Part V: Sewers, Resort Area-Chapter 2
Kaufmann choked out, his eyes bulging in terror. Sitting atop him was a
creature similar to those creatures below in the sewer, but slightly different.
They had longer legs with brown and red skin but I soon realized it looked like
muscle tissue like it had been skinned.
The creature was bearing down on Kaufmann, but Kaufmann was able to hold it back (barely), both of his hands wrapped around the creatures’ wrists. He held his right knee up into the creature’s chest, blocking the creature from trying to bite at him with its serrated teeth. The long, curved claws attached to its arms were lethal, more than enough to tear someone apart.
Glancing around, I saw a small black handgun lying on the floor in front of me. I snatched the gun off the ground, trying to take aim, but it was difficult. With the creature right on top of Kaufmann, it would be much too easy to end up shooting Kaufmann myself.
“Push harder, away from you!” I yelled. “It’s too close for me to shoot!”
“I…can’t!” Kaufmann huffed. He almost looked as if he might pass out with the effort. I moved closer to the left and right, but the call was too close to make. With no other choice I walked up to the creature and put the muzzle of my gun to the side of its head. My shot rang out loud and clear, the round piercing its skull and sprayed brain matter out of the other side.
The thing let out a weird grunt and slumped forward, its dead weight now on Kaufmann. We both gasped when it seemed to jump but it was only a few last dying spasms, and it completely gave up the ghost.
After the heavy roar of the round, the room was awkwardly quiet. The only sound was that of Kaufmann’s ragged breathing, and the gusts of wind outside.
“Are you alright?” I broke the silence.
“Yeah…yeah, I’m okay,” Kaufmann said, still breathing heavily.
“Thank you. Now please get this damn thing off of me!”
“Sorry,” I mumbled and dragged the bladed creature to the floor.
Kaufmann sat up, his eyes downcast. I got the impression that he was embarrassed, his pride hurt more than his physical being. I hadn’t been around him long, but he seemed kind of arrogant.
“I was so careful before. That thing got me when I let my guard down. Probably because I was so tired…”
“And angry?” I added. Kaufmann’s gaze snapped up towards me.
“What do you mean?”
“I heard you on the phone. That’s why I followed you here. Who were you talking to, doctor? It was Dahlia, wasn’t it?” The words simply came out accusing, but then again he owed me one.
“That’s, that’s none of your business!” He barked, standing up. Upon standing, he wobbled some, and straightened himself immediately. “Hmmm…well, you did save my life. I’m not one to talk about such matters, but due to that I suppose I owe you some explanation.”
“More than that,” I added once again. “I want to know everything you know.”
“Well, it’s not that simple.”
“I’m sure I can keep up.”
“Harry, I can tell you’re a good guy. You’re looking for your daughter, you’ve got morals. I can’t say I’m of the same variety, but I respect that. I don’t want you getting involved more than you have to.”
“I’m already involved. In fact, I’m becoming more and more sure a lot of this has to do with my daughter. So let’s hear it.”
“Well, it all started seven years ago. Most everyone thinks the White Claudia drug had been around only two years, but it’s been going on much longer than that. Dahlia first discovered it in the mountains, and she dabbled in medicine and…well I’m sure you know of the other craft she is familiar with.”
“Blackhats and broomsticks?”
“Close enough, yes. Anyway, she began distributing White Claudia to her followers. She was in line with the older settlers, so they had a lot of weird practices. Other than The Order, I haven’t heard a definite name of their religion itself. Some people here call them Followers of Mother or Paradise Seekers.”
“What all were they involved in doing?” I was curious if he had the same information as Cybil had told me.
“It’s definitely in the realm of the accult. On the surface it may not seem strange because of the verbage used which signifies Christian beilefs. But this involves a lot of Wickan and paganistic rituals. Pretty much everything you associate with cults like sacrifices and casting spells.
As you probably don’t know, the townspeople agreed to let them practice as long as it was far away from the town, like in wooded areas that wouldn’t disturb the other residents. Anyway, Dahlia found out about the properties of the White Claudia and began to proliferate it as a way of attaining a higher spiritual experience. They think it brought them closer to Paradise. More realistically, it was an acid trip. In their minds, it was a way of Enlightenment. The hallucinogenic properties were very potent and very addictive.
“Well, I caught wind of it and reminded her that it need only be used for those within her special little group. She visited the hospital frequently to aid those who needed more than just medical needs for their infirmities. I discovered she would sometimes pose as a nurse and get patients to try White Claudia to make them feel better, usually for patients with severe pain. Once she got them hooked, she would start charging them for it. It was a way to fund her Other Church. When I called her out on it, she said that instead of turning her into the police, I could go in on it. I inquired how much she made, and after she told me…I wanted in.
“I was able to turn the plant into a powder, making it easier to conceal and use. Over time, I even helped distribute. Most other people we’d get to sell it for us ended up using it, which caused problems. So sometimes we would have to take care of these problematic people, and people would disappear.
“With the word out on people disappearing, we were able to hush up anyone who dared to talk about what was going on. People here know what the Order is capable of. Not many people in Silent Hill make a lot of money, so bribing others was very easy. The police were chasing their tails, but most were on our payroll. Dahlia even used her magic for others to aid us. And that’s pretty much the story of White Claudia.”
“So why were you angry with her on the phone, earlier? What were you talking about?”
“Well…after working with Dahlia, I found out some of the darker things she was doing. I mean, you only hear whispers of what goes on in the Order, but the only way you truly know is by being a member of the Order yourself. Up front I’d told her I didn’t want any direct involvement with the Order, nor did I want to know what they were doing. But after being around Dahlia so much, I pieced together enough to realize that she really is absolutely crazy.
She talked often about making the way to Paradise, and opening a New World for us. Hearing the way she described it , it sounded closer to a nightmare to me. I became more and more uncomfortable with working with her, the more I learned of what they did. I felt as if I made a deal with the Devil. Finally, I told her I was going to quit. I was making a monumental amount, but it wasn’t worth it in the end. My conscious wouldn’t let me do it anymore.
“She said that she understood, but still wanted me to do one more favor for her. It was the hardest favor I had to do, but it paid well. It was related to a ritual… anyway, that’s enough talk. You know enough as it is. So if you’ll excuse me, I need to get something. Hand me my gun, will you?” I hesitated for a moment.
“You need to turn yourself in,” I said flatly.
“…I know. And I will…but for now I need to get out of here. It’s not exactly safe out there, you know. Have you found a way out?”
“No, but I think I know where my daughter went. Cybil said she saw her heading towards Lakeside Amusement Park.”
“Wait….what does she look like?”
“Dark, black hair. Blue dress.”
“Really? I think I’ve seen her.”
“She was walking near the pier where the lighthouse is.”
“What….I wonder why she was going there. Maybe that’s where she was headed all along.”
“You’re not from around here. You’ll need this.”
Kaufmann took out a neatly folded map, and he gestured for his gun. It was a trade apparently. Knowing I had no choice, we traded his gun for the map in mutual silence. “Now, we can’t stay here all day flapping our gums. I have some things to wrap up around here.”
Without another word, Kaufmann turned his back to me and strode quickly out the door. Why was he always in such a rush? Perhaps he wanted to cover up more evidence…
I couldn’t be sure, but at least I knew where Cheryl was going and had a means of getting to her. It was fairly simple to get there. I only had to follow south on Bachman Rd and turn west on Sandford St. From there, I would pass some large garage storage areas, and the pier and Lighthouse would be on my left.
Before I left, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to check everything out in the bar. The place mostly consisted of pool tables and empty bar stools. Near the entrance was a large bar top with napkin holders, coasters, and other bar paraphernalia. Walking up and down the aisles of pool tables, I scrutinized the area for any clues. Perhaps Cheryl left a sketchbook page here. But alas, she did not.
Instead, I heard the dull tink of metal against my shoe as I walked near the lifeless form of the clawed monster. Bending down, I saw the source of the metallic sound. There was a short, gold key accompanied by a small slip of paper, half-hidden under the pool table.
“This must have fallen out of Kaufmann’s pocket when he was attacked,” I wondered aloud. The gold key had a “3” engraved on it, but had no other indications of what it was used for. The slip of paper was a receipt, apparently from the Young motel. Written across the receipt in a red marker were the numbers “0883.” Kaufmann had apparently gone to this motel, but for what? Maybe there were more answers to what was going on.
Either way, I knew I had to reach the pier before things started to get ugly out there. Looking at the map, the motel was just south of Annie’s Bar. It would only take me a few minutes’ time to get there. I weighed my options for a moment. I could either go straight to the lighthouse, or check out the motel first.
Deciding that there could be something important to the bigger picture I thought I might as well check. The few minutes it would take to check out his motel room shouldn’t make that much of a difference in my progress. The journalist in me just couldn’t let go of a lead.
So, a five-minute walk later, I passed by a red neon sign with Young Motel and an overhang separating the motel’s inner area from the street. I passed by a couple of doors leading to an office and a small storage unit. Further back, there was a run of motel rooms, leading from 5 to 1, going left to right. In the middle, I found the door for room number 3.
My key fit just right and I went inside. The room was plain, with no real signs that anybody had been there. I looked around for less than a minute, and decided there wasn’t anything here of interest at all. I was about to leave, when I passed by a dresser near the bathroom. Something about it wasn’t quite right. I stepped back, getting a wider view, and realized it wasn’t lined up with the wall quite right. That was when I noticed that the hole in the wall behind it.
It looked like someone punched a small hole in the wall, leaving a cubby space to put something in. I pulled the dressed back enough for me to reach in, and found a key hidden away in the small hole. Yamaha was written on the key, and nothing more. I pondered for a second, trying to figure out why someone would hide a key to what was most likely a Yamaha bike. Then, I pieced together two things. There was a number written on that receipt for this motel in red marker, and the storage unit had a keypad to get in. It took me less than a minute to make it to the storage unit.
I punched in the code, releasing the lock. Before long, I was inside a garage-like unit, with oil cans, tools, and the more prominent Yamaha motorcycle. It hadn’t been used in quite some time due to the thick layer of dust covering it. Strangely enough, the key didn’t start the motor. I puzzled over it, searching the bike for any other keyholes. Near the gas can, I noticed that there was a lack of dust in the shape of a handprint. That was when I saw a small padlock attached to the gas can. I unlocked it, and opened it up, finding a large plastic bag.
Inside, I found a Ziploc bag full of a white, powdery substance, and a vial wrapped in a paper bag. I slowly lifted the items out, looking them over with precision. Was this white powder the White Claudia? Very likely. The vial of red substance looked almost identical to the vial I had collected from the hospital.
“Hold it right there,” a voice commanded nearby, scaring me half to death. I knew right away it was Kaufmann. In my peripheral vision, I could see the muzzle of his handgun pointed straight at my head.
“Hand me the vial and the bag,” he spoke in a low, strict tone. “You should have been smart enough to keep well enough alone.” I lifted both items in each hand, and he walked behind me, taking each separately and moving them by the door. With the gun still trained on me, he knelt down, using one hand to open the briefcase.
“You shouldn’t meddle in other people’s business,” he almost spat at me. “I already told you how it was going to be with the White Claudia. What were you going to do, turn it into the police?”
“I was only curious. I was hoping to find more information about what’s going on. It may even help me find Cheryl.”
“Well, curiosity killed the cat, as they say. Lucky for you, you’re not a cat.”
As he talked, he placed the vial and the bag in his briefcase. Anger framed his face, and for a few moments, I thought he was going to shoot me right on the spot.
“Mason, you got a lot of nerve. I told you why I stopped doing what I did, because Dahlia turned out to be a nutbag! And I don’t like to work with nutbags, even as muc as I liked the money. Once I get out of here, I can use this to make money elsewhere. Get out of this God-forsaken hick town! This place is way to small for what I’ve got going.
Now under any other circumstances I would have shot you right on the spot. But since you spared my life, I’ll spare yours. But don’t go messing around in other people’s business, especially mine. You’ll get yourself killed next time. You’ve got your map and you’ve got your information, so get outta here!”
He motioned towards the door with his gun, and I slowly complied. His muzzle followed me all the way out of the motel area.. I didn’t need much more convincing.
Out in the streets, the diligent snowfall continued its tirade. The streets seemed safe enough, with no sign of any danger. Everything seemed almost sanguine somehow. As creepy as this town was, the steady snowfall had a peaceful feeling outside of everything else. That feeling of peace somehow made me uncomfortable. Everything seemed too right to be…right.
I came upon the Sanford Street Bridge, and knew that I was getting close to the pier. I thought back to all the craziness I had seen. Black chasms, gigantic fireballs, a reanimated corpse, a nightmare world, unnatural creatures, an abandoned town, an evil fog, drug trafficking, and a fanatical witch woman. There had to be some common thread.
As I began to feel that everything might be alright, the ominous sirens began once again.
And this time, it didn’t just get dark.