Trial for the Deluded
Chapter 1: THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Mist clung to her skin, her hair, her clothes. It was hardly that cold out, but the vapour gave Sara chills regardless. From within the slightest warmth that the pockets of her coat offered, she rubbed her fingers together, trying to rid them of the pervasive coolness that the fog brought with it. I could have refilled my gas tank at the last station. Maybe then I wouldn't have made it here. By the time she had been nearing the blockaded entrance to the town, it would have wasted the rest of the daylight available to turn around and get gas. Perhaps she'd have waited until the next morning before trying to explore the town, or changed her mind. At least no one's around to rob my car. Not.. that there was anything worth stealing in it anyway.
The road and surrounding area was vacant of almost everything, it seemed. If there were birds around, they were respectfully or fearfully silent. Everything seemed stagnant. The air, the ground, and even the trees seemed still. Sara glanced to her right again, pausing only briefly as she made out the outline of a billboard in the trees as she was walking past it. The fog had been so accursedly thick today that, while driving into the area, she'd been worried about accidentally running off the road or hitting something.
True, the road into town was blocked, and the gate for pedestrian access locked and barred well beyond the scope which an average vandal could think to break it. There wouldn't have been room for her to walk along the side of the bridge and pull herself up on the other side.. had part of the road on the opposing side of the bridge not worn away. With no one to tend the town, it provided a way to climb up. The overhang that ran along the side of the bridge was just barely enough to step on, and perhaps an ample pathway for a determined teenager to walk comfortably along (judging from the amount of graffiti on this side of the bridge). How they had climbed up on the western end of the bridge again after the vandalism was complete.. Sara didn't know.
It was enough room for an adult to walk too, but with a lot more caution, even someone of only modest size as she was. At least it was easier for an adult to reach for a hold to climb up on the east end of the bridge, as Sara found while crawling onto the road of the other side.
After brushing dirt off of her pants, she continued her stroll. To her left, Sara noticed the outlines of the fencing that lined the road disappearing, and beyond it there was a stretch of pavement instead of trees. Ignoring the idea that anyone would be driving around here to hit her, she jogged across the road. Closer to the building, she could see a small one-story structure with one intact window on the front, the other window broken. 'Silent Hill Historical Society' was written on a plaque near the door.
Odds of the main entrance being unlocked didn't seem good, prompting her not to bother with it when there was an alternate entrance available. Hesitating and stepping carefully around the glass on the ground outside, Sara looked into the darkened room. Within the dark room, she could make out what looked like paintings and broken display cases that had likely once held rare, valuable items.
Her eyes strayed to the windowsill. Glass had been broken off and wiped away from the bottom of the sill, allowing much easier access for anyone who wanted to climb inside.
It's not like I broke it.
Soft cracks met her ears as she managed to step on some glass shards littering the ground inside the room. Sara cringed at how loud it seemed after the prolonged silence she'd been strolling through. The white light that streamed in from the window was just ample enough to allow her to make out a door on one side near the back. At the bottom, a soft light was visible running under the door's frame. The hell?
The door was unlocked, and Sara peeked into the next room. The lobby was lit she would have thought power had been off in this town for years. There was nothing exciting here, lights aside. There was a set of big doors that were broken off their hinges to her left, but it was so dark inside that there was no point in wandering around in there. It just looked like a windowless room that had contained artifacts like the one she'd walked out of. Turning around, Sara paused as something colourful caught her attention on the worn-out looking bench near the wall. 'Welcome to Silent Hill!' Some tourist-y junk was written below the large header.
Yeah, lots of people want to come here nowadays. Unfolding the pamphlet, Sara reconsidered its value. A map of the streets was printed on the other side. Refolding the pamphlet, she put it in one of her jacket's pockets. At least if I don't find him, I can get back. For the sake of trying, Sara tried the front door. Something went 'click' inside the door, and it creaked open. The sound once again seemed to carry through the air.
If it had been locked before, it wasn't anymore.
As quietly as possible, she closed the door behind her. It occurred to her then that the entire time, she hadn't even looked at the time. Sara rustled through the pocket on the left side of her coat, retrieving her cell phone and hitting one of the buttons to see the screen. The time read as two o'clock in the afternoon, but she discovered she had no signal to call out with. Figures.
Returning the phone to her pocket, Sara adjusted the neckline of her coat and continued down Nathan Avenue. If the map was correct, she had plenty of walking to do yet.
I hate bowling. But her feet were hurting, and she needed to just.. sit for a while. A bench outside of a bowling alley had been perfect for a short rest stop. By now, the fog had stopped bothering her, or at least giving her chills. It still clung to her persistently, making the back of her neck feel slightly damp. Sara crossed her arms, leaning her head back against the wall of the bowl-o-rama, trying to ignore how old and filthy the building probably was.
Despite the eerie quiet.. she couldn't help but appreciate how.. peaceful it was here.
SCREEEEEEEECH. Sara jumped to her feet, torn out of the calm that had momentarily overtaken her sense of purpose. It had come from somewhere in town, the noise distant, but very audible. Something metal had been dragged heavily across pavement, quite possibly.
Calm down. It's probably just.. Hansen.
..What is he doing?
There was a gas station to her right as she continued down Nathan Avenue, as the map had indicated. At first, Sara thought there had been a flood in the road, seeing a dark spot showing through the fog ahead of her. She paused when, several feet away, she could see clearly what was laying in the middle of the road. The entire street had caved in.
"Are you kidding me?" Sara muttered, brushing some of her hair back and scanning the size of the cave-in. It was wide enough that it would be a hassle to try and go around, and deep enough that she was sure she didn't want to climb down there.
Sara heard a distant screeching again, this one much less piercing than the initial noise. It sounded like it was coming from the eastern side of town. There had to be another way around. Pulling out the map, Sara traced the other possible route with her finger. She didn't know she even had to go east, but there was Rendell street as well that would lead into town.
Footsteps. For several breathless moments, Sara stared into the fog. Was someone on the other side of that hole? After a minute that seemed a bit endless, there was no sound of any further footsteps. Once again, silence seemed to hold the town in a deathgrip, apart from what she assumed was wind rolling off the lake and through the trees. Sara relaxed, putting her map away and about-facing, sticking to the sidewalk and looking for the street that supposedly led south to Rendell Street. A car was parked in the middle of the gas station lot, and looked as though it had had something stabbed through its hood. The gas station itself had windows that seemed almost opaque with age and darkness. An old newspaper was scattered over the ground, worn-out but still legible. The date was almost 10 years old, the front-page headline reading about the tragic drowning of a 9-year old in Toluca Lake. It was amazing that the paper was even still here.
Sara stopped again as scaffolding loomed ahead of her on the road. What is this? Sure, the town was closed.. but why block off a street like this? There was a door on the right-hand side of the construct, but there were boards nailed over it. Approaching the door, Sara discovered that while it was rusty and hard to turn, the handle did turn. The boards held it in-place, however, and the door remained jammed.
Maybe I can pry those off. There aren't any other roads, are there?
It was just a matter of finding something to pry with. Turning around, Sara gazed down the street, eyeing the neighboring buildings. A car that looked at least 20 years old and maybe hadn't been moved in just as long- was parked on the side of the street. The windows of the car were almost opaque, and even when she tried to wipe them with her sleeve, they wouldn't come clean. The passenger's side front door wouldn't open. Sara scowled slightly to herself, and walked to the other side of the car and yanked hard on the driver's side door.
"AH!" The combination of momentum from her tug and the shock sent Sara sprawling backwards. Dried black-blood was splashed in the driver's seat, over the steering wheel, and over the dashboard. What she had presumed to be dirt from outside the car was, in fact, a blood spatter lightly staining the windshield. "Oh my God.." Sara whispered, looking at her hand to see that some of the blood had come off on her fingers and palm. Shuddering, she wiped her hand on her coat. "What the.. hell..?"
Heart beating harshly against her ribcage, Sara considered phoning the police before remembering that her cell phone had no signal. What would she tell them anyway? That she snuck into an abandoned town and found blood on a carseat that could be years old?
Sara stared almost blankly at the driver's seat for a minute or so. Drawing a deep breath, she leaned forward and hit the trunk release button visible just underneath the seat. Feeling queasy, she shut the door, moving quickly to the trunk and pulling the roof up. Inside, a spare tire, a bag of garbage, some oily-looking ropes and a crowbar met her sight.
Yes.. Taking the crowbar, Sara paused as she lowered the trunk. Remembering how sound echoed here, she found herself lowering it carefully and clicking the latch shut quietly as possible.
Not a tool-savvy girl, Sara inspected the door, secretly wishing some instructions would appear out of nowhere and tell her the easiest way to use this to pry boards off. Starting with the middle board, she hefted the edge of the crowbar under the board and heaved. Nails squeaked, and the wood crackled slightly under the pressure. It did move, but Sara whipped around at the sound of footfalls. Again.
I'm not crazy. I'm just paranoid because I'm alone. It's.. just like at the cave-in.
Tap. Tap. Tap.. tap tap. Tap.
The footsteps weren't going away. They seemed erratic, two steps sometimes following in close succession and sometimes distant, and they were increasing in volume. Sara's fingers shifted around the crowbar uncertainly. "..Hans?"
Sara stared as a big shadow began to become apparent through the fog. A dog? No.. too big, she realized as another foot passed and it came closer. Far too big. There was a sound of scraping against the ground. Sara's breaths quickened. 'Not Hansen' was what her mind screamed, but what was it, then? Whatever it was, it seemed to have to move on all fours, and had a hunched back.
Sara gasped, the energy for screaming suddenly vacating her body, freezing her in place. It was on all fours, the.. thing resembling some pitifully bound human, even if the elbows and knees looked terribly deformed. A black fabric was draped or wrapped she couldn't tell- over its back. The limbs she could see were a sickly grey, mottled with dark, rusty brown-red; one limb looked like it was wrapped over the opposed shoulder, forcing the thing's weight to rest on the two legs and one remaining arm. It had shackles around its ankles, it looked like, and one of its forearms seemed to be bound over its shoulder by chains and sturdy lengths of fabric. The head was caged by rusty-looking bars and swathed in the same fabric. Around the area that a human mouth would be, the fabric looked disgustingly damp and darker. A soft gurgling met Sara's ears, jolting her back to the present.
Hunched-over, it was almost as tall as she was, and she wasn't terribly short.
No way could that be a human. There was no way. Sara sidestepped, finding the creature turning its head it lacked any apparent eyes- in her direction. Drawing deep breaths, she turned and ran. The only option available was an alley to the right. It went up some steps to a door.
Don't be locked, don't be locked- Sara's breaths came harder and faster as the door confirmed her fears.
And she also noticed the lock on the outside. It looked old. Trembling, she stumbled four times and missed the door before managing to jam the crowbar under the lock. Tap.. tap tap. Screeeee-
Heaving her weight into the lock, it gave away easily. The lock clattered to the ground below her. Sara tugged on the door, finding it jiggle but stick. NO no no-
The second heave, she nearly fell down the steps, hanging onto the door for dear life. It made her look behind her. Whatever that thing was, it was a foot from the bottom of the steps, a grand total of eight feet away from her. Not caring what was inside or bothering to look for anything else, she slammed the door shut behind her. The only thing Sara could hear was the sound of her own laboured breathing and the frantic beat of her heart.