RESIDENT EVIL X SILENT HILL: JUDGMENT DAY
written by Charles Spencer,
inspired by Ygure
Saturday, August 30, 2013
Just outside of Black Falls, Vermont
For the world outside of Black Falls, Vermont, just over 13 hours had passed since Alpha and Bravo entered the foreboding bubble of fog that shrouded the town. It was well into the afternoon this Saturday, and anxieties had only increased with the passage of time and not knowing what the hell was going on within the grey. Unrest was steadily spreading in every civilized country on Earth, most of it spiritual and religious in motivation. Calls had also increased to leaders everywhere, no matter the country, urging them to be proactive. To do something, anything that would end this crisis before it somehow got worse, before it affected those who for all of this time could only watch and wait.
That quiet, elemental desperation was felt the strongest by those directly, personally involved...one of them was Kathy Burton.
The wife of Billings, Montana police chief Barry Burton, it felt like a lifetime had passed for the lovely brunette schoolteacher instead of simply 13 hours. As she stayed in the Forward Operating Base of Operation: Lightning Strike not far from the fog's boundaries, trying her best not to be unobtrusive to the military personnel deployed here, she had very little to do but keep in constant contact with her daughters Moira and Polly...Kathy was lent a secure satellite phone for that purpose. She and the girls called each other every hour for most of the day. Both daughters were beside themselves with worry for their parents. At this moment, it was the eldest of her daughters Kathy was talking to, and she had no doubt talking to them both was helping keep her sane.
When she was barely a teenager less than a decade ago, well after the Burton family returned to America to start a new life in Montana, Barry expected so much from Moira Burton, his firstborn child. It was only natural. From an early age, the weapons specialist taught both his girls about gun safety, that one should have the utmost care and respect even when in sight of a weapon created to kill. It was something Kathy heartily agreed with -- not because she was as fervent a Second Amendment proponent as her husband, but she wanted her girls to fully understand and appreciate how dangerous guns were. But Moira had a rebellious streak in her...like all kids, inevitably, she was far too curious and woefully ignorant of the concept of consequences. At a fateful time when neither parent was watching, Moira got one of her dad's guns from his cabinet and started to play with it as Polly was present in the same room. She didn't realize the gun was loaded.
It only took one careless slip and with a deafening gunshot, the worst fear of any gunowner who was also a loving and dedicated parent became reality. Moira accidentally shot her little sister, but blessedly the wound wasn't serious and healed in time. Moira was so completely horrified and distraught by what she had done, but her feelings almost paled in the face of Barry's righteous anger. The friction between father and daughter turned into a rift as he harshly condemned Moira for being so damned irresponsible; he never let the girl forget she almost killed her sister. But Kathy knew with sadness that her loving bear of a husband blamed himself far more than he could ever have Moira for what happened. He wanted to ingrain into the girls the importance of gun safety, but the fact Moira was reckless anyway made him feel like he was to blame more than she was...Kathy was the only one he ever confided that fact to. The rift only widened between Barry and Moira during the girl's teenage years...as she was about to graduate from high school, she still wasn't sure what she wanted from life. Directionless, frustrated, still haunted by the memory of hurting her little sister and having a fear and loathing of guns because of it, the girl developed a very foul mouth...Barry's increasingly demanding what the girl wanted to do with her life only made matters worse. In spite of Kathy's very best efforts to heal the rift, to Polly's constant discomfort, Barry and Moira had lost any and all patience for communicating with each other in any way that didn't involve verbal fireworks.
Right after her graduation at the age of 18, Moira was inspired by an online advertisement to join the activist organization TerraSave. Barry didn't approve of the idea, thinking his girl should get a real job...and that was all Moira needed to hear to cement her decision. Kathy wasn't sure what to think -- she saw that TerraSave advertisement, and something about it struck her wrong. It felt prepackaged and plastic, a little too political and polished. But Kathy thought the organization couldn't have been bad, could it? Claire Redfield, sister to Chris and a dear friend of the Burtons, was part of the group. Kathy urged Barry to let Moira do it...their daughter might even start working with Claire one day, for all they knew.
But any misgivings Barry and Kathy felt couldn't have been warning enough of the horror that overwhelmed Claire and Moira during a TerraSave function one night...the bloody adventure that followed was one they only survived by working together, and then with the support of Barry, who never stopped searching for them both. The three of them came through alive and well. More than that, the terrible ordeal didn't simply reestablish the bond between Barry and Moira...to the relief of Kathy and Polly, the father and his firstborn not only reconciled, their love became stronger than ever. One could say that the family that survives together stays together. Ever since, Moira settled on a (hopefully safer!) life path and entered college, just like her younger sister just did.
At the moment, Moira Burton was feeling deeper and deeper misplaced guilt not being there with her mother Kathy just outside of Black Falls...she lamented, "I want to do more for dad and Claire, mom! I feel like total shit doing nothing but waiting here, goddamn it -- !"
Kathy sighed, "Young lady, remember your language!" God love the girl, Kathy thought, but she still needs to curb that potty mouth!
Moira quickly, meekly responded, "Sorry! I'm sorry! I want to be there for you. You're right in the middle of that shit, and -- !"
Kathy soothed, "Not exactly, sweetie. I am in the same position you are. I may be outside of Black Falls, but all I can do is watch and wait, too. It honestly wouldn't make any difference if you were also here."
"I know, and you said the same thing to Polly, but we don't believe that crap! We're both ready to drop everything and join you -- !"
Kathy's heart went out to Moira...at the same time, she felt so overwhelmingly, happily blessed her girls felt that sentiment. But her motherly instincts demanded she interrupt: "Well, neither of you are going to do that! I need to be here for your father...for better or worse, good times and bad, all that nonsense, right? But we'd both feel better if you and Polly stayed as far away from Vermont as possible. For the upteenth time, you and your little sister stay home! Okay?"
"Mom -- !"
Moira gave a sad, frustrated snarl...and then sighed just like her mom: "Okay!"
Kathy's voice soothed, "I know you and Polly are so worried, Moira, but there's really nothing you can do. The second I know more, so will you. You know that."
Moira said quietly, "I know, mom..."
"I'll call you both in an hour, okay?"
"I'm not sure if I can wait that long..." The more time had passed since this started, the more worried the girl had become. "...but okay. I really miss you and dad."
Kathy fought the sudden urge cry...she needed to stay strong for her girls. For Barry. "I miss you, too...I love you so much, I... I-I'll talk to you soon, baby, I really will."
Moira Burton's voice was thick with sadness too as she managed, "I know, mom. I love you!"
It took another minute for Kathy and her youngest daughter to say goodbye, even if that was only temporary...it was just as hard to stop talking to Polly not long before, as well. When the connection was terminated, Kathy Burton felt worse than ever. She did her best to focus on slowing her breaths, keeping her tears inside...it was such a struggle for the loving mother and devoted wife...
"Kathy?" Startled, Kathy turned to the voice...and saw the gentle, curious expression of Ingrid Hunnigan gazing at the brunette through her glasses. In the time Kathy had been here, she had met the comm officer and had the chance to talk to her a few times. Ingrid couldn't help but offer support to the schoolteacher before, and she could clearly see Kathy needed someone now.
A little flustered, Kathy managed, "I-Ingrid, I..." The lady took a deep breath and shook her head. "Please pardon me, I must look worse than I feel and..." She managed a sour laugh. "God, I feel terrible!"
Ingrid smiled brightly...she thought Kathy was an incredible beauty, in spite of how bad she felt. "I can't even imagine, Kathy. But if it helps at all, if you need someone to talk to, I'm here. My speciality is communications, right?"
The schoolteacher sighed with gratitude. "It would help a lot, thank you. I wouldn't be taking you away from anything -- ?"
Ingrid drew closer as she said, "No, I'm actually on a break. Even if I wasn't, I answer only to General Earle...and he'd need a good reason to call on me. He hasn't called on me much since the infiltration teams entered the fog."
"No one else has had anything better to do but watch and wait, I guess?"
"That's about the size of it, yeah. You just talked to your daughters?"
Kathy nodded as her full lips tensed into a thin line. She said, "I want them to be safe and as far away from this insanity as possible. That's all Barry and I ever wanted, for our girls to be safe."
Ingrid gazed at the brunette carefully. She offered, "I know that hasn't been easy because of things you couldn't control. Your family went through so much because of Albert Wesker and Umbrella over ten years ago...and then just a few years back when -- !" She stopped short, realizing what she was about to go into, and she felt lousy. "I-I mean, everything that happened because of..."
Kathy's lovely face shifted to a dark expression as she nodded slowly and said with thick loathing: "Alex Wesker."
Ingrid cursed herself; the last thing she wanted was to make Kathy Burton feel worse than she already did! But she opened the door, and with the need to shut it again and move on for Kathy's sake, the comm officer said carefully, "I...I do know about what happened to your daughter Moira and Claire Redfield. Claire and your husband are part of this op, so their histories were investigated before they were fully cleared. It's standard procedure, I...I didn't want to intrude on anything."
Understanding, Kathy nodded. But... "You must know what happened right after that. You know about...?" The brunette's expression was so sad as she hesitated to say anymore.
Ingrid frowned and nodded. "Yes. It's part of secure BSAA records filed by Claire Redfield's sister, Chris." Ingrid drew that much closer to Kathy -- she said softly, "I'm sorry, all I'm trying to say is if you ever want to talk about that, about anything, I -- !"
It was exactly 3:52 PM this sunny Saturday afternoon...when they first heard the sound.
The sound was distant, coming from deep within the fog, but it could be heard clearly by the soldiers in the forward operating base and surrounding the area, and by the hundreds of reporters just beyond the sphere of quarantine. Kathy and Ingrid heard it and they couldn't have known that the blood ran cold in them both at the exact same moment. The sound was artificial, an old-fashioned mechanical air raid siren, but there was something in its constant wail that wound slowly up and down as the seconds passed that was terribly ominous. It was an unearthly warning cry of something unimaginable. General Beauregard Earle, the commander of Lightning Strike, was sitting at his desk when he heard it...the expression on his stony face tightened as he felt a sudden chill in his blood, the same chill Kathy and Ingrid and everyone there felt in reaction.
It was felt by Trish Tilby as leaden dread coiled in her gut like an ugly snake...the pretty reporter whirled from the fog to look at her cameraman and she shouted, "Call the network, Scott, we need to break in live NOW! I think something's happening...Scott? Scott, what's wrong with you...?" The reporter realized her cameraman, Scott, was looking past her...he'd completely frozen as he had his camera propped on his shoulder, and his eyes were growing wider by the second to become full of pure, stark terror. Compelled by her dread, desperately needing to see yet so suddenly frightened of doing so, Trish slowly turned back to look in the direction of the fog...
...and she saw the virtual bubble of mist that concealed the entirety of Black Falls, Vermont was darkening...and it was changing. As the haunting clarion call of the air raid siren screamed, the mist darkned to become as bleak as a thunderhead and then even darker as the bubble of mist rose higher, higher, ever higher at shocking speed as what was once its gauzy surface became something full of energy, something that began to spin and roil a little over a hundred yards away from the soldiers standing sentinel around it. The substance of what once appeared to be fog became a spinning, cyclonic cauldron of dark force that in subsequent, frenzied analysis by leading scientists across the world, was observed to reach as high as the stratosphere of the planet. For everyone there bearing witness, for everyone across the world who saw the event because so many of the cameras outside of the town were broadcasting live, they might as well have been staring upon the face of an incredibly mammoth, death-black tornado that measured the diameter of the town it obscured at its widest. The sight was beyond phenomenal. Beyond threatening. Trish Tilby was at a total loss for words.
"Ingrid..." Kathy Burton managed to find her voice as she looked at the comm officer, but she could hardly find the focus to breathe. "What in the name of god...!?"
Ingrid Hunnigan could only stare at the darkness. She said absently, "I don't know, I...oh, Jesus. I-I've never seen anything like this in my life."
Kathy's eyes were bright with desperate need. "Ingrid, my husband is still in there...!"
Ingrid looked at Kathy and could only shake her head helplessly. "I..." She had no idea what to say.
"HUNNIGAN!" The shout almost made Ingrid jump out of her shoes and she turned quickly to see General Earle and Andrea Grey approaching her. Their expressions were a mirror of her feelings, but there was still a steel in Earle's eyes. He wasn't going to let himself lose control of the situation, whatever the hell was going on. He barked, "Get your ass back to the Comm Tent NOW! I need to talk to the President!" He had no doubt only a thousand people wanted to talk to his leader too, and Earle was right.
Ingrid Hunnigan quickly said, "Yes, General!" She spared a last sympathetic glance at Kathy before she rushed away.
Andrea Grey drew close to Kathy and said softly, "Mrs. Burton, I realize you must be frightened for your husband..."
Earle couldn't help but growl, "There's going to be a helluva lot of people who must be frightened seeing this." And among them would be the other leaders of the free world, he thought. Yeah. Great idea to have reporters here so they can broadcast this to everyone!
Kathy Burton fought desperately to hold back her helpless tears...she almost moaned, "I was just talking to one of our daughters...she's so worried for her father..."
Andrea drew even closer and gently took Kathy's hands...the lady said carefully, "Kathy...the moment we know more about what is happening, so will you and your family. I swear."
Earle felt for Mrs. Burton too, but he had the impulse to tell Andrea not to make any promises they might not be able to keep. On the heels of that, feeling his own fear, General Earle had to ask himself if they wanted to know what the devil was happening. His every instinct screamed to him how much more wrong, how evil this was.
And he was right to fear knowing what was happening within the black.
The malefic transition within Black Falls was both gradual and jarring when the otherworldly gateway opened because of Reeve Meyers and forces unknown, using Cheryl Mason's power against her will. It was jarring because what seemed a gradual transformation of the town itself was so horrific, so complete. If the fog created primal uncertainty and doubt, then this oppressive and depthless darkness that overhwhelmed Black Falls could only create a dread that chilled the heart and soul. And every moment of the change the haunting air raid siren never ceased in its sound, heralding its arrival.
The darkness came and it was as if day had shifted to night in a matter of moments here...rain started falling and took the place of the light snow as the overwhelming fog dissipated to nothing in the space of heartbeats.
Disorienting as that alone had been, the real fear and terror came from seeing what the town of Black Falls, Vermont itself seemed to become. It was as if the aged, dirty, grimy state every structure and object and surface had taken in the fog dissolved, and what took their place was similar...yet in forms far darker and far, far more frightening than before. Everything in the black literally decayed and took on a virtually apocalyptic appearance and feel. Every building and structure became a looming presence full of ominous threat. Surface streets shifted in substance to become metal grating or fencing, crimson from both rust and blood -- the same as looking up into the sky, only depthless darkness could be seen underneath -- as other parts remained pavement. More strange, gruesome fencing appeared everywhere and rose high to accent the streets with both unforgiving barbed wire and coiling razor wire at their peaks. Utilities were by and large nonexistent, with the exception of some working lights, but those lights only illuminated how bad things were and offered no comfort of any kind. Most vehicles here simply...faded away, completely unnecessary in this darksome landscape as some remained, but as blasted, ruined hulks of metal and fiberglass.
Within the buildings of the town that once offered any kind of community or sanctuary or purpose, it was far worse. Everything took on a far more shadowy, oppressively codemned feel. The disrepair and derelict aura of everything worsened by what seemed a thousandfold. Many walls became filthy and heavily damaged, seemingly primed for collapse, as others became gore-stained...or even worse, surreally transformed into flesh that seemed to weep blood. Many floors disappeared to have rusted, bloody fencing take their place, like some of the streets and sidewalks, and one could see the rusted pipes just underneath them. Even more disorienting was that the halls and rooms of every building and home shifted in configuration to take on new and unfamiliar paradigms. In the largest buildings, halls became byzantine mazes that threatened to trap anyone within. Most furniture seemed to change, as well...there was no uniformity to it, though, no rhyme or reason, except that most furniture was either beyond repair or gory in appearance. And scattered throughout, no matter where one went, strange meat carcasses and rotting corpses laid like litter or hung from many ceilings, either impaled on hooks or laid in bloody cages from heavy chains. Sometimes, they were literally impaled to walls.
And the changes didn't stop there, unfortunately.
In this otherworldly black, the demonic creatures that threatened every innocent in Black Falls transformed, as well. They became far more frightening. Far more dangerous and predatory. There would soon be even more terrible things to discover about this new state of affairs, as well.
The town of Black Falls had appeared to shift to a hellish, broken-mirror version of itself.
Within the Black
The professional building only blocks away from Wyler Community Hospital. As darkness fell, as everything inanimate around her dissolved to take on an otherworldly form, Cheryl Mason fell to her knees completely spent, her soul clutched with agony and building despair. It was happening. What she passionately wanted to stop, the arrival of the dark, was happening in spite of her very best efforts. She didn't seem to have the power to stop it, even though by the same token it was her power making this possible. She felt worse than helpless, worse than impotent as the mystical transformation she underwent just before faded to nothing. Her pale skin, covered with blotchy patches of dark that resembled bruises, shifted back to normal...her silver hair became blonde again as her eyes changed from elemental blue to their natural hazel. Rebecca Chambers ignored the changes around her, focusing only on the girl she had come to adore as she rushed to Cheryl and offered her support...she lowered to one knee and reached out, gently offering to help Cheryl stand again.
The others in their group weren't completely aware of the changes around them, either...Alex and Elle Shepherd stared at Cheryl, trying to absorb what she had briefly become, at a loss for words. But another wasn't taking things so well. Elza Walker, the girl who loved motocross, was shaking her head as she slowly began to step backward, her blue eyes as big as saucers as she stared at Cheryl. She had no idea what happened to the haunted young woman from Silent Hill...she was gripped by pure, elemental fear, and unfortunately, she let it take command of her as she whirled and ran down one of the darkening hallways with desperate speed.
Rebecca Chambers cried, "Elza?!? ELZA, COME BACK HERE -- !"
The surroundings didn't just darken here...like many other places, the environs shifted in their current form, as well. Alex and Elle were still in one of the hallways, not quite in the junction itself like Cheyl and Rebecca. When they saw Elza run, they both felt the impulse to chase after her, but before they could something rose up from the rank and gory floor to spontaneously appear before them and they had to stop short. It was a fenced barrier that was suddenly between them and the junction, between them and Cheryl and Rebecca. Elle Shepherd moved to the bloody, rusted links and clutched at them, at first confused and then suddenly horrified...she almost cried, "Jesus Christ!"
Alarmed, realizing they were cut off from their friends, Alex Shepherd yelled through the fencing to the pixie, "Rebecca?!"
Rebecca looked at them both awkwardly for a moment, but her heart demanded she focus on the girl she was falling in love with. She said carefully, "Come on, honey, let me help you...c'mon..." She gradually helped Cheryl stand. Rebecca asked, "Cheryl...what happened to you? Did something keep you from using your powers like before??" Cheryl didn't answer right away...she couldn't look at Rebecca. Agonized, Rebecca asked urgently, "Are you all right?!?"
Cheryl finally looked up at the sweet pixie, and even Alex and Elle saw from a distance she was crying...the blonde's expression was completely desolate. So far beyond any hope. When she finally spoke, her voice was thick with dismay, it was the voice of someone whose heart had shattered in a thousand pieces. Cheryl moaned with shame, "Oh, Becca...how could you have any faith in me...how...??"
And then horribly, like Elza, Cheryl Mason broke from Rebecca in a rush and ran away. Oh god, Rebecca could feel the defeat in her beloved's eyes, but that didn't matter to her. She began to bolt after the blonde as she screamed, "CHERYL, WAIT! PLEASE -- !"
"Rebecca!" Rebecca had to force herself to stop when she heard Alex's shout, it hurt so badly to turn away from Cheryl to look at him and Elza, and it really registered how strangely they were suddenly cut off from supporting her. Alex said loudly, "Rebecca, hold up a minute!"
Elle said quickly, "We just need to find a way to reach you -- !"
Rebecca suddenly yelled, "NO! Don't worry about me! Go after Elza! We've got to get her back, she'll never make it alone!"
Elle's wide eyes stared at the pixie as she cried, "What about you and Cheryl?!?"
Resolute, Rebecca said with finality, "I'm going after Cheryl! I want to stay with you, but she needs me!"
Alex began to say, "Rebecca -- !"
The brunette pixie shook her head and yelled, "Just get Elza back, keep her safe! Take her to the hospital! If we can, we'll meet you there!"
Elle looked at the BSAA agent, suddenly so frightened for her friend and what this meant. They had to rely on each other to survive up to this moment, but now they had to split up. They didn't have the time to do anything else. But Elle didn't like it as she said softly, "Rebecca..."
Rebecca Chambers hated this, as well...the pixie's adorable face shifted to a despair that nearly matched Cheryl's as she looked at Alex and Elle; she didn't want to leave them, but in this all-important moment she knew she had to. Even if it meant abandoning Alex, Elle and Elza, and her heart felt heavy as she remembered her secret shame again, something that haunted her so deeply only one other person in the world, Chris Refield, knew.
Hadn't she made this mistake before when she abandoned --
Rebecca thought harshly, Don't think about that now! Focus on Cheryl! Rebecca knew in her heart that Cheryl needed her...just as much as she needed Cheryl.
Her expression agonized, the lovely pixie cried to Alex and Elle, "I-I'm so sorry!" And Rebecca Chambers ran after Cheryl Mason...in only a moment, she was gone.
Elle clutched the fencing, feeling so deeply for Rebecca...but then a warm hand touched her shoulder, comforting. Her husband, the love of her life. Alex said softly, "Elle...she's right. We need to get Elza back now. She won't survive the dark by herself!"
Elle felt the urge to cry, but she shoved it aside to focus her strength...she looked at her husband and nodded shakily. "O-okay...we need to hurry! God, I hope Cheryl will be all right...!"
Alex's face took a hard set as he growled, "I still don't understand why that girl couldn't stop this!"
Elle understood Alex's frustration, but she said, "Didn't you really look at Cheryl, Alex? She didn't understand why, either!"
Blocks away, on a desolate streetcorner. Claire Redfield's group of survivors could only stand there and stare at the shifting landscape around them as the black fell. Close by, Sherry Birkin felt terror clutch her heart and she moved to her hero as she breathed, "Claire...!"
Feeling her own overwhelming emotion from the moment, not understanding what was happening except that it was incredibly real, Claire quickly opened her arms and took Sherry in a needful embrace. Claire hoped to give the blonde angel some kind of comfort and certainly in spite of the changes around them. Claire said with quiet power, "I'm here, Sherry! I'm right here..." Sherry soundlessly sighed in her hero's shoulder as they held each other.
If only the rest of Claire's group could have been given some kind of solace at that moment. Rain, the young commando from the Special Operations Raid Team, looked around with building panic and cried, "What the FUCK is going on?! Everything around us -- !" Her hands clutched her SMG fiercely, ready for anything, but she had no idea what to do next. This was all so completely alien and horrifying for her.
The BSAA agent code-named Vector, meanwhile, was full of impatience to understand this and many other things ever since he entered Black Falls. The shrouded operative stared at Douglas Cartland, who didn't look shocked or surprised in any way by what was happening, and Vector knew he was right about what he suspected before. Their 'advisors' had been holding back information. Vector stalked to Douglas and said, "Hey, old man! If you know anything about this, it might help if you SAID SOMETHING!"
Douglas Cartland looked at the man in black with a weary expression. The old private detective said, "Nothing I can tell you would help, Vector. We just dropped into a deeper level of shit!"
Vector almost shouted, "What the hell does that mean?!"
"It means this place has gotten a lot more dangerous." The patient statement came from Claire Redfield. As she held Sherry, she looked at Douglas and asked, "Well?"
Douglas nodded. "Yeah...and we were hoping this wouldn't happen." He and his fellow advisors who had experienced the horror of Silent Hill before.
Another of those advisors for the infiltration agents, Captain Cybil Bennett, looked around her as everything changed as she moaned, "Oh, god...oh, dear god...it's the darkness..." The haunted expression spoke volumes as she accompanied Alpha Team.
The others, who like Claire's group were at the ready with their weapons, more confused and frightened than they had been in their lives, couldn't help but note Cybil's reaction and stared at her. They were all standing on pavement that became thick with dried blood. Hector Hivers, the big man of the team, considered Cybil and said in an almost accusing tone, "You don't exactly look surprised by this, lady!"
It took great effort for Jill Valentine to set aside their fear, but she managed to do so. Losing her cool wouldn't help at all, especially now. Jill asked Cybil the obvious question with surprising calm: "This happened before, didn't it? You've seen it happen in Silent Hill."
Cybil nodded slowly. "Yes." She glanced at all the agents around her -- Jill, Hector, team leader Chris Redfield, medic Christine Yamata, and veteran SORT operative Regina -- and said, "I've been praying that we'd find Cheryl and Rebecca in time before something like this happened here, too. I..."
Chris Redfield stared at Cybil with a hard expression and interrupted, "Your prayers obviously didn't help because it is happening, Captain Bennett! You need to tell us what's going on! How in the name of god -- !"
Cybil said loudly, "I don't know how!" Again, she hated to lie, but it was to protect Cheryl Mason. The police officer from Brahms, Maine said in a softer tone, "I only know that when Harry Mason and I were in Silent Hill thirty years ago, most of the time it was covered in fog...but sometimes, an air raid siren sounded and everything would shift into a darkness exactly like this. You saw before how everything changed during the fog, became older and disused..."
Hector griped, "Yeah, and now everything's changing again...Jesus. It's getting even worse, like something out of..."
Cybil finished quietly, mirroring a statement she made before, "Like something out of the worst kinds of nightmares."
Christine Yamata was more worried for everyone else in town than she was for herself...she was terribly afraid for her dear friend Rebecca, who was here somewhere. The medic asked, "Will this have an affect on us at all, Cybil?"
Cybil quickly reassured, "No, not as long as we keep our heads on straight! Just as long as we don't let our fears or even worse get the best of us, we'll be okay."
But that didn't put Chris' mind at ease...he asked, "Captain, why didn't you say anything about this before? Forget your praying it wouldn't happen again, if there was a chance it might -- !"
Cybil looked at Chris with a sudden impatience of her own and countered, "Would forewarning you have helped at all?! More importantly, would you have believed me?!?" Chris looked at her blankly, unsure how to answer that...but he knew, unfortunately, he wouldn't have believed the police captain if she had told them sooner. None of them would have believed her. Cybil nodded and said, "Right! I said before we entered Black Falls that there's very little I can really prepare you for, that you'd have to see it for yourself and then I can tell you how to deal with it!"
The redheaded operative with the code-name Regina seemed the least affected by present circumstances, but that was only because she had far more experience comparatively as a warrior than even Chris and Jill. In her relatively young life, the commando had fought both conventional enemies and threats truly extraordinary...in fact, Regina still vividly recalled twice facing circumstances so fantastic that even if the records weren't maximum-classified, she knew no one would have believed her if she ever talked about what happened. In a sense, she sympathized with Cybil. Patient and seemingly unflustered by the darkness that reigned, but secretly fearing terribly for her beloved student Rain, Regina said to Cybil, "Okay. So what can we do now?"
Cybil Bennett answered, "We need to be more careful than ever...it's more important than ever we find Cheryl and Rebecca as soon as possible!"
The place was given the name Clancy's Furniture, a two-story home converted into a secondhand store...Leon S. Kennedy, Helena Harper, Karena LesProux and Anne Cunningham were shocked to the core of their souls by the execution of their comrade and friend Marissa Ronson, who laid before them lifeless as they sat on their knees on the floor...they were held hostage under the guns of a group of Order Soldiers, perhaps the last few of that misbegotten cult who had managed to survive amongst the streets of Black Falls without the protection of their High Priest, Reeve Meyers. The air raid siren wailed, and Leon and his friends were incredulous, stunned by the changes that began to take place...except for Anne, the prison guard and the group's advisor, who bore witness to it all without surprise. It was a little different from her own personal experience in Silent Hill, but still so much the same. The Order Soldiers, led by a silver-haired man named Norm, were briefly distracted and couldn't help but react with...happiness. Norm said loudly for Alice, Theo, Louis, and the rest of his bretheren, "Yes! YES, it's just as the Holy Father said it would be!"
As the environs decayed and shifted to something terrible, something happened that compounded the horror that already clutched Leon, Helena, Karena and Anne. Before them at their knees, something was happening to Marissa Ronson's body. Her lifeless form was becoming more and more transparent...they could see the floor she laid on through her body...until the redhead finally, literally...disappeared. All the while, Norm continued to rant: "His siren gave us warning, and the darkness is here...our deliverance and Paradise are certain to follow!"
Leon felt like he'd lost his grip on reality...was this real? Was this really happening? All he could do was look at Norm with building fear and fury -- his voice escalated with frantic demand: "How is this happening?! HOW?!? AND WHAT HAPPENED TO MARISSA?!?"
Norm and the rest of the Soldiers looked at him with annoyance...the leader said heartlessly, "The whore was already dead, she doesn't matter! Very soon the same will be said for you!" He was ready to make good on his word, to kill the rest of these interlopers in the same way he killed Marissa. To satisfy Reeve and their God.
Above him from a second floor rail overlooking the room, the Soldier called Louis shouted down, "Norm! I'm going to check on that bitch I shot! She should be gone too, but -- !"
Norm looked up at him sharply. He said, "What did you say?! I thought you said you killed her!"
Louis flinched a little and nervously testified, "When I shot her, she fell to the first floor! I didn't take a close look at her body, but she has to be dead -- !"
Still reeling from the horror all around them, absorbing the death of Marissa, Leon, Helena and their friends barely heard Norm yell, "You fucking IDIOT! Find her and make sure she's dead! RIGHT NOW!"
Even as a little girl, she knew she wanted to be a warrior. It was part of her heritage. She felt like it was meant to be.
When she was born on the Cree Reservation in Montana, her parents gave her the tribal name Willow. Unlike many of her peers, she felt like her path led her beyond the land land her family and people lived on...unlike many of her neighbors, she wasn't just concerned with the welfare and protection of her community. She was an American Indian, but instead of being insular, she felt her community was simply a small part of her home, the United States of America. Her parents, who also didn't feel entrenched to the old traditions and customs, were open minded and didn't just understand their daughter's yearnings...they encouraged her to follow her heart and discover her place in the world. The girl's mother taught her how to hunt and track...her father taught her what it meant to have honor, to be true to herself and all she held dear. She learned fast and learned well as she grew, and one day inspired by the heroic stories of an extraordinary woman named Jill Valentine, she knew. She wanted to defend her home, not simply her tribe but her country and everyone in it. She hoped she would do her parents proud by joining the military.
The girl who became a young woman wanted to excel in the rigorous, patriarchal U.S. Army, and she did much, much more than that. She gained such respect and attention, she was chosen for a singular honor: to become the first woman to join the Army's special forces, specifically the Rangers. She took to heart their legendary motto, Rangers lead the way! And then she proceeded to do so...with quiet grace and extraordinary fortitude, she didn't simply equal the male operatives she worked with. She earned the deep respect of most, the emnity of some who could only wish to be like her, and to be blunt, she scared the shit out of those who witnessed her combination of cool demeanor and ruthless skill during an op. But those closest to her knew she was as kind and generous as she was beautiful.
One day only a couple of years ago, the lady Ranger was introduced to a man named Leon S. Kennedy, who had an interesting proposition for her...to become part of the Division of Security Operations, the 'Sword of the President', and fight truly extraordinary evils that threatened the innocent at home and across the planet. She accepted and became an operative for the DSO. It didn't matter that no one might ever know about her secret activities. It meant nothing to her that she would never publicly receive recognition or reward for her devotion and love of country. All that ever mattered to the lady was that she do her very best for all she cared about, and she reconciled long ago that she might even one day die in service to her homeland.
The Order Soldier named Louis had shot her. She felt the bullet strike her midsection like a punch from a heavyweight boxer, and she stumbled backward and soundlessly pitched over the second story railing and down to the first floor. The zealot raced to the rail as fast as he could. When he finally reached it and looked down, he saw the woman with midnight-black hair and green fatigues lying on the floor below. Unmoving. He thought she was dead...
...but he couldn't have been more wrong!
Caroline Floyd awoke with a gasp as she laid on the grimy floor -- she had blacked out for perhaps a minute. She was very lucky that her body fell first on a thick, queen-sized bed on display in this first floor room and bounced off of it to land on the floor. If the bed hadn't been there, the fall to the floor would have broken her neck fatally. Caroline tried to get her bearings, but then she heard the crash of a gunshot. She heard screams from more than one person on the heels of the shot; she couldn't tell who the screams came from, but the sounds galvanized the former Ranger to try to move, to stand. She almost cried out as she felt wracking pain from her midsection where she had been shot and from the side of her body that landed harshly on the floor. The rifle bullet didn't penetrate the thin yet ultra-durable ballistic armor under her shirt, but she realized she must have been bruised or worse maybe bleeding internally. Just sitting upright on her knees made her feel weak as a kitten and threatened to make her vision hazy...and wait...
At first, Caroline thought she was having a hallucination...a hideously nasty one. But she realized that what she was seeing was really happening -- as impossible as it appeared to be, everything around her was transforming before her eyes. The dank and gloomy house around her shifted into something far darker, a place where the walls were covered in blood. The floor under her became corrugated steel, much of it the color of rust but also as bloody as the walls. The furniture was suddenly, spontaneously covered in grimy, gore-drenched sheets. The air became thicker and subtly chillier; it was a cold she felt in her very bones. Watching the change made Caroline's stomach lurch as if she was falling again...she numbly remembered when she was a teenager she went with some friends to see a haunted attraction off the reservation one Halloween Night, and this partly reminded her of that. It was like she warped from an abandoned furniture store to a far, far darker house of horrors.
Caroline's mind screamed this was impossible, but her instincts told her very differently. As she tried to reconcile the conflict, she heard raised voices...she heard a voice insist -- from the second floor, she realized -- that he shot her, that 'she had to be dead'. The roared command in response: make sure. And she understood, they were talking about her. Caroline was a professional soldier and in spite of the transformation of everything around her, she set all of that aside to focus on survival...to help her friends survive, as well. In spite of her pain, she quickly found a place of concealment and waited.
The Ranger didn't have to wait long. The enemy she had seen very briefly as he shot her appeared, his deer rifle in one hand and a flashlight in another. He didn't have his weapon ready at all, he was that confident. He was that stupid. He looked in the area where she fell, and it was only then he realized her body wasn't lying there anymore. He froze for a moment as his back was turned to Caroline.
The young man in his thirties, dressed in black with a matching stocking cap, felt a sudden, intense pain in his back as a slender gloved hand slapped over his mouth and pulled his head back violently. Caroline Floyd held the man at knifepoint...she pulled him very close and whispered into one of his ears, "Hi, asshole. Drop your gun. Now." The Soldier did as he was told instantly. The Ranger whispered, "No doubt you're feeling something very sharp in your back right now. All it will take is one little push and that knife will tear through your kidney, and then you'll be dead. Nod if you understand what I'm saying to you." His eyes virtually bulging from their sockets, trembling, the man nodded. "Good boy. You shot me with that cute little rifle of yours, so I'm already very angry with you. If you don't want to feel a hundred kinds of pain, you'll be honest. Tell me how many of your friends have my team hostage."
She lifted her gloved hand from his mouth slowly...his lips were quaking as he managed, "S-s-six..."
Her free hand rested across his throat. "Okay. I heard a shot just a minute ago. What happened? Remember, be honest."
Fearing desperately for his life, the man hesitated. For good reason. "My...my leader just killed one of your people."
Caroline's lips peeled back in a dangerous snarl as she hissed quietly, "Who? Who just died?"
"Huh-he..." He was so terribly afraid. "...shot one of the females...sh-she had red hair..."
Caroline felt a terrible chill in her heart as she absorbed that. Marissa. Her fellow agent in the DSO. The British-born firebrand who was a dear friend and sister in arms to the former Ranger. It took all of her discipline to stay her hand and not kill this scum instantly. Several heartbeats of silence passed before she finally whispered, "Which one of them is your leader? Describe him. Now."
The Order Soldier's heart raced furiously as he tried to answer. "He's...he's kind of tall...he has silver h-hair...p-please don't hurt me..." He said that last with a desperate whine in his voice. No surprise this terrorist wanted to hurt people, yet was so afraid of being hurt. Pathetic.
"Shhhh." Caroline's hand rose to cover his mouth again...a moment later, her quaking hostage felt a searing burst of pain that eased quickly; he realized she took her knife from his back. He had no idea how badly he was bleeding, but he honestly hoped for a moment that he'd live through this. Caroline herself made that feeling stronger in his heart when she reminded him, "I told you you'd feel all kinds of pain if you weren't honest with me, didn't I?" Fearful, hopeful, he managed to nod...
...just before Caroline brought up her special forces knife and thrust its blade upward into the soft skin under his jaw, driving deeply through flesh and bone and into his brain. His death could have been less painful, but it only took perhaps two seconds for him to die. The last thing he heard was Caroline Floyd whisper, "I always keep my word, you asshole."
Not far away, where his fellow cultists kept her comrades hostage. Norm and his bretheren didn't hear their brother die, but as moments passed they became more and more agitated. Impatient. Alice's expression was taut as she finally turned to her leader and said, "Norm...Louis is taking too long."
Norm slowly nodded. "I think you're right." The man with silver hair turned to their hostages and snapped, "None of you heretics move! Alice, Theo, we're going to -- !"
The object rolled quickly into the room from one of the dark doorways that led to the rear of the house, where Louis had gone...if Norm hadn't been talking, they would all have heard it. But Alice saw it out of the corner of her eye and fixed on the cylindrical object as it bumped on the side of another Soldier's boot. Alice didn't realize what it was immediately but Leon and Helena, who also saw it from their vantage, did. They both immediately closed their eyes, wishing they could have called out some kind of warning to Karena and Anne --
-- the instant before the M84 stun grenade detonated. Also known as a 'flashbang', it emitted a terrific burst of noise within the 170-180 decibel range...at the same moment, its magnesium-based charge was set off creating a blinding flash of light that measured more than one-million candela (or candlepower, the base unit of luminous intensity) in its immediate area. The flashbang's function was to achieve surprise in urban warfare, and it definitely did so: the six Order zealots were instantly, completely sightless, deafened, disoriented and literally taken off-balance. Caroline Floyd entered the room quickly with her silenced Government .45 at the ready in both hands. She saw the hostiles perfectly in the gloom and snapped off five hushed rounds from her handgun, scoring five headshots in less than three seconds. Alice and four of her fellow Soldiers died almost instantly as their brains were lethally short-circuited and their bodies crumpled to the floor. Only Norm was left standing (barely), still virtually neutralized by the flashbang. He was blinking furiously with blind eyes, devoting all of his energy to just staying on his feet...
...but he went stock-still when he felt the cool steel of a silencer's bore press against his forehead. He stopped breathing as he felt someone standing before him. Caroline said to the man, "You killed Marissa." Leon, Helena, Karena and Anne were shocked to see the lady Ranger there, the man who just threatened them in her gunsights. Caroline's expression was as cold as her voice as she told Norm quietly, "I'd love to take all the time in the world with you. I'd love nothing better...but one look at you says you're not worth the trouble." Whether he heard her or not didn't matter because in the next second Caroline shot Norm point-blank in the forehead -- the back of his head flowered open gruesomely when the .45-caliber bullet exited his skull, and the wall directly behind him became slick with blood and brain matter. He fell to the floor.
Her friends, who hadn't been as affected by the flashbang because they were much further away, were still stunned by the sight of the lovely Ranger as she relaxed...her gunhand fell to her side as her other free hand reflexively clutched at a part of her slender midsection, where she hurt so badly. The adrenaline in her ebbed as she suddenly felt very, very weary. Caroline Floyd looked at Leon and it was so hard to keep her eyes open...she managed to say, "A-area clear, sir...!"
Caroline lost consciousness then, and her friends scrambled to help her as she fell...
Wyler Community Hospital. In the heart of the darkness. The changes were seen and felt here too, of course, and panic very nearly exploded amongst the survivors and patients here. Occupying the building from the third floor to the seventh and top floor, over 150 people called the hospital sanctuary, but it had become something as decayed and dreadful as everywhere else within the borders of Black Falls. It took the doctors, nurses, volunteers...and the four infiltration agents who stayed here to restore calm. It took a while. Some did manage to control themselves, but others became quietly disgruntled...as others found themselves despondent, feeling nothing but despair and defeat from this turn of events.
Three of those four agents, DSO agents Sienna Miller and Michaela Schneider and veteran survivalist Barry Burton, regrouped with Head Nurse Gwendolyn Park at the third floor nurse's station. The four of them managed to stay stoic, but the urgency of all they really felt could still be glimpsed in their eyes. Sienna, the blonde southern belle who specialized as a sniper, asked, "Gwen, is there anything else we can do?!"
Gwen Park looked back at Sienna and shook her head. She said with quiet tension, "All we can do now is make sure everyone stays calm..." But the lovely head nurse faltered in her self-control then from all of the stress and terror she had suffered since yesterday...in spite of all of her experience and inner strength, her voice almost broke as she continued, "...god knows I'm having trouble doing that!" She looked at the four with naked desperation. "What just happened?!? It was like the fog just suddenly appearing, now there's this darkness and...a-and the way everything's changed -- !"
Barry Burton felt for Gwen. He and his comrades, everyone in the hospital felt the same horror and uncertainty. It was everything he could do to maintain his composure, too. But the big bear still exuded a natural confidence as he told Gwen, "The only thing we can do right now is roll with those changes. We adapt and endure, Gwen. That's what Chris, Leon and the rest of our friends will do."
Gwen felt a comforting hand on her shoulder...it belonged to Michaela Schneider. In spite of her mask, her voice was so gentle as she offered, "For those who need us, we must stay strong, as well."
Gwen Park, a lady with true grace and a loving heart, nodded quickly. She couldn't forget the patients and everyone here who needed her. But she was tired...so bloody tired. "I know, Michaela, it's just...it's all too much...!"
"We can get through this, Gwen," Sienna said with all the enthusiasm she could muster. "We will as long as we stick together!" Gwen managed a weary smile in response...she was so thankful to have the help of the sniper and her friends...
"Gwen!" The shout came from Bea Montoya, the young candy striper, who rushed to the station and nearly collided with it before she came to a frantic stop. Bea reported breathlessly, "Gwen, something's happened to Mister Samuels!"
Gwen drew closer to the pretty volunteer. She asked, "What's wrong, Bea? We were about have his body taken down to the morgue -- !"
Bea blurted, "B-but that's what I need to tell you! He passed away just before this darkness came, but...but his body is gone!"
Gwen Park stared at the girl. "What do you mean 'gone'?"
"I mean we can't find Mister Samuels! We looked everywhere!"
Dumbfounded, Gwen and the agents looked at each other. Sienna asked Bea, "Did anybody see anyone move his body, girl?" Bea shook her head.
"Barry! Gwen!" It was Sheva Alomar...she quickly jogged to the station with two orderlies in tow.
Barry asked the warrior woman, "Sheva, how are things downstairs?"
Sheva said quickly, "We checked the stairwell door to the second floor, and it...well, it disappeared. At least we know the infected hosts kept there can't get to us that way, but we have no idea what state the floor itself is in unless one of us takes the elevator." Everyone there was well aware of how the doors and halls inexplicably shifted throughout the building just before, too. They could only hope that the group of patients infected with sluglike parasites that controlled them completely were still strapped in their beds.
Barry said, "None of us trusted the elevator in the first place. That's why Chris and I shut its powerplant down when the fog was still here." It was one of the few damn things that had worked in the hospital, strange to say.
"There is more, Barry," Sheva reported as she frowned. "We checked the morgue and the condition of the bodies taken there, but...it's so strange to say, but they aren't there anymore."
Everyone stared at her. Bea couldn't help but ask, "They're gone, too...?"
It was Barry Burton's turn to shake his head...surrounded by darkness, the big bear growled, "Everyone, we need to be on full alert. Only god knows what might happen next!"
Unfortunately, besides Cheryl Mason, there was only one who knew exactly what would happen next...he knew as well as the tortured girl from Silent Hill did what the darkness meant, what it could do to both the living and the dead. He knew that there was no such thing as a safe place in this otherworldly domain. But unlike Cheryl, who knew torment and despair because she couldn't stop this, this man grinned broadly because he had wanted this...and with the help of a force unknown, he made it possible.
In his sanctum within the town's city hall, standing in the glowing heart heart of a massive ward -- the symbol of the Halo of the Sun -- Reeve Meyers saw and felt all that happened, and it was good. The dark High Priest of The Order's Sect of Valtiel felt compounded satisfaction because he was so much closer to his God than ever before, and she knew how close he was to fulfilling her will. He sensed with his mystical powers, made stronger by the arrival of the darkness, that he had God's protection. He was immune to the terrors that prowled the otherworldly black, unlike most everyone else still alive and trapped here. More than a third of over twenty-thousand innocents had been lost before the black came...the chances of survival of those thousands left had become far more remote.
Reeve Meyers knew exactly what all of this meant and how to take advantage of it, and by doing so secure Cheryl Mason once and for all.
And now more than ever, terribly, death truly wasn't the worst thing that could happen. Not here, in the decaying dark. Death was FAR from the worst thing.
Reeve laughed and proclaimed, "Now things have gotten interesting!"
TO BE CONTINUED