Cry, Silent Hill // By: Rob Myers
Dramatis Personae, for those unfamiliar with "Devil May Cry" and "Silent Hill":
Dante: Our hero. He is a tall, physically fit and charismatic young man of 20 with ice-blue eyes and a mop of naturally snow-colored hair. He wears a long red leather coat, matching waistcoat and pants, and motorcycle boots – an outfit he chose partly for durability, but mostly for style. He's half Italian (on his mother's side) and half demon-from-Hell (on his father's), and grew up in the U.S. His father was the enigmatic Legendary Dark Knight Sparda, a warrior demon who served the underworld until a change of heart prompted him to side with humanity. Dante has passionately hated full demons since they killed his mother, but he follows in his father's footsteps reluctantly -- mostly to seek revenge and for thrills -- and seems to care little for anything else. He operates a demon-hunting agency called "Devil May Cry" with his partner.
Lady: Dante's partner, and the one who coined the phrase "Devil May Cry." She is a very pretty young woman a little older than Dante who shows off her trim and athletic figure in a white Kevlar catsuit accessorized with many guns. She has short brown hair, mismatched brown and blue eyes, and a painful history. Her father was seduced by evil and slew her mother as part of a ceremony to become a full demon. To stop him, Lady trained herself strenuously in firearms and combat techniques until she became the equal of any group of lesser demons in battle. She fights to defend innocents from evil in whatever form it comes.
Officer Cybil Bennett: A no-nonsense, courageous and slightly cynical motorcycle cop with short blond hair who keeps herself in top physical condition. She comes from Braham, the town closest to Silent Hill, and pursued the Da Silvas into the ghost town when Rose's bizarre behavior made Officer Bennett suspect abuse. Now she too is missing.
Sharon Da Silva: The 12-year-old adoptive daughter of Rose and Christopher Da Silva, she has long brown hair and haunting eyes. Normally a bright and intelligent child, she has recently been subjected to night terrors and sleepwalking, which have made her sullen, sometimes irrationally violent, and increasingly withdrawn.
Rose Da Silva: An attractive blond woman in her early 30s, she is the adoptive mother of Sharon, and would do anything for her child. In an effort to get to the bottom of Sharon's mood swings, nightmares and sleepwalking, Rose brought her to Silent Hill, a West Virginia ghost town somehow connected to the girl's past. But now the pair have gone missing.
Silent Hill: A mining town in West Virginia which was abandoned 20 years ago when an underground mine fire got out of control -- a blaze which continues to this day. The town has had a reputation for strange and disturbing events going back to colonial days, and is still the subject of whispered dread among those who live in nearby Braham.
"Devil May Cry ..."
"Hello, um, hi... I'd like to speak to Dante?"
"You got him. You got the password too?"
"Yes! Uh, I mean, I need to talk to the handyman that will take any dirty job. That's it, right?"
"More or less. What's the problem, and how much money you got?"
Dante glanced at his partner Lady, a pretty brunette with mismatched eyes in a white bell-bottomed catsuit (sporting three handguns) perched on the edge of his desk, which she had just kicked. She was fixing him with a "be nice!" glare around a mouthful of pizza. He waved her off, leaned his chair back dangerously far, and picked his free ear with a pinky.
"It's my wife, and my daughter," the caller explained, "They've vanished ..."
Dante cut him off.
"I don't do missing persons, pal," Dante examined the tip of his pinky before wiping it on his red leather jeans. Lady made a face.
"... into a place called Silent Hill. Wait, let me finish." The caller took a shaky breath, "I'm in the next town over, place named Braham, and everyone here says that that place is, uh, you know ..."
Dante dropped his feet from the desk and waved Lady over. Grabbing a slip of paper and a pencil stub, he scrawled something down.
"No, actually, I don't know," Dante spun the slip of paper around and pushed it over to Lady. 'SILENT HILL??' it read. "Why don't you spell it out for me?"
Lady broke into a wide grin, scribbled something beneath Dante's question, and held the paper up for him.
The man on the other end of the line swallowed, "Haunted. They say it's haunted. I was there earlier today with the cops ..."
"Ok, Ok, I'll take your word for it," Dante grinned back at Lady, "You haven't told me how much you got though."
"They're my whole world, I'll pay whatever I can …" He paused, thinking, "I, uh, I can probably wire you about $15,000 tonight, and then call my bank on Monday to put in a transfer for, uh, another $85,000... And if that's not enough, I can mortgage ..."
"Nah, nah, that'll do. Don't worry about the up-front loot though. You pay when the job's done," Now Dante was getting bored, and met Lady's brown and blue eyes.
"Ask him ...," she began to whisper, but Dante cut her off by speaking into the phone.
"Work the details out with my partner," he flipped the handset over to Lady and stood, not looking to see that she caught it.
She did so, also without looking, and instead glared at Dante's back as he went to ponder the weapons cabinet.
"Hello, you can call me Lady. So why don't you start again from the top, Mr. ...?"
"Da Silva... you have no idea how frightening this is, having your family just disappear ..."
Lady swallowed, "You'd be surprised. Now what were they doing there?"
By the time Lady finished the call and hung up a half hour later, Dante had pulled five of his oversized magical weapons out of the cabinet (which Lady had carefully stored them in), felt their balance, checked them for wear, spun them on his fingertips, juggled them in groups of three, then finally stabbed the bladed ones into the wall next to the cabinet, and draped the flail and gauntlets over them. The only demonic armament (or "devil arm" as he called them) he didn't toy with was the glowing purple guitar called Nevan, which remained on its stand next to the drum kit, pulsing and sparking. Something singled it out for special treatment by its owner. For some reason that made Lady uneasy.
Bored for the moment with his other toys, Dante was across the office, playing darts -- which for Dante meant facing away from the dartboard, eyes closed, doing a handstand on one finger, with a pizza crust sticking out of his mouth. A cluster of a dozen darts crowded the bull's eye, as Dante fished with his free hand in a box for another one.
With a ' THUNK!' the dart buried itself in the middle of the cluster as Dante gulped down the last bit of pizza.
"So this place, Silence Hill ..."
"Silent Hill," Lady corrected from her seat at the desk.
"... demon central? I figured, since you got that big shit-eating grin at the name. You been there?"
"No, not personally," Lady opened the desk and pulled out an atlas and a phone book. "But my father mentioned it several times. He visited once, or maybe more. I think he suspected it as being one of the places Temen-ni-Gru might manifest. The first time was right before he ... killed my mother."
She shook her head to clear the memory, and flipped through the atlas to the page on West Virginia.
"Here it, no... hm... It doesn't seem to be on the map. Oh, wait, here's the town our customer's staying in, Braham... but nope. No Silent Hill nearby. Well, I guess that's kind of good news, considering the type of place we'd expect. The customer, Da Silva, said it had been abandoned for years, something about a mine fire that was still going, and that it's been barricaded that whole time."
Turning upright in a flip, Dante landed next to the 'fridge in the lounge area under the stairs, pulled out his favorite Italian beer, and flopped onto one of the couches.
"Barricaded, meaning no civilians or cops inside the place?"
Lady was writing down directions on a notepad, "Yeah, Da Silva said the cops all cleared out by nightfall. Real urgent. And they're giving him the runaround, of course."
"Cool, no other humans in the crossfire. When do we leave?"
Lady closed the atlas with a deliberate slam.
"As soon as YOU buy me that new motorcycle," she glowered.
Dante choked on his Menabrea, "God! Are we still on THAT?"
The devil hunters pulled their crimson Kawasaki Ninjas over to the roadside as soon as they saw the crashed cop bike. Dante, who wasn't licensed, had had to put both bikes in her name.
Lady pulled off her full-faced helmet, dismounted and examined the scene. Dante doffed his minimalist headgear, and shook out his snowy hair.
"Stupid helmet laws," he hadn't stopped bitching since he realized it was the only way to not get pulled over.
Lady had dismounted and was examining the scene, "You might appreciate it if you were, oh, you know, human."
Dante shrugged and sniffed, pulled out his water bottle and took a long pull. "You see any tracks, Tonto?"
She ignored the remark, "Looks like someone wiped out here all right. From the skid marks, they were going pretty quick too when whatever it was happened. Yeah, see? It's definitely that missing cop's bike, it's from Braham. Wonder why the other cops didn't find it? I'll see if I can get the saddlebags open, could you give me a hand? ... Dante?"
She turned to see her partner staring up the road at a visibly approaching fog bank. She'd seen that look in his eyes before, when he sensed the presence of his demonic kin -- eager, smug, wrathful, all at once. Lady dropped her investigation and jogged back to her Ninja, where she unwrapped the long "telescope" she had strapped to the bike, unveiling her rocket launcher. Slinging it over her shoulder, she drew her Glock and her TEC-9 and clicked off the safeties.
"Oooohkay. What the hell?"
"Hopefully, yeah," Dante dismounted as the fog bank silently engulfed them. Dante slung his zweihander Rebellion over his shoulder and snapped it onto its magnetic clip. With the slightest shrug he ensured that his customized Colt pistols Ebony and Ivory were properly seated in their holsters under his red leather coat.
The fog had fully swallowed them now, whiting out the sky and shrinking visibility to a dozen yards. Lady was sweeping the area with her guns, arms outstretched, covering 180 degrees at a time. Without a word, Dante marched coolly up the road. Softly, white flakes began to flutter from overhead, though it was much too warm for snow.
Lady caught one of the "snowflakes" which revealed itself as gritty ash on her finger tips. She sprinted to follow him as she realized that while the fog could separate them in an instant, dissuading Dante was impossible once he sensed demonic energies.
"Ok, but what about my bikes?" she pleaded as she ran to catch up.
"Finally, some action!" Dante gloated, as he unholstered his black and white pistols and quickened his pace.
Lady squinted ahead, her human eyes straining to make any sense of the white void around them, she could just make out that they were next to a fence that separated the road from a hillside of broken rubble. Then slowly, a smudge in the fog blanketing the road resolved into a vaguely humanoid figure. She trained her TEC-9 on it.
Dante had closed the gap between himself and the figure when he halted. The creature could now be clearly seen, and while it was certainly disturbing, it presented no immediately apparent threat. It resembled an armless amputee, spastically staggering in a duck-footed gait, naked, sexless and charred gray in color, its faceless head lolling atop its shoulders as it advanced.
Dante slung one pistol over his shoulder, "Ew. Sorry, I ain't got no Bactine."
The thing stopped, and then its chest ripped open as though invisible claws had pulled it apart. A spray of steaming black fluid erupted from the rift in the creature's body and arced towards Dante.
Lady was firing as Dante rolled to his left out of splash range and stood, pistols blazing. The thing shuddered as bullets thudded into it, then collapsed in a ruin. The puddle of its full-body vomit was bubbling and sinking into a pothole of its own making.
"Aw, c'mon! Don't give up now!" Dante fairly whined as his attacker hissed and melted into the roadway.
"His friends ain't giving up that easy, I don't think," Lady warned, aiming up the hill where a hoard of the things was lurching towards them. These were moving noticeably faster though, and some had their torsos pre-split. Another wave staggered into view from the general direction of the town, where beastie number one had come from.
"Ok, now this is more like it!" Dante exclaimed, before jumping a dozen feet in the air, drawing his sword and coming down like a guillotine in the midst of the nearest grouping.
"You -- you lunatic!" Lady shouted, opening up with both guns on the swarm coming down the hill. She'd fought side-by-side with the half-devil before, but she still couldn't understand his need to go hand-to-hand with demon mobs. It sure wasn't to conserve his ammo, somehow any gun he used had an infinite supply.
But Lady wasn't so blessed, and after emptying two clips into the lurching throng and dropping about a quarter of them, she realized it was time to step up her game. She spun out of the way of an advancing vomit-thing as it snapped at her with its ripped-open torso, holstered her empty Glock and TEC-9, and swung Kalina-Ann into position -- the heavily-customized missile launcher she'd named after her mother.
She grinned as she squeezed the trigger, "Let's rock, baby!"
One thunderous shot from Kalina-Ann cleared another quarter of her share of things, and she planted the weapon's bladed end in the blacktop to release a swarm of mini rockets. The creatures were blown apart in black fountains of acid.
"Come and get me!" Dante whooped as he sprang over the heads of his foes, flipped upside down and -- spinning rapidly -- sprayed gunfire down at the crowd in a rainstorm of bullets. He hit the dirt, rolled, then lunged across the ground sword first, burying it in the torsos of three demons and skewered them with a blindingly fast flurry of stabs, destroying one and sending the other two flying back into the crowd.
"Breakdown!" he shouted, as he scattered his foes with the last thrust.
The other hellspawn creatures backed away in shock, unsure of how to handle a human who fought back with so much power.
Dante shrugged and spread his arms wide in mock sympathy, "You scared?"
Impossibly fast, Dante pulled out his sawed-off 12-gauge and knocked a nearby enemy flat with a point-blank blast. Before it stopped bouncing Dante had holstered the weapon, snatched Rebellion from his back and swept the sword underhand like an enormous badminton racquet, knocking the armless thing skyward. As the helpless monster reached the peak of its arc, Dante had again slung Rebellion onto his back and drawn Ebony and Ivory, with which he kept the creature bouncing in mid-air on a fountain of bullets.
Minutes later, all that was left of the mob was a field of hissing and smoking corpses and sizzling puddles of demon blood.
"Man, I hate acid. Only thing I can't really block ..." Dante muttered, kicking a corpse's outstretched leg.
"If either of our targets ran into a crowd of these things ..." Lady tried not to think too hard about a little girl lost in this hell.
"Yeah, let's hope there's something left so we can get paid," Dante resumed his march towards town.
Lady was still unsure how much of his self-absorption was a front. She had only seen him express real sentiment once, and that was at the loss of someone close to him. But it was enough to convince her that there was some kindness and compassion in him.
Soon they came upon a silver SUV, crashed into a guardrail. A quick search of the vehicle confirmed it as the one belonging to the Da Silvas. Lady searched it, while Dante stood by, obviously bored. In the back seat she found a child's drawing of ... something -- mostly black smudges of crayon and fragments of shapes, topped by the word "SCKOOL." The steering wheel had a smear of blood on it at about where the driver's forehead would have struck. The keys were gone.
"Bet she wishes she'd gotten the model with airbags," Lady remarked from the front passenger seat. "No signs of a struggle though. If she took the keys, they probably left under their own power."
"Cool," Dante replied from the other side of the road where he was zipping up his fly. He wasn't really listening.
"You know, clues and information might be the only things that will save this woman and her daughter," Lady spat. The years she had spent hunting down her malevolent father after he killed her mother had taught her the value of thorough investigation.
"See, this is why I don't like missing persons cases," Dante sneered as he crossed the road, "As far as I'm concerned, the best way to help any innocents here is to just kill everything else," he leaned against the guardrail, casting his gaze into the fog in the direction of town. "The quicker we do that, the quicker we'll find them, 'cuz they'll be all that's left. Simp ... Shit. Hey, you! Hey!"
Lady sprang from the vehicle as Dante darted ahead, leaving the vehicle's doors open as she dashed after him. No way was she going to let this unnatural fog separate them.
"Who is it? What did you see?" she called after him, struggling to keep up.
"A kid, a little girl. Long dark hair, dirty clothes," he called back.
"Sounds, huh, kind of like our, haaaah, haaah... our victim... Don't you fucking ditch me!" If the road hadn't sloped downhill at that point, she would have lost him to the fog. Again she regretted leaving the bikes.
"Dammit.... damn, that kid's fast. Or something," Dante came to a halt and waited for his partner.
"Thanks for stopping."
"Well, the kid vanished on me anyhow," hands on hips, he stood a moment. "That tears it. I don't like being teased. Something's trying to fuck with us here, and that ain't my style. Let's get into town so I can level the place."
Silent Hill proper sure deserved its name. Years of abandonment to the elements had done a number on the former mining and resort town, and none of the businesses on Main Street were spared the slow creep of rot and decay. Restaurants, bars, barber shops, clothing stores ... everything was faded, dingy, broken, ashen, and bathed in a cold gray light that did nothing to ease the pallor. The dead quiet was broken only by the scuff of the devil hunters' boots on ashy pavement.
Dante strode up the middle of the street, relaxed, swinging his arms, for all the world like a man faintly bored with the oppressive surroundings. Lady brought up the rear, guns in hand, eyes scanning every doorway, every window, every rusted out car.
Dante halted, turned to face an open doorway, "This way."
"What, did you see something? Hear something?"
"Not sure, but something's not right ..." He approached the darkness of the storefront, "... well, that is, more 'not-right' than the rest of this place."
Lady grinned as she followed him in, sweeping the rooftops and the path behind them with cocked guns, "Yeah, I was going to say ..."
Inside was a staircase leading down into pitch blackness which Dante descended without hesitation. Lady pulled out a mini-flashlight which she clipped to her shoulder holster and, as her eyes adjusted, she saw their surroundings take a dramatic turn for the macabre at the bottom of the stairs. The degree of decay jumped several orders of magnitude in this cellar. The multi-chambered network of rooms was dominated by rust, soot and debris, with the faintest hints of order pushed to the margins. A dozen steps into the gloom they found something baggy and man-sized hanging from a wall.
As Dante approached, he saw that it had probably been human originally. A miner's gas mask topped a bundle of tattered garments, boots hanging beneath, entrails -- still damp -- dangled from the middle.
"Fuck," said Lady, disgusted.
Impossibly, the eyes behind the gasmask flew open in shock. Lady staggered a half step, caught her breath and moved to holster her weapons.
"We'll cut you down!" She called, trying to sound reassuring, but sounding more sickened than anything.
Dante grabbed her wrist without looking away from the hanging victim.
"Don't bother," he commanded flatly. He cocked his head, "... there."
A wall of sound, sirens upon sirens, crashed over them, shattering the calm and briefly deafening Lady. Her flashlight flickered and dimmed and started to fail, though she always used fresh batteries on a job. She shook it, and smacked it with the heel of her palm, but it continued to grow weaker. The cold daylight from the stairwell started to fade as well, and as the light level dropped rapidly Dante took her shoulder and pulled her back the way they had come.
Lady shouted above the sirens, "What about ... ?"
"Seriously? He's beyond our help right now, he's just bait," Dante stopped at the entrance to the staircase, and turned to face the darkness. He drew Ebony and Ivory as Lady's flashlight gave one last flicker and died completely.
Darkness even blacker than the inside of her eyelids engulfed Lady as the sirens died away. She pressed her elbow against Dante's, glad of his presence.
"It's showtime," Dante piped up, Lady could almost hear him grinning. She fished a fresh LED flashlight from a belt pouch and clipped it to her shoulder. It should have lit the room like a miniature sun, but its light too was dim and flickering. It held, but just barely. Her eyes adjusted, and she saw they were surrounded by shadowy forms.
"You want a light?" she asked as she moved back to back with her partner.
"Nah, I don't smoke," He quipped, then took a sniff, "Hmmm. But these guys do."
Indeed, the air carried the smell of charred flesh from a swarm of child-sized horrors encircling them. Four-feet-tall on average, they were twisted like their bones had melted, their blackened skin cracked with each lurch to reveal glowing red interiors, they dripped sparks as they reached forward. Lady felt the puke rise in her throat, but choked it back. She preferred to battle tall specters of death, not butcher incinerated children that smelled like a ruined dinner.
The shapes staggered towards them from the shadows all around, from every doorway and hole in the floor, but they came to a sudden halt as an eruption of gunfire from the devil hunters tore through them. Sparks and muzzle flares filled the air.
Lady paused to reload as Dante sprang forward, pulling his crystalline three-headed flail Cerberus from beneath his coat, he spiraled through the air into the crowd.
Lady blew through four entire clips without really slowing them down. If her weapons had no effect, there was no way she was going to hit these things with her fists -- Dante alone was making headway by virtue of his magical ice-chucks.
Holstering her weapons, she vaulted over three of the things trying to corner her, stuck a perfect handspring in one of the few clear areas of ground, and landed inside the stairwell. From that position she was able to hold the monsters at bay with the force of her bullets -- not truly damaging them, but knocking them back a few crucial feet.
"Chew on this!" Dante shouted, striking the ground with Cerberus, and a cluster of icy stalagmites erupted before him, shattering three of the things into hissing chunks. "It's COOL!" He slammed all three rods of Cerberus down, and a forest of ice pillars sprang up all around him, killing and injuring six more.
"Bullets don't kill them!" Lady called from the stairwell, "And I don't want to hit you with a grenade!"
"No problem, I got this ... " Dante spun the flail around himself at waist level, knocking back another grouping, "Wheeeeeeooooh! Too easy!"
Indeed, he made it look that way as dozens of the things met their end before him, while he dodged and countered their swipes and tackles. But there seemed to be no end to them, and she wondered how long even Dante could keep this up.
Unable to truly mix it up herself, she could only marvel at his performance. Every attack or lunge one of the charcoal children made was deftly countered, dodged, or stopped by a face-full of Cerberus. Without even looking, he struck down opponents coming from all directions, leapt over their heads, bounced again off the shoulders of others, landed in a clear spot and spun the flail like an airplane propeller, shredding three of the monsters. But more and more of the things appeared, and the battlefield was beginning to resemble a fire pit.
Despite Lady's fears, Dante was happier than a pig in muck. These things were clearly demonic, vicious, and hot enough to burn even him if they connected. One misstep, one failed block and they would knock him down and swarm him. And Dante lived to be pushed to his limits, to be forced to find new ways to murder the forces of hell. His blackened soul burned with a divine hatred for them.
Lady had learned quickly in their partnership that all practical matters were going to be her department. If the missions their newly-formed "Devil May Cry" agency undertook were ever to be about something besides Dante proving himself over and over, it was her burden to keep him on track. And in a fight against overwhelming odds his old self-absorption was still total.
"Dante!" She yelled, pleading. But the half-demon ignored her and continued his ecstatic butchery.
"Dante! We have a JOB!"
"I'm DOING it!"
"We have to find the Da Silvas! Dante! You asshole!"
In response he hopped on the back of a downed creature, kicked the floor like a skateboarder, and went sliding across the floor on the thing's back, whooping crazily. Pulling his pistols, he used the recoil of his guns to set himself and the thing spinning while knocking creatures flat all around him with the gunfire. When he and his ride collided with a wall, the impact finally shattered the demon as Dante back-flipped away. But a dozen more had already taken its place in the crowd.
Rage and desperation and an edge of panic rose up in Lady's gut. Her father, whom she had loved with all her heart, had come to this place and when he had returned he was different. Cold. Phony. And he killed her beloved mother days later. And now the only other being who had earned her trust since then was turning his back on her, but more importantly, abandoning a helpless mother and child still out there somewhere. She knew that without Dante's power she stood no chance of saving them on her own. But she was powerless to reach him, let alone slap him hard across the face, or bury her steel-toed boot in his privates, as she longed to do now.
Oblivious, the man/demon who was the only hope she and two other people now had was shouting with inhuman joy as he got his second wind. His mission: forgotten. Why he was here: forgotten. His humanity: nearly gone, lost in the thrill of endless combat. His sense of self slipped away, leaving only the warrior demon. His thoughts were gleefully consumed with finding flashy new ways to use Cerberus to kill his nameless opponents.
Lady gripped her guns hard enough to hurt. Despair grasped her utterly. A mother and daughter, two more victims about to be sacrificed to Hell, and she couldn't stop it. Again.
Her chest heaved faster and faster ... until something deep inside her seemed to snap -- and a howl boiled up her throat, something she had somehow held back since the night she found her mother in a dripping tangle of bloody bed sheets.
"DAAANTEE! You demonic SHIT ... you MONSTER!" She screamed, her voice piercing the sounds of combat like a knife, "YOU FUCKING COWARD!"
The burning children staggered, and shrieks of their own mingled with hers. They collapsed, still keening, as their bodies crumbled to ash of their own accord. Dante stood stunned, Cerberus dangling at his side, clanking as it swung. Suddenly he was alone on the field of battle, watching his enemies turn to dust for no good reason. There is no victory in this, the beast inside him raged, he hadn't won ... but the warrior demon was no longer alone in Dante's head. The human boy who had called himself "coward" and far worse on many dark nights had now awoken in a storm of emotions.
His back still to his partner, he slowly put Cerberus back under his coat.
"What ... did you call me?" he spoke to the darkness, not turning. Not moving.
Lady swallowed. Her thoughts were torn ... what had happened here? But Dante didn't move, didn't make a sound. Something told her she was still in mortal danger. She chose her words carefully.
"We," she repeated the word for emphasis, "We have a job. There's a mother ... and a child ... at the mercy of all of Hell out there."
Dante remained still, not looking at her, his menacing silhouette in the center of the room cast a single long shadow in the beam of her light.
"Sound familiar to you? I know it does to me." Her tone still had an edge of accusation, but it was tempered with an appeal. They had learned each others' stories by now, during long boring nights of beer, pizza, and no phone calls to the shop. As angry and frightened as she was right now, she reached out to that common bond.
"If you ever," his voice was low, vicious, as though it came from the darkness itself, "If you ever cross that line again ..."
Lady said nothing.
He spun on his heel and headed towards the stairwell, dragging his shadow along behind. They both avoided eye contact. He headed past her up the stairs without pausing.
"Just don't," he gritted as he passed.
Outside, the light had returned -- such as it was. The thick fog and slow rain of ash was surreally calm after the last 20 minutes of insanity. Lady actually welcomed it as she took stock, but what she found in her belt pouches didn't reassure her.
"I've used up about half my ammo, and we still don't have many clues," she said, all business.
Dante, bored again already, tried to keep it professional as well -- as much as he could, anyway.
"Why didn't you just bring more?" he asked. It seemed an obvious question to him.
"Because I can't just pull weapons and ammo out of thin air like Bugs Bunny," Lady snapped. She paused to regain her calm, then simply said. "I brought as much as I could."
"Heh. Hahahaha ..."
Lady looked at him, confused. Still chuckling, Dante glanced over his shoulder to see Lady staring at him.
"Bugs Bunny," he gave her a half-grin, "Now he's totally cool."
A pause, and Lady grinned too. Dante was back. Or at least, the version of Dante she preferred. She feared that some day his brooding, grim and silent side would take over completely.
"Well, OK," Dante looked around, seeing no obvious next steps in their investigation, "You wanna head back to the bikes or something? Though if we got you to a defensible position, I could get there and back in a ..."
"No," she interrupted, "You think this place would let you find me again if we split up?" She sighed, "I'm not going to be much use if all I can do is yell, and there's no guarantee the next things we run into will have that kind of weakness."
Dante just stood and waited. This issue of adequate supplies was new to him.
"Let's see if we can find a gun store. Maybe they'll still have something I can use."
They headed back through the main shopping district roughly the way they had come, but their search ended abruptly when the road ... stopped. Actually, the ground itself stopped, ending at a sheer cliff dropping straight into foggy nothingness. Lady gaped, but Dante folded his arms and just grinned in appreciation.
"Niiiiice," was all he said.
Continue to Chapter 2 >>
© 2006 Rob Myers