Cry, Silent Hill // By: Rob Myers
As Lady's scream faded, the scarlet energy curtain over the archway shattered like a stained-glass window. Lady raised her arms to shield her eyes, but the red shards flew past and through her with no more substance than moonlight.
The nightmarish murder-thing turned to face her. She stared back as it began to lumber towards the arch.
Lady's desperate panic abruptly inverted itself and became a frothing rage. She raised Kalina-Ann to her shoulder and targeted the son-of-a-bitch.
"Eat this!" and she fired off a bunker-buster. The thing hunkered behind its helm and took the full force of the missile's impact. When the fireball cleared Lady saw it had been knocked back a few paces and its helm and skin were blackened, but it had already resumed its advance. She cursed and reloaded.
It had covered half the distance between them by the time she fired again, and the blastwave of heat from the explosion blew back her hair and nearly singed her eyebrows. Yet the beast lost only a few steps and resumed its relentless plodding march.
"Dammit!" With a last glance at Dante's dangling corpse she shouldered Kalina-Ann, turned, and hauled ass.
Back on the street, Lady scanned what little area she could see in the dim glow of her flashlight. She could hear the demon's heavy footsteps behind her.
There was no way she was going to find the church in this gloom, but she made a best guess at its direction and ran.
Moments passed, and Lady was sure she should have crossed the street by now. There should have been buildings to hide in, but somehow she must have run straight up the middle of the road, and the layer of dirt hid any lane markers that might have indicated direction. Against her better judgment, she turned to look behind her.
She saw nothing, but she heard its footsteps. And if that thing actually had eyes that could see through its enormous headgear, it could definitely see the flicker of her light. She scanned her few yards of visibility – just more pavement all around, only interrupted by a manhole cover. She cursed and doused her light, hoping that it would work again when she needed it. Absolute blackness engulfed her.
Dropping to all fours, she crawled through the dirt towards the manhole, searching with her gloved hands. Finding it, she wedged the bladed tip of Kalina-Ann under the rim, and lifted it with a grunt. No time to be really stealthy, she thought, and dropped the lid with a loud bang. Hopefully the darkness would cover her location somewhat, and the opening itself would be too small for her pursuer.
Reaching down, she found the first rung of a ladder and began a quick descent into the town's innards, totally blind.
"Out of the frying pan … into the sewer …" she mumbled.
She climbed down for seconds or minutes, too wound up on adrenaline to really gauge time and distance. With a splash, her booted foot touched bottom in ankle-deep water (God, I hope it is water, she thought with a grimace), and stood still to listen.
Above her, the monster's footsteps had drawn close, and stopped. She froze, barely breathing. Would it follow her? Could it follow her?
The beast shuffled around above her for a while, but drew no closer. Then it simply trudged away.
She held her position, not moving. She knew monsters like this one just loved to lure victims into a false sense of relief -- before springing some loud surprise attack. But she had her own loud surprise prepared as she gripped Kalina-Ann's trigger handle with one hand and a rung of the ladder with the other.
When nothing happened after a good long interval, she finally relaxed a little.
"God dammit, Dante…" she muttered, pulling out her TEC-9 and checking its magazine by feel. All that crap in the tower-of-Hell and now he goes and gets himself killed in some hick ghost town. Idiot.
She wiped the tears from her face, and continued her self-assessment by touch. Three missiles left for Kalina-Ann, five clips for the Glock, three for the TEC-9, and a dozen rounds for the "mare's leg" strapped to her thigh as a last resort. Not hopeless, but not great.
Feeling the wall with her left hand and keeping Kalina-Ann's sharpened blade out in front, she picked a direction at random and started to slog through the sewer.
After what felt like 15 minutes or so, the wall made a 90-degree turn which she followed. A dozen yards further, when she was sure there was no longer any line of sight with the manhole, she risked reactivating her light. It came on at half power, burning steadily for once, and when nothing leapt out at her, she scanned her surroundings with a tactical eye. Nothing. Just a sewer, and an inactive one at that. No longer carrying waste from the long-empty town, it was now just a wet tunnel choked with leaves, regular dirt, and murky water.
She splashed along until she found another ladder leading to another manhole. Standing below it she shut off her light, let her eyes adjust, and looked upward. Sure enough, pale-gray daylight glowed through the cover's holes. She flicked her light on again, made one last survey to make sure nothing was going to jump her during the ascent, and climbed upwards.
She emerged into the cold light and open air next to a sign, "Brookhaven Hospital," with the institution itself looming above her. As she stood pondering her next move (search this place, or look for the church?) a strange sound broke through the stillness. Voices. Human voices! Her heart skipped, and she nearly broke into a sprint before catching herself. Getting a firm mental grip on her desperation, she pulled her handguns and stalked them at a cautious pace.
They were heading away from the hospital, dragging something along, making no attempt at being quiet about it. Lady soon realized though that it couldn't be the Da Silvas. For one thing, there were too many of them. For another, they were mostly men, though a woman's voice seemed to be giving the orders.
The road widened, and Lady found she could outflank the group while staying hidden by the fog (gratified that her now dingy white bodysuit blended so well with the mists) as she silently ran along a grassy embankment.
Then a second female voice cried out in sharp pain. And with that Lady tossed caution to the wind.
"Alright, hold it!" She bellowed.
The group froze in place, terrified, as a wild-eyed, filthy, heavily-armed angel of death emerged from the murk.
When they saw it was only one girl – albeit one that was clearly an insane walking arsenal – they seemed almost relieved. For her part, Lady surveyed their group with confusion and a growing rage.
A troupe of miners in full sooty regalia stood before her, armed with what looked like lengths of pipe, picks and shovels. They were dragging a battered, bloody and limp person in a blue cop's uniform. Seeing that, Lady's brown and blue eyes grew even wilder.
A regal older woman with a halo of graying red hair wearing a purple satin robe of some kind stepped forward and raised a hand in appeal.
"Are you lost, my child …" she began with a gentle smile, but Lady cut her off with a round fired skyward from her Glock.
"Shut up." She pointed her TEC-9 at the group of men, "You. Drop the hardware, put the cop down, and back away slow."
"And you," Lady sneered as she trained her Glock on crazy-witch-lady, "Shut up. I can smell psycho-mindfucker a mile away, and you reek of it."
The woman smiled sadly, and raised both hands in supplication, "My dear …"
The bullet blasted a divot in the blacktop an inch from the matriarch's foot, making her jump back surprisingly fast. She stared at Lady in open-mouthed shock.
"One more word, one more syllable from you, and you'll eat the rest of these bullets. Do. Not. FUCK WITH ME!" Even Lady was stunned at how insane she sounded, but she rolled with it and turned her glare on the miners, "Get me?"
Six pairs of hands shot skyward, including those of their leader who backed up to join them. Picks and shovels dropped with loud bangs.
Keeping the TEC-9 on the crowd, Lady approached the cop, who was trying to roll herself over on the ground, clutching her ribs.
"I … uh. I like your style…" she gasped. But Lady just pointed the Glock at the cop's blond head.
"Say something, right now, that will convince me to help you."
The cop met Lady's eyes and saw the cold glare of a desperate killer. She ventured the only bit of information that could make any difference.
"Da Silva. Sharon Da Silva…"
Lady collapsed inwardly and lowered the pistol – though she carefully kept the crowd covered with the sub-machine gun.
"Oh thank God…" Lady breathed.
"I'm real sorry about your partner. I know what it's like. I've seen that thing in action," Cybil said as she limped along beside Lady. Using one of the longer shovels as a makeshift crutch, Officer Bennett clutched the Glock that Lady had loaned her with her free hand. Every time Christabella, the townies' leader, glanced back, Cybil made sure to aim at her forehead.
"Thanks," Lady swallowed, "But I'll have to mourn him later … assuming we get out of this."
"I'm pretty sure that you will, at least. You've got a real survivor's instinct … me, I pretty much figured I was a goner …" Cybil trailed off.
"We ain't out yet, so don't make any assumptions either way," Lady said, all business. "When we get to the church, remember, I'll leave you enough ammo to keep this bunch in line, but I've got to get back to that hospital and find Da Silva."
"I think she's going to need you. You seem to have a pretty good handle on this kind of thing," Cybil studied Lady's face. "You've done this before, haven't you?"
"Couple of times. My partner usually handles the heavy lifting …" she took a breath, "But I'm going to do everything I can to get you and the Da Silvas out of here."
"I bet you will," Cybil concluded.
Inwardly, Lady was glad to be holding it together. But ever since she finally defeated her father, her zeal for this kind of long weekend wasn't what it had been.
At last, the church building emerged from the gloom before them, its doors wide, a comforting amber light pouring out. Lady began to breathe easier.
Then the sirens blasted all hope of peace from her mind.
"Not now! Not now!" she screamed, but her voice was obliterated by the noise. It was clear now that the sound radiated from speakers atop the church itself, sending a warning to the entire region. Dozens of people began to appear, racing pell-mell for the church doors. Above them, the sky roiled as darkness gathered all around the horizon, slowly devouring the town in its maw.
Lady jerked as Cybil grabbed her shoulder. She was yelling something and pointing at the church doors. Their captives had already fled, far more terrified of the onrushing dark than any number of bullets. Cybil was pushing against Lady's back, pointing at the church and shouting. Lady shook her head viciously, pulled Cybil's good arm over her shoulder, and together they began a desperately slow limp towards whatever sanctuary the cult's church offered.
We're dead, Lady thought, but I'll be damned if I leave someone out here. Fuck you, father, not all humans are selfish, conniving cowards. You underestimated us too.
They managed to reach the bottom of the stairs as full darkness finally settled in, yet the church doors remained wide open. Looking up, Lady saw their leader, Christabella, standing primly in the doorway, grinning in satisfaction. It wasn't mercy. The bitch just wanted to watch.
As the sirens faded, Lady hauled Cybil up one step, and then two. Lady knew at this point that hope was stupid … but if they could just get up the last dozen steps …
Then with a rustling, crackling sound the darkened world began to disintegrate like it had done in the school. The very concrete of the stairs they struggled on began to crack as if a century of rough weather were eating it. It peeled off in flakes that floated upwards on the breeze.
Lady suddenly knew, just knew, there was something behind them. There was no question what it was.
And they still weren't even halfway up the stairs.
Looking up, Lady saw Christabella grinning in righteous amusement.
I'm sorry mom, Lady's inner voice cried. I'm sorry, Dante. I'll do what I can now to make you proud, but …
Suddenly, Cybil yanked herself free of Lady's support, spinning to face behind them, and fired off five rounds from the Glock as her busted leg gave out and she fell to the stairs. Lady turned with the TEC-9 in hand but collided with something harder than a brick wall and staggered. A blast of foul breath from the thing's helm hit Lady in the nose.
It hadn't just been behind them, it was right on top of them.
There was no time to even pull the trigger, as the pyramid-headed enforcer grasped the collar of Lady's catsuit and lifted her like a doll. She choked for air and kicked her legs, but nothing fazed it as it carried her up the stairs.
Lady could just make out the sound of the Glock as Cybil fired from her prone position, screaming something about "not again!"
Lady's vision and hearing dimmed.
… Mom… please, I….
Then there was a sound like the world exploding.
Lady dropped in a heap to the staircase. Gasping, she rolled away and looked up to see the monster still looming over her, only now it was down on one knee as an inch-wide hole in its helm trickled smoke upwards.
Another ripping blast, and another hole appeared next to the first with an impact hard enough to knock it onto its side as if kicked.
Lady knew that sound. But there was no way. No way. Hope was stupid. But she looked to the bottom of the stairs anyhow, and a crimson figure stepped out of the night carrying an enormous anti-tank rifle and sporting a gleefully vicious grin.
"Eh. What's up, Doc?"
Lady nearly blacked out with relief and joy, but she knew the cost of relaxing in a place like this. She sat up and yelled.
"Don't joke around, just kill it!"
"Nice to see you too!" Dante yelled back, but he raised the gun Spiral again and fired, punching another pair of holes in its defense and knocking the fiend onto its back.
Lady turned and locked eyes with the dumbfounded Christabella. But as the cult's matriarch reached for the doors, a bullet whizzed past her ear, sending her running inside. Lady who had dropped her TEC-9, turned to see a crawling Cybil grin in apology.
"Sorry. I missed. I've had kind of a long day…"
Lady scrambled down the stairs and yanked Cybil roughly to her feet, eliciting a shout of pain from her.
"Fuck it. Just move!"
The women struggled up the far side of the stairs from the monster, retrieving the TEC-9 as they went. The creature was slowly pulling itself upright, clawing its way up the church wall as it tried to balance its massive helm.
"Actually, it's a stupid hat," Lady spat as they passed.
Reaching the top of the stairs, Lady hauled Cybil to the entrance and dropped her as gently as she could to the floor. Handing her the TEC-9, Lady nodded towards the cowering cultists.
"Ooooh, you bet."
Lady coolly reloaded Kalina-Ann as she marched back out to the top of the staircase. Only one demon is getting in here, she thought, and that's after he murders the one in the giant cheese grater.
At the bottom of the stairs, bathed in the glow spilling from the open church, Dante leaned against a tombstone and nibbled a fingernail. As his opponent reached the bottom of the stairs and lumbered forward, Dante glanced at his wrist to check his non-existent watch.
"Damn. If I knew stairs were your big weakness, we wouldn't even need this rematch."
Looking past the advancing horror, he spotted Lady framed in the doorway at the top of the stairs, her figure angelically backlit by golden candlelight, her mammoth gun in the ready position. Damn she's hot, he thought.
He pointed to the monster.
"You understand this is mine, right?" he called.
"Just holding the door open for you," her voice floated down from the sanctuary above. A pause, and then, "Don't screw up!"
"Oh, yeah. Thanks!" he waved a hand in sarcastic acknowledgment and muttered something through gritted teeth.
The creature reached behind itself, and from nowhere it pulled out its huge knife-sword.
Dante did the same and produced a pair of oversized scimitars, one red and one blue, with amazingly lifelike faces in the pommels.
"See brother? We are needed again!" said the blue one.
"Wonderful! What are we fighting? Oh look!" the red one enthused.
The monster was nearly within striking distance. Dante raised the scimitars, furious.
"Shut. UP! Do you two want to end up on eBay?"
The beast raised its blade, but Dante wasn't looking.
"I'm the hero and the comic relief, and I don't need a couple swords trying to upstage me."
"Uh, Mr. Dante … "
The horror swung. This wasn't an impaling strike, it meant to cleave the devil hunter in two at the waist.
This time it was the beast that staggered as Dante straightened from his Aikido stance, unharmed and calm as a man shopping for groceries.
"See? I got this," Dante grinned at his foe.
It recovered, hauled the blade over its head, and brought it down in an Earth-splitting slash.
From her vantage point, Lady couldn't even see Dante move -- just the creature swinging and suddenly bouncing back while Dante relaxed his guard.
"Come and get me."
The beast went for the grab but nearly lost its fingers as the scimitars Agni and Rudra appeared again in Dante's hands, slashing wildly. After a few warm-up swings, the devil hunter got into a rhythm with the serrated blades and began boring into the thing's midsection like a fiery chainsaw. Unable to resist, Agni and Rudra chanted along in their basso-profundo voices.
"SILENCE!" Dante shouted as he broke out of the attack, irritated with these otherwise useful blades. If they would only shut the hell up … The monster had staggered back a dozen feet, clutching its bleeding midsection, and dropped to one knee.
Dante reslung the scimitars on his back and grinned at it.
The helmeted killer recovered, and charged like a bipedal rhino, helm first.
"Okay, time to wrap this up," Dante said.
"Just don't do anything stupid," Lady pleaded under her breath. But Dante didn't move.
The instant that the charging monster struck though, something happened. All Lady could tell was that there was a bang, a crimson flash and a fluxwave of energy, but suddenly Dante was several yards behind the creature while it slowly collapsed, its split helm falling to either side.
"Swweeeet, baby!!" Dante pumped his hands, begging the thing to attack him again even as it died.
Dante calmly walked back to his downed attacker, kicked half of its helm out of the way, drew his shotgun and pointed at the thing's exposed head. Then he froze. From where Lady stood she couldn't tell what he was seeing, but it somehow paralyzed him. The thing's body began to fade away as light returned to the sky, and Dante dropped to his knees beside it. He said something too quiet for Lady to hear. Then the creature's body was gone.
As the light returned, Dante rose to his feet and slowly climbed the stairs.
"What was it?" she asked.
He said nothing. His eyes were haunted, his expression slack. Now she wasn't just concerned, she was scared.
"What did you see? Please!"
He met her gaze briefly, and there was something in his look that was familiar to her.
"Was it somebody …" she made a little sound, "Oh my God, was it …?"
He walked past her, and paused at the entrance to the church.
"This town," he said without meeting her eyes, "Is messing with our heads. That's how it works. So whatever I saw or didn't see … is meaningless."
He went through the doorway, leaving her outside as a cold rain of ash slowly began to flutter down.
"Right," she whispered, "… meaningless."
Continue to Chapter 4 >>
© 2007 Rob Myers