June 21st, 2005
|z0mb1||06:13 pm - Dead Voices part 18|
Beyond the fact that the police station was totally devoid of any life, everything else looked fairly normal. There was no rust, blood, grime, or hideous monsters to speak of. Neil figured that if his memory served him right and that if Silent Hill was not playing any tricks on him, all he would have to do to get out of there was go straight down the hall, hang a right at the T-junction, and then make his way out of the lobby, to freedom. He was uneasy about all of this, but as nothing had been easy for him since he arrived in this town, he gritted his teeth and moved onward. He passed two doors, one on either side of the hall, and listened at each of them for a moment. There was no sound. Beyond the humming of the overhead lights, the entire precinct was dead quiet. Reaching the end of the first hallway and turning right, he found a chain-link gate stretched across the corridor. It didn't appear to be locked in anyway, and was only held closed by a rusty latch.
"This wasn't here before," Neil said to himself, looking around for a potential weapon and finding none. Beyond the gate, everything looked normal. He regarded it for a moment, shrugged, then unlatched and moved past it. He was fully prepared for the world to shift into darkness when his foot touched the floor on the other side of the gate. Nothing happened. He closed the gate and braced himself to be attacked by something. Nothing. He looked into the empty lobby with a quizzical expression, and then moved into it. He could see, through the plate-glass window and glass door, that it had begun to rain outside. He was hardly dressed for bad weather, in his jail blues and orange rubber sandals, but he would have to make due. He hustled through the lobby, and opened the door. Just as he was about to exit the station, he heard the scream of a terrified man, and then several gunshots. He stopped in his tracks and considered investigating. After a bit more consideration, however, his curiosity gave way to logic and survival instinct, and he hurried out of the precinct into the cold, wet night.
He was a ways off from his hotel room, where most of his possessions still were, but from the looks of things not much would be getting in his way. The rain didn't even bother him all that much. He still felt warm and euphoric from the Health Drink that he had just consumed. He lowered his head against the onslaught and made his way in the general direction of the Lake View Hotel. As he walked, westbound, along the shoulder of Sanford Street, he pondered the shifting of this city. It seemed to him that, for the most part, things started to get weird for him whenever he encountered that damned Halo of the Sun. He recalled Mac saying something about it being symbolic of a gateway between worlds. He could only think of two occasions when there was a shift and he was not somewhere near the presence of a Halo: The hospital and his hotel room. He began to suspect that, were he to look hard enough, he would most likely find one somewhere at either of those locations.
It didn't take him long to get to the hotel. He was mildly surprised by this, though not entirely. Entering the lobby, he found it empty. There was no build up of grime anywhere to indicate a total shift in reality. The sign on the beverage machine in the corner of the lobby advertised a well-known carbonated beverage and did not appear to be a Health Drink dispenser at that time. He was a little let down by that. He decided to avoid the elevator and take the stairs up to his room. He was relieved to find that the police had not confiscated his keys. He found the inside of his hotel room undisturbed.
As he entered the room, he began to feel slightly sick and dizzy again. He ignored it, changed out of his wet blues into some fresh clothes, and looked around the room for a moment. He wondered where, if anywhere, the sigil would be hidden. He checked under the bed, but found nothing. He looked in the closet and found nothing. He looked behind the desk and found nothing. He moved the dresser aside... Still nothing. He went into the bathroom and examined it. The only place that something could have been hidden in there was the medicine cabinet. There was nothing there, but upon examining the area surrounding the cabinet, he noted that it was only loosely set into the wall and that the paint surrounding it was cracked and loose. He grabbed ahold of the rim of the cabinet and pulled. It slid out of the wall fairly easily. "There you are, you bastard," Neil said as he uncovered exactly what he expected to find. The opening went about a foot back into the wall, past the cabinet. Painted on the wall behind it was the Halo. Sitting on a plank that was nailed to the back wall was a Health Drink. He set the cabinet down and grabbed the drink. Over the last few minutes he had developed a rather nagging headache. The sight of the drink made his head pound even more. He considered ignoring the pain, toughing it out, and saving the drink for when he needed it, but the more his rational mind thought about this the more his irrational mind called out to him to drink it. He was about to give in and open the bottle when there was a slow, light knock at his door.
He made his way out into the main room and set the drink down on the nightstand. There was another knock, this one fainter than the last. He looked out of the peephole, but whoever was knocking appeared to be leaning against the door, just out of view. "Who is it?" he asked.
"Mac," a voice coughed from the other side. He didn't sound good.
Neil hurriedly opened the door and caught his friend as he nearly fell into the room. He was badly injured, bleeding from his forehead, his right leg, and from a sucking chest-wound. His clothes had been shredded along his back. His left eye was swollen shut. He had a death-grip on a gore-covered fire axe, and he used it to balance himself as Neil stood him up and walked him over to the overstuffed chair. "What the hell happened to you?" he asked.
"Something grabbed me out of that alley," he said. "About twelve of those goddamn monsters jumped me, and something else... Something I haven't seen before."
"Did they follow you?"
"No. I hacked through most of them. The other ones ran off when the other thing showed up?"
"What was it?"
"I... I can't really describe it. It kept changing shape. Whatever it was messed me up really bad. I took its leg of and managed to get away. The town dropped me back here."
"Where has everyone gone?" Neil asked. "It looks like the town's been abandoned."
"I don't know, kid. This kinda thing happens here sometimes. It'll pass." He pointed to the Health Drink on the nightstand. "Can you spare one?"
Neil's irrational mind screamed for him to keep the drink. He ignored the selfish urge and handed it over to his friend. As the bottle left his fingers, his stomach churned. Had he anything in it, he would have thrown up.
"Thanks," Mac coughed as he opened the bottle. He raised it to his lips, took a small sip, and then quickly spit it out into the trash can.
"What?" Neil asked.
"Where did you find this?"
"Here," Neil said. "What's wrong?"
"This ain't just your standard drink."
Neil took the bottle and sniffed the contents. It smelled the same as every other Health Drink. He took a small sip. It tasted no different. He desperately wanted to consume it all. He held off and asked, "What's the difference?"
"It shouldn't be that bitter. Either it's gone bad, or there's something else in there. And, to be honest with you, I don't think those things can go bad. Dump that crap out in the sink, it's no good."
Neil stood up and took the bottle into the bathroom. He moved to pour it out into the sink, but couldn't bring himself to. Quickly, he downed the drink. It was good. His headache and nausea went away almost instantly, and the euphoria overtook him. He threw the bottle in the trashcan, put the medicine cabinet back into its wall slot, and went back into the room. "What are we gonna do about you?"
"If you can help me get back to my place, I've got a stash of ampoules that will get me back into shape. The two that I had on me kept me alive this far."
"Will my truck work when the world is like this?"
"It should. I don't live far away."
"Alright," Neil said. "Let me get my stuff together, and we'll head out."
Neil assembled his belongings, bagged them up, and helped Mac to the elevator. As they exited the lobby, he left the keys to his room at the front desk. His truck was parked behind the building, and it was still there. It started, to Neil's surprise, and they headed toward Mac's house in the new residential area. On the drive up, they saw no signs of life beyond the occasional movement of shadows by the roadside. Neil prepared himself to run down anything that jumped out in front of him, but did not have to. Mac wheezed in the seat next to him and began to pass out. Neil shook him awake twice during the short drive. When they reached Mac's house Neil walked him to the door. Mac fumbled for his keys, and managed to get the door open.
"Where do I find the ampoules?" Neil asked, after he set Mac on the couch.
"Top cabinet in the bathroom, in a metal box,” he handed over his keys. "Use the small gold key to open it."
Neil made his way into the bathroom, found the box, and opened it. There was a cache of thirty ampoules full of an off-yellow liquid, a rubber tourniquet, and a box of syringes. He had an almost irresistible urge to take one for himself. He resisted the desire and brought the box out to the living room.
"Thanks, kid," Mac said as he took a needle and the tourniquet out of the box. He took off his jacket, rolled up his right sleeve, and tied the rubber hose around his arm, just above the elbow. He filled the syringe. Neil looked away as he tapped out a vein and shot himself up with the fluid. He let out an audible groan as his wounds began to knit closed. After the pain passed and his body repaired itself, he stood up, grabbed a cigarette from the end table, and lit it. "God, that sucks," he said after a few drags.
Neil had begun to feel nauseous again.
"You alright, kid," Mac asked. "You look a little pekid."
"Not feeling good. It's been coming in waves. The Health Drinks seem to make it go away for a bit, but it keeps coming back. It's getting more frequent."
"That's strange. You want a smoke?"
"Wow. You must be sick."
"You said that something in my drink, back there, tasted funny..."
"What's White Claudia?"
Mac chuckled a little. "White Claudia? There's something I haven't heard about in a while. It was a drug that the some local weirdoes used to manufacture in the basement of the old Alchemilla Hospital. Their ring was busted up by the cops a few years back and the drug has disappeared from the market as far as anyone knows."
"When I came out of the fucked up place last time, I got picked up by the police. They said that the air-hypo I had on me, that I had just shot-up with to keep from dying, had traces of that stuff in it."
"That's not impossible," Mac said. "The plant that produces that drug was wiped out, as far as anyone knows... But, as we've discovered, this town does weird things."
Neil motioned to the box of ampoules. "Is this stuff supposed to get you high? This, or the drinks, or any of the other stuff that Silent Hill gives you to heal yourself?"
"Not that I know of," Mac replied. "It can be a bit of an adrenaline rush, but I've never heard of it having any narcotic effect."
"It fucks me up," Neil said. "It makes me feel like I'm god, or something. But when it passes, I feel like I'm going to die."
"Has anyone ever given you one of the health items, or do you just find them around?"
"I've either found them, or bought them from vending machines."
"Take one of those," Mac said, pointing to the box of syringes. "They're all from the same batch, and I know they're good. The tourniquet is on the floor, over there."
Even in his wilder years, Neil never experimented with I.V. drugs. He wasn't afraid of needles; he just never had any desire to shoot himself up with anything. He picked up the ampoule and eyeballed it for a moment, picked up the tourniquet and tried to tie it off. After watching him fumble with it for a moment, Mac realized that he had no idea what he was doing, and assisted.
"Never done this before, have you?" he asked.
"Can't say I have," Neil said.
"You tie it off above the elbow, right here," he said. "Do you want me to shoot you up, too?"
"Yeah," Neil said.
With a professional precision, Mac prepared a syringe, stuck the needle into Neil's vein and injected him full of the healing liquid. There was no high attached to this dose. It coursed through his veins like fire. His insides twisted and he felt himself blacking out. He mumbled a few words and tried to sit up, straight. Unable to hold his head up, he slumped over.