacket.

I was in a hall of some kind, and it ended very close to my right. Before even that was a set of venerable bars and a locked gate. There was a door beyond, but there was no way I’d reach it. The hall extended much farther in the other direction. Rough, dark walls caught my light and absorbed it, giving the hall a strange appearance akin to tunnel vision. In the distance I could see another gate, this one quite closed, too.

I made my way down the hall slowly. The going was tough, for the water and dirt joined forces to create some kind of slippery slime. It was hard to distinguish on the floor, filthy as it was, but I knew it when I stepped in it. The **** was as slick as oil, and would send me flying if I wasn’t careful. The water came down from everywhere, like a soft drizzle, but I was at least several dozen feet underground, and it was rather surreal to see such a thing. Falling down those HOLEs had certainly screwed with my sense of direction, and now I wondered if perhaps I really was underneath Lake Toluca. I don’t know how on earth anyone managed to construct such a large place under a lake in the 18th or 19th century. It didn’t seem possible, the engineering and technology just wouldn’t be advanced enough, and then one would have to ask why it would be here in the first place, why anyone would even bother. Yet, it seemed possible, if not probable, because I couldn’t explain it any other way.

I decided first to try the gate down the hall. As I approached it, the radio hissed softly. I didn’t see anything beyond the bars, but a moment later, I heard that strange, gurgling cry of a straight-jacket monster. It was pretty distant. I had time to work the door.

Only, that was easier said than done. The door wasn’t locked. However, the gate door was very badly rusted, and the water that dripped steadily off of the bars provided the reasoning behind that. The handle latch was jammed, seemingly fused solid thanks to untold decades of build-up. It didn’t help that the handle was on the other side of the gate, either, but I was able to twist my arm enough to get a solid grip.

I pushed down hard, which did nothing except make the latch handle barely wiggle. Another push produced similar disappointing results. The third time, I jumped in the air and leveraged my weight on the handle. It gave this time, yes indeed. It gave too much. My hand came down on the handle, and I felt a moment of resistance. Just a moment. Then, the handle cracked and snapped off, too quickly for me to even register right away, much less prevent. Thanks to that, I was full of surplus movement. My arm continued plunging earthward, and my wrist caught on the part of the broken handle still attached to the gate. It ripped a long, white-hot slash all the way up to the crook of my elbow, stopping only because my shoulder struck the bars, being too large to pass through.

When a person suffers a sudden injury, there’s always that brief grace period, that time before the nerves inform the brain that the **** went down, a time where nothing feels wrong. It was during this time that I pulled my arm back through the bars and backed away from the gate in a sort of dull stupor. I stumbled, as my attention wasn’t focused, and I fell backwards against the cold concrete wall. I slid down to the floor and sat there. Then I rolled back the sleeve and saw the exposed skin on my right arm.

At that instant, the grace period of shock disappeared, as quickly as if it had never been there at all. Replacing it was a searing jolt of agony, drawn in a jagged crimson slash that spanned the entire length of my arm to my elbow. Already the whole arm was smeared red, and more oozed out from the wound. I hissed and bit back a full-on scream, because oh, it hurt like **** blazes and it looked even worse. Really, it was the look of the slash that sent me into fits, filled my mind with fresh new horror scenarios. Tetanus, blood poisoning, any number of infections in this damp and wet hole in the ground-

But thankfully, I did come to realize it wasn’t quite as bad or as gory as it looked. The cut was shallow from tip to end, no real lasting damage. I wished to God I could clean it, but that wasn’t possible. I opened my jacket and pressed the cut against my shirt, which was the closest I was going to get to any sort of sanitary fabric here. I held it like that for several minutes, and when I pulled it away, my good shirt gave me the look of a battlefield surgeon in a war-zone, but the blood was already clotting and the flow had become a mere trickle. It still stung like a motherfucker, but I could handle it. What choice did I have?

None, of course. The further I got through this death-trap of a town, the more apparent that became, and even though I had long past the point where I needed reminders, they came anyway. So, there was nothing to do but press on. In all honesty though, as badly as I wanted to believe I was going to find Mary at the end of it all, there were times when even that didn’t seem worth all the misery and fright I was privy to here. As much as I hate to admit it, one of the prime factors that kept me motivated was the simple knowledge that there was no turning back. I felt that even when I was still above-ground, when there was at least an outside shot at making it back to the car and getting the **** out of Dodge. Now, of course, it was miles away from even remotely possible.

It didn’t matter either way. Running was never a real option, not from the minute I got on that nature trail. I mean, there was nothing to physically stop me until I jumped down that first HOLE, but even if I did get back there and drove away, then what? Back to my old life? An existence that held absolutely no value to me? Day after endless day of operating in a near-mindless state and being incapable of giving a damn about even a minute of it? There was no way I could do it. If I stood in front of the car right now, I couldn’t make myself turn the key in the ignition. In my more rational moments I’ve seriously questioned whether or not I would really find my wife here, but there had to be some reason I was going through this hell, some reason for my suffering.

The only way to find out was to press on.

There was a door nearby, and it was as good a start as any. It opened, and to my surprise, it didn’t even put up much of a fight. It opened into a branching hall of some kind, and the floor was a half-step lower in here. This allowed all the water dripping from above to collect and pool. I decided to go right, treading very lightly.

Around the corner, the hall ended a few lengths ahead, with three more branches to the left, each spaced very closely together. The first had a sort of wooden door, this one smashed in the center and folded across whatever was behind it. The door didn’t touch either the floor or the ceiling, and though I couldn’t see much, it didn’t look like a very large space. A toilet stall, perhaps?

But it wasn’t. The entirety of the little stall was covered in tile, tile that was probably white, once upon a time. Now, it was moldy, and dimmed yellow where it still showed through. The grout had been stained a deep black from floor to ceiling. There was no toilet. On the wall in the back, I could see a pair of faucet handles, and a few feet above them, a long, curved pipe hung out and ended in a large, bell-shaped device. It was a shower. It certainly wasn’t in working order, and I wouldn’t have used it even if it were, but just seeing a shower made me realize that I was dirty, sweaty and covered in blood in a few places. If fate was kind enough to allow me to survive this little adventure, the very first thing I was going to do was rent a motel room somewhere between here and Augusta, and take the longest shower of my entire life. I’d let the water run cold. Hell, I might start it that way.

But that wasn’t now or anywhere near it, sadly. I turned and went back up the corridor. I didn’t turn the corner right away though, because I heard something splashing around, and that something wasn’t me; I stood completely still. The radio told me nothing, but-

Then, yes, I heard that same strangled cry I heard on the other side of the bars out in the main hall, and in a dozen places besides. One of them was in here with me. I stepped around the corner, confident that I was far enough away that I had time to dart back even if it did see me. This time, my confidence was well-founded. The hall hit a corner ahead and turned to the right, and it had to be over there somewhere. I had no desire to fight it if I could manage, and to that end I crept slowly towards the door, having the gun drawn the whole time. Thankfully, if it was even aware of my presence, it didn’t seem terribly interested in doing anything about it. I slid through the door and slammed it shut.

I re-entered the main hall only to be greeted again by radio static. I glanced quickly at the barred gate, and sure enough, the straight-jacket monster I had heard earlier decided to come on down to this side and check out the commotion. It paced back and forth along the length of the gate. I stood there watching it, and once it realized I was there, it went into a kind of frenzy. It bashed its own body against the gate, groaning and screaming in unison with my radio, providing a grotesque backbeat to the madness.

Then, without warning, it sprayed that damnable acid **** at me. I was just too far away to be hit, thankfully, but I didn’t realize it at first, and I jumped backwards. It fell short of me, hitting the concrete and stone floor. Tendrils of smoke rose from where the corrosive mist landed. It screamed its strangled scream and spit again, and again, despite me being safely out of range. The monster seemed aware of that fact, and it appeared as though the knowledge drove it crazy. It kept spitting at me, repeatedly, non-stop, once every second or so. None of it reached me, but that didn’t seem to faze the monster. A thick haze of smoke from the acid-burned floor began to cloud the vicinity. I watched it thrash about like a thing possessed, for it was both fascinating and frightening at the same time. I could only watch for so long though, because I kept having nasty little thoughts about how utterly painful life would have been if I had been a step or two closer when it let loose like that.

There was a doorway right across from the shower room, but I had no intention of trying it with the acid rain falling so close by. I remembered seeing one other door back the other way. If it didn’t lead anywhere, I could shoot the creature behind the bars and give it a shot. So, I walked away, towards this other door. The furious sounds of the monster faded in intensity, but the sounds still echoed all along the empty corridor, and if anything, it sounded even more frightening from a distance. The door down here did open, thankfully, and the horrifying sound died when the door closed behind me.

Now I found myself in yet another hallway. This one was quite long, as was the one I just left, though more narrow. Now, if I needed any more evidence that I was in some sort of abandoned prison, this hallway gave me all I needed and then some.

Cells lined the entire left side of the hall, one right after another, as far as I could see. I looked in the one closest to me. There wasn’t much to see, really. The inside looked as wet and filthy as the outside did. I could see a cot on the wall, suspended by old, rusty chains. A rather foul odor came from within, though I couldn’t see any visible source.

Clank.

Down the hall further, I heard it.

Clank.

Clank.


My poor heart kickstarted again, ramped up by a seemingly never-ending supply of adrenaline from the stomach. It had been pumping out gallons of the fear juice all day. Crazily, I wondered just where it all came from.

Clank.

Wasn’t going to dwell on it too long, though.

My hands trembled as they held the pistol at the ready. The experience with the monster out in the main hallway had my nerves on an absolute hair-trigger, and all I needed was half an excuse to blow one of them away if I saw one here. Because while I was able to keep a safe distance out there, I wouldn’t have that same luxury now. The hallway was simply not wide enough.

Quietly, I crept along the length of the hallway, stepping sideways as I did. I passed one cell after another, each one so far as empty as the first.

Clank.

Clank clank.


And then the radio joined in. My blood pumped even faster, throbbing in my veins. I could feel it in my neck and in my forehead. I could also feel the onset of another headache.

Next time I set out on a little adventure to a haunted town from hell, I’m going with my pockets stuffed full of Tylenol.

CLANK!


I almost leapt right the hell out of my skin, but instead, I leapt to my left. I had arrived at the last cell on this block, for there was nothing but a door beyond it. The radio hissed and squealed, and while I couldn’t see exactly what was behind the bars, but I didn’t need to. Between the noise of the radio and the bashing noise against the old steel, I could hear the trademark mating call of the straight-jacket. I was so relieved to get away from that one back in the main hall, yet here I was again facing one down the same way. Deja-vu, baby.

Then, I could see it as it came towards the bars and struck them hard, almost as if it had taken a diving leap into them. If so, it recovered well, for it faced me directly. My flashlight’s glare reflected from several distorted angles off of its putrid sack of flesh. It stood still for a moment, writhing in place as if trying to break out of its case of skin. For just the slightest of moments, I wondered if perhaps it was having some sort of seizure that would find more of a concern than my presence.

Then, without warning, it reared back.

****!

Panic dug its icy claws in my neck. I scuttled sideways, willing myself out of the way of the acid spray that was sure to come. In doing so, I slipped on the wet floor and fell hard. I didn’t even have time to think about what had happened. It didn’t register until I actually struck the floor, which I did with my left elbow first, followed by the rest of my body. My elbow cracked hard against the hard concrete. At precisely the same time, my finger closed around the trigger of the Glock, a purely reflexive motion. The pistol spit fire, and of course, a bullet, one that wasn’t going to hit anything I wanted to hit.

Panting in surprise and terror, I rolled over on my back and pushed myself away from the last cell with my legs, looking no doubt like a beached fish flopping uselessly out of water. The floor was too slick for it to really help much, I don’t think I even moved an inch for all the effort. Providentially, I already seemed to be far enough away that it couldn’t reach, but that didn’t sink in right away.

I hurriedly got to my feet, and I held the Glock out right away. This monster didn’t seem as maniacally inclined to melt the flesh off of my bones as the last one was. It wasn’t spitting at the moment. My eyes were as wide as dinner plates as I snuck back towards the cell. Sure enough, this bastard was more of the disinterested type. It looked like its back was turned to me, but considering that its features, if it possessed any at all, were amorphous at best, it was impossible to tell if it was or not.

I wasn’t about to find out, either. I squeezed the trigger, intentionally, this time. The gun jumped in my hand as it spewed its fire and cordite. The monster seemed to heave away from the bars, and I could see why. The bullet tore into its neck, leaving a gaping hole that bled so darkly it almost looked like crude oil.

The straight-jacket staggered, and for a moment I was sure it was going to go down. It leaned, and I waited for it to fall. Except, it didn’t. It stopped before it fell.

Then, horror washed over me in a cascade. I suddenly knew why. It wasn’t leaning back. It wasn’t about to fall.

It was rearing back.

It was going to splash me with acid.

I pulled the trigger once, twice, thrice. The gun seemed to almost fight against my grip, but I held tight. I had to. My life depended on it. I didn’t know how many of the bullets hit the monster. I wasn’t watching to see. After firing the third shot, I fell to my knees and curled up. I didn’t have the time or even the energy left to dart away again. I just lay there and waited for the stinging kiss.

But the kiss never came. I heard the creature screaming its phlegmy scream, and then I heard a hard clonk. Then I heard nothing. Nor did I feel anything.

It took me quite awhile before I was able to screw together enough courage to open my eyes. When I did, I was met by a fantastically welcome sight. Apparently, at least one of the bullets hit pay dirt. The straight-jacket leaned forward against the bars of its prison, the head dangling lifelessly to the side. It was still propped up, having landed on its knees, but it wasn’t going to stand up again. It was quite dead.

I stood slowly, almost laughing at myself for the cowardly moves which had just saved my life yet again. Maybe I would look back and laugh at it, someday. Right now, it just wasn’t all that funny. Right now, I was too angry to laugh. I didn’t know if these damned things were mindless or not, whether they had conscious control over their actions or not, but I hated them just the same. That experience had left me full of frustration. I grabbed the iron bars with both hands, planted my right shoe on the face of the dead monster and shoved it as hard as I could. The monster put up no fight at all. It just fell backwards and hit the floor bonelessly. I felt no pity for it. **** bastard things were too dangerous. I stepped back from the cell.

Clank.

Oh
hell no.

Clank clank clank.


It wasn’t coming from in front of me. It was coming from behind me. I turned to face the cells I had passed.

Clank clank CLANK CLANK CLANK

They were rattling. All of them. The radio chose this moment to inform me of the fact, but I didn’t need it to. I could hear the choking and bubbling noises of straight-jacket monsters, some of them screaming in fury, all of them bashing furiously against the cell doors.

I glanced at the cell next to the one that held the dead monster. Sure enough, I could see its slick, glistening form angrily banging against the bars.

They were all empty! Where in the **** did they come from?

Impossible. I saw them all for myself. Yet, the banging and screeching continued, a testament to just how fine the line between the impossible and the possible really was in this wretched place. I just stood there in disbelief, trying to figure out how and why, but there was no way I could. No way at all.

As if to underscore just how wrong I was, I heard one of the cells down near the end bash again, and this time, I could hear a shrill metallic squeal accompany it.

Escape. One of them escaped!

And then another. And another. I could hear their homicidal cries renewed. I could hear the tapping of their hard feet against the concrete. Could hear them coming. Could hear them coming at me.

But only when the last cell near be bashed open did I finally break out of my crazy stupor. I saw the monster amble out of the cell and turn to face me. It wasn’t close enough to spray me yet, but it would only need maybe three seconds to be close enough. A pitiful, strangled cry of terror clenched in my throat to join the cries of the damned souls that approached me.

With no time to spare, I turned and grabbed the door handle so fiercely it felt like an attack.

Please God let it open…

It did. I practically threw myself through the open portal, and kicked it shut behind me. I then leaned back against it and sagged to the ground, trying to let my heart rate slow back down out of the red zone. It didn’t even have a chance to start, because it wasn’t but a second or two later when the first of the monsters began throwing its weight against the door, and it was joined by others in no time. I got up and ran away down the new hall I found myself in, unmindful of any dangers ahead, and completely desperate to get away from the terrible dangers behind.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2010, 08:06:42 am by Mutou Yami » Report Spam   Logged


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Stay...
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« Reply #26 on: October 16, 2010, 08:10:30 am »

Chapter Twenty-Six
March to the Scaffold

There were no monsters in this hall, but I had no idea how long that door behind me would hold. The pounding intensified, and even through the thick metal I could hear their terrible voices. Thank God they didn’t have arms to operate the handle. If they wanted through, they’d have to knock it down. I prayed that it would take them awhile.

About halfway down this new hall were a pair of doors that faced each other. The smaller of the two opened into a small room that was probably used for storage. Metal shelves lined all of the walls. I found several garments, all of them filthy and some of them bloody, but nothing of any use to me.

The larger door led to a gigantic open area, perhaps the strangest yet. Now, I was underground, very far underground, possibly underneath a damn lake. I don’t know how such a structure was created, but the possibility of a large, open space wasn’t outside the realm of possibility.

What I would never have expected, all the way down here, was to find such an open space, and find grass beneath my feet. Yet, that’s what I saw. Green grass and soft, rocky soil. I scooped a bit into my hand and smelled it. It was a deep, earthy smell. Fresh and fertile and moist. Certainly not what one would expect to find in a deep hole in the ground like this. And on top of that, damned if I didn’t feel wind. And I did, too. I could feel a soft breeze, felt it brush through my hair and kiss my cheek. I could smell the earth and the mineral scents of the lake that carried upon it. I strained my ears to hear it, if I could. I couldn’t really, it was too soft, and I could see no trees or foliage around to catch the wind and make noise for me. Not that I expected to see trees or shrubbery down here, but then again, I also didn’t expect to feel lakeside breezes down here, refreshing though they may be.

I circled the perimeter of the area. It was enclosed by a wall, and a high one at that, for when I shined my torchlight skyward, the only thing that was up there was the jet-black nothingness that absorbed and consumed my meager luminance. The walls extended beyond the reach of my light, as did the ceiling (there had to be a ceiling, damn it). I eventually followed the wall all the way around back to the doors through which I entered originally.

I decided to venture towards the center of the courtyard I was in. It was still totally silent, save for the soft crunch of my footsteps on the gravelly soil. No screams, no moans, and best of all, no radio static. Not that I wasn’t thankful for it, mind you, but its silence was always golden. Nope, it was quiet and, God help me, peaceful out here. Ten stories underground in a leaking, rotting prison, and I find a quiet place that somehow feels like it’s outside, and with a climate that’s actually in-season. Hell, get rid of the darkness, the creepiness, the walls, it’s almost picnic atmosphere. Got all the room in the world to spread out, because it looked like there wasn’t anything out here, just open ground.

Not quite. Something did come into view. And this time, I was quite certain it wasn’t something that was going to melt off my skin and eat me. It was a small wooden structure of some kind. I thought it might be some kind of shack at first, but if that’s what it was, it sure was small. My car couldn’t have fit in it even if turned on its side.

Support beams reached into the air about ten feet or so, but there was no roof, and no walls. There was a set of steps, and I climbed them carefully, not knowing how sturdy it was. It held my weight easily, though.

At first, I couldn’t really see a point to the structure. Once at the top of the handful of steps, I was on a platform that extended no more than a pace and a half. And that was it. It looked like a trumped-up diving platform, which of course it wasn’t, but regardless of what it was, it seemed quite out of place. Why would such a tiny, useless little construct be sitting in the middle of a huge and otherwise empty courtyard? The question darted around my head as I stepped to the edge of the platform.

And then I almost fell off. Something brushed against me, something light, but it was such a surprise to my tattered nerves that I was an ass-hair away from panicking right off the platform. But then it brushed me again, and lay flat against me. Whatever it was, it was light, but dead weight. I nudged it away and it came back a second later, tapping me softly and coming to a rest. I reached over to touch it.

It was thin and rough, with a threaded texture. A rope. And as soon as that fact registered, I moved my hand down along the length of it, feeling a dread certainty mounting. First was the knot, just larger than a baseball. Then the rope went in two directions, looping outward and coming back in a small circle, which I traced with my finger.

I turned to look at it, but I didn’t really have to, because I knew what was resting against my shoulder, and I knew then the nature of the platform upon which I stood.

I was standing upon a scaffold. A gibbet. And that meant that what I held in my hand was the centerpiece of such a construction. The hangman’s noose.

The feeling of peace and quiet that I had felt while walking around this courtyard vanished like smoke on the wind. This wasn’t just a courtyard, it was an execution yard. The realization made me seize up, and suddenly I couldn’t get down fast enough. I leapt off of the front of the platform.

And in the time it took me to do so, or at least, for a fraction of it, I had this sudden and completely irrational thought, that I wouldn’t ever touch the ground, that somehow that noose had worked its way around my throat somehow, and that my fall would only be broken because my neck would be, too.

Now, of course, it was a crazy thought. The noose was still hanging from the gibbet, and certainly wasn’t around my neck. That my feet both planted firmly in the soft dirt without incident was proof enough. Yet, even as I landed, my hands shot up to my neck, reflexively tugging at a rope that wasn’t there. Realizing that it wasn’t there was something that didn’t happen nearly as fast as it should have, and even once I was certain that the whole thing was just my overactive imagination making a bad situation even worse, it took a little while to calm down.

It still seemed really strange for such a large execution yard to feature only one scaffold and nothing else at all. I couldn’t help but wonder if it were a message for me, somehow. It didn’t seem possible, but then, none of this seemed possible. Sure, it could be a message for me. Maybe my nameless friend came down and arranged things for me. He seemed to enjoy making his points with emphasis. Who else would bother?

I turned to look at the scaffold behind me, and I noticed that it had a sort of decoration. It was a pretty large slab of slate, and it was engraved with a design that was quite crude. It depicted two people facing each other, standing straight and tall. They carried spears in their hands. They also both wore helmets, or headgear of some kind, and it was that headgear that made the figures eminently recognizable. It was that headgear that made my hair stand on end and my balls climb in so high that they fought with my lungs for room. It made such horrifying sense that I almost laughed in spite of it all. The simplistic design showed both little stick-figure guys wearing distinctive triangular helmets, the flat base extending from shoulder to shoulder. Who else could it be?

But, if his image was on this plaque, that meant some not-so-good things for me. I hadn’t come across the bastard since he murdered Maria in the basement of Brookhaven. I had a scare while in the Historical Society, but it turned out to be a false alarm. He killed Maria while trying to get at me, of that I was completely convinced. It hurt enough that I couldn’t protect her. It hurt much worse to know that she suffered only because she was behind me. Because I had run ahead, like a coward. I had a streak of yellow right up my back, and it cost Maria her life.

And, as certain as I was that she died because of me, I was certain that he wasn’t satisfied. I was certain I would encounter him again. And again. And again. Until either he killed me, or I found some way to kill him. So far, he definitely came closer than I did. Somehow, I had survived several direct attacks, but definitely not for his lack of trying. The plaque on the scaffold made me strongly suspect that he might try again right here if I stuck around and let him. It was definitely time to get back indoors. At least I would have a chance inside to get a closed door or two between us if he showed up.

So, I walked back towards the lonely door, and while I did, I kept my ear cocked to catch the sounds of footsteps that weren’t coming from me. It wouldn’t be too difficult, as the area was as still and silent as a tomb.

The door came into view before long, and I already had my hand on the knob when I remembered the veritable army of straight-jacket monsters that had been trying to batter their way into the connecting hallway when I had last been around. It was terribly possible that they might have managed in the time I spent out here. I pressed my ear to the door, hoping that I would be able to hear movement inside. I didn’t have the slightest idea what I would do if they had managed to break in. If they did, then I was trapped. I couldn’t go in, and I certainly couldn’t let them out here. If they got out into the open, they would flank me in no time, and I would be up **** Creek in a heartbeat. If they did get through, my only hope would be to bum rush through them, up the other side of the hall, and pray that there was another door up there, and that it would open for me. It was a lot to ask for.

But as I listened, I heard nothing from the other side. No banging, no muted screeching, not even the sharp tapping sound they made while walking. Maybe luck decided to cut me a break this time and…

Then I did hear something, and it confused me for a second. It was a sort of low rumble, the likes of which I didn’t recognize at first. Then I realized it wasn’t coming from the other side of the door. And in the same moment that I realized the sound came from behind me, I was able to identify it.

Hooves. Horse hooves on dirt. It was running, and fast. At least, I sure as hell hoped it was a horse, and not some new breed of four-legged mindfuck eager to tear my throat out.

What the hell else would it be, Sunderland? How many normal, real horses would one find in a place like this?

Not a point I could argue. I suddenly found it quite prudent to chance a possibility of a painful encounter against one that was heavy and loud and flying in my direction at considerable speed. I almost tripped scrambling through the door, and I darted back fast to yank it shut.
I didn’t even get the chance to breathe a sigh or relief, assuming I had one, because as soon as I was sure the door was closed tight, I had the gun out and looking. I swept in a complete circle, ready to hair-trigger the dozen or so monsters that I was already certain had me surrounded. I was too high-strung for the inevitable result to fully sink in, and in a way, it was liberating.

A shot rang out, filling the tight quarters with concussive sound. I hadn’t expected it. I was so high-strung that I didn’t realize I had pulled the trigger. I suppose it helped serve as a much-needed reality check. It sure as hell didn’t serve as much of anything else. The hallway was completely empty. I heard nothing and saw nothing. I stalked towards the door that I was certain would be bashed in by now. The radio kept to itself, and lo and behold, the door did still stand firm. They weren’t able to break it down after all. And, the stony silence indicated that they weren’t much interested in trying anymore.

Or maybe they never were. Maybe they were never there at all. Maybe you’re finally letting your imagination run away. Maybe you’re going nuts. Maybe you

I shook my head. I didn’t need my voice of reason taunting me. Besides, they were there. It was all far too vivid, too real, to be stupid imaginative fancies. Maybe they did give up. Maybe Eddie shot them all to hell and was on the other side of the prison laughing about it. I didn’t know and I didn’t care. I knew what I saw, and I was glad I wasn’t seeing it now.

Listen to yourself, Sunderland! You’re arguing with your own inner voices! You’re hearing horses and seeing monsters that aren’t there! You know what they call that? They call it CRAZY.

I ignored it. I had to ignore it. To recognize it was to accept it as truth. I wasn’t crazy. Not yet. And God dammit, I deserved a medal for getting as far as I had through this horrible place while still retaining my wits.

The thoughts lingered as I made my way up the hall towards the unexplored end. All I found was another locked gate and a door right before it on the left wall. This one opened, and in I went.

And I stopped cold as soon as I did. It seemed almost like deja-vu, but I knew it couldn’t be. It only made sense that I was simply in another cell block. There were probably several more besides these. And, this one didn’t have the same sort of activity the other had. No rattling cages, no bashing on bars, no hideous screeching. Just the sound of water dripping from the ceiling and onto the floor, and my own footsteps as I trod along, passing cell after empty cell.

The radio hissed like a cat smelling something it didn’t like. Immediately, I leapt away from the cells and backed against the wall, my gun aiming in front of me.

At nothing.

I sidled to my left slowly, keeping at the ready and trying to listen over the radio static for any sound that might betray the identity of whatever was surely here. Of the creatures I had encountered in this town, most of them I had seen several times and I picked up on their distinctive noises. That knowledge was often as useful as the radio’s warnings. Whatever was here was definitely not anything natural, but it was also keeping me in the dark.

Wait, there… Now I did hear it. Just barely, mind, but I did hear it.

Thump thump thump.

It sounded really strange though, and not just because it was unquestionably one of Silent Hill’s less-Euclidean residents. It sounded large and heavy, for each thump was pretty percussive. Yet, it was also soft, as if all that weight were being cushioned by something. And, it was walking at a pretty brisk, even clip. Yet, from where I stood, I could see both ends of the cell block and I was alone, at least out here.

So then where is it?

I kept sliding along the wall, hearing the thumping and my radio fighting over which would make the most noise. The radio was squalling like a thing possessed, and maybe it was, because I couldn’t see a damn thing that would make it act this way. The thing had been so reliable that I didn’t even want to consider the possibility that it was acting faulty. I was very dependant upon it now. If I couldn’t count on its warnings, I would be as blind to the monsters as if I lost the flashlight. I might not see one until I was already on top of it. The radio almost always gave me enough time to figure out a plan. If it now gave warnings when no danger was present, might it not neglect to warn me if there was a threat?

There was something here though, something stomping around. I couldn’t see it but I could damn well hear it even without the radio. But where the **** was it?

Then, overtop the frantic squealing and thumping, I heard a voice.

rrrritturrralll

It was in front of me. In the cell. In the empty cell.

rrrritturrralll

The voice wasn’t human, of that I was certain. But no other monster that I’d met yet made even an attempt at speech, if that was what this was. It sounded to me like it was trying to say the word ‘ritual’, though it was spoken in a way that someone would pronounce a word written in an unfamiliar language. It repeated that same word over and over again, quite loudly and with the exact same stress, stretching and slurring the R and the L at both ends. Was it trying to communicate with me? Certainly, it would be the first non-human life form around here to try, the rest being less interested in conversation and more interested in causing me bodily harm. There was the extremely disconcerting fact that I couldn’t see it, but I didn’t need my eyes to be convinced that it was there. For the moment, at least, it was trapped behind these bars (or so I fervently hoped). It was that fragile reassurance that led me to speak.

“Hello?” was all I could manage.

rrrriturrralll” it responded, and continued its muffled movement.

For whatever reason, intrigue overcame fear. I took my steel pipe and slid it through the rusty old bars, without getting close enough for it to grab my arm. I poked and prodded lightly at the seemingly-empty air.

It was jerked out of my hands in one sudden and powerful movement. I almost fell ass over teakettle in an effort to get distance between myself and the monster. Then I watched, completely stupefied, as I saw my weapon flying maniacally around the cell. The monster was no longer stomping or speaking the one word it seemed to know. The only sound coming from in there now was the angry hum of the pipe as it was swung madly about, as if to pulverize some pesky flying insect.

Then, without warning, the monster launched the pipe back through the bars. It happened so fast and suddenly that I couldn’t think it was aimed, but it flashed across the gap and struck the wall barely three inches from my head. The impact was so powerful that a small shower of sparks erupted from the point of contact. The pipe bounced skyward and clattered to the floor right in front of me. I was so surprised by the whole thing that I didn’t even attempt to pick it up right away. Instead, I stood there, shaking and, it seemed, willing myself not to have a heart attack.

After I had recovered a bit, I retrieved my weapon and hurried down the hall. I wanted to get away from the stomping ghost, and I was quite angry with myself for trying something so stupid. I should have damn well known better than to toy around with these things. Well, after having another few years scared off of my life, I vowed not to make that same mistake again.

Opening the door at the end of the hall, I left this cell block, and its single inhabitant, to their own devices, hoping as I did so that this first encounter with an invisible monster would also be my last encounter with an invisible monster. Once was plenty bad, and this one was only able to attack me because I let it. The thought of more of these things stalking the open halls and rooms was not one I had any desire to entertain.

rrrriturrralll

Oblivious to my thoughts, the invisible monster continued stomping around and repeating its creepy three-note song, as if nothing had ever interrupted in the first place.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2010, 08:10:54 am by Mutou Yami » Report Spam   Logged


All Hail The Strogg!
R.I.P. Paul Gray - April 8, 1972 – May 24, 2010.


"Stay...
 I Need You Here, For A New Day To Break...
Stay...
I Want You Near, Like A Shadow In My Wake...
Stay...
Here With Me... Don't You Leave...
Stay...
Stay With Me, Until The Day's Over..."
I love you Mutou Yami... Forever.


Long Live, Mr.Yamaoka Akira, The Silent Hill Legend.
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« Reply #27 on: October 16, 2010, 08:17:10 am »

Chapter Twenty-Seven
Pit of the Forgotten

It seemed like every step of this prison brought me into the arms of something different and dangerous.

I was halfway through the door out of the cell block when I saw that ugly, snot-coated form standing there facing me. In all the excitement I had neglected to remember that this door led into the first hall, and that it was going to deposit me past the locked gate that bisected said hall. Of course, that gate was all that stood between me and a very possibly painful death at the hands of one of those damn straight-jacket monsters. Given the simple geometry of the place, I should have anticipated this. Instead, I was too busy worrying about what was behind me to fully notice what was ahead.

The straight-jacket and I stood there for a very long and pregnant moment, neither of us moving. It was like a showdown between the sheriff and a bandito in some crappy old spaghetti western, both tense and jumpy, and the man who drew their piece first would walk away alive. It seemed as surprised at the encounter as I was, which I guess explained its initial inaction.

It didn’t last long.

The creature reared back, ready to strike with that horrid acid **** again. Quickly, I pulled the door shut again, just as I heard the angry hiss of the spray let loose. My radio hissed too, as if engaged in some indecipherable kind of communication with the monster. Even through the door, the harsh, caustic odor of corroding metal reached my nose.

I was trapped, for the moment.

Options were few. My best shot was to use the door as a weapon and knock it over. It would give me the chance to blast the son of a **** and explore the hall at leisure. Unfortunately, the success of that plan was reliant on the monster cooperating and being in a position to be knocked over. And, since keeping the door closed was the only way to be safe from its acid, I would have no way of knowing when or if that ever happened. It was dangerous, to be sure, but it seemed like the only chance I had.

Inspiration struck just as I placed my hand on the door handle. Why put my ass on the line by taking the offensive? These monsters were deadly and remorseless, but they were also rather simple-minded. Several had walked right into bullets or a swinging pipe or wooden plank. It was their eagerness to attack, and their apparent lack of concern for their own well-being that gave me a very simple answer to my problem.

I pulled the handle and pushed the door wide open, but not hard; I didn’t want it to strike the wall and bounce closed again. The radio static intensified, as if to warn me that I was acting reckless again, but I didn’t bother noticing this time. Instead, I took a few steps backward, giving about a dozen feet of space between myself and the door. I slipped the magazine out of the Glock and loaded one of the three completely full clips, just to make sure. Then, I brought the weapon up and trained the sight on the open doorway.

And I waited.

The monster tapped around the door, but it seemed to hesitate when faced with the idea of actually walking through. Maybe I wasn’t giving this one enough credit. Maybe it was having the same idea, hoping to ambush me as I tried to pass by. It wasn’t going to happen, of course, but this monster seemed to be more violent and eager to attack than most of its ugly-stick brethren. Maybe this one was smarter than the others, too. Now that was a frightening idea.

I didn’t know if it was, or if it wasn’t. If it was, then curiosity must have trumped its caution, because after a long and tense moment, the monster ambled around the corner and through the open doorway. Once through, it halted, and then performed some kind of strange twisting upper-body motion that could have been called a dance had it been more graceful to watch. I couldn’t determine why it decided to do that. Maybe it was searching for me or something, I mean, it didn’t have eyes, after all. Regardless, it certainly was aware of my presence, and it started towards me, tapping along in a broken sort of trot.

My hands trembled a bit, but I held the pistol steady and trained the barrel on its head, even as it approached. Several times I had fired too many wild shots, and I while I did still believe there would be an eventual resolution to my adventure, even with that, I didn’t have a clue as to how long it might be until I was out of danger. Also, I had no clue as to whether or not I would be able to procure more ammunition for the gun, so preserving what I had was fast becoming a priority. God knows I could very well end up blowing all of it if I had the misfortune to encounter Pyramid Head again. This is why I let the monster close on me. I knew that if I aimed carefully, I could take it out in one shot.

If the monster had the mental facilities to realize the danger it was in, then its killer instinct and blood lust seemed to be in command, because it didn’t stop moving, nor did it even hesitate. And, sure enough, once there was about four feet separating the two of us, it bent backwards like a gymnast, keeping balance with back muscles that had to be quite strong and flexible, given the ease in which the motion was accomplished. That was my cue.

I fired. A white-eye flash, a roaring staccato, and metal death burst forth. The bullet hit the straight-jacket monster at a short angle, tearing a strip-mine furrow that nearly disemboweled the creature before finally disappearing beneath its oily, trash-bag flesh. The wound didn’t seem like it would be fatal, a presumption that would have been laughable to me just a day earlier. A person would undoubtedly die from something like that. The very inhuman monster did not die, but the tremendous impact was far more than enough to shatter its precarious balancing act and send it plummeting to the ground ass-backwards.

The wretched thing hit the ground flopping and writhing and screaming its dreadful scream, angry and mournful. Its legs kicked furiously, like pistons, but it couldn’t catch enough friction to move. Suddenly, the air above the monster was filled with a dark brown mist, and at first I didn’t register what was going on. I hadn’t seen any of the others do this before. Some of the droplets rested on my hand, and then a few seconds later, my hand was stinging. It was spitting up even though it was prone! And it was doing so with a fury. I didn’t know if the things breathed the way I do, but the geysers of corrosive seemed to heave upwards with the same rapidity of someone taking sharp, deep breaths and exhaling quickly. Most of the acid, especially the really concentrated stuff, fell right back down upon the monster. Under the glare of my flashlight I could see its strange, mottled skin bubble and blister with its touch. Some of them burst, popping like enormous pimples and spraying thick, mustard-yellow pus. The stench was terrific and cloying, and I was choking as I got the hell out of the way. Even as I did, I couldn’t divert my attention from this grotesquely fascinating death dance.

It took a long time to die. Even after it lie there, stock-still save for bleeding and leaking open sores, I couldn’t move for a full minute. Finally, once I was relatively convinced it wasn’t playing possum, I stepped around it, gingerly avoiding contact as I did. The creature thankfully stayed down as I walked away. In the distance, I could hear Invisible Charlie, still stomping around, but no longer reciting the only word that it seemed to know. Perhaps he witnessed the scene unfold and was stunned into silence. It was certainly within viewing distance of his cell.

“What do you think?” I asked. “Wasn’t that some kind of ****-up?”

rrrriturrralll.

“Yeah.”

He kept on stomping, and I left him alone to do it in peace.

The hall outside the cell block was now quiet and free of troublesome creeps. I saw two doors to my right, and I crossed over to try the first. It opened into a very small room.

At first, I thought it was a closet or a storage area of some kind, and a few random boxes and cans littering the floor helped fuel my misconception. But looking to the back, I saw that it was in fact one of the more recognizable things one would find in a prison that wasn’t a cell. It was a conversation box, and an old-style one, too. Instead of the telephone you’d see in a modern version, there was just a small shuttered hole in the thick dividing glass. The glass itself was filthy, caked with all sorts of dirt and crud to the point where it was completely opaque in some places. At first, I thought the entire thing had been filmed over to the point of uselessness.

Then, I saw something behind the glass moving. It was too dark to see what exactly it was, though it was surely bound to be something I didn’t want to come into contact with. The glass was very thick, bulletproof, probably, and I was fairly sure that it would withstand an attack. I could almost certainly peek through without putting myself in any danger. But, honestly, I didn’t really feel like sating my curiosity this time. Too often that had led me places I didn’t want to go. So, I let myself out instead.

The other door also led into a conversation booth, which I only figured out because I could see pieces of it in the wreckage that littered the entire room. The whole place had the look of a room that suffered obliteration at the hands of a loaded freight train. The booth and window both were a shattered ruin from floor to ceiling, and suddenly I felt a lot more intelligent for having left alone the monster in the neighboring booth. I didn’t know what kind of monster it was, but I couldn’t even begin to say that it was impossible for one of them to have been responsible for what I was looking at right now, and it was certainly better to not find out ruin was total enough that I was able to easily step across the debris and exit the booth from the other side.

I found myself in another hallway, though this one looked very different from the last. Gone was the stark, utilitarian look and the plain steel doors. Instead, this hall was lined with paneled wood doors, and a few little items of décor. The walls were covered with paint and wallpaper, which was faded but was nowhere near as filthy and decrepit as the interment block. In the distance, I could see another barred gate, but besides that, there was no immediate evidence that I was still in a prison setting, which probably meant that I was in the administrative area.

I walked up the hall, taking in the sights. The next door on my left was certain to lead to the visitor’s side of that other conversation booth, so I definitely left that alone. None of the three doors directly opposite would open.

The next one past the second booth did open, though, and it opened into a restroom. The first thing I saw was a dirty old urinal, its porcelain white stained an infected yellow by age and, probably, stale old urine. Seeing it, though, made me realize that it had been a long time since I had relieved myself. So, I unzipped my fly and relaxed for a moment.

As I was pissing, my ears detected a scratching noise coming from one of the stalls nearby. I cursed myself for not checking them first. The radio didn’t have anything to say, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a threat here. Yet, I couldn’t stop doing what I was doing. So, I stood there for several very tense seconds as my bladder emptied itself, wishing the entire time that it would hurry the hell up. The whole time, I heard the scratching. It was soft, barely audible over the noise of me taking a leak, but it was there, and it was unnerving me.

Finally, I emptied out and zipped up, and instinctively reached for the flush handle even knowing there was no point in doing so. I approached the stalls carefully. There were three, and the first two were caved in. The scratches came from the last one. I held the gun ready with one hand and reached for the handle with the other.

The moment I touched the handle, the scratching ceased.

I stood there for a moment, thinking. Wondering why I was even doing this, why I even bothered putting myself in danger again. Maybe it was because I hadn’t yet been seriously hurt, but it shouldn’t take that to make me realize to leave well-enough alone.

I rapped on the door a few times anyway, for the hell of it. There was no answer, no scraping, no response of any kind. Just silence. I shrugged and turned to leave. Whatever it was, it was certain to be bad anyway, so it was best just to forget…

WHAM!

Something screamed and threw itself at the stall. I could hear it rattle and vibrate. I could almost feel it, it was so strong. And at the moment of impact, whatever attacked the door screamed. The impact noise alone was a shock to my system because I was unprepared for it. The scream, oh, it didn’t sound like a monster at all, and that was what made it so utterly terrifying. It sounded like a woman. Very strangled, very short, but so close to human I would have pissed myself right there had I already not done so. I raced out of the restroom, slammed the door behind me, and leaned on it. I had to. I had to regulate myself again. If I survived this, I was a certain candidate for hypertension, to say nothing of all the psychological damage this was surely causing me. This experience would see me in a shrink’s chair until my dying day, not because it would help heal me, but because it just might prevent me from losing my sanity. This was all far too much for any man to bear.

Once under control again, I crossed over to the next door, hoping at least one of them led somewhere. This one did, into another room, and also, into a wall of radio static. Of course, I saw the problem as soon as I heard it; a straight-jacket stood wobbling in the opposite corner. There was a door right behind it, or rather, in front of it, since it had its back facing me.

I didn’t hesitate this time. Instead, in a strange, uncharacteristic display of bravado, I marched right up to this one and shot it in the head at point-blank range before it could even turn around. One shot was enough. It pulped the monster’s head and it fell to the ground in a crashing heap. It shuddered violently for a few moments, then the shudders lessened, and finally, it lie dead and still. Right then and there, my adrenaline-fueled courage leaked out of me, and I realized that some of the gore had splattered on me. I wiped it off, groaning as I did so. Combined with the rank stench of the monster, it was all making my stomach do somersaults. For a moment I thought I would have to move the monster out of the way to get the door open, and it was an immense relief to see that the door opened inward. I stepped over the inhuman corpse.

If I was expecting this door to lead somewhere special, I was pretty badly disappointed. It was another storage area, this one not much more spacious than the walk-in closet adjoining my bedroom at home. It was even smaller than it looked, thanks to the large shelves lining every wall. Some of them were actual cases and cabinets, with glass doors. Most of them were broken, and almost all of them were empty.

The case on the back wall, however, was not. In fact, it held something that I found immediately and completely fascinating. It was a gun rack, though I only saw two actually remaining inside. I took out the smaller of the two. It was a pump-action shotgun. I had seen one before but never used it. I didn’t really matter, because the barrel was bent at a painful upward angle, as if someone locked it into a vise and pulled on the stock. Very broke, very useless.

The larger of the two was a hunting rifle. A really nice one too, a .30-06. That I had used before with Uncle Steve. It felt heavy and hard in my hands, and it definitely needed some cleaning, but there was a shoulder strap, and the magazine held its full four rounds. It was a hell of a lot more powerful than my pistol, that was for certain. I checked the other shelves, hoping to find some more rounds. One of the shelves had more than a dozen boxes of ammo stacked in a neat pile, and each one was fat and heavy. Of course, it was my **** luck that every one of them held twelve-gauge buckshot rounds.

Isn’t that some ****? If someone hadn’t broken that shotgun, I’d be a one-man army. I’d be the God damn Terminator.

Sadly, it was not to be. I scoured the shelves some more, hoping desperately to find more ammo, but the dusty coffers weren’t in the mood to cooperate. Finally, as I had just about given up hope, I felt one in a very deep corner. It was a box of .30-06. An empty box. I threw it against the wall in frustration. I stared longingly at the boxes of shells, mocking me with their uselessness. I held the rifle in my hands, considering whether or not to burden myself with it, since it only had four rounds.

I almost left it right there, but then I remembered my old friend, the red pyramid thing. I hadn’t seen him in a good while, but he was out there somewhere, and my pistol was like a mosquito bite to him. The .30-06 would pack a hell of a bigger punch. Maybe even enough to kill him. That was enough to convince me to strap it across my shoulder.

I then opened the door to leave, my mind still torn over the mother lode of boomstick caps. It was this stupid distraction that had my timing just a little late. The radio squalled and I looked up to find myself face-to-something with another straight-jacket creature. Only, I saw that it wasn’t a different one. It was the same one I had capped execution style not five minutes ago. For one horrible second I could see right into the ruined cavity of its skull

Why the hell are you still alive?

and it must have seen me and been waiting this time, for it leaned back almost immediately, and I didn’t have time to get either of my guns ready. Desperation took over where rationality failed. I charged the monster with my shoulder. The creature was heavy, and quite a bit stronger than it looked, but its awkward angle made certain that the force of my blow knocked it over.

I leapt backwards and away, waiting for it to send a suicidal geyser of acid into the air. This one didn’t seem interested, though. Instead, it flailed and writhed on the ground, as if confused as to what move it should make next. I wasn’t going to wait for it to make up its mind. I unstrapped the rifle and undid the safety. It continued to thrash about as I aimed the long muzzle at its already-damaged head. Then, I pulled the trigger, hoping as I did that it wasn’t so old and cruddy that it would backfire.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2010, 02:12:11 pm by Mutou Yami » Report Spam   Logged


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« Reply #28 on: October 16, 2010, 02:20:40 pm »

Chapter Twenty-Eight
Down the Murder Hole

This time, when I came to, I was already in an upright position, my hands propping up my upper body. I was facing yet another set of bars, and through them, a set of stairs leading up. I clearly was not out of the prison yet. I got to my feet and tried the gate. Wouldn’t even budge.

Behind me was a short hall with a pair of doors on each side and a larger double-door between them on the facing wall. I took a look at the doors on the sides. To call them doors was probably not very accurate. They were large, heavy slabs of water-rotten wood propped up in the doorways, but they weren’t doors, for there was no handle or knob on any of them, nor did any of them have hinges.

Then there was the double-doors. They were actually doors, complete with a handle. I approached them and gripped the handle. Before I opened it, though, I caught the scent of something bad, something wrong. It was the same noxious odor emanating from the hole when I opened the hatch cover, and there was a faint trace of it all over down here, but it was far stronger right here by the doors. It was such a nasty, sour smell, and unfortunately, it was a little more familiar than I would like to admit.

I pushed the door open, and when I did, the stench intensified dramatically, drifting and washing over me like a thick, evil cloud. The intensity incited open revolt in my guts, and it brought tears to my eyes even when I tried filtering my breath through my jacket sleeve.

But if the smell was horrible, it wasn’t even a primer for what I saw through my watery eyes. When I realized what the source of the malodorous air was, the stench, by comparison, might have been a field of fresh springtime daffodils.

The room was full of human corpses.

I don’t mean that as hyperbole, either. There were literally dozens of dead human beings in this very small chamber of horrors. Both sides of the room had holes bored into the walls, three high and three across, each one stuffed full of rotting cadavers. Rotting feet and emaciated legs poked out of each at crazy angles, the skin mottled and either fishbelly-white, or green and brown where mold and fungus consumed the flesh and muscle. There were no flies that I could see, but there soon would be; maggots crawled and writhed happily on and in several of the unfortunate bastards. I could almost hear them squirming, there were so many. It was a scene out of my worst nightmares, out of anyone’s worst nightmares.

In the center of the room was a hospital gurney, which held yet another corpse. This one was in the same deplorable shape as those crammed into the makeshift mausoleum, though it was covered in a ratty old sheet that was thick with filth. Worse yet, the body was very small. It was a child, or at best, an undersized young man. Just who the hell were they? What horrible fate brought them to this unholy resting place? Maybe they were ancient victims of the plague mentioned in the caption of the Brookhaven Painting in the Historical Society.

Of course, that couldn’t be true, as much as I wished it were. For one, the corpses were way too fresh, still meaty and decaying. That plague struck the town over a century ago. Any of those bodies would be decomposed to bones or mummified by now.

A more obvious tell-tale sign of their fate lay at my feet. The once-white tile was stained dark with blood, and it was quite liberally applied. Through the puddles of dried gore were wheel tracks. The gurney. And they led to…

The far wall had no holes in the wall. However, there was a very large hole in the floor, and the blood-stained tracks led right to it. They fanned out in several directions, making it obvious that the trip had been made many, many times. It was a dumping pit. Only God knew how many more bodies rested at the bottom. Except perhaps Satan, he might be privy to the knowledge. It sure looked like something he would endorse.

I couldn’t take any more. I was choking and if I stayed any longer, it would turn into dry-heaves, and I didn’t need that one bit. I high-tailed it back into the hall and slammed the door shut on that horror show.

Then, I slid to the floor, buried my face in my hands, and cried. I couldn’t help it.

Over the last twenty-four hours I had seen a lot of terrible, horrible things, things no man should ever have to see, and probably things no man had ever seen. Things that defied physics and nature, things that gang-raped every notion of reality and order I had ever held all my life. But not one of them, not even Pyramid Head himself, could have prepared me for this. None of them compared. And, I think the worst thing about it all was that this wasn’t impossible. There was nothing impossible about it. It involved no creatures from the dark abyss or warped perspectives. This was a horror not out of Lovecraft or King, but out of Auschwitz or maybe Khmer Cambodia. It was the realism, the abject possibility behind the scene that made it strike so hard and so violently.

I sat there for a minute or two, trying my damnedest to push away the images and feelings, trying to compose myself and press on. But to where? I was sitting in a hallway that had no working doors. I got to my wobbly feet and pushed against one of the side “doors”, but it didn’t give even an inch. I tried the others too, even lowering my shoulder and ramming one of them, but all four were nothing but heavy, immobile obstructions. The latch on the barred gate was glued solid by the damp and dirty elements. It would have taken an entire army to apply the force needed to crack the dirty adhesive. Or, it might snap off in my hand and slice me open again, like last time. Fate seemed to be forcing me to go back. And, I wasn’t entirely certain I would do it. I wasn’t sure I could force myself to re-enter that crypt, that it was preferable to sit here and starve to death rather than brave that again.

Except, when I found myself faced with a situation like this, I always managed to grin and bear it. This was no exception. All that was required was for me to remember what brought me here in the first place. I had both of them in my breast pocket with the flashlight, the photo of Mary and the letter she wrote to me. The letter. I unfolded it and read it again.

In my restless dreams, I see that town… Silent Hill. You promised you’d take me there again someday, but you never did. Well, I’m alone there now, in our special place.

Waiting for you.


If it was a fake, it was so damned good that even now I couldn’t differentiate it from any other sample of my wife’s handwriting. But maybe it was a fake. It was a country mile from impossible to do. And, considering where I was and what I was being put through, it wasn’t so difficult to think of this plain little piece of stationery as bait, bait that I bit without question. The bait had been speared by a hook, though. It was a dirty and rusty hook, and it dragged me by the cheeks into the depths of my worst nightmares, beating me down and scaring the **** out of me every step of the way. And yet, the hook was so expertly concealed and the bait so amazingly tantalizing that even as the hook shredded and abused and pulled me deeper and deeper, I refused to even consider the truth and reality of my situation. I still thought I would get what was promised at the end.

And as I sat there, sniffling, in the pit of some ancient, forgotten prison, leaning against a door that led into a room of festering, necrotizing corpses, I stared at that little piece of stationery, and the soft, flowery words written upon it. They were her words. There was no doubting that. Four years of being an English major had definitely added a few touches of the poet to Mary’s writing and speech. If I closed my eyes and cranked up my tired imagination, I could very clearly hear those words formed by her soft lips and given life with her breezy voice. I could even hear the faint hint of reproach that was almost certainly present when the words formed in her mind. If I had seen her writing them down, I would have heard; Mary was the type that vocalized as she wrote. But would a corpse speak words that it wrote? How was this even possible? Not that it was such a tremendous worry. One of the very few things that had prevented a complete severance of my mental facilities was my ability to take at least some of the impossibilities that I was encountering for granted. I was pretty sure that wouldn’t prove healthy in the long run, but seeing as the remainder of my lifespan might be measured in hours, it didn’t concern me that much.

The letter rested in my hands, but it seemed to be staring at me, goading me, prodding me forward ever so subtly. I read the words over and over and over again, starting from the beginning the moment I reached the end. It wasn’t hard, for it was a short letter. I read it and absorbed it completely and I would go crazy if I don’t stop now, James. You’ve come so far. Don’t leave me. Don’t forget about me, the way you did before. I’m waiting for you, James. I’m waiting for you in our special place. You know where it is, don’t you? Don’t stop, James. Keep going, James. You may die if you do but you will die if you stop. You will die, alone and afraid. You will die weeping and insane and undiscovered, lost in a place no person has ever been and no person will ever tread. You will die and you will never know why. You will never know where I am. You will never know why you suffer. You will never know why you came here. You will never know. You will never know. You will never know. You will never know. You will never know. You will never know. You will never

“Shut up!” I yelled, shaking the sheet of paper as if it really were a person, as if it really were taunting me. “Shut up! Just shut up! I will find out!” I stuffed the letter back in my pocket. My cheeks flushed as self-awareness flooded back, and I realized how intimately I was flirting with insanity, this time all of my own doing, and not the result of anything around me. The experience left me terrified for myself, but it also left me feeling quite angry for some reason, and that was probably why I charged back into the room with the corpse-holes without considering how thoroughly repulsive the idea was.

Consideration returned air-mail once the morbid sight came into view again, along with the ungodly stench of human flesh rotting and mildewing. So many bodies. It was a small mercy that I saw only legs. The eighteen corpse-holes were all jam-packed, but all of the bodies were stuffed in the holes head-first, leaving at least a hundred green dangling legs sprouting out from the walls. If Hell had trees, I’d bet that they look like this. And, the one body lying on the gurney was mostly covered by a sheet, with only its legs visible. It was certainly whole; I could see the contours of its face and arms through the soiled linen, but I had no desire to know any more. No, the last thing I felt like doing was touching one of them. I didn’t even want to look at them, either. All I wanted to do was get out...

The right leg of the corpse shifted, sliding to the side a few inches. I heard a sigh, well, I thought I heard a sigh or exhalation of some kind and I know I saw the leg move. I had the gun pointed at the body even before I thought to listen for the radio. It in fact was the silence that ended up relaxing me. It was just settling, that was all. Nothing to worry about. No reason to fear.

I lowered the gun and turned to the far wall, the wall that ended in what had to be a HOLE. The bloody wheel tracks spidered around it like veins, and the rim of the pit was stained nearly black with the stuff. My light reflected off of the blood with too much sheen. As if it were wet, or at least congealing. Which, of course, wasn’t possible. They had all been dead for too long. There was no way any of it could be so fresh.

I stood there on the precipice of that HOLE, staring down into its depths, wondering just what on earth I would land on when I jumped down. Because, you see, it wasn’t even an option. That ceased being the case a long time ago. And, despite the certainty that I had free-fallen several hundred feet and landed on hard stone or concrete every single time, I hadn’t yet been killed or seriously injured by these leaps of faith. I wasn’t really worried that was going to change this time, either.

But I was worried about landing on a heaping mound of rotting corpses. That was the sort of thing that I just really did not ever want to experience. My imagination was already being far too vivid in the imagery it provided in regards to the possible outcome. Having to see it for myself, with my real eyes and not my mind’s eye, I don’t know if I could take that. Just seeing this little room was bad enough. Seeing things like that corpse on the gurney…

It was gone. The body was gone.

The sheet lay completely flat upon its surface.

And now I did panic.

I reached for my pistol, fumbling as I did so because I was so surprised. I shouldn’t have been. I should have known better. And that was only one. What if they all came to life? There were dozens of them! I would never be able to fend them off, and might they follow me if I tried to escape down the HOLE? My mind was a flash-fire and my fingers just couldn’t keep up properly, even when I finally closed them around the gun and tried to bring it to eye level.

And then, I don’t know what happened, not to this day, no matter how much I try to figure it out. I felt pressure, an impact, as if someone or something had pushed me. At least, I think I did. It sure as hell felt like I did. Maybe I was just over-excited and I slipped on the blood beneath the soles of my shoes. It was all on naked tile, after all, and the traction would have been damn near awful. But the body was gone and something pushed me and now I was teetering backwards and for a split-second, at the very moment that momentum shifted against me, the very moment gravity took command and pulled me into the stinking HOLE behind me, my wide and wild eyes locked directly onto that disgusting old gurney and the moldy old linens atop it.

And the pair of desiccated legs splayed out between them, lying there akimbo and motionless.

Just as they had for a very long time.

It didn’t. The blast of the rifle was tremendous, a nearly solid wall of percussive noise in such cramped quarters. The recoil was just as tremendous, too. It kicked my ass quite literally, throwing me back into the door and almost knocking the wind out of me. I recovered quickly though, still unsure of the monster’s fate.

One look at it made me dead certain that it wasn’t going to pull a second resurrection act. The shell hit the monster right where its neck would be, and the head was almost completely torn off, attached to the rest of the body by a few savagely-torn shreds of oily flesh. I stood there staring at it, fascinated. Oh, if it can only do the same thing to Pyramid Head, I just might survive this town. The grisly scene on the ground sure gave me reason to hope, though I would have to be careful and not waste any more of it on these lesser monsters, for there were only three bullets left. I shouldered the rifle again and exited the room.

There was a rather ornate door at the end of a short branch of the hallway, painted green and gold, but its knob had that same limp, dead feeling that so many others had when I turned them. So, that left the barred gate.

Which, to my surprise, opened without a hitch.

Directly ahead was a hatch in the floor. I walked over to it and pulled the handle. It opened to reveal nothing but empty blackness. Warm air wafted up from below, and there was a strange odor as well, a strange smell. Sweet, but not in a pleasant way. It smelled like overripe fruit, but not as strong. Without a doubt, I had discovered yet another HOLE, and even though there were a few doors nearby, I knew with pretty good certainty that I was supposed to take yet another plunge into this Abyss I was already in up past my neck. I knew this was where I had to go, what I had to do. So, I closed my eyes and raised my hands above my head so I would fit down the narrow opening.

Then I leapt forward, and down the HOLE, into the warmth and embrace of the darkness.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2010, 02:26:29 pm by Mutou Yami » Report Spam   Logged


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Stay...
Stay With Me, Until The Day's Over..."
I love you Mutou Yami... Forever.


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« Reply #29 on: October 16, 2010, 02:27:48 pm »

Chapter Twenty-Nine
Falling Cage

James.

Yeah?

It’s time to wake up.

What do you mean?

It’s time to wake up, hon. You’ve been asleep forever.

Don’t want to. I’m still tired.

Did you come all the way out here just to snooze your life away? Come on, you. Up and at ‘em. There’s so much to do.

What time is it?

Who cares? It’s early, and time’s wasting. Oh, but you’re impossible sometimes.

Just a few more minutes, then?

No sir, not a minute longer. Come on now.

Yes, mother.

Ah, James, your sense of humor is already ahead of you. Ah, I think I know what will do the trick. I think I know what’ll do the trick just fine. We don’t need silly things like clothes to come between us.

Ahhh… yeah, you got me. That will most certainly do the trick.

You see? Am I ever wrong?

Never. What you are is beautiful.

Bet you tell that to all the girls.

No, only the one I’m married to.

I love you, James.

I love you too, sweetheart.

Mmm. Oh, look, someone else is awake down there, too. How wonderful!

Come here, Mary. I’m definitely awake now.

I pulled her towards me and held her close for a moment. Her lovely brown eyes gazed right into mine. Her hair, a gorgeous and natural auburn, shined even without having yet been acquainted with shampoo for the day. Her small, soft breasts lay against my bare chest, and my hands rested against the silky small of her back. Yes, in that moment, unlike any other, I realized just how fantastically beautiful Mary Sunderland was. She was no Cindy Crawford or Heather Locklear, and she’d never think to claim as much, but at that moment, no supermodel in the world, no Venus and no angel could even compare to the woman I held in my arms on this bed this morning. A feeling of nearly uncontrollable ecstasy crashed through me like a wave at high tide. I felt certain that this moment was the most wonderful of any I’d ever had, that this was the very acme of my entire life. Sad to think that it would never be matched, couldn’t be matched, but right now, it didn’t matter. Right now, nothing mattered except myself and my wife, vacationing in this neat little hamlet on the shores of one of the dozens of lakes in western Maine. It was her idea to come here. Right now, I thought it was the best idea anyone had ever had, ever.

Without warning, and with her still in my grasp, I turned and rolled over, coming to rest on top of her. She laughed, and then she gave me an unmistakably sexy look, an inviting look, an invitation to make love to her, to take her around the world and to the moon. It was an unspoken invitation, but it was there nonetheless, and it was not one that I had any intention of declining. I spread my arms and propped them on the bed, then I leaned forward to kiss her. The feel of her lips against mine was that of ultra-fine satin, and she didn’t even have morning-breath, as I know I did; she must have freshened up for me. My tongue parted her lips and touched hers for a heartbeat.

Then I felt a sharp, sudden pain in the palms of my hands, and instinctively, I pulled them both back, not taking the time to realize that doing so would cause me to flop down and knock Mary’s wind out. I did fall, and I did land and strike something, but it wasn’t the cream softness of my wife’s **** body. It wasn’t soft at all. It was really hard, really sharp, and the force of it ended up knocking the wind out of me, earmarked by an explosive heave and followed by coughing. That hurt, too, but only for a bit.

When I opened my eyes, I hurt more. Exponentially more. Not in a physical sense. Yes, I scraped my hands and maybe bruised my chest a little, but that was just chickenshit detail. What hurt so much worse was the realization of where I was, or rather, where I was not. At that moment in time, I wanted to be nowhere else but in bed with my wife. I could feel my dick wide awake down there, pressing hard against the zipper of my jeans. It felt like someone stuffed a basketball down the front of my pants. It was a wholly-unwelcome reminder of the dream I was having. And that was the worst part of it, knowing it was a dream. Knowing it was a fantasy, a memory from long ago. Knowing that it actually did happen in the past did nothing to stop the pain now. Hell, if anything, it only made my anguish and longing more powerful. And having the hard-on that wouldn’t die only made it that much worse. It made me feel embarrassed and awkward, even though I was alone down here, wherever here was. I was useless while it was there, so I just sat there with my arms around my knees, looking around and taking in the sights while I waited for it to go away.

There wasn’t really much to see. I was in a cold, rocky place. Slabs and shards of slate and shale littered the ground, chunks of what seemed to make up the walls and ceiling too. Ancient wooden supports lined the short, rough shaft. It ended with a door in front of me, and three empty walls of rock and silt everywhere else. No guessing or experimenting required. I liked that.

It was a long, torturous wait to feel right again, in that way, anyway. Every second I spent waiting for that throbbing distraction to take a hike was a drawn-out eternity of remembering the dream-fantasy that brought it about in the first place. I had never given it much thought until Mary died, but the worst part, the hardest part of it to deal with and forget about, it was those kinds of memories. The good memories. The best of times. I had always thought the grieving widower would be tortured by thoughts of regret, of time wasted by fighting and arguing. Not so at all. Mary and I had our share of arguments, but few of them were memorable in the slightest, and none of them caused me even a smidgen of worry, even now.

No, the memories that really stung, as it turned out, were all the ones I treasured most. Memories of our nights at the movies, holiday gatherings, and of course, our excursions to places like Silent Hill. Silent Hill always meant more to Mary than to myself, but that was hardly to suggest I didn’t like the place. I was very fond of the little town as well. Room 312 of the Lakeview Hotel had perhaps the single most comfortable bed I had ever slept on. It was, without a doubt, the most comfortable bed upon which I ever made love to a woman. And, the best lovemaking of my life was made in that room, on that bed, with my wife. That was the sort of fond memory that was a soft summer rose before her death, and a searing whip of thorns since. The only possible way to live with them was to do everything I could to suppress them, to keep them down and out of my mind as much as possible.

Both of my personal battles concluded within minutes of each other, and though I felt drained, I did have enough to finally trek forward and open the door in front of me. Because, it was the only door. It would have to open. And, thankfully, it did.

And when it did, I laughed. It wasn’t very funny, but I laughed anyway, because it certainly was a joke, or at least, someone’s blatant idea of irony. The door opened into a small room. I suppose it might have been a latrine of sorts once upon a time, as there was a hand sink attached to the wall. Opposite it was a painting, a rather nice little subdued landscape, though yellowed and ruined by its environment and the ravages of time.

And spanning the distance was absolutely nothing. I could see a ceiling above, from which a plain old light fixture was suspended. But below?

Nothing but a void.

By looking at the walls, I could see that there had been a floor here in the past, but now it was history. Maybe they took it in to get it cleaned. Now, all four walls, instead of coming to a conclusion near my feet, continued ever downward, finally disappearing into the wide-open maw of oblivion.

There was a floor here. Now there was a HOLE. Another **** HOLE. This was starting to get ridiculous, damn it. Was this to be my fate? Would I meander around here forever, God knows how far beneath the earth, exploring dark and forgotten places until I find a HOLE that just takes me to the next one? And by now, I was no longer willing to suspend disbelief enough to believe that I was really descending into the earth. There was absolutely no plausible way that such a place would be built so deep in the ground. Even the bunkers of NORAD, which supposedly had enough natural cushioning to sustain repeated nuclear attacks, wasn’t this far underground. I had to be almost a quarter-mile beneath the surface. No argument existed that could convince me to accept the possibility of anyone excavating over a thousand feet of solid earth and bedrock to construct something as mundane as a prison. The alternate possibilities were many, and each was just as implausible as the next.

And now I looked into a HOLE that would only take me deeper. I would leap into this HOLE, no doubt about that. And, as I fall, I will black out. When I wake up, I will be disoriented but unharmed, presented with yet another nightmarish artery to explore.

I backed up a few steps and took a jogging leap into the HOLE. As I fell, I wondered just what sort of new nightmarish artery I would be exploring when I awakened at the bottom. I also tried to ignore the sensation of free-falling, attempting to hold my concentration instead. Hopefully, that would allow me to remain conscious, and perhaps then I would be able to witness whatever sort of weird transition takes place when I fall down these HOLEs. My flashlight showed the texture of the HOLE’s side whizzing by in a blur, and it was that upon which I kept my attention, keeping an eye out for a change or alteration that would

It’s getting dark, James. We’d better get back to the room soon.

What’s wrong, baby?

It’s my stomach again. Ah hell James, it wasn’t supposed to be like this. We were supposed to come here to relax and have fun and forget about everything. I…

Mary, please, don’t get upset. I brought your meds, they’ll settle your stomach.

Meds. Of course. I hate this, James. I hate being a slave to pills. I never took pills all my life! I’ve swallowed enough aspirin in my life to count on both hands! Now it’s pills all day, shots every week, getting poked and prodded like some damn science experiment! I’ve had it right up to here with all of it!

Yeah, I know, but we can’t do anything about it right now. You have to do these things to get well.

Oh, come off it. I know that. I’m not an idiot and I don’t need you to be my mother.

Mary, you know that’s not it. I’m worried about you, even more because we don’t know what we’re dealing with. Am I acting like a nursemaid? Sorry. I can’t help that. I love you and I care about you. That’s why I seem overprotective.

I know.

So then don’t be upset with me.

Oh James, I know it’s not your fault, but I can’t keep going like this. Even here in Silent Hill it’s bothering me so much. Isn’t that funny? Coming here always used to wipe away all of my troubles about the mundane world. I thought if I came here again, this damn illness would at least wait outside the door for me to come back. That’s so silly, I know, but…

No, it’s not silly. I felt the same way.

It didn’t work. Our troubles followed us. They

My eyes opened. I closed them again right away, because they emerged to find themselves blinded by the glare of my flashlight. It lay on the ground next to my head, and it was aimed directly at my face. It must have fallen out of my pocket as I fell.

Once again I had landed safely, despite all logic. I was flat on my stomach, and had I really landed in such a way from any kind of real height, I would be a paraplegic, unless I was lucky enough to break my neck and die. But, after standing up and examining myself, I found all of the bumps, cuts and bruises I had gathered throughout my adventure, but nothing that hadn’t been there the last time I checked. My shirt was slightly damp from the trace moisture on the ground, but that was it. I hadn’t stayed aware long enough to notice any sort of transition. Even still, I was more convinced than ever that there was something inherently unnatural at work here, though that’s about all I knew. But at least I could be certain of that, and I was, because I looked up instead of around this time.

All I saw was a rocky ceiling. There was no hole for me to fall through, none of any sort at all. Either I had found a way to transmute through solid bedrock, or there was far more to these HOLEs than human logic could account for.

This time I found myself in what looked like part of a mineshaft, sort of like what had been above, though this part looked far less rough. The walls were tiled with old granite slabs and braced with wooden beams. There was also a door to the side, a very heavy wooden door so old that most of the paint had flaked and peeled off. What was left gave the door the appearance of a burn victim. The door was sealed shut and barred with a giant board. Years of water and mineral runoff combined to form some kind of cement-like deposit that fused the bar beam to the iron bands that held it. I couldn’t even begin to budge it.

There was one that actually had no door, and I walked towards it, peeking inside. It seemed to lead into a really odd sort of cage, one apparently designed to keep whatever was contained from escaping through the top, for while the sides were also heavily barred and laced with chain-link fencing, I could see only chipped, dirty shale rock behind those bars. Looking through the ceiling bars, I saw nothing but darkness.

I stepped inside slowly, wondering if I could find something here that would allow me to move on. The cage itself was completely empty, and each of the other three walls showed nothing but naked rock behind steel bars. I saw no escape hatch for the ceiling, and if I had to guess, the only way up was by scaling untold heights of completely vertical rock, which certainly wasn’t a skill I’d acquired in life. A dead end, in other words. Oh well, it wasn’t the first time and it wasn’t bound to be the last. There was still that door with the calcified beam. There might be some way to pry it open. It didn’t seem likely, but neither did this weird-looking cage.

SLAM!

I jumped even as I spun around to see what the noise was, landing awkwardly and nearly falling over myself. No movement caught my eye, but I immediately saw something else that grabbed my attention like a vise grip.

Oh ****!

The door had closed itself. And it was locked tight, which I had surmised even before reaching it. A few hard pulls and twists to the handle only confirmed my fear. I took several steps backwards, in a sort of daze, and I sat down in the middle of the cell. Sat down hard, too. It was more of a graceless fall on my ass, jarring my entire body and making my teeth click, but I wasn’t paying attention. I was trying to come to terms with this latest predicament, and work out a solution to escape it.

A series of successive bangs and clanks jerked me out of my reverie. I leapt to my feet, searching for the source of the racket, and then the floor gave way beneath me. For a moment, I thought that it opened, so as to dispense me into yet another HOLE, but that wasn’t the case this time. Instead, it was just a bounce, but it was hard enough to knock me off-balance and send me to the floor. I landed on my ass again, but harder this time. I stretched backwards on the floor, lying flat on my back to ease the sudden shock and pain.

The room jerked again, and with it, the noise. And before I could devote my attention to it, I felt another completely unexpected sensation: descent. Not a free-fall down the HOLE this time, though. A controlled descent, like an elevator ride.

And then, through the locked gate in front of me, I saw the small shaft rise, moving up and out of my sight within seconds. Looking ahead now showed me nothing but more of that naked rock, moving steadily skyward.

It wasn’t a cell or a cage at all. It was an elevator! One without buttons or controls of any sort that I could see, but I couldn’t argue with what I was seeing through the gates and mesh. I was going down again, though this time, I was taking the luxury cruise down the HOLE. Maybe this time I would manage to stay awake and observe the process. Maybe, maybe not. I would try, though.

I walked over to one of the corners and leaned against it as I waited for the elevator to reach its destination. I thought about the strange memories I was having while falling down the HOLEs. Some of them were really happy, some of them were melancholy, and all of them hurt to think about, but they felt strange to me because, for reasons I couldn’t comprehend, I hadn’t remembered any of these things in ages. Sure, I had a rough blanket of memories even now that covered most of my life, but when I actually thought about it, I couldn’t remember consciously recalling any of these kinds of memories before coming to Silent Hill this afternoon. And with that realization came another. It wasn’t just old memories, but recent ones. I retraced my steps, from here to the hospital to the apartments to the toilet overlooking the lake. All present and accounted for. Then I went back farther, to the road trip, to the restaurant, to the “WELCOME TO MAINE” sign I passed while driving up Interstate 95, to my car in the driveway of our house. I remember deciding to come here. I remember reading the letter, and the strange delivery method by which it arrived. I remember sitting in bed last night, playing with the Colt. I remember feeling distinctly shitty or scared out of my mind throughout the entire series of events. But, I couldn’t remember anything particular before that. I couldn’t remember waking up yesterday morning, or going to bed the night previous. I couldn’t remember anything in particular that I did, even over the last few weeks or months. Hell, now that I thought about it, it seemed like much of the last several years were draped in a sort of insubstantial fog, just like that which made Silent Hill such a suddenly opaque place to live. The thought scared me no small amount, and what was most frightening of all was that even though I just now realized this, it had been like this the whole time. Why hadn’t I noticed sooner? Was I such a mess that my brain decided it no longer felt like recording my life to memory anymore? Or was it just selective? I mean, I could remember vague things, everyday things that I would know anyway, like paying bills or buying groceries, but there was so precious little of importance or note, so little that was out of the absolute ordinary. And the time period seemed to coincide with the death of my wife. I remember the hospital visits, the treatments, the pain and heartbreak digging in deeper by the day. I remember Mary’s small, lovely face deteriorating, scabbing over with sores, growing gaunt and hollow and utterly joyless. I remember the nights spent in bars, drinking my sorrows away, and then, as things got worse, I simply brought the booze home and escaped reality in the privacy of my own home. All of that was more clear than I wanted it to be.

It was only the years since her death that were this hazy blur. Realizing it was a sort of boon, but it only raised a dozen more questions, and I didn’t need that. I had far too much on my plate as it was.

I was so lost in my contemplation that I forgot to watch for any HOLE-like shifting effects until I felt the elevator shudder. The machinery, operating despite every shred of logic telling me it shouldn’t and couldn’t, squealed and shrieked like a banshee

or a straight-jacket

as it applied the brakes and came to a stop. Soon enough, I saw a new room come into view from the bottom of the lift. Once lined up, the elevator hissed and came to a quivering rest. The iron bars in front opened on their own with a dry shick! I stepped through them, musing that if I had indeed gone down a HOLE while on the elevator, this time I managed to stay awake. Maybe it was from not paying attention, as I was lost in thought through most of the ride.

My new surroundings at the bottom of the earth were markedly different than the elevator’s upper terminus. Whereas that room had looked like a slightly more livable mineshaft, this place here looked even more civilized, in a strange sort of way. The floor was still rough rock and gravel and soft earth, but the walls and ceiling were another matter altogether. The walls were plaster, colored a dim tan cream, with wooden paneling coming up to my waist. I could see old copper and lead pipes running along the ceiling joint, coming out of the walls in various places and re-entering in front of me, above a door. This door was unlike any I had seen in awhile, looking exactly like any one would find inside of a building, or perhaps in the administrative area of a prison. There was an electrical box next to the door with a large light switch. I flipped it, and nothing happened, but it was still strange to see such a thing down here. I could hear an odd sort of ambience. It sounded hollow and metallic and completely atonal and seemed to cycle, almost like a sinister heartbeat. It was punctuated periodically by a sharp hissing noise, like pressurized air being ventilated through a pipe. It could have been some kind of air circulation system, another quick look at the walls did reveal a rusty old vent by the ceiling, but the air felt very still and very stagnant. It sounded like the air was moving, but it sure didn’t feel like it.

The door was the only one there, and the only way to go unless I fancied another elevator ride. I didn’t. The knob turned, and I pulled the door open, wondering where I found myself this time.
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 I Need You Here, For A New Day To Break...
Stay...
I Want You Near, Like A Shadow In My Wake...
Stay...
Here With Me... Don't You Leave...
Stay...
Stay With Me, Until The Day's Over..."
I love you Mutou Yami... Forever.


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« Reply #30 on: October 16, 2010, 02:41:42 pm »

Chapter Thirty
Labyrinthine Reverie

I was in a new place, all right, and it was ten kinds of different from Toluca Prison or the strange mineshaft area. Obviously by this point I was certain I wasn’t really falling down through the HOLEs I had jumped through, at least, not in a strictly physical sense, because if I were, this would without a doubt be the deepest place, and also perhaps the strangest because of that.

My first thought was that I had somehow found my way back into the Woodside Apartments. I certainly couldn’t be faulted for the first impression. Even though I was able to quickly disabuse myself of the notion, this place did have a slightly similar feel. The general appearance was similar to that of the previous room, though there was an actual floor now, made of some rather venerable wood laminate.

Directly in front of me was another doorway. It had no door, but I wasn’t going to be walking through it anyway. Someone had taken it upon themselves to string lines of thick steel cable across the entrance, from the floor to the ceiling. They weren’t even but they were plentiful, and they were far too firm for me to even think I could force them off the wall, nor did I possess any tools that could cut through them.

A hall branched off to the left, and then I saw that it too branched, one of them going to the right. I went forward. And not three steps in, white noise tickled my eardrums. I reached for the pistol, but hesitated. I had been using it a bit much lately, mostly because I had found myself taken by surprise more often than I’d like, but I knew I had fewer than twenty rounds left. Instead, I took the pipe in hand and squinted down the dark hall, trying to catch sight of the welcoming committee. Sure enough, I saw a glint of light shine on something down there. It looked to be a straight-jacket, and it sounded like one as well – I could barely make out the tapping footsteps as it meandered around. It didn’t seem to be focused on anything in particular, and there was a good distance between the two of us. I decided that I would explore the branch, and perhaps avoid it altogether. These straight-jackets were quite dangerous, after all. So far, I had managed to avoid accepting the free acid baths they all seemed so willing to provide, but only a fool mistakes luck for skill, and only a fool thinks neither could fail him. If I didn’t get close enough to get skinned, I couldn’t get skinned. Simple as that.

The branch itself had a turn ahead, and I approached it slowly, listening for a warning from the old shoutbox. None was forthcoming, which gave me a little confidence as I turned the corner, into a new part of this strange hall…

…which turned out to be one hell of a short one.

Dead end. That was it. A dead end. A whole section of hallway and a turn to boot, built for what? No door. That would have been logical. This was not. There was no door, no window (not that I expected one), no nothing. Just more naked, clay-colored wall, which was spotted with what seemed to be water damage. Oh, and that ever-present waist-high wood paneling. An electrical outlet rested about a foot above the floor, its wiring running through a steel tube that spanned the entire distance of the wall from the box to the ceiling. The outlet was probably dead, and I had nothing that could be plugged into it regardless.

I turned around and retraced my steps. Guess I’d have to forge ahead the other way anyhow, and I’d probably have to take out whatever was waiting down there for me.

I turned the small corner leading to the main part, and the moment I did, the radio squawked its warning with renewed intensity. And, sure enough, it was that straight-jacket, satisfying its curiosity and taking a look down my way. Fortunately for me, I had that warning, and the advantage. I heard it tapping along, just around the corner, and with a rather controlled pace. It didn’t seem to be in a hurry, or aware of its own danger. I saw the first glimpse of it poke around the corner, and even though I knew I had the initiative, and even though I had come across at least two dozen of these damn things today, the sight of it still made my blood freeze in my veins, still made my flesh prickle and my stomach light the world on fire with adrenaline. And what’s more, I was glad I still reacted this way. What would it say about my mental state if I really started taking this sort of thing for granted?

I raised the pipe over my head, like a railroad spike driver, and focused on the monster, waiting for just the right moment to strike. I’d have to get his head. The head was their weak point, I knew. I could reasonably hope to at least knock it down for a few moments. I might even incapacitate, or, God willing, kill it outright. But if I missed, if I only glanced the shoulder or the sack of flesh where its arms should be, if I did that, I would lose my advantage. And if that happened…

If that happens, I’m in a world of ****.

The second I saw its slick, ****-colored head appear, I tensed and swung the pipe over my head with more force than I though I had left in me. The weapon made an angry, buzzing hum as it sliced through the air. It slammed into the monster’s skull with thunderous force, producing a very satisfying sound, something akin to what it might sound like if I took a sledgehammer to a cantaloupe. Even more satisfying was the wail of surprise in pain that followed as the monster crumpled to the ground with a thud. Its head was now brutally creased and the skin ruptured. When the head struck the wooden floor, it sent a spray of jet-black ichor in every direction, painting the floor and surrounding the skull with a sort of gory halo. It became thicker and more complex as the creature shuddered in its death throes. I backed away in a hurry, mindful of the straight-jacket in the cell block and how it had decided to go out in a blaze of acidic glory. This one did not seem so inclined, thankfully. It stopped shuddering, and the radio ceased its cries as well.

I stepped over the fallen monster, holding my breath so as not to gag on all of the fantastic new odors that appeared with its demise, and went up the hall. It branched again perhaps fifty feet down. Both directions were devoid of monsters, but neither showed anything except corners. I decided to go left. Another twenty feet and I reached that corner. Still no noise, which was good. I turned and looked ahead, and groaned.

The hall split again.

Just what the hell was this place, anyway? Since I got off that elevator and through that door back there, I had seen one straight-jacket monster, one doorway cordoned off by steel cable, and a whole lot of nothing. The appearance of this place was odd. Of course, I wouldn’t have called much of anything I’d seen in Silent Hill normal, but everything so far seemed to at least have a basis in things I knew. Even when I was in Brookhaven Hospital and it shifted from looking halfway-normal to Hell’s laughing house, there were still things that at least inferred a shadow of logic behind it all. The prison was perhaps even more hellish, but it was still a prison. It served a purpose of some kind, as did even the evil side of Brookhaven. Underneath the disgusting façade, it was still a hospital. The prison was still a prison. They were still grounded in reality, even though they had blossomed far outside of it.

This place, though… the outward appearance wasn’t amazingly abnormal. It was very bland, and in a pretty poor state of disrepair, to be sure. The paint on the walls was scabrous and peeling in many places all along the halls I had walked, and what wasn’t peeling was spotted and stained and discolored. The paneling and the floor laminate and the ceiling all showed the same kind of long-term neglect and abuse. As I said earlier, parts of the apartment complex looked like this too.

But, the apartment complex was an apartment complex. There were doors to the apartments, even if most of them didn’t open. The insides of many of the apartments featured furniture and appliances, most of them old, all of them dirty and useless. They had trinkets and adornments, too. Framed paintings, old china, books and newspapers, that sort of thing. Signs of life, of human habitation.

That’s what was missing here. There were no adornments of any kind. The walls were completely bare. There were no doors, no signs, no windows, nothing but empty hallways, and at least one of them led absolutely nowhere. There weren’t even any lights running across the ceiling! Sure, there was no chance in hell that they’d work anyway, but their complete absence was quite unnerving just because they should be there. It was as if someone came and built this place, finished at least some of it, and promptly abandoned it. There was no sign that any human being had ever walked down these halls before. There was just no logic to the design. It brought to mind that long, twisting basement in the hospital, the one that seemed designed to confuse and slow anyone who was unlucky enough to tread its path. And without a doubt, that’s where our luck ran out. Well, Maria’s luck certainly did, at any rate, though seeing that tragedy play itself out did absolutely nothing to my sanity, or to the confidence I had that I would survive long enough to find Mary. Having that memory come knocking at the door only intensified the bad mojo I felt about this place. It seemed so unnatural, like a mockery of logical thought.

And, this mockery of logical thought was offering me another choice: left or right. When I arrived at the junction, I looked in both directions to see if perhaps now there were anything that would help aid my decision.

Not this time.

At least it didn’t lead to a dead end, that was a plus. Both segments led somewhere. They led down. Rising up to the edge of the paneling were holes carved in the walls, both on the short ends. Inside both holes were ladders leading earthward, both painted a dull and flaking red, both of them basically identical in appearance.

Having taken the left path to get here, I decided to add a little variety to my life and I picked the ladder to the right. I knelt down in front of the ladder and cautiously poked my head through while shining my light down there, which would hopefully expose any threats.

The ladder was not a very tall one. The floor below was perhaps only a dozen feet below. It looked different, too, like it was made of textured iron. It was rusted, but not in scaly patches, the whole thing was wearing away slowly. I could see that it led a few feet, and there was, you guessed it, another divide, going in opposite directions. I saw no evil, and the radio didn’t seem to hear any evil, so I turned around, slid one leg through and then the other, and climbed down the ladder. The metal under my hands wasn’t cold, and it had occurred to me that it did seem warmer now, since I got off that caged elevator. It wasn’t hot, and it wasn’t even really warm. It was temperate, and perhaps that would have been a nice thing if there were some moving air, or at least if it didn’t smell so damn stale.

I pushed off at the last rung, and my feet hit the ground, making a sharp rasp as they did so. The floor wasn’t solid metal, it was sheet metal, and when I tapped it with my foot, the noise it made was loud, and it reverberated. It was sheet metal. Thick sheet metal, for it didn’t sag under my weight, but sheet metal it was all the same, and by the sound of it, there was nothing underneath.

The branches both went in opposite directions initially, but I could see that both of them jutted off at 45-degree angles perhaps a dozen feet down. Both angled in the same direction, seeming to lead behind the ladder I just descended. I chose the left path this time.

The corridor was very narrow. I could fit through easily, but I couldn’t picture two people being able to walk side-by-side. Stranger still was that while parts of the floor were the same solid iron plating I landed on, much of it was steel mesh, and it wasn’t as sturdy, sagging under my weight but not enough that it caused me undue worry. There was nothing beneath the mesh except darkness, but my nose detected scents from below. It smelled like old water, a rich, dirty mineral scent, with sour undertones, as if slightly polluted. It wasn’t the crystal clear Toluca, that’s for sure. It reminded me more of the Grey Oak Creek back in Ashfield, which bordered a small lot near the old man’s tenement. I used to play there with my childhood friends often, tag, pick-up baseball, that sort of thing. The Grey Oak was a finger of the river, and industrial runoff from the factories on Hampton Street flowed through. Dad always warned us to stay away from the creek, but it wasn’t necessary, because none of us could stand its chemical smell, and it was always a strange red shade anyway. That’s what this reminded me of. I hoped that the flooring beneath me was stable, because if the water below was anything like that of the Grey Oak, I didn’t want to be swimming in it.

But the hell with what was below, what was up here was strange enough. The corridor kept turning at the same angle every few paces. Before long, I passed another ladder; certainly the one I saw opposite of the one I descended. I thought to go back up, but I kept going anyway. Maybe it branched off further down or something.

As it turned out, it did not branch, but halfway between the two ladders on this side was a door on the inside of this odd little octagon. The door was made of thick steel and looked very secure, but when I tugged on the handle, the bolt slid effortlessly and I pulled it open, straining a bit because of its weight. It was on a retractor, and closed behind me.

This room was dimly-lit inside. It was the first place I had seen in God knows how long that had its own functioning illumination. And oh, how I wish it weren’t. If it were dark, or even if I just had the flashlight, I could have made myself not see what I was seeing here. That terrible mausoleum I had seen near the prison, that was some nasty ****, morbid ****. I remember comparing it to something one might see in a Nazi death camp. Certainly, I wasn’t exaggerating. It was horrible, but it was also passive. Sure, there were tons of corpses and rotting cadavers in that space, and a few gallons of blood staining the floor, but it was passive. They might have been the victims of any number of atrocities, but they didn’t happen in the room I saw. That was merely where they stored and disposed of the castoffs.

The room I found myself in now? This was where those atrocities took place. The distance and the HOLEs that separated this room from that made no difference. This chamber of horrors here was another world of grotesque from that above, yet they belonged right next to each other. It smelled fantastically cruel. My nose wanted to revolt and part ways with my face. My lungs screamed in protest. It was like that mausoleum, but far worse, because everything here was so much fresher. When meat spoils, it smells worst right away. Whatever demonic butchery was taking place here, it hadn’t been finished long.

The floors, the walls, even the ceilings were literally drenched with blood. Great splashes and splotches marked every last foot, like some overly-enthusiastic abstract painter grabbed buckets of rust and crimson and had a **** field day. Globs of clotted and dried gore piled on the floor. Ragged strips of flesh, muscle, flecks of brains, bones, shards of skulls, all in various stages of decomposition, littered the entire span. There were counters and a medical examination table, some stacked with gore-encrusted linens. Hanging from the ceiling were several framework cages, rectangular in shape.

One of them held a body. It was very dead, blackened and mummified. The moment I saw it, I had a flashback of the monsters that fell from the ceiling in the hospital, the ones that I thought killed me, right before I entered the other-side. The memory was harsh and unwelcome, like someone drawing a straight-razor across my forehead. This one looked to be in far worse shape than the fleshbags I faced then, but I wasn’t stupid enough to assume it was harmless.

But then I saw one of the tables, and it gripped my attention fiercely and painfully. It was stained with gore and flecks of entrails, like the others. Notable were the tools scattered about the tabletop. Medical clamps. Needle-nose pliers. A broken scalpel, its edge worn smooth with use. A vintage autopsy saw. A corkscrew, its business end disgustingly clotted. Mundane tools, most of them, put to use as torture devices.

None of them even began to compare with the largest item on the table. It was a gigantic blade, long and heavy. It was rusty and blood-soaked like everything else. Its handle was long enough for two hands, and you would need them; the thing had to weigh a good sixty pounds. I looked at this blade for perhaps five seconds, not fully absorbing or understanding just what it was I was looking at.

When the realization hit me, it hit me hard. I had seen this before. Twice. How could I have stared at it that long without instantly making the connection? I didn’t know, but once I did, everything fell into place. The blade was the most recognizable, but I backed up and scanned the room again, and as I took in the horrifying sights a second time, it finally all made a sick sort of sense. The cages hanging from the ceiling. The instruments of torture. The slaughterhouse décor.

And, that enormous **** knife.

Now, it all made sense. Now I knew what this place was. And now, I was in some very deep ****.

I had to run.

I struggled with the latch on the door, and for a single petrifying moment, I was certain that the door was locked, that I was trapped like a rat in a ghoulish cage. Sweat seemed to burst out of my pores and saliva dripped from the corners of my wide-open mouth as I attacked the handle, finally depressing it and pushing it forward with all my might. Such was my desire, my intrinsic need to get out of that room and as far away as possible in the most expedient fashion. I dashed ahead and down the terribly constricted corridor, anxious like hell to get up that ladder and out of this pit of death. My footsteps were like sharp hammer blows to the thin metal beneath, and the sound bounced angrily off the walls, giving off echoes so close that it sounded almost like stereo feedback. I knew that the ladder wasn’t far, couldn’t have been more than twenty or thirty feet, but I was in such a bitched-up state of crazy fear that it felt like the **** Boston Marathon. It seemed as though there were hundreds of angles instead of just three.

I was desperate to get away, beyond desperate. And perhaps that is why, if I even did see what was in front of me, I didn’t have even a quarter of a chance to slow down and avoid it. The collision was sudden and painful, and it sent me careening backwards. My arms pinwheeled as I lost balance and fell to the floor. My right arm struck the wall and smarted rather sharply, and the barrel of the .30-06 dealt me a dull knock to the skull.

I didn’t even notice. For my eyes were fixed forward, feeding visual information at a fevered pace to a brain that was too doglocked to even hope to process it.

Something stood in front of me. It was man-sized and man-shaped and dressed in white from neck to toe, but not like an angel. For this angel’s holy whites were stained and filthy with dirt and mud and guts and blood. I couldn’t quite see the head, not at first. Not until this filthy angel turned to face me, which it did slowly and deliberately. Now I could see it all. I could see the front of the monster, which was same kind of white but with a much redder tint. I could see the gigantic staff it held in its right hand. No, not quite a staff. A spear. A spear with a needle-tipped point.

And the helmet, that was the kicker, the trademark. It was pure crimson, as if soaked in blood for weeks at a time. It was shiny, a sort of snot-like slickness that reflected whatever light it didn’t devour. A helmet that came to a point at the top, making it look taller than almost any man alive. My fear vanished, its place taken over by sheer, unadulterated hysteria and completely mindless panic. Several times lately I thought he was nearby and he wasn’t.

Not this time.

Pyramid Head stood over my prone form, and I knew terror so great. I was to be the next contestant, the next esteemed guest of his house of horrors, his sacred sanctuary upon which I had the nerve to intrude. How did you like it? Wasn’t in fascinating? Say, I bet you’d like to go back there, wouldn’t you? You’re so curious. I bet you’d like to see it in operation first-hand. I bet you’d love it! Everyone does! Just stay right there, no need to move. I’ll escort you personally, and then we’ll play, you and I. We’ll have the time of your life! We’ll

It was my own mind giving Pyramid Head voice. He just stood there, not making a move or a sound, as if regarding me and deciding what to do about me. No, he didn’t really speak, but without question, whatever he was thinking was certain to be along the lines of my mind’s ad-libs. I knew all this and processed it, but the shock and horror were so numbing and striking that I couldn’t move. I just stared at him as he stared at me. It was like a showdown, only he had the distinct advantage. If he were to make the first move…

He did. Apparently no longer willing to be contemplative, Pyramid Head suddenly reversed his grip on that massive spear and drew it back, his arm taut like a catapult. It was when that arm was stretched out to the limit that adrenaline tore out of my stomach and rocketed through my veins. If that spear got me I thought I would bleed nitro.

I scrabbled backwards in a quick and clumsy crabwalk. The steel mesh scraped the palms of my hands and yes, they stung, but that would be like mother’s kisses compared to what that spear would do. I knew, I had already seen its effectiveness. My legs worked like a camshaft, pistoning me backwards in a desperate attempt to get out of the way.

Pyramid Head couldn’t speak, as far as I knew, but when he attacked, he did make some kind of vocal noise. A grunt, maybe. And he didn’t just thrust that spear, he seemed to **** launch it like a bazooka, or one of those whatdayacall it, trebuchets. The razor tip struck the mesh between my legs, missing my left by an ass-hair, and it hit with such tremendous force that sparks cascaded from the tip.

I kept thrusting my body backwards. It was a messy, clumsy affair, to be sure. I thrashed about more haphazardly than I wanted, and I bet I might have made a passing resemblance to an epileptic suffering from shock. My mouth was moving and over the din of my screeching radio I could hear my breath heaving in and out, making a labored huh-huh-huh noise. I saw the spear-tip, and with fresh horror realized that Pyramid Head had thrust at me with such inhuman force that he punched a God damn hole in the steel mesh! He pulled upon the staff, twisting it in an attempt to free it from the trap. I watched him do it in dumb amazement.

And I snapped completely out of it when he jerked it free.

I scrambled to my feet and took off in a full run, even though there wasn’t enough room. I didn’t care, it didn’t matter, all that mattered was getting the hell away from Pyramid Head, getting away from that evil spear and the painful death and torture he was sure to inflict upon me if I got caught. This was his home, I was certain. This was his playground, his place, and if I fell, if I tripped and twisted an ankle, I was ****. If he caught me, I only hoped I would have enough time to turn the gun on myself. I only hoped I would have the time to end it on my own terms, because whatever notions I held about what Hell was like had just been replaced five minutes ago by something beyond my worst nightmares.

I ran and I ran and it seemed even longer this time, as I was sure Pyramid Head was close on my heels. I remember how deftly he gave chase back in Brookhaven. I remember how he caught up to Maria. I remember, oh God, how I remember, how he drew that spear back, how he stabbed forward, and how he stole Maria’s life in the process. I remember the splash of blood and I remember her creamy white hand go limp and lifeless.

I bounced off the walls, not taking the time to slow down, for to slow down was to die. After a dozen eternities, I rounded the final corner and the ladder came into view and I was momentarily overcome by a sweet wave of heavenly relief. I practically jumped at the ladder and pulled myself up with sheer will and overworked muscles. When I reached the top, I crawled forward, then I twisted around and grabbed my legs with my hands, yanking them away from the hole, so as not to be grabbed by a bloodstained hand. I felt relief again, the sweet satisfaction of escape and safety.

I found myself looking at the other ladder. And I saw, or at least I think I saw it. I don’t know if it was just my overworked imagination getting revenge or what, but I could have sworn I caught the glint of something rising from that end. Something sharp and red.

Maybe a helmet. Maybe a spear-tip. Maybe nothing.

Only an idiot would stick around to verify.

I took off running down the hallway, not knowing where I was headed, and not caring. Wherever it was, it was away from him. The only place in the world I wanted to be.

Away from him, and away from that little slice of the ninth layer of Hell down those ladders.
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« Reply #31 on: October 16, 2010, 02:44:59 pm »

Chapter Thirty-One
Not Your Mary

I was lost.

This place, whatever it was, it was like a maze, constructed without even the slightest semblance of logic. It of course didn’t help that I was locked in panic mode, and that I couldn’t really be bothered to remember which way I had come from before. I didn’t care about that. Wherever I went, it was away from the red pyramid thing, and that was what I cared about. It was all I cared about. The more distance, the better. That’s why I barrel-assed through this dirty old maze, heedless of what I might run into. For I knew, whatever might be in front of me couldn’t be any worse than what was behind me.

I quickly found that, in my terror, I inadvertently chose a new direction. That was okay, because there really wasn’t anything in the other direction anyway, except that place cordoned off with wire. What wasn’t okay was that my new yellow brick road led me right to another descent down a ladder. There was a sort of gorge torn out of the floor, and I had to climb down to span it. I could see in the distance where another ladder led back up out of the hole. And, since turning back wasn’t a viable option, I mounted the ladder. It was cold and damp, and every step I took rapped harshly against the old iron, sending a sharp report echoing about. As I lowered myself, the rotten old laminate floor disappeared, replaced by something a little more natural. This ladder was bolted to a wall of rock that was wet and well-worn to a fine shininess. The ladder had fifteen rungs, and on the fourteenth step my right shoe plunged into water up to my ankle, soaking my shoes once again. It was tepid and warm, and it had a faint chemical smell similar to what I noticed outside of Pyramid Head’s love bungalow, but not as strong or acerbic.

The distance between the two ladders, at least from above, didn’t seem that great, but the path wasn’t as direct as it seemed. I sloshed down the tunnel, trying to keep a steady pace so that I didn’t fall, but at the same time, trying to keep that pace as swift as I could manage, in case I was being pursued. I winced with every splash made by my footfalls, because I was straining to hear splashes from other sources, in case those sources happened to be mobile. As high-strung as I was, I might pick up on them before the radio did, and I’d take any advantage I could get ahold of right now. Of course, as high-strung as I was, I might also hear things where no things were to be heard, but I’d chance that. Too careful would trump not careful enough when situations like these came knocking.

The controlled pace was probably the safest I could manage, but my mind wanted me to go faster, not only to put even more distance between me and Pyramid Head, but because the water was very murky. The walls, though rough, were rather even, and so far, the ground beneath me was the same. I had to be careful not to land in a rut and twist or sprain an ankle. I also had to be careful to avoid falling into a deep rut or hole, because there would be no way of seeing it. The still waters were upset by my presence and movement, but they were also thick and full of sediment and runoff, and even though it wasn’t quite high enough to crest my knees, I could not see through it to terra firma. One false step and I-

My foot came down, and it did not rest against slippery rock, as I expected. It was slippery, but pliable, like soft rubber.

Or, like flesh.

I stumbled forward and landed hard on my knees. The momentum kept me going, and only by smarting my elbow on the rock face did I prevent cracking my noggin. My pants soaked up the water all the way up to my crotch, and on my sleeves past my elbows

All this nasty **** getting in my wounds

and the flaps of my jacket. I sprang to my feet, digging for the radio, terrified that I might have drowned it. It did take a dip, but not a long enough one to kill it. What a relief.

Or, would have been, except that it sprang merrily to life, as if to celebrate its survival. Just as it did, the murk exploded in motion as something tore through the shallows at an amazingly high rate of speed. It first aimed away from me, as though to avoid getting stepped upon once again. It thundered away for twenty feet or so, then came to a sudden, complete halt. I watched in fascination as it changed direction with lightning quickness and darted forward again, stopping this time with an audible thud as it struck the wall. It then came to a rest again. I kept my gaze on it, or rather, the spot where it stopped; whatever it was, it was submerged completely and I couldn’t tell what it was. Whatever it was, it was fast, much faster than I was, and if it came after me…

The thought didn’t even finish bouncing around my skull before I saw green water fountain around its resting spot, then watched with dumb horror as it raced straight towards me like a torpedo.

I darted to the side, trying to get out of its path, and I almost made it unscathed. The monster, whatever it was, struck my left foot as I was moving, but I leveraged against the wall and it didn’t upset my balance enough to knock me over. I decided it wasn’t prudent to waste the opportunity and I ran forward, keeping near the wall as I did.

The tunnel seemed damn near endless, made worse by the water. I felt like I was trying to run through drying cement, and my legs couldn’t go as fast as the rest of my body wanted them to. Finally, I saw the end of the tunnel. And when I did, my heart seemed to cannonball right into my scrotum.

Dead end!

But it wasn’t. My mind was fighting against my body and packed it in too quickly this time. A few more slushy steps brought another rusty red ladder into view, and the sight made my heart climb back into its designated seat. I lunged towards it. My arms pinwheeled for balance, and I looked like a ballroom dancer whose shoes were tied together.

I heard the funneling riptide slicing through the trench towards me as I laid my hands upon the cool steel, and a quick look behind confirmed it. I practically jumped onto the first rung, and I had to loop my entire arm around the strut to keep from falling back off. I quickly scrambled up a handful of rungs, hoping I was high enough to be safe, and I looked back down from my perch.

The monster struck the left strut of the ladder with fantastic force. It rattled and shivered, and I wrapped it with both arms in a bear hug, terrified that it would come unbolted and fall, depositing me back into the soup and the mercy of whatever was down there. The ladder shook, but it held, and stabilized after a moment. I climbed up, not wanting to tempt fate anymore.

The ladder brought me into a new area, one that seemed immediately bare of threats. I stepped off of the ladder and onto a dirt floor. It was a mostly-empty room walled in pitted old concrete. The only thing in the room was a large pedestal, and I went over to take a look.

It was a strange-looking thing, to be sure. A cube sat upon an iron hinge. Each side of the cube bore the face of a man, who sported a flowing beard and a stern, commanding gaze. It seemed to be made completely out of sandstone, except for the eyes. The piercing look came by way of colored jewels. Each face on each side had jewel eyes of different colors, and they all sparkled brilliantly against the light. Red, green, blue, and other colors too. All of them were doubtlessly precious stones. Even the iron hinge was trimmed with gold, though it seemed dimmer and less dazzling than the stones in the eye sockets. It was perched upon a square pedestal that was ornamented with ceramic engravings on each side, all of them in a queer sort of cartoonish style that was quite reminiscent of Aztec art. It was rather nice, if a little gaudy-looking. I left it alone.

Behind the little tableau was a portal to another room. This one looked considerably stranger. The walls, floor, ceiling, everything was paneled in thick steel plates, as if it were some kind of cubical battleship. It was completely unremarkable but for that. It was also a dead end. I felt like venting my disappointment, but what was the point? All I would get for my trouble was my own anger ricocheting back off of the walls and into my own ears. I walked back out into the first room, thinking about my next move.

I found myself staring into the eyes of the cubical tableau, and it gave me a bit of a start. The face looked like that of the Greek gods, Neptune or Zeus, or perhaps the classical interpretation of God Himself. I was brought up taught that God was loving and kind, if a little on the touchy side. This face didn’t show even the slightest trace of mercy or compassion. It looked like it was in a tightly-controlled state of rage and righteous fury. If this was the face of God, this wasn’t the God who saved us with gift of His son. This was the God who told Adam and Eve to throw on some clothes and get the hell out of Eden, the God that drowned the armies of the Pharaoh. I had to look away, it was creeping me out.

I saw the hinge that held the cube aloft, and I noticed that it seemed to allow for movement. I reached out and pushed the top of the cube until it turned completely. The display rumbled as I moved it. A much more powerful rumbling sounded from behind, and I turned on a dime to see why.

And I didn’t see anything except a blank concrete wall, where once there was a steel-plated chamber. Utterly fascinated, I turned the cube again. With the sound of a minor earthquake, the door reappeared, and the chamber along with it. And this time, there was another portal on the other side. I stepped into the chamber and passed through the other opening, trying not to think too hard about what I just experienced, and how flagrantly it violated the laws of physics. It wasn’t the first time that had happened since I got to Silent Hill, but it was certainly one of the more unique instances. The far portal led to a set of stairs, and I descended into the black.

It led into another room, this one considerably smaller, and similar in appearance to the long, twisted corridors from before. The room was divided by iron prison bars (just when I thought I’d seen the last of them). On my side was nothing but a few old seat-stools scattered about. On the other side was a dingy old bed and a chair with gaudy, floral cushions.

Sitting in that chair was a human being, an actual person. A woman. I saw her face, and she looked into mine with sleepy, interested eyes. Her face was smiling, but the eyes were not. Seeing that face made every system in my body go absolutely haywire, made my brain spin and cartwheel and dance the **** Charleston, because I was looking into the smiling, impossibly vibrant face of a woman I saw die just hours before, in the wet-fart basement of the medical center of the lower Hells, upon the spear of an executioner with a pyramid-shaped helmet.

Maria sat in that chair, perfectly healthy and sporting no signs of injury whatsoever. Her midriff shirt was spotless and her pale stomach had nothing to show except the small butterfly tattoo near her hip. I couldn’t even begin to think of what to say, but when my surprise and confusion forced my mouth and vocal cords into action, what came out was probably the most obvious.

“You’re alive!”

She said nothing, just smiled.

“Maria! I thought that thing, that red pyramid thing… he killed you! Are you hurt? You don’t look like you are but it was so horrible-looking and…

“I’m not hurt at all, silly,” she broke in, “I’m completely alright.” She outlined her body with her hands, illustrating the point. An obvious one.

“Completely alright? That Pyramid Head thing, it stabbed you! I saw it happen! I saw the spearhead come out the front of your body! There was blood everywhere, even on me!” I was way beyond incredulous and nearly hysterical, faced with the impossibility of what I was seeing.

“Stabbed me?” She laughed softly, as if being told something completely preposterous. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, James. I don’t remember that at all.”

“What do you mean you don’t remember?” I said, nearly at a shriek. “It was just a little while ago! You were dying! You were screaming my God damn name, for Christ’s sake! How do you not remember?

Her smile thinned, but didn’t disappear entirely. She looked at me with a sort of dull, stunning gaze. Looking at it made my limbs turn to jelly, and I slumped down on one of the stools. We looked at each other for a very long moment. I could find no words to say. In a world of absolute impossibilities, this one topped them all with whipped cream and a candy cherry. I know what I saw. I know what I remembered. I know she was gored by Pyramid Head, and in a very messy manner. I know the elevator door closed and that was the last I would see of her.

But was I wrong? She was sitting on the chair two feet in front of me, her legs at a tilted, very feminine angle. It was certainly a convincing argument that I was indeed wrong. But how? Why?

“James, honey,” she said, “Did something happen to you?” She paused for a moment, not long enough for me to give her an answer that I didn’t have anyway. “Did something happen after we got separated in that long hallway?”

Seperated?

“Are you confusing me with someone else?” Her voice was soft, but had that same subtle note of condescension she used to get me to allow her to tag along in the first place. “You were always so forgetful, you know. Do you remember that time, in the hotel?”

What the ****. I slumped forward, my confusion multiplying to the point where it was dulling my sense. Who was this?

“You told me you took everything,”, she continued, and her voice changed, altered somehow in a way I couldn’t explain but I could certainly catch. “But you forgot that videotape we made. Ha, I wonder if it’s still there?” Subtle and different. Different, like she wasn’t Maria at all, that perhaps…

“How do you know about that?” I asked, my voice sounding weak and dry, “Aren’t you… Maria?”

The pursed smile disappeared, winked out like a light. Her dreamy gaze hardened like ice as she stared me straight in the eyes for the first time.

“I’m not your Mary.” She said.

That’s it, that’s what I thought I heard. I thought I heard her speaking with Mary’s voice, about Mary’s memories. But how?

“Then you’re Maria?”

The smile returned, the light switch flicked back on. “I am. If you want me to be.”

I stood up and paced, with my forehead in my palms. My brow was hot. The brain was being overworked. “All I want from you is a straight answer!” I said, my confusion giving way to anger.

She stood, and leaned against the bars. Her head tilted to the side, playful and whimsical. My mind was being given a Muhammad Ali beating, but it all seemed like a terrifically funny joke to her, all the funnier because she was telling it to someone who couldn’t get the humor.

“It doesn’t matter who I am. I’m here for you, James. I’m only here for you.” She reached through the bars and touched my face, both hands resting on my cheeks. She massaged them softly. The sensation was at once comforting and maddening. “See?” she said, “I’m real. Don’t you want to touch me?” she asked, and her eyes commanded mine to keep step in a dance that she completely controlled. She reached behind my head, her fingers running through my hair and locking both of her hands together.”

All of the spit and fire in me was gone, the vacuum filled by more confusion, different confusion. This was the first real intimate touch I had felt in forever, to say nothing of the first implied request that I give in return. I felt completely drained and listless.

“I don’t know,” was all I could manage to say. She laughed, pulled her hands back through the bars and sat back down on the chair. Instead of sitting up straight as before, she leaned back a bit, crossing her legs and looking undeniably sexy. Did I want to touch her? I

“Come and get me, tiger,” she said, her voice sultry and satin. “Come over and get me. I can’t do a thing through these bars. They’d just get in the way.”

I looked at her for a second, completely unbelieving what I was she was asking me. Sex? Here? We’re at the threshold of hell and she wants to have sex with me? It had been so long since anyone had asked me that. It had been so long since I last made love to Mary, so damned long. I stayed true ever since. I never ended up in bed with another woman, there was no way I could allow it. And now, when I come looking for Mary, I finally get the chance come my way. It was all too much for me. I didn’t want to have sex. I didn’t want her in my arms. I didn’t even want her touching my face again. Something was seriously, truly **** up here, and it was her.

Or is it me?

I don’t know.


“Okay,” I said, “Stay right there. I’ll find a way over.” I spoke those words as if they were the first to ever come out of my mouth. They sounded very stuttered and short, as if I were practicing the English language. I did want to reach her, but I had no idea why. I had no idea what I wanted, and I had no idea how to settle a world that had, in the span of five minutes, become completely turned on its head. Nearly being gored by Pyramid Head was terribly frightening because it would have been a painful way to go. A woman offering sexual favors, a woman who looked too **** much like my wife, a woman who I know I saw die right in front of me hours earlier, that was terribly frightening too, in a much different way. With Pyramid Head, it was a matter of losing my life.

This? This was a matter of losing my mind, and right now my grip was more tenuous than ever before. This offended my notions of reality on a fundamental level, and I shuffled slowly out of the room, back towards the steel chamber, wondering when the last of my grip would slip. Wondering, perhaps, if it didn’t happen already.
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« Reply #32 on: October 16, 2010, 02:59:17 pm »

Chapter Thirty-Two
Daddy Dearest

Something bothered me about that room.

The thought tapped on the walls of my mind even as I climbed the steps of cemetery gray that led up and away from it. I mean, of course there was the obvious, that being a dead woman who seemed to completely forget that she was supposed to be dead. A woman who resembled my wife in so many subtle ways, who recently had the misfortune of resembling her in one rather fatal way, who was now sitting behind bars on a hideous piece of upholstery and waiting patiently for me to come and see her so that she could show me just how real she was, as much as reality meant to me anymore. Yeah, there was all that, no doubt.

But despite all of that, it was the room itself that was on my mind. There was something about it that made it stick out somehow. What it was, I couldn’t exactly say, because it wasn’t obvious at all. There really wasn’t a lot to go on. There was that ugly chair, and a ratty old bed in the corner. It had a funny smell, a sterile smell if you can believe it, but while all of these small details served to excite some little deja-vu center of my brain, none of them were enough to instigate a full-blown epiphany.

Whatever. When I made it to the other side of those bars, I might find out. In the mean time, all I could do was dismiss it as a fancy and concentrate on other matters. Matters like, where was I supposed to go now? There could have been other branches of that chaotic old hallway that I hadn’t meandered down yet, but I didn’t really think there were.

I passed through the steel chamber and was within sight of Picasso’s pissed-off God, when I saw the room illuminated by a flash of light. It was very brief, but it was there. Before I had a decent chance to be confused, the light flashed again, this time repeatedly, before winking out for a moment. It gave the room a sort of strobe-light effect. It was the noise in the room that tipped me off to what was going on, a series of sharp, harsh pops that were as perfectly clipped as the flashes. When I looked past the pedestal, I saw the source of both, and my suspicions were confirmed. Near the alcove and ladder was an electrical box wired on the wall, similar to several I’d seen in this strange labyrinth already. Only, this one was wide-open, and damaged. Sparks showered forth from within, and it was bright enough that I could see why even without my own light.

Something was jammed into the circuit box, a tool of some sort. It looked like a pair of pliers or clamps, but I couldn’t tell for sure, and even though they had moldings over the handles, I wasn’t keen on grabbing them with my bare hands. I wasn’t really keen on grabbing them, period, but given everything I’d encountered so far, one never knew when one might need something like this.

I took the rifle off of my shoulder and held it by its wooden stock. Carefully, I tapped the handle of tools with the barrel. It took several attempts, but finally the box gave a nice, angry shower of electricity and the tool fell to the floor. I holstered the rifle and bent down to pick it up. Once I got a look at what it was, it made a sick kind of sense.

Wire cutters.

It was so obvious, so blatant, that I couldn’t think of it as anything else but a gift, be it from God or from something else I didn’t know. Whatever or whoever it was, they were just recently departed, because the box had been shut and completely inconspicuous the first time I passed it by. Without knowing the source, I decided to thank my capricious luck for the leg-up and dropped the little deus ex machina in my pocket, then I mounted the ladder back into the septic tank from hell below.

I stepped off the ladder and into the scummy water, which I noticed had taken on a distinctly crimson tint. It was blood from the monster that assaulted me when I came by here earlier. At the time I wasn’t able to see what it was, but now I saw that it wasn’t something new and unusual, but rather something familiar and unusual. The straight-jacket struck the ladder as I was ascending, struck it so hard that I almost fell off, but by the look of things, the attack was quite the suicide strike. When it struck, its body folded up like an accordion, and its rear-end was sticking up out of the water, looking somewhat comical in its absurdity. The jaundiced old flesh underneath the cellophane-like outer skin peaked over the water line like a macabre little island, and it gave the monster’s identity away. Its head was completely obscured by the water, but it wasn’t likely to be a pretty sight. The pale red hue spread in a wide halo from its position, telling me all I needed to know, and certainly more than I wanted. I splashed down the flooded tunnel to the other ladder and climbed out.

I navigated much of this stretch of territory running in a blind panic, leaving me without much in the way of memory to rely upon, and though friend Pyramid Head hadn’t tracked me as far as Maria’s little room, I was all too aware of how close I was to his little house of horrors, and the possibility that he might be patrolling the area, and failing that, I didn’t want to inadvertently stumble upon the ladders leading to said house of horrors. I guess it was these things that made my intuition tell me to go left, when in doubt, and when I came across the dead straight-jacket at the next impasse, I knew my intuition was still pretty sound.

Sure enough, I soon found myself looking through the creatively-blocked doorway. I pressed the blades of the wire cutters against one of the steel cables and squeezed. The cutters bit into the cables, but they were pretty thick, and I had to really put some power behind my effort. On the third attempt, the blades finally won the battle, and the cable snapped with a loud crack. They had been pulled so tight that the tensile wire lashed away once freed. I repeated this processes several more times, not clearing the entire entrance, but at least enough for me to duck through, and that was just fine, because clipping thick steel cable with simple wire cutters makes for some very sore hands before too long.

The wires obscured access to another ladder going down, and that’s where I went. This one led to an area that was, thankfully, more like the last one, and less like the metal corridor before that. It was flooded with the same kind of slimy water, but here it was only ankle-deep, which made it far less likely that any enterprising straight-jackets would conceal themselves. On the contrary, this little parcel of territory seemed blessedly uninhabited. What it wasn’t was direct. I felt almost certain that I had turned myself around in complete circles while navigating the damp undergrounds, and that provided a level of discomfort to replace the intensity and fright of an encounter with a straight jacket. The relief I felt when I finally saw a ladder was damn near palpable, a cool liquid salve, which of course lasted only until the old thinking meats reminded me that each new path was a thousand possible disasters in the making.

I was back in the dirty, pitted, old-building look, but this time in a small area, with a door in front of me. Likely, this is what I would have seen earlier had there been a door in place of the steel cables. Small as it was, the moving threat assessment stage of the routine was quick, but although this little space wasn’t presently inhabited, there was a messy red splash staining the laminate floor, and I didn’t need to touch it or even look closely to know it for what it was. Closer examination did reveal that whatever painted the floor with lifeblood wasn’t here too long ago. The stain was still wet and tacky. Some of the more concentrated areas were congealing, and disgusting black clots dotted the scene like islands.

More compelling though was the newspaper, dropped in the middle of the mess as if some half-assed attempt at cleanup. The blood soaked through much of it, and it was firmly adhered to the floor because of that. It was the Community/Local section of the Silent Hill Chronicle, yesterday’s edition. The headline was, fittingly enough, about a murder. The gore had soaked through so badly that parts of the article were illegible.

VICIOUS SLAYING IN SOUTH VALE, the headline screamed. The article told of one Thomas K. Orosco, 38, of the South Vale district. Mr. Orosco, employed by one of the local logging companies, was found slain in his bed, the victim of more than two dozen vicious stab wounds, in his throat, abdomen, and, poor guy, three right in the crotch, the **** almost severed. Police felt the killing was a passion crime, because none of his valuables were missing, and there were no apparent signs of struggle. Given his noted history of alcoholism and multiple instances of domestic problems (and one assault conviction, though not domestic in nature), they did have a lead, but the paper was too messed up for me to find out who this lead was. The only other item of interest was a sideline article about the local tourist industry, mentioning its resurgence since the drastic retreat of the once-rampant drug trade a decade past.

I opened the door and stepped into a long hallway, and immediately, I could tell that the scene in the room behind me was sort of an iconic prelude to what I found here. There was no blood here, but the walls and floor were pasted with newspapers, arranged without order or reason, just slapped on chaotically. I expected that they would be copies of the Chronicle page I just read. They were from the Chronicle, but they weren’t yesterday’s Local, they were all copies of the current edition, the same as the one I saw in the dispenser machine when I first arrived in town. They were everywhere, and each one was current. There wer so many that some of the pages repeated, leaving only small patches of pale earth-colored wall poking through the chaotic tapestry of small-town journalism. Not one of them mentioned even a word of Silent Hill’s current state of affairs, but it was becoming apparent to me that there was far more to that then appeared to the naked eye. Far more. That I was where I was right now, that such a place could even exist, was the most compelling evidence, but far from the only example. It was sort of amazing that such an event could seem secondary to me, but that’s what it was. Secondary to my goal, to finding Mary. There’s no way the two events could even be slightly coincidental, and doubtless that if I ever did find Mary, I would probably also discover what was behind Silent Hill and its empty, ruined streets. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to know. In fact, I was pretty sure I didn’t want to know. I would be content just finding my wife. That itself was bound to raise so many more questions that I just couldn’t find it in me to hold more than a passing interest in the destruction of this little lakeside town.

I walked slowly down the papered hallway, still scanning some of them to spot any different ones. Suddenly, I heard a sharp noise, one that I couldn’t automatically place, and it put my tired body on red-alert. But it was only a second later that I heard English words accompany the noise, and I identified it for what it was.

A woman’s moaning shriek.

“No, please! Daddy, no!”

A woman. And her voice was coming from someplace very close by, seemingly almost in front of me. And that’s when I saw that it was. There was a door right in front of me, so obscured and concealed by the haphazard wallpapering job that I didn’t even realize it was there. I felt around for a knob, and I found it, a pulp-papered lump. I tore the paper turning the knob, and opening the door ripped several pages apart. I took no notice.

I entered a room completely like any other I’d yet seen. The footing was spongy, and made a revolting squish under the weight of my footsteps. A few feet above my head, the walls were lined with cylindrical holes, spaced about two feet apart and ringing the entire room. Within each hole was what looked like a piston, thrumming rhythmically in and out, some faster than others. The walls themselves were made of the same material as the floor, soft and pliable and of a color that suggested one very obvious material.

But, I had no time to hypothesize about the unusual décor. I could hear the radio hissing in my pocket, but I didn’t need it. I could very well see what made it agitated. For a moment, I thought it was a straight-jacket. It was definitely similar in some ways, but what I saw in front of me right now was easily double the size of the straight-jackets I’d seen, far larger, far more muscular. It was hunched over and facing away from me, and I could see an enormous fleshy mass writhing and pulsating on the creature’s back. An oily sack of flesh stretched over top of all of it, giving the pulsating mass a strange, amorphous appearance similar to that of the straight-jackets. Stranger still was that it looked to have an odd bone structure, one that was large and rectangular, growing out of its hips and serving as the basis for its massive torso.

My light shined upon the new monster, but it didn’t seem to take notice of me right away. It seemed more interested in whatever was in the corner, and whatever was in the corner was obscured by the monster’s considerable bulk. But of course, I knew what was in the corner, or at least, I thought I did.

Sure enough…

“Daddy, please!” the voice screamed, “Please don’t hurt me! I’ll be good! I won’t… just…” The owner of the voice was a finger away from falling into the gorge of total panic, and who could blame her? It was a voice that seemed familiar.

Of course. Of course it was familiar. Because the last time I heard that voice, it was saying the same thing. And then, the words were directed at me. The girl cowering in the corner was-

“Angela!” I yelled. I didn’t expect her to respond, and she didn’t. I was more interested in drawing the monster away from her. It wheeled around, turning on a dime and doing so far faster than its bulk suggested it could. Seeing it from the front immediately cancelled any notion that this was a straight-jacket. For one, it had two stubby arms (or front-legs? It didn’t really seem like it was naturally bi-pedal) and a head, of sorts, though its head was nothing but an enormous, circular mouth. Fleshy lips oscillated like a readout of radio waves. It looked hungry. Pleased, perhaps, for now it had a two-course meal. I pulled out the pistol and aimed at the mouth just as the monster charged.

I squeezed off a shot as it did, but I certainly didn’t send it down the monster’s throat as I’d planned. I don’t think I got it at all, but I had no time to check. I darted to the side. A fraction of a second later, the monster charged past, so fast and so powerfully that I was sure that the momentum would send it into a forceful kissing session with the hideous pink wall.

Instead, it came to a complete halt inches away from impact, and wheeled about to face me again. No slouch, this one. I aimed again and fired two more shots. Both hit paydirt, but neither got it in the face, either. Twin splotches of crimson blossomed upon the writhing fleshy hump, but it might as well have been spitballs fired through a straw for all the good it did. It charged again, and again I juked aside to avoid it. Only, this time I didn’t juke fast enough. The monster’s rectangular, door-like midsection smashed into my side, just above my right thigh. My balance hadn’t been that good to begin with, and the terrific power of the beast’s blow packed a cataclysmic wallop, sending me damn near airborne. I spun on my one planted foot and twisted as I crashed to the ground. I was stunned less by hitting the soft floor than by the attack itself, but an acute lightning bolt of pain ripped forth from my hip. I grabbed it in spite of the imminent danger, rubbing it furiously and kicking that leg about. Thank sweet merciful God that it wasn’t broken, the leg moved well enough, but it was still a danger and…

I caught a glimpse of her out of the corner of my eye. Angela, that is. She sat, hunched on the ground, arms looped around her knees. Her skin was almost alabaster white, and she sat there watching my battle in a complete daze. Her eyes, though wide open, had a lifeless, catatonic quality, as if she were suffering from deep, acute shock.

I turned around, gripping the floor and trying to force myself back to my feet. I didn’t really think I could defeat this thing, but I could at least try to grab Angela and get the hell out of this nightmare of a room. That too did not seem like a very likely prospect, what with her obvious disconnection with reality over in the corner, but I had to try, I had to do something, otherwise…

When I did turn, I found myself face-to-mouth with the door-monster. I screamed. I sounded like a little girl doing so, shrill and full of rich terror, but thoughts of dignity were as far away as they would ever get in my life. It pinned me down with its deformed arms, sending fresh new shockwaves of pain across my upper body, and it leaned down towards me as if to kiss me. Or, perhaps, tear the skin right off of my face.

Whatever got me moving could have been nothing but blind instinct or panic or sheer self-preservation. I lashed out with my good leg and kicked the door-monster in its underbelly. I did it again, this time folding my leg and using my knee. The monster reared back and roared, a sound like a full-grown male lion with a severe bout of bronchitis, the guttural growl wet and sticky. I yelled, a wordless yell of complete abandon, and I kneed the monster again and again, like a jackrabbit. The monster growled and staggered backwards, probably not harmed to any great degree but clearly not expecting my onslaught. It retreated several steps and looked confused.

I wasn’t, though.

Panic had my senses sharp and my synapses firing on all cylinders. I struggled to my feet and brought the Glock to bear on the monster’s face, the muzzle just inches away from that terrible mouth. There was no possible way I could miss. And I didn’t. I fired five shots altogether.

The first two were perfect. There was no way they couldn’t be, having the pistol practically down the monster’s throat. The next two hit it in the hump (which was now thrashing very wildly, perhaps in panic itself?), and the last hit nothing. Blood fountained from the first two shots, some of it splashing me in the face and chest. I staggered back away from the monster, hurriedly wiping the mess from my face with my good sleeve. The door-monster moaned and growled, though now the sound was a definite octave or two higher in pitch, and even wetter than before, no doubt because it was choking on its own blood and viscera. It fell to the floor in a lump, coming to a rest in a turtle-like position. The mass on its back thrashed about in agony, as if trying to escape from within, but soon it slowed, moving as if drunk or drugged. It didn’t cease completely, but it definitely seemed to have the fight knocked completely out of it. I fell back against the spongy wall, collecting myself and trying to catch my breath.

A wordless cry came forth from the other corner. Angela rose to her feet and approached the fallen monster. Gone from her eyes was that glazed, disconnected look, gone completely. In its place was a piercing, ice-cold look of sheer hate, of loathing and revulsion. I had about forty pounds and a good five inches on her, but that determined, almost murderous cast on her features frightened me, and made me glad that I wasn’t the target in her cross-hairs.

She said nothing, but she wasn’t quiet. More formless cries issued forth as she reached the still-writhing monster. A shrill cry tore forth from her as she leaned back and delivered a forceful kick to the monster’s hump. The monster groaned in weak protest, but it was too hurt to do anything else to stop her. She kicked it again, and again, and again, throwing all of her weight and strength into each kick. The last kick was rewarded with a painful crack from within the hump, and it sagged inwards, looking almost deflated, and came to a final rest.

Angela wasn’t finished yet, though. She was in a state of complete, deadly ****-off, and I felt it safer not to interfere. She calmly walked over to another corner of the room. There, I saw a small wooden stand, and upon it, a small television. It was one of those wood-paneled models, pretty vintage, and quite heavy, even in the small, tabletop sizes. She reached down and heaved it into the air, struggling a bit as she hauled it across the room. Upon reaching the monster, she lifted it over her head, and brought it down right on the hump. I could hear bones being crushed and cracked underneath the television’s weight. The picture tube smashed, filling the room with a shotgun-like blast of sound, and the screen shattered, sending razor-sharp fragments cascading over the dead creature. Angela staggered backwards, saying nothing, just staring at the door-monster. Her face was set in a grim, considering gaze. There was just the slightest hint of satisfaction visible on those haggard features. She couldn’t have been more than twenty years old, but right now, she looked like she was on the wrong side of forty. Suddenly, she shuddered, her whole body quivering, and she burst into tears.

I walked over to her, to place a comforting arm around her.

“Angela!” I said, “Calm down, relax. It’s okay.”

She turned to face me, and she brought the loaded look with her.

“Shut up! Don’t you order me around!” she yelled as she backed up and pushed my hand away.

“But I’m not trying to give you orders.” I said. The look on her face told me she was completely unconvinced. If anything, the loathing, hateful look I got was worse that that which she gave the monster.

“Oh yeah? So what do you want, then, huh?” she asked, her voice all sarcasm. “I know what you’re doing. You’re trying to be nice, you’re trying to butter me up! Do you think I’m stupid?” She stood still and now seemed to be looking past me, or through me. “It’s the same as it always is. You’re just playing nice because you want. You want. And all you want is that one thing you always want. It’s always the same.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked, “That’s not true at all!”

“Why do you have to lie, huh? Why can’t you just be honest for once? Just go ahead and say it!” Now she looked down at the floor, avoiding my gaze. “Or, you could just force me, you know. Push me around, maybe. Slap me around, punch me, beat the crap out of me. That’s what he always did.” Now her body seemed to soften, to lose all of the steel constitution that brought her to assault the monster. She fell to her knees and leaned forward. One hand supported her, the other shot to her mouth. Retching, gagging gasps came from her, and she coughed and heaved.

I reached forward to help her, but she just leaned away. “Don’t you touch me,” she said with a choking sob, “You make me sick, you disgusting pig. You pig!” She dry-heaved again, and I stood motionless as she righted herself and stood once again to face me.

“Didn’t you say your wife was dead? Mary? You said she was dead, didn’t you?”

I nodded. “She was really sick.”

Her face contorted in anger again, looking almost like the Grinch in that Christmas cartoon, where his morose, contemplative green face curled into something completely devilish as he had the epiphany that inspired him to become Santa Claus and steal Christmas from the Whos. That was funny and comical. The look on Angela’s face was not comical in the slightest. It was horrible. She wasn’t an extraordinarily pretty girl to begin with, but this look was just plain ugly.

“You LIAR!” she screamed, so forcefully that I recoiled instinctively. “I know all about you! You got rid of her, didn’t you? You didn’t want her around anymore! You used her up and pushed her away! You bastard, you stinking bastard! You found someone else, I bet! You screwed around on her! I know what you’re all about because you’re all the same! It’s always the same!” Having unleashed her rage, she stormed past me, throwing open the door and stalking out.

I just stood there, completely shocked by the encounter, and the completely baseless accusations. I didn’t do any of that. I didn’t screw around or anything. I was a good husband, a good husband, goddamnit! Who the hell was she to say things like that? She didn’t know me! The **** was half-cocked and crazy and full of horse ****. Which, unfortunately, did nothing to explain why I felt so drained and browbeaten.

I looked down at the dead monster, the one she called Daddy. And as I did, I felt unconsciously for the knife I had hooked onto my belt in the rear, the blood-stained knife she had given me way back in the apartments. I had almost forgotten about this knife, but Daddy made me remember it. Daddy, and the newspaper article I found in the pool of blood.

Stabbed several times in the throat, torso and groin. Crime of passion. Violent drunk. I couldn’t help but wonder, was that newspaper lying there just a random page, as were those covering the walls of the hallway outside, or was it a sign of some sort? Was the blood on this knife that of one Tom Orosco?

Maybe I should ask her if I saw her again.
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All Hail The Strogg!
R.I.P. Paul Gray - April 8, 1972 – May 24, 2010.


"Stay...
 I Need You Here, For A New Day To Break...
Stay...
I Want You Near, Like A Shadow In My Wake...
Stay...
Here With Me... Don't You Leave...
Stay...
Stay With Me, Until The Day's Over..."
I love you Mutou Yami... Forever.


Long Live, Mr.Yamaoka Akira, The Silent Hill Legend.
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« Reply #33 on: October 16, 2010, 03:02:47 pm »

Chapter Thirty-Three
Tragedienne

The room really stunk.

I hadn’t noticed before so much because I was busy fighting for our lives against Daddy, but with the excitement over for the moment, my senses took in the more subtle details, and primary among those was the reeking stench of this room. I looked over at Daddy, but he wasn’t saying anything anymore, and while he didn’t bring to mind the scent of fresh-cut roses, the stink was more than just him. And, I think it was the walls, because they were very soft and pliant to the touch, to a very unnatural degree. I found this out to a small extent by just walking around, because the floors were the same. The footing was pretty solid, but it felt like there was an inch of cushioning between the soles of my shoes and the base of the floor, whatever it was.

Whatever it was, indeed. As of late, my mind had been opened, by force, to concepts and ideas that until today would have been completely alien and beyond absurd to me. I’d seen a lot, learned a lot, and for that, I was more accepting of certain things. I was just in fact coming to terms with the idea of a person surviving a particularly brutal slaying and being alive and without so much as a scratch from the incident, nor for that matter, any recollection of said incident. Impossible, but possible. Yeah, my mind was open. It had to allow these alien concepts in, frightening as many of them were, because if my mind were to simply block out and deny all that it was being exposed to, it would collapse like a house of cards. So, instead of that, it subscribed to the “join ‘em if you can’t beat ‘em” theory.

When I saw the bullet hole in the wall, though, that presented a particularly horrid challenge in that regard. One of the bullets that I had fired at Daddy had gone wide, and struck the wall (painfully close to where Angela had sat hunched over and on another planet). There was a bloodstain marking the wall where the bullet entered, and at first, I thought that meant that I had in fact not missed when I fired that errant shot, that perhaps I had grazed him and he lost a little skin. Had that been the case, I’d be okay with things for the moment.

What ruined that illusion was the bloodstain. For you see, even with my relative inexperience, I knew that if Daddy had been stitched by my bullet, the bloodstain would have been a spatter. It would look like a starburst. Shooting other monsters had shown me as much. This bloodstain looked nothing like that. There was no spatter at all. It was a leak. Blood dripped from the hole, running in thick red rivulets. As I stared, I could see that it was still dripping. Impossible. Impossible unless-

Unless the wall is bleeding.

The enormity of what I had just deduced did not hammer itself home immediately. Just another silly, fanciful notion from the mind of James Sunderland, that’s all. Nothing to worry about and nothing to see, because this mind is definitely lacking some of its showroom shine. It’s like a machine with a slight defect. It still works and does most everything that it’s supposed to, but every now and then it will produce results which are nothing but errors, nothing but glitches, and this, ladies and gentlemen, has to be one of those times. Because, you see, walls can’t bleed. I’ve never seen walls bleed, because they don’t. Walls don’t bleed. They can’t. They won’t.

A bubble formed over the hole. The red was deep and rich. Coppery, too. The smell was there. As if to spite my very notions of what was and what could not be, the bubble expanded, to about the size of a silver dollar. It hung there, pregnant, for several seconds. I stared at it, dumb and confused.

When it popped, I didn’t freak out. My state of mind was in a hell of a flux, but it held together like the steely silk of a spider’s web. Therefore, I saw the wall bleed where I had shot it, and I didn’t lose it. Instead, I simply turned and walked out of the room, closing the door behind me. I felt blank and poorly animated doing so, a puppet manipulated by some jerky hands, but soon I was back in the relative sanity of the newspaper-covered hallway, and for that brief moment, all felt better.

There was no sign of Angela, but I didn’t particularly mind. Like with Eddie, every time I encountered her, I came away feeling that much less comfortable. There were plenty of monsters and freaks of un-nature as it was, I didn’t really need human nutcases to complicate matters. I didn’t think Angela was as blatant a threat as Eddie might be, since I held the only weapon I’d seen her carry, but she seemed suicidal and pissed off at me, for some reason. I wasn’t even close to figuring her out, and I didn’t want to. I had way too many of my own problems to deal with. I didn’t want to hurt either of them, but I definitely needed to keep my guard up for them.

The newspaper decorations tapered off as I approached the end of the hall. There, I found another ladder, and climbing down once again had me in up to my ankles in this wonderful-smelling stuff. Each cumbersome step I took through the soup seemed crashing and loud in the silence, and the strange acoustics provided echoes that reverberated all along the underground passage, away and back to me. The effect was decidedly unsettling, because it gave the illusion that perhaps there were other things getting their feet wet down here, too. Of course, that was hardly mere illusion, there were other things down here and up there and seemingly everywhere, but life in the present would be that much easier if I didn’t have to jump at shadows in addition to the real threats that lurked around.

Like the others, this under-passage was unnaturally and illogically-twisted, and damned if I hadn’t made five consecutive right turns, without reaching any sort of intersection. There was no apparent reason behind any of it, up or down, but this one seemed particularly unwilling to conform to logical design. I felt like I was walking through an Escher sketch, with every pathway intersecting another at an impossible angle, and each surface was a direct contradiction of known physics.

It was a long way, much longer than any of the others before. By my guess I had covered close to five hundred yards. My thighs and my ankles were dull fire from so much carefully-controlled movement, and my bashed knee was even worse. But, now I finally found myself at a bit of a crossroads. There was a path going to the left, or I could continue ahead. I thought about it for a moment and opted to see if variety was the spice of life. I trudged down the left junction.

It hit me then. Something was wrong, and it was something beyond the impossible layout of the tunnel behind me. This was something stronger and more primal. It was also something that I finally recognized, because it hadn’t been that long since it last took over my senses.

I had come to rely very heavily on this small pocket radio I found in the construction site at the Nathan Avenue underpass way back on that old dirt road, way back when I first got here, way back when small matters like unseasonable chill and the distinct lack of human life on the streets of Silent Hill were of a primary importance. The radio had, without a doubt, saved my ass several times. I don’t know how or why it worked, but it did, and it was almost a sixth sense, a danger sense, that I had by this point come to depend upon as much as I depended upon my eyes for sight and my ears for hearing.

There was another sort of sixth-sense that I had come to experience, though, and this one didn’t require the use of a transistor radio or man-made technology of any sort. This sense was also attuned to danger, but only a specific kind. It was a dark, palpable feeling of hopelessness and despair, like some outside force was bombarding my brain with thoughts and notions someone might feel if they were in the throes of severe clinical depression. It was a seizing fear and it seemed to override my other senses. And the first time I experienced this, I was walking down a filthy apartment hallway, following the source of a person’s scream. I felt it when I came to a set of bars separating one side of the hall from that which I was in. I felt it when I saw what was on the other side of the bars, when I first laid eyes upon the most horrifying of the monsters I’d seen in this town, before or since.

This sense of mine, whatever it really was, was attuned to the presence of the red pyramid thing. And right now I was feeling it in waves. There was no question. He had tracked me down, but he didn’t need to follow me, as I thought he would. Why, he did it the easy way; he just took advantage of this Labyrinth’s unusual properties. He found a way. And, why not? This was his domain. This was where he set up shop. It made perfect sense that he would know how to manipulate a silly thing like reality to get a leg-up. Just what was Pyramid Head? Why did he seem to be levels above these other monsters? Why did he illicit a level of terror in me that none of these other monsters was able to bring about?

It would probably help me sleep better at night if I didn’t know, and I had no desire to keep going down this path and ask him. I did an about-face and sloshed back to the intersection as fast as I could manage. By the time I made it, my face felt almost as soaked as my lower legs. I felt like a bag of ice left in the hot summer sun; frozen on the inside, coated with bullets of sweat on the outside. I advanced up the original path instead, slowly as before, although this time I was being careful not because I wanted to keep the noise down, but because I was afraid my legs would turn to jelly at any second.

It was another hundred yards, but this time it was straight and seemingly-endless. My legs grew ever more tired and my feet dragged thanks to the extra weight of my soaked shoes, making the whole experience that much more fun.

The monotony of tepid green water and rocky walls was finally broken by another intersection, similar to the other but with the junction this time on my right. This time, there would be no decision though, for this junction was sealed off. Iron prison bars, as if I hadn’t seen enough of them already, crossed the narrow pathway. There was a gate, and the gate itself wasn’t locked, but a thick, serpentine chain looped down the entire vertical span of the gate, finally coming to an end near the bottom, just above the water line. The chain was secured with a padlock, one of those gigantic steel monsters, and it was very old and rusted. If I had to, I could use the rifle to shoot the lock, but with its ammunition so precious, I decided I would consider that only as a last resort. There was still some ways to go ahead, and it was prudent to explore them first. I had only three shells for the .30-.06, and I’d hate to use one now, especially if it led nowhere.

It turned out that the corridor was not endless, after all. It was only another fifty yards or so, when the watery underpass came to its conclusion, though this conclusion was decidedly different from any other. Instead of a ladder, there were steps leading out of the water, up to my waist, and then there was a door. The door itself looked completely out of place down here. I would expect to see a door made of metal or at least in some way industrial in appearance. Not so. This door looked more likely to fit in with the upstairs interior of the Labyrinth, though even then, not entirely. The doors I’d seen up there were similar in appearance in that they were made of molded panel wood, much like one would see inside of any building. This one was noticeably lighter in color, though. What differentiated it from any other in this place was that the door had a number, etched in black.

208.

The moment I saw that, I was hit by two memories, one old and one much more recent. The old memory was very vague, images that just wouldn’t coalesce into something solid enough to allow full recollection. It wasn’t even exactly on the tip of the tongue, as it were. This memory, or series of memories, was obscured by a sort of warped lens that gave everything a painful, exaggerated quality, letting me know that there was something behind it, but warping it to the extent that the details were impossible to recognize. It was the same sort of feeling I had right after telling Maria that I would find a way to her.

That’s what brought on the second, fresher memory. 208. There hadn’t been much of note in that room she was in, but one thing that seemed to hook me in the corner of my vision then was that the number 208 was printed on the door. That number set off the feelers in my memory to begin with. Now, it brought things back full-circle. I knew what was behind this door without even opening it. I found my way. I don’t know how, but I did. The geography was completely wrong, I couldn’t be anywhere near where I had found this room the first time, but my wonderfully open mind let me accept that for whatever it was. I was here. And as I climbed the steps and lay my hand upon the shiny brass doorknob, I wondered just how I would handle her. What sort of answers she might give for the seemingly thousands of questions her very presence raised in my mind. How she might react when I told her that I didn’t want to see what she couldn’t do through those bars. How she would react when I told her that nothing in the Milky Way Galaxy was farther from my mind right now than sex.

I also wondered if I would be able to resist her advances. It shamed me to admit that the possibility even existed. Rational James said **** no, wasn’t going to happen, no way no how, but Rational James made fewer and fewer appearances these days. He might not be there to save me from being weak and submitting to something I really didn’t want to do. I almost laughed.

Nonsense. I was here for Mary, damn it. Just because it looks like a Mary and sounds like a Mary doesn’t mean ****. That I was a couch-shrink’s wet dream I couldn’t deny, but I wasn’t so far out of it that I couldn’t refuse sex with someone… with someone that, as recently as an hour ago, I was convinced was dead. Rational James wasn’t always on-call anymore, but there was no way that was going to slip by. No way in hell.

I pushed the door open.

The room was lit dimly from a fluorescent on the ceiling. The chair was empty, but the bed was not. From my angle I could see her knee-high boots and some of her pale legs poking past the high headboard, the tip of the left one almost touching the strange steel stand next to the bed. She was lying down. Her clothes were still on, I could tell, and that was a hell of a relief. But, something wasn’t right.

“Maria?” I said, softly. She didn’t answer, or move. Not even a twitch. Something wasn’t right. In fact, something was quite wrong. It was my nose that picked up on that first, even before my eyes registered things. There was a scent in the air, coppery and thick, and it tied my adam’s apple in a knot because it was a scent I hated, a scent that I think most human beings intrinsically hate. And fear. That’s what I felt as I approached the bed.

She came into full view. And once she did, my revulsion, my fear, and everything in-between crashed together like a pileup on a highway.

Oh no, Maria. Oh no. This isn’t real. This isn’t happening. No way in hell I’m seeing this right now, oh no, no way, not a chance, oh **** Maria what the **** happened?

When all I saw were her feet, I thought she was asleep. Not an outlandish assumption to make, what with her lying on a bed and all. But now I saw all of her, from the carmine tips of her hair to the points of her toes. And now, I knew for sure that she was asleep. The kind of sleep from which you don’t awaken.

There was an enormous, hideous splash soaking the sheets of her bed, as red as the sweater she wore. Her midsection was intact, strangely enough. I thought for certain that’s what I was going to find; the stab wound she received from Pyramid Head, re-opened.

But no, not now. It was her face. The left side of her face looked more or less like it should. The right side of her face was an obliterated ruin. The skin was shredded and flayed, and the bone of her skull was too visible through it, bone that was smashed, broken so badly that the right side of her face was in a state of near-collapse. Her eye was completely destroyed, sunken in her head and submerged in a pool of her own viscera. Her lips were pulled and distorted, pulled by the force of the attack into a horrifying, inhuman grin. Her teeth showed through, those that were left. Some of them had been knocked completely free of her jaw.

I fell to the floor, on my hands and knees as if in prayer or supplication, and I coughed and coughed, certain that I was empty of anything to give back. Turns out, I wasn’t. I guess I had saved a little for a rainy day, and that rainy day was here. Acid and bile flooded my mouth and exited in a spray on the concrete floor. Strands of saliva ran from my mouth, pooling on the floor, and for several moments I couldn’t do a thing about it. They trailed onto my jacket and shirt when I pulled myself upright. I had just enough in me to grab that ugly old chair, pull it over to the bedside, and collapse into it, boneless and formless. I leaned forward, my elbows resting on the gore-soaked mattress. I pressed my face into my hands, and I wept. God help me, I didn’t have to watch it happen this time, but that was little consolation, because I still had to see the effects, and twice, no less. The vitality sapped out of me as I sat there, tears running down my wrists and into the fabric of my jacket. I made no noise, no sobbing or gasping. I just wept, for a period of time that seemed far more endless than the watery corridor that brought me here.

Maria, what the hell happened to you?

I stood suddenly, not because anything surprised me or shocked me suddenly, but because I had to stop myself. Maybe I wouldn’t survive this town and all of its horrible sights. Maybe I would be reduced to an insane, gibbering wreck of a man before I found my wife, but not here. Not next to a woman who looked and acted like a wild-child twin of my dead wife. A woman who was quite dead herself, the victim of brute force. Not here. It couldn’t happen here.

I had to leave. I had no idea where I was going to go, but I couldn’t stay here. To stay was to succumb to the horror of what was in here, and that was as inevitable as the sun rising in the east tomorrow morning, because there was no way my fragile psyche could take it anymore. Because, if I did, and my sanity finally gave up the ghost here, I wouldn’t get to see-

Mary… are you really here? I’m worried about losing my mind, but has that already happened? Did it happen at some other part of town? Did it happen before I even got here? I’ve been going on hope, and now I’ve just about lost even that. All I have left is blind faith now. Mary, if you aren’t here, what am I going to do?

I closed the door carefully behind me, stepping back down into the dirty water. With the door closed, I no longer had to see what was in that room. I only wish I could close the door in my head as easily. It was out of sight, yes, but the room, down to every last evil detail, was burned indelibly on my mind. I tried to shake it off, to think of anything else, no matter what it was.

And I did. One thought did hook itself and pull in, though it was related. I knew what happened to her. And suddenly, I felt far too damn certain that I knew who was responsible. Too certain. Not even the slightest doubt.

Him.

Did she feel that same debilitating terror? Did that fear lock her in place when she saw him, saw that Angel of Death in his filthy, stained butcher’s whites? Did she have that same sixth-sense that I had? If she did, it did nothing to save her.

I felt I should be angry, and on some level, I certainly was. But I also felt I should be burning with the desire for revenge. I had feelings of that sort after that disaster in the basement of Brookhaven Hospital, and I felt that I should now, too, even stronger than before. Yet, I didn’t. I was too confused to feel hatred. I didn’t understand anything. Did I hate Pyramid Head? I supposed I did, and not just for the blood on his hands. He had been a constant, terrifying presence. He had put me through the worst of this nightmare, without question.

I just wished that any of it made sense, because I just didn’t know what to think anymore. But, that seemed to be just a bit too much to hope for. Nothing made sense. Nothing.

To that, I added the barred gate at the junction that was locked and chained when I had passed it not ten minutes ago, because I was back, and it was no longer chained. It was now wide-open, inviting me in. Leading me down the path. It was just waiting for me to see something I didn’t want to see.

She died twice.

Senseless. Illogical.

I passed through anyway.
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« Reply #34 on: October 16, 2010, 03:08:42 pm »

Chapter Thirty-Four
Interment

I stumbled along in a sort of disconnected frame of mind. My brain was phoning in the movements necessary for forward motion, and it deserved a medal for even managing that much, but the conscious thought areas were in a state of extreme flux. Thoughts jumbled and bounced around like a large crowd of people trapped in complete darkness. Primary among them were thoughts of poor Maria. She was an enigma, duplicitous and intentionally confusing. She liked to toy with me, to manipulate my thoughts and feelings, and her reasons and motives were known only to her. She was a lot of things that I didn’t particularly like.

But she didn’t deserve this. No one deserved this. She died twice (and that was a truth that was far beyond my ability to comprehend or reason out), and the first time was bad enough. Those images were still burned fresh upstairs, but this… this was so much worse. I was spared actually watching it take place this time, for whatever that small mercy was worth, but seeing her laid out like that, there was no way she died like that. She was placed in that position. She was arranged. She was framed in her bed like a grotesque museum piece, intentionally arrayed for my viewing pleasure. And there was no questioning who planned and executed that idea. None at all. It was sickening, and right up his alley.

This section of underpass ended in a ladder eventually. I don’t know how far it was because I made no attempt to gauge my distance. I mounted the ladder and climbed, though it felt arduous, like I was dragging myself up the ladder with only my arms. My feet seemed disinterested in cooperating. I felt lethargic and only a small part of myself seemed at all determined to break it. That part of me knew I had to let it go and push it aside, that it wasn’t smart to dwell upon it, that it wasn’t safe. I had to be alert and as lively as I could be if I had any interest in staying alive. If I let myself get sluggish, I might be ambushed or overpowered. So, I tried my best to quash it, consciously. I was at the top, and I pushed off the ladder, at least pretending to feel alive and alert. I’d take that, if that was all I could get.

Back in the wood and old-building interior, but there was a difference this time and it wasn’t even subtle. The odors of musty wood and dusty neglect probably weren’t completely gone, but they were certainly overpowered by something else; the rich aroma of earth and fresh mineral. Soft soil. It was very reminiscent of the prison courtyard. I hoped that analogy didn’t go much beyond sensory similarities.

I turned the corner and soon encountered the source of the scent. The hall opened into a very large room, one very different from any other in this labyrinth but similar to that odd underground courtyard, in that there was indeed damp soil beneath my feet instead of rotten old laminate. Grass patched the landscape too, and even the odd patch of crabgrass here and there, though only God knew how it was able to grow down here.

There were also several large stones arranged in a rough pattern. Some of them were unshapely and very worn, so their function, if any, was immediately disguised, but most of them were easily recognizable.

Headstones. It was a cemetery, an underground cemetery. Mystified, I walked along the rows, gazing at the epitaphs inscribed upon the stones.


Edmund Tomassen
19? – 1931
This man was Hung
For the High Crime of
Arson
Justice and Revenge
Have been Served

Franklin E. Sawyer
d. 1841
God Grant He Lie Still

Miriam K.
1898 - 1929
TRAITOR

Se-- --adshaw
d. 1--0
--ank his la--
-ug of ale –nd w-s
----- -- deat-

It was a mesmerizing thing to see, but confusing as well. Why down here? The only common denominator among the interred was that some seemed to be executed criminals. Some of the graves were marked only with sticks, one arranged in a cross, several others adorned with a strange, co-centric emblem. The cemetery itself seemed well-tended, if the location even required tending. There were things along the walls that suggested it did; poles, wooden boards, scattered gardening equipment leaning against the walls and lying about along them.

Near the back of the room, the graves seemed newer, the ground more recently broken.


Gillian Ford
September 19, 1949 – August 1, 1988
May her great faith pave
Her path to Paradise

Walter Sullivan
February 18, 1970 – March 9, 1994
Here Lies
The Thief of the Ten Hearts

There was that name again. Sullivan. From the article on the window of the bar back in town. Again it stirred some faint memory, but any meaning or reference still eluded me.

The last row had the freshest graves and the cleanest headstones. The first two graves looked as though they had just been filled in hours ago, and the last one was as yet unfilled. That struck me as strange. Then I glanced at the headstones, one at a time. The first one sent a blizzard chill up my spine. The second spread it to each of my extremities. The last one… oh God… None of them had epitaphs yet. Yet.


Angela Orosco
December 18, 1976 – May 14, 1994

Edward Philip Dombrowski
June 30, 1971 – May 14, 1994

James Sunderland
July 23, 1965 – May 14, 1994

My legs were suddenly and completely sapped of their strength, and I sat down on the soft loam, just plopped right down where I was, right on the ass. And I stared at that stone, that slab of granite fresh off the chiseler’s table. I stared at my name, my birth date, and what was presumably the date of my imminent demise. That date was entered very recently. I could see flecks of blue-gray dust around the letters and numbers, the small streaks of white inside the bevels that, on the other headstones, had been taken away on the great train of Time and Age. On Eddie’s and Angela’s grave markers, their end dates too were just recently applied. Yet, their graves were filled, and mine was not. Well, not completely filled; both graves seemed unfinished, each with still about a foot to go. I hadn’t seen either of them dead, and of course, I had just seen Angela moments ago. What on earth could this mean?

Mine, though, was considerably deeper. In fact, I could not see the bottom at all. My light saw the edges but in the end, it was completely swallowed by the yawning darkness.

A very old garden hoe was leaning against the wall. Its handle was dry and brittle, and the iron head was so old it would probably crack like glass if it were actually used for what it was made. Holding the end of the handle, I lowered the hoe into the grave. It was deep, much deeper than I thought, much deeper than a grave should be. I was leaning in as far as I could, and the combined span of my arm and the tool was still insufficient. All it was touching was thin air.

I held it now with the very tips of my fingers, trying to get as much reach as I possibly could. The extra few inches made no difference whatsoever in finding the grave’s bottom, but it did make a difference in the strength of my grip. It slipped and fell from my fingers, and I immediately looked in to see where it went.

But I didn’t. It had vanished, completely vanished. The grave had consumed the hoe. Just how deep was it, and why? Maybe that was why Angela and Eddie had unfinished graves; whoever was filling them in gave up. It made just as little sense as most everything did these days, maybe even less. Furthermore, the room was a dead end, just as I had suspected earlier. Now all that was left was to-

No. This was where I was supposed to be. Clarity let a ray of light through the dirty window of my mind. This was where I was supposed to be, as repugnantly morbid as the truth was. The grave may be a grave, but it wasn’t just a grave. It was more. It made perfect sense, now, and I should have realized it the moment I dropped the hoe.

The grave was a HOLE.

The goose just walked over my grave. Literally, in a sense. And there was really no question to ask or decision to mull over. This was the way. I had to go down.

But I couldn’t do it with my eyes open. I couldn’t ignore or forget the fact that I was leaping into my own grave, but at least I could be blind to the it. I even reached for my nose, as if diving into water. There I stood, at the precipice, waiting for the burst of energy that would break apart my unwillingness to do this very wrong thing I knew I had to do. I took small, tentative hops, but I just couldn’t force myself to knowingly take this last plunge. This was the fifth HOLE I had encountered, so obviously I was no stranger to the concept and by now I was relatively secure in the knowledge that my odds for surviving the drop were better than even.

The other HOLES didn’t have gravestones on them, though. Gravestones with my name. Gravestones with the date of death. Today’s date.

I finally took a hop, one of seemingly dozens, and this time I didn’t land on spongy earth. This time I landed on nothing. I plunged down, ever deeper. I didn’t scream or yell or make a sound at all. I just thought. Wondered. Tried to imagine where I’d be when I woke up. What new section of this hell would I find myself in?

I hadn’t quite made up my mind yet when the darkness overtook me and my mind went away.


- - -

The ground was hard.

The circuits in the fuse box had been tripped again, and my brain emerged from its fog, and that was the first observation it came up with. The ground was hard. Cold, too. And the air.

I sat up, and the world around me gradually became sharper and clearer as my body reanimated itself. The world around me was supposed to be the bottom of my grave. Well, apparently, the bottom of my grave was a long, naked concrete tunnel of some kind, and I was at one end of it. There were no doors on the walls around me, just stairs leading into the inky void. Shielded wiring ran along one of the walls inside of a narrow pipeline, and that was something I had seen throughout the labyrinth, so I wasn’t out of that park yet. But wherever I was, it was certainly quite different. For one, it was cold again, whereas the labyrinth was actually quite temperate and still. This cold wasn’t like the cold of the town, though. That was a sort of pre-wintry chill, like the kind you’d feel if you went outdoors at two in the morning in the middle of October. This was very different. I was God knows how far beneath the earth by this point, making exceptions for all the crazy, non-Euclidean geometry, and taking that into account, it wasn’t all that unnatural.

Yet, I didn’t think it was just the chill of seclusion. This felt artificial. Like someone cranked up the air conditioner and left it on full blast for a month. It made me shiver rather violently, and I had to stand up because it was making my skin numb. Having landed on my back, I also had the rifle underneath me, and that was hardly comfortable, either.

There was no railing along the walls, so I had to step carefully as I descended the concrete stairs. It wasn’t long, but it seemed like it, since my body was still in the process of re-energizing. Finally, I reached the bottom, still concrete all around, and now I faced a tunnel that seemed to be a straight shot, at least, as far as my flashlight allowed me to see.

This corridor was long, if the flight of stairs was not. It was like being in that flooded tunnel again, though I had to admit, being dry made it a lot less unpleasant to navigate. It was cold, though, and getting colder. Damn near freezing. My breath came out in wispy clouds, crystallizing in the chill. And soon, I saw why.

My musing was correct, in a sense. I don’t think it was an air conditioner, so to speak, but it was certainly similar. There were holes in the walls, on both sides of me, knee-high. Clouds of very cold air poured out of them, as visible as my breath was. Freezing air. It was freezing, now. I could see water vapor condensing around the holes, which had turned to frost. I could see some of that condensation turned into drops of water that froze solid as they ran down the wall. There were more of these as I continued down the tunnel. Every six feet or so, there was another set of them, pumping arctic air into this concrete grave of mine. It was making my eyes water rather violently, and I picked up the pace, hoping that I would soon find a way out of here and into more agreeable climate.

At first, I thought my flashlight was dying, because everything seemed to darken. Not suddenly, but dimming, a gradual loss of what little vibrance I had. Of course, that was a frightening enough prospect on its own.

Realizing what it really was, now that was far more frightening. Because you see, it wasn’t my flashlight at all. It was still working perfectly fine, far as I could tell. No, it only seemed darker because the walls were no longer pale white concrete.

They were still concrete, of that I was pretty sure. White, however, they were not. Not anymore. One moment, they were. The next moment, they weren’t. The next moment, they were red. Horrible, menacing red. The transition wasn’t neat and clean, either. I probably wouldn’t have been so terrified if it were. The transition from white to red was splotchy, splashed cascades of mess. It wasn’t paint, either. I knew that without looking or even wondering. Looking close only confirmed my suspicions. The red wasn’t uniform. It was patchy, darker in some places than in others. Some of those darker places were lumpy. The whole wall was lumpy.

It was blood.

The dark parts were clots.

All of it was frozen solid, and there was a thin layer of frost over the grotesque décor. Thankfully, that kept it from smelling. Very thankfully. Because, if I had to smell it, if my nose were invaded by that stinking, cloying irony-coppery blood smell, I would start gagging and heaving and I might even pass out, as much as there was here. If it were to thaw, I would go out of my **** mind, because to see these walls drip and puddle and pool, that would without a doubt be far too much for my brittle little mind to handle.

It was barely enough even as it was. I ran. If the corridor seemed long before, it seemed damn near interminable now. This made wading through the flooded corridor seem like walking to the mailbox. I ran and as I did, I knew I was moaning in disgust. No matter how many utterly reprehensible things I encountered, it didn’t seem like I finally reached the point of no return, the point where I couldn’t be bothered or disturbed by what I was seeing. I guess that was a good thing for my psychological well-being, but if there was a way to turn off my sensitivities, I felt like I would sell my **** soul to the devil at that moment if he popped up and explained how.

I was running fast and running almost blind. The macabre, artificial shadow made things even worse, which is why I almost ran smack into the door before I even saw it. As it was, I did manage to catch on and while I did collide with the door, I was able to cushion the blow with my arms. Doing so sent some fresh waves of pain and soreness through my shoulder and the laceration on my forearm, but it seemed preferable to looking like a cartoon character. No one was around to see me, but I had small injuries to several parts of my body. I didn’t need to add my dignity to the list.

The door was as crimson as the walls all around it. I felt very uneasy, and very, very unwilling to see what lie behind it. Even I could see the handwriting on the wall, so to speak, and I was absolutely, 100 certain that something very unpleasant was lying in wait for me. I didn’t even want to touch the door handle, and I guess I had a decent enough reason for that.

But, I had seen enough and experienced enough to know that there was no point in hesitating or refusing. And it was that solid, comforting resolve that brought me back into focus, at least, a little bit. I used my sleeve to cover my hand as I touched the handle; I wasn’t going to touch the blood if I didn’t have to. But, the resolve was there. The gallows mentality was there, too. Que sera, sera.

It only helped so much, though. That was why I felt that resolve crumbling as I pulled the nasty metal door open.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2010, 03:13:34 pm by Mutou Yami » Report Spam   Logged


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« Reply #35 on: October 16, 2010, 03:31:48 pm »

Chapter Thirty-Five
Righteous Fury

There were many colorful, frightful possibilities running rampant across the fields of my imagination as I prepared to step from this horrid, gore-streaked world and into the next unknown. The human mind can be funny when it’s taxed and overworked. It can conjure the most outlandish, fantastic imagery, and no matter how unlikely or impossible these images are, there’s always a part of us that grabs some of these chaotic strands of thought, and in defiance of all we know, convince ourselves that these fancies may be true. In some extreme cases, we convince ourselves that these fancies are true.

At that moment, I was under such an impression. I was thinking about Pyramid Head and his funhouse of inhuman suffering. When I was there, it was horrible enough, and I can’t overstate that. Walking through this concrete tunnel, especially the section covered in frozen blood, it wasn’t difficult at all to believe that my experience in that little slice of hell was just the prelude to whatever I was going to see behind this door. I didn’t have a solid notion of exactly what I was going to find, I just knew that it would be dramatically unpleasant, and that the only reason I was doing something as stupid as actually going in that door was because there was absolutely no other option.

That was the only reason. God help me.

A blast of even colder air greeted me as my destiny revealed itself. The chill was really unnecessary, though. What I saw behind that door could have made me shiver if the thermostat had been set to a hundred.

The room was rather large and spacious. There was light inside, which was an unusual sight lately. Dim fluorescents cast a sickly green pall over the scene. Huge flexible pipes hung from the wall, drooping towards the floor like defeated snakes. Super-cooled air wafted from their open ends. The mist swirled around, hovering just above the cold, concrete floor.

A cold, concrete floor which was littered with corpses.

They lay sprawled about, lifeless and boneless, some even draped over others. Their deaths were all uniformly violent. Great, sticky starbursts of blood painted whatever surfaces were nearby, and were quickly congealing and solidifying from the low temperatures. They hadn’t been simply killed, they had been savaged, they had been brutalized.

And, in the midst of the carnage stood none other than Edward Philip Dombrowski. If I had even the smallest doubts about him before, even they were completely and rapidly exorcised now. Physically, he looked like ****. He was very pale and his clothes were stained with his own sweat and the blood of others. Sweaty tendrils of blond hair poked out from under his hat like grass growing in the cracks of a sidewalk. His eyes were ringed and puffy. Yet, despite all that, he stood tall and proud, like a conquering warlord, surveying and admiring his homicidal masterpiece. No sir, there was no questions left about Eddie and his involvement with the dead bodies that always just happened to be nearby whenever I encountered him. No questions at all. If the obviousness of the scene itself didn’t make that clear enough, the look in his eyes sealed the deal. They were huge and wide. Even from across the room I could see his pupils narrowed to pencil points. There was a fire in his eyes, a dangerous, demented fire, the same sort of look a firebrand preacher assumes when he’s in the pulpit, brandishing his bible and spewing forth harsh tales of hellfire and brimstone and sin and the fate of the non-repentant. When he holds his audience in thrall, when the very breaths they take time themselves with the rhythm and undulation of his voice. That was the look I saw in Eddie’s eyes. The look of damnation and judgment. Of holy judgement. The look of a man who realizes he now holds the power to decide who lives and who dies, realizes it and embraces it. The oversized revolver, the instrument by which he exercised that seductive control, was clutched tightly in his fist. If he knew I was there, he didn’t let on.

“Eddie?” I said softly.

He did look at me now, and the look on his face made me regret I ever opened my stupid mouth. The burning eyes now flashed fire into mine, and the grin on his face was like a shark’s, predatory and malicious. It was daring me to say something more. It was also daring me to keep my mouth shut. Both choices seemed wrong. I decided that talking would keep him occupied, if nothing else.

“What are you doing, Eddie? What happened here?” I asked.

“What the hell does it look like I’m doing?” he said. He pointed the revolver at the nearest corpse, and his head turned in that direction, but his terrible eyes were still locked with mine. “You see that guy there? He was always bustin’ my balls. He’s the kinda guy that likes snapping bra-straps just ‘cause it’s funny, you know? He thought he was funny. ‘Hey Porky!’ he’d say, ‘You ain’t nothin’ but a fat, disgusting piece of ****!’ I didn’t never think that was funny, though.” He turned to another body. “Hey guys, here comes Shamu the fuckin’ whale! Throw his fat ass a fish and he’ll flop” Then to another. “Check out the **** on Dombrowski! His fuckin’ jugs are bigger than my mom’s!” Another. “What’s up with that face, dipshit? I bet your mama don’t even love you, cause you remind her of the dog she ****!”

I couldn’t say anything. And even if I wanted to, I couldn’t. He wasn’t finished. Now he turned back to me.

“Well, ya know what? Maybe they were all right about me. Maybe I ain’t nothin’ but a tub-ass digusting fat ****.” He slapped his belly, making a dull smack. It rippled through his shirt. He seemed to find that mildly amusing. “But now I come to realize something. Ya see, it don’t really matter if you’re fat or ugly or smelly or pretty. It don’t matter if you’re smart or on the football team or a big-shot manager. You know why?” He turned away from me and waved his gun in a wide arc at all the bodies on the ground, like a conductor wielding a baton at a very disinterested orchestra. “It don’t mean **** once yer dead!

Now, I’ve seen as much television and as many movies as any average American male. I’ve seen my share of hostage situations and of other general situations which involve defusing a potentially-unstable human being that holds a deadly weapon. And what I didn’t see, common sense should fill in the gaps, right? Of course. But as I said awhile back, there are times when people like me have brain farts at the absolute worst possible moments. There are times when I should just keep my damn trap shut and say nothing, but I fail to see the signs and I open my mouth anyway. Usually in situations like this, I make an ass of myself, and I turn away with burning cheeks and a bruised ego.

Usually. But then again, I’ve never been faced with an insane killer, either. And that’s what made this particular instance so special, and so stupid.

“Eddie?” I asked, as innocuously as I could, “Have you lost your mind?” As soon as the last word left my mouth, I realized what a tremendous, and potentially fatal, mistake I had just made, but it was too late now. I should have know better. Should have. But the mistake was made.

And he knew it.

“I thought so!” he said, deceptively calm at first. “You too. You’re just like they are, James! Oh, I know you’ve been tryin’ to sound nice and cool and all, but I know what you’re all about. I know you been laughin’ at me behind my back. You’ve been laughin’ at me all along, haven’t you?”

“Eddie…”

HAVEN’T YOU?” he roared.

“I didn’t mean a goddamn thing!” I yelled, and it was a conscious effort to keep the fear from cracking my voice. “You know that!”

He laughed. “Don’t bother, James. I saw it in yer eyes, even the first time we met. I know you been laughin’ at me. I know it. Stop with yer lies, ‘cause it’s too late to sweet-talk yer way out of it.”

My eyes darted to his chubby fist, which was raising up to eye level. The fist that held his Colt revolver. The Colt revolver which was now aimed right at my face.

The moment froze in time, and it had nothing to do with the oppressive cold. Fear was a part of it, I suppose, but only peripherally. I think the real cause was the darkly humorous realization that I had survived a fall from a roof, a shift into some strange parallel dimension and encounters with inhuman monsters of all shapes and sizes, and my reward was death at the hands of a very human monster.

And yet, perhaps it was all those encounters with the impossible that saved my life now, because I didn’t freeze at the sight of the barrel. I moved. And I moved just in time, too, because before I could even register the movement I made, I heard the concussive blast of Eddie’s hand cannon, and the atonal ping of the bullet as it ricocheted off the wall right where my old noggin had been.

He was being very meticulous about his movements. In no hurry was Eddie, no way. I darted around, trying to be as mobile a target as possible

get the gun!

as I fished out my own weapon. Always in the greatest times of need was finding it most difficult.

Eddie fired again, and this time I yelped. This room was large, but not large enough to dodge bullets forever. I had precious little room to maneuver, and I had to start returning fire, or else the outcome would be inevitably unfavorable for me.

I got a handle on the pistol and immediately brought it up and fired a shot. It missed, and I knew it probably would even before I pulled the trigger, but it made Eddie pause. Confusion twisted his face, the same kind of confusion a little kid shows when something completely outside of their experience occurs. I half-expected him to shout “That’s not fair!” indignantly.

He didn’t say anything. Instead, he reached for the handle of the door behind him, pulled it open, and slipped his large bulk through. I fired another shot at him, but it hit the door and bounced away. He pulled the door shut behind him.

I didn’t immediately follow. I wanted to catch my breath and gather my wits. I didn’t see reasoning with him as a likely thing. He was hell-bent on killing me for my minor insult, and by the looks of things, killing was something he no longer possessed any taboos about. The corpses flung around the room were grim evidence of that.

There was something funny about them, though, and it was the formless quality they all seemed to have. At first, I thought that was a result of his brutal vengeance, that he somehow made his thoughts reality and struck back at these people that had tormented him with insults all of his life. I couldn’t immediately discount the possibility, because crazier things had happened lately. But once I got a good look at them, I saw that their faces weren’t destroyed by Eddie’s violence.

They never had faces to begin with.

In fact, these heads were completely featureless, the skulls perfectly smooth on all sides. There was skin and blood, but the skin was completely white. It looked like a prototype person, like one of God’s early test-models. Did he actually see faces on these people? Did his wracked little mind give him what they themselves did not?

Did he look at me the same way?

That was very disturbing. But not half as disturbing as the clothing they all wore. All five of them had the same exact outfit on. Like their faces, the clothing lacked any real detail, but what was there was more than enough, and it disturbed me far more than the blank faces. Each of the bodies was clad in dark-denim jeans, black shoes, and an army-style fatigue jacket. The jacket lacked the various accoutrements that mine had, but the cut and design left no doubts.

They’re all dressed like ME

I had to finish this. I didn’t want to kill Eddie, but he had to be stopped, because it now seemed quite obvious to me that he wanted me dead, and that the idea didn’t just pop up in his head thirty seconds ago. If the bodies were any indication, and he really had some ability to conjure these images, I was on his mind quite a bit longer, and I had to get him, or else he would get me.

I took a minute to reload my clip (and realize how little I had left), then, holding the Glock at the ready, I pulled the door open slowly.

This new room was far larger and even colder. I didn’t see Eddie right away, but I did see several enormous bulb-shaped objects hanging from the ceiling, arranged in rows. There were a lot of them, all over the room, and they provided ample room for obstruction.

Lovely. Plenty of room to play hide-and-seek.

I darted through the door and took cover behind one of the objects. It was heavy and smelled musky, and seeing it up close, I almost choked on my breath.

They were gigantic slabs of meat.

What kind of food animal is this LARGE?

I didn’t hear anything but the rumbling, muted roar of the refrigeration system. I didn’t want to call his name out and give myself away, but I would feel a lot better knowing where he was, without finding out by seeing a muzzle flash.

SLAM!

My heart jolted right up my throat and bounced around my skull. I spun around, the gun thrust flush in front of me, ready to blaze away. Nothing. It was just the door closing behind me.

Get it together, Sunderland. Pick a less dangerous time to jump at bullshit noises and shadows. There’s a lunatic in this room, remember?

Of course. It was just a matter of-

“Do you know what it does to you, James?”

Eddie’s voice. I didn’t think it was close, but no telling how reliable the acoustics were in here. I didn’t respond. I was sure he had more to say, and he didn’t need my prompting.

Sure enough. “People been shittin’ on me all my life, man. I catch all kinds of hell just because they think I’m fat or I’m ugly. You know what that does, when you’ve been spit on and pissed on your whole fuckin’ life just because you ain’t attractive enough for ‘em?” He giggled, a sound both childish and plainly maniacal. “That’s why, when I shot that dog, I ran away. Ran right the hell away, like a scared little girl, afraid they’d catch me.”

More giggling. “Yeah, you heard me. I know you’re in here and I know you’re hearin’ every goddamn word I’m sayin’ to ya. I know yer in here and you’re laughin’ at me even now. So go ahead! Laugh! Laugh, James! Yeah, I killed that damn dog. I killed that dog and I enjoyed every **** second of it. You should have seen it, ha ha! Stupid mutt came right up to me, tongue all hangin’ out like it was a furry little retard. Didn’t even see it comin’! I shot it right in the stomach. Right in the stomach, and you shoulda seen it! Damn dog practically flew through the fuckin’ air! It sat there twitchin’ and whinin’ for awhile, then it just kinda died, all curled up in a ball, but not before it went totally crazy and tried to chew its own guts out!” He then paused for a moment, as if reflecting upon his happy memories. “Then he came along, he saw what I was doin’, and was he ever pissed! But ya know, he was pretty fuckin’ dumb, too. He thought he could yell at me, threaten me, me! I had the fuckin’ gun! He didn’t! That’s when I shot him, too! Right in the leg! Pansy-ass cried even louder than the dog, ha ha! I’d like to see him play football on that knee now, what’s left of it!” He laughed even louder at that. He found this all to be genuinely amusing.

I think I’d really, really like to say that this was an extraordinary shock to me, to hear him make this confession. I wish I could say that, but it wasn’t. I wasn’t even really more than just mildly surprised. On some level I was certain he was capable of it, and worse. There were always bodies in his wake, and he was always lying about them. Of that I was, at the very least, suspicious right from the first, but after listening to that insane litany, I was completely convinced. Not because his story was different now. Not because he stopped denying his actions.

No, the reason I knew he was lying before is because he was a very bad liar, in retrospect. Changing stories, halting, stilted speech… he didn’t know how to lie very convincingly. Now, though, now that he didn’t have to lie, now that he got to not only reveal the truth but revel in it, all that was gone. Now he was clear and descriptive and relishing every word of it. He was enjoying himself!

That, really, was the most frightening part of it all.

“Eddie,” I said, “You think it’s okay to kill people? You think it’s fun?” What’s wrong with you? You need help, man. You need some serious help.” Oh, I knew it was far too late for help. We passed that happy little threshold miles back. Yet, I said so anyway. Maybe on some small level I even believed it. But, the real reason I said it was I knew it would anger him, knew it would keep him going. By now, it was completely clear; one of us would not leave this room alive. He smelled blood and wanted it drawn. I didn’t really want to kill the poor bastard. But, if I let him go, he would hunt me, he would always be at my heels. I didn’t know how far this rabbit hole went, and how far I might get before I was in a place from which I could not run. I would be hunted like a dog, and, if he had his way, shot like one, too, and he’d laugh and laugh as I curled up into a ball and died myself.

No. Not going to happen. I didn’t want to kill him, but I didn’t want to die, either. And, if it was either him or me…

“Hey!” he yelled, loud enough to make me wince, “Who the **** do you think you are? Who the hell are you to get all preachy on me, James? Guess what, mister holier-than-thou? You ain’t no different than me and you sure as hell ain’t no better. You and me, we’re the same!”

“Bullshit!” I said.

“Bullshit nothin’, James! Don’t get holy on me! Don’t you start actin’ like your **** don’t smell, ya son of a ****! You’re here, too! This town called you, too!

The letter. The town? The town called me? No way. Preposterous. Not a chance in hell. But, how did he get here? How did Angela get here? Did the town call her, too? Was it the town itself? It was certainly plausible, but at the same time, completely hare-brained nonsense.

“What’s the matter, James?” he said. Much closer, now. “You figure it out yet? I did. I know what’s up, now. I ain’t the same as other people. People been teachin’ me that lesson all my life. I ain’t like them. And neither are you. You and me, we’re the same.”

I was about to respond, but I didn’t get the chance. Didn’t need it. I didn’t even see it coming. I tried to keep him occupied, but in the end, it was he who succeeded in distracting his opponent. I was all wired with nerves and adrenaline, but even that didn’t prepare me for him being so direct. He leapt out from behind the enormous slab of meat I was leaning against. If he wanted to shoot me dead, he could have, right there. Surprise left me momentarily defenseless.

Yet, he didn’t. Instead, he wound up and threw a punch right at my face. I had just enough time to avoid getting my clock cleaned, but his fist still nailed me, right in my sore shoulder. I staggered backwards with a cry and fell to the freezing concrete floor. I had the presence of mind to have my gun aimed even as I fell, but he had already vanished.

Quickly, I scrabbled back to my feet and took cover again. The jungle of meat carcasses provided an eerie, haunting battleground. He and I could be here all day, hiding and firing and hiding again, each of us hoping we weren’t the first to make the mistake. Dad had a tour in Vietnam in 1967, leaving me alone with Mom for two years. He saw combat only once, on the hills near Khe Sanh during the Tet Offensive. I never thought Dad much of a story teller, but the way he described the terror and the carnage he endured on the hills, the abject panic he felt every time so much as a raindrop fell in the wrong place, the pitch-black nights in the mud and the twenty-thousand Charlies out there, each one licking their chops at the chance to take down one more Yankee soldier, it was all completely genuine. I knew this not just because of how vividly and frankly he described the events, but because I could see the terror revisit his face as he recalled those terrible days and nights. I never spent so much as five minutes in boot camp myself, and to me, military action and shootouts were something I saw on TV or in John Wayne movies as a kid. Even as an adult, with a greater and wider capacity to understand such things, nothing in my life prepared me for the real thing. The only good fortune was that I wasn’t on a muddy hill halfway across the world, fighting thousands of trained killers. I was in a meat freezer, halfway to the center of the world, fighting a chubby man-boy whose self-esteem issues completely overwhelmed and destroyed him. What was left was undoubtedly dangerous, but I had to be strong. I was scared… well, terrified, but it wasn’t written in stone, not by half. I had to survive.

I heard him, over the muted roar of the refrigeration units. I could hear the soles of his sneakers slapping against the concrete. I could hear his labored breathing. I stayed still and quiet. I didn’t know how much ammunition he had, but I did know how much, or rather, how little, I had. Eddie was a monster, but he wasn’t a monster like the others. One bullet could drop him, if my aim was true. I had to quell my fear and keep from panicking, that was all. He was afraid, too. I could sense it. He didn’t think I was going to fire back at him. I don’t think any of his other victims were so bold (or so capable). I think it spooked him a great deal that this one had the gall to not be nice and simply die.

KA-BAM! He fired his gun, and its noise filled the confines of this strange room. I saw the spark of the bullet as it struck the wall, more than ten feet away.

KA-BAM! Again he fired, and again he was very wide. I didn’t even see where this one hit, but I did hear it. He was even farther off, this time.

KA-BAM! KA-BAM! This time, I saw one of the hideous slabs of meat nearby explode. A grotesque shower of blood, fat and gristle rained down all around it. However, not so much as a shred of it touched me. He was firing wild. He was in a panic. He was wasting bullets and giving himself away like crazy. I had to capitalize. I had to get close and surprise him. It was the only way I could…

Behind me!

I pivoted around and found myself face to face with Eddie Dombrowski. His chubby, doughy face glowed a sickly green in the ambient light, but the fire in his eyes was undiminished. If anything, it was glowing even brighter now. There was nothing in those eyes but hate. If there was anything human left in him, that fire had completely burned it away. Those eyes blazed with malice and hate, so bright I could have sworn I saw their light reflect off of the Colt’s shiny chrome barrel.

Said barrel, as a matter of fact, was pointed right at my face.

I aimed my pistol but it was too late, just too late. He had me. All his wild firing and clumsy movements, all the confidence I gained from the mistakes he made, all of it evaporated from my body like water hitting a hot plate. My eyes stared for an interminable moment into those eyes, those eyes that burned with righteous fury as he prepared to send yet another one of his tormenters to hell with a first-class ticket.

He pulled the trigger, even before my brain’s synapses could even think to order my finger to do it first. My eyes snapped shut and waited for the roar. Waited for the .45 caliber slug to erupt forth triumphantly from the bore of the revolver, crash through my skull, obliterate my brain, and take me into the next world, whatever and wherever it was.

If you want to see Mary, you should just DIE.

I guess that’s how it is.

CLICK.


The noise, the snap of the hammer striking an empty barrel pulled me out of my fugue. I didn’t even really process the fact that his gun dry-fired, that his wasteful expenditure of bullets had just doomed him. I didn’t realize it, at least not myself. But he did. He realized it, and that I could see. Thus, it was really more of a reactionary reflex that made me depress my finger on the trigger. Twice.

The Glock jumped in my hands like a shocked puppy. It belched noise and fire, not as loud as Eddie’s, though. This was sharper, more clipped. Weaker, too. But that didn’t really matter. It was more than enough.

Eddie’s terrible eyes, raging with the inferno that was his insanity, suddenly went wide as dinner plates. His mouth, just a moment ago set in a determined grin, fell slack and open. Slowly, as if controlled by strings, his head fell forward as he looked down at the twin blossoms of blood, this time nobody’s but his own, that had just sprouted on his midsection. One of them punched right through his considerable gut. The other, either right in his heart or just an inch or two wide of it.

He staggered backwards, taking two steps but still somehow keeping his footing. His head came up and his eyes met mine again. Gone was the fire, gone was the rage. His eyes were bright, but even now, the luminance was dimming, escaping. Replacing the fire and rage was surprise and deep-seated shock. Maybe even a touch of indignance. How could this possibly happen to me? this look said, How could I possibly be on the receiving end?

And that he was.

The gun fell from Eddie’s limp fingers and clattered to the floor. A moment later, his legs finally gave in to the reality of the situation. His knees buckled and he fell to the floor in a heap, landing on his back. His limbs sprawled out around him, as if he were trying to make a snow-angel. His ever-dimming eyes stared straight ahead, but no longer did they see anything. I stood there and watched as his breathing became shallow, and then stopped, after three or four final, violent gasps. He came to a rest, a rest from which he would never awaken.

I watched all this happen, and until his chest fell for the final time, I didn’t even lower my gun. I had it held out in front of me the entire time. Because it was then that the enormity of what I had done struck home.

I just killed a human being.

Yes, he was crazy. He was bat-**** **** nuts and double that again. Yes, he had killed a dog in cold blood, and probably others. Yes, he was a sadistic, psychotic lunatic, and yes, he died only because he attacked me first. I killed him completely within the boundaries of self-defense.

None of those truths made it any easier to accept, though.

You’re just like me, he had said, this town called you, too! Now I guess I was like him. A killer. It was so different from killing a monster. That, by this point, I didn’t even really think twice about anymore. This, though, this was a whole different ballgame.

This town called you, too.

Mary? Did you really die three years ago?

The question popped up from one of those many recesses of the mind, prodded into the spotlight by what I had done. It was a stupid question, though. Of course she died three years ago. No question. I remembered the funeral. I remember the mourning. I remember the three years of loneliness and the utter futility it all seemed to be, then and now.

What was the funeral like?

My mind wouldn’t let me go so easily this time.

What kind of coffin was she buried in?

I couldn’t remember. It was three years ago. I was so messed up that details like that escaped me completely.

You don’t remember? Don’t you remember?

I really couldn’t. Even when I tried, I couldn’t.

I shook my head. It wasn’t important. It didn’t matter at all. She had died three years ago. Questioning the obviousness was irrelevant. It was time to move on.

There was a set of doors, far larger than the one on the other side. They looked like massive cargo doors. I started towards them, eager to get out of this room with this freakishly large, alien-looking sides of meat, the cold, and the cooling body of Edward Philip Dombrowski, lying akimbo on the floor behind me.

As my hand touched the cold steel handle, I wondered briefly what his grave looked like up there now.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2010, 04:30:18 pm by Mutou Yami » Report Spam   Logged


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« Reply #36 on: October 16, 2010, 03:39:52 pm »

Chapter Thirty-Six
Silver Lake, Silent Letter

The door was old, heavy, and I had the damnedest time pulling it open. God knows a lot of that was just from being spent. I was pretty worn out. I was twenty-nine years old, and if I wasn’t at my physical peak, I wasn’t long past it, but it had been through things that were considerably more strenuous than it was used to. I was sore in a dozen places, and I was also tired. I had no watch and I had no sense of time at all anymore. The weirdness that I experienced in Brookhaven, and all of these blackouts from falling down the HOLEs really screwed things up for me. I could have been out all night, easily.

Yet, what I saw when I finally wrenched that door open was nothing short of a complete and massive surprise.

Sunlight!

Well, not great, warm, beaming rays, no. But sunlight! I was outside again! That omnipresent fog was still very much in attendance, and it was still unseasonably cold, but it was outdoors. It was out of the claustrophobic confines of the labyrinth. It was fresh air. And, it was warmer than the meat freezer.

How in the hell? My mind wanted to know, how in the hell am I outside? Did I not fall down hundreds of feet through those HOLEs?

That sounded logical, but even before I saw daylight, I had serious questions about the nature of those HOLEs, and what I saw now, well, it didn’t quite confirm anything, but it certainly gave me ideas, ideas that had been slowly taking root over the last few hours. Ideas like, maybe there’s some sort of weird, transdimensional **** going on here. Obviously, physics had taken a holiday, but…

I stepped out onto a wooden platform, and it was completely surrounded by water, which spanned in every forward direction as far as the fog allowed me to see. I walked along the dock, and carefully, because the beams and planks were quite old, and there might very well be a rotten board or two. Who knew? How long has it been since human feet last trod upon them? For that matter, had human feet ever trod upon them?

The dock spanned about thirty feet and then angled left, towards the water. On the wall to my right was a large sign.


WARNING!
AIDING IN THE ESCAPE OF A PRISONER

IS A FELONY OFFENSE.

VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED!

In bold, menacing letters. I turned away and walked the length of the pier. I didn’t know for certain what I was going to find at the end, but a part of me knew. The prison was behind me, so the sign appeared to indicate. Yet, if I was to take everything pragmatically, it should also be several hundred feet tall, built into some enormous sheer rock face. There was no way I could see that far in any direction, skyward included, but I didn’t need to. I knew it wasn’t that tall at all. I was beginning to think I knew where I was.

The lake. I was somewhere on the lake. There were plenty of lakes in this part of the state, but even though it felt like I hiked twenty miles through the labyrinth, I couldn’t believe I had emerged upon the shores of any lake besides Toluca. It wasn’t settled in my mind though until I reached the rickety end of the short pier, and I found several small rowboats, lined up as if waiting in queue, maybe for Sunday communion. They were tied to the struts along the length.

The boat launch.

I pulled the map out of my pocket. It was damp, and had obviously been soaked through at some point, but it was still quite readable. I searched the south shore for the Boat Launch, and the north shore for the Lakeview Hotel. It was almost a straight shot north, easy as pie on a clear day, as you could see straight across to the other side of the shore. As far as lakes go, Toluca wasn’t gigantic, certainly nothing but a little ****-puddle compared to the Great Lakes that weren’t very far to the west. It was just a small lake and there were dozens like it in this part of Maine. Of course, today was anything but clear. The north bank of the lake could be a million miles away, for all that my eyes were telling me. It would be slow-going, without a doubt, but…

Then I saw it, in the distance. At first I thought it was just some trick of the eyes, that maybe I was seeing something. I think I read once that people under intense emotional stress were prone to suffer from mild hallucinations. Nothing like being on an acid trip, nothing like seeing sixth-dimensional trees and eyeballs growing out of my hands, but small things, usually like shadows or movement that aren’t really there, children’s bedtime-paranoia bullshit. Sometimes it could also be flashes of light or color.

I had one trip back in college, and I’m not likely to remember it in any great detail, but what I do remember quite well is that the weird **** I saw was very transient, it never stayed in place or seemed to have any solid form. It was like the world was liquid, and so was everything in it. That’s what hallucinations are generally like, or so I’ve always believed since my teenage years.

The light I saw in the sky wasn’t like that. It wasn’t fluid at all. When I closed my eyes and re-opened them, the light was still there. Ditto when I turned my head away and back. The light was still in the exact same position, twinkling brightly and clearly in spite of the viscous fog, and I was certain I knew why.

It’s a beacon. I’m being called over, being guided. Rowing across the lake in such poor visibility would be dangerous, if possible at all. But someone wants me to make it safely. It’s her. It’s Mary. She’s really there!

Now, of course, I wasn’t completely naïve, nor was I stupid. I was all too aware of how possible it was that something else was calling me across the lake, something with blood-stained butcher’s whites, a six-foot spear, a bad attitude and a horrible love for irony. But even now, even after seeing so little to sustain my hope, it was still there. It had been bent rather violently over the last day or so, but it had yet to break.

I picked out the rowboat that seemed to be in the best shape. Its paint job was still pretty fresh, and the name “TOLUCA DUKE” was etched along the prow, along with the number five. The rope was tied tightly around the strut, in a big knot, but it was frayed along its length. The wire-cutters would have made short work of it, but I must have dropped them somewhere along the line. There was Angela’s knife, but I didn’t even like touching that thing, much less use it as a tool. I fished around in one of my pockets, the one that held my small ammunition cache, when I found the solution.

It was the pocket-knife. I had completely forgotten about it hours ago. I got it from the dead guy at the end of Nathan Avenue, way back when I first met Maria. Its edge was dulled a bit, but it still chewed through the wet cord of the rope without a great amount of difficulty. I pulled the boat towards me until it touched the pier, then I stepped gingerly into it and sat on the rowing bench, where I sat still and unmoving until the rocking finally subsided. There were a pair of wooden oars on the floor of the boat, which I looped through the rowing holes. I kicked away from the dock and paddled out into the open waters of Lake Toluca, which was as dark and ominous as a summertime thunderhead.

I rowed the boat slowly, trying to keep as even a trajectory as possible. Thankfully, the shining light in the sky remained a constant, and was still perfectly visible. That piqued my curiosity a bit. The fog made everything beyond a few feet disappear in a graywash. Within thirty seconds even the pier behind me had completely faded from view, leaving nothing for my eyes except my boat, the lake, and the beacon of light.

I pumped my arms, keeping them in a steady rhythm. It was pretty strenuous at first, but once I settled into a pattern, it was okay. Lift, push, drop, pull, lift, push, drop, pull, lift, push, drop, pull. It was pretty mindless work, and I kept it slow enough that it wouldn’t wear me out. After all, what was the hurry? I had no sense of time, other than it seemed that I spent the entire night underground in the prison and labyrinth.

Or did I?

It just didn’t make any sense. I went down that first HOLE in the Historical Society and four more before all was said and done. Hundreds of feet into the earth, easily, and I couldn’t accurately measure my walking distance with any sort of accuracy but if it was less than two miles, I’d eat this boat. The only place I should have realistically expected to emerge was somewhere in central Asia, at the rate I was going. Journey to the center of the world, just like the book.

But no, instead, I pop out of the rear of the prison, right at the boat launch. I came to the Historical Society because my mysterious, unseen friend left me a note that pointed me there. I also came because I saw the Boat Launch marked right behind the Society on the map, and since the Nathan Avenue bridge spanning one of Toluca’s tributary streams was completely demolished, crossing the lake on a boat seemed like a very logical solution to my problem. And, after my excessive detour, I find myself maybe fifty feet from where I started. Maybe.

What was going on here? Just where in the hell was I, really? For a good while I thought I was in Silent Hill, and that something really terrible had happened, that the **** hit the proverbial fan in some terrifically horrible way. The town was abandoned, and in some places, demolished. Savaged. Monsters roamed the streets and haunted the dwellings, nightmares of impossible biology and hideous appearance. One of them sported a red pyramid headgear, and he was more of a threat than any five other creatures. That one seemed to have a special affinity for me. The others, with a few exceptions, didn’t seem overly-aggressive, and were a greater danger to me when I wasn’t aware of their presence. Thanks to the radio, that didn’t happen nearly as often as it might. So far, I’d been able to avoid or defeat most of them that I had the misfortune to come across. Pyramid Head was a different story altogether. He was a hunter. He was tracking me, it seemed at times. He backed off the first time we came to blows, but since then, our encounters had almost always ended with him having the upper hand.

But now there was more to factor. Things went to **** while I was in Brookhaven Hospital. The entire interior of the place metamorphed into a sickly doppelganger of its original form, as if it hadn’t been bad enough to begin with. After that, there were the HOLEs, and the prison and labyrinth and the twisted perversion of reality that went along with them. It seemed like perhaps the metaphysical fuckery began with that strange shift in the hospital. But did it? I didn’t know. It was impossible to know. I never considered myself lacking too sorely in the imagination department, but now I was giving it a hell of a workout. I was relying on it almost exclusively anymore, just to arrange what I was seeing into something that bore enough of a passing resemblance to normalcy that it kept me from taking an irrevocable trip over the edge.

None of it really mattered, though. I was not likely to receive answers to my questions. What was I going to do, ask Pyramid Head? Excuse me, you there with the spear, can you lay it all down for me? Of course not. But, in all honestly, I was still selfish. I realized as much, even then, and I didn’t care. I didn’t know if Silent Hill was the victim of some kind of plague or alien invasion or merciless act of God. I didn’t know if this was really Silent Hill at all, or if perhaps I was in some kind of alternate reality, a Dimension-X deal straight out of the Twilight Zone. Hell, maybe I was dying and this was all some extraordinarily ****-up fever dream of some kind. I didn’t know and I didn’t care. I came here for a reason, and that reason was Mary. Mary was all that mattered. I came here to find her. And then what? I didn’t care about that, either. Whatever happened would happen. I didn’t even have a clue as to what I might say to her. I love her, and I missed her so much, but what else? Didn’t matter a bit. Words would certainly come. The possibility that she wasn’t here didn’t even factor. The possibility that she was an undead zombie or something even worse didn’t factor, because, deep down, I knew that couldn’t be right. She was here. The letter said so.

I let go of the oars for a moment and reached in my breast pocket. At that moment I had to see it again. To read the letter again, it wouldn’t be a panacea but it would be damned close. Dad was fond of saying that ‘Nam was a train wreck because we didn’t really know what we were fighting for. Well, I knew what I was fighting for. It was in my pocket.

The photo was the first thing I caught onto, the one with Mary gazing into the camera I held, with a sweet smile and warm love all over. The good days, those were. Before the disease, the mystery disease that befuddled the doctors and stole Mary’s life one cruel piece at a time, a little more each day until it finally took too much. It was such a long and torturous time for her.

How long was it? My voice of reason was getting rather persistent lately. How long was she sick? How long was she suffering?

It was a long time. Exactly how long? I didn’t remember. It seemed like all the days jumbled together, became something that was completely formless on the small-scale, all of it just one long miasma.

How long was it?

I don’t know, damn it! I didn’t tally the **** days!

How long was it? When did she die? What day did Mary die? Maybe you can’t remember anything else, but certainly that’s a day you cannot have forgotten!

Bullshit! It was…

When? When did she die? What day did she die? That stupid voice was annoying, but it was right about that. That’s the kind of date that should stand out prominent among all others, especially considering that it was what led me to where I was right now. So what day was it?

I couldn’t remember. For the love of God, I could not remember what day my own wife died. But, that was just stress. Had to be. No way I could really forget something like that. I just had to clear my mind and think straight, that was all.

I snatched the photo from the deck and placed it back in my pocket, then I pulled out the pocket’s other inhabitant, the letter I got via special, earth-shaking delivery yesterday morning. I unfolded it and looked at it. When I did, my eyes went so wide I thought they would split at the seams.

It was still mostly as I remembered it. The cream-colored paper was embossed with a nice floral motif around the edges, and there was a scripted border in two opposite corners. There were crease marks from the folds, and a few water spots that it had picked up while I was on my adventure. However, something was missing. The most important part, one might say.

The letter was completely blank.

No words. Gone was the letter, and its entire contents, including the flourished cursive flair that had finished its short prose. There was no evidence that any pen had ever touched this particular piece of paper.

Completely blank.

When did she die, Sunderland? How long has she been dead? Come on, big boy. Rack your brains! Find a thinking cap and secure it tightly and then TELL ME WHEN SHE DIED

SHUT THE **** UP!” I yelled out loud, clutching my head and dropping the letter on the deck of the boat. It came to a rest in a small puddle that had collected, and it soaked itself in a hurry. I didn’t care at the moment, because I was scared sick that I might be forced to retract the self-appraisal I had made moments before. I was talking to myself, now. Classic sign of a nutcase, anyone can tell you that. Worse, I was yelling at myself. Telling my own mind to shut the **** up. I felt like crying, and for several reasons at that.

I reached down to grab the letter from the puddle, and just had it in my fingertips when the boat struck something solid and hard. The collision was so powerful that I was almost lifted right out of the boat, and for a few hanging seconds I was certain it would tip, capsize, sending me into the lake and making me easy pickings for the eager jaws of whatever wonderful new deep-sea leviathan monster had just certainly attacked my little love-boat. I was yelling again now, but the sound was formless and almost feral.

I fear I might not have ever stopped if the boat hadn’t turned and struck something again, this time much more gently. It dragged me out of my wailing panic and back into whatever passed for reality in these parts. I looked over at the rear-end of the Toluca Duke, and what I saw took my shouts of mindless terror and transformed them into a sort of dark, uneasy laugh. No deep-sea horror, at least, not today. My boat had instead come into sudden contact with a thick wooden strut, part of several dozen that comprised a standard pier. I looked up at the sky, and I knew it for certain, because the shining, summoning light was now very close, seemingly almost on top of me.

I was here.

I stuffed the now-blank letter back in my pocket and carefully stood up in the boat. I grasped one of the hand-holds on the pier and pulled myself out of the boat. The motion almost made me trip, and it sent the boat in motion. I stood and watched as it slowly drifted away into the close, enveloping horizon.

I was here.

This pier was wider and sturdier than the one on the opposite shore, and it was one quite familiar to me. Together, Mary and I had walked its length on countless occasions, sometimes to board the hotel’s yacht for the Toluca Tour, other times just to enjoy the majestic view or take a swim in some of the nation’s cleanest lakewater. I walked its length, absorbing the atmosphere and memories right out of the woodwork until the woodwork became a cobbled pathway. I continued walking, noting the pair of circular fountains that stood facing each other on opposite sides of the path, as if daring the other to step across onto its side. Neither seemed likely to try anytime soon. Both fountains were completely dried up, and a dried-up fountain is as dead as anything else.

The cobblestones ended where the deep-finished wooden steps began. I looked up, and if there was any question about it before, it was answered now.

The grand majesty of the Lakeview Hotel stared back at me with the blank, unseeing eyes of sixty guest-rooms. Not a one gave a glimpse of light or human habitation, but I wasn’t really expecting that, not even in our special place. If anything, it seemed a little fitting. I only hoped that it was similarly devoid of life forms of other, less-natural stripes.

I walked up the stairs and placed my hand on the doorknob that led to the rear lobby of the Lakeview Hotel. The knob turned easily, and I pulled the door open. As I stepped into the hotel, my mind made one last shot

When did she die?

I didn’t sacrifice the dignity to answer the question. I simply ignored it and stepped into the Lakeview, for the first time in three years.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2010, 03:41:42 pm by Mutou Yami » Report Spam   Logged


All Hail The Strogg!
R.I.P. Paul Gray - April 8, 1972 – May 24, 2010.


"Stay...
 I Need You Here, For A New Day To Break...
Stay...
I Want You Near, Like A Shadow In My Wake...
Stay...
Here With Me... Don't You Leave...
Stay...
Stay With Me, Until The Day's Over..."
I love you Mutou Yami... Forever.


Long Live, Mr.Yamaoka Akira, The Silent Hill Legend.
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武藤キラ ♥ 武藤 闇


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« Reply #37 on: October 16, 2010, 03:46:46 pm »

Chapter Thirty-Seven
Checking In

I think there was a part of me that was overboard on the optimism, even though I would never expect such a part of me to have survived this ordeal. It did, though, and it was that part of me that expected my journey to end now, for everything to be over the moment I stepped foot onto this hallowed ground, that expected our Special Place to be drastically different than the rest of the town, warm and inviting, Mary waiting at the door to greet her beloved husband. I think that all but the most clinically depressed have this optimistic bug in them somewhere.

That optimistic part of me was usually disappointed, as is everyone’s, probably. That’s the nature of this sort of thing, I guess. This was no exception.

The door I entered was the hotel’s rear courtyard entrance, and it led into the rear access hall. It would have probably been a more dramatic entrance to have entered through the front door, which led into the Lakeview’s large, beautiful lobby. But, sometimes the mundane wins out, and I found myself in the hall instead.

Even still, there was something about being within the Lakeview’s walls again. It was dark, but the place was lit well-enough by the outside daylight. It was enough that I was able to skip on using the flashlight for awhile, as there wouldn’t be many places in here that weren’t near windows of some kind. The place was quiet as a church on a Monday morning, except for a slight underhum buzzing lightly in the lower ranges of the human audible range. The hum reverberated and kicked periodically, the faint pulse of moving air, which meant that the boiler in the basement was still operating.

The hotel itself showed signs of its own sort of life, but there was no evidence of human presence. Mary and I had lodged here for years, usually for a week at a time. Once, the second or third year we stayed here, I had a sleepless night, and I just couldn’t shake it. So, I threw on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and took the elevator down to the basement level. Most of the basement was staff area, but there was a bar down there as well, a neat, dark little place called Venus Tears. It was maybe two-thirty, three in the morning, and even then, there were a few souls wandering the halls, and there were three others in the bar then, not counting the night-shift alcohol-jockey. I ordered a Narragansett and sat at the bar. The guy next to me was cradling a martini, taking it in small sips to make it last. We ended up chatting for awhile, for over an hour, until fatigue finally caught up with me and I excused myself. It was a good time, really. Relaxing. Even at three in the morning, a guy can get those things at this hotel.

Not today, though. Today the place was in lockstep with the rest of Silent Hill. No people. No camera-toting tourists walked these halls, no chambermaids pushed laundry carts, no aroma of late breakfast or early lunch (a guess, I had no idea what time it really was) coming from the café down the hall. Nothing. It was really depressing, but also welcome. Explaining my appearance would be a hell of a chore, what with my still-damp pants soaked with muck, my jacket and shirt stained with blood, as much of it mine as not. There were also no signs of creatures of the damned, though, and that was decidedly acceptable, for however long it lasted.

My footfalls were soft upon the carpet, but in the oppressive silence, each was as loud as a rubber mallet striking a wall. And, I guess, oppressive was the right word to describe the atmosphere. I think that’s where the real disappointment was born. Did I expect Mary to be standing here, with a full brass band and bunting and tinsel and champagne to greet me, as a reward for surviving the horrors I’d been subjected to all this time? Of course I didn’t. But nor did I expect things to be so… depressing, as if the very eaves of the place were filling me with anxiety and reticence, perhaps by osmosis. I thought that perhaps there would be a sense of fulfillment, or at the very least, a notion that perhaps I was near my goal, near a resolution.

Yet, there was a slight reassurance here, something that had been completely missing from everyplace else I had been so far, and even with the overbearing sorrow that seemed to be almost physically present here, that reassurance was just as tangible. It was recognizance, it was familiarity. This was the Lakeview Hotel, the best four-star this side of the Canadian border, the Jewel of the Lake, Western Maine’s premier lakeside getaway. It wasn’t quite jet-set material, but it was damn close. I had been here several times over several years. Mary loved Silent Hill. It was her Special Place, but this hotel was the centerpiece. I knew it intimately, had wandered around just about all of it between all of our visits.

The hallway led to an intersection with branches going in two directions, and directly into a flight of stairs leading down a level. It was down there where one would find the Venus Tears. I couldn’t see that being the place I’d find her, though. I found the Venus Tears to be a calming, pleasant place, but Mary wasn’t much of a drinker, and I think she might have joined me down there all of twice. No, that wasn’t it. She was here, of that I couldn’t allow myself to doubt, but where? Certainly, she would be waiting for me somewhere. The letter said as much. I didn’t expect her to seek me out.

Of course she won’t seek you out, Sunderland. She’s dead. The dead don’t seek anyone out. She’s dead. How easy it is to forget that when you think about finding her in this hotel, isn’t it?

There was truth to that. I couldn’t tell that nagging inner voice to stifle itself, because there was some truth. But, logic and order obviously had little meaning in this world. That’s a lesson that had been force-fed me in the least pleasant way imaginable. Therefore, I was certainly willing to bend logic myself. Why the hell not? After all, it should work in my favor, if it so often works to my detriment.

So, where else? There weren’t wrong answers, there were just too many to think of all at once. Yet, a glance down the east corridor provided a really good place to start.

I walked past the double doors leading to the front lobby and stopped at the end of the hall. In front of me was another set of double-doors, these leading to the staff areas. It was cordoned off with velvet rope. That wasn’t it, of course, but to the right of that was another set of double-doors, beautiful dark mahogany. These doors had no knobs, but rather gilded brass handles that spanned much of the vertical length. To the right of these doors was a large brass sign with a name in embossed script, Lake Shore Restaurant.

Of course. Good idea!

The Lake Shore was the hotel’s in-house dining establishment, a nice, low-key place. There were certainly fancier eateries in town, but not many. Eating dinner here was something of a ritual Mary and I had come to create over time. When we came for our weekly getaways, we would eat dinner at the Lake Shore twice each time, on the first night, and on the final night. We didn’t have a special meal, or even a particular table, but it was still something. I gripped the brass handle and pushed the door open.

The restaurant was well-lit, spilling muted light onto the neat rug, which looked to be patterned after some M.C. Escher design. This was thanks to the huge window and the even larger sliding-glass door which on a clear day offered the diner a damned majestic framed view of Lake Toluca. The walls were lined in paneling up to my waist, and soft, pale pastel wallpaper up to the raised ceiling. The flambeaux-style wall-lamps were all dark, but they weren’t necessary. Most of the tables were arranged to my left, packed closely together and blocking access to the kitchen in the back. Chairs sat upon most of them, inverted. Their dark legs rose into the air like denuded trees. Those closest to me were on the floor, pushed under their tables instead of perched atop them. Most of the tables were bare of anything, even the decorative vases. One of them was set with a fresh white tablecloth. A plate and utensils were set upon it, but there was nothing else there. I ran my finger across the plate, and it left a thin track through the fine layer of dust that had settled upon it. Strange, no one’s eaten here in awhile, I thought. But was that really so strange? Certainly not. No reason to expect that the Lakeview was exempt from whatever was going on all over town. None at all.

I turned away from the table. The sliding-glass door led to a balcony, and through the fog, more tables and chairs could be seen, though they appeared blurry, as if not completely there. The glass of the door didn’t help, as it seemed to be coated in condensation. It was quite a bit warmer in here than out there, to be sure. Near the door was a paneled half-wall divider, upon which was a display of broad-leafed decorative plants. The plants were real, and it was more clearly evident now than ever. Many of the leaves still retained their healthy green, but some were drying out, and their green was leached by a sickly pallor. Some had fallen off, and the perimeter of the display was littered with fallen soldiers, some of them completely brown and brittle. Behind this was another pair of tables, brightly illuminated from the ornate window. On the wall above them were a trio of paintings, each of them depicting a local landscape, donated by a California artist, one Elizabeth Lim.

Then, there was the grand piano, in the opposite corner. It was a Baldwin baby grand, and the various house pianists handled the instrument with pleasing skill. My favorite was a middle-aged black man named Calvin, a large, smiling jazz cat who specialized in the works of Oscar Peterson and Vince Guaraldi, but could also reel off something original when he had a mind to. Even Mary, whom no one would accuse of being a fan of jazz music, seemed to enjoy herself whenever Calvin let his dark, nimble fingers dance across the ivories and ebonies of the Baldwin. Calvin wasn’t here now, but damned if I couldn’t hear the soft tones of “Back Home Again in Indiana” floating in the air, ghost-like. If that wasn’t fitting in its own way, I didn’t know what was. I took a step towards the Baldwin, half-lost in my memories and the ghost-music.

­BONG!

I was jolted rudely out of my reverie when the notes of Peterson’s ghost-music were pierced by a loud, atonal piano note. It was far louder than the song in my head, but that was because it was real. My breath caught in my throat, and my hand shot right for my gun when I heard a laugh issue from the corner. My hand relaxed, because I recognized it right away.

”Did I scare ya?” Laura asked as she slid off of the piano bench and walked past me, sitting back down on a cushion and looking at me. My expression should have provided an obvious answer, but the question was posed earnestly. That’s how I answered it.

“Yeah, you did.” Calm, no reproach. In a way, I was glad to see her. She was a snot-face, and the last time we were in the same room, she ended up locking me in a room full of monsters, but considering the company I’d been keeping lately, she had displayed the least blatant insanity of any human I’d come across in this town.

“You’re here to find Mary, aren’t you, James?” she asked. Her eyes gazed around the room, taking it all in, perhaps as I did. “Well? Did you find her yet?”

“No, not yet I haven’t” I answered. “Is that why you’re here, too?”

She continued looking around the room, not exactly avoiding my gaze, but not making any effort to meet it, either. “She’s here, isn’t she?” She paused for a moment, but not long enough for me to answer. “If she is, tell me! I’m tired of all this walking!” Now she did look into my face again, hopeful and expectant.

Unfortunately…

“I don’t know. I think she is, but I only wish I knew for sure.” I said. “This is where I think she is supposed to be, anyway.”

Laura rummaged through one of the pockets in her denim skirt, pulling out a folded sheet of paper, the color of cocoa butter. “It’s in the letter!” she said, unfolding it. Her eyes moved back and forth as she read her letter, like the bar of a typewriter. Finished, she held it out to me.

“Can I read it?” I asked.

“Yeah!” she said, “But don’t tell Rachel, okay?”

I took the letter from her. “Who’s that, Laura?”

Laura’s face looked comically grim. “She was our nurse, at the hospital. I nicked it out of her locker before I left. She’d blow a gasket if she knew I was snoopin’ around.”

I raised my right hand, and promised to keep her secret. Then, I read the letter, mouthing the words as I went.

My dearest Laura,

I’m leaving this letter with Rachel to give to you after I’m gone. When you read this, I won’t be in this hospital anymore. I’ll be gone, gone far away, to a lovely, beautiful place. I wanted so badly to say good-bye to you before I left, but I hope you’ll understand why I couldn’t. Please, take care, kiddo. Try not to be too much of a terror to the poor sisters.

Oh yes, about James… Look, I know you don’t like him much. I know you think he’s unfriendly. It’s true he can be surly, and he doesn’t like to say much, but please don’t hold that against him. Underneath it all, he’s a really sweet guy. I’m only friends with sweet people, after all. So, give him a chance, okay? As a favor to me.

The reason why I had to say good-bye this way is because, well, I love you, just as if you were my own daughter. I want you to know that. I also want you to know that if things had been… different, if I didn’t have what I have, well, I was hoping to try and adopt you. That’s why. I’m so sorry. But, don’t cry, because I won’t. Think happy thoughts. You’ll always be in mine.

Happy 8th birthday, kiddo. Love, forever,

Mary


I was numb. Completely, totally numb. The letter fell from my fingers and floated lazily to the floor. I bent over to retrieve it, my movements slow, my body feeling out of sync with my brain. I read it again, from beginning to end, absorbing it all a second time, to make sure I didn’t miss or confuse anything.

Don’t be too hard on James, Laura.

She did know me. She was telling the truth. This letter was no forgery or fabrication. The flowing script was Mary’s, without question, and there’s no way a kid like her could even hope to faithfully reproduce it. But… oh, it was so crazy, so disconcerting. So many questions, and while this answered one or two, it added a dozen more. Yes, so many questions. I felt like I might collapse beneath their weight, like an empty cardboard box being sat upon by a large person.

Laura was no longer perched on the cushion. She was now over by the sliding-glass door, her back to me. I watched as she traced her finger across the pane in a sort of zig-zag pattern. Her fingers traced lines across the condensation as mine had through the dust on the dinner plate. She was humming softly.

“Laura?” She didn’t answer, continuing to draw her pattern on the door, but she was clearly listening. “How old are you?”

“I’m eight years old,” she replied, still focusing on the door, “I just turned eight last week.”

Last week.

The numbness returned, creeping through my body like ice water. Last week. If that were really true, then Mary couldn’t have died three years ago. Couldn’t. But she did!

She didn’t.

But I remember!

You don’t.

How could this kid…

She’s right. The letter’s right. It’s not dated, but it doesn’t need to be. You don’t need that. You don’t need scientific analysis to know she’s right, and that you’re mistaken. It hasn’t been three years.

I rubbed my forehead. The headache was coming back, possibly to remind me that there were still things inside. Memories, thoughts I had forgotten

buried

deep down. The flash of pain was something almost holy, like a spade breaking earth. And that was accurate, wasn’t it? I mean, if I chose to believe this letter and this little girl. It was crazy, but I did. It meant that I didn’t know what I really knew, but I believed her.

Maybe, it wasn’t crazy at all.

“Could she really be here?” I asked out loud, a rhetorical question given voice, “Is this really the quiet, beautiful place she was talking about?” But, that was a stupid question. That wasn’t really in doubt at all. I could feel that much. Laura seemed to feel it, too. There was more to this little girl than meets the eye, that was for damn sure.

She turned away from the window and came back over to me. She sat back down upon the muted blue cushion, smoothing out the fabric of her skirt as she did. “Me and Mary, we talked a lot about Silent Hill,” she said. “She had this big photo album, and there were so many pictures. She showed me all of them, and a lot of them were taken here. I know this place from those pictures. She always talked about how much she loved it here, and how much she always wanted to come back. When she left, I found the letter. She didn’t say where she was going, but I knew. I knew because she’d been tellin’ me all along.” She looked at me, perhaps trying to tell if I believed her or not. I think I did, but I had no idea how well my face conveyed my thoughts.

“Maybe you’ll get it if you read the other letter,” she said, and dug her hands in her pockets again. My eyes were as wide as dinner plates, the whites showing all around. Another letter! She didn’t see my anxious surprise, but I bet she heard the gasp I let out.

But…

“Huh?” she cried out, in genuine dismay. “Where is it?” Her rummaging became stronger, more desperate. Suddenly, the movement ceased, and her arms flopped to her sides, as if defeated. She sprang up from the cushion and looked around, searching the floor. “I musta dropped it!” she cried.

I was in motion then, scoping the floor myself, hoping that two pairs of eyes would make the difference, but at the same time feeling a dread certainty that they would not. It didn’t take long for me to find out. Without warning, she shot towards the double mahogany doors and darted out of the restaurant. I called after her, but of course she didn’t heed me. The door clicked shut behind her, and I was in silence again.

I just turned eight last week.

Thoughts jumbled around even more furiously than before. I didn’t make a move to follow her, because I knew she wouldn’t let me tag along. She was a lone wolf cub, that one. I hoped she would find it very soon and find me, because I wanted answers, and she was the only one so far who had provided any. But as I stood there, looking at the shape she traced on the door (a cat with comically-large whiskers), that nagging little voice rose within me yet again.

Yes, answers. How well will you handle these answers you seek? One of them rubbed your fur the wrong way, didn’t it? What if that’s just the beginning?

I didn’t know. I just didn’t know.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2010, 03:46:59 pm by Mutou Yami » Report Spam   Logged


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« Reply #38 on: October 16, 2010, 04:18:33 pm »

Chapter Thirty-Eight
A Word With the Manager

I waited in the Lake Shore Restaurant for Laura to return with Mary’s other letter. I sat at one of the tables, the one set with the white tablecloth, with my head resting in the crook of my arm. I was tired. Hell, I was damn near exhausted, and thirsty. I searched the restaurant. There was a lot of food, but much of it seemed old, and I had no appetite anyway. I did manage to unearth a carton of Evian behind the staff divider though. It wasn’t refrigerated, but the cool room temperature helped, and I wasn’t extraordinarily picky anyway. Drinking the water was like putting aloe lotion on a bad sunburn. It felt good, better than good. It felt revitalizing. I drank most of the bottle in a single gulp. My poor stomach wasn’t really prepared for such an assault, and I almost threw it all back up. I set the empty on the table and sat still, letting my innards get their **** straight again. I used what was left of the water with a table napkin, and cleaned the still-stinging gash on my forearm, as well as the bite on my leg. I left the bloody napkin on the table. I didn’t think the management would mind.

The room was pleasant even in the midst of such an oppressive atmosphere, but the silence was deafening, to give a cliché life. There was too much to not hear, and this went double in a place that I had spent time in on several occasions, a place in which I expected the background murmurs of dining guests, the soft tinkling of piano keys, the quiet bustle of waitresses serving guests and bussing tables. It was all gone, and the void left behind was too great to ignore. I couldn’t stay here any longer. I knew that what I was searching for was here, and I chafed at having to sit still while so close. I stood and walked over to the restaurant’s double mahogany doors, stepping through soundlessly.

The problem I faced here in the hotel was not unlike that which I had first coming into town. I knew this hotel was our special place, but what part of it, specifically? It wouldn’t take but a few hours to employ the process of elimination, but if there were a more direct way, I’d be all for it.

There was a directory in front of me, with a floorplan. I gave it a look, and in all of two seconds, my question was answered, as if someone had just been reading the question as it formed in my mind. The very bottom of the directory showcased the third floor, in which the grand suites were located. And it was in one of these suites that the answer was given, in great, looping cursive.

WAITING FOR YOU.

The script undeniably belonged to Mary, and it mimicked the last line of the letter I had, the letter that somehow vanished when I last tried to read it. It was written overtop of Room 312. It was so fitting, and the result was inevitable. That’s where I had to go. It wasn’t simple logic that brought me to this conclusion, not so much as it was a sort of pull I felt, leading me up the stairs and to the room, the room. I suddenly could not figure out why I hadn’t come to that realization right away. It didn’t matter, really. No reason to concern myself with the why, because I knew the where, and that was far more important.

There was an elevator right next to me, one that would deliver me almost right to the door. Would, anyway, if it actually worked, and this one did not. I pushed the button several times, but it just sat there, dead and silent. No big deal. There were stairs, too. I turned and walked down the hall until I reached the first of two large portals that led into the hotel’s lobby.

The lobby of the Lakeview Hotel was simple in its magnificence. The ceiling was tall and grand, and the north wall was all windows and the front door, so even in the dreary weather, the lobby was filled with sunlight. The staircase leading to the second floor was huge, dominating the entire area. Yet, for all the space in this lobby, there was relatively little to see. The front corners featured waiting chairs and side-tables stacked with local-interest magazines, interspersed with old favorites like Time and Newsweek. I glanced at the one sitting on top, an issue of Time from a year ago. It featured Hillary Clinton’s imperious mug, with the caption “ASCENT OF A WOMAN”. I remember reading it

in a hospital waiting room

some time ago. Setting it down, I looked through the rest of the stack. None of them were more recent than that Time issue. A few Newsweeks from 1992, a tourism guide from Androscoggin, flyers about White Mountain National Forest, even a Highlights for Kids, and not one of them published in 1994. Few of them were even as recent as 1993. It’s not that I expected the lobby of a remote Maine hotel to be a bastion of current world news, but the gap was pretty strange, nonetheless.

The reception desk was just ahead. It was almost an instinctive thing to reach for the little desk-bell, as if it would summon anything I had any desire to encounter. Behind the desk, I saw the cubby rack in which room keys were stored. Each slot was numbered, 101-120, 201-240, 301-320. Every last one was empty.

Except for one. Beneath it, on a small brass plate, 312.

Waiting for you…

The door to my left led into the reception office, and I let myself in. I reached into the slot for 312 and pulled out the object inside.

Just a piece of paper. My stomach sank to the floor. That would have been too easy, wouldn’t it? I cursed anyway, as I unfolded the paper.

It was hotel stationery.

LAKEVIEW HOTEL

3200 Sanford St.
Silent Hill, ME 04235

Mr. James Sunderland,
It was discovered that you left behind a video cassette.
You may claim it in the Manager’s Office
on the first floor.

MGT.

Manager’s office. Not very far away at all. I slipped the stationery into my pocket. I exited the reception office and out of the lobby, back to the main hallway.

I didn’t know the precise location of the manager’s office, but there was a door leading to a restricted STAFF ONLY area right next to the Lake Shore Restaurant. It was cordoned off with velvet rope, but that was nothing. Certainly the manager’s office would be somewhere past that door. I grabbed one of the rope poles and set it aside, then I reached for the doorknob.

thump

A noise? I thought I heard it, and my hand rested on the knob while I strained my ears. I heard nothing. If any noise had been made, it wasn’t repeating itself. I took a quick look behind, but all I saw was the hallway, retreating into darkness. I turned back to the door, shaking my head.

The doorknob did not turn. It was locked.

Damn it. So close! Why can’t things just be easy once? Only once! That’s all I ask! If

thump

My thoughts were severed clean as I heard the sound again.

thump thump

Louder, now. Closer, too. I spun around, the Glock in my hand so fast one would think it was a lifetime practice of mine. Right now I’d be inclined to agree, in a practical sense, anyway.

There was nothing there, at least, nothing I could see. I reached for my flashlight and flicked the switch. I held it with my other hand and aimed it down the hall as I walked slowly back towards the lobby. It didn’t really help much, but only because there was mostly-sufficient ambient lighting to begin with. I could clearly see the doors at the end, which lead to the first-floor guestrooms, but there was nothing between those doors and myself. I sighed, and set the flashlight back into my pocket, leaving it on this time. It was nothing. Nothing at all. The events of the last twenty-four hours had me jumping at shadows even when there weren’t any shadows to see. Besides, Laura was wandering around somewhere. I had to show some self-control, because even though there had been times recently where the idea of shooting the kid seemed horribly attractive, even then I would never want to do that. I’d never be able to forgive myself if I killed her by accident. Yes, she was a brat, a snot-nosed little rug rat with a sharp tongue, but she was just a kid. I don’t think she really meant wrong by anything she did. I don’t think she knew there were monsters in that examination room. I don’t even think she knew there were monsters at all. Maybe I’d ask her more about that when I found her.

thump thump

Behind?

I turned again, the gun raised in spite of the self-admonition made just seconds ago. Only, this time, there was something. The radio chose this moment to come to life, but a fat lot of help it was now. I could see it quite clearly without the radio’s help.

It wasn’t Laura, either.

My first thought upon seeing the creature was that it was a straight-jacket monster hunched over, though one that was larger than most. Of course, that couldn’t be. Each one I’d seen so far was almost of an identical size and shape. So…

That’s when it came to me. I had made such a mistake before. It wasn’t a straight-jacket monster at all. It was that hideous, deformed thing I had seen in the labyrinth, when I found Angela. It was the monster she called Daddy. It stood, squatting on its haunches, its disgusting fleshy lips in constant, wordless movement; as if it were speaking in a voice and language only it could hear.

And with an impossibly-low, guttural yell, it charged.

I couldn’t reach the lobby doors in front of me. It would get to me before I got to them. There was another set of doors behind me that also led there, but what if they were locked? I might not even have the time to find out. There was only one option left, and I took it without question: the stairs to the basement, to the Venus Tears bar. It would be able to follow, but if I timed it just right…

The floor seemed to shudder under the monster’s thundering gallop. It took every last ounce of resolve I had left to not bolt down those stairs that very instant. I stood still and tensed, waiting for it. It was coming fast, but I had an idea that would at least give me a few seconds.

It was only five feet from me when it stopped, as if perplexed by my decision to hold my ground. It reared back on its haunches again, and that’s when I knew my idea would work. It was going to launch itself at me.

I have no idea just which of us made the first move, and perhaps it didn’t matter, so small was the gap, but in either case, my move counted for more, I twisted my body and shot towards the stairs. The pain in my shoulder and arm flared up with the sudden move, but they were nothing compared to the pain I’d certainly feel if that beast knocked me down and tore my face off. Nothing even close.

Said beast flew several feet through the air, but it completely missed me, and the momentum carried it several more feet down the hall. It was just what I was hoping for. I took the stairs down to the basement level, two by two. I could hear the angry moans of the Daddy monster upstairs. I didn’t have much time.

The basement level was pitch-dark, and I was glad I already had the flashlight going. The bar was just around the corner

God help me if it’s locked, too

and I took off in a sprint, turning the corner on a dime.

The radio hissed warnings again, but this time I was going too fast to even realize. I had only a split second to see what was waiting for me, and it was something familiar, though I hadn’t seen one in quite some time.

A mannequin. It wasn’t moving. I had just enough presence of mind to catch that much. It wasn’t moving, standing stock-still as if frozen in place, suspended by invisible puppet strings. Nor did I give it enough time to try. Instead, I lowered my good shoulder and charged directly at it. The monster’s upper legs flailed in place as it finally realized what was going on, but it was too late. My shoulder struck it dead in the torso. It gave a strange, hollow cry as the impact sent it flying down the hall. It crashed into the wall and fell, striking a small buffet table as it did. Down on the floor, it writhed and thrashed with maddening speed, as if desperate to relieve some kind of full-body itch. I stared at it for a second, still mystified by the strange behavior of these things even though I’d been around them for much longer than I would have liked.

thump thump thump

It was coming down the stairs. There was no time left. I sidestepped the flailing mannequin as nimbly as my injured knee would allow, and darted for the door to the bar. It was a rather ornate thing, unlike most in the hotel. It had a large window with faceted glass arranged in a geometric design. It was thick glass, too. I would only accomplish breaking my elbow if I tried to bust it. There was no other avenue of escape, either. The elevator at the end of this hall was the same one that I had unsuccessfully tried to summon upstairs. My only hope lay behind this door.

God looks after fools and drunks, so I hope He left it unlocked for them

I grabbed the handle and depressed the thumbswitch, all the while certain that it would not open, that I came so close to my goal only to fall victim to monsters and my own shitty judgement.

The switch pressed down solidly under my thumb, and the click of the opening latch was like a clarion in the madness. I pulled the door open and then shut behind me as I practically leapt through. As soon as it clicked home, I threw the bolt and locked it. The door was heavy and the bolt was strong. That monster would not be able to break it down anytime soon.

Or so I hoped.

The bar had been on my mind before and now reality met memory. Their resemblance was pretty fair. The bar was pretty small, not nearly of a size or sophistication as Neely’s across the lake, but pleasant enough. It was decorated in a fisherman’s motif. Several decorative rods adorned the walls, along with numerous photographs of prize catches made in the lake. A display showcased a number of colorful lures, each with a legend behind them. Yard ropes and fragments of net were hung from the ceiling in one corner, and a replica of a ship’s tiller was a centerpiece on the long wall. There was a jukebox next to the door, with a varied playlist featuring the likes of Johnny Cash, the Everly Brothers and Crosby, Stills and Nash. Beside that was the bar itself, still stocked plenty well with glistening beer taps and all sorts of familiar faces on the shelves behind. Jim Beam, Stolichnaya, Jacky D, Woodpecker, Southern Comfort, Jose Cuervo and dozens more, all twinkling in the muted light. Back among friends.

They weren’t my concern right now, though. If I survived this town, it would take a colossal effort not to fall back into the destructive embrace of the bottle again, but I would worry about that bridge if I had the chance to cross it. For now, I ignored the liquor bottles and stepped behind the bar. There was a door back there, and it was certain to lead into the staff area, if it was unlocked. If it wasn’t unlocked, I would be trapped here. If that happened, I might just kiss one or two of those bottles, because escape was an impossibility, and if I was going to die, I’d rather die drunk.

That future would have to wait a little while longer though, because the door was not locked. It led into the bar’s small kitchen. It was nothing like the one behind the Lake Shore. The pantry to the right was stocked mostly with old dry goods, and the kitchen itself was smaller than my own back home. There was nothing of any interest here, except for another door. I opened it and stepped through.

Now I found myself in a branching hallway, narrow and dark, with little in the way of decoration. Certainly not an area intended for guests. I felt a little twist of good cheer. The manager’s office was upstairs, but there had to be an employee stairwell here somewhere. No way would the basement only be accessible through the back of the hotel’s watering hole.

The basement was warm and humid, and I could hear the low humming and throbbing of machinery nearby. The humidity was probably from the boiler, which fed the radiators in the upstairs guest rooms plus the commons areas. I didn’t notice them running when I was up there, but apparently they were, if I was feeling the heat as I knew I was.

The hall’s layout was unfamiliar to me, and I wandered around, looking at the door plates. Electrical Room DANGER HIGH VOLTAGE, one said, and right after that, Pump Room and Boiler Room, both with cautionary warnings of their own. There were twists and turns galore down here. The hall ahead of me turned at a right angle, and hopefully, that’s where I would find stairs, because I had yet to find any others yet.

I turned that corner, and again the radio in my pocket awoke. It was another mannequin, standing just like the one outside the bar, frozen still in a position that seemed impossible to balance so evenly. I could see an open door behind it, and inside, stairs. Can I get a hallelujah?

I had to get past the mannequin first, though, and it was more responsive than the last, finding life and stalking towards me with its upper legs dangling forward like grotesque antennae. This time I reached for my pipe. I didn’t quite fear the mannequins like I feared most of the other monsters, and I had very little ammunition left, with scant chance of finding more. Pipe in hand, I retreated to an intersection, to give myself enough room to strike. It followed dutifully, unaware or unafraid of the danger I posed.

I swung first, but I didn’t swing last. The bastard thing was quicker than I gave it credit for. My swing was high, catching it in one of its upper legs and knocking it backwards at a painful angle, but the monster had every intention of giving as well as it got. Before I was even able to retract my arm, its other suspended leg lashed out like boxer’s fist. The hard, knobby end caught me right in the elbow joint, sending a fiery lance of agony spiking through my right arm. I howled in shock and surprise as I instinctively clutched my arm, dropping the pipe to the concrete floor as I did.

The mannequin’s damaged leg hung limp and immobile, but its other one was quite intact and rearing back to strike at me again. I wasted no time, not even enough to reach down and retrieve my weapon. I darted past the monster, feeling as much as hearing the dull crack of the mannequin’s leg crashing against the brick wall. I hooked the corner and through the doorway to the stairwell, slamming it shut behind me. I leaned back against it to catch my breath, and from behind, I could hear the monster clattering towards me. The door was pretty solid, and even though I had just been given a damn good reason to respect and fear the mannequin monster, I knew it wasn’t strong enough to break in. I was pretty upset about losing the pipe. It had proven to be rather valuable over the last few hours, but I wasn’t about to go back to get it. I was safe for the moment, and I might be able to find something to replace it.

I got my breathing back to normal levels and started up the stairs to the first floor. I took them slowly at first, but picked up the pace after a few seconds, because I heard the mannequin reach the door, and it was apparently none too pleased to find it shut. Sharp metallic raps echoed about the stairwell as the monster pounded on the door with its remaining good leg. I didn’t think it had the capacity to operate a door, but I really wasn’t in the mood to stick around and find out. I reached the top of the stairs and entered the first floor.

I found myself in another hallway, but this time, my destination was in no doubt whatsoever. Almost directly across the short hall was a blinded window with David Kennedy, Manager stenciled across the glass in black lettering. Bright light filtered through the blinds, and the door was unlocked. I wasted no time.

Inside, the office was a mess. Cardboard boxes were lined up against the far wall, stacked on desks and tables, piled all the way up to the ceiling. Another desk was to my right. It had no videotape, just an employee schedule. I looked at it, and I got that weird feeling again. It was for this week, or so I thought at first, until I saw today’s date, May 15th. The schedule began on Sunday, May 9th. May 15th was the last day, a Saturday. Only, that couldn’t be right. Today was a Sunday. Couldn’t be right. Someone made a mistake.

Only, no. It wasn’t a mistake. It was just old. It was from last May. It made sense. Last May 15th would have been on a Saturday. But why would such an old schedule docket be sitting here on the desk? It wasn’t old, either. It wasn’t even finished. It was just like those magazines up in the lobby, none of them more recent than last year.

What’s going on now? Time warp?

Not possible. I had seen a newspaper across town with yesterday’s date, and more in the labyrinth. Yet, nothing in this hotel was more recent than a year ago. Another job for Sherlock Holmes, maybe, but it wasn’t important to me outside of being a really strange curiosity. I continued to search the office.

Not even a minute later, I came across a safe. Someone had forgotten to close it, as it hung open just a crack. I pulled it all the way, revealing an object to me, and I realized that I found what I was looking for.

A black VHS tape sat on the bottom of the safe. It was a store-purchased blank, and on the side, Silent Hill was written in black marker. It wasn’t flowery cursive, just simple manuscript, but I recognized it anyway. It was mine. It was a videotape I had recorded. I bought a JVC camcorder right before our last visit, and I went nuts with it while we made our last stay,

Are you taping again? Come on!

taking in views of the lake, Rosewater Park, and anything else of interest that I could think of. Mary would be all over it, and it was immensely valuable for that reason. I had photographs and other items, but this was the only recording I had with her. How could I have possibly left this behind and not even remember it existed until now?

I picked up the tape, handling it like it was a priceless vase, examining it at every angle before I slipped it into my pocket. Thankfully, my pocket was large enough, and even still, it barely fit.

There was something else in the safe, too. A glint of light shined against a small piece of metal, which I picked up. It was a key, a hotel passkey. Etched across the head, in bold copperplate numbers, was 312.

Waiting for you.

I dropped it in my pocket too, feeling both excited and terrified knowing that my next step was sure to be the last.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2010, 04:21:26 pm by Mutou Yami » Report Spam   Logged


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Stay...
I Want You Near, Like A Shadow In My Wake...
Stay...
Here With Me... Don't You Leave...
Stay...
Stay With Me, Until The Day's Over..."
I love you Mutou Yami... Forever.


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« Reply #39 on: October 16, 2010, 04:25:51 pm »

Chapter Thirty-Nine
Nursery Cryme

It was a time for tactics.

I stood outside of the office in the hall, behind the doors that led into the rear hallway of the first floor. It would only be a short dash to the lobby, but I didn’t know where the Daddy monster was. It could be considerably longer if it were lying in wait outside this door. Hopefully, it was still down in the basement guarding the bar instead. It was hard to guess. Assuming the creatures were stupid was a mistake I wasn’t about to make, but overestimating them was just as likely to lead to heartache. I still had a mostly-full clip in the pistol, enough to put it down if I had to, but not much more than that. Conservation was still foremost in my mind.

Why, though? You know where you’re going and you have the key to gain entry. Get up to the third floor and it’s all going to be over.

Except, I wasn’t so sure about that. I mean, I wanted to believe it the worst way. I wanted to think that I’d open the door to Room 312 and find Mary sitting on the bed, smiling and happy to see me after all

these days? these hours?

this time.

But, what if it wasn’t like that? What if it were some kind of trick or trap? It’s not like the idea had never crossed my mind throughout this little misadventure. There was no way I could experience all of this insanity and still be so stupidly innocent as to believe this would end on such a nice and easy note. In fact, if I really had my head screwed on properly, I would probably expect bad things to be awaiting my arrival in 312.

But my head wasn’t screwed on properly. It might not even be close. After all, if it were, I never would have taken those steps down from the scenic overlook to the nature trail. Hell, scratch that. I’d never even be within a hundred miles of the damn scenic overlook. I’d be back in our house in Ashfield, Massachusetts, far, far away from Silent Hill and all the madness within. Maybe I’d be sitting in my easy chair right around now, looking at TV, flipping through such exciting entertainment as televangelists and golf and Sunday afternoon movies. Maybe I’d be sitting in my underwear eating a bologna sandwich and potato chips. Maybe I wouldn’t even be that far along. Maybe I’d still be asleep in a bed far too large for one person, sleeping a dreamless sleep, and in a few hours I’d wake up. Then I’d be in the easy chair in my drawers with my cold cuts and shitty Sunday television fare. Maybe I’d think of a good excuse, so that I could play sick tomorrow morning and stay at home, and I could keep living life to the fullest as I had been all weekend. Put off the drudgery one day longer.

No.

That was why I was here, wasn’t it? Drudgery. Life had lost its meaning for me. I was living and breathing on the outside, but inside, I was no more alive than Mary was. How long would I have been able to exist like that? How long would I have sat by and allowed myself to sink even further into depression, just another inch every day, until I either dropped dead of lethargy or showed at least enough gumption to make sure Uncle Stephen’s Colt was fully-loaded before I put the barrel in my mouth a second time?

I didn’t know how long, but I did know that it was inevitable. It was scary to finally admit that to myself, but it was true. I was here, looking for my wife even though I knew she was dead, and risking my life and my sanity in the process, but now I really knew why; my life and my sanity were all I had left to risk. On my own, they weren’t really worth that much to me. I needed Mary. I got by without her until I met her, but the years I had with her were the greatest of my life, without question. I wanted her and needed her. And that need was so great that I willingly went through all this, all on the pretext of a vague promise

the letter is blank now, was it always blank?

written on a letter with no return address. That, and hope. Hope that I would find Mary up there. That hope was strong, too. If not, I would never have made it this far with my body and my mind intact. If I had let doubt overwhelm me, I would be dead by now. That was the simple truth. I was here now. I didn’t know where or what ‘here’ was, but getting ‘here’ required a devotion and love above and beyond what most would expect, and that had to speak well for my character, even if I had lost a little sanity on the way. I was here because I loved my wife, and that love kept me alive and going so far. Now, I was almost ‘there’.

No time for doubt.

I pushed the door open, ever so slightly, and peeked through the crack. There was nothing between here and the information table near the elevator. Opening more, I got a clear view of the lobby doors. I stepped out into the hall now, faced with an empty hallway. Nothing was visible all the way down to the guest rooms. It was a bit of relief, but I couldn’t see down the stairs, or the hall leading to the lake. There was perhaps twenty feet between myself and the lobby. After double- and triple-checking everything around me, I screwed up my courage and bolted for the door.

Twenty feet is an endless distance when you’re more than half-paranoid that some dark and demonic beast is going to leap out of the shadows and demolish your face. Each running step I took, all seven of them, seemed to come through drying cement for all their lack of speed. Each time my feet struck the carpeted floor, the footfall sent out cacophonous thunder

it galloped across the floor, covering the distance in the span of a heartbeat and leapt at me, trying to tear out my throat

so loud and heavy that I thought for certain that the monster had seen me, that it was hiding around the corner, safely out of sight until it heard me coming and I had my hand on the door but I was too late because I could hear it behind me, I could feel it coming and if I turned I was certain to see

I slammed the doors shut behind me. I was safely in the lobby but my terror was so enormous that I didn’t even realize it right away. Only after a few seconds of leaning against the doors and breathing great gulps of cool air did my bearings properly present themselves to my brain.

I went forward, taking short and tentative steps as I recovered from my latest panic attack. The reception desk was still empty, and the gift shop was bolted up tight. There was a little picture window next to that door, one that used to display all sorts of gaudy little trinkets, like Silent Hill, Maine shot glasses and t-shirts, but was now completely empty. Perhaps the proprietor did the smart thing and got lost before things went to hell here.

The grand staircase dominated the lobby, leading up to the second floor and its forty guest rooms. It was an impressive thing, if one were to consider themselves an admirer of staircases. I couldn’t say that I was. Yet, the real item of note lay near at the foot of these stairs.

It was a music box, but not one of the wind-up tabletop things you saw in department stores. This one was almost as tall as me, encased in rich chestnut and featuring a large brass melody disc set inside the upper compartment. There was a track at waist level, a circular thing which ran inside the casing and back out again. Three ornate little statuettes sat on the runner, made of fine glazed ceramic and depicting figures from some famous fairy tales. Today’s kids have been so weaned on Disney that they wouldn’t realize that the figures here didn’t originate in an animation studio, but in the minds of Charles Perrault and Hans Christian Andersen in centuries past. It was a handsome thing, to be sure. Mary fawned over it the first time we visited, though the receptionist warned her away from winding it.

I don’t know exactly what made me decide to do it now. Personally, though I thought it was a neat-looking unit, my interest was never that great. I noticed it only peripherally on later visits, save for a brief moment one time when a busboy struck it with a baggage cart, leaving a mark on its base that was still visible. That kid caught ten shades of holy hell from the manager later, I’m sure. Except for that, though? Nothing. I guess I like to think it was a dedication of sorts. It sounds sappy, but I think it was true. I was about to climb that leviathan staircase to meet her again after… a long time, and wouldn’t it be fitting for her to finally hear the box chime?

The key was right below the glass door. I turned it slowly, over and over again. It took a full twenty turns before the tension coil reached its limit. Then, I let it go and I stood back.

The entire thing seemed to come to life once I released my grip on the key. The large brass disc turned slowly, and the first notes sounded as the grooves brushed against the melody tines. It wasn’t exactly loud, but the sound was full and rich, and it seemed to fill the entire lobby with its chorus. The song itself was unknown to me. It was quite pretty, but it also sounded somewhat mournful, like there was just a slight, underlying sadness in the notes. I guess that was fitting, too. I sat down on the stairs as I listened to it play out.

Not long after the melody began to play, the figurine turntable came to life, sending the likes of Snow White, Cinderella and the Little Mermaid sliding along the runners and into the concealed interior of the music box. More emerged from the other side, each of them readily identifiable. Sleeping Beauty came first, followed by Rapunzel with her long locks, and finally, the slight figure of Little Red Riding Hood. They were just as beautifully-crafted as the first three, but I really wasn’t paying much attention to that. Something else had emerged along with the figurines, something simple and black and completely out of place amongst the displays. I stood and went over to see what it was. My eyes shot open wide as chasms when I picked it up.

It was a handgun magazine. Fully-loaded, too. The light played along its form, making it look sleek and sinister. At first, I was thrilled, because every extra bullet was that much more insurance.

However…

[iIsn’t it going to be over? If she’s waiting for you up there, why would you need this? Get rid of it. Toss it across the room and forget all about it. You won’t need a gun where you’re going. Chuck them too, both of them. Might you not frighten her if you barge in armed to the teeth? No need for that. Get rid of them. Throw them and run.[/i]

I couldn’t, though. I just couldn’t make myself do it. Caution still held too large a spot on my brain’s committee. Walking around here without a weapon was asking to be torn apart. Mary was up there. In the face of all my growing doubts I still believed it, but I loved her and she loved me. Surely she would understand why I had a pistol in my pocket and a hunting rifle strapped across my back. I would explain if I had to, but I didn’t see that being necessary. She would understand, just as she always did. Empathy was one of her strongest assets as a person. Certainly, it was one of the things I loved about her, being a person who was normally reticent about his feelings and doubts. That’s why I ignored the voice of reckless abandon and pocketed the clip. Then, I was going up the stairs and towards the second floor guest rooms. The music box’s sweet, sorrowful song still floated in the air like a ghost, even as I closed the lobby doors behind me.

This hall branched off too. There was a cloak room to my left, and past that, the branch, which led to the hotel’s reading room. To my right was the real point of interest, the stairs leading to the third floor. These stairs were nowhere near as grand and dominating as those in the lobby, just a simple double-back up to the top of the Lakeview Hotel.

I took them by twos all the way up, and with each step I took, the growing mass of conflicting feelings and emotions grew and intensified. Excitement and longing clashed and meshed with cold dread and terror, all tied together and twisted around by the very fact that I simply did not know exactly what to expect when I opened that door. By the time I reached the top, my stomach was full of butterflies.

That’s when I saw it. The door. Plain and unassuming in comparison with any other in the hotel, yet to me, it was something completely unique and instantly recognizable. How that was, I couldn’t quite say. There was, of course, the brass numbers on the door, identifying it as that of Room 312. Maybe it was something as mundane as that. Maybe it was just its spatial relation, its location amongst its surroundings. I didn’t know. The feeling of recognizance was powerful and buffeting though, and if I had butterflies in my belly climbing the stairs, I had a troupe of three-hundred pound tap dancers going apeshit in there now.

I fished the passkey out of my pocket only after some effort. My hands were trembling so badly that I could barely keep a grip on the damn thing, and I had similar trouble correctly aiming the keyhole above the doorknob. I had to jab at it three or four times before it finally struck home. I turned the key and the bolt slid open with an unexpectedly loud snap, like the crack of a rifle in an open field. I withdrew the key and dropped it in my pocket, and then I laid my hand on the doorknob, a hand now shaking so badly that the knob rattled within my grip. I was breathing so hard I thought I might hyperventilate. I was here. I was here. All the ****, all the horror, the pain and sweat and fear and blood I saw and lost in this horrible place, all of it was for this moment. All of it was for me to open this door and see whatever was behind it. Not knowing for sure was what made it so goddamned twisted and terrifying. But what was the terror? Seeing a monster? No way. Even if Pyramid Head stood behind this door, on some level I was fatalistically prepared for that. No, the terror was opening the door and…

I turned the knob, more as a muscle twitch than any conscious action, and I pushed the door open slowly, the already-intense emotions threatening to reach critical mass. It couldn’t have taken more than three seconds but by God it felt like

three years?

an eternity and a half.

The room was perhaps the brightest indoor dwelling I’d seen in the entire town. The enormous windows caught every last possible ray of light, filtered as it was through the thick, smoky fog. On a clearer day, one would be treated to a fantastic view of Toluca Lake, and you didn’t even need to view it from behind glass, for the window was actually a door that led to a short balcony. Forget the lake, you could see clear across to South Vale. Hell, with my binoculars, I could probably see right into the front door of Pete’s Bowl-A-Rama if I wanted to.

Everything was just as I remembered. It was as if Mary and I had stayed here last week. The bed was made up with a floral comforter and fresh linens. The writing desk still sat in the corner, something both of us thought was rather cute. There was a full living room set against the far wall, a couch and easy chair surrounding an expensive-looking coffee table. Between the two palatial windows was a beautiful old-fashioned television, one of those in a full cherry-finished console. All of it was familiar, all of it was welcome, and the generous light from outside bathed it all in an almost angelic glow.

In spite of it all, my heart sank right into the basement of the place. It didn’t matter how beautiful it was. It could have been the pearly gates of heaven and it wouldn’t have mattered. For all I cared, it meant absolutely nothing.

I was alone in this room. All alone.

No Mary.

She was nowhere to be found. There were no monsters, either. Pyramid Head wasn’t lying in wait, eager to ambush me, but that didn’t matter either. Mary wasn’t here. She wasn’t here. She wasn’t

Of course she isn’t here! She’s dead! She’s dead and gone! Dead people don’t write letters, Sunderland! She’s dead and she’s gone and you came here for what? Did you really think it was going to turn out better than this? Did you really expect a storybook ending to this madness? Stupid. Stupid and crazy, and that’s what you are. Crazy. Loony. Lost yer marbles. Walked off the edge. Short of a six-pack and missing a few cards. You’re insane, I’m insane, we’re insane. La de da, the last string snapped a long time ago and this is what it gets us. Now you know. Now I know. Now we know, it was all for ****. The train has finally run out of track and

I almost laughed, but I didn’t. If I did, I would cry, and if I started to cry, I didn’t think I would be able to stop, because that nagging voice in my head was speaking a truth I did not want to hear, a truth that I wasn’t sure I could really handle.

I was crazy. Didn’t I know it on some level? Hadn’t I questioned my sanity a hundred times over since yesterday? Of course I had. A thousand times. Ten-thousand.

And now I knew why.

There was something different here, though, something small. A detail. On the floor, next to the television, was a VCR. It was a bulky old Magnavox, and its jet casing seemed as out of place as the clip did on the music box’s turntable. Instinctively, my hand shot towards my pocket and the cassette was in my hand.

Silent Hill.

I turned on the television. It hissed to life with crackly white static, drawing unpleasant reminders of the radio. Then I knelt down and fed the tape into the VCR. It accepted the offering with a happy series of mechanical hums and clicks. Then, I pulled the easy chair over and sat down to look at the screen just as the snow disappeared and the tape began to play.
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« Reply #40 on: October 16, 2010, 04:32:42 pm »

(Note: I don't know why the chapter was in Italic, but it's how it was when I saved it.)

Chapter Forty
True

To this day, I’m not really certain just how it all played out. The exact details were either forgotten immediately, or never retained in the first place.

The videotape started playing, after a few seconds of blank static and tracking corrections. The very second it began, the recognition was instantaneous. We were outside, in the garden near the lake. The weather was preternaturally gorgeous. Wispy streamers of clouds streaked the sky over the tops of the pines. I immediately remembered that it rained that night, and hard, because it seemed funny at the time, that such splendid weather could hide the nasty downpour that was to arrive mere hours later. In the time of ago, though, that storm was still hours away, building steam and crawling across southern Canada. Then, summer was just about to gently nudge spring out of the picture, and the evidence was plenty. The camera panned across to the left, away from the Lakeview’s carefully-tended gardens and to Lake Toluca. It may be a foggy disaster now, but on that day, Toluca sparkled like an enormous, rippling sheet of glass, the sunlight reflecting brilliantly off its crystal-clear waters. Mary then walked in front of the camera, her gaze too directed at the lake, and she summed it up perfectly when she said

“Honey, look at that! I think God really outdid Himself this time!” She clasped her hands together like a schoolgirl, and in that moment, she looked so lovely, so pure and wonderful. It was moments like this that I felt like such a lucky son of a ****. It was moments like this that made me reflect on my good fortunes. I didn’t yet know that those fortunes were going to turn south in the worst way, and far too soon. Neither of us did. She had been sick several times, but we were still two months away from the first really bad attacks, the spasms and the coughs that left blood on the Kleenex. The coughs were heavy now, but still only periodic, and still bloodless. We both knew something was wrong, something beyond the sniffles. That much was pretty obvious. What we didn’t know was that it was going to be fatal. We didn’t know the end was so close, and now I saw how pleasing it was to be ignorant. We were still having fun and enjoying life and loving each other, because neither of us had any idea how little time there was remaining for it all.

No, right now, it’s June 18th, 1991. I know this because I set the date on the camcorder the very moment I got it home. I felt like a kid on Christmas, playing with the zoom and pan and all the playback features. Now I had it here in Silent Hill, putting it to its first real use, and as it turned out, the last, as well. Because this was our last getaway, our last retreat from the daily grind of every day life. This was our last visit to Silent Heaven as a couple. Neither of us knew it at the time. Neither of us would have wanted to, anyway. Nope, it was the middle of June, on a fantastic summer’s eve in Silent Hill, Mary’s favorite place on earth, and damn me if I didn’t love it almost as much myself. This was bliss. I knew that the moment Mary turned to face me, with that knockout smile on her face, the one she only brings out for special occasions, like fine dinnerware for holiday dinners. It was an indescribable thing, but I knew it like I knew my own face in the mirror. When that smile was on her face, you knew everything was great. You knew it, because you felt it. It radiated off of her like warmth and it made you feel like everything was great, too. That was what was so magical about that woman.

The love I felt for her at that moment was so overwhelming, and now I was feeling it all over again, because the past and the present were merging. It was a videotape and I was sitting in an easy chair viewing it, but by this point, the distinction between videotaped memories and present perception had blurred beyond my ability to notice. Now, all times were as one.

This I realized as we started towards the docks. I realized this because I turned off the camera then. We were going to the docks because the Lakeview’s yacht was about to depart on one of its Toluca Tours, and we couldn’t have chosen a better day to take one. I turned the camera off until we were aboard, and then I started taping the sights, but now I was between the past and the present, and time didn’t stop when I turned off the camcorder. I was seeing everything through my own eyes and the lenses of the past.

We walked down the docks, her hand in mine, and we talked and we laughed. It was so wonderful to hear her laugh, to hear real joy in her voice, because so little more would ever truly be heard again. Now, though, it was here and it was powerful, and I sipped it like wine, savoring it, enjoying it. Perhaps there was a part of me that knew the good times were in their twilight. I didn’t know. I didn’t care. Right now was the time, and the Eastfall Queen was the place. It was a handsome white boat, single-masted with a billowing sail, though the thing was motorized as well. Perhaps they worked in tandem somehow. One of the crewmembers confirmed that when I asked.

The Eastfall Queen left the docks and was eastbound. The breeze felt wonderful in my hair and provided the perfect counterpoint to the warmth of the day. Now I had the camcorder out again and I was walking along the deck, taking in the scenery. I could see the old lighthouse most prominently, but behind that we were treated to a vista of Old Silent Hill. Much of it was obscured by the pines, but one could easily see buildings dotted throughout the field of green, most of them houses. Old Silent Hill was pretty much all residential. Soon, Old Silent Hill was behind and Central Silent Hill came into view. The trees were still in abundance, but the interspersing of human habitation was much more prominent here. It was all neat to see from a distance, all the more because it was all framed from behind by the hills, presumably the silent hills which gave the town its name. They were like giant emeralds against the sapphire sky.

I turned away from the view of the north bank and to my wife. She leaned over the rail, her skirt flapping in the breeze. She turned to see me with the camcorder trained on her, and she waved excitedly, then she blew a kiss with theatrical flourish. Such happy times, these were. Thank God I splurged on this camera, I thought. These are the kinds of memories that demand preservation. No matter how bad things get, it would be a salve on the wound to view this tape. It would be something I’d treasure forever.

The boat cruised its long circuit around the lake. The south bank didn’t showcase the same kinds of sights as on the north, but there were a few points of interest I managed to capture. One of note was an old prison with high red walls. I zoomed in on it to see a giant sign painted in yellow and black, warning against aiding the escape of inmates. I thought that it was a part of the Silent Hill Historical Society’s museum, and I promised myself I’d pay it a visit before our stay was over. I’d have to ask Mary about it, because I felt perhaps she’d find the idea exciting. She seemed really into this town, appreciating it on a level I couldn’t quite comprehend. She was always in her best moods when we were here. It was like the place had some kind of effect on her, something she was especially attuned to notice, something that most people didn’t realize. It made her blossom in a special way, and that’s what I was seeing now, through my viewfinder.

“Are you taping again? Come on!” she said with a laugh.

In the hotel room, now. There was a transition, without a doubt. I didn’t notice it, but it existed. Events transpired between that I didn’t tape, that was all. We were back in our room now. Sunlight filtered through the windows, still warm but now orange instead of white. The sun was setting, and whoever built this hotel some ninety years ago must have enjoyed how sunsets looked over the cast of the lake, because the building was tilted ever-so-slightly to the west, and from our room’s balcony, the view was spectacular. That’s what Mary was doing, sitting in one of the chairs just outside of the large window, taking in the view, when she noticed that I had the camcorder in hand again.

She sat back in her chair and sighed happily.

“Ah, I love it here,” she said, “It’s just so peaceful.” She turned back to look out at the setting sun. Her chin rested atop her wrist as she gazed westward. “You know what I heard?”

“No, honey. What?”
“I heard that this whole area used to be a sacred place.” She swept her hands, as if to encompass the entire town.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. And you know, I think I can see why.”

“I agree. It seems different for me this time.” It did, too. Something felt quite different. Even I was feeling it more than usual.

“Different?” she asked, turning to me.

“Yeah. Before, I never really saw anything special about this town. Nice place, yeah, but nothing too special.”

She laughed at that. “Really? I’ve always thought it was special, from the moment we first came.”

“I didn’t. But I think something’s different this time. Maybe it’s me, and not the town.” That was true, also. It wasn’t the town, not really. It was me. It was us. But I couldn’t say that. I couldn’t cast a pall on the moment. I felt stupid for even bringing it up, and I hoped she’d just drop it. She didn’t.

“What’s different about you?” She looked at me now, with an expression that might be genuine concern.

“I love you, Mary.” I said. I could think of nothing else. Not that I didn’t mean it.

“Ha ha, and you didn’t before?”

“Of course I did.”

“So what’s different?”

“I… I don’t really know.” Now I looked away, because I knew she was reading my thoughts. She was so good at that sometimes that it was almost scary. I’d seen her read other people with varied success, but when she chose to read me, I was an open book with simple words. She pegged my thoughts every time.

“You don’t need to sugar-coat it, James. I know.”

“Mary…”

“No, it’s okay. It’s unfair and it’s messed up, but I understand. Just do me one favor, okay?”

“Anything.” And by God, I meant it, too. At that moment I’d give her the world if she asked for it. It was the look on her face. It was her eyes, so wide and shining. I was hers, that look said. And how true that was.

“Promise you’ll take me back here again. That’s all.”

“Of course. Absolutely I will.”

“You’re such a good man, James. I love you. I know I’ve been touchy lately, but I love you, and I don’t want you to ever doubt that.”

“I don’t. Never for a second. I love you too, honey.”

She smiled that warm smile again, and got up to embrace me as I came to her. I enveloped her in my arms and held her close. She rested her head on my shoulder, and her loose hair tickled my chin. She was so warm then, so full of life. I could practically feel her beating heart through the contact. It was so hard to believe that something might be wrong. Impossible to believe.

That’s when she shook against me, an abrupt shudder, as if she felt a jolt of electricity touch her. It happened again, and again, and I could tell what was happening. She was coughing, and trying to suppress it. At first, it looked like she would manage, but the shudders kept coming, and she pushed away from me just as the first rasping cough practically exploded out of her mouth. She held her sleeve to her face to catch them, but they kept coming and coming. Her breath became wheezy and weak, and she was turning red. I almost panicked, but looking into her face brought me clear of that. I ran into the bathroom and filled a pair paper Dixie cups with water. I rushed back into the bedroom with them. She grabbed one and swallowed it while I rummaged through her purse, frantically tossing aside makeup cases and half-empty rolls of breath mints until I came up with a sickly orange prescription bottle and an inhaler. I twisted off the cap, dumped a pair of white pills into my hand, and gave them to Mary. She practically slammed them into her mouth and swigged the other cup of water. Once they were down, she sucked on the inhaler and shot two mists of the camphorous medicine. Her coughing finally subsisted, and the last thing I remember doing was rubbing her back. I know more happened. I know it. But this is where I stopped taping, and thus, the line between past and present faded out along with it. This is where the tape finished, and soon I’d find myself back in the room, alone again, and

The black faded, itself. Not into even greater darkness, as that wasn’t possible. No, now it was fading brighter, going from jet to an ever-brightening gray, to a piercing, blanched white. And soon, that misted itself, faded away slightly to reveal something more consequential. At first it was just a snowy blur of indistinct shapes and colors. I could see grays and browns and what seemed to be skin tones, but everything was so fuzzy that I couldn’t place anything with any accuracy. There was a lot of movement. A building, outside. A place that I couldn’t even begin to identify, yet seemed very familiar, and in a very immediate sense. I knew that, now. I knew because I had just been there a few hours ago. There were two shapes moving in front of it. Walking. Those too were almost completely without form, but there was enough for me to at least understand their existence and purpose. Something was forgotten. I sensed that, but at the moment, it held no context for me.

Finally, the images began to define themselves a little better. The shapes became a little sharper and details became visible. What was most readily apparent was the fact that I wasn’t in the hotel room anymore. It was darker here, and the bed that I saw was nothing close to the neat king-size near the door. This bed was much starker, much plainer. Smaller, too. It was just large enough for one person, and it was occupied by a slim figure that I just couldn’t quite make out. The figure tossed and turned on the bed, as if trying and failing to find a comfortable position to keep.

I forgot it. I forgot my diary.

It was the larger, closer shape that I was able to identify first, at least in detail. It was a man. He sat next to this ratty old bed in a chair. His hair was dirty blond and kind of messy, like he had either just come inside and out of some strong winds, or that he simply didn’t bother taking a comb to it that morning. He wore a gray shirt with a collar, nothing fancy. His back was turned to me, or at least to my vantage point, and he sat watching the figure in the bed. I couldn’t see his face, but something told me that I didn’t need to. Something told me that I should be able to identify this person without any more hints.

The figure in bed now became clearer to me, and the breath caught right in my throat, because the moment the realization hit, everything fell neatly into place.

She was wearing a rather ugly pajama suit. It was pallid and tan in color, decorated with clashing floral colors. I remember it well, and even though I always hated how it looked, I never said a thing. She always told me that it didn’t matter what it looked like because it was comfortable, and only we two would ever see it on her body anyway. She was wrong about that, though. She wore it while doctors and specialists poked and prodded her ever-weakening body. She wore it a dozen different hospital rooms and emergency centers in St. Jerome’s, back home. She had also worn it to another hospital. It was one I would have sworn five minutes ago that I never stepped foot inside in my entire life. Now, I knew that wasn’t true. Whatever I was seeing was blurry and still mostly indistinct, but I was feeling these things as much as I was seeing them. That’s why I knew what I was seeing now. I knew what, I knew where, and I knew who.

The figure turned again. Her dark red hair was matted with fevered sweat, and the skin on her face was almost the same tortured color. Sores and scabs littered her face, leaving it looking like a battlefield, like the face of someone who had been to hell and back, with more left on her horrid journey.

But not much more. No.

With a cataclysmic blast of clarity, I now knew exactly what was going to happen, perhaps because it had already happened. I knew what was going to happen, yes indeed. I knew because the shapes were completely known to me. The poor, withered shape on the bed was my loving, terminally-ill wife, wracked by all sorts of terrifying pains and aches as the disease slowly and inexorably worked its evil, life-draining magic on her body. That body had resisted for three long years. Yes, three long years. She hadn’t been dead all that time. Not dead. Dying. Being eaten alive by a disease that even now, no doctor had been able to accurately identify or effectively treat. She was dying, and worse still, she was suffering. Oh God, was she suffering. The cries, the dry moans. The tears that stung the open sores on her face. It was so horrible to watch. So horrible. But I wouldn’t have to, much longer. I couldn’t. I couldn’t sit here and watch my wife’s vitality sapped away like this. It was too much, too dreadful. I wouldn’t have to, not for much longer.

Because, I knew what I had to do.

And, at the very moment the idea entered my mind, the shape moved as if in response to my thoughts. There was really no thinking involved, really. It wasn’t thought, conscious or otherwise, I don’t even know if it was really me doing what I was doing. But of course it was. I knew that, now. I knew that the gray shape was me, and I knew what it was going to do, what it had to do. She couldn’t be left to suffer anymore. She had to be released. And, I needed to be released, too. Three years of this was too much for either of us. It was killing her and it was killing me too, in a different way. It was killing my soul as it killed her body. I was doing what I had to do because there was no other way, no way to save everything.

It was with a moment of complete clarity that I watched the shape lift an object, bulky and white, and rest it in his lap. I knew what the object was. It was rather obvious. Then, I watched as the shape bent its dirty blond head down towards the one in matted red. A kiss. A last, living and loving kiss. She stirred, whether in response to the kiss or to more debilitating pains I couldn’t quite tell.

The shape sat up again, and for a very long and pregnant moment, nothing happened. Perhaps for a fraction of a second, I let myself think that nothing would happen, that this was all I needed to see.

I wasn’t to be so spared.

The gray shape lifted the bulky white mass, and I knew what it was. It was a pillow. Soft and comfortable.

And suffocating.

The gray shape pressed the pillow down across the face of the red-haired shape. It seemed as though it were an electrical contact, for the red-haired shape sprung into wild, thrashing motion suddenly. Her arms grabbed at the more powerful arms of the gray shape, the arms holding the pillow over her face. They pressed down with even greater force. This prompted the bedridden shape to thrash with even greater panic, no, not panic. Mortal terror. She was dying now. She had been dying for three years, but now it was for real. Now, death had come to claim her for good, and in her terror she could only fight it, only resist it, with every rare ounce of strength her body had left to give. It unfortunately was not much.

The gray shape did not move at all, but now the bedridden shape’s wild, frenzied movement slowed. Her limbs still flailed, but the movements were sluggish now, weakened. As they did, the image began to phase in and out, as if leaving the edge of a broadcasting area. The gray shape continued to hold its position, and finally, it won out. Finally, the death throes of the bedridden figure slowed to minor twitching, and then came to a final, fading halt altogether as the body finally gave up and accepted defeat.

Death was here. The gray shape realized it, and finally it released its hold. The