Heather entered the South-Ashfield Hotel and went straight to the superintendant, who happened to be quite a decent-looking young man with messy dirty-blond hair and blue somewhat dim-lit eyes. The badge on his worn out green jacket read: "James Sunderland, superintendent"
Heather stopped unsurely by the table, afraid of looking him in the eyes. Douglas said that here, in South Ashfield, she would be safe. They drove all way here from Silent Hill, because it was the farthest place he actually could drive to with his injured leg, and besides, he had some relatives here. Unfortunately his relatives lived in the neighborhood, that's why even Douglas was a burden for them, but he was a relative. And Heather was no one to them, although Douglas treated her like his own daughter, since that tragedy…
At the memory of her father's murder, she shivered. The superintendant came closer to her, trying to smile as friendly as he could, although Heather saw how uneasy it was for him. He held pain in his eyes… Pain and memories he tried to forget but couldn't, as Heather had a sudden feeling.
- Hello, welcome to the South Ashfield Heights Hotel. Do you want to get a room? – said James to her. It was said automatically, he had already said those words for hundred times. No wonder they sounded so mechanical and even insensitive.
- Heather concentrated her gaze on the wooden surface of the table, still unable to look at James straight in the eyes.
- Yes please. Give me any room, let it just be not too expensive. For everything else I couldn't care less.
She had a little bit money Douglas gave her, and that could be enough for a week staying in the SAH.
James turned, removed a key from the locker and showed it to Heather.
- Is the room 203 okay with you?..
Heather nodded coolly, taking the key from him and taking the wallet out from her pocket. But suddenly she froze – the wallet was gone, and the familiar round thing fell to the floor with a somewhat ominous sound.
The Seal of the Metatron.
She forgot about that cursed symbol that guy, Vincent, gave to her in the library back at the church. He said the Seal would help her defeat Claudia. But Heather didn't believe him. After everything what happened, after her battle with Samael, the beloved "God" of Claudia, she still didn't believe in that "cult crap", as she called it in her mind. And even after she found her father's notebook where he explained who she was, she still wanted to think she was just Heather Mason, not Cheryl, not Alessa – but Heather.
James looked at what she dropped and suddenly his face paled. Heather looked at him with confusion, and suddenly was afraid how his eyes glistered – feverishly, pure fear could be read there, fear and forbidden memories coming back.
Heather quickly picked up the Seal from the floor but James suddenly grabbed her hand and said, still pale and looking as though he would loose consciousness any minute:
- Are you… From Silent Hill?..
Heather dazedly looked at him, slightly noticing how his hold on her tightened, and his fingers squeezed her hand so hard that his knuckles turned white. However she didn't feel pain at all; just great amusement – how could he possibly know from where did she come!?
She wasn't eager to tell everybody about her adventure or anything about that hell-place called Silent Hill, but something in the eyes of that man told her, that he certainly would understand her.
- Yes. – she said quietly, hesitating a little. The man's eyes widened in shock before he passed out, his heavy body hitting the floor and dragging Heather with him. Standing on her knees near him, she felt his pulse. It was frantic and beating so erratically like if the superintendant ran 3 kilometers without a stop.
- Help! Somebody! Are there any doctors here?.. – yelled Heather, turning around and desperately seeking for help.
The manager that came out of his cabinet ran off to somewhere and soon came a beautiful young lady, not much older than Heather – 20-23 years maybe, with shoulder-length brown hair and green shrilling eyes. She looked at James and sighted, checking his pulse again and taking a key out of his pocket. 108, noticed Heather.
The lady ordered the manager to carry the superintendant to his room, and followed close, anxiously feeling James's forehead and mumbling something to herself. Heather went too, when she saw manager's inviting gaze. The doctor lady smiled at her cooly, but Heather wasn't offended. She understood that her mind was preoccupied with her new patient, caring about his health. That was a sign of a good doctor, the doctor that knew it's work well. From manager's words she could clarify that the doctor's name was Eileen.
She sighted quietly, looking at James's nearly lifeless form. Please be okay you're the only one who would ever understand me, thought Heather, praying silently. She knew she acted selfish, and she felt really bad about it, but now she felt such stress that could pass out any minute herself. And she just somehow felt that he would understand her.
- So, what's your name? – Eileen asker curiously, turning away from James that still lied unconscious on the sofa, but he was at least safe now for sure. His pulse restored to normal, and there was a cold wet towel lying on his forehead. Eileen assumed he was sleeping, having his post-collapse sleep – looking at the bangs under his eyes Heather agreed with her. And maybe he was also restoring his life powers because he hadn't slept well for a long time… Somehow Heather had a feeling she was closer to the truth. Nightmares… She believed he had them… If he really was to Silent Hill. As for her, now she was afraid of falling asleep. She knew that memories of her horrifying adventures will surely turn into nightmares, nightmares will turn into a lot of coffee in the evening, a lot of coffee in the evening will turn into sleepless nights and sleepless nights will turn into the complete insanity.
- Heather. Heather Mason. – she said as friendly as she could, briefly looking at James. The thought how cute he looked suddenly stroked her, but she quickly turned away, trying not to blush.
Eileen looked at her with sudden interest, narrowing her eyes as though trying to remember something.
- Funny, but your name is somehow familiar to me. Anyways, my name is Eileen Galvin. I live in the room #303 on the 3d floor. If you need me, just knock. – She smiled again and looked at James. – Poor guy. He's the son of the superintendant, Frank, but now Frank is somewhere in Brahms on some business and James is replacing him for a while. His wife died three years ago of some unknown illness. Then, four months ago, he got a letter one day and disappeared – probably he went off to somewhere, because his car was missing. When he showed up, he lost consciousness on the doorsteps of the hotel – he was exhausted, hungry, tired and scared. At night he shouted different names, most of them strange and unspeakable, like the names of some demons or gods or something like that. He didn't tell anyone where he had been, and his father didn't know it either, I suppose, but I guess he had some ideas, only Frank didn't share them. When James woke up then, he didn't tell anybody a word about his sudden disappearance, only started to help his father with his hotel business. When he showed up that day, he looked like he's been through Hell and met Lucifer personally. Now he's a little better, but still it seems as though his life batteries had expired long time ago. How old is he, what do you think?..
Heather looked at James thoughtfully. He seemed cute to her, although…
- I think…. Thirty?.. Thirty-two?.. – she asked quizzically.
- Nope. He's only 25. But he really looks like 30.
Heather nodded, studying James's features. They weren't perfect – bangs under his eyes, his nose maybe a little too big for ideal, but Heather didn't care for that. She wasn't fond of the playboy kind of man. Her gaze travelled lower, studying his well-toned body that was now more revealed to her as they took off his green jacket. Under his jacket he wore an ordinary grey shirt that made him look even more pale, but nevertheless handsome.
- Cute, huh? – said Eileen, following her gaze. Heather felt her cheeks and neck getting warm and gave a fake cough, trying not to blush. It was useless. She felt her cheeks burn intensely and flush a deep red, as she supposed.
- Come on, don't be embarrassed. I like him myself a little. – Eileen confessed. Heather looked at her, startled a bit.
- You… Do?.. – she asked, somewhat confused.
- Yeah. But you can relax. I'm seeing someone else. I just like him, nothing more.
The manager suddenly showed himself in the doorway.
- Miss Galvin, someone is calling you on the phone. I think they are your patients.
Eileen nodded to him.
- Thank you Amberson. I'll be in a second. – she walked to the exit after the manager, but than she turned to Heather and said with a grin:
- When he wakes up, try to find him a cure. Go for it. – and with that she disappeared, closing the door behind her, leaving confused Heather in the room with still unconscious James.
What was that about, thought Heather, sitting on the chair near the sofa and studying James even more intently. She had an urge to strike his hair to feel if it's as soft as it seems to be, and already stretched her arm to do that, but suddenly James moaned and opened his eyes, panting sharply.
- Where am I? – he said huskily, looking around himself. When he saw Heather, he froze, looking directly in her eyes. Heather felt as though her heart suddenly decided to live it's own life as it started to beat hundred times faster.
- You're in your room. You lost consciousness when…
James winced and waved his hand irritably.
- I'm not amnesiac, relax. I remember everything. And sometimes I wish I wouldn't. – he sighted, then glanced at her. – You already know my name, right? How about you give me yours?..
Heather felt her cheeks get warm. Oh no, not again, Heather silently cursed and mentally slapped herself for being so… high school-ish. Eww, great.
- I'm Heather. Heather Mason. – She gave James a smile. He returned her smile, but suddenly rose from the sofa and went to the table, searching for something. Eventually he extracted something from the pile of newspapers and threw it on the sofa.
Heather took the object in her hands and cleared it from dust. The title flashed her a familiar name. She felt as though the whole world suddenly stopped. It was cinematic but true.
The book was middle-sized, brown, with golden letters. On the front plan you could see a drawn middle-aged man in glasses with a flashlight in his hands, another one tightly holding a gun. Monsters were surrounding him everywhere, and it seemed like he was finding a way where to escape. On the right you could see a blond short-haired police woman, and on the left stood a girl with a drawing notebook in her hands. Dim letters read:
"Through the Hell"
James, who was studying her intently, titled his head in a somewhat amusing manner.
- I believe you have something to do with this?.. – he said, not even asking, but stating.
Heather hesitated before putting the book away and looking at James, her dark eyes flashing with sadness.
- Yes, I know Harry Mason. As a matter of a fact, Harry Mason was my father.
- Was? – James looked at her quizzically.
Heather looked away.
- He was killed… Murdered… By the cult.
The cult? – Heather stood up and sat on the sofa, biting her lower lip. She bit it so hard that she felt blood. James looked at her worriedly, sitting near her. She breathed in his cologne and felt a little bit dizzy, but regained self-control, although she wanted to hug him. After her hellish journey all she needed was just a hug. Someone who could comfort her. Someone who could understand her…
She sighted and looked him in his crystal blue eyes, as they seemed to her now.
Stop it immediately, Heather.
- Have you ever heard anything about Alessa Gillespie?..