Silent Hill Gods and Monsters III : Shepherd's Warning

Chapter 10: Saints and Sinners

"Red sky at night shepherd's delight, Red sky in morning shepherd's warning."

Darkness saturated everything. It wasn't numb and without feeling as darkness is sometimes thought to be; this complete and utter darkness came along with pain and suffering beyond comprehension. Half of which was that of roasting flames, the other half was of the stabbing shock of icy water. McCaw didn't know if he was on the surface of an ocean or underwater, all he knew was pain. "CLANK, CLANK, CLANK." The loud noise felt like it was about to burst his eardrums, when he recovered he could hear a faint voice talking to him.

"Wake up Mr McCaw; it is time to prove yourself as a righteous man." Suddenly McCaw found it possible to open his burning eyelids. He appeared to be submerged in a lake of blood. His head was stuck in a position so that he was constantly looking toward the surface.

As focus came back he found that he was trapped in a coffin-sized cage. He could see other cages through the rusty bars of his own. It seemed that he was amidst a field of similar devices, each one held to the lakebed by an anchor. John tried to see where the voice came from but his head was almost completely paralysed, as if there were some sort of purpose in staring at the lake's surface. He crossed his eyes and saw the pointed end of a splintered wooden fence post sticking out from where his nose should have been. 'Either this is a horrible nightmare or I'm dead.'

A loud and clear voice sounded through the lakes atmosphere, "I'm afraid that it is the latter Mr McCaw."

John grimaced, "Well I guess that explains the unwanted nose job. Am I in hell?"

The voice replied in a puzzled manner, "You don't know where you are? You were sent through the path of the righteous. You should know the trials ahead. So either someone up there really doesn’t like you or they have sent you by accident. In either case you have my pity. As for the apparent lack of your face, the body you occupy now is a representation of the way that you looked the moment you died. In any case you are now free to walk the path."

McCaw fell out of the cage as if he were spat out of it. To his surprise he found that the bloody atmosphere around him was not thick like water but was almost as light as air. Suddenly there was soft light either side of him coming from candle lit anchors. The light forged a path through the red fog. 'This must be a continuation of the path of the righteous,' he thought to himself.

The voice spoke again; it was starting to annoy him.

"You are correct Mr McCaw. This is the start of your journey. Walk the path and pass the trials before you. You will either receive power beyond your wildest dreams or your soul will be entrapped here to suffer for all eternity."

John groaned 'Great another death or glory freak. Well then I guess I'd better start walking.' He reached behind his head, got a good grip on the post and tugged. It didn't hurt but it was stubborn. Eventually it slid out the back of his head with a great "SCHHHLOCK." 'This could come in handy as a weapon,' he thought 'Wonder how I got this way? Wait a moment; I remember the last thing I saw was a garden in a forest. Must've been that witch back at the orphanage. Ooooh if I get out of this situation I'm totally gonna haunt her crazy ass.'

At that moment the voice spoke up again, "Forget her. You have more important issues. Follow the path and join your friend. He is just ahead. I have instructed him to wait for you."

McCaw got fed up "You're in league with her aren't you? Well I'll kick your disembodied ass too if I see you. I'm dead and pissed enough to do it. You see if I'm not." He took a few test swings at the fog before the voice spoke again.

"Take care here Mr McCaw. Sinners are not treated with leniency on the path of the righteous."

"Whatever. I'm out of here." John wondered what friend the voice meant. He walked and pondered what sort of creature the voice belonged to. It sounded like something that had been stabbed in the throat as it made a gurgling sound whenever it spoke. He couldn't tell if the voice was male or female. Suddenly he caught sight of a shadow up ahead in the dim candlelight and fog. As he got closer he saw what appeared to be a shambling figure struggling to move. A shimmering light glinted against the soft light of the pathway. The shimmering line seemed to run right through the figure. It looked like the figure was talking to an invisible presence and from the look of it the figure was not happy. 'Must be that annoying voice giving my friend the good news. I'd better go and help him out.'

"Are you sure? Why do I have to help him? He is not God's servant, he deserves nothing." Nathan Durant was furious, "Who sent him? Was it the work of that traitorous witch? I can't believe that she sent a sinner down the path of the righteous."

The voice coolly replied, "Sinners and saints are all alike. One separated from the other on God's holy ground. Yet all have a chance to prove themselves. If the executioners are sacked then power shall be yours but if either fails then both shall perish. Your fates are intertwined."

Durant shook his fist at the waters surface shimmering above him, "Damn you fate. Since when did you dictate God's law?"

The voice sounded puzzled "Fate? Who is Fate? My name is Jessica and I am but a messenger of God. She sees this as a way to redeem both your souls. You are as much a sinner as he is. You are worse if anything. Finding out proof that God exists and acting against him. You knew the power that he holds, what he could do for you and you still chose the wrong side."

Nathan hung his head in defeat. "Fine. I'll wait then." There was no reply.

A bloodied hand slapped Nathan on the shoulder, "Hello friend."

Nathan looked up to see a man in a police uniform with a large portion of his face missing. He brandished a large wooden fence pole. It looked like the kind that he was using to make improvements to the garden. "Dahlia Gillespie got you too huh?" The man with the polo mint for a head nodded.

He spoke with a deep throaty voice, "Yeah. I take it that you're the elusive director?"

Nathan smiled and extended his hand, "Yes. Nathan Durant at…"

John quickly removed the machete from Nathan's chest before handing it to him. "Here you'll need it. From what I understand we're both in for a rough ride and don't bother complaining about the pain either. You're in a realm of pain you will get used to it. Hi, the name's John McCaw pleased to meet you."

Nathan shook hands "Nathan Durant and I was only going to point out that it was quite rude to remove it from my chest," his lungs made a low whistling sound as he was breathing out. John poked him in the belly with the post.

"It's your drug dealing antics that got me into this mess asshole."

Nathan raised the machete in a threatening stance. "Anything I did is in the past and was in the name of the Red God of whom I still have the hope of bringing back. At present a demon rules in her stead and he is trapped here with us. We are both dead in case you hadn't noticed so there are bigger things to think about other then playing the blame game."

They both sighed before John spoke. "Well it would seem that we're stuck in this together so let's get moving. We can talk on the way."

"Agreed," Durant replied as he fell into step with McCaw.

"So I take it you know what this is all about?" John asked him.

A grim look crossed Durant's face, "Yes and I am afraid that we are both in a rather large amount of trouble. You see this whole town used to be a sacred place where the natives worshipped an ancient entity, or God if you will, that had the power to create, shape and change reality at will. For those she loved it was paradise. However a demon by the name of Samael took a liking to the power of this place too. She was able to trap him here with some effort. In order to keep him here he is steadily fed on the lost souls that come here. Too weak to escape yet unable to die he raged in his prison. Sending sinners to him was her one mercy and turned out to be her last and biggest mistake. He grew strong enough to start building an army. It is here that he shapes sinners into soldiers and monsters to fight for him.

When people arrive here during a certain period in time they are trapped in a personal hell in where people's worst fears were manifested into monsters of unspeakable horror. She is not without mercy though, as in these hells her subjects had the chance to work their way back into her good graces. They could come back, but they would be radically changed if they did. If they did not then they remained as lost souls suffering their own tortures and becoming twisted enough for Samael to use as monsters themselves. The land did not stay this way as new religions moved in, things changed dramatically. Her power weakened and soon faded to a small spark. With less souls to control, her powers became limited, until she finally had to rely on her disciples to do her will. A couple of civilisations later and the town of Silent Hill was born.

Throughout history there have been mass disappearances in this area. Local authorities at the time put it down to immigration, but I tell you the truth. These unfortunate souls were all drugged and forced to serve this demon posing as God in order to give him the power to sustain and in time break away from the realms of this space. I was the leader of His disciples for some time and being in such a position I gained knowledge beyond my wildest dreams including the knowledge that the Order has been deceived from the beginning. The path we travel on now is an initiation ceremony to create His otherworldly saints. If sinners such as ourselves fail this task then we are doomed to become part of this place for eternity."

John held up his hand "Wait a moment. What do you mean about us both being in trouble exactly? Surely being His golden boy you will be looked upon more favourably than me."

Durant shook his head and let out a long heavy sigh accompanied by the low whistling from the hole in his lungs. "No. If anything I will be tested more harshly. For although I led the Order I believed I could bring back the Red God and defeat Samael. I was obviously wrong and am now being punished for it. I haven't the slightest idea how I could bring Her back in a realm under His control."

John clapped him on the shoulder, "Look on the bright side; at least we have weapons." Nathan smiled to try and reassure John, 'Simpleton. He can't comprehend what Samael can do. Maybe it's better that way. I wish that I could be as ignorant. On top of that he's the only friendly face I've got around here so I may as well amuse him.'

It was not long before they saw a large building whose tower reached above the water.

"What the hell is that?" John said, nearly falling over backwards to see how far it stretched up.

Durant sighed heavily with guilt. "That my blissfully ignorant friend is Toluca prison. It used to be visibly joined to the mainland back when Silent Hill was used as a prison camp during the civil war. The top half was renovated and rebuilt but the lower half sank a long time ago and was lost to the lake."

John was puzzled, "If this is on the lake then how come I've never seen it before. I've been out on the lake plenty of times fishing with my buddies and I've never seen any sign of it."

Durant smiled, "There was always a fog just offshore from the historical society that you stayed away from right?"

John answered, "Yes".

Durant closed his eyes; this confirmed his suspicions, "Well that's why you never saw it. I suppose Samael helped to hide it as well. Although I have no idea how."

John looked up and pointed towards the tower "You mentioned that the upper tower was rebuilt. What's it used for?"

Durant slowed down as if a heavy burden weighed down on him. "That is a tower of atrocities. It was our own man-made version of hell. It was my brainchild, designed to bring children up in the way of our Lord to fear and obey Him no matter what. This was during the time I was blind to the truth and still believed in the Red God knowing very little about Samael except as a Devil figure. A man Named Andrew DeSalvo insisted that he be put in charge of the facility. It is in this tower that we convert new believers through fear and suffering. They are all subjected to psychological terror and physical pain in that place. When they came back to Wish House they were nearly reduced to gibbering wrecks. However by this stage they were ready to do anything for God, such was the fear instilled into their young minds. I did not mean for it to go as far as he took it."

John frowned at Durant, "If you knew how bad it was then why didn't you stop it?"

Durant shrugged, "Like I told you before. That island is protected by powers beyond my comprehension."

John nodded frustrated at the way that nothing could be done to help these children, "What about the lower levels?"

Durant looked blankly ahead "I don't know. I never got to see it before as it is flooded. Although the history books say that it was some sort of giant death row. The military of the time somehow discovered the order's existence and sentenced suspected members to death by hanging or impaling for being heretics."

John whistled through his teeth "Wow, harsh."

The two continued on, following the path to the side of the crumbling yet perfectly preserved building. The path split into two just before it reached the building. The left path led to a very narrow hole in the wall, the other led to a pair of large double doors, surrounded by candles. A small note was engraved into the wall between the two paths. The note read, "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to pass through the gates of heaven. Black looks white but only when exposed to a pure light. Seek the truth to find the path to heaven."

John scratched his head in bewilderment, "Now what the hell does that mean?"

Nathan laughed, "It is easier than you think. Watch." He brought his machete up to the light and reflected the beams of candlelight into the hole in the wall. Suddenly the hole became bigger until it stretched to the size of the double doors. John raised his left hand, offering to let Nathan go through first, "Well I guess you'd better lead then."

Andrew DeSalvo sat in one of the towers observation rooms, smiling gleefully with anticipation as he waited for the escape sirens to start. They sounded a lot like, and were indeed used as, air raid sirens during the Second World War. They were the signal for the gatekeepers to start their journeys.

He thought back to earlier, when he gave his 'motivational' speech.

"I know you are afraid of me and this place but you must overcome this fear for your service is required. God takes care of all her loyal and obedient servants. She has called me to select the most loyal among her flock. You children will bring in the dream of a new era. One where a holy paradise is created on Earth, so that God may come down and reign in all her heavenly splendour. This is a task of great responsibility and as such you may carry it out with the knowledge that your lives depend on it. Go to your cells now and await your release. Soon you will be taken to a boat and transported to shore. Once there wait for the sirens before starting your mission. May God be with you during this task, go in peace my children."

He scanned the weekly reports, all the while smiling and thinking to himself, 'Not long now.' The anticipation was killing him. He tried to busy himself by reading the reports but his attention was almost completely diverted to watching the gatekeeper's cells.

John and Nathan looked more like a pair of broken puppets than two righteous warriors when they entered a large courtyard. They had walked through a couple of long corridors filled with empty cells to get here. From the sounds around them it appeared that the cells were still occupied. Voices of pain echoed down the large corridor. One with a sense of humour shouted, "Dead men walking" when they passed its cell. The courtyard that they stood in now was huge. The ground was damp and muddy though it was easy enough to walk on. Sounds of ships passing overhead and dripping water filled the room. Soon the pair came across a large gallows. Upon the front of the gallows were two tablets carved into the wood. They read "The false leader" and "The fallen warrior." There were two pictures and a small amount of writing under each one.

The first was of a man on fire leading a crowd into heaven, underneath was written

"To know but not believe is a great sin. To lead others to God is a great redemption. To the false leader I have granted access to the trial, through my manipulation and infinite mercy." The other picture was of a showdown. Two enemies battled to win a maiden's favour; the winner had pierced the maiden in order to vanquish his foe.

"To kill the innocent in order to slay the guilty takes all glory out of victory and defeats the purpose of a hero's existence making him obsolete. However saving my children grants him a chance for redemption. Walk the path and conquer your fate, then the way will be free to pass through heaven's gate."

As soon as they finished reading the tablets a pair of nooses dropped and cages full of bodies fell from the ceiling. They swung wildly after the drop. They looked like skinned people with bleached white skulls. Their flesh clung loosely to their frames and attached them to the back of their cages. They were hanging upside down, large claws protruded from their dangling arms. Their eyeballs dangled on cords from their sockets and small insect-like legs and wings grew from the back of them so that they could move freely about the cage, yet they were still connected to the skull by a thin cord of nerves and rotten flesh. As the cages turned the two dead men saw that there was more to these monsters. The back of the cage held a mass of flesh, bone and nerves that formed a mouth and two large hands to grab its food.

Durant ducked and pulled John's head down before a large claw swiped at it.

"Dredgers. Drowned souls dedicated to dredging the lake floor in order to pick up stray souls so that their physical bodies could float to the surface. Once their bodies were discovered they could be buried and rest in peace. Make sure that their large hands at the back don't grab you. Stow your weapon away until you need it. We can take care of these things without them, just stay low and you'll be fine." John nodded, put the fence post down the back of his shirt and stayed low. They started to make their way out of the room in order to come up with a plan.

There was a strange muffled roar emanating from the far corners of the room. Two sets of bubbles emerged from the solid ground. As soon as the first one popped it sent out multiple ripples. The effect of these ripples turned the ground into a sort of thick liquid with the consistency of quicksand. Durant and McCaw found themselves barely able to move. Small brown/grey mounds rose up from the mud and bobbed on the surface. A couple came up from under the men and they tried desperately to keep their balance. John shouted in alarm when his mound rolled over to reveal a torso and head with a large circular hole puncturing the area that the heart normally resided in. A look of rage contorted the victim's face. A pair of hands came up through the hole in the chest and tried to cover the hole so that nothing could get through.

"Jesus. What are these things?"

Durant trying to keep his balance explained, "They must be the innocent victims slaughtered by a pair of monsters known as the punishers. These victims hate the punishers and are more than willing to do anything to annoy them or hinder them."

John cocked his head "You mean these things are the good guys?"

Durant nodded "Yes so try not to annoy them by poking around the hole in their hearts. As long as we have them on side we should be relatively safe from the Dredgers."

They did not notice two red fins rise slowly from the murky ground. Their movement barely disturbing the surface. They headed towards the gallows, where they felt most at home. The Dredgers started to swing more violently as bodies started to appear beneath them.

Durant scratched his chin as he surveyed the situation. "I think we have to move from body to body to reach the gallows. I don't know why though. The punishers haven't appeared yet." "CLUMP" A large grey hand with bone poking through the fingertips came down on the wooden steps and dragged a partially skeletal body up to rest on the bottom of the steps. The creature righted itself and reached down to the murky depths where another bony hand burst from the mud to meet it. The first creature pulled the second up and they ascended the gallows steps together.

John and Nathan directed their attention to the gallows, from which dull thudding sounds could be heard. They watched with fascination and anticipation as two red points appeared and became larger to reveal two red pyramids. The similarities stopped there. It appeared that these two things were soldiers from different sides in the civil war. Their uniform was bloodied and tattered but colour could still be seen, one was a navy blue and the other was a dark grey. Their skeletal frames were tightly covered with muscle. Pulsing organs could be seen through the spaces in the fleshy strips that covered their lower arms and chest areas. Thick, brown liquid oozed over the organs to slowly drip over their bones. Whenever they touched something their coagulated blood stained it. One carried a large lance with a wicked barbed tip. The other carried a very large blade that took nearly all its superhuman strength to barely drag it. Both weapons were stained with the blood of a thousand innocent victims. The victims screamed when they saw the monsters. It was obvious that these weapons could destroy spirit as well as flesh.

Terror flooded into John's heart as he watched the two strange creatures beckon to him and Nathan.

Nathan spoke up among the screaming, "Ah right well. They would be our goal then. We have to make our way over to them and defeat them. So the trial has begun. Come on we'd best get mov…" A large pair of claws darted between John and Nathan, pierced the body they were currently crouching on and yanked it up out of the mud, sending the pair flying. The Dredger struggled to keep a grip on the slippery convulsing body. John and Nathan struggled to reach the surface as they sank down further. The Dredger began devouring the body head first with the jaws at the back of the cage. Whenever the chewed up, rotted flesh fell into the front of the cage it wrapped around the skeletal figure in the front of the cage. At that moment the chain holding the cage snapped and sent the cage crashing into the mud. The mouth at the back of the cage let out a roar of pain as the creature from the front crawled out of it, new, changed and horrible. It breathed one last word before sinking into the mud forever


Darkness. Thick, swirling darkness surrounded John. He desperately tried to fight his way to the surface and find Durant. He was resolved to overcoming this trial, as he sure as hell wasn't ready to suffer an eternity of pain and suffering. However try as he might he wasn't getting any closer to the surface. Suddenly he felt a small hand grab his arm and start trying to pull him up. Had he seen the creature he maybe wouldn't have accepted the help so readily. It was a small arm about the size a child would have but it was an arm with two strange appendages. Each looked like a large webbed hand and was attached to the shoulder joint of the arm like flippers. More of the creatures pulled him to the surface until his head was finally pulled free of the mud. He didn't gasp for air; he knew that was just a pointless illusion in this place. Instead he reached for the nearest body and clambered on. He paddled around until he saw a hand sticking out of the mud, looking for something to get a hold on. He grabbed it and hauled Nathan's body out of the mud. Nathan conveyed his thanks before starting to move on to the next body.

This time the pair moved a lot faster for fear of another Dredger attacking. When another grabbed at a body in front of John he swiped at its claws with the fence post. The only reward he got however was a dull knocking sound as wood bounced off bone. The cage crashed down into the mud.

John had an idea. "Nathan the cages are the key. To achieve something you really want sacrifices must be made. The victims are already suffering all we're doing is using their salvation to our advantage. Follow me." John leapt onto the cage and ran along it. Soon the Dredgers began a massacre of the victims that had failed the trial before. Cages began falling left right and centre. 'Shit,' John thought, "Come on we have to get to those gallows before the cages sink." They quickly made their way to the gallows. A cry stopped John in his tracks. He turned around to see one of the cages trying to devour Nathan's leg. Apparently it wasn't content to let its last occupant go until a new one had replaced it. John gave an angry look towards the gallows where the soldiers still beckoned 'You just wait your turn. I'm coming for you.'

He started making his way back to Durant "Hold on Nathan I'm coming man." Nathan was desperately hacking away at the large hands that held a vice like grip on his leg.

Nathan could feel the flesh of his foot falling off in layers, presumably the cages occupant needed it for strength. John saw the problem. The victim that the Dredger had swallowed was too small for the occupant and now it was using Nathan to make up for what it lost. John grabbed the machete off Nathan and lay face down on the cage so that his arms lay either side of it. He kept his head away from the mouth at the back of the cage and started stabbing the occupant through the cage. The thing soon squealed in pain and released Nathan's leg. It was nothing but a limp piece of bone with threads of flesh hanging off it. A chain started to descend from the ceiling.

Nathan saw it "Thanks man. Quickly get up and give me my blade. I have an idea that should make our journey a lot easier." John got up and did so. Once the chain had descended to chest height Nathan grabbed the chain "I'm going to swing over to the gallows then I'll throw the chain back to you. Act quickly as this chain only descended to reconnect to the Dredger as the occupant failed in its escape attempt. Once the chain reattaches itself the Dredger will be hauled back up to attack some other unfortunate soul and you will be tossed into the unforgiving deep."

Gripping his machete with his teeth Durant took the chain in his hands and started to swing towards the gallows. He looked like a pirate when he was swinging. At the last moment he grabbed the sword in one hand and swiped at the punisher who raised the great knife to strike him. He caught the punisher at the side of its neck sending it back a couple of steps. Seeing this he put the sword back into his teeth and reached out for the top beam of the gallows. He grabbed it and heaved himself onto it. He swung the chain back while trying to stay out of the punishers reach. The cage John stood on was starting to sink 'Not going to be at the right length. I'm going to die here.' The chain lowered further and John reached out his hands to grab it. It was swinging wildly but he still caught it. "CLINK" 'What was that?' John looked down to see that although he had caught the chain it had already connected to the Dredger. 'Aww crap!' John waited for the inevitable. Then he had an idea, he ran to the connected end of the cage and sat clutching the chain with his feet dangling over the side.

The Dredger gave a large "SCHLOCK" as it came free of the mud. As it rose to a vertical position John found that his idea had worked, he was now sitting upside down. He quickly righted himself and started swinging the cage towards the gallows. The occupant inside howled as his actions meant that its head was now being bashed against the side of the cage. The hands at the back clawed at the top of the cage in order to grab and devour its attacker. John simply clung to the chain and kept swinging. He got nearer to the gallows but fell just short. It was then that he realised that the chain was ascending again. 'Think quick John. Need a way to get nearer to the gallows without getting yourself killed.' It was then that he noticed that the lance wielding punisher still had its attention focused on him. He knew what to do. He dropped down a bit and dangled his body in front of the mouth for a short time while pinning the large hands to the top of the cage with his feet. The punisher lunged with its lance at him. John pulled himself up at the same instant making the lance pierce the cage's occupant instead. The creature howled as the punisher made an effort to remove the lance. John back flipped and landed on the lance, he lost balance and grabbed the creatures red helmet for leverage. He pulled as hard as he could and threw himself onto the gallows.

The lance wielding punisher now clung to the cage as it rose with its screaming occupant inside. The sword wielding punisher did not notice John's presence as it was completely focused on Nathan.

"Good of you to join us." Nathan called down.

"Quit your whining and get down off that perch. Try and take his arm out on your way down. I'll sort out the rest." A splash was heard behind them, the screaming Dredger had now fallen silent. The lance wielding punisher had fallen into the mud. "Quickly. There's not much time before he comes back. Then our chances of success will be even less than they are now." Nathan nodded and swung his bony leg in front of the creature. The knife came up and Nathan tucked his leg in, feeling the breeze as the knife whistled by his leg, where the nerves were still left. As soon as the knife hit the gallows Nathan dived down onto the creature, grabbing it's arm and slicing it off with his machete.

John then taking the opportunity took the noose and looped it over the punisher's head. "Come on Nathan help me here." Durant, although missing most of his left leg could still walk, however he now walked with a dragging limp. John and Nathan moved together to push the punisher off the gallows. Nathan had a thought and quickly cut the other arm off before going back round and giving the punisher a final shove. It struggled and gave a very strange roar as it died. The sound was similar to that of a warped, high-pitched elephant trumpet. Finally John set his fence post on the gallows and twisted the creature's head round until there was a loud snap. With a final roar, the creature's body went limp.

The two sat down back to back, exhausted. "Well that wasn't too hard. Now what?" John sighed. "CLUMP."

Nathan looked around to see a red point emerging from the mud, "It's not over yet." The creature emerged with a large chunk of its mid section missing, there were also claw marks either side of it.

"Well that should make things easier," John surmised.

Nathan clutched his blade tighter, "Don't underestimate this thing. As long as it moves it's dangerous." John looked between the fence post and the knife; he raised his eyebrow and went to pick up the great knife.

He struggled to get it off the ground "Maybe not then. I'll stick with the post." He retrieved the post and swung it round, bringing the point up to face the punisher who by now was standing to face them. It saw the hanging creature and roared. In no time at all it was charging at John. With no real space to fight the monster the two dodged its attacks as best as they could. It kept making short, sharp lunges at John. He kept swatting the thing's lance away with his post but knew that he couldn't avoid it forever.

He called out to Nathan "Divert its attention get it near the steps and let it go when I give the word." Nathan was not happy 'How the hell do I distract this thing?' He stuck his sword through its chest. The thing struggled wildly, thrusting the lance behind him. 'Oh well. I guess that's the answer to that question.'

Nathan looked in John's direction he was looking closely at the post nearest the second noose, "Now?"

John looked back and nodded "Now." Nathan took the sword out of the creature and it swung its large fist towards him, knocking the sword out of his hand and sending him into the mud again. In desperation Nathan grabbed the bottom of the wooden steps and clung on. The punisher happy that it had dispatched Durant now turned its attention towards McCaw. It sprinted at him with lance pointed towards his heart. He stood still with one hand on the pole holding the noose beam and his eyes closed. He counted silently mouthing the numbers, as the noise of the soldier's boots grew louder. Just at the moment that the lance was about to strike John opened his eyes, grabbed the pole, used it to swing around behind the punisher and kick it in the back. This sent the front point of the pyramid into the noose. John was quick to loosen it and let the rest of the noose slip over the creature's neck. The creature spun around to face him before he could push it off the edge. He kicked its head sending the front point up and exposing its neck. He picked up the fence post again and rammed it through the creature's throat. The force of which sent the creature flying off the gallows and dangling above the muddy waters it was not long before the creature stopped moving.

John quickly dropped the pole, turned around and dashed to help Nathan. The mud seemed to be thickening again and he could just about see the water at the edge becoming solid once again. 'Come on. Come on, we're so close to getting out of this. I'm not leaving you here to suffer now.' Soon he had pulled Nathan out of the mud coughing and spluttering.

They sat on the steps smiling; John spoke first "Its over now right? We can die in peace now can't we?"

Nathan grimaced "No. We still have one thing left to do before we can get out of here. We have to put on the crowns of the righteous to attain an audience with God before we can ever have a chance of leaving." John looked back and to his amazement the bodies of the punishers were gone and all that was left were the red helmets that they were wearing and their weapons.

John looked back at Durant "Aww no. You can't mean we have to put those on. Are you sure there's no other way?"

Durant confirmed it, "No other way."

John sighed "Fine then. Lets get this over with." With heavy hearts the two walked towards the helmets and picked them up.

John looked over "See you on the other side."

Durant nodded "Good luck." They put the helmets on at the same time. Darkness.

John McCaw formerly an officer in the SHPD and also formerly alive was becoming very tired of this darkness in the afterlife thing. Then a new colour was introduced to him. It was a dark crimson red. Through this colour he could see everything around him right down to the tiny keyhole on the door at the other end of the courtyard. He felt better than ever. He picked up the lance. Surprised to find it was as light as a feather in his now steely grip. He wondered just how much this transformation would change him. He started moving forward slowly and it was then he realised he was being drawn towards something. He followed the instinct wondering where it would take him.

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