|Silent Hill: Ashes
Author: Laura-CWright PM
Katrina Osborne, investigative journalist, is intrigued by the disappearances in and around Silent Hill. She embarks on a quest for answers and is drawn into a world of terror she'd never anticipated.Rated: Fiction T - English - Horror/Angst - Chapters: 8 - Words: 13,645 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 01-25-11 - Published: 11-30-10 - id: 6519432
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She toyed the edges of the plain folder in front of her. It was an extensive undertaking and there was no promise of finding answers. She didn't even know if the Editor-in-Chief would give her permission to follow that hunch. She'd subtly followed the disappearances for a year, but all from behind her desk. The preliminary inquiries were all conducted from within the safety of her office, confined to the reports from the past. The Portland Gazette had retained its status as the largest newspaper in Portland for seven decades. A position maintained by countless benevolent community articles that focused strictly on sentimentally enriched, wholesome topics. The job was easy, but the abject monotony made it far less than the position she'd hoped for.
The missing person's reports had quickly multiplied as time passed. She'd quietly copied every report that came through the office and placed it in her file. In just a year's time, she already had fifty different victims. She'd worked with the newspaper for five years and, had she also included the numbers from previous years, she honestly couldn't imagine what a staggering toll it would be. All of them were last seen somewhere around Silent Hill.
Katrina's standard topics covered everything from bake sales to pet shows, not missing persons or crime. Her literary career had been a perpetual series of "warm and fuzzy" pieces carefully manipulated to portray the town, and its inhabitants, as something from a Normal Rockwell painting. Five years was a long time to waste on yesteryear sensibilities. She was gunning for something more. Something exciting. She would gladly forgo next week's charity auction and even free dinner and massive gift basket from the Quilts for Cats for reporting on their Annual Gala.
The latest individual was a girl named Tina Townshend. Tina was a student with Portland University, smart, pretty and with a promising future. She was also closely linked to a girl who went missing years earlier named Heather Mason. They had both attended the same high school. Both were last seen somewhere in or around Silent Hill. What was wrong with that place? There was something going on.
Maybe it was the road or the terrain, somehow. County Highway 73 could be a precarious drive under the right conditions. The steep inclines and sharp curves could easily become fatal in bad weather. No matter what the reason was, she would find out. She finally had a calling worthy of attention. She had to provide those victims, and their loved ones, with some closure. Maybe it would be something as forthright as a bad curve on a road, there was a lake by the town, perhaps poor weather created such reduced driving conditions that these people wrecked.
Maybe the area was infested with crime and those people were victims of robbery. The roads in that area were quite desolate once you left a town. It would be easy for a gang of individuals to set up obstructions to stop solitary drivers.
She would have been concerned with her own safety, but honestly, there was no need. Who could she kid? The most dangerous faucet of life witnessed in Portland, and likely all surrounding neighborhoods, was a smothering sense of boredom. The likelihood of actual highwaymen, who stopped cars to rob and murder the inhabitants, was next to zero.
The clock above her read one o'clock, Macon should return from his lunch break at any time. Clay Macon had been the senior editor with the paper for thirty years. He was a grandfatherly character whose white hair never changed, regardless of the years. He was typically laid-back and, just like the town, didn't miss any excitement or feel there was any need for sensation in the local media.
In truth, she wasn't necessarily a fan of sensation, but there had to be some excitement, somewhere in the world. Macon offered much wisdom on the industry and what the town's population had grown to expect from the Gazette. But, she wanted something unusual. Something strange and beautiful. She gave him a moment to remove his jacket and get situated behind his desk before she entered his office. "Mr. Macon?"
"Yes, Ms. Osborne?" He grabbed a stack of articles he'd sorted and approved for the next two issues. "What can I do for you?" He didn't take her eyes of the papers as he stacked them together.
"I had an idea for an article, probably a series of articles."
He watched her studiously. "Is it something that would fit our reputation?"
"I believe so."
He motioned for her to take the seat in front of his desk. "Let me hear it."
She tried her best to walk through the idea without making it seem like what it was. Any hint of potential hazard would cause him to issue a stern refusal. She considered her words as she spoke. She merely wanted to cover a seemingly unnoticed angle. She just wanted to highlight the disappearances in the region and felt she could offer more depth on each missing person from the past year. She would even take a snapshot of the last place they were seen, if he would consent to a series.
She omitted all references to Silent Hill, but that was her first stop. People didn't talk about that community, even out this far. They grew silent and quickly changed the topic. She was raised by her Aunt Lola, who only said of Silent Hill, "Leave well enough alone." She would explore the region where every disappearance had occurred, so long as it was within safe distance of a major road or public area, and see if further information could be gleaned that wasn't in the report. She was bored, but not stupid.
Ten minutes later, she wasn't sure how much more whitewash she could place on the idea. Macon surprised her, just when she believed she couldn't continue the sugary speech. "Please pursue it, Katrina." It was unusual for him to use her first name. "It's frightening to consider these members of our communities could be the victims of poor driving conditions or a dangerous hiking area, but… you won't be in any danger, will you?"
"Of course not."
"That settles it, then. Use the rest of the day for research and start the hunt for answers in the morning. Yes, a series would be wonderful. Just cover one individual per article and we'll see what kind of response it draws. If the reception is good, we may make them a regular column." He winked at her.
She returned to her desk, but had no sensation of walking. She couldn't believe how luck had smiled upon her. She was going to find out what happened to everyone. She watched Macon in his office. When he became immersed in the syndication pieces on his computer, she darted to the filing cabinets. She began creating copies of all missing person reports going back as far as they would go.
A ream of paper later, she'd amassed around 200 individuals in over a decade. They'd slipped under the radar because the majority was from surrounding regions. She quietly made her way to the archives in the basement and continued digging for information on Silent Hill or those who'd gone missing around the area. She was pumped. This was going to be one hell of an assignment.