Chapter 6

Silent Hill 2 : The Official Novel

By Sadamu Yamashita
Translated by Emily “Lady Ducky” Fitch

Chapter Six -Memories of the Lake’s Shore-

-1-

On the other side of the door leading from the refrigerated warehouse lay the fog-shrouded outside world. Even after descending deeper underground time after time, somehow, he was back at ground level. If this was a delusion, then the world was running on dream physics, so something like this wouldn’t be that strange at all. If this was reality, then something about the strange phenomena in Silent Hill must be distorting the laws of space. Either way, James was relieved to be free from that hellish maze.

But the fact that he had killed another human being remained unchanged. Those memories still lingered—watching Eddie die before his eyes and knowing that it was all his fault.

It was growing brighter outside. He could see that the warehouse was located on the shore of Toluca Lake just off a large dock, most likely used for food transportation. From where he stood, he could even see the Silent Hill Historical Society.

James walked across the pier, the wooden boards creaking underfoot, and his heart feeling unbearably empty. Taking a small rowboat, he set out across the lake.
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“Mary…” The name left his lips like a delicate winter breeze. His destination was only faintly visible on the opposite shore: Lakeview Hotel. If only he could fill his head with pleasant memories from that place, maybe it would be enough smother the darkness lurking in his heart. As he continued to row, staring intently through the fog, James couldn’t take his mind off the feeling of his hands gripping the oars. Those hands were stained with blood. Those hideous hands had taken another’s life…

Something splashed against the lake’s surface. Out of the corner of his vision, James could see countless pale hands reaching up from beneath the waves. They surrounded the boat, waiting for the chance to pull it down to the bottom of the lake. “Come here, come here,” they beckoned; an invitation to lure James into the abyss. He tried desperately not to see them, keeping his gaze firmly locked in the direction of the hotel. It was his beacon to guide him away from temptation. James knew that if he were to look away for even a moment, he’d find himself drowning in those dark waters.

The curtain of fog was drawn away, and the magnificent hotel slowly emerged. It shined through the white landscape, illuminated by the light of beautiful memories. James rowed faster.

-2-

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With its atmosphere as elegant and refined as a noblewoman, the Lakeview Hotel hadn’t changed in the slightest. James climbed the stone steps from the dock up to the garden. Scattered throughout the mist-dampened, vivid, green grass were several stone fountains…just like when Mary and James had walked hand in hand through this garden all those years ago. Now James walked toward the entrance alone.

He felt his heart beating out of control in his chest. He was going to meet Mary again soon. Still, he was full of uncertainty. What if she wasn’t here either? The fear of the crushing disappointment was already beginning to spoil the mood. With these mixed feelings, he stepped into the entrance hall.

The only thing that greeted James was the beam of his flashlight reflected off of the glittering chandelier. He searched in the farthest, dimmest corners of the hall, but he found no signs of employees or guests. There was nothing but thick darkness. What’s this? Something caught James’s eye for a split second as he shined his flashlight around the room. He looked again. On the wall just inside the entrance was a plate that depicted a map of the hotel. There was a hand-written message on the plate, as well as a circle drawn around room 312.

“Waiting for you.”

Though the handwriting seemed familiar, he couldn’t say for sure. But the delicate and smooth letters were a typical trait of Mary’s style. It had to be a message from her. James was sure of it. Mary really was alive! And she was waiting for him here!

Now that he thought about it, he recalled that 312 was the same room the two of them had stayed in before. James went to the back of the lobby and ran up the stairs to the third floor. He walked along the row of doors. 310…311…312!

Resisting the urge to rush inside, James took a moment to straighten up. He combed his fingers through his unkempt hair, brushed the dirt and dust off his clothes, and wiped the mud off his shoes with a handkerchief. He couldn’t do much with his jacket and pants, as they were worn-out and soaked with sweat from his journey, but at least now he could be a little more presentable when he stood before Mary. With a tightly clenched fist, he hesitantly knocked on the door.

“Mary? It’s me, James.” He waited in uncomfortable silence. There was no answer. Fearing the worst, he knocked harder. The door remained firmly closed.

“She must have gone out,” James said, as if to reassure himself. Yes, that’s it. After all, she probably doesn’t even know I’m here right now, so she wouldn’t just be sitting around alone in her room waiting.

After taking a moment to regroup, he went back down the stairs and returned to the lobby. Maybe she left a letter addressed to him at the reception desk. If she would write a message on the map by the front door, then surely she’d leave a letter at the front desk, too. As before, not a single soul was in the darkened lobby. It was almost as if the hotel had been shut down, but it looked far from deserted. There were little signs of recent human activity everywhere. The carpet was spotless. There wasn’t so much as a speck of dust anywhere. Even a half-empty cup of coffee sat on a table outside the café.

As he had suspected, there was a memo for James left at the front counter.

“Mr. James Sunderland,
The videotape you forgot here
is being kept in the office on
the 1st floor.”

He supposed it could be instructions from Mary… Perhaps it was something he’d forgotten during his stay years ago—he couldn’t think of anything else. There appeared to be an office on the other side of the reception desk. Since no one came when he rang the bell, he’d have to go search for himself. He found the tape sitting on top of a desk. While he had the chance, he also borrowed a key to room 312 from the key box, planning to wait in the room for Mary’s return.

As he was returning to the stairs, James thought he could hear a faint melody drifting through the hall. It seemed to be coming from the restaurant on the other side of the lobby.
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“A piano?” He listened carefully. Though the player was very unskilled, it was definitely the sound of a piano. James felt a sudden stab of sorrow. Though she wasn’t very good, Mary loved to play the piano. Could it be Mary playing right now? Heart beating rapidly, he rushed into the restaurant, only to find a little girl perched on a chair and gleefully poking away at the keys.

It was Laura. Noticing James, Laura looked up from the piano with a pleased smile. “Are you mad? You thought I was Mary, didn’t you?”

“Y-yeah…” James was puzzled. Disappointed as he was that it wasn’t Mary, he didn’t know how to react to this unexpected development.

Laura jumped off of the chair and stood next to James. “Are you here to see Mary too?”

“Is that why you’re here, Laura?”

“Where is she? Do you know?”

James froze with a dumbfounded expression. She was asking him where Mary was? Wasn’t that the reason why he had been chasing Laura around in the first place? “Wait, you mean you don’t know either!?”

Laura shook her head. “Nope. All I know is that she’s supposed to be in this town somewhere. But I’m already too tired. My legs are all stiff, and it feels like I’ve been looking around forever.”

“What makes you think she’s in this town?”

“Cuz she said so in her letter.”

“What letter?”

“The one I got from Mary. You wanna see?”

“Of course I do! Please let me read it!”

“Hmm, what should I do?~” she said with a chuckle.

“I’m begging you, please let me see it!”

Laura, taken aback at seeing an adult beg so humbly, finally gave in. Mischievous though she was, she knew when to quit. Jokes and games were fun, but she wouldn’t dare take it past the point that would make a grown-up seriously mad at her. She retrieved the letter from her skirt pocket. It was placed inside a snow white envelope with “To Laura” written on it. “It’s okay for you to read it, just don’t tell Rachel okay?”

“Who’s Rachel?”

“She’s our nurse. I took it from her locker.”

“…So you were in the same hospital as Mary…” James unfolded the stationary.

My dearest Laura, I’m leaving this
letter with Rachel to give to you
after I’m gone.

I’m far away now,
in a quiet, beautiful place.

Please forgive me for not saying
goodbye before I left.

Be well, Laura.

Don’t be too hard on the sisters.

And Laura, about James…
I know you hate him because you
think he isn’t nice to me, but please
give him a chance.

It’s true he may be a little surly
sometimes, and he doesn’t laugh
much, but underneath he’s really
a sweet person.

Laura…
I love you like my very own
daughter.

If things had worked out
differently, I was hoping to
adopt you.

Happy 8th birthday, Laura.

Your friend forever,
Mary

Once he finished reading, James asked Laura, “…You’re eleven now, aren’t you?” Assuming this letter was three years old, that would be the only logical calculation.

Laura replied with a frown. “How rude, treating me like some sorta old lady! I just turned eight last week!”

“It was just a question. Sorry.” So, Mary really was alive…or at least she was alive three years ago. The thought made his eyes sting with warm tears. “But…she doesn’t say anything about Silent Hill in that letter…”

“You really don’t get it?” Laura spoke like a teacher scolding a clumsy student.

“She says she’s in ‘a quiet, beautiful place’ right? Mary talked about Silent hill all the time—she even showed me a bunch of pictures. She always said she wanted to come back, so that’s why she’s gotta be here!”

It was childish reasoning. It was only natural. Though she seemed mature for her age, underneath it all, she was still just a child. To an adult, ‘a quiet, beautiful place’ implied a far different meaning.

“I got another letter. If you saw it, then you’d understand…”

“There’s another one? Where is it?”

“Huh?” Laura frowned as she dug through her pocket.

“…I musta dropped it.”

“Laura?” Was she trying to pull yet another trick?

“Where’d it go!?” Before James could say anything, Laura dashed out of the restaurant, leaving him with the letter addressed to her. James hurriedly tried to chase her, but she had been swallowed by the darkness that filled the hallway.

-3-

A quiet, beautiful place. That’s where Mary said she’d be. Honestly speaking, that couldn’t mean any place other than heaven. Laura just turned eight last week. But that was impossible. Mary supposedly died three years ago, but if what Laura said was true, then she had to still be alive. Nothing made sense. Mary’s supposed to be… It’s no use!

It was too confusing to make any sense. James returned to room 312 with heavy footsteps, as if his despair clung to his feet like lead. He refused to acknowledge Mary’s death. If she didn’t die three years ago, why shouldn’t she be alive and well right now? But if she wasn’t, then all his effort would have been for nothing. That can’t be it! James shook his head in an effort to rid himself of those dismal thoughts.

The message on the hotel map was written in Mary’s handwriting. She came here. She didn’t die in the hospital. She became healthy and was discharged. That would fit perfectly with what Laura said! He remembered the videotape in his coat pocket. The tape he’d forgotten that held memories from all those years ago. Maybe there was something more to it… Maybe it held another message from Mary…

Maybe after the incident that had left Silent Hill in its current state, all the hotel staff and guests had to evacuate. In the rush to leave town, Mary might have been forced to leave the tape behind. She could have recorded over it, as a means to inform James of where they were taking refuge. It was a rational possibility. That has to be the reason, James thought, his steps becoming a little lighter.

But there was still one thing that didn’t fit: Laura. If all the bizarre phenomena in Silent Hill were real, then how could someone as young as Laura wander around the monster-infested streets without a care in the world? Having reached room 312, James inserted the key into the door. No matter what was true, he’d never know until he watched the tape. It had to hold at least some of the answers.

Room 312 was a deluxe, twin guest room. Although it wasn’t quite as fancy as a suite, it was almost more than they could afford on James’s salary. Unlike the dim corridors in the rest of the hotel, 312 was brightly lit by the soft light that shone through the fog and poured in through the south-facing windows. When he was here with Mary, this room seemed to overflow with dazzling sunlight, and you could see the glittering surface of Toluca Lake just outside the window. The whole room felt as if it belonged in a dream. Now the muted light made the room feel quiet and somber.

The television was located on the wall by the windows, with an armchair facing it. James slid the videotape into the VCR, and took a seat in the armchair. After a flurry of crackling static, the video began to play. The screen displayed an image of Mary.
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“Are you still filming? C’mon…” Mary said as she walked in front of one of the windows in room 312. Her face was lit with a cheerful smile. Sitting down in a nearby chair, she gazed out the window.

“I don’t know why, but I just love it here. It’s so quiet and peaceful.” She turned to look at the camera. “You know what I heard down at the drugstore? They said this whole area used to be a sacred place. I think I can see why.” Her expression turned sentimental. “It’s a shame we have to leave so soon…” She stood up again.

“Please promise you’ll take me here again someday, James…” As she spoke, Mary broke into a fit of violent coughing. Suddenly, the camera flew into disorder, shaking and blurring until the picture went out all together.

With his eyes still glued to the television screen, James realized that he was sobbing. They were not tears of gratitude at seeing an image of his dearly missed wife. They were not tears of comfort or happiness. This flood of tears was like blood spilling from a wounded heart. From an open wound pouring out a black deluge of horrid memories. The images on the screen began to overlap with the images in his mind.

This is their home.
James and Mary’s love nest.
The window curtains are closed.
The room is dark.
Mary lies in their bed.
She coughs painfully.
Staring at Mary.
Standing at her bedside…
Reaching for her with trembling hands.
She gasps, a choked noise that barely makes it out of her throat.
Her anguished coughs have stopped.
The only sound is her stifled cries.
Her weak, frail body grows still.
He carries her lifeless body in his arms…

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Buried deep in the armchair, James let out a heartbroken moan. The reality was too much to bear. He remembered everything.

He didn’t hear the sound of the door opening behind him.
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“James?”

He was so buried in grief, he was deaf to the voice calling out to him.

Laura walked into the room. She spoke in a cheerful voice, “James, there you are! When you weren’t in the restaurant, I had to look all over the place for you!” She walked over to stand by his side, but when she looked at his face, her expression turned puzzled. “James, why are you crying? Didn’t you find Mary?”

“Laura… Mary’s not here,” James managed to wring out in a low voice. “…Mary’s not anywhere in this world anymore.”

“What?”

“She’s dead.”

“No…you’re lying!”

“It’s the truth…”

“She died…because she was sick?” Laura whispered, tears spilling from her eyes and rolling down her shocked face.

Standing up from the chair, James crouched on one knee and looked Laura in the eye. “No. She’s dead because…I killed her.”

For a moment, Laura could only stare at James in disbelief. Without warning, she reached her arm back and slapped him across the face.

James made no move to stop her.

“Idiot! Why’d you do something like that!? You killer! Give her back! Give Mary back to me! I knew it! You didn’t care about her! I hate you James! I hate you! I hate you!” She added another punch with every word, the force of her fists adding strength to each blow. She spoke in a small, feeble voice, “Mary was…always waiting for you…” Having run out of energy for yelling, she collapsed into uncontrollable sobbing.

James gently put his arms around her. “I’m so sorry… I… Mary… She…”

“Lemme go!” Laura ripped herself away from his embrace. She ran to the open door, glared back at James one last time with eyes filled with tears and hate, and dashed outside, slamming the door behind her.

“Laura… I’m sorry…” he muttered to himself in the empty room. At the very least, he was grateful for the chance to tell her the truth, even if she wouldn’t fully understand. She was just a child. This was just too much pain for her to have to shoulder all at once.

Noise began to blare from the radio in his pocket, but it wasn’t the static that warned of a monster’s approach.

“…The batter swings. The second base runner makes a dash for third…

…According to a report released by the census bureau, during the first half of this year…

…softest skin ever. We guarantee you’ll be satisfied with…”

It was a chaotic storm of mixed voices: a baseball broadcast, a news station, a commercial all playing over each other. Eventually one single voice, the voice of a woman, waded through the turbulence.

“James, where are you?

I’m waiting.

I’ll always be waiting.

Why won’t you come see me?

Do you hate me?

Is that why you don’t want to meet with me?

James… James?

Please hurry.

Are you lost?

I’m right here.

I’m so close.

Hey, James, I want to see you again.

Can you hear me?

James? Hey, James… James… James…”

“That voice is…” James stared at the radio in silent amazement. He could hear her so clearly. It was her voice.

-4-

I wonder…are they still after me? Even after this long… Angela thought as she wandered the hotel’s darkened halls. She was always being chased by those repulsive creatures—those ugly figures that seem to embody the filthy desires of men. They pushed her to the ground and attempted all manner of indecent acts…

The thought of those things made her hair stand on end. But…the things that truly frightened Angela were the ones who pursued her all the way from her hometown. Surely she was a wanted criminal. The police must have been searching for her right now. There was no way she could be arrested…how could she be blamed for killing them? They got exactly what they deserved.

Mama didn’t help me at all. She had to have known. How could she not know what was happening to her own daughter? If she did know, she pretended not to. I only did what I had to do! It was self-defense! I just couldn’t stand it anymore! God will forgive me. I won’t go to hell—they will. I don’t care if they burn for eternity!

She pictured her father and brother engulfed in flames, screaming in pain, begging for forgiveness they’d never receive… Angela smiled. Her soft laughter echoed through the darkness.

James finally decided to leave room 312, but the world that awaited him outside the door had completely changed. The once opulent hotel was now falling to pieces. The plaster on the walls was cracked and peeling, a fine layer of dust coated the floors, and the ceiling was almost hidden behind a wispy mesh of cobwebs. Even the back garden, which he could barely make out through the grimy windows, was neglected and overgrown. He had only been in the hotel room for a short while…

James descended the stairs and walked through the second floor hallway. He noticed a large figure sluggishly approaching from the back of the hall. At first he thought it could be a four-legged animal of some sort, but as it drew closer he saw that that is was the same type of creature as the one that had attacked Angela in the labyrinth. This was the first time he’d encountered a monster since arriving at the Lakeview Hotel. The sight of the repulsive creature blocking his path made James’s temper flare. Stupid pest! I don’t have time to mess with you right now! If it was anything like the last one, then killing this thing should be easy. It was his amount of ammo that really concerned him. While he still hade plenty of bullets in his pocket, he couldn’t afford to waste them by shooting randomly like he had up to this point. If only he could take it down with one shot…

A plan quickly formulated in James’s mind. He would shoot the monster once. If he got lucky and it died, then there would be nothing to worry about. If the creature lived, it would likely be damaged and weak enough for him to run around it and escape. The unsightly bed-fused monster crawled closer. James crouched down on one knee and carefully aimed the rifle. Relying on the minimal lighting, he set his sights on what he hoped was creature’s head and pulled the trigger. It stuttered and let out a horrific wail as the bullet tore through its flesh…

The monster’s legs folded underneath it, and it slumped to the floor. However, it still twitched and moved. Stepping around it, James was about to break into a run when he suddenly felt the monster’s forearm clamp onto his ankle. A ghastly chill snaked up his spine at the repulsive touch of the cold, slimy hand. His rage and frustration reached a boiling point, and James began to brutally kick the creature in the head with his free leg.

“Get…the hell…offa me!” Flipping around the rifle, he smashed the butt onto the monster’s arm again and again. Finally, its claws released, and it lost its grip. It emitted a low moan as its body withered like a balloon losing air. This time it was truly dead.

James slid to the floor, still clutching tightly to the bloody rifle. His breath came in ragged gasps, and his heart was pounding inside his chest. The moment the monster grabbed him…he thought for sure he was going to die. After a few moments had passed, he forced himself back up onto his unsteady feet and began to hurry forward.

That voice…the voice that came from the radio…

“I’m right here!”

That voice that still echoed in his heart. She was alive. She was somewhere in this hotel.

“…Mary…”

“Mary is going to…die? You’re joking….right?”

“I’m very sorry.”

“But you’re a doctor, aren’t you? You’re supposed to help people! Isn’t there something you can do!?”

“Please, calm down. As a doctor, I promise to do everything I can. However, an effective treatment for her conditions has yet to be discovered.

“…How long does she have?”

“It’s difficult to say with certainty. It could be as soon as six months. It could be three years from now. We simply have no way of knowing…”

As he wandered through the decaying halls, that conversation from long ago resurfaced in James’s mind. That was the moment when he’d been condemned to despair—the ending to his happy life. Indeed, it was almost like he had died before his beloved Mary… Trapped in a living death that left him with nothing but a husk of a soul, and a heart that felt nothing but never-ending pain. It only grew worse with each day he had to watch his wife slowly waste away. His frustration swirled like a frigid storm until it swelled into a cold mass of fury…

James’s search for Mary brought him to check each hotel room one by one. He delved into each unattended room and examined it top to bottom—looking into bathrooms, inside closets, and even under beds. The further into the hotel he ventured, the more ravaged his surroundings became. It was like descending ever deeper into the depths of a degenerate mind. The darkness grew thicker as the lamps illuminating the halls began to dim. The air was so heavy that it felt difficult to breathe. It was as if the atmosphere had solidified into a barrier, trying to prevent James from continuing any further.

Far more troubling was the fact that the monsters seemed to be lurking in greater numbers. Their snarling cries echoed from their hiding places, and blended together in a dreadful chorus. The entire hotel had become tinged with madness.

After he’d finished checking all the rooms on the west wing, he returned to the hallway to find that he’ somehow wandered into the east wing… This sort of bizarre room-shifting was nothing new. The strange phenomena only held his attention for a brief moment, however, as something even stranger occurred—and James stepped out into what appeared to be a basement. The corridor was flooded with murky, waist-deep water. Seeking to escape from the waterlogged maze, James entered into a spacious bar, passed through the bar’s kitchen, then exited into a passage that lead to the hotel’s back door.

According to his calculations, he should be going the exact opposite way he came. If he continued through the boiler room and the store room, he’d be able to climb back up to the east wing’s ground floor. As he opened the final door, James saw a staircase just like he expected. However, there was something off about the scene before him. Unlike the rest of the basement, there wasn’t a drop of water anywhere to be found. Not only was it dry, but the air has suddenly become scorching hot. It was bright enough that his flashlight was rendered useless, almost as if James were standing outside in the midday sun. Stepping over to the landing, he peered up the stairs.

It was a fire. Dancing red tongues of flame licked the walls and ceiling, and slowly spread down the steps. He could make out the shapes of two bodies nailed to the wall, a middle-aged man and a younger man. Though they dangled amidst the flames, their skin was completely free of burns. In fact, it seemed as if the two were still alive. The scene brought to mind the image of sinners being tortured in the flames of hell…

A person was slowly descending the endlessly long staircase, like a messenger coming down from heaven. However, it felt more as if the world had been turned upside-own, once the person emerged from the black abyss. It was Angela. The breeze awakened by the flames whirled her hair around in a way that seemed almost mystical. Her brightly-lit face was filled with excitement, but also tinged with sadness.

“Mama… I finally found you. You’re the only one left… Maybe now I can finally be happy…” Angela said as she stepped closer to James.

James involuntarily took a wary step back.

“Why are you running away?” With a gentle, but clearly disturbed smile, Angela reached out and touched James’s cheek. Suddenly, she froze. “You’re not my mama…” She quickly snatched her hands away, and retreated several steps back, as if she was afraid of him. “James… It’s you…” Her face showed embarrassment, but her voice was filled with disappointment and disgust.
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“I take it you haven’t found your mother yet, have you?” James asked. It felt incredibly strange to be holding a casual conversation while standing amidst a blazing fire, but he wasn’t concerned. The far-too-sudden outbreak, the fact that the blaze hadn’t spread beyond this room, the fact that neither he nor Angela had been burned…he was beginning to notice how unnatural the whole thing was. This was just another projection of the mind…a vivid illusion masquerading as reality… Angela’s delusion.

Her face turning grim, Angela replied. As if she were only talking to herself, she began to pour out all the hatred that had accumulated in her heart. “Mama…you knew, didn’t you? The things daddy and brother did to me every night… But you still pretended not to notice…” Finally beginning to understand the extent of Angela’s pain, James continued to listen in silence.

“So I…I left to go looking for my Mama…after she left daddy and ran away from home…” Tears began to stream down Angela’s face. They weren’t tears of longing for her beloved mother. They were bitter tears of frustration. The tears of someone who was left all alone, and who only desired revenge for all her mistreatment.

“I already took care of daddy and my brother too!” she joyfully announced as she sobbed. “I took care of both of them…with that knife.” She was talking about the knife she left behind in the mirror room in the Woodside Apartments. That was the weapon she used to carry out her crime.

“Angela…I think you need to forgive them. Not just them, but yourself too.”

“You hypocrite! How dare you say something like that!” Angela glared at James so intently that the fire seemed to blaze brighter. “What about you? Will you forgive me? Save me? Will you protect me forever? Will you tell me you love me?”

James couldn’t bring himself to answer. His silence was met with another harsh verbal onslaught.

“See? I knew it… You’re just another person, dragged to this town to rot for their sins. And you think you can lecture me about “forgiveness”? Don’t make me laugh…” Angela turned her back to him and began to climb the stairs. She stopped, as if she suddenly remembered something. She looked over her shoulder and spoke. “I’d like my knife back.”

James stared at Angela, as if he could uncover her true intentions just by looking. He shook his head. “I can’t… I can’t do that. I don’t have it.”

Angela returned his gaze, her eyes filled with suspicion. “Hmph… Are you sure you’re not just keeping it for yourself?”

“No… I would never want to…kill myself…”

At this answer, Angela gave a heavy sigh. James had hoped to read Angela’s thoughts, but it seemed that that she had seen right through him instead. She’d seen something James himself wasn’t even aware of…

Angela left, her soft laugher echoing behind her. She was off to find her grave. The flames swelled and raged out of control, the unbearable heat forcing James back into the waterlogged hallway. He fled from the blazing inferno, and from Angela’s harsh words.

-5-

Cautiously prying open the door, James returned to the fire escape only to find that the flames had completely vanished. There wasn’t the tiniest trace of fire damage anywhere—even the two tortured men had disappeared. That was the proof that revealed everything to be only an illusion. But then…did that mean the hotel’s desolate appearance was an illusion too? Nothing but a hollow apparition?

James climbed the rubble-strewn staircase and made his way to the first floor of the east building. Every door that lined the winding hallway was locked. There was only one option: just keep walking until he hit a dead end…

At the end of the corridor was an open door that led to a new hallway, with the difference that this one’s floor and walls were made entirely of chain-link fences. Underneath the floor, numerous monsters restlessly crawled around. With a heart so empty it could no longer feel fear, James calmly strolled down the hallway, shooting down the monsters one by one until he had exhausted the supply of bullets he’d picked up in the basement warehouse.

At the end of the hall sat yet another room. James stood before the door, feeling an unnatural heaviness in the air. It felt as though a strong resistance were coming from the other side of the metal door…as if the room itself did not want to be entered.

“This is…the last stop…” James whispered as he pushed on the door, which opened reluctantly with a heavy, grating noise.

The first floor lobby was spread before his eyes. Only this time, none of the familiar scenery was present. The sofas, the tables, the café—even the front desk were all gone. It was empty and bare, like an excessively large prison cell. The only part of the lobby that remained was the large grand staircase stretching up to the second floor.

At the top of the staircase, James could see a woman. She seemed to be standing upside-down, or rather, hanging upside-down. It looked as if she was about to be crucified. Standing beside her was the executioner, a huge man wielding an equally large spear…the red pyramid creature. James realized with a feeling of utter hopelessness that there was not one, but two monsters, each standing grimly on opposite sides of the landing.
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“James!” the woman shouted in a voice desperate with terror. It was Maria, begging for help, pleading for her life which should have ended twice before.

There was nothing he could do. Shaking his head slowly, James spoke in a voice weighed down by grief. “Stop…just…stop it. Stop this endless torture…”

At long last, he finally understood. These abnormalities were neither chaotic nor random… The true reason for the monsters that continued to block his path…it was all according to someone’s will. But…he had known that from the beginning. He just hadn’t allowed himself to admit it. He had been clinging to a single hope: the desire to forget reality. Even if it meant sealing away all those unpleasant memories.

However, James wasn’t creating everything by himself. By his own choice, he had allowed the town of Silent Hill to help build up the illusion. The place was an accomplice. That was the reason he’d been invited. Called to this town just like Eddie and Angela. They really were all the same—fellow sinners all trapped in their own self-created nightmares.

“I’m begging you. Just…please stop…” James’s heartfelt appeal was met with an ear-piercing shriek. Maria’s painful cries echoed through the empty lobby as the monsters’ spears pierced her body.
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“STOP!!” James screamed. Holding his head between his hands, he soon collapsed helplessly to his knees. He saw the monstrous executioners. And before he knew it, they were surrounding him on both sides, waiting to dispose of the next condemned criminal.

“I was weak…” James said softly. “That’s why I wished for your existence.” He turned to the looming monsters. “I needed someone to punish me for my sins…but not anymore.” He shook his head, and more confidence began to creep into his words. “I understand it now… I have to put an end to this myself.”

Grabbing hold of his rifle, he rose to his feet. With the faint smile of someone who has discovered a great truth, James fired at the pyramid monster.

The armless creatures were created from feelings of “confinement.”

The mannequin monsters, their bodies made up of two pairs of legs, were born from “lust.”

The monsters that crawled beneath the floor originated from a desire to “escape.”

These things were all produced by my subconscious…from the darkness in my heart. They’re all just delusions that this town’s strange power made into reality. Well, not a complete reality. I wonder if anyone else could even see these creatures. Maybe it’s only those whose inner darkness matches the darkness of Silent Hill who have to face these horrors.

And because each person has a different type of evil eating away inside, not everyone would necessarily see the same thing. There’s no way of knowing what kind of monsters Eddie had to face…but the bizarre bed monster was most likely created out of Angela’s nightmares. Maybe the two of us carry a similar kind of darkness, allowing me to see and even be attacked by the same creature. That would also explain the phantom fire.

No wonder Laura always seemed so calm. The reason she can wander through a monster infested town without worrying is because her heart is pure. She holds no darkness so she probably can’t see anything other than an empty town.

Laura, I’m sorry.

I killed the woman I loved.

And I took your best friend away from you.

James continued to fire a hail of bullets at the two monsters. He would settle this himself. He was ready to dispose of the executioners he had created for himself. He shot without pause, giving no thought to how much ammo he was using up.

There was no chance of winning. From the very beginning, James knew that these monsters were impossible to defeat. He had failed to kill this creature so many times before, why should he be able to do so now? But he calmly accepted this fact. What was truly important was that he stand his ground and fight—to fight against his fears and to escape the stigma of a coward. Even if it meant death.

The creatures’ movements were slow, almost mechanical, as they relentlessly chased after James. He dodged the thrusts of their spears and took every opportunity he could to try warding them off, striking them with the barrel of his rifle. Since these monsters were products of a delusion, things that existed only in James’s mind, then perhaps there was a way to influence their movements. Up until this point, they had grown strong by feeding off of his fear and his weak, dependent attitude. Now that those weaknesses were gone, the pyramid monsters had been reduced to the same level as any of the other monsters. They were vulnerable. However, they still had the advantage of their steel-like muscles and their gargantuan strength. Their bodies shook with the impact of each bullet, but they never slowed.

In the next moment, the battle was over. James had fired his rifle’s last bullet. He knew he had more ammo in his pocket, but as the monsters inched ever closer, it became clear that there would be no time to reload. Without noticing it, he had let his pursuers back him into a corner. They walked with such deliberation, they seemed to be moving in slow motion towards the confrontation’s inevitable end.

“So this is it…” A bitter smile came to James’s face. He stepped without hesitation into the range of the massive spears, his eyes fixed on their sharpened points.

Kill me. Come on you bastards, kill me!

The monsters stopped moving. They turned to each other, each lifting up its own helmet, and each thrust its ferocious spear into the other’s neck. Leaning upon the wooden shafts like support pillars, the creatures fell completely still. James frowned and cautiously inched closer. He slowly reached out his hand and laid it on the closest monster. It was as cold and hard as stone. The pyramid monsters had petrified, and now stood as statues, like monuments to the remains of a nightmare.

At that exact instant, as if in response, the original letter from Mary disappeared from James’s pocket…

-6-

There was no sign of Maria’s body at the top of the grand staircase. He’d expected as much. James passed from the lobby into the entrance hall. Its state had deteriorated even further, charred from a large fire, like black scars running over what had once been such a beautiful hotel. The only available path was through the main front entrance. However, when James opened the door, he saw neither the fog nor the lake, but instead a new hallway that stretched forward. It seemed to go on forever. He could hear a voice. It was Mary’s voice. A sealed memory that had been released, drifting to James’s ears.

“What do you want?”

“You brought me flowers?”

“Oh, they’re lovely…did you bring those just to spite me?”

“Get the hell out of here!”

“When I first saw my face in the mirror…I was disgusted. Between the disease and the drugs, I look like a monster…”

“What are you staring at!? Why won’t you just leave?”

“I’m no use to anyone… I’ll be dead soon anyway…”

“Why wait? Maybe it’d be easier if they’d just kill me now. I guess the doctors are making a nice profit off of me. Maybe that’s why they’re keeping me alive.”

“Are you still here, James!? Get out! You hear me? Don’t you ever come back here again!”

Her merciless tirade continued. There was a short pause, followed by the sound of a door slamming shut. As she began to weep, Mary spoke in a weak voice.

“…James…wait. Please don’t go. Please don’t leave me. I didn’t mean any of those things.”

“Please…tell me everything will be okay. I don’t want to die. James…help me…”

At the time, Mary had been weakened by her constant struggle against her illness. Because of the medication and the radiation treatment, her shiny hair, her fresh skin, all traces of her past beauty had long gone. By that point, she even began to lose herself as well. The quiet woman who was once so discreet and kind, became bitter and angry.

She would yell abusively, all her words turning into hateful curses that struck him like nails through his chest. It was more than James could bear. It was such a sorry sight, watching her heart turn ugly as she slowly withered away. The beautiful, gentle soul that he had fallen in love with had gone from the world. That’s why he…

More retched memories spilled forth. He couldn’t stand to watch her suffer. That’s why he had to end it with his own hands…

As if reaching the end of a pilgrimage, he came across one final door. When he opened it, a wave of fog spilled into the hallway. On the other side, he could just make out the lake’s shore though the haze. He felt an alarming and strange presence. Through the fog lay the true demon that hid in Silent Hill.

A rusty iron staircase extended upwards until it vanished into the white sky. It looked like a fire escape leading to the roof of the hotel. He knew he was meant to climb it. He couldn’t care less whether this guidance came from God or the devil.

A woman was waiting for him atop the crumbling roof. He could only see her from behind as she stood at a window, looking down at the world below. She wore her hair the same way his wife did when she was alive.

“Mary…?”

At the sound of James’s voice, the woman slowly turned around. Suddenly, she let out a burst of scornful laughter. “Why can’t you get your facts straight? Mary’s dead remember? You killed her. She’s not here anymore.”

As he stared at the woman, James smiled a sad, lonely smile. “That’s enough.”
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“What?”

“You can drop the act now.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You don’t have to pretend to be Mary anymore.”

“I’m Maria! If you let me, I’ll stay by your side forever. I’ll never yell at you, and I’ll never be a burden to you. Isn’t that what you wanted, James?”

“I remember everything now. You’re not Mary. And you’re not Maria, either. You never existed from the beginning.”

“Liar! I exist! I’m standing right in front of you! I’ll be with you forever!” Hatred distorted her face, and anger twisted her body until she had completely transformed into a monster. Was this another illusion? Or was this Maria’s true form…?
20120518-222638.jpg
She had the appearance of a human bound within a metal, rectangular, bed-like frame, much like how Mary had been during her illness. She was suspended upside-down, in a manner strongly resembling a crucifixion—yet another thing that brought his wife’s horrible ordeal to mind. Even in this hideous form, her face—Mary’s face—was still young and beautiful, like a flower blooming among the charred wreckage. The monstrous woman spoke in a seductive, yet loving voice.

“James…why don’t you erase all those painful memories? Erase Mary’s face and replace it with me? That was your one desire, right? Forget the unpleasant past…so you can live in the world of your dreams… I’ll never let you have your Mary back!” It was his thoughts of his late wife that had brought the demon Maria into existence.

Does she plan to kill me now? But wouldn’t that mean that she’d disappear too? Just like the pyramid monsters… Or maybe…maybe she really does exist as her own personality. Maybe she’s so consumed with jealousy and hate that’s she’d try to kill me out of some kind of demented ‘love.’ Maria intended to disappear along with James in a murder-suicide.

James pushed those thoughts aside. The magazine of his rifle contained a grand total of two remaining bullets, which he had loaded shortly after the battle with the two pyramid monsters. However, even though she had changed into a demon—even though she wasn’t really the woman he loved—he couldn’t bring himself to shoot. She had been his guide as they wandered through the town’s streets together. She had been a smiling face to ease his loneliness. Even now, just seeing her Mary-like face healed his heart. James was lost, but he was forced to run and avoid the attacking monster.

The repulsive monster, with a face shining like the Virgin Mary, floated freely through the air, the open rooftop allowing her plenty of space to move. The sharp claws that extended from her fingertips were jagged like dead branches, and the edges of her metal cage were like knives. With these she relentlessly attacked, with the same kind of obsessive fury of a woman madly in love.
20120518-222742.jpg
But what was it really? Was it love or hate? Was Maria really acting of her own ‘free will?’ James hesitated as suspicion began to grow in his mind. Technically, he was facing himself, since Maria was born from his subconscious. That would mean Maria was just another form of himself. Her ‘love’ and her ‘jealousy’ were just cleverly disguised excuses he had made to deceive himself. Because he was the one who wanted to die, but was also afraid to die, and he needed someone to kill him… It was this vile request that had turned Maria into a demon.

I’m such a coward that I need someone else to kill me? How pathetic…James laughed to himself. He stopped running, and turned to face the creature. He lifted his rifle and pointed it at the demon—at Maria. You’re not Mary. You’re just a twisted illusion that wishes it could be Mary. You were created because I refused to see the truth. That’s why I…I’ll take everything— the precious memories, the painful memories, even all my foolish mistakes—I’ll expose them all. Maria…this is for you. To destroy your distorted form, and bring back the true Mary. With those thoughts running through his head, James pulled the trigger.

The bullet pierced through her chest, sending a spray of blood dancing through the air. She let out a cry that sounded almost like singing. There was a dull thud as the monster fell to the floor.

“James…” Maria murmured as she lay down helplessly on the floor. “James…” She looked just like Mary did when…

In a mixture of fantasy and memory, James grasped the hand of his bedridden wife. “Mary… I’m so sorry…”

“I forgive you,” Mary said, a gentle smile appearing on her pale face. “I said I wanted to die. I just wanted the pain to end.”

“I didn’t want to see you suffer anymore. That’s why I… No, that’s not the truth!” James shook his head. “You also said you didn’t want to die… The truth is, a part of me hated you. I thought my life would be easier if you were gone…”

“You killed me, and you’re suffering for it. It’s enough, James.” Mary’s eyelids closed. Her last breath escaped as a soft sigh.

James remembered. That’s right…after I strangled her, I…I lifted her from her bed, and carried her to the car… That was just a few days ago…

-7-

“Aha!” Laura let out with a delighted exclamation. “I can’t believe I lost it in such a stupid place.”

Laura picked up Mary’s letter, which had been sitting next to the leg of the piano stool the entire time. It must have slid out of her skirt pocket when she was playing earlier. It was one of the two lettered she had stolen from Nurse Rachel’s locker. This one was the one addressed to James; James had run off with the one that was addressed to Laura. No matter where she looked, she hadn’t been able to find where he’d gone.

“That moron! Doesn’t he know you’re not supposed to take things that belong to other people?” Laura said, completely forgetting her own thieving actions.

“James, where did you go?” Though she was still annoyed, she found that she wasn’t angry anymore. When James told her the truth about Mary, she had been completely shocked, but the more she thought about it, the more his confession sounded like something an adult would say to make themselves out as a tragic hero. Her teacher from the orphanage was like that too, especially after Laura had been hospitalized. He was always saying things like, “I truly feel like it’s my fault that the poor girl’s fallen ill… Oh, but it’s so hard for us to manage with so little money. We want to love and care for them all, but, with such a heavy workload, things slip by…”

What Laura couldn’t understand was why a murderer would cry like James did. All the bad guys she saw on TV, and all the mean people she knew in real life, would be happy and smiling after doing something so awful. But James wasn’t like those kinds of people at all.

James… If you didn’t think Mary was here at the hotel, why did you even come here in the first place?

Fine then, I’ll go too! There’s nothing to see around here anyway, and I’m sick of waiting for Eddie to catch up. That slowpoke, I’d bet he’d just keep me waiting here forever!

Laura left through the hotel’s front entrance. She walked along the lake’s shore, thinking that maybe she’d be able to find Mary.

“Mary, I’m back.” James smiled. He had left the hotel and backtracked all the way to the parking lot by the highway where she was waiting. She had always been here, waiting for him.

“Sorry, it’s probably pretty cramped in there…” He opened the trunk of his parked car. He lifted Mary’s curled up body and set her in the passenger’s seat. As he climbed into the driver’s seat, he spoke to her. She was silent, resting inside a sleep from which she would never awaken.

“Mary, I remember everything now. The real reason I came to this town. I wonder what I was so afraid of? As if there were anything in this world that could be scarier than losing you…” He started the engine and stepped on the accelerator.

“Now we can finally be together…just the two of us…” Staring blankly ahead at the mist-enshrouded lake, James kept his foot pressed down on the gas pedal. The smile never left his face.

Resting in a grassy meadow by the lake’s shore, Laura spread out Mary’s letter on the ground in front of her. It was the one addressed to James. She had read it many times before but…whenever she thought of Mary—the woman she loved like a mother and so dearly missed—it brought her a small amount of comfort. So she read the letter again.
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“In my restless dreams,
I see that town.

Silent Hill.

You promised me you’d take me there again someday.
But because of me, you were never able to.

Well, I’m alone there now…

In our “special place.”
Waiting for you…

Waiting for you to
come to see me.

But you never do.

And so I wait, wrapped in my
cocoon of pain and loneliness.

I know I’ve done a terrible
thing to you. Something you’ll
never forgive me for.

I wish I could change
that, but I can’t.

I feel so pathetic and ugly
lying here, waiting for you…

Every day I stare up at the cracks
in the ceiling, and all I can think
about is how unfair it all is…

The doctor came today.
He told me I could go
home for a short stay.

It’s not that I’m getting better.
It’s just that this may be
my last chance…

I think you know what I mean…

Even so, I’m glad to be coming
home. I’ve missed you terribly.

But I’m afraid James.
I’m afraid you don’t really
want me to come home.

Whenever you come see me,
I can tell how hard it is on you…

I don’t know if you
hate me or pity me…
Or maybe I just disgust you….

I’m sorry about that.

When I first learned that
I was going to die, I just
didn’t want to accept it.

I was so angry all the time, and I
struck out at everyone I loved most.
Especially you, James.

That’s why I understand
if you do hate me.

But I want you to
know this, James.

I’ll always love you.

Even though our life together had
to end like this, I still wouldn’t
trade it for the world. We had
some wonderful years together.

Well, this letter has gone on
too long, so I’ll say goodbye.

I told the nurse to give
this to you after I’m gone.

That means that when you read this,
I’ll already be dead.

I can’t tell you to remember me,
but I can’t bear for you to
forget me.

These last few years since I
became ill…I’m so sorry for
what I did to you, did to us…

You’ve given me so much and
I haven’t been able to return
a single thing.

That’s why I want you to live
for yourself now.
Do what’s best for you, James.

James…

You made me happy.”

“I love you, Mary.”

As the car began to slowly sink to the bottom of the lake, James pulled his wife close and gently held her. Their wish had finally come true. They would be together. And now they had an eternity to enjoy their happiness.

END

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