Blind terror. That was the only way to describe the feeling that had overtaken you, like shards of ice shooting through adrenaline-flooded veins. Your heart pounded against your ribcage as you huddled in the corner of an operating room, listening to the slow, plodding footsteps of something on the other side of the door.
It had started with the air siren just as you stepped inside the old hospital, searching for any sign of humanity in this seemingly empty town. It was creepy enough at first, with long corridors that stretched into shadow and abandoned gurneys lining the walls. But then the world changed, becoming a hellish landscape of decay and ruin with degenerate creatures hunting you through the now pitch black halls.
That sound, that dull scree…scree…scree of rusty knives scraping together still rang in your ears long after you escaped the monsters’ pursuit. They had been the most terrifying things you had ever seen. Vaguely human shaped, with faces like leather rags stretched over bone, their arms ending in wickedly curved blades. And they were so fast! Faster than you, which made your escape that much more miraculous. The things —the Scrapers, you decided to call them —hadn’t been able to dodge the half dozen wheelchairs you sent tilting down the staircase at them. Pure luck, really. It bought you enough time to run for your life and hunker down behind a closed door.
A rivulet of blood ran down your arm where one of them had struck you with the tip of its rusty blade. You wondered inanely if you should raid the medicine cabinet and give yourself a tetanus vaccine.
The footsteps faded away, and you finally calmed enough to take a look around the room. It was too dark to see clearly, so you fumbled about for a light switch before discovering one next to the door. Thinking quickly, you shoved a nearby towel —sticky with some kind of fluid —under the door to keep the light from spilling underneath and giving away your position. Then a set of fluorescent lights blinked to life overhead at the flip of a switch.
You reeled at the sight before you. Paint-stripped concrete splashed with gore, rusty appliances strewn about, dirt and more blood streaked across the floor…it was like a scene out of a horror movie. You raised your hands to find them covered in blood —and you could see now that the towel you’d used was soaked with it. Bile stung your throat and you frantically wiped your hands on your jeans, staining them with red.
This place was wrong. So wrong.
“I can’t believe this,” you said out loud, and to your surprise you found your voice tinged with annoyance. Not an emotion you had expected in this situation.
“This place is insane,” you continued, taking comfort in the normalcy of your own voice. “Looks like it’s the film business for me. I could patent this stuff and make a fortune.”
Alright. You were going to be okay. You just had to keep telling yourself that.
The switch from terrified damsel in distress to planning mode had you looking back to your recent actions with disdain. The running was smart, but the whimpering in the corner thing would have to stop. That was just asking to get disemboweled.
You grabbed the sturdiest weapon you could find —a metal pipe that looked like it could have come from the gore-splattered sink in the corner, and gave it a couple of experimental swings.
The last thing you wanted to do was leave that room, creepy though it may be, and venture into the monster-infested corridors of the hospital. But you couldn’t stay here. You had to get out of this town, and you’d hike out on foot if all else failed.
You stared at the door handle, eyes roving over its rough, tarnished surface as if it was the first enemy you had to overcome. The act of opening that door would be the toughest decision you had ever made. To hide in this room, or to venture out in search of an escape. But you knew what you had to do —because either you opened that door or something would open it for you. And you didn’t want to be inside that room when it did.
So you took a deep breath, grabbed the doorknob…and heard something move behind you. A feeling like an electrical shock zipped through your body and you whipped around to face an empty room. Pipe held before you in a white-knuckled grip, you searched for the source of the noise, eyes darting wildly. Nothing. There was nothing in the room aside from the rusty sink and twisted heaps of metal, and you began to relax. It was only by chance that your eyes drifted upwards. And there it was.
Crouched in the corner where the ceiling met the far wall, it watched you. The creature’s features were inscrutable as its head twitched rapidly from side to side, so fast that its face was a blur. Fear clogged your senses as you took in its humanoid appearance, that of a man wearing ragged robes and dark gloves. It leered down from above like a huge spider.
You felt faintly sick when you realized it had probably been there the whole time.
Everything within you urged you to throw open that door and run, but you didn’t move. Narrowing your eyes, you planted your feet and hefted the pipe behind your shoulder like a baseball player.
“Batter up,” you muttered.
The thing in the corner just hung there, twitching unnaturally.
Ignoring your instincts was something you were particularly good at, and in a moment like this it allowed common sense to break through pure terror. And common sense told you that keeping this thing in your sights was the only way to survive. Right now you knew exactly where it was and could plan accordingly, but if you ran it would have every opportunity to pick you off as you ran blindly through the mazelike hospital. Reason dictated that taking care of the problem now upped your chances of survival.
You just hoped this particular problem was something you could handle.
Minutes passed, and neither you nor the creature breached the standoff. It would move suddenly, leaning forward as if to pounce, lifting an arm or a leg, and each time you would jump. It was taunting you.
“Come on over, cutie,” you said. “I’ve got a little something for you.”
It cocked its head to the side, though it was difficult to tell with it twitching like that. Then it began to crawl along the side of the wall. You kept pace with it, and the two of you began to circle the room like a pair of duelists, each waiting for the other to make a move. The tension built until you barely stand it. Then the creature vanished.
Your heart plummeted to your stomach when you felt something brush against your neck.
Then a voice said, “You have something for me?”
You swung the pipe without hope of success. Surely the creature would kill you in that moment. But it danced away from your strike without retaliating and stopped a scant yard away.
“It talks,” you exclaimed.
“It has a name,” the creature said.
Though for the life of you, you couldn’t figure out how it could speak. Its head had stopped twitching, and you could see the stitches that crisscrossed its face like a mad scientist had gone at it with a needle and thread. A puckered line of stitches formed a horizontal line where its mouth should have been.
“Aren’t you going to ask what it is?” the creature inquired.
It looked bigger now that it was standing in front of you, the size of a tall, thin man. With no face.
“Believe me,” you said shakily, “that’s the least of my worries. Now back up and…and put your hands in the air. I’ve got a drain pipe and I’m not afraid to use it.”
The creature cocked its head to the side again, curiosity written in its movements as it began to slowly prowl around you. “You are interesting,” it declared with a dark chuckle. “So few of our guests are interesting.”
You kept pace with it, refusing to be stalked like a defenseless animal.
“Do you want to know what else is interesting?” it said, and didn’t wait for a reply. There was a hint of wonder in its voice as it said, “I can talk to you. I’ve never been allowed to talk to a guest before. It makes our interactions rather dull.”
“Don’t care,” you said. And without warning, you lunged forward, swinging the pipe for its head.
The creature sidestepped at lightning speed, raising a gloved hand to bat the weapon away. It flew out of your grip and hit the wall hard enough to leave a dent.
You gasped and backed away, suddenly a lot less brave without a weapon in your hands.
The creature looked at the crumbling tile where the pipe had hit and said pensively, “I can interact physically as well.” Slowly, sinisterly, its head swiveled in your direction. “I wonder…if I can kill you.”
Your heart jumped to your throat and pulsed there frantically. What could you do? What options did you have? None. All you had left were your bare fists…
“Let’s test that theory, freak,” you snarled.
…and a sharp tongue.
“Now, now.” It was suddenly in front of you, mere feet away. “There is no need to be rude. Killing on sight is horribly unoriginal, and I happen to have a flare for originality. Something that sets me apart from the rest of my brethren.”
“Is that a fancy way of saying you’re not going to kill me?” you asked, inching away. Your back met a wall.
“Yet,” it corrected, leering down at you with its eyeless face.
You didn’t like that answer.
Without hesitation, you threw an uppercut toward its face, and when it ducked away you made a break for the door. You had taken two steps when something heavy hit you from the back and you were suddenly face-down in a pool of cold, congealing blood. You squirmed, equally disgusted and terrified, and tried not to get any in your mouth.
The creature effortlessly flipped you over, one foot on your chest, pinning you in place.
“I am enjoying this conversation,” it said reproachfully. “Perhaps you should avoid needless antics and simply talk. That should be easy, yes?”
“And when the talking’s done?” you gasped out. “What then?”
The creature angled its head pensively. “That would depend on how interesting the conversation is.”
You took a couple of deep, slow breaths. You had to calm down. This thing wanted to talk? You would talk. And all the while, you would be planning how best to get rid of it.
“Let me up,” you said. “Then we’ll talk.”
“No more antics?” the creature queried.
“Right. I’m on my best behavior. Scout’s honor.”
The weight lifted off your chest and you sat up, clutching the bruise that would no doubt form there.
“What brings you here, human?” the creature asked. “What wretched past are you running from?”
“The only things I’m running from are those freaks out in the hallway,” you said. “There’s nothing wrong with my past.”
“That is what they all say,” it said. “But we will know soon enough. Silent Hill has its ways of revealing such secrets, and I have a feeling that in your case, they will be very interesting.”
You stood shakily and dragged a hand across your face, no doubt smearing the blood even further. There was too much of it to wipe away. The fact that none of it was your own just made it more disgusting.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. What is this place?” you asked warily. “What’s going on here?”
“I wouldn’t want to ruin the mystery,” it said. “Like all those who came before, you will discover that on your own.”
You frowned. “You’re being unnecessarily cryptic.”
“Am I?” it asked in amusement.
And what? You had to keep it talking. It seemed to like talking.
“And…you never did tell me your name,” you finished.
The creature tilted its head. “Ah, how rude of me.” It made a small bow. “You may call me Valtiel.”
You could have said ‘pleased to meet you,’ or given him your own name, but it seemed kind of weird given the fact that he possibly wanted to kill you, and you most definitely wanted to bash his head in with a pipe.
And just like that, your perception of the creature changed, going from it to he. Like a name was all it took to make him real.
The doorknob jangled suddenly, and there was a thump on the other side of the door, followed by a loud crash as something threw itself against it. You stared, feeling a strange mix of fear and irritation. This was exactly what you had wanted to avoid. You had overstayed your welcome, and now something else knew you were there.
“It seems we will have to cut this short,” Valtiel said, not sounding particularly bothered.
The noise became a steady thwop…thwop…thwop, like an axe biting into wood. Something sharp burst through the middle of the door —the tip of a rusty blade.
You took that opportunity to back quickly toward the wall and pick up your fallen drainpipe, which was now bent slightly from Valtiel’s mishandling. Your mind scrambled to form a plan, but all that came to you was that this was just the distraction you needed. That was something, at least. You had the feeling that between Valtiel and whatever was on the other side of the door, Valtiel was the greater threat.
Now, to make him leave before he did something crazy —like ripping your throat out.
“I’ll hold it off,” you told him with as much confidence as you could muster. “You go ahead and get out of here.”
Valtiel began to twitch, and for a second you thought he was going to, well, explode or something. That would take care of one of your problems. But then the rough, scratchy, sound of long-unused laughter reached your ears.
“You expect me to believe that you are concerned for my well-being?” he asked, greatly amused. “No. But your ploy to get rid of me is really quite original. You are a crafty one.”
You shrugged. “I try. But it’s your choice. Obviously, I’m not getting out of here, but I’m sure you have your ways.” The hole in the door widened with another strike. “I’d advise leaving now.”
Valtiel said smugly, “You assume anything here would dare to touch me. But very well. I will humor you. Do attempt to survive, my dear. I will be in touch.”
A fragment of wood skittered across the floor to rest at your feet, and you cast a worried glance at the weakening door. When you looked back to Valtiel, he was gone.
“Well, that plan worked,” you said with a sigh.
It wasn’t quite relief, but close. While you were safe from Valtiel for the time being, you had a new problem to worry about. Except…Valtiel had to have gotten out somehow, unless he could teleport or something. It was possible. You didn’t even know what he was, much less what he could do.
You instinctively glanced at the ceiling, and a grim smile came over your lips. Wasting no time, you clambered on top of the sink, slipping a little on the gory surface, and pushed upward on a stained ceiling tile. It gave way, revealing a dark crawlspace. Bingo.
A crash sounded from behind you, and you hauled yourself through the opening, pulling your legs through just as something swiped at them from below. The smell of mold invaded your nose, and you coughed as you scrambled quickly into the darkness, away from the light. Your heart thundered in your ears.
That, you decided, was the very definition of a close call.
It was pitch black in the crawlspace, and you navigated by touch, trying not to think of what could be lurking in the inky black tunnel. Eventually you were going to find a way out, and then you were going to escape this messed up town, no matter what stood in your way. You gritted your teeth in a fierce grin. This was one battle won. Or rather, evaded. And after surviving something like this, there was nothing you couldn’t handle.
It was a nice thought, if maybe a touch naïve.
You had no way of knowing it just then, as you crawled your way to freedom, but Silent Hill wasn’t done with you yet. Not by a long shot.