Lots of section breaks in this chapter.
It was nearly dark when the two of them arrived at the amusement park. Sunset had a very peculiar effect on the once-quaint little lake town that normally snapped from light to dark and vice versa. The orange-red light revealed flecks of white in the fog that weren't noticeable during the day. It gave the scenery a white-noise, snowy quality that made James feel like he was caught in some horror film from the 50's.
Laura opened one of the gates that sealed off the entrance. "C'mon, I don't have all day."
"I'm getting really sick of your attitude."
"I'm getting really sick of you existing." Laura snapped back.
James scowled at her, "What is your problem?"
She didn't answer. James followed her past ticket booths, stuffed mascots, and through a rusted service entrance door to a row of gift shops. They walked side by side for a while, occasionally confronted by some abstract hell-beast that craved face-meat. Eventually, Laura fell into step behind James.
This was unsettling. Frequently, James would glance over his shoulder, or ask a question to make sure she was still there, but no matter how slow he walked, or how many times he stopped Laura stayed just out of his field of vision.
"So what's so special about this carousel?" James asked when the quiet was too much, "What's there?"
"I can't tell you. It isn't my place."
James stopped, the rusted metal paneling beneath his feet bending with his weight, "What does that mean?"
"What does it matter?" Laura said behind him, "You'll see when you get there."
He pondered the wording of that phrase for a moment, "Laura?"
There was no answer. He whirled around.
She was gone.
James smacked his palm to his forehead, "Oh, fuck me."
It took him a while to get back on track. James was just about ready to rip his hair out with frustration.
"Argh," James vented his anger on a particularly unlucky creature by kicking its disfigured dog-face to a pulp. "This better be good. Oh, this better be really good, Laura."
He wandered the amusement park for half an hour before realizing that he was lost.
He sat on one of the benches trying to get his bearings. James could've sworn the mascot costume lying on the ground had turned its head to stare at him, but he ignored it.
The thick night fog made it difficult to see anything, but if he squinted James thought he could make out a roller coaster. Maybe if he got to the top of that structure he'd be able to find the carousel. Now he just had to get there.
He was low on bullets and more than a little unsure of the distance he still had to walk.
He had one box of handgun bullets left by the time he climbed the stairs to the top of the roller coaster. James could only imagine what lines of this ride must've been like. A bunch of tourists and children milling on the metal stairs in the summer heat. The teenage trainee in the control booth getting dirty looks as he delayed the ride further by reading off the safety instructions. James scoffed.
The town hadn't been like that in ages. What had even made him think of that?
James shook it off and turned off his flashlight. His eyes took a couple of seconds to adjust to the dark and the distracting screech to his left didn't help, but soon he found his destination. James smiled to himself and turned his flashlight back on. It took a moment for the dark blotches to leave the edges of his vision.
The screech to his left had gotten louder. James turned-
The thing that made the noise collided with him before he ever really saw it. James's lower back collided with the railing and he tumbled over it, off the stairs.
James landed on his left shoulder blade and rolled on to his stomach. The thing that had pushed him over crashed down where he had been. It made a grating noise and thrashed about.
"Shit!" James struggled to pull himself to his feet; he was sore, but okay.
The thing lurched toward him, and James bolted.
When he was sure the thing from the stairs had lost interest, James stopped to catch his breath. His lungs burned, his back ached, and his left arm was a little numb. James's vision darkened for a moment.
He found a wall and leaned against it. The leaning thing didn't last long, and he slid into a sitting position.
Sitting didn't work out too well either.
James, lying on the cracked tile ground, sighed heavily filling his lungs with air, "I… am getting way too old for this."
The radio crackled ominously.
James groaned and stood; his legs shook a bit, but held him. "Where the—"
He was looking at the carousel. A gate stood between him and it, but he was there, "Well, I'll be damned," James suppressed the urge to laugh at his good fortune, lest he look like some sort of lunatic, "I made it."
James went to the gate and pulled the handle.
It didn't open.
"God DAMN IT!"
Another forty minutes and James found another, open, gate.
He milled about for a while, nothing attacked him, nothing made noises at him, nothing happened.
"Okay, Laura! I'm here! Now what?" He scanned the area tying to find something of interest, "I swear to God, Laura if this is a prank-"
He let the threat hang in the air.
James jumped. "Laura?! Where are you?!"
"Up here!" She waved down at him from the top of the carousel, "The high priest has agreed to test you…"
"Did I stutter?" Laura scowled, "Hold on." She turned and whistled. "He's here!"
Something loud crashed in the distance and James's radio went off. His flashlight flickered.
"Laura? What did you do?"
"Good luck, asshole," and she disappeared behind the tarp. "Oh," she added, "and YOU don't get to call for help."
Laura felt a little guilty about leaving James alone with the missionaries.
Just a little.
She shrugged it off quickly, though. Laura laughed when James gasped in horror, but stopped when the gunfire started.
Too bad she hadn't told James that the missionaries were virtually bulletproof.
She laid down on the tarp that served as a roof for the ride. She picked her fingernails and listened to James run out of bullets.
The girl smirked and peered over the edge, "Yes?"
James was backed into a corner, the missionaries closing in on him. He stared up at her.
"Sorry, can't help you. High priest's orders."
"Laura!" he sounded more frightened than angry.
"Sorry." She knew the sing-song tone of her voice wasn't helping his situation. She settled back into her niche in the tarp.
James looked around, desperate for some sort of weapon. A loose pipe, a two-by-four. Something. Anything.
He cut his flashlight off and tried to squeeze between one of the monsters and the wall. It swung at him and the blade dug into James's arm, but he was more concerned with getting the fuck out of there.
His older injuries were flaring up. His right leg was buckling beneath him and he could feel the blood running down the back of his leg. He couldn't feel the fingers on his wounded hand.
The lights from the carousel weren't helping his stealth tactic.
The missionaries turned in his direction and stalked toward him. James held his breath and lay still feeling around for something in the pseudo-darkness.
James scrambled backward, his leg was numb and his shoulder throbbed its disapproval every time he put pressure on it.
"Laura," he knew she was still on top of the carousel; she had to be, "Laura!"
"Still can't help you," she sang.
"Laura I swear to God, if I get out of this alive—" a knife swung down near his head and James decided to leave the threats for later.
If there was a later.
Laura watched James's sloppy retreat. It was amusing and sad.
Maybe she should help him?
Laura shook her head, she had orders to follow. James chose to come to Silent Hill, if he died, it was no skin off her nose.
"I'm gonna regret this, aren't I?" she sighed, shaking her head. "James!"
He glanced up at her long enough to see her toss a spear at him.
"You owe me," she called down to him.
"Fuck you!" He shouted back.
That was new. Laura watched him for a moment, and thought it was better to leave rather than help him anymore.
Maybe he'd survive.
It was more likely he wouldn't.
"I…am…going…to… fucking KILL you!"
James was furious. He was dripping blood. Some of it his, some of it not.
Laura was unfazed by the death threat, "My spear?"
He handed her the weapon, and she gave him a box of handgun bullets and a health drink.
"Missionaries are bulletproof when they can see you," Laura explained, despite that James thought the information was irrelevant after the fact, "the best thing to do is go from shadow to shadow and sneak up on them."
"Thank you for telling me this now." He was seething.
Laura laughed, "No problem. Let's just hope no one important saw me help you, otherwise we'd BOTH be in trouble."
James sighed, his weariness negating his rage, "What now?"
"The high priest is ready to meet you in the historical society building, I'll take you there."
"I know where it is."
She glared at him, "Yes and you're in top fighting condition, my apologies, I'll let you go alone."
"Don't get smart with me!"
They stared at each other for some time before James caved in. "Fine… Let's go."
The walk to the historical society was uneventful by Silent Hill standards. Laura did most of the fighting and James hung back to nurse his wounds.
"So is this high priest… is he a person or…?"
Laura nodded, "Yeah, he's normal. Little crazy. But physically normal."
James was too tired for more questions.
They arrived and Laura used one of her many skeleton keys to open the door. "His name is Jeffery Leeds. We call him Ezra. You call him Sir. Understand?"
James didn't argue.
"Good." She opened the door and led him inside, locking the door behind them.
They cut through the reception area and entered one of the display rooms. James saw an all too familiar hole in the wall once they entered, but was immediately distracted.
That thing from the hospital, Gideon, Laura called it, was standing across the room. James's leg throbbed. Rows of display cases separated them but James knew that if he angered the thing, he wouldn't get to leave. It looked dramatically different up close when James wasn't running away from it.
It wasn't completely covered in bandages; huge portions of burned-looking skin were exposed. So much, in fact that it made James uncomfortable.
Clearly the creature was male.
"Mr. Sunderland," said a foreign voice, "I believe you and Gideon have already met."
"High Priest, Ezra." Laura bowed her head.
The man she was addressing, the same man that was now approaching James, smiled at her. He was an older man, roughly James's age, his dark hair speckled with light grey, his eyes surrounded by circles darker than Laura's. He was thin and frail looking with dark glassy eyes and a crooked smile.
He held out his hand to James, "I think I remember you… you came here with your wife a few years ago, right?"
"Several actually…uh… sir." James shook the priest's hand. The strength of the other man's grip alarmed him. For a second James thought his hand would break.
The man frowned slightly at the correction, "My apologies, time is very relative here."
"I understand," James smiled weakly trying to mull the situation over, "So-"
Gideon was closer to them now, and had re-captured James's hazy focus. It looked down at him.
James swallowed hard.
"That's enough, Gideon." The man said, and the monster turned to him, "Let the man be."
Gideon huffed again.
"H-" Laura started, but Ezra cut her off and said something James couldn't hear.
Darkness engulfed James's vision; he felt himself falling. He felt something catch him. And then he felt nothing.
James awoke several hours later on a cot in an unfamiliar room. Laura was sitting in a chair next to his bed, facing the door.
"The higher-ups forgave me for helping you, since you were in a weakened state when the missionaries attacked you. They said I shouldn't make a habit of it though."
"What happened?" James tried to sit up but his body demanded otherwise.
"You blacked out," Laura smiled wickedly at the door, "You're lucky Gid was there to catch you, otherwise your brains would be all over that floor."
He was sore and parts of his body throbbed, others burned. He felt terrible.
"You held up pretty well," Laura said, "I must admit. Ezra likes you."
James stared at her, waiting for her to finish. She never did.
A knock came to the door.
End chapter 5.
The hiatus starts. I'll post one chapter of Wilhelmina before it officially kicks off. School is going to consume so much time I won't be able to write a full chapter for… I don't know how long.
But I know updates won't be nearly as frequent as they have been. Sorry, but I'll try.
Review as you see fit.