Disclaimer: I do not own Silent Hill.
A/N: Happy Valentine's Day, shhet. Unbeta'd because I'm impatient.
O O O
To tell the truth, he'd barely known she existed. When Henry Townshend's life had consisted of activities other than crawling through holes, warding off poltergeists, and bashing monsters' heads in with steel pipes and various other objects, he'd never paid much attention to the other tenants of his apartment complex. There was the girl next door who probably had some ridiculously attractive fiancé somewhere and there was the superintendent, who was always pleased with Henry for being quiet, punctual, and tidy. And that was about the size of it.
He'd had a life. He'd—he'd had things other than…than this.
But now he didn't. Now Henry had his apartment and his apartment alone. He could steal glimpses out of one of the four windows contained in his 800-dollars-a-month abode, but more often than not, it just made him depressed. There were people out there, hustling along the sidewalk near the subway entrance, playing a guitar in the opposite window, arguing with their significant other, handymen fixing the roof. And they were just going about their lives, because nothing was out of the ordinary. The man in Room 302 was just some crazy old hermit who may or may not be going through a rough spot in his life, and that was as far as all of their carefully placed concern traveled.
For the first couple of days, he tried everything he knew to break out of his room. He threw stools at the windows, pounded relentlessly against the door, tugged vainly at the chains, kicked and punched and raged and screamed and threw an absolute tantrum until his body decided to drop.
He was virtually out of food, but he wasn't hungry. The last thing he'd had to drink was a questionably old bottle of chocolate milk, and even thinking about ingesting that white wine made his stomach churn in a most discomfiting manner.
The fifth day left him contemplating suicide, but the hole had appeared, then. And he wasn't talking about the yawning tunnel left in his bathroom wall.
It was that tiny little peephole that really kept him sane, after all. It was that microscopic attachment to reality that allowed all of those hard-earned brains to keep intact. He would have rotted from the inside out otherwise.
It was Eileen Galvin that kept him sane, after all. He'd check the peephole every time he came back from a "mission," down on hands and knees, uncaring of how far he'd fallen from grace, uncaring if dust was gathering on his belongings and he was very likely in a state of some extreme form of psychosis.
The thing that really rocked him back into reality, though, was when he'd catch her sleeping. Because he'd just want to break down that wall and crawl into bed with her, just make sure she was indeed another human being and she wouldn't be marked and then killed like the others. Or, conversely, when she was undressing or dancing to some sort of music, and he'd feel that mild twinge of lust, and it actually made him laugh. A week of crawling belly-deep through nightmares, and he could still get an erection. He was honestly starting to wonder after that Cynthia incident. He'd been worried that his sex drive had been damaged for life.
Take his sanity all you wanted, but take his libido and you had some serious hell to pay.
So Eileen grounded him when nothing else seemed to do the trick. If he didn't see her through the wall he'd run to the door and try and catch a peek through his door's eyehole. And if she wasn't there, then he'd try and listen to her footsteps. She couldn't stay home all the time, but God willing…
He'd been falling in love with her—with the concept of her, actually, the thing she represented, this ultimate goal of reality and the world that wasn't connected by a system of holes and tunnels and rust and blood—for so long, and she had no idea. He'd thought she'd seen his peephole once, and she'd concentrated on a portion of the wall for such a long, long time. And his heart had raced, his palms sweated, and he prayed, he prayed that she'd see him. Fine if she thought he was some sort of pervert, he could live with that; what he couldn't live with was this loneliness. He was building such illusions of grandeur around him with all of this heroic defeating of monsters and traversing the darkest parts of the underworld, but who even knew the foulest of grime he was trudging through?
No one. No one knew anymore. And if he ever made actual contact with Eileen, then telling her would be the first thing he would do.
But, sadly, she'd never discovered him. He couldn't count the number of times he'd fallen asleep at that peephole, just watching her out of the corner of his eye as she slept or watched TV, especially when she watched TV. She laughed when she watched TV, and that laughter kept his insides from fermenting and boiling down into whatever it was that would cause his eventual demise.
It was hard to believe that not too long ago he'd been content with the thought of his own self-perceived destiny. It had been a destiny involving death and relief, something he'd yearned for far more than he'd yearned for life itself, but now it was different. Now he didn't want a destiny if it didn't involve Eileen and taking walks through the park, moving out the coast, keeping on their toes and in each other's hearts, because that was all he needed. That was all anyone needed, all anyone wanted—he was sure of it.
Eventually, though…things with Eileen began to change. Nevermind the superintendent knocking down his door at any given opportunity, but Eileen began to act different. She was nervous often. She would jump from her bed as if something had startled her, running off to some portion of her apartment that he couldn't see. She started watching horror films on her TV, cringing and covering her face, utterly entranced and completely repulsed all at the same time.
"Stop it!" he wanted to say. "Stop changing! Why can't you be stable? Why can't you stay that concrete thing in my life?" But he could shout until his voice failed him and she'd never be able to hear.
So he settled for whispering. Maybe she'd hear him then.
There came a time when everything was tense. His limbs, the aura of the room, the very air he breathed seemed to be trying to asphyxiate him until he had to step into that quasi-delusional inferno of a world. It was when he'd scoured all of the Apartment World, stopping back constantly to check on Eileen, telling himself she was okay, that she was still just doing her makeup, that she was getting ready to go out to a party and get away from all of this madness.
But the man on the staircase, he'd had the doll. And the way he talked about her, like he knew her, like a childhood friend or something. But Henry had the doll now, and he'd passed it on to the chest in his apartment. He'd passed by her door one last time, and she was banging on it, confused and agitated, and it had hurt. It was a deep-bone ache in his chest, and he'd stopped at her door, palms flat against the wood, forehead resting against the plaque that displayed her room number.
"It's okay," he'd said, but she'd kept struggling, jiggling the doorknob, knocking, throwing enraged obscenities and words of frustration here and there. "It's okay," he'd soothed, palms fisting. "You'll be okay."
He hadn't run to the nearest return-hole so fast since the first time he'd stepped foot in this warped otherworld. It was probably too late by that time, though, he figured. He'd obtained the doll key and rushed back to her apartment, but by that time…
That little boy stood over her, and he could feel a sluggish, fuzzy, static sort of wave of delirium fall over him, but he tried to comprehend the situation as best as he could. There was blood all over, like with Cynthia, and Eileen was on the floor, like with Cynthia, and her dress was pulling up to show the blood smeared across her thighs, like with Cynthia…
She was talking to the boy, though, not to him, not like Cynthia. The little boy didn't look fazed by her disposition at all, and Henry hit the floor hard.
When he woke up, sirens were screaming outside again. Cynthia, Cynthia, subway, window, Henry! Ambulance, cold glass, silence, so much silence, too much silence, Eileen! Eileen! Eileen was…
"Two-zero-one-two-one," he said, pressing his temple to the glass. "Two-zero-one-two-one, twentieth victim out of twenty-one." Everyone else was…they'd been dead. It was hopeless. And yet…
The peephole provided him with some much-needed information that rose his spirits and alerted him that something was up in his storage closet.
And what the fuck was with all of these holes, anyway?
But the holes were largely pushed into the back of his mind, and with all the placards in place and the hole ahead of him staring accusingly, pointing the finger and blaming him for any and all sins he'd committed in the past like a Goddamn judge, Henry climbed into another nightmare.
It was so much worse than last time. The trench coat man was apparently feasting off of somebody on a gurney, and when it was affirmed in Henry's whirling mind that no, that woman with her intestines being pulled out by a crazy white man's teeth was not Eileen, he hurried onto the next task.
He saw traces of her everywhere. Her purse—or what he assumed was her purse—lay on the floor, and a note read that her room key had been misplaced. After dodging those ridiculous bat-insect-things and nurses that had apparently been recruited somewhere in the heart of the Amazon, the behemoths, he'd found the floor with the wheelchairs. He'd expected it, of course. After a while, nothing really surprised him anymore. The only thing lingering in his mind were the little traces of Eileen he'd found—the x-rays, her purse, the way he could just barely smell her perfume… So the wheelchairs, quite fucking honestly, didn't really pose a threat.
He must have gone through twenty rooms before finding that giant Eileen head, which had been a little much. That, he had to admit, had jarred his bones. Oh, hello, Eileen; I was just looking for you.
The room key finally came next, and then her actual room, and there she lay, battered and broken and bruised, bandaged up and looking half-dead.
He must have looked terrible, he realized, but belatedly. She screamed when she saw him and struggled to get away, but oh, no, he found her, there was no way he was letting her go.
He grabbed her around the chest, holding her in place, keeping her as still as possible as she writhed and screamed, pleading with the breaks in her voice for him to leave her alone.
"Eileen! It's okay!"
She'd curled into a ball and wept, and those hideous numbers on her back, the "20121" that branded her skin like a terrifying tattoo, burned in the light of the room. The feeling drained from his fingertips, and when she finally turned and recognized him with a gentle, "Henry? From Room 302?" his stomach turned over in the best way possible.
And so he'd told her his story. Just like he'd said. It took her a second to believe him, and then she was entrusting her very being to him, following him down the hallway as he shot down mammoth nurses that burped most unpleasantly when they fell down stairs or were hit with an aluminum baseball bat.
He'd thought it was finally over when they'd reached the return-hole, and he'd taken her hand, heart pounding in his chest, knees trembling, a blanket of misty black sweeping over his head before he could really rejoice in the moment.
And when he awoke, half expecting to find her lying beside him in the bed or cooking breakfast in the kitchen or something, she was gone. He was painfully bereft of her presence once more.
His ceiling fan decided to crash onto his coffee table at that time, unfortunately, and at the same time, his kitchen decided that today would be a lovely day to take on a rather glowering aura.
And how the hell had his shoes—?
The first blast of poltergeist energy was like a particularly hard kick in the testicles. He'd retreated immediately, the very marrow in his bones vibrating submissively. His talisman, however, had reacted, shaking violently until all that energy was dispelled and a jagged crack ran through the trinket around his neck.
He frowned at it, but continued about his business.
Right. Find Eileen again. Go through the hole again.
When he recovered from the initial shock of finding himself once again on the floor, she was there, and so too was that uplifting feeling of hope in his body. She was still pretty beaten up, but she rushed to him as soon as he stood, throwing her unbroken arm around his neck and pressing her bruised, swollen cheek to his chest.
And oh, he couldn't quite concretely explain the feeling. The physical contact—the consensual physical contact—was like a panacea to his mind, and he returned the embrace with increasing fervor.
Sadly, though, she pulled away, and told him all of her troubles. So she couldn't come into his apartment, but maybe that was a good thing with ceiling fans falling down and poltergeists molesting his kitchen and all. He'd just have to lead her by the hand through this hell, whether they had to walk or crawl or fly to reach the end.
The foggy descent down a spiraling walkway was less of a foreboding omen, he figured, and more of a beacon of better things to come. They were going down, sure, but he knew what lay above, and quite frankly, he'd rather be anywhere but there.
He handed her back her purple purse, laughed to himself when she attempted to beat down an Amazon nurse with it and actually succeeded, and then took her by the hand and told her to walk beside him. None of this walking behind him nonsense. She was the epitome of a bright future, the perfect paradigm of the human will to survive. Their fight instinct had been worn to the grindstone and their flee instinct had all but dissolved into nothing, so there was really nothing left to do but rely on hope.
It was going to guide them, he figured. He was going to guide them. And when he was too tired to do so, she would lead the way.
They were going to follow each other to the ends of the Earth, and he couldn't quite have imagined that it would all unfold any differently.
"Come on, Eileen."