Disclaimer: I claim no ownership of J.K. Rowling’s work or the Silent Hill universe.
Chapter Five The Otherworld
Cybil recognized the sound, that ring and whir signaling the opening and closing of a cash register. Summer was the best time for the store. Tourists came in and bought sandwiches for picnics on Toluca Lake. Kids on bikes parked outside in the street, counting out their allowance and forking it over for soda or potato chips.
And best of all, Mom was happy, her broom out and constantly going. Back and forth over the tile floor. Back and forth.
Those days were the best, when the register drawer shot out empty and closed a few dollars richer. They’d keep a small radio on the counter and play whatever station came in the clearest.
It was almost as if Dad hadn’t died, when the store was busy and Cybil could concentrate on the steady flow of customers.
Money slid over the counter and into her hand. And Mom smiled.
“Not bad, honey. We’ll do better than break even this week. Not bad at all.”
But now the ring and whir of the register faded, disappearing in the piercing howl of a siren.
Cybil jerked awake, only to find her squad car nose down in a ditch.
She glanced about wildly. Where…where was she?
The empty stretch of highway behind her was vaguely familiar. Not Brahms, no, she was in Silent Hill.
“The kid,” Cybil groaned, as memories of the car chase came back to her.
Some punk had started a bar brawl and then fled the scene. The pursuit had led her right into Silent Hill. She had been close enough on his tail to PIT him when the road seemed to fall out from beneath her car, and she felt herself going sideways.
That had been what…an hour ago? Two?
She strained to see out of her back windshield. It was no longer night, but day…or close to it.
The sky was grey, and it seemed to be raining.
Cybil reached for her radio, pain spreading between her shoulder blades like hot embers.
“Damn,” she mumbled, putting the radio close up to her lips. “This Officer Bennett to base. I’ve been involved in an 11-83 while pursuing a fleeing suspect. Location, just past the town line of Silent Hill. I may have some minor injuries. Requesting 11-99 and medical. Do you copy?”
She listened, waiting for the monotone voice of the dispatcher. The radio crackled once and then was silent.
“This Officer Bennett to base,” Cybil tried once more. “Code 30. I repeat, code 30. My location is just past the town line of Silent Hill…I’m…I’m in a ditch. Base, do you copy?”
The resounding silence unnerved her.
Wincing in pain, Cybil struggled to unbuckle her seat belt and open the car door. It took a moment of shoving before it entirely gave way, and she was able to step out into the mud.
Once standing, she quickly checked herself for lacerations and broken bones. Her shoulders ached something fierce, while her chin sported an ugly scrape, the blood now dry and crusty.
Cybil moved out onto the road, knowing she had no hope of flagging down a vehicle. Drivers never passed through Silent Hill. The area was restricted.
Cybil felt like screaming. Not only had the suspect gotten away, but she had absolutely no back-up. She’d have to walk back to Brahms.
Although it was impossible to move the squad car, Cybil popped open the trunk and found a few flares to place on the road. Hopefully another unit or two would be out searching the highways for her. She had kept the dispatcher updated on her location right before the crash last night. Why no one had found her yet was a mystery, however. The Brahms Police Department was a small but efficient body of forty officers, all of whom had grown up in Toluca County and were familiar with the area.
Some had even lived in the Silent Hill before the coal mine fires broke out so many years ago. Certainly they would know where to look for her… Perhaps they had missed her car way down in the ditch?
There was something distinctly unsettling about all of this, but Cybil tried to ignore the hollow feeling in her gut as she lit the flares and placed them on the cracked road.
The sky was cloudy today, and an early morning fog kept visibility low. She was also shocked to see soot spewing into the air, probably from some faulty exhaust vent nearby.
Cybil returned to the car once more and made sure she had enough mags for her gun. Unfortunately, the Department was too small to afford regulation gas masks for every unit. The few they had were kept down at the stationhouse and used only when an officer was called to a disturbance in Silent Hill.
Cybil, therefore, only had a cheap paper mask to protect her from the potentially noxious gases thickening the air. She fitted it right over her mouth and nose, hoping she wouldn’t have to linger in town long.
The place gave her the creeps.
For good measure, she kept the squad car lights and sirens on, even though the battery would drain more quickly. A passing officer should have no trouble spotting the abandoned vehicle, what with the help of the flares and the flashing red and white beams.
She started off the way she came, but the fog was too thick to see her way through, and she soon found herself back at her squad car, right where she had crashed.
Cybil shook her head once, annoyed at her lacking sense of direction. Wouldn’t that be fodder for the Brahms’ Gazette. Dumb Cop Gets Lost On Local Highway. She could feel her cheeks burning with embarrassment already.
Weaving past the flares, she headed back the way she came again.
After a failed fourth try, she decided the fog was no doubt keeping support units from reaching her.
She only had one choice then.
With a terse sigh, Cybil set off down the highway towards Silent Hill where the mist lessened, minding the cracks in the asphalt which sometimes ran three inches thick. There was a desolate sort of silence to the place, and she hated the way her footsteps echoed back to her like a quick, tense heartbeat.
“What a night,” she mumbled, feeling more than a little pissed off at the punk kid for leading her on such a wild goose chase.
He was facing some serious charges, alright. Stupid kid.
She’d only be content when he was handcuffed and sitting in the back of her squad car.
Stupid, stupid kid.
Mom would be worried, of course. Worried sick. Cybil would have to call her as soon as she found a phone.
“It’s alright, Ma,” she imagined herself saying, “just another day on the job.” Just another day-
A rush of running footsteps made Cybil whirl around and reach for her gun.
But the road was empty, save for the sickening flurry of soot.
God, this place did things to your head, she thought. Silly things.
People used to say Silent Hill was haunted.
Nah. Cybil shook her head, reminding herself that she still had a few miles to walk. And with any luck, she’d bump into that kid along the way and show him exactly what happened to idiots who ran from the police.
“They never get far,” she laughed to herself. The lilt of her chuckle bounced back to her, sounding weak and distorted.
Cybil shuddered and kept her hand on her gun as she walked.
Draco couldn’t see. And he couldn’t feel or taste or smell. But he could hear, and the scream of the air raid siren ripped him from reality, throwing him down on his knees where tears squeezed from his eyes and left him empty.
I’m dreaming. This is a dream.
He crouched against the wall by the counter, fingers digging into his skull. The jagged cut on his forward bled anew. Draco tasted the blood on his clenched lips.
This isn’t real. None of this is real.
The siren continued to blare for another long minute and then abruptly ceased, its final echo reverberating off the restored stillness.
Draco sucked air in through his nose, exhaling in painful, short gasps.
I need to open my eyes, he thought. I need to open my eyes, and then I’ll see I’m still in the barber shop. I can get up and walk out of this town. I can get up and leave. And then I’ll find some way to contact Father. But I need to open my eyes…
Slowly, he dropped his hands from his face and placed them on either side of his torso. The floor was cold and sticky beneath his palms. Draco licked his lips once, swiping away the last of the blood with his tongue.
Open your eyes…
Darkness assaulted him.
There was darkness and nothing more.
The rundown barber shop had disappeared, save for the angry patter of rain somewhere outside.
He could not see a thing.
Draco forced himself to his feet, reaching out to the side to touch the counter. But instead of feeling the smooth yet slightly dusty surface, his fingertips grazed rotten wood.
He recoiled, the stench of mold and decay so thick upon him that bile erupted in his mouth.
No! Draco set his jaw and swallowed.
He needed light to see by. Instinctively, Draco reached for his wand, forgetting for an instant that is was broken.
Disappointment plummeted into his gut like a hunk of ice when he felt the two halves of it.
Was there no way to mend it?
Draco knew very little about wands themselves and indeed nothing about wand repair. But he remembered a similar incident back at Hogwarts, during his second year when Ron Weasley had snapped his wand in half and bound it together with Spello-tape.
Of course, the wand itself was worse for the wear and served only to misfire spells on the caster…but what was he to do here and now?
“Bloody hell,” he grunted, tearing off a length of cloth from his undershirt and tying a sloppy knot around the two pieces.
This won’t work, you bleeding fool.
Draco gritted his teeth and raised his wand just in front of his nose.
“Lumos,” he said, desperation making his voice ragged and raw.
The black pressed around him, but a bit of warmth shot through his fingertips.
“Lumos,” he repeated, almost begging now.
A feeble spark shot forth from the wand tip, accompanied by an almost non-existent glow.
“Please,” Draco prayed, “Lumos.”
The glow strengthened, allowing him to see about an inch away from his face.
Stumbling, he moved around the counter and groped for the door.
The wand hummed faintly, the spark flickering as he pressed his free hand to the slick windows.
There seemed to be some light out in the street….
Feeling his way along the window, he found the door and wrenched it open.
Rain rushed into his face, bitter and metallic-tasting.
Draco stepped out onto the sidewalk, the toes of his trainers catching on a crack in the splintered pavement. He titled his head back, searching for the sky, the clouds, the soot…
Oily droplets moistened his cheeks. He inhaled sharply, bewildered by the utter black.
Somewhere down the street, a rusty old lamplight flickered on, emitting greasy light.
Draco moved towards it, an unwilling moth beckoned by a flame. His wand tip flickered then faded completely.
To keep himself from falling, he reached out his left hand to touch a wall running perpendicular to the gutter. But where his palm should have meet brick, it grazed chain link.
Draco jumped back, his fingers smeared with grime and…what was that?
Tentatively, he held his hand up to his nose and sniffed.
The stench overwhelmed him.
Where am I?
The lamplight down the street seemed to groan in the downpour, the bulb now bright and hideous like a lidless eye.
Draco uttered a cry as the main street of Silent Hill was revealed to him in full.
It was as if the buildings had shed a deceptive second skin and now stood bare in their bones. Iron beams jutted from brick walls which oozed a brackish liquid. The pavement itself was slippery with muck.
Ugly chain link fences crisscrossed the avenue, interrupting the pavement which belched embers, hinting at the fire below.
This was unreal, terrifyingly unreal. Draco stumbled back, a muted scream strangling him.
He was not alone.
Chained to the foot of the lamp post, which was now illuminated by the ghastly bulb, was a person.
No. He shook his head in shock. A body.
The flesh of the abdomen had been torn open…
Draco ran. He ran back up the street and around a sharp corner into an alley. Turning once more, he sprinted into an empty back lot, finally collapsing against an eroded garbage bin.
His breath came ragged and he could no longer clamp down against the wave of frightened nausea.
Draco retched violently, shaking, panting, one hand clawing at his gut.
This could not be real.
Forcing himself to his feet, he moved around to the other side of the garbage bin and crouched by the back door of a building.
He had to be hallucinating. None of this was real. The car crash…his head. None of this was real.
Over the drumming of the rain, Draco didn’t hear the shuffling footsteps approach him. But suddenly the darkness was parted by a drawn-out shriek as three crumpled figures turned into the back lot.
Draco fell back in shock, the pavement shredding his jeans as he crawled backwards on his hands.
Inferi, he thought. The Undead!
The creatures were small, unsteady, with grey flaking skin and fierce scorch marks.
Draco smelled burnt flesh as they drew closer. Once more, he reached for his wand, fighting to stand and run.
But a maimed hand grasped his ankle, dragging him back with surprising force.
Grunting, he tried to fire a stunning spell over his shoulder at the thing, but his wand only sparked feebly.
More hands now. More shrieks.
Draco thought back to the disemboweled corpse he’d found on the street.
A wretched scream escaped him and he kicked back, punching viciously with his free hand. His fist connected with burned skin, and at once the foremost creature recoiled, only to spring back upon him with renewed force.
“Help!” he cried in desperation, face pushed against the putrid pavement. “Somebody…please. Help!”
The hands on his legs, sharp like pincers, suddenly loosened. In a feverish whirl, the back lot shifted around him.
Draco lay limp, exhausted. “Help,” he muttered one last time before the world slipped away.
Author’s Note: I know I’ve said in previous notes that any prior knowledge of the Silent Hill universe is not needed to understand this fic, however, I have decided to explain just a bit of canon that might make this chapter seem less…hmm…weird. In the game series and film, the town of Silent Hill exist in three alternate realities, i.e. dimensions, parallel layers, etc.
The first is a normal, abandoned town. This is the reality most people experience when they enter Silent Hill.
The second is known as the Fog World, named, of course, for the thick fog that smothers the town. Draco already encountered this reality in the previous chapter and as of the beginning of this chapter, so has Cybil.
The third and final dimension is known as the Otherworld, in which the town decays into a hellish atmosphere filled with horrifying imagery and monsters. Draco encountered this reality at the end of this chapter.
For the purposes of this fic, Draco and Cybil will only enter the second and third dimensions and from now on, they will do so together, at the same time. Not so confusing, right? I hope so ^_^
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this fic. Furthermore, I really appreciate the support of my wonderful reviewers. Without your encouragement, this fic would cease to exist. And, of course, I must thank my amazing beta, Renfair, for her continued help.
Chapter six should be posted soon. Have a great week!
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