The Unknown Soldier

Author's Note: This is not a novelization of the game, but rather a rewrite of the story. While it keeps some of the characters and elements of the game, it's overall a different story and doesn't contain any significant spoilers. Even the characters themselves are different to some degree. My idea was to take parts of the game's plot and turn it into a more personal story, much like Silent Hill 2, that focuses purely on Alex and has nothing to do with the Order, and certainly nothing to do with the movie. I imagine most people reading this have played the game, so I'll clarify one point about my story for anyone expecting a certain "twist": Alex is a real Veteran. It's not make believe, it's not all in his mind, he actually went into the Army and went off to war. Anyway, hope you enjoy the story.

"Here Rests In Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But To God" - Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery

I can barely remember a time when my father wasn't disappointed with me. Those are forgotten days, when I was still his good little soldier. Sometimes those faint pictures just seem like a dream that got lost in the real memories. But I don't even know what real is anymore.

I tried to be his good little soldier. But war changes you. They say war is Hell, but the silence is much worse. Nobody back home could ever understand. They never understood me.

They say you can't go home again, but they're wrong. I just never wanted to.

— — — — —

The rusty squeals of metal gears and loud clanks of ancient machinery stirred his eyes awake, but all he found was an empty black void around him. The only sign that his eyes were even open were the brief explosions of blinding light that showered across the coarse layers of rust dissolving the walls around him. Alex didn't question where he was or how he got there. It almost seemed to him that this perverse reality was all that existed and everything else had just been a dream.

He found himself strapped into the center of a slender metal cage, just large enough to hold his body. There were no bars on this cage, just the worn metal frame. But he couldn't escape if he wanted to. His back was bound to a slab of metal and each of his limbs were strapped to a separate bar, forcing his body to stand stiffly at the position of attention.

Alex found himself upright, floating above the metal grating of the floor like a rigid exclamation point. The cage was attached to a series of tracks in the ceiling, which carried him loudly through the hallway with clanking, clashes of metal gears.

He twisted his head and tried to look at his surroundings, but each flash of light branded a hazy white blotch across his eyes. He was only given a split second to feed upon the images around him before that light sunk back into the black depths. The world around him was in the midst of decay. The only thing that remained were the metal frames of what once was, but even that was being gradually consumed by a ravenous plague of brown rust.

It looked as though he was traveling through the remnants of a hallway. But in front of each room, where there should've been a door, instead stood a large sheet of glass. A dim red bulb dangled in each of these rooms, casting vague silhouettes of what was held inside. He saw a man clothed in nothing but pale blotchy flesh, his arms sewn to his chest in the pattern of a straight jacket. The man's lips were stitched together, and he pressed his face against the glass until his blood began to seep through the stitching that sealed his eyes shut.

The next room contained a figure whose head was shrouded in the pit of a sand bag and his arms apparently tied behind his back. The head shook and trembled in impossible movements as it crashed against the glass pane, burrowing a web of cracks through its surface.

This world made more sense to Alex than the one he thought he knew. The grotesque, irrational sights. The overpowering stench of death. The queasy shivering of his flesh. The overbearing, busy noise swarming through his ears. Silence would've driven him insane. This was real. This was the only thing he understood anymore.

As he passed by the next room, he saw something that stuck to his eyes and refused to let go. A small boy stood behind the glass, completely motionless except for his wandering eyes, which followed Alex's as he was carried down the hallway. At the bottom of the glass was the word "MISSING" etched in crude letters.

The sight was sobering to Alex and he suddenly awoke from his passive daze, desperately trying to hold onto the boy with his eyes. But the boy was slowly slipping from his grasp and Alex called out, "Josh? Josh!" But the child vanished from his sight and settled into his thoughts as an unsure memory as Alex continued to cry his name.

His arms came to life and struggled against his restraints, but he found with a sharp pain digging deeply into his skin that his wrists were bound by strands of razor wire. The more he fought, the tighter they gripped. He started screaming at the unknown forces carrying him down that hall, "What the fuck is this? Where's my fire team?"

His cage started to climb at an upwards slope as it left the hallway and wandered with uneasy swings into an immense, open room. The echoes of a hundred voices pounced upon Alex's ears, muffling his own screams, "Where the hell am I? Where're my men?"

Some of the voices that penetrated his ears rode upon incoherent wails of agony. Some sobbed meekly with sorrow. And others roared with manic insanity.

The steady, brooding red light couldn't reach the furthest crevice of that massive room. Flashes of flickering, pale yellow bulbs tried futilely to unveil this place to Alex's eyes. His cage reached the ceiling and continued on a steady, flat course as it swung wildly back and forth, giving his eyes a clear view of what rested beneath him.

In the center of the floor was a gapping mouth filled with screeching metal teeth and revolving gears soaked in blood and wilting flesh. Its only purpose seemed to be to grind down the flesh and bone of those hollering voices that bounced between the walls.

The cage started on a descent as it headed for the furthest end of the room, lowering Alex towards an empty gurney flanked by faded white hospital curtains. As the cage released from the track and dropped onto the gurney, Alex could hear the man next to him screaming wildly, "They took everything! There're no pieces left!"

Alex turned his head towards the man, his voice familiar, and found a crack in the curtain separating them that gave him a vague view of the man's head. His body was hidden behind the curtain, only an obscure shadow of it cast upon that tainted white surface. The man shared his horror and agony with Alex through his crazed screams, and Alex pleaded for him to stop.

But the man recognized his voice and screamed, "Shepherd! Don't leave me!"

A face suddenly burrowed into Alex's thoughts and he called out to the man, "Joey? Is that you?"

"There's nothing left! There's nothing for them to take!"

"Joey? What the fuck is going on?"

The man raised his head and aimed it towards Alex, lifting it into a slither of flickering yellow light for Alex to look upon him in horror. Alex's lips muttered in incoherent words, "Oh God." There was barely a face left on the man for Alex's eyes. There was only a crusted red outline of where his nose belonged, his scalp was bare to the bone, and his eyes were no more than dark, endless holes into a black abyss.

His bruised and chapped lips screamed at Alex, "They're harvesting us!"

Alex's eyes were pulled away when two figures slumped towards him. He saw the distinct outlines of two nurses and immediately pleaded for compassion, "Please – what's going on? What is this place?"

But as they lurched further into his view, he saw their grotesquely blurred expressions, looking as though a fungus of flesh had crusted over their faces like lumps of paper-mache. Their appearance almost seemed to try to distract him with uniforms that were revealingly short and exposed bodies moving in twitching, almost suggestive motions. But Alex only found them more disgusting as they moved closer to him.

The metal bar holding his left arm suddenly swung outwards and held the arm at a right-angle to the rest of his body. Alex quickly looked over to Joey, hoping he could somehow save him, but found another nurse pushing Joey's gurney towards the hole in the center of the room.

Joey screamed and pleaded, his body writhing and kicking as they pushed him towards the mouth of that ravenous machine. Alex could see the shadows of his body swinging across the curtain separating them, and he could see clearly the amputated stumps where Joey's arms and legs were supposed to be.

Alex's eyes swung back towards the nurses flanking him when he felt something cold and rigid settle upon his skin. One of the nurses was holding a rusty saw in her twitching hand, propping the wickedly grooved blade against his left arm. Alex struggled to free himself from the restraints as he screamed at them, "No! It's mine, you can't fuckin' have it!" As the teeth of the saw began to chew through his flesh, his agony was muffled by the rumbling, purring hunger of that machine in the center of the room.

Alex opened his eyes. The purrs of the engine rumbled through the cab of the truck as the driver shifted gears. He found himself hunched forward in the passenger's seat, his mouth still open from the gasp it had spit out into the silent cab. Alex looked over to the driver awkwardly, but the man kept his eyes on the road, giving Alex the courtesy of ignoring his obvious wake from a nightmare.

The truck driver was almost a living stereotype with flannel sleeves reaching out from under his vest jacket. He tried to hide the ravaging wrinkles of his face under the shadow of a ball cap and a thick red beard.

The driver reached over and turned on the radio to drown out the silent embarrassment coming from Alex's disturbed expression. The music struggled to escape the speakers as it found bars of static blocking its path. Alex leaned back in the passenger's seat and tried to relax as he let his gaze drift outside the windows.

The moonlight was stripped down to a pale gray hue by clouds of mist that drifted from the trees lining the road. Must be from Toluca Lake, he thought. There were a lot of memories beneath those waters. He was close.

Alex drifted into thoughts of how long it'd been since he saw that town. He imagined it looking exactly the same as the night he left, when he thought he'd never be coming back. But everyone's gotta come back eventually, he reasoned.

Alex lifted up the sleeve of his right arm so his eyes could look upon the broken watch gripped around his wrist. It had a brown leather band and gold trim with stiff analog hands trapped in a moment of the past. When he looked back up to the road, he saw the sign ahead in the headlights of the truck. He spoke to the driver, "You can drop me off at the sign."

As the driver geared down the semi and lightly pressed down on the brakes, he asked, "Sure? I can take you up to the town."

"No, I kinda feel like walking." The truck came to a stop just before the sign and Alex opened the passenger's side door as he looked back to the trucker. The man offered his hand and the words, "Welcome home soldier."

Alex shook the driver's hand and smiled faintly as he replied, "Thanks." He grabbed a faded, olive green military duffel from behind the seat and slung it over his right shoulder as he stepped out of the cab.

The engine grunted as the truck pulled away and faded into the fog until it vanished completely. Alex stood alone on the side of the road, staring up at the crooked wooden sign reading,

Welcome To
Where Family Comes First