Disclaimer: Silent Hill (tm) and its characters are owned by the geniuses at Konami. I take no credit for any recognizable characters, locations, themes, and so forth. I am not making any money whatsoever from this work of writing. It's Konami's twisted little universe; I'm just having some fun with it. I have absolutely nothing of value except for my video game collection and my computer, so please don't sue.

This story is part of a larger series based around the premise of an alternate universe. There will be several original characters, and certain things will not match up with the timeline of the games. So please don't bother pointing outthat things aren't exactly like the games' mythology, because that isn't my intent. Reviews are welcome, as is constructive criticism. However, flames will be met by a large attack force of Pyramid Heads. ;D


Chapter 1 – Meetings in the Woods

The man was an ordinary looking man, by all accounts; had anyone been around to see him, they would have agreed. His height and slim muscular build were slightly impressive, but other than that, there was nothing extraordinary about him. Ordinary clothes – a plain white shirt, jeans, boots; dusty with dirt from the forest. He was wearing a leather jacket, which he noted with some curiosity. Overall, there was nothing to distinguish him from any other drifter.

There was a bland expression on his face, as though he wasn't aware of where he was going. He walked with a tired gait and somewhat shaky steps, almost dragging himself with sheer willpower. Weariness was the overall mood he emanated; exhausted to the point of collapsing. Yet somehow he remained standing up.

He had awoken to a terrible headache. A sickening sense of disorientation greeted him as soon as he made the slightest move to stand, rendering him physically ill. He couldn't remember the last time had he eaten.

"Where am I?" was the question he had asked, namely to himself.

When he first woke up, he noticed the fog that permeated the area. He thought nothing of it at the time. Not until he took those first few steps and realized it was surrounding him.

He swiped futilely at the mist. The fog was suffocating; he could barely see across the landscape to the lake. What was this place, that the fog was so thick in an area where it shouldn't be?

From what he saw of his surroundings, the location was a forest caught in the clutches of a dark, moonlit night. The sky was black, with the crescent celestial body barely providing a source of illumination to the murky woods. Oddly enough, he couldn't distinguish any of the sounds usually associated with the night in a place such as this. The silence was eerie, and strangely unnatural, making him shiver instinctively.

There was nothing for a clueless drifter lost in the forest to do but walk. Luckily, conveniently, there was a solid dirt path leading up to somewhere. He decided to take it.

He walked until he came to a large abandoned factory. At least, it looked like a large abandoned factory. There was a large rusted door, surrounded by a large, equally discolored wall around fifteen feet in height. He wondered what this was doing in the middle of a forest. Perhaps it was a leftover from an earlier time, many years ago? It certainly looked like it had aged greatly. He entered with great caution.

The next area certainly looked like an old factory. It wasn't an enclosed building, as it turned out, but an open area that looked like a storage place, and possible processing plant. A lot of it was fenced off from his reach. He leaned against a rusted handhold, only to have collapse as it broke off, taking him with it to the ground. He winced as he pushed himself up, staring at the chunk of pipe that had broken off in his hand. It occurred to him he could use it as a weapon. Not that he was expecting anything to attack him, but this place seemed creepy, to say the least.

He descended down two small ramps, until he came to an area filled with evidence of the storage place's prior task. Rusted sealed barrels were lined up along the walls, offering insights into activities he didn't care to speculate about. He declined to open any of them. If the smell they already gave off was any indication, he probably didn't want to know what was inside. For some reason, he felt an odd sense of déjà vu, though he couldn't figure out why. He hadn't been here before, had he?

It was suddenly when he was near a rusted door, that he noticed something very unusual lying in the middle of the floor. At first it looked like a large mass of worn out, dark brown cloth lying a few meters ahead. But he soon got closer and realized that this was something else entirely. Two arms were sticking out from the cloth on opposite sides, with skin as pale as that of a decomposing corpse. That would have been disturbing enough alone, but the arms were longer than any person's should be, with the hands to match. Whatever this was, the term "human" sure didn't apply. And the smell coming from them made it obvious they weren't props of some sort.

"What the hell…" the man muttered to himself, peering at the motionless form. And before he knew the thing was moving, its right arm smacking him with considerable force. The blow sent him flying back a few feet into two of the drums lining the walls, knocking down the barrels with a loud metallic clang. Wincing in pain as he held his ribs, the stunned man looked up and saw the full view of what had attacked him.

All things considered, it almost looked like the grim reaper itself. Standing taller than an average human, the dark hooded cloak it wore only made it look larger and more intimidating. The creature balanced itself on its arms, possessing no legs that the man could see. But it was its faces that were the unsettling part. The thing had two pale hairless heads side by side, with the visage of an infant etched on each. It was a morbid sight, and the high-pitched squeal that emanated from the creature only made it more disturbing. And then it charged at him.

He acted purely on instinct, rolling to the side to avoid the arm that struck at him with surprising speed. Grabbing the steel pipe he'd dropped a few feet away, he got to his feet and swung at the weapon as hard as he could at the creature's skulls. A loud crunch was heard as the metal connected, but the monster didn't go down. Instead it took several swipes at the man that he dodged, using the opportunity to get in a few hits to its body. Grunting deeply from the damage, the beast turned its back on its foe and began walking away. But the man had no intention of letting it retreat. He struck at the beast two more times, making it turn to face him, and then delivered a full force swing to its two heads that made the creature give a piecing squeal of agony. It fell to the floor groaning and twitching. A final slam of the pipe silenced it permanently.

The bewildered man stared at the creature he had killed with a whirlwind of thoughts running through his head. What the hell was going on here? What in God's name was this thing? It certainly wasn't human; no way could anyone take that kind of punishment, and they sure as hell couldn't pull off a trick this elaborate. Whatever this thing was, 'monster' was the only word to describe it.

Shocked and disoriented, he took some deep breaths, trying to settle himself from the rush adrenaline running through his body. His thoughts turned to what awaited him outside. Could there be more of these things waiting for him? It seemed likely. Something like this wouldn't just show up out of nowhere. Chances were it probably had companions nearby in one form or another.

He couldn't believe this was happening. Where had this thing come from? One thing was certain. It looked like he was definitely going to need more than just a rusted pipe to rely on.

He was relieved to find there were no other fiends present nearby. Moving on, he reentered the forest. His eyes scanned the vicinity, searching for any signs of danger. There were none. However, there was something else equally as interesting. Parked on the trail in plain sight was a black Jeep. The man went up to the vehicle and placed a hand on the engine hood. Still warm. So he wasn't alone in this place. Whoever the Jeep belonged to hadn't been gone for long. The doors were locked. He glanced in through the windows, hoping to catch a glimpse of what sort of person this might belong to. A jacket, a notebook…anything that might indicate an owner's tastes.

His eyes lit up when he saw what was inside. Handguns, knives, an abundance of ammunition, and even a hunting rifle were among the items scattered inside. What the hell? There were even a few holsters for the assorted weapons. Amazing. These would definitely help with defending himself. The locked doors were a problem, but not a tough one. The solution was right in his hands. He was about to smash open the glass when the sound of a gate being opened made him pause. Gripping his weapon tightly, he turned around and saw someone aiming a gun at him.

"Stay where you are!" a tough sounding voice called out.

It was a woman. A blonde haired woman, possibly in her early late twenties or early thirties, wearing a black leather jacket. As she stepped closer, the cornered man could see an intense expression on her face; like she wouldn't hesitate to shoot him unless he did what she asked. He held up his hands in a surrendering gesture, showing that he was harmless.

"Step away from the Jeep," the woman demanded.

He did as asked, carefully stepping to the side one step at a time.

The woman relaxed a little bit, but her aim never wavered from his torso.

"Who are you?" she asked bluntly, an edge to her voice.

The man sighed, wondering how he was going to explain this one.

"Just someone who's looking for a means of defending himself," he answered. He tried to sound confident about his reply, like that was the only thing that really mattered here. Neglecting to mention his name was just a safeguard against a potentially dangerous person. "In case you haven't noticed, we aren't in the safest of environments," he added, with confidence he didn't feel.

He couldn't tell her he didn't know who he was. "I wasn't going to take all of it," he said quietly.

The woman stared at him for the longest time, as it gauging whether or not to believe him. "And you decided to use my weapons to defend yourself. How convenient," she said, sneering with palpable sarcasm. "Some of it or all of it, it's still my stuff. You should consider yourself lucky I don't shoot you right here and now."

"I didn't know it was yours," he retaliated, scoffing a bit at her presumptuousness. "What kind of person leaves their vehicle alone with all those weapons, in the woods no less?" He was intimidated by her threat, but something told him she didn't have it in her. He didn't know how he knew that, only that he did.

Nonetheless, that didn't mean she wasn't dangerous.

"Who are you anyway?" he finally asked her.

The woman paused, gauging whether or not to answer the question. He could see the hesitation in her mind; the fear possibly, combined with the anger about him trying to break into her Jeep. And there was something else too; something he couldn't identify. He wondered what it was.

"No one you need to know about," she answered, going with the evasive answer. The man sighed, but he should have expected her not to answer that question honestly. "Just a visitor passing through," she added, as if to underscore her non-importance.

Nonetheless, he asked the next question without a hint of hesitation.

"So what are you doing here anyway?" he asked with a small smirk.

The woman looked at him incredulously, smiling in disbelief.

"You really think I'm going to answer that?" she asked.

"No, but I had to ask anyway," the man smirked a little. He turned serious. "Why do you need so many guns out here?"

"None of your business!" An indignant look; she was almost offended by the question.

Now he got a reaction. He was taken aback by her sudden change in demeanor, going from guarded to violent in the span of a minute. The woman noticed it too, because she took a calming breath. Her eyes lost their widened stance, and she seemed to back down physically as well as mentally.

"It's nothing you have to concern yourself with," she replied reluctantly, more to show she was calm again than to reassure him.

"Fine." If that's the way she wanted it. He was getting tired of this.

"Are you going to put that gun down anytime soon?" he asked, with a mild note of annoyance.

The woman's lip was twisted upwards in wry humor. "That depends. Are you going to put down that metal piece of shit down anytime soon?"

He almost smiled in response. That was the reason he wanted another weapon in the first place. He didn't think this was going to last long against those monsters. But somehow he remained serious, due to the tension. He slowly lowered the pipe to the ground, while keeping his left hand up, to show that he was serious about this. He couldn't be certain she wasn't going to shoot him, but he had no other choice. He just had to trust her. He held up both hands as a sign of his harmlessness.

The woman weighed the decision carefully, pondering whether to trust him. Finally convinced, she put down her gun. The man breathed a sigh of relief. He was glad this episode was over with.

The man took a few steps away from her, as much as he could without provoking her. The woman threw him a wary look, but she went over to check on her belongings. He wondered if it would be alright to just grab his pipe and get the hell out of here.

"I'm looking for someone," she spoke up. The man was surprised at that. "I'm on an investigative assignment," she said, clarifying what she meant by looking for someone.

"Investigative assignment?" the man repeated. "You a cop?"

"Maybe. Or maybe not," the woman said, smiling. "It doesn't matter. Either way, it's none of your business."

"Fine," the man replied. He could take a hint. If she didn't want to talk about it, he wasn't going to pry any further.

"Where are we anyway? I'm a little lost around here," he said, hoping she didn't question it much further. It was partly the truth, that much was honesty.

The woman raised an eyebrow. "Really? Don't you know better than to go into a strange forest at night?" she asked sardonically, making it seem like she was talking to a child.

The blond man rolled his eyes. "Just answer the question, please," he said with irritation.

The woman smirked. "Hey, you're not in any position to make demands here," she said smugly. But she capitulated nonetheless. "We're in Silent Hill, around the forested area of the region. We're near Toluca Lake, the major lake in the region, which is only a few meters away from us."

"Silent Hill? I've never heard of it," he said. The name sounded familiar, but he was positive he had never heard of it before. Why did it seem so unusual?

"You're kidding, right?" the woman asked in disbelief. "Everybody's heard of Silent Hill. It's practically a legend among some circles."

"I'm from far away; we don't know much about it there. Indulge me," the man said patiently.

"It used to be a resort town, but now it's falling apart," the woman replied.

He was a little puzzled, to say the least. "That doesn't seem so bad," the man said thoughtlessly, not seeing what the big deal was.

The woman smiled tightly. "It's one of those things you have to see for yourself," she said.

The man put a hand to his forehead. Something about this whole thing was off; he didn't know what it was, but it seemed important. He had the makings of a headache, trying to remember what he was doing here. For some reason, he felt compelled to ask her name then, but the woman beat him to it. "What your name?" she asked curiously.

The man turned to the woman in worry. How to tell her that he didn't remember his name or what he was doing here? He strained the lines on his forehead, trying to remember the slightest scrap of information about his identity.

"Chris, we should get going. We don't want to be late," the dark haired woman said.

Chris looked around satisfied. Everything seemed to be in order, and the kids seemed to be content.

"Chris," he went with the first thing he thought of. Where did that come from? Who was that woman, and what was he doing there? It almost seemed like some place in this forest, but that was impossible, wasn't it? Nonetheless, it did give him the answer he needed.

The woman looked at him closely, apparently wondering whether to believe him. Nonetheless, the answer seemed satisfy her. He rounded on her, turning the questioning on her. "What's your name?"

The woman frowned, as though contemplating whether to tell him. "Daniella," she finally answered.

"Daniella," Chris repeated. It sounded pretty, but there was nothing spectacular about it.

He took a good look at Daniella. She seemed trustworthy, now that she wasn't threatening him with a gun. Of course, he still wasn't sure if she was really a cop, but that was probably as much as she was going to tell him about herself. Should he tell her that he had no memory of who he was and was lost here? Maybe she could help him. She wasn't the ideal person he would have chosen, but at least she was someone, in a forest that was rapidly becoming stranger.

"Listen, Daniella…" Chris began, intent on telling her. Suddenly, a flash of images struck his mind out of nowhere. A blonde woman was in a room, pistol whipping a man on his knees. And it looked very much like Daniella.

Chris blinked his eyes to clear his vision. What was that? Where did that come from? It was like a sudden burst of images. Who was that woman? Was it really Daniella? And was that him? It didn't seem plausible that that was him, but then again, he couldn't remember anything about his past either. "What?" Daniella asked, and he realized she was still waiting for an answer.

Chris shook away the image. ""Nothing, just…do you need any help? I'm no police officer, but maybe I can help you," he said instead. He didn't know much about her, but he certainly couldn't rule out such an act like the one in the flashback, given what he'd just seen only a few minutes ago. No, he definitely wasn't going to tell her, if that little flashback was any indication. He didn't know her very well, and he had no idea what she was capable of. Best not to give her any ideas until he knew precisely where she stood in all this.

Daniella shook her head. "Thanks, but I'll be fine," she declined his offer. "I'm used to working by myself," she remarked.

Chris nodded slightly. "Okay," he said uncertainly – that was actually what he was aiming for. It was probably a good idea if he kept his distance. He wanted to keep an eye on her, but at the same time, it was obvious he was outmatched in this situation. Maybe after he'd found a weapon, he'd get closer to her and determine what she was really doing here.

He wanted to tell her about the monster he saw, and the strange things in this place, but he didn't know whether she would believe him. And if she was carrying around a car full of weapons, then perhaps she already knew. She probably wasn't going to tell him if she saw anything, because she was probably feeling the same thing: that he would think she was crazy.

There was a gate nearby. Chris went up to it. "Take care," he said, turning the creaky handle. He paused, wondering what else could be said. "I hope you find what you're looking for." Away from him, Daniella paused, before answering in return. "Yeah, you too."

Chris went through the gate.


Two large stones greeted Chris as he came to a large expanse covered in dirt and little else. Right away, he noticed it was a different landscape from what he'd seen before. This place seemed out of place in the forest, with no trees at all in sight. Suddenly, he was struck by an unusual feeling. Something was vaguely familiar about this place, but he couldn't put his finger on it. He passed it off as one of the things he couldn't remember, but any passing thoughts were suppressed as he saw the boulders settled deep in the ground.

The two enormous stones stood parallel to one another, about twenty feet apart. Stretching up to a height of at least twelve feet, they were an imposing monument. Standing between the rocks was a small, incomplete fence with a trail of candles positioned carefully on the wood; like a shrine in the forest. But there was no indication as to who built it or what purpose it could possibly serve.

Chris stared with fascination at the stones. There was an unusual quality about them, something he couldn't quite pinpoint. He noticed there were also two spiral symbols carved into them, one on each boulder. It almost looked like the primitive carvings one would find in a cave somewhere. He thought back to that monster he had seen in the storage area. Was it related to this? He listened closely, the hair on the back of his neck standing as his ears picked up on something odd. Was it him, or was there some kind of humming in the air? The tune was barely audible, so low in pitch that he had to strain to hear it. But it was there.

Or was it? How could he be certain this wasn't all just in his mind?

A jarring scream suddenly shook him out of his wonderings. His eyes scanned the surrounding ground for the telltale cloak and hands, but found nothing. He looked up at the stones…and there it was.

Clutching onto the top of the left rock was a double-headed monster exactly like the one he had killed earlier. Pointing ominously at him, the creature appeared to mutter something in a low, growling voice, just before it jumped to the ground and started towards Chris. Chris struggled to gather himself, narrowly dodging a fierce swipe from one its huge arms. Putting all his strength behind his muscles, he swung his steel pipe at the monster's left head, taking off a large piece of flesh and muscle. The creature cried out, aiming wild blows at its prey which he just barely managed to avoid. He struck out at the beast, bashing the eerie twin skulls until the creature finally collapsed to the ground.

Another attack – this one coming by surprise, and one he barely managed to deal with. Chris prodded the pale twin skulls with his boot. What the hell was going on here? The skulls almost looked like porcelain masks under his boot, but the squishy texture assured him this was real flesh. Where were these things coming from? And what did it say for this region if these creatures were widespread throughout the area? Chris couldn't imagine how anyone could survive under a constant barrage of this.

Was that what Daniella meant about Silent Hill falling apart?

No more monsters appeared. Chris tread carefully into the subsequent areas, which were once again forested instead of treeless gravel. Except for a stone well, only foliage occupied the first section. The second was a different matter.

All the way in the back, he saw a wooden fence about eleven feet high encircling a substantial area of land. Two simple doors surrounded by a cobblestone border greeted any potential visitors, while a small sign next to them. Chris began making his way there, but a tap-tap noise stopped him in his tracks. Something was near…and it didn't sound like one of those hideous malformed reapers.

Tap-tap. Tap-tap. The sound grew closer. Chris peered around the tree concealing him and found the source of the tapping.

Dogs. Three of them. But not ordinary dogs. Ordinary dogs did not have half of their skin shredded off. Nor did they drool a revolting pus-like substance that looked more than a little acidic. Their eyes glowed jarringly red as they sniffed the ground, stalking the prey they instinctively recognized was nearby.

Chris' eyes widened, and he stood there staring at the monsters. But he recovered quickly. These were dogs, at least. This was something he could handle. Ordinary dogs didn't have the grotesque qualities these things did, but at least they were a familiar shape, and not the unnatural forms of the other monsters he had killed.

Chris knew he would never get past them unnoticed. Fighting them with the steel pipe was an option, but he had a better idea. Silently counting down, he braced himself.

Three…

Two…

One…

Chris broke into a flat out run to the gate, passing the pack of hungry undead hounds. The corpse-like beasts reacted immediately to his movement, releasing an unnatural howl that might have frozen the blood of a lesser man. Chris didn't stop running. His legs took him as fast as they could while the enemy gave chase, rapidly clearing the gap between them and their would-be meal. Chris made it to the gate, but one of the dogs was seconds from reaching him. His grip on the steel pipe tightened. As the beast leaped at him, Chris swung the pipe full force. The corpse hound flew back from several feet from the impact, colliding with the other two pursuers. Chris ducked into the doorway before they recovered.

Safely inside the perimeter, Chris breathed a sigh of relief. His heart was pounding in his chest, and he felt like he would break out into a cold sweat at any minute. That was a close one, but at least he didn't have a scratch on him.

This area was huge compared to the others, and with good reason. Situated in the very center of the terrain was a huge two story Victorian home. The structure had seen better days; even at a distance, the cracked walls and peeling paint of the house's decaying exterior were plainly visible. Scattered around the premises were old tire swings, monkey bars, and other equipment and toys, remains of a neglected playground long since fallen into a state of disrepair.

This looked like a settlement for a large family, at the very least, but if so, it had clearly been abandoned for a while. There was rust on some of the amusements made from metal, and the toys were covered in a fine layer of dust.

It was a sad thing to see, and Chris felt a pang of sorrow at the miserable state of the building. Something about this place radiated an immense sense of sorrow, and he was struck immediately by it, despite seeing the house for only a few minutes.

Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a sign on the left stone column bordering the door and turned back to read it:

The Outside is filled with dangerous things. If someone goes Outside without an adult's permission, the Master is sad.

What the hell? 'The Master?' What kind of this place was this? Another unusual thing caught his attention: a stone with red writing lurked near one of the tire swings. Chris knelt to check it out. It was a useless effort – the writing was unlike any he had seen. It didn't look like real writing so much as long lines of scribble and weird symbols. Was it a coded language of some sort, or just gibberish done by a kid some time ago?

"It's one of my messages."

Chris immediately stood to face the source of the voice. He saw a man more or less his height, with long blonde and a day or two's worth of stubble framing his jaw. His clothes had seen better days – his faded blue rain coat and gray trousers were heavily stained. His shoes were no less worn out either. Chris noted that the man's skin was unusually pale, as if he hadn't seen sunlight in a very long time.

"Who are you?" Chris asked, bewildered by the man's appearance. This man looked like a homeless person, but what would a homeless person be doing out in the middle of the forest? Was he staying in that dilapidated building?

"You can put down your weapon. I didn't mean to startle you," the man said softly. Chris didn't move an inch.

"Who are you?" He asked.

"…I don't have a name," the man said after a long moment of silence. There was something odd about his tone, almost like a faint note of something akin to regret.

"Oh."

Okay, this was definitely not a normal person, Chris decided. He may not have remembered his full name at the moment, but at least he had one.

"Well, my name's Chris," he offered the stranger his hand. The man simply stared at it. Chris pulled back his hand, wondering how much force it would take to render this guy unconscious if necessary.

"What are you doing here?"

The man shrugged. "I could ask you the same thing."

"I guess I'm visiting old memories," Chris half-lied. "You?"

The man didn't miss a beat. "The same."

"Hm." He focused on what this strange individual mentioned earlier. "You said this message belongs to you?"

"Yes. I wrote it here when I was a kid," the man confirmed. He paused, staring around at the ruined playground equipment. "I wrote the other ones too."

"When you were a kid? But that means…"

"Yes, I lived here, right at this orphanage, a long time ago. This was my home before I left to go to college."

"This was an orphanage?" Chris asked with some disbelief.

"Is," the man corrected him.

"Wait a minute. You're telling me this place is still open?"

The pale man nodded mutely.

"Then why is it like this?" Chris inquired, waving an arm around at the pitiable surroundings. "You don't expect me to believe children actually live here."

The man didn't respond. Chris was unnerved by his silence. There was something very unusual about this guy. Something about the way those dark eyes stared at him… almost as if they were looking right through him, set Chris on edge.

When he realized the man in the faded raincoat wasn't going to reply anytime soon, Chris switched gears a bit.

"You said you went to college. Where was that?" he asked.

"A city called Pleasant River, a few miles east from here."

"Was it a nice place?" Chris asked disinterestedly.

"It was, for the most part." Shrug.

"So why'd you come back?"

"To Silent Hill? Or here?" the man replied.

"Both," Chris inquired.

The pale man shrugged. "I…had business here. And…I wanted to see my home again." It was a good enough reason, but Chris thought the man's expression darkened a bit. Maybe there was more to the story than he was telling.

"You?"

"Same here, I guess," Chris said.

"I see…" the man replied. He smiled in a disconcerting way. "You know, it's not nice to lie to others. The scriptures frown upon it," he said tactlessly, his voice sounding somewhere between chiding and threatening, yet retaining a sweet, dulcet nature to it. Chris was taken aback by the sudden change in demeanor. What the hell?

"What are you taking about?" Chris asked in confusion.

"You're lying. You do have business here, but you didn't come here willingly. In fact, I bet you never wanted to see this place again," the man stated, dangerously quiet.

"What are you talking about?" Chris repeated. "Where do you get off on accusing of lying? What do you know about me?" he demanded.

The man was unperturbed. "Don't play dumb, Christopher. I'm not the boy I once was. I know exactly who you are and why you don't want to be here again," he said patiently, as if there was nothing at out-of-the-ordinary. Chris was beginning to lose his patience.

"Damn it, answer the question! What the hell are you talking about?" Chris practically growled. He wondered if it would be too much to raise the pipe in a threatening stance, because right now he was seriously considering bashing the hell out of this man. Was this man one of the people from his past he had forgotten?

What the hell was going on? Chris moment this ratty looking man was having a casual conversation with him, the next he was accusing Chris of having some hidden agenda. Where was this coming from?

"You're just like that woman wandering around with all those guns," the man continued, paying no heed to Chris' obvious bewilderment.

"What woman?"

"You know who," the man snapped harshly.

Chris hesitated. "Are you talking about Daniella?"

"Who else?" The man retorted. "She's a sinner, you know. Just like you and everyone else. But make no mistake. You will suffer for what you've done," he warned, in a dark tone that almost sent shivers up Chris' spine.

The man turned to leave.

"Hey, wait up!" Chris went after him, but didn't get far. A sharp pain suddenly assaulted his skull out of nowhere, dropping him to his knees holding his throbbing forehead. The sound of air sirens echoed around him, so loudly that he didn't know whether it was really happening or just inside his brain. God, it felt like his brain was melting inside his head, and his mind was disintegrating rapidly. The man in the coat didn't look back at him even once. He simply walked away until he was completely out of sight. And just like that, the agony in Chris' head completely disappeared.

He got to his feet, shaky on his steps, breathing hard from the trauma of the experience. There was no sign of the strange man anywhere. "What the hell…?" Chris muttered, shaking his head. Something seriously fucked up was going on, that was for sure. What did that weirdo mean about him and Daniella being "sinners"? And why had he been stricken with the mother of all migraines from hell as soon as he tried to follow the bastard? A migraine, which not so incidentally, went away almost as soon as it started? As soon as that man vanished, in fact.

Too many questions and not a single answer for one of them. As he struggled to come to terms with the insanity surrounding him, the single most pertinent question of all lingered in his mind, unrelenting in its prodding.

What in God's name was going on?