Monday, February 21, 2011

Silent Hill 2 - Chapter 2

Silent Hill 2 : The Official Novel

By Sadamu Yamashita
Translated by
Emily "Lady Ducky" Fitch

Chapter Two –Someone's Lurking in the Apartment-

Having successfully escaped to a safe place, for now at least, James sat down on the ground to catch his breath.  What would have happened if he hadn’t gotten through the fence?  The wire mesh seemed to tremble in fear as the fog danced through the heavy air.  The monsters seemed to sense that their prey had escaped, and they had all given up and left. There wasn’t a wriggling body to be seen anywhere.

Once his heart rate slowed and his cold sweat ceased, James finally got back on his feet.  His cheeks still felt a bit numb, but overall he didn’t feel as sick as he had earlier.  At least he didn’t have to worry about dying from poison anymore.  He was just worried.  Woodside Apartments…  What was waiting for him on the other side of that door?  At first it just seemed like incredibly good luck that he happened to stumble upon this place, but what if it was Mary’s guidance that brought him here…?

Next to the apartment’s entryway sat a beat-up old dumpster filled with the accumulated trash of the daily lives of residents.  James walked over to it and opened the lid.  He pulled out a sheet from a bundle of old newspapers.  Before he went inside, he’d need to clean himself up a bit.  If Mary really was alive and waiting for him here, he didn’t want to meet her with his boots this filthy.  With the old newspaper, he wiped up the monster’s blood the best he could.

He caught sight of the sensational headline: “MAN COMMITS SUICIDE WITH SPOON!”  Curious, James took a closer look at the article.  It was printed in what appeared to be a local gossip magazine.  He wasn’t sure why, but it drew his attention.

Police announced earlier today that Walter Sullivan, a suspect in the brutal murder of siblings Billy and Miriam Locane in Silent Hill last February, has committed suicide.  He was arrested for the murders on the 18th of this month and was found dead in his cell on the morning of the 22nd.  According to the official announcement, Sullivan killed himself by taking the spoon that came with his evening meal and thrusting it into the left front of his neck near the carotid artery.  He embedded the spoon at least two inches into his neck, blood pouring from the wound.  By the time the guards discovered him, he was already dead.  Classmates from Walter Sullivan’s hometown of Pleasant River are quoted as saying, “He didn’t seem like the kind of guy who would go around killing children.  He was always pretty quiet at school, but he was a nice person.  I met the guy once, shortly before he was arrested.  He said a whole bunch of weird things, 'He’s trying to kill me.  To punish me.  The red demon.  That monster.  Please forgive me, I did it but…it wasn’t me!' …Now that I think about it, he was kinda crazy."

As he finished reading, James rubbed his neck.  Why was he so fascinated by this?  The method of suicide seemed like such a pitiful way to die, but it was just one prisoner.  This was a mundane event.  Things like this happen all the time.  However, the words printed on the page seemed to burn into his mind, and he couldn’t stop thinking about them.  The red demon…a vague image of such a thing appeared in his head…

He shook his head.  Just what does this have to do with Mary?  Stupid piece of garbage.  Using the crumpled up newspaper page, he continued wiping off his boots until they were reasonably clean, then he approached the apartment building’s front door.  Its hinges creaked loudly as he pushed the door open and echoed throughout the room as he stepped inside.

It was almost completely dark.  Due to the bad weather, there was hardly any natural light inside and none of the electric lights were on.  The manager must have shut off the power.  After a while, James’s eyes grew accustomed to the darkness and he was able to see the narrow room a bit better.  To the left was what looked like a back door, and to the right a staircase ascended into the darkness.  He cautiously stepped further into the dim room.  All the doors in the residential space were locked; none of them budged an inch.

“Hello?  Anyone here?”

James knocked loudly on the doors, but there was no reply.  It looked like there was no choice but to try the upper floors.  James climbed up the stairs and was relieved to find that the door on the second floor landing was unlocked.  Upon entering the hallway, he found that it was even darker than before.  The entire hallway was almost completely pitch-black as if it were the dead of night, the only tiny shred of light coming from a window on the north side.  Looks like this place wasn’t blessed with any more sunlight than a building in a crowded city.

“Mary!” James shouted into the darkness.  “It’s me, James!  I got your letter and I came here to meet you!”

Hearing no answer, James began to feel his way down the corridor.  One-by-one, he knocked on the doors on the south wall asking at each one, “Come on, open up!  I’m looking for a woman named Mary, do you know her?”

Even when he turned and rattled the doorknobs, none of them would open.  Why wasn’t anyone answering?  James was beginning to get frustrated.  This place wasn’t supposed to be uninhabitedhe certainly should have felt signs of life around here somewhere.  But he couldn’t hear any footsteps anywhere.  Woodside Apartments was dead quiet, like it had been abandoned.  James continued down the hallway, the wooden floor creaking with every other step.  When he came to the eastern-most room, room 205, he was surprised to turn the knob and find it unlocked.  He cautiously peeked inside.

“Excuse me?” James said in a low voice.  Running out of patience with the lack of replies, he didn’t wait very long before he let himself in without permission.  The room’s overhead lights were turned off, but there was still a single source of illumination.  Behind this light stood a human shadow that James took to be the apartment’s inhabitant.

“Err, sorry for barging in like this.  I’m looking for someone.  Have you seen…” James fell silent.  As he approached, he saw that there was no use trying to talk to the “person." Wearing only a blouse, skirt, and a cardigan, the figure stared back at him with a blank face.  It was just a sewing mannequin.  The woman who lives here must work as a seamstress from home.  But…something about the clothes the mannequin was wearing seemed to stab at his heart.  All at once he realized—those were the same clothes Mary was wearing in the picture of her he carried.  Could this mean she was still nearby…?  James’s hopes soared at the thought.

The light that illuminated the room was a small flashlight attached to a cord hanging from the mannequin like a necklace.  James thought over the situation.  Maybe the resident was using the mannequin to light the place because of the power outage?  It was situated just right to shine over the entire room…  But he had no clue why anyone would leave the light on and the door unlocked while she was away.  Seeing as the person was away at the moment, James decided to “borrow” her flashlight.  He took the light from the mannequin and hung it around his neck.  At least now he would have an easier time getting around the apartments.  Still, he felt a bit guilty.  First trespassing, and now theft?  He really didn’t have any ill intent—he just wanted to find Mary.

Leaving room 205 behind, he proceeded down the corridor that extended north from the eastern edge of the first hallway.  Immediately after he turned the corner, he stopped clean in his tracks.  Flickers of static began to emanate from the radio in his coat pocket.  The beam of his flashlight fell on what appeared to be a naked figure standing in the middle of the hallway.

Only it didn’t seem to have a head.  A mannequin…?  James though for a moment that maybe the mannequin from 205 was mad at him for stealing its flashlight and it had chased him out here to take it back.  The thought brought a bitter smile to his face.  Still, seeing the thing just standing there made him more than a little bit nervous.  That and the fact that when the radio made noise, there was likely a monster nearby.

He took a couple wary steps forward to take a closer look at the mannequin.  Its body was bent and posed in a manner that seemed almost…coquettish.  He first thought that something about its arms was strange, only now he could see that it, in fact, had no arms.  At the mannequin’s waist, where its torso should have begun, was another pair of legs that were missing feet.  These extra limbs were both bent and twisted into unnatural positions.  The mannequin had a surreal style, almost in a weird artistic way.  But why wasn’t it wearing any clothes?

Suddenly, it moved.  Twisting around its extra legs, the mannequin’s body began to sway back and forth.  James’s eyes opened wide in terror.  This thing was no mannequin.  It was another monster.  Though it had a different form than the squirming monster from before, he had no doubt that they were related somehow.  Oddly enough, he found that being confronted by this grotesque being didn’t bring up the same feelings of hatred and disgust that the other monsters had.  Still, if it was half as dangerous as the other ones, he didn’t want to stick around.

Leaving the mannequin creature behind, James turned and ran back to the second floor’s main hallway.  Now that he had a light, he could see another hall branching off of the main corridor and leading north.  However, his flashlight also illuminated a figure lying on the floor that wriggled and squirmed in a very familiar manner.  These things really were running rampant in this town.  First they had infested the streets, now they had spread into the apartment building.  At least this explains why no one would answer him.  The residents were probably all holed up in their rooms, hiding from the horrible creatures roaming the halls.  Or had they all escaped like the person from room 205?

It was becoming clear that the second floor was not a good place to be at the moment.  Ducking into the stairwell to his left, he began to trudge toward the third floor.  He hesitated for a moment.  What would he do if there were monsters on the third floor, too?  Would he just try to leave the apartment building?  But if he did that, he would also have to consider leaving Silent Hill altogether.  He had come this far, the least he could do was keep trying.  He opened the door to the third floor hallway just a crack and carefully listened for any signs of monsters roaming around.  He couldn’t be sure…but everything seemed quiet.

As he opened the door and stepped into the hallway, he saw that most of the living area was blocked off by a metal shutter that divided the corridor.  It seemed a bit out of place here.  Was it installed as a security measure, or was it put up to keep away the invading monsters?  If the other side of those bars was a safe zone, there was a good chance Mary would be there with the other residents.  Now that he thought about it, James wished he was over there too—anywhere was safer than here.  He tried calling his wife’s name through the bars, but there was still no answer.  As worried as he was about Mary’s safety, there was just no way around the shutter.

Turning around, he saw that the small hallway was lined with two doors that sat side by side.  Might as well check them out.  It’s not like I have anywhere else to go, James thought.  The door to room 302 wouldn’t open, but 301 was unlocked.  However, the room was completely empty.  No furniture, no nothing.  Instead, a lone shopping cart sat abandoned in the middle of the empty darkness.  What was something like that doing here?  James regarded it a bit suspiciouslyafter all, it was the last thing he expected to find in this room.  He caught sight of something shiny reflecting the beam of his flashlight.  Creeping closer, he peered inside the shopping cart.

It was a gun.

James picked it up and examined it.  He could hardly believe his luck.  Not only was the weapon fully loaded, but a box of spare bullets was sitting close by.  A complacent smile came to his face.  This was just what he needed.  No more running away and hiding every time a monster crossed his path.  Stuffing the extra bullets into his coat pocket with the radio, he began to formulate a new plan.  Now that I have a proper weapon, I can keep searching on the second floor.  Clutching the cold handgun, James left room 301.

Retracing his steps through the gloomy hallway, he found his way back to the stairwell door.  Before he opened it, he caught sight of something in the blocked off section of the hallway.  How had he not noticed this before?  Under the beam of his flashlight, he saw a small object lying on the floor just beyond the shutter.  It was a key, sitting just close enough that he might be able to grab it if he reached far enough.  Maybe it would unlock the shutter?  He slid his hand underneath the grate and groped in the darkness to find the key.  The tips of his fingers fell on something cold.  Stretching out his arm as far as he was able, James tried to pull the key closer.  Just a little more…

Suddenly, James felt the presence of another person.  Before he could see what was happening, a tennis shoe clad foot came into view and in one magnificent strike kicked the key far across the hall.

“Hey!”  His yell turned into a cry of pain as the foot took the opportunity to smash down on his grasping fingers.  Fuming with rage, James glared up at the prankster.  On the other side of the shutter, he saw the back of an elementary school-aged girl as she fled, her laughter echoing through the hallway.

“Idiot!”  She threw one last insult at James before disappearing from sight.

“Hey, get back here!”  Even if the girl did hear him shouting, he doubted she was coming back.  “Damn…”

James swore under his breath as he pulled his aching hand out from under the metal shutter.  What an annoying little brat.  But in a way, seeing her was a bit of good news.  She was proof that there had to be at least a few people hiding in the blocked-off section of the third floor.  The appearance of the girl was enough to keep alive the possibility that Mary was over there as well.  Despite the pain in his hand and his anger at the little girl, a smile returned to James’s face.  Wasting no more time, he began to make his way back to the second floor.

------------------------------------------------------------------ 


A violent screech pierced the heavy silence near the intersecting hallways of the second floor.  Though the sound came from the hallway extending north, the cry was muffled slightly as if it had come from the upper floor.  The first thought that came to James’s mind was of Mary, but then he recalled the image of the little girl as she ran away.  Irritating as she had been, he certainly didn’t hate her enough to hope she would be attacked by a monster.  He couldn’t wish that kind of death on anyone.

Rushing in the direction of the screams, James once again came face-to-face with the monster blocking the north hallway.  Without hesitation, James aimed his gun at the creature.

“Get the hell outta my way!”

The twisted monster shrieked and recoiled as a shower of bullets pierced its body, dark drops of blood spattering against the walls.  At that moment, James felt a rush of exhilaration.  There was no need to turn around and flee; he could finally stand his ground and fight back.  Though this monster was his enemy and he wouldn’t argue that he wanted it dead, his actions didn’t feel like “murder."  No, it was different.  It felt more like he was taking advantage of the situation, like he finally had the upper hand.

Stepping over the creature’s corpse, which now lay un-moving in a pool of blood, James hurried through the hall.  His heart sank, however, when the beam of his flashlight fell on yet another shutter blocking his path.  Just on the other side, he could see a staircase extending into darkness.  That had to be the way to the main part of the third floor…  Acting impulsively, James turned and grabbed the doorknob of the room nearest to the shutter.  Thankfully, the door was unlocked.  He swung the door open and plunged into the room marked 208.

This room was adjacent to room 209, which was located on the other side of the barrier.  If he was somehow able to break through the wall that separated the two rooms, he would be able to reach that staircase.  That was James’s plan anyway.  Rushing from the living room into the bedroom, he was able to find the north-most wall.  In the middle of the wall sat a large rectangular object.  It appeared to be an old grandfather clock.  James shoved it out of the way, the clock moving easily over the carpeted floor.

“What the…”

He stared at the wall, dumbfounded.  There was a gaping hole in the wall behind the clock.  This building…even though it looked nice on the outsidethese rooms were falling apart.  This must really be low-income housing if the owner had use the clock to cover up the crumbling wall until it could be repaired.  Good thing they never got around to it.  Now James didn’t have to waste his energy busting through the wall.

Emerging back into the hallway, James hurried up the stairs to the third floor.  Where did that scream come from?  With little other options left, James went about checking every room.  Like the first floor, all of the doors seemed to be locked until he reached the door to room 307.  James paused, his hand on the doorknob.  He could just barely make out sound coming from inside the room.  Carefully opening the door, he stepped inside.  At first there didn’t seem to be anything inside, even though the rustling noise continued.  Whatever the commotion was, it was enough to send tremors through the floor.

“Mary….?”

His wife’s name came out as barely a whisper as his breath caught in his throat.  James stood frozen.  By the time he noticed the shadowy movement in the back of the room, there was no time to escape.  At that moment, an open closet door caught his eye and he quickly hid inside.  He really didn’t want to look, but he couldn’t help it.  Trembling, James peeked through the lattice of the closet door.

In the darkness he could make out the forms of three monsters that seemed to be engaged in some sort of struggle.  Two of them were the mannequin-like creatures that he’d encountered in the hallway, but the third was different.  It was completely unlike the others.  It had the shape of a large man, and appeared to have a huge triangular head that was muddled with dark brown and deep crimson hues.  Rust clung to the corroded metal as if it had seen many countless years of wear and damage.

It was a demon.  At least, that’s what James thought.  A red demon… a monster…  The words printed in the old newspaper article resurfaced in his mind.  Is this the same terror that Walter Sullivan felt when he witnessed this bizarre creature?  Certainly this thing had the appropriate appearance to be called a demon.  Unlike the other monsters, this creature was clothed in a grimy robe and wore dark knee-high boots.

Much as the mannequins struggled to pull away from his grip, they were overwhelmed by the pyramid monster’s strength.  With his large muscular arms he was able to break the creatures' spines as easily as if they were helpless children.  Now painted in their own blood, the two were casually discarded into a heap on the floor.  Neither of them moved.  The sight of twisted corpses sent an icy chill down James’s spine as cold sweat trickled down his face.

Suddenly, as if sensing his presence, the pyramid creature slowly turned its angular head in the direction of the closet doors.  James’s heart skipped a beat.  He had been so distracted by the horrible scene playing out in front of him that he hadn’t noticed the sputtering bursts of static coming from his radio.  He frantically dug in his pocket and switched the radio off.  Sitting in the cramped closet completely frozen and not even daring to breath, James silently prayed that the creature hadn’t noticed him.

The terrifying silence was broken by heavy footsteps that caused the wooden floors to creak.  It was coming towards the closet.  James could do nothing but hold his gun at the ready.  The sound of ragged metallic breathing came from just outside the door and the tiny space was quickly filled with the stench of rotting flesh.  There’s no way I’m going to survive this.  There’s just no way.  James clutched the gun tighter in his shaking hands.  If victory goes to the one who makes the first move…

For a moment, his despair turned to determination.  James pulled the trigger, firing blindly in the monster’s direction.  Once I run out of bullets, I’m going to die, he thought bleakly through the ear-splitting shots.  What hope did he really have of killing this massively strong monster?  If anything, he was just going to make it angry.  It would shrug off the bullets like mosquito bites and come smashing through the door any second now.  And then James would be next to join the pile of corpses.  I’m going to die.  This dusty little closet might as well be my coffin.

And then the time came.  The spray of bullets ceased, and silence fell over the room.  James almost thought he could hear the flapping wings of the angel of death coming to take him away… but the silence only continued.  There were no footsteps, no breathing, nothing at all.  Is it dead... ? Did I really manage to kill it?  Relying on that vain hope, he peeked through the latticed door.  The room appeared empty.  He pushed the door open as quietly as he could, barely breathing as he took a better look.  The pyramid monster was gone.

Now that he thought about it, while he was loading the creature full of bullets, it had howled as if it was screaming in pain…  Maybe it was afraid of the gun and fled?  James wasn’t fully satisfied with either of these explanations.  He just couldn’t bring himself to believe in his unlikely victory.  It seemed very unlikely that the monster ran away, seeing as the front door was still shut tight.  It was like…  it just disappeared from the room like smoke.  As James sat exhausted on the floor, his eyes fell on the massacred mannequins.  A dark red pool spread across the floor underneath their mangled remains.  He found that even after his narrow escape from death, he felt no sense of relief.

With a stiff body and uneven gait, James left room 307.  Why…  why am I seeing all these messed-up things?  He walked through the dark third floor hallway, his face still pale.  He stopped.  On the floor at his feet lay a small key.  The one the bratty little girl kicked away.  Sure enough, when he shined his flashlight across the hall he could see the metal screen that had blocked his path before.  Where was that girl now?  Mary wasn’t anywhere on the third floor.  There were no people at all.  James had come rushing up here like some wannabe hero, only to find the “person” he’d come to save was a couple of dying mannequins.

James climbed down the stairs.  He had been distracted by the screams from the third floor before, but now he could at least continue his search.  Using the light from his flashlight, he reloaded the handgun using the box of spare bullets.  He also remembered to switch the radio back on.  Soon he was back where he started: the first floor entry hall.  Last time he was here he was under the impression that people still lived here, but now he was almost certain that the building was deserted.  At least now he didn’t have to worry about getting caught breaking into someone’s room.

James immediately noticed that the door to room 101 was slightly ajar, even though it was locked the last time he had checked it.  Cautiously, he pushed the door open and looked around inside.  It appeared to be empty.  However, he was greeted with an unpleasant sight when the flashlight’s beam shined into the small kitchen.  It was a corpse.  James had almost grown accustomed to the sight of dead monsters… but even with the body badly beaten and the face obscured by shadows, this was clearly a human.

As James stood in shock, he heard a pained moan come from the bathroom door.  It sounded like a person… but then again, the mannequin’s screams sounded like a person, too.  Perhaps it was the monster that killed the resident of this room?  There’s no way he was going to bust down the bathroom door and find out.  He wasn’t stupid enough to fall for the same trick twice.  Still… this wasn’t something he could ignore.  Stepping quietly over to the door, James strained his ears and listened for any other sounds coming from inside.

“Shit, shit, shit!  I…  I…”  A male voice murmured.

So it was a person after all.  Even if it wasn’t Mary, maybe he had some useful information about her.   James opened the bathroom door and found a somewhat chubby man kneeling on the floor.  Clutching the toilet tightly, he vomited into the bowl until his stomach was empty and he could only cough violently.

“Uhhh, hey there.  Are you alright?”  James spoke up.

The man looked over his shoulder with his round face.  He wore a backwards baseball cap on his head, and he seemed to be a bit younger than James.  Terror in his eyes, the man shook his head back and forth.  “It wasn’t me, I swear!”

“What?”

“I didn’t do anything.  He was like that when I found him!  I just… just…”

“It’s okay, just calm down.”  James crouched beside the man and patted his back reassuringly.  It seemed like the man misunderstood his intentions.  James didn’t quite know the circumstances, but the man was acting defensive as if James was someone here to arrest him.  “You don’t have to worry, I’m just a tourist.  My name’s James.  James Sunderland.  What’s your name?”

“Eddie…” the man muttered in the same frightened tone.

 “Okay Eddie,” James said with a nod.  “The… person in the kitchen.  Did you know him?”

“N-no!  I didn’t do anything!  I’m no killer!”  Again Eddie furiously shook his head.

“Okay, okay, I understand, Eddie.  I don’t think you killed anyone.  You seem to be in shock, and I was a little worried.  It was just a question.”

“I didn’t kill him…  I…”

“Of course you didn’t.  If anything it was probably those monstersmaybe the weird wriggling ones, or the ones that look like mannequins.  Maybe even the red pyramid thing.”

“A red pyramid thing?  I dunno anything ‘bout those things.  Honest.  I did see some weird creature though.  Scared the hell outta me, so I ran in the apartment building to hide.”

His words filled James with disappointment.  After all this time he finally found another person to talk to, and he wasn’t even a resident of the apartment building.  Even if the chances of getting any information about Mary were slim, maybe he could get some answers about Silent Hill.  “What exactly happened in this town?”

“I don’t know.  I don’t know anything.  I don’t even live in this town.”

“What?  You too?”  James shrugged.  “Well, then why are you here?”

“Umm…  well…”  Eddie hesitated.  It looked like he didn’t want to talk about it.

“Fine then.  But you better hurry up and get out of here.  This place isn’t right.”

“Y-yeah…  I’ll do that.”

“Be careful, alright?”

“Okay.  You too James.”  At least Eddie seemed to have calmed down.  The fear was gone from his expression, and some color had returned to his pale face as they parted.

After all that, James wasn’t able to find Mary anywhere in the apartment building.  However, there was another option.  When passing through the courtyard, James had noticed another building adjacent to the Woodside apartments on the west side.  Rather than brave the monster-infested Katz Street again, he decided to search for a shortcut.  The two buildings were so close, there had to be a way to jump across somehow.  Maybe he could find a window in a room on the second floor?

Wasting no time, James climbed to the second floor and advanced to the western end of the hallway.  Luckily, the window on the other building looked to be missing altogether.  Bracing himself, James jumped across and through the window, landing in a forceful manner and rolling across the floor in the adjacent room.

As soon as he left the room and entered the hallway, James found himself face-to-face with yet another mannequin-like creature.  Unsurprisingly, the monsters were running rampant in this building, too.  Aiming his gun without fear or hesitation, James opened fire on the mannequin until it fell lifeless to the ground.  Again, he felt the satisfaction of defeating another monster.  However, James would have to force himself to start avoiding unnecessary conflict in order to conserve ammo.  As it was now, the remaining number of spare bullets was distressingly low. 

Reaching the end of the second floor hallway, James descended the stairs.  In room 109, an unexpected reunion awaited him.  The room was mostly empty with a large mirror stretching across one of the walls, not unlike a ballet studio—that, or the person who owned this room was just particularly narcissistic.  A woman was lying on the floor in the middle of the mirrored room.  Like a child playing with a toy, she held a sharp kitchen knife in her hands which she used to stab the floor with monotonous repetition.  The face reflected in the mirror was familiarit was the woman he’d met at the graveyard.  Noticing James’s reflection, the woman spoke.

“Oh, it’s you,” she said listlessly.  With her faint voice and vacant gaze, she seemed like a completely different person than the one he’d met before.

“Yeah.  Call me James.”

“I’m… Angela.  Angela Orosco…”

“Angela, huh?  That’s a nice name.”  James addressed her in the gentlest way possible.  The way Angela stared so intently at the knife as she buried it into the floorboards again and again… She seemed to have ill intentions.   “So… what are you doing here?”

“Looking for my Mama.”

“Really?  I thought you were leaving town before.  Haven’t you found her yet?”

“N-no, I…”

“Did your mother live in this building?”

“I don’t remember…”

“So all you know is that she lived in this town?”  She’s just like me… running around town looking for someone with only the smallest clues to go by…  James felt bitter sympathy for her situation.

“What did you say?”  Suddenly, Angela raised her upper body and glared at James with a strange light in her previously empty eyes.  “How do you know that!?”  She yelled, her expression turning fierce.

“What do you mean?” James asked, puzzled at her response.  Angela gripped the knife tighter.  That blade was uncomfortably close…

“How did you know that Mama lived in this town?!”

So that was the reason.  Man, I better watch what I say.  She really looks like she’d kill me if she got the chance.  Not breathing a word of these thoughts, James replied, “I just thought that since you were looking for her here, that your mother lived here.  Anyone could have thought that…”

 “Yes…  I guess you’re right…”  The hostility disappeared from her face and Angela fell back into her lethargic behavior.

“Isn’t that why you’re here?”

“I…  I don’t know…”

“Then why come to Silent Hill in the first place?”  At James’s question, Angela cast her eyes to the floor.

“Why are you in this town?” Angela avoided the question by asking it right back.

James thought his search for Mary to be somewhat of a private matter, so he answered vaguely, “I’m looking for someone.”

“You find them yet?”

“No.”

“You and me both…”

“Yeah, I guess we’re stuck in the same situation...” James murmured.  Suddenly, he found that he could no longer contain his troubling emotions and they all came spilling out.  “That’s not all.  She, my wife Mary, has been… dead for a while now.  But I…  I really want to believe that she’s still alive.  That she’s living in this town somewhere.  I just got this letter from her.  If she was really dead, how could she have possibly sent me a letter?!”

“J-James…”

“Sorry.  I just… I just needed to tell someone.”

“I hope you find her.”

“Thanks.  I hope you can find your mother.”  Perhaps some of James’s passion rubbed off on her, because Angela seemed to regain a bit of humanity.  She even managed to smile.

“I won’t give up.  I’ll look everywhere for her if I have to.”  Angela pulled herself to her feet and stood in front of James.

“Let’s go together.  I can protect you so you don’t have to carry that around anymore.  Besides, that knife doesn’t suit a pretty young lady like you at all.”  James spoke cheerfully, gently closing his hands around her fist that held the sharp blade.

“Don’t touch me!”  Her hysteric scream pierced his ears.  She tore herself away and pointed the knife at him threateningly.  However, she quickly regained herself.  “I-I’m sorry… it’s okay.  I’ll be fine… by myself.”

“But

“Why?  Are you worried about me?  You think I’m going to kill myself?”  Angela stared at the gleaming blade as if she was spellbound.   “And… m-maybe you’d be right.  As long as I have this… it would be… so easy to do...”

Hastily, as if she wanted the thing out of her hand as soon as possible, Angela tossed the knife on top of a shelf.  Dashing towards the door, she fled into the hallway.  James didn’t follow her.  Clearly she had some severe issues dealing with poeple.  To her, it would probably be more frightening to be with another person than to wander the monster-infested halls all alone…


James happened to spot a photograph that had fallen on the floor where Angela had been lying.  Someone had shredded it to pieces, though.  Looking through the tattered scraps, it appeared to be a picture of a young Angela with her family.







------------------------------------------------------------------ 


As room after room turned up empty or locked, James’s confidence began to fade.  Did Mary really say something about Woodside Apartments when she spoke through the radio?  Already the memory was becoming hazy.  Maybe he had misheard her and this was all just a waste of time.  Or maybe… the voice wasn’t even Mary’s in the first place.  No, that couldn’t be it!  James refused to think such fearful thoughts.  Mary must have been here for a time, but she left before he could find her.  Maybe she ran away to escape the monsters.

Whether she had lived in this building or only been here for a moment, James couldn’t just sit here and wait.  Maybe he should go back to his original plan of finding the “special place” the letter mentioned.  Even if it was a fruitless effort… maybe a part of her would still be lingering in that place, even after all this time.

Leaving the building proved to be difficult as almost all the doors were completely jammed shut, including the front entrance.  No matter how forcefully he kicked and shoved it, James couldn’t get the door to open.  He had no choice but to wander around and see if he could find a back door.  On the second floor, he came across a door marked “emergency stairs” which, thankfully, was unlocked.  He stepped inside onto the pitch-black landing.

Ashen gray water.  James blinked in confusion.  When he shined his flashlight on the stairs that should have led down… he found a pool of murky gray water that filled the staircase all the way to the second floor.  What on earth could have caused water to flood an entire staircase?  Maybe the rampaging monsters broke a water pipe?  Either way, these stairs were useless now.  Discouraged, James turned around to exit back into the hallway.  The doorknob wouldn’t budge.  He was trapped.

A low roar echoed from the far corner of the landing and made James’s blood run cold.  It was a sound he’d heard not long ago.  The color rapidly draining from his face, James frantically kicked the door and tugged on the doorknob in a desperate, but futile, attempt to escape.  Reluctantly, he turned around, his legs so weak that he could barely feel the ground beneath his feet.  The flashlight’s beam exposed a large figure lurking in the darkness.  It was the demon he had encountered in room 307.  The red demon.

At the creature’s feet was the recently killed corpse of an armless monster.  Just like the mannequins from before, its body was mangled and broken almost beyond recognition.  Having finished dealing with its last victim, the pyramid monster slowly turned to face James.  Because of its bizarre head, James had no way to read the creature’s expression, but he could easily imagine it smiling gleefully at the arrival of new prey.

As the pyramid head stepped over the slain monster and advanced closer, a sharp, metallic screech filled the small room.  Its movements were slow and labored, as if it was carrying something very heavy.  When the light reflected off of the large and sinister thing the creature was holding, James could have fallen into a fit of mad laughter on the spot.  This was no human he was dealing with.  With the ease of an Olympic weightlifter, the monster lifted a large mass of iron.  It was holding an absurdly large knife.  One blow from that massive blade would surely be enough to slice James completely in half.

Before his eyes, the monster sluggishly lifted the massive weapon above its head with its muscular arms. The knife was so incredibly heavy that even this giant of a monster was having difficulty swinging it.  It was then that James found a ray of hope.  If there was anyway to win, he would have to try.  James was able to beat this thing before.  He could do it again.

A harsh clang pierced through the locked room as the sword missed its intended victim and smashed into the concrete wall instead.  After narrowly avoiding the attack, James ran behind the monster and opened fire.  Even as a spray of bullets penetrated its back, the hulking creature hardly seemed to notice.  It didn’t even slow down after he’d unloaded the firearm’s entire magazine.  James fell to his knees in despair, what little hope he had fading away.  Even though he still had some remaining ammo in his pocket, it would be utterly useless to reload now.  That knife would be slicing through his head before he’d be able to fire off another shot.

Strangely enough, even in this hopeless state, James felt no fear.  In fact, it was like his self-preservation instincts had been completely turned off, and all he felt now was peace.  In this mentality of self-abandonment, James hung his head, closed his eyes, and silently awaited the cold touch of the executioner’s blade.  He could hear the sound of small waves, like those at the shore of Toluca Lake.  It sounded just like it did years ago when he and Mary had spent that carefree day just watching the lake together.

Was he mishearing things?  Having grown impatient with his impending death, James opened his eyes.  He wasn’t imagining thingsthe sound of splashing water was coming from the flooded stairs.  Rather than taking the easy opportunity to kill James, the pyramid monster was descending down the stairs into the murky water.  All he could see of it was its bullet hole-riddled back.  Slowly the answer came to him.  I… I won?  Again…?  Though he hadn’t been able to kill the creature for good, he had at least hurt it badly enough to force it to retreat once again.

Letting out a huge sigh, James fell to the ground from pure exhaustion.  He was quickly losing track of how many times he had narrowly avoided death in just one day.  Swirls of blood mixed with dark water as the flooded staircase began to drain with a thunderous roar.  Through the murk emerged a previously hidden back door.

The singing voice of a young child drifted though the fog.  The back door in the flooded staircase led to an alley at the back of the building that ran toward Nathan Avenue.  The cheerful song was mixed with little bursts of innocent laughter.

“It’s you!”  James couldn’t help but raise his voice when he saw the child’s familiar face.  Seated atop a brick wall was a young girl reading an unfolded piece of paper.  “You’re that little brat that stomped on my hand back in that hallway!”

The girl blinked in surprise and stared at James for a moment.  With a little grin on her face, she said, “I dunno know what you’re talking about.”

James’s expression darkened.  Did she really think she could feign ignorance?  This was one stubborn little kid.  “What are you doing here anyway?” In a town overrun by monsters, it was extremely dangerous for a child to run around alone.  Saucy attitude or not, James couldn’t help but worry about the girl’s safety.

The girl, seemingly uninterested in the conversation, gave an answer that had little to do with the question.  “Are you blind or something?  Stupid.”

“Hey, is that a letter you got there?”

“What’s it to you?  You never even liked Mary anyway!”

James stood in shock.  How did this kid know his wife’s name?  No, it had to be a coincidence.  She could have been talking about anyone named Mary.  But… she said it right to me.  Like she knows me or something…

“Loser.”  After sticking her tongue out at him and insulting him one last time, the girl slipped over to the other side of the wall.

“Hey, get back here!  How do you know Mary?!  Tell me where she is!”  Beyond the wall he heard the sound of running footsteps growing farther and farther away.  James was left staring at a blank brick wall.

----------------Notes----------------

Also, Laura seems to be be even more of a brat in Japanese. I didn't think that was possible. 

I can't believe I haven't mentioned this before, but I find it quite amusing that underneath the dust jacket the actual book is...pink. If I didn't know better, I'd say it looks like a romance novel or something

James is so much nicer in the book, isn't he? I like how he tried to comfort everyone despite the nasty situation he's stuck in. And his kindness is repaid by....almost getting stabbed. Darn.

Original - Sadamu Yamashita
Characters/story - Konami
Translation - Lady Ducky

You MAY NOT re-post this translation anywhere without my permission and I must be given credit as well as the original author.

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