Prologue: The Epilogue
I was somehow dreaming, but I was still awake. I was here, but I was somehow there at the same time. It was like I was back in that nightmarish town…and yet nowhere near. Consciousness was split, somehow still tethered to that otherworldly place. My senses became alive, and in a split second I was aware of being in a classroom. I was somehow my childlike form again. It was strange…the teacher was lecturing us, yet her voice was far away as if there was a dampening effect on the soundwaves. I looked down at the paper on my desk, and there was a drawing there. I don’t remember drawing it. It was a sea of faces, sunken and distorted. Fire consumed it all…and darkness filled wherever there wasn’t fire.
I panicked, afraid someone would see the drawing and stuck it under my desk. To my surprise, no one seemed to notice. They all sat up straight in their desks, heads locked into position towards the front where the teacher droned on. Their faces seemed frozen and emotionless, hypnotized somehow. When the teacher’s back was turned, I even waved my hand in someone’s face. They didn’t respond with any movements, not even with their eyes...creepy. Not sure what else to do, I readied another piece of paper and found that the teacher’s voice was steadily becoming more clear and was slowly getting closer to the room.
As I started writing, I felt a weird strain in my arm. It persisted and soon found I couldn’t move my arm on its own anymore. It was writing automatically, and I started to panic. I called out to the teacher, and she went on lecturing as if I didn’t even exist. Things got more unsettling as the teacher’s voice began to deepen, first sounding like a man’s voice, then to such a low pitch it sounded like a demon speaking in a warped gravely tone.
I looked down at my paper and saw that over and over I’d written “COME BACK! PLEASE COME BACK! WE’RE WAITING FOR YOU WE’RE WAITING WE’RE…” and it continued this pattern incessantly. I tried to use my left hand to stop my right hand from writing, but it was also frozen.
After I filled an entire page with these ominous scribblings, I went to the next piece of paper and began drawing. I began to draw a series of circles, and soon connected lines and other shapes to form some archaic looking symbol that I’d never seen before. Suddenly my hand dropped the pencil and went completely still. The symbol suddenly turned red and began to glow, illuminating the room with a fiery pulse. It began glowing so bright it hurt my head, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away from it.
“Harry? Harry Mason.” The teacher’s growly voice called me, and I was able to move for a moment. I looked up, and the teacher was pointing at me.
“Yes….?”I called out meekly, sounding a million miles away. The teacher didn’t respond. She only stood there, locked in a statuesque pose with her arm extending out towards me. Was she accusing me of something? I looked around me, and saw that suddenly all the children around me were standing up, all facing me and pointing at me. How did that happen without making any sound?“What? Wh-why are you doing that? Stop it!"
Like the teacher, they beared no reply and continued to point. I wanted to leave, to run out of there like a bat out of hell, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t.
Simultaneously, the teacher and students all began to move towards me, moving at an eerie, stalking pace. I could only sit and watch in terror as they closed in on me. Then the room began to spin and I heard shattered glass, and I was falling…
“Huh?” I jerked awake, momentarily disoriented. Scanning around me, I felt a pinge of embarrassment when I realized that I was in the doctor’s office.
“Mr. Mason?” A receptionist said, and I looked to see she must have been staring at me all along.
“Are you alright? You were jerking around in your chair for a moment.”
“Yes, I’m alright. I-I must have dozed off for a moment. Having a…a bad dream is all.”
“Oh, sorry. You must be tired. Sorry for such a long wait. Dr. Ingram got behind today, and some patients can run him over on top of that.”
“That’s okay. I haven’t been sleeping too well recently.”
“I see. Can we get you anything while you wait?”
“Oh, no that’s okay. Thank you.”
“Alrighty. We’ll call you when Dr. Ingram’s ready.”
I breathed in deeply, trying to keep my nerves calm as I waited. The chair upon which I sat was remarkably comfortable, a testament to my recent napping. I liked the relaxed vibe of the office, it was a nice distraction from the fact that I would be spilling all of my deepest secrets and thoughts soon.
“It’s the blue,” I told myself soberly. The pale-blue wallpaper in the room brought a tranquil feeling that I embraced willingly. The office décor was soothing, and relaxed was good; it was very controversial to how I felt at that moment. This story was going to be a doozy, all right. Talking about my experience wasn’t going to be easy, despite how long ago it happened.
Seventeen years…hard to believe. So many nights I awoke in clammy sweat, sometimes screaming, from the relentless nightmares. My daughter Heather had been so patient with it all, especially for a teenager. Then again, it was probably just normal to her because she was just used to it.
Sometimes, she would sit with me for a moment until I calmed down. Sweet kid. She’d even listen to my stories or pieces of my experience that my nightmares were related to. Over time she’d pretty much heard the whole story. The story of my terrifying experience in Silent Hill. It reminded me that I wasn’t alone in this. I don’t know what I’d do without her.
“Mr. Mason?” A soft voice called, and I looked over to the receptionist. Her taut, business-like smile was set in place. I stood up quickly, feeling like a young cadet standing at attention.
“Yes?” I stumbled out.
“Dr. Ingram is ready to see you. He’s on his way right now. Are you sure there’s not anything I can get you? You just look so nervous I thought a cold drink could help.”
“No thanks,” I started, but changed my mind.
“Actually, you know what? I could go for a root beer. You guys have that?” She paused for a second in thought, and then nodded.
“Yes, we do, actually.”
“Back in a moment!” I sat back down, suddenly desiring that cold liquid more badly than anything else. Sometimes you never realize how thirsty you are until the idea of a drink is brought up. Plus, the idea of talking to the doctor in less than minute’s time made my throat start to feel dry. I twiddled my thumbs, feeling that strong urge to do something with my hands. The ants were crawling.
A moment later, the door opened again, and a man dressed in slacks and a long sleeve button-up stepped in. He peered at me over his spectacles, which seemed especially small due to his long nose. It had a comical effect; he looked like a cartoon pelican wearing a pair of glasses. To keep from chuckling at this thought, I immediately stood up and met him halfway to shake his hand.
“Mr. Mason? I’m Dr. Ingram,” He spoke smoothly, his tone so soothing it felt borderline condescending. It was only at first, and I realized that he probably just spoke that way with all his patients. Immediately, I didn’t feel as threatened, despite my nervousness. He reached a hand towards me to shake, and I took it with ease. I felt like he wasn’t just shaking my hand, he was cradling it.
“Harry Mason. Glad to finally meet you, Dr. Ingram. I must admit, I expected a psychiatrist visit to be a little bit different for some reason.” I glanced back to emphasize the look of his office.
“Really? What did you expect? Chains and a rubber room?” The doctor laughed jovially at this. Although I didn’t really feel like laughing, the fact that he pointed that out still made me laugh.
“I guess I did, a little. I just…I know my story is uh…not your average story, you know? I’m sure most of your patients just have regular every day stresses to speak with you about.”
“Mr. Mason, don’t forget that I’ve heard some other strange things in my day. You wouldn’t be the first to tell me. But needn’t you worry. Follow me.” He led me into a back hall, where he guided me to a small, cozy room with an even more comfortable couch.
“Man, you guys know where to find a good couch,” I said lightly.
“Anything to make my patients feel at ease. Now, first off I just want to go over legal disclosures with you. Anything and everything we say here is private and confidential. It will not be shared with anyone without your permission, and I am legally bound to this. So don’t feel that this is something that would ever be gossiped about around the office and so forth.”
“Now there are exceptions. If anything you tell me indicates that you are at risk to harming yourself , or others, or that you’ve done anything illegal then I’m obligated to contact any authority related to it. Do you understand this?”
“Okay, great. Just sign these forms here,” he handed me a clipboard with said disclosures which I signed.
“Now we can really get started here. I just want to say upfront here, that I’m not here to judge you, or decide whether you’re lying or telling the truth. And most importantly, I’m not going to order someone in white to throw a straight jacket on you just because you may have a wild story. I’m simply here to listen and analyze what you tell me. I’ll offer any insight to your story and see what kind of connections I can make. So more than anything else, just think of me as an outlet. How does that sound?”
I paused, and felt my shoulders feel a little bit of tension knowing I was going to start. I wasn’t being put on trial here, or being scrutinized for sanitarium consideration. I was simply here to talk, nothing more and nothing less.
“That sounds fantastic,” I said with some relief, but not without a little unease. Seventeen years was a long time but the memory remained imprinted so vividly, it could easily have been three weeks ago.
Alright, here it goes…
“Now before you start, I want to ask you a few basic questions.”
“Sure, go right ahead.”
“Do you have any history of mental illness?”
“Insomnia or trouble sleeping at night?”
“A lot shortly after the incident. They died down over time.”
“Good to hear. Are there usually nightmares associated with the sleeplessness?”
“Yes, and those have been frequent recently.”
“About what typically?”
“Anything associated with Silent Hill. Sometimes bits and pieces sewn in with everyday life events, other times like a complete reenactment.”
“I see. When you’re awake do you…ever see things that aren’t there?”
“Okay. How about your health? Do you eat well? Get good exercise?”
“Yes to both, but kind of. I’m not really fit or anything, but I’m not a complete couch potato either.”
“Alright, then. How is everyone? Is your daughter doing well?” The doctor asked, his face showing real concern.
“Heather’s doing great,” I responded. “Why are you asking this?”
“Well, I don’t mean to be intrusive, Mr. Mason…”
“—Harry, these are just some basic questions to get you talking, helping you ease into it. Not trying to analyze her or anything, just getting off the subject briefly, is all. Do you feel uncomfortable talking about any of them?”
“No, that’s not it. I was only curious….Heather’s great. Having her was almost like having Cheryl back…not that she’s a replacement of Cheryl...”
There was suddenly a feeling of dead weight dropped in my gullet. I hadn’t talked about Cheryl in years. Emotions deep within the graveyard of my consciousness were being dug up, and I could feel a wave hit me. I had to keep in control, though. No use in blubbering like a fool now, when I finally felt I could indulge someone other than Heather with my story.
“Good. Now, let’s get started. I want you to simply tell me the story, straight from the beginning. Is it okay if interject at some points, just to ask you questions for clarification?”
“Yeah, I guess that’s alright.”
“Good, good. I’ll try to keep it to an absolute minimum. I know interruptions can make you lose focus, and the last thing I want to do is break that focus on your memory, especially with the events being so long ago. So, just take your time, and start from the beginning.”
“Well, I can tell you that this story is not just my own. It’s also Cybil’s story. We’ve kept up over the years so I know her side of things too. Now part of my story I want to include certain things that were happening in the background that I wasn’t aware of at the time. This way, you get the full picture of what was happening linearly. It’s…easier that way, I think.”
“Alright. I can understand that. Ready to begin?”
“Yes. Alright…so……here it goes…”