James woke up from what seemed to be a standing sleep, his hand pressed against one of the odd red squares he'd seen throughout the town. The sensation of meddling fingers groping through his brain was stronger than ever, and he jerked away instantly, nursing his fingers as though they'd been bitten.
He'd never slept standing up. He hadn't thought it possible.
There had been times, during the last stages of Mary's illness, when he'd fallen asleep while standing. He'd always woken up puddled on the floor, or tucked into one of the ward beds by one of the nurses. Mary had been bedridden, and the illness had taken any strength she could have used to shift James - sometimes, even to shift her teacup. The nurses, always kind, had helped her when James wasn't there.
Nurses. James restrained a shudder, and told himself to move.
This place - he'd named it the Labyrinth, and wondered what Minotaur lay at the centre, and rather suspected he knew - was full of twists and turns and odd ladders. The map he'd made, scribbling on the backs of abandoned messages from the insane, only made sense when considered piecemeal - taken as a whole, it nearly physically hurt when he tried to resolve it. He thought, however, that he knew which way to go. A ladder in a corner looked promising, insofar as anything was promising in whatever Silent Hill had become. What the new ladder promised was a new place with new monsters, new strangeness, new horror.
We must go through bitter water in order to reach the sweet, James steeled himself. He wondered what sweet water warranted this kind of bitterness, but for James Sunderland, the question was idiocy with an instant response. Mary.
He gripped the top rung of the ladder, and climbed down. He moved more slowly, perhaps, than he would have under normal circumstances.
When his feet touched down in sewer water - of course - he pulled open his jacket to grab at his handgun, and in doing so exposed the speaker of his pocket radio to open air. It was hissing and shrieking static that didn't echo against the walls at all.
James stared at it with a sick sort of surprise.
He then took a tighter hold of his handgun, checked to make sure it was loaded, and proceeded cautiously through the sewer tunnels until he saw a dark shape ahead of him. James carefully levelled his handgun - his aim was improving, he knew that much, and wondered if he should thank the town for that, or perhaps he should thank Mary - and fired off four shots.
The monster turned around, and James' flashlight reflected off tall red almost-metal, and a too-long spear at its side. It was the Labyrinth's Minotaur after all.
James fired again, in quick, panicked succession, and emptied the gun's clip. The Minotaur - Pyramid Head, James thought, the only name that suited the monster - was totally unfazed. It didn't even bother to walk fast as it approached, lifting its spear as if it had all the time there was. Yet James didn't think to run, staring at the Pyramid Head with terror and a detached fascination and an empty gun.
Pyramid Head raised its spear and stabbed forward, and James felt every pain he had ever known scream open in his belly. He died quickly - Pyramid Head was massively strong - but his last thought was strangely detached. He thought that his blood soaking into the other blood on Pyramid Head's clothing looked almost good. Right, somehow.
James woke up, leaning against a pillar, both arms around himself, shielding his belly. The sensation of meddling fingers groping through his brain was stronger than ever, and he jerked away from the pillar as though he'd been bitten. There was a red square on the pillar, James saw, one of the odd symbols he'd seen throughout Silent Hill. The back of his head must have been touching it. James restrained a shudder, and told himself to move.
Studying his senseless map of this senseless place with his pocket flashlight, James worked out the ladder he had to go down. Looking at it, he felt mild trepidation, but forced himself to move anyway. We must walk through bitterness to reach sweetness, he told himself, wondering if he was remembering that right.
At the bottom, his boots squelched with rank sewer water - of course - and he pulled the radio from his inside pocket to listen for a warning. It was hissing and shrieking static that didn't echo off the walls at all.
James stared at it, feeling sick.
He cast the beam of his flashlight around the sewer passages, in front, behind, even right next to him. In the claustrophobia-inspiring tunnels, if a monster had been right next to him, he would be dead.
There were no monsters, but coming around the soft bend of the tunnels, the water was rippling, a harbinger. A harbinger of what, James didn't really want to know.
It came around the corner anyway, lanky, the massive geometry of its head marking it instantly. It was walking quickly, raising the spear at its side, and James immediately broke into a run. He didn't even consider the ladders, or the door. His one thought was to get away, and to do so as quickly and simply as he could. The thought was so all-consuming that it even blocked out James' knowledge that these sewers went in a circle.
Pyramid Head was waiting for him, and as he stumbled towards it, it raised its spear and simply allowed James to impale himself on it.
Looking into that not-metal, James had an odd sensation of victory, and then he died.
James woke up, sitting, with his back against a pillar. He wondered why he had slept, for a moment, and then noticed the sensation of meddling fingers in his brain, stronger than ever. Instinctively, he looked up, and saw one of the odd square symbols on the pillar, and jerked away as though he had been bitten.
One of the old kings of England had been impaled on an iron stake, James' brain reminded him, for no reason he could think of. What had his crime been?
Even though he didn't remember falling asleep, James found that he didn't even need his nonsense map to know which ladder to follow. One of the ladders was at the same time perfect and terrible. James restrained a shudder and told himself to move. Bitterness comes before sweetness, he thought. What was that meant to mean?
Before he even reached the bottom of the ladder, he reached into his jacket and pulled out his pocket radio. It was hissing and shrieking static that didn't echo off the walls at all.
James stared at it with a sick certainty.
Then he dropped into the water, grabbed his shotgun from the ersatz sling he'd made for it, and moved into the sewers. When he saw movement, he fired all six shells from the shotgun, which didn't seem to slow the monster down at all.
As James brought the butt of the shotgun down hard onto Pyramid Head, Pyramid Head stabbed upwards into James, but both of them were totally silent.
James woke up, lying against something, holding it protectively in his arms. Mary, he thought fuzzily, though it may have been Maria. But then the meddling fingers groped through his brain, stronger than ever, and he jerked away as though Maria had bitten him.
It was a pillar - just a pillar, with one of the odd red squares stuck to it.
The square is Mary, James thought before he could stop himself. Mary's fingers, meddling, groping through his brain. James restrained a shudder, and told himself to move.
He looked at the ladder, and the ladder was the ladder, the only possible ladder. There was no ladder so right and no ladder so wrong. A thought flashed through James mind unbidden - Bitterness is sweetness - and he grabbed hold of the ladder, descending.
There was no need for the radio. His mind was hissing and shrieking static that didn't echo off the walls at all.
The sewers were as familiar as his home, as Mary's hospital. He walked fast, splashing through sewer water, reached a door, wrenched it open. The thumping sound of the fan filled the room, filled James' body. Pyramid Head, James thought. His room.
There were any number of things scattered around the room, but James only cared for one of them, lying on a blood-spattered table to his right. The knife. His knife.
An absurdly brilliant, absurdly simple thought was drifting through James' mind with the force of a revelation. He would kill Pyramid Head with his own weapon.
He grabbed the knife - it was heavier than it should have been - and dragged it towards the door, striking sparks along the ground. When he opened it, Pyramid Head was waiting outside, spear in hand. That much, James had expected.
He ran towards the monster, through the rank water, completely silent. Both hands raised the great knife over his right shoulder, slashed it down across Pyramid Head. It felt like he had pulled every muscle in his body - his torso was a line of pain. Pyramid Head seemed almost curious, and definitely unhurt, as he raised his spear and thrust it through James.
Misty Day, Remains Of The Judgement, thought James, dying.
James woke up by the pillar. He went down the ladder and fought and died.
James woke up by the pillar. He went down the ladder and ran and died.
James woke up by the pillar. He went down the ladder and hid and died.
James woke up by the pillar. He went down the ladder and knelt and died. (We offer you blood to atone for our sins.)
James woke up by the pillar. He stared at a red square, and his mind screamed and screamed, and he did not know why.