Part I: The Welcoming-Chapter 3
As Cheryl slept, a strange consciousness within her began to stir. It had stayed dormant for so very long, waiting for the right time. For now, it could only manifest itself through nightmares. Though Cheryl would never remember, her dreams were full of burnt buildings, strange abominations, rusted metal, blood, claws, teeth…it began to blur. They all seemed to flow together, pulsing as a new life…a new Being. The Thing in her was screaming to get out, feeling the awakening as frightening and vivid as a newborn screaming as it left the mother’s womb, thrust into the new world.
All Cheryl could comprehend was the noises. It was the noises of the creatures. The scraping of nails against the ground. Grunts and screeching. Growls and dragging feet. And there were the new sensations. Cold, colder than anything she’s ever known. The feel of metal, and the copper-like taste of blood. Then, for the first time in a long time...she was fully awake.
I stood sentry at the wheel, mentally marking how close we were to the final destination. It had been a very long seven hours, and I was ready for that eighth to be over with. I sighed, thinking of how Cheryl had grown the past two years. and how dark her hair had gotten. When Cheryl was four years old, it was a chestnut brown. Now, it was jet black.
Suddenly, the air around me seemed to change, and I couldn’t quite place the feeling. It was like a change in the atmosphere, similar to that charge in the air right before a rainstorm. Or perhaps a change in air pressure…or even something else. Suddenly, everything began to start to look fuzzy, and I realized what was happening.
Fog began to appear all around the car, a thick blanket enveloping the space all around us. And it wasn’t a gradual shift from the outskirts of a fogbank to the center, it was an immediate change as if the fog materialized out of nowhere. This seemed a bit odd, but then again it was so dark it was hard to tell one way or another. I immediately felt nervous, but not just from the fog. It was a twinge of feeling unnerved, as if something malevolent was near.
“Get a hold of yourself, Harry,” I thought to myself. “You’re imagining things. If you can just get a nice long shower, and a good night’s sleep, you’ll feel just fine.”
After a good ten minutes, we came upon another winding road. This would be the final one to lead us to Silent Hill. Seeing as the mountainside roads would be a bit more treacherous, I slowed down. Soon, I came upon a view of the town from the overhead mountain road.
“Hey Cheryl, look out your window,” I told her, and she gazed accordingly.
“Wow, that’s pretty,” she ooh’ed and aah’ed. It made me smile, finally feeling that some color was restored to her being, even if it was temporary. She was toying with the heart pendant necklace I’d given her a year ago, sliding her fingers through the silver chain and onto the metal heart.
Cheryl was right. Despite the fog dampening the visual, the scene was still quite picturesque. The mist seemed to filter out into the town, giving it a mysterious but calm ambiance. A crystal clear lake, which I recalled to be Toluca Lake, stood out in the northern region of the view. The beautiful trees that adorned the area completed the scenery
This is it, I thought. Finally, I could get into our hotel room, kick off my shoes and…
It happened so fast, I had no time to react.
As I was turning around a bend in the road, a cloaked shadowy form came stumbling directly in my Jeep’s path. My immediate reaction was to turn out of the way, and I swerved to avoid mowing down the unknown figure. I never had time to consider any other option…I wished later that I had.
My foot slammed the brakes, and I jerked the wheel to recourse back on the road, but there was nowhere to go.
I barely remember hitting the guardrail, feeling the space to my right open up, and that odd falling sensation. I reached behind me to grab Cheryl, but the gravity from the fall didn’t permit me to do so. We seemed to fall into a foggy abyss, never to return. The last thought that escaped my mind before the crash was losing Cheryl…
The first thing that registered in my senses was the large surge of pain in my head. Then I snapped open my eyes, visually taking in my surroundings. My head was against the steering wheel, an obvious cause of my aching cranium. A paved street stretched out before me. My car sat haphazardly on top of another car at an odd angle. The first thought that screamed in my head was...
“Cheryl!” I yelled out, looking into the backseat. The very core of my being seemed to plummet.
She was gone.
Where she once sat, the belt was undone, and her side door was wide open.
Immediately I threw open my car door and tried to move but was held fast into place by my seatbelt. I mashed the release, allowing me to fall onto the ground covered in…frost? It dawned on me quickly that everything was covered in…
Snow? This is mid-spring…
Yet mine eyes did not deceive me. It was definitely snowing here
“Strange. It wasn’t snowing back up on the mountain pass…”
My thoughts jumped back to Cheryl. Already on the ground, I peeked underneath the car, thinking she may have fallen out and rolled underneath. But she wasn’t there.
All the worst fears, the worst thoughts, the worst possible scenarios began to assault my mind like a tidal wave. It was only the thoughts that a parent could muster in a blind panic.
I imagined a man in a trenchcoat finding her unconscious in the car and taking her away. She hit her head and in a dazed state was out wandering in the cold snow, perhaps even hit by a car. Perhaps she was thrown through the window, and her lifeless form was laying….
No, that wasn’t it. The windshield was only cracked, but there was no hole there. Nevertheless, endless horrible possibilities played a loop through my mind over and over. I didn’t want to think that any of these things could have happened, but I couldn’t help but imagine the worst.
I began calling Cheryl’s name as loud as I could manage, inspecting the area around me all the while. The throbbing in my head ensued, but I didn’t care. When there was no response after searching nearby and calling her, I couldn’t help but feel she was already too far away.
I shivered against the relentless cold, and decided that I should seek shelter first. The bank of fog that I encountered earlier was here too, and I could hardly see past seven feet in front of me. There’s no telling how long I’d been unconscious, and the numb feeling in my toes told me it would be wise to seek warmer surroundings.
From the look of it, I surmised I’d taken quite the tumble. From gazing up, I could see that I had actually fallen down a good ten feet from where I had swerved off the road. I had hit another landing point and rolled down a slope. Now, my car was stacked atop another at the entrance of a tunnel amidst other vehicles. All the cars were grouped together as if purposely placed there to bar the tunnel entrance…strange.
Looking all around me, I realized that I was on a road which seemed to go out further into the town the other way. From what I remembered of the road map and seeing my current surroundings, it looked as if this was the tunnel I would have come out had I continued down the mountainside road. Apparently, my car wasn’t the only one to have crashed.
“Had I kept going normally, I would have been blocked off. Someone should report this,” I said to myself, then stopped. Speaking of people…where was everyone? There wasn’t a single car in motion on the road, and barely any lights seemed to be on.
“Doesn’t matter now, Harry. I need to call the police and report that Cheryl is missing. I don’t even have the first clue where to look for her.” I took out my cell phone and dialed 9-1-1 with shaky fingers. It was a miracle that I was even alive, let alone able to stand.
Moments later, my phone did not respond with a professional voice stating, “911, what’s your emergency?” Instead, I only heard the infamous beep of a busy line, and it seemed to taunt me at the time I needed someone the most. That was one hard bastard, all right.
This was not my idea of a “vacation.” Now my car totaled, and Cheryl was missing in a town that I’d never been to, potentially harmed or worse
Not sure of what course of action to take next, I followed the road away from the entrance tunnel and further into town. After a couple minutes of walking I came to an intersection. Surveying a nearby sign, I read that I was on Bachman Road, an intersection of Bachman and Finch St. Not knowing where else to go, I continued moving further down Bachman.
The first thing I noticed was that almost all the lights were out in the stores around me. It wasn’t just isolated to the mountain pass area. I passed by a General Store, a pharmacy, a gas station and more…all with no lights. There were numerous street lamps that were aglow, but nothing else, except…
Approximately twenty-five feet from me I saw a structure with their lights still on! I hurriedly made my way toward it. The winds were biting at me, sending chills down my entire body. Gritting my teeth against the cold, I pulled my arms in as tight as possible, wondering why or how Cheryl could walk very far in weather like this. What baffled me the most was why she would even leave in the first place. You think you taught your kid everything…
It was a café diner with the words “Café Stop” printed in large letters across the large window front. I could vaguely make out a shadowy figure inside, seeming to be quite stoic by their movement.It took a couple of good pulls of the door handle to get it open from the snow build-up on the ground, but I made my way in.
Upon entering, the person inside greeted me with a weary turn of the head. It was a middle aged man, hair parted over to the side in a business style cut. He greeted me with a warm, curious smile
“Well hello there , stranger. You look a bit peaked.”
“I wrecked my car on the way here to avoid hitting someone. Hit my head and was out for a bit. Don’t think its bad enough to be a concussion. I’m not sure how long I’ve been out but when I came to, my daughter Cheryl was gone. I need your help, please help me find her! There’s no telling where could be!”
“Oh my! Are you sure you’re alright? With the snow and fog out there and you being hurt, it’d be best to rest here a moment,” the bartender replied, looking me over for injuries.
“I’m fine. I just need to find her before she gets too far.”
“How about some hot tea or something to warm you up?” The bartender offered. I shook my head impatiently, grateful for the offer otherwise. I was cold, tired, and achy, but even more worried about Cheryl.
“I’m fine. No injuries. Some Tylenol wouldn’t hurt, but other than that, I’m okay. You got a phone I can use?”
“I’m sorry to tell you, but all of the phone lines around here are down. If she’s trying to call you, you probably won’t have so much luck.”
“Look, you’ve got to help me find her! She could be lost or hurt.”
“Don’t misunderstand me. I’m concerned too, for your little girl but with the power outages, the snow and this weird fog I doubt if we could find her. We’d be stumbling around a haystack looking for a needle. Have you tried your cell phone? You do have one, don’t you? I don’t own one. All my relatives are so close haven’t needed to get one.”
“Already tried. Just a busy signal.”
“Sorry to hear that, stranger. In a rock and hard place today. Have something on the house.”
And so, I reluctantly agreed and sat down to collect my thoughts, helping myself to some of the bartender’s offered hot tea. Figured I might as well warm myself up quick before braving the biting cold outside. The hot tea did help, soothing my nerves a bit. After a moment of reflection, I suddenly remembered something I’d setup just in case of a situation like this.
The revelation struck me like a ton of bricks. Finding Cheryl shouldn’t be that hard at all. It could be a longshot , but worth a try. Pulling out my phone, I looked at it, knowing the answer was right there in my hand.
Unknown to Cheryl, the heart pendant she wore around her neck was not only given to her as a present, but also a device to put her old man at ease.
A year ago, a man attempted to lure Cheryl away from her playground at school. The man was later found and arrested, but it unnerved me to think somebody could have taken her away. It was a father’s worst nightmare. So in a case of a kidnapping or if she ever got lost, I bought a heart pendant that has a built in transmitter. All I have to do is activate the beacon and use my GPS to find her.
“You got a map of the town?” I blurted out. “I need to at least have my bearings if I’m going to look for my daughter.” The bartender looked at me, cocked a weird grin, and then nodded his head as he made his way to the back area. I took out my phone, and immediately began dialing in the numbers I had memorized. Maybe the connection to the dispatch was down due to the downed lines, but I prayed that the snowstorm wouldn’t interfere with the satellite signal. After a moment, a beeping noise indicated that the signal was found. I opened up the GPS on my phone and put in the coordinates displayed from my locator program.
About this time, the bartender returned with a folded-up map. He laid it down in front of me, and unfolded it, smoothing down the edges.
“Right now, you’re here,” the bartender pointed to a northern area of the map, in a spot near the corner of Finney St. and Bachman Rd. “And from what you said, you came from the northernmost point here. What does your GPS say?”
I looked down, where the series of road names and mileages were now showing. “Half a mile east and…half a mile south. That’s all! She’s close!”
“That’s good to hear, stranger. I knew she couldn’t have gone far. Maybe got confused and wandered off.”
“I’m gonna get her and bring her back here. I’m sure you’ll be here when I return?”
“Of course. Ain’t got nowhere to go, anyway.”
“Mind if I take this map?”
“Go right on ahead. Oh, and you’ll need this too.” He reached behind the counter and handed me a fair sized flashlight. “Don’t go getting lost or nothin.’”
Thanking the bartender, I slipped the map into my coat pocket and with a renewed sense of hope, raced back outside in the onslaught of snow. I turned my head to the intersection and signs for Bachman Rd and Finney St. Gritting my teeth against the cold, I picked up my pace and began trekking west.
As I made my way down the street, I noticed there seemed to be one abandoned store after another. Cars were parked in random spaces on the side of the streets, as if people were there. There weren’t signs that anyone had left in a hurry. It was as if everyone had disappeared.
Everyone was probably inside from the snow, but the houses I past had no lights on, and you’d at least expect to see some kids playing in the snow. Everything was just so damned….quiet. Never did the sound of my footsteps seem so loud.
My mind began to think back to history about Roanoke Island and how an entire colony just simply disappeared. It was definitely eerie.
My stomach was twisted in knots, and I expected something to jump out at me any second. It wouldn’t be hard for someone to step through the fog and scare the bejeezus out of me. As dense as this fog was, a mack truck could catch me off guard. The unsettled feeling grew with each step. With the sheet of misty vapor around me, it almost felt like I could walk forever and never actually go anywhere. Perhaps this city was enchanted, and you only ended up walking in circles…
After a good five minutes of walking, I decided to look back to my GPS, and saw with relief that I would soon be north of my destination. I started to feel dumb, getting so worked up over possibly losing Cheryl. She had a level head on her shoulders, even for being a seven year old. Despite her shyness, she was very intelligent. All of her grades in school were fine, and her eyes, while downcast still showed a keen intellect and wisdom that few seven year olds beheld.
Then, ahead of me, I made out a hazy figure in the snow. Squinting, I could only make out a faint outline, and moved closer. I barely made out a blue colored dress and black hair. It was Cheryl!
Odd…my GPS still reflected the alleyway…probably just a glitch.
“Cheryl!” I called, and dashed towards her. She didn’t respond, her back still to me, even as I approached. As I neared her, she suddenly took off to the left, much faster than I anticipated.
“Wait! Cheryl it’s me! Come back! Closing the distance, I soon made my way further down the alley.
Why the hell is she running from me? She must have heard me…
The alleyway was much longer than I expected, littered with trash cans and all sorts of miscellaneous junk. Before long, I would see Cheryl, who would be very cold but most likely alright. Everything was going to be fine soon. Yet, she had somehow stayed ahead of me.
“Kid’s much faster than I thought.”
Then, I felt something behind me. Whipping my head around, I felt my pulse quicken and my heart hammering in my chest. Was that a shadow? Something had definitely moved behind me. I heard it and felt it. For a moment, the world seemed to stand still.
Then, a large Calico cat came sauntering past a group of trashcans, brushing the side of the cans with its slender form. A surge of frustration filled me very quickly. What is wrong with me? Why did I keep feeling so much dread and anticipation around here?
Huffing, I turned back around and continued down the alleyway. And just when I thought the alley would never end, it did.
What? How it could end already? The GPS showed that I still had a bit more to travel.
Then, I noticed a small offshoot to the left. The wall deepened on that side, leading to a small chain-link fence. I swiftly passed through the fence, the hinges creaking like an alarm to my presence. I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being followed.
Probably being stalked by a cat, what else? If I was a ball of yarn, I’d probably be in really big trouble right now. Humor was always eased my nerves, and it helped a bit now. Brushing my feeling aside, I pressed on deeper into the alleyway. The GPS program on my phone suddenly went out.
I guess the enclosed space gave enough interference to block the signal. Either way, I was close enough to find her. Tucking the phone away, I went around some winding turns and down a small set of stairs. Fire escapes were randomly placed at various spots in the alley. Must be some homes on the other side…
Then…the siren came.
It started so abruptly, I could have jumped out of my skin were it physically possible. The wailing rose to a fever pitch, and fell back again after a long moment. Then, that strange feeling of paranoia and dread filled me; the knot in my stomach came back. The dense fog that extended out into the alley dissipated in mere seconds, and I held my breath. What kind of trick was this? Someone playing a prank on the new guy in town? Let’s turn off the fog machine in the creepy alley and see what the new guy in town does?
Yet, what happened next was no trick. The sky, which was fairly bright for this time of day—what time of day was it now anyway?—suddenly faded out into pitch black. Solar eclipse? No, It was way too fast to be natural. It reminded me of lights quickly dimming in a movie theatre, throwing you into an inky blackness.
I reached into my jacket and pulled out the flashlight I got from the bartender. That feeling of unsettlement went sky high.
For Cheryl I had to keep going. She was my heart. No one could go on in life without their heart, could they? I walked forward some, and shined my light on a wheelchair lying on its side in the corner of the wall.
How strange for a wheelchair to be just sitting…and suddenly I was more uncomfortable when I saw that the wheels were spinning on their own. Shocked but curious, I walked over and placed my hand on the wheel for a second, and it stopped. The second I let go, the wheel went right back to spinning on its own.
Okay, getting the creeps…walking away now…
Shaking the unease away, I continued through the alley (which I was beginning to believe would never end). I began to wonder if this alley did a big loop around the area as I followed the walls, until I came upon another item. A hospital gurney stood in the middle of the alleyway, stained in dried up blood.
“Oh God, I hope that’s not any of Cheryl’s,” I thought aloud, feeling more and more alone. “It’s really dried up though. Looks like it’s been for a while. Can’t be hers.”
I came to another fence, and pushed through it. Not far ahead, there was a pool of blood that trailed along with the wall. Reluctantly I followed suit which took me around a tight curve, and my path finally came to a stop. What I saw next made my blood run ice-cold.
A body…no, a torso was strung up before me. The upper half of someone’s body had been mutilated and hung up on the fence with barbed wire, blood still freshly wet in many places. The more unsettling part was the arms; how they were pulled out to the sides like a posed crucifixion. The head tilted back at an uncomfortable-looking angle, looking to the sky as if he was crying out to God for mercy.
The figure was definitely not Cheryl’s, but I didn’t want to stick around long enough to find out who had done such an atrocious act. My phone suddenly vibrated, and I cringed inwardly. Apparently, the GPS someone worked again here, because it lit up with the message “Destination reached.”
I looked down, and my light reflected off something on the ground. A red heart pendant lay at my feet. The chain was broken. Her pendant was here, but Cheryl was definitely not.
That means I just missed her….didn’t I?
I examined the ground some more with the light, trying my hardest not to look back up at the grotesque figure hanging above me; not to mention the abominable smell that came out in noxious waves. The police would have to know about this right away. Time to get out of here.
When I began to stand back up, I jumped at a faint sound. I was so focused on the necklace I wasn’t quite sure where it came from. It sounded close, and I whipped around to look behind me. Nothing there, and then the sound came again, now behind me. I turned back around to face the grotesque corpse. It was completely still. Was I hearing things now? Unable to look away, I was morbidly entranced by the idea that this thing had spoken. No way…it was deader than a doornail.
“help…me…” the lips moved as the words whispered out, and I jumped back. Dear God, this man was still alive!
“I’ll…I’ll get an ambulance…just hold on,” I fumbled the words, and began to run back out of the alley. I had begun to round the first corner out of the alley when I saw…Them. Three of Them came into view almost at once, making me stop dead in my tracks.
They were short, about five-foot even. They were humanoid, except that their faces were all wrong. The placement of the nose and eyes were completely off, seeming to twist into the side of the face. Their skin was a grayish-blue, and looked infected or burnt. The Thing closest to me called out in a voice that did not belong. It said, “Daddy…It hurts, Daddy.”
My spine felt frozen at the sound of their lost, desperate tone. It wasn’t at all what I expected. It was a perfectly normal, human child’s voice, an obscene contradiction to their aberrant form. They exposed their teeth in a demented smile, and it was extremely apparent that those teeth served a purpose.
“It can’t be,” I muttered. “This can’t be real. No way. Nothing like this exists.” But they did.
When they first came into view my phone started to make strange noises. At first, I wasn’t sure where the noise was coming from because it was only a low crackling noise. As the creatures started getting closer, it began to intensify and it was very reminiscent of the noises my car radio had made earlier. As they got within a couple of feet of me my phone started to screech like a bell or whistle.
Backing up, I realized in dread that I had no way out. The only choice was to run towards them. As soon as I was in reach of their grasp, one of the Things grabbed at me. In pure terror, I shoved him (or It) away before it could get a grip on me. My feet slapped the pavement more than ever now after feeling that cold clammy feel of that thing’s grasp.
As I passed by the group, one of the Things managed to get a hold of me, and seemed to really latch on. I swiveled to the right, slamming the thing into the wall, which managed to break me free of its grasp. I dashed through, bobbing and weaving to avoid the reach of the demon-child hands. Finally, I was past them, and ran full speed ahead. Oh, God please don’t let there be more….
As I got further from them, the strange noises from my phone died off. Was the phone somehow connected to these strange happenings?? Maybe it was warning me when something paranormal was near...either way , it didn’t matter. I was getting as far away from these things as humanly possible….but that joy of escape was soon cut short. The fence that I had entered earlier was now replaced by a solid, brick wall
No, this couldn’t be it. Maybe I’d taken a different turn…but I hadn’t. There were no turns down the alley. Frantically looking around, I soon remembered the fire escapes. Searching, I soon found a fire escape ladder nestling seven feet off from a trash dumpster.
Seeing the advancing demon children shambling towards me gave me all the motivation I needed. In a couple of movements, I hauled myself on top of the garbage bin, got enough momentum, and then leapt from the edge for the bottommost rung. Swinging my arms forward, my hands connected with the ladder with a resilient clang, simultaneously banging my knee against the brick wall. And just as I was enjoying the success of reaching the beloved ladder, I felt it give a little.
I was completely still for a second, waiting for the jostling of the ladder to go dormant. Breathing out slowly, I reached up with my other arm, and grabbed the next rung, and began pulling myself upward. My muscles groaned as I pulled all of my body weight up. Today was the wrong day to be out of shape.
With a loud groan, the ladder suddenly broke, and I plummeted down towards the cluster of demonic children that gathered near the dumpster. A metallic ring ensued when I smacked my head on the side of the dumpster, and I fell in. The rank smell of garbage assailed me, but I was too tired to move. The world was hazy and spinning from my blow to the head, and I felt so uncoordinated and loopy I could hardly move at all. Upon settling inside the mass of stinking garbage, I began immediately praying that these foul creatures could not climb.
It only took a few moments to find out. All at once, the children seemed to start piling in the dumpster with me. The ringing in my head seemed to echo on forever. Now, the sound of my cell phone squealed and wailed so loud I thought my head might explode.
I remember those gnashing teeth and that flaky, gray skin in front of me right before I passed out…