Author's Note: Welcome everybody, to my Silent Hill 4 sequel, Atonement. This story is a little odd when it comes to genres, because when I started writing it, it was supposed to be a comedy. This may still be evident in the first few chapters. However, as it went on, I realized that a lot of serious things were going to happen, and it stopped being a comedy. It's hard to be lighthearted once you're stuck in Silent Hill with all the monsters and everything. As such, it's rated M for violence and horror.
As you know, of course, I don't own Silent Hill or its characters, or anything like that, so I'd like to extend thanks to Konami for their wonderful creations that I have spent the past few months writing and dreaming about. I'd also like to thank the television shows that inspired a few of the early, lighter parts. And finally, I'd like to take this time to thank my friends, especially those who helped with some of the monsters and puzzles. Thank you!
Now, without futher ado: the story. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Comments and reviews are always appreciated.
Silent Hill 4 Sequel
Chapter 1: A Letter from a Friend
She was screaming.
The screams filled his ears until he thought he must surely go mad, but the blood was worse.
It was everywhere.
She fell to the floor, and he looked with horror upon the bruised and bloodied face of Eileen Galvin.
Henry Townshend sat bolt upright in bed, heart pounding. After a couple of seconds, he collapsed back against his pillows. He ran his hands through his hair. It had been another one of those nightmares.
He couldn't remember the details, mercifully, but that didn't calm his worry about Eileen Galvin. It was three years after working together in the hellish Otherworlds that had claimed his apartment, and they were very close. The thought of anyone hurting her tore Henry apart.
He stared up at the ceiling, unsuccessfully trying to fall back asleep. There were intermittent periods of time when he didn't have nightmares, but he couldn't quite seem to escape the memories entirely. If Eileen's injuries didn't haunt his dreams, then Walter Sullivan did, or those terrible moments when things were coming out of his apartment walls to kill him.
Sometimes he just dreamed of the alternate apartment, Room 302 of the past, and all of those tiny, futile candles.
Groaning, he looked at the clock. It was just after five o'clock—close enough to a time he might get up in the morning, and it wasn't as though he was going to get any more sleep anyway, not with thoughts like that in his head.
A cold shower rooted him more firmly in reality, and after dressing in a white shirt and blue jeans, he went to the kitchen feeling much better. He still took a quick glance at the door as he walked by, however. As usual, there were no chains. It didn't matter that he was living in a different apartment building. He suspected he could be living in a house on the other side of the globe, and he would still check the door every morning, just in case.
This apartment was not very different in size from the old one, although the arrangement of rooms was different and it seemed slightly nicer. The kitchen was simple, with a countertop running along the length of the walls, and a small table in the center where he ate.
He got a bowl and filled it with cereal, and as he sat down to eat, he slowly pushed any lingering horrific thoughts away. Once he was done, he would go downstairs and get his mail. It was unlikely there would be anything interesting, but every now and then a good magazine came. After that, he'd only have to find a way to occupy himself until it was time to meet Eileen for lunch.
That thought made him smile. He did like being with her. Their lunch dates came frequently, now, although he still felt a little shy each time. She was so very beautiful and always so kind.
Having effectively distracted himself, he took far longer eating breakfast than he had expected to. By the time he was dressed and ready to go, it was certainly a reasonable time to be up and about.
He walked all the way from his fifth floor apartment to the mailboxes on the first floor, despite realizing that he probably wouldn't have gotten anything at all. There weren't any bills that were due to arrive, and he had never gotten any magazines he enjoyed enough to subscribe to.
Surprisingly, however, a single envelope sat in his mailbox. He picked it up and made his way back to his apartment, opening it as he went.
"Hello, Henry," Eileen greeted him, as he returned.
"Hello," he replied, looking up with a smile.
She was coming out of her apartment, probably to go and get her own mail. They were neighbors again in this apartment building, which was another thing that made him very happy. She was dressed casually today, in dark slacks and a blue blouse. He watched her for a moment, noticing the lovely way in which her dark hair framed her face, and then he remembered what he was doing.
She watched him curiously as he unfolded the letter and read it.
Dear Henry Townshend,
Hello. I need your help. You're the only one I can trust.
Meet me at the South Ashfield Café as soon as you can.
An old friend
"What the hell?" he muttered, reading it again.
"What is it?" Eileen asked.
He passed her the letter, while looking over the envelope. There was no return address in the corner. In fact, not only was it missing, but also, the writer had decided to put the stamp in that corner.
Henry hadn't made a lot of friends throughout the years, always having been somewhat of a loner. He was having enough trouble trying to imagine an old friend who would be writing to him at all, let alone one unfamiliar with the post office.
"Are you going to go?" Eileen asked, returning the letter to him.
He hesitated. "I'm not sure I have any old friends," he finally admitted.
She laughed disbelievingly. "I bet a lot of people think better of you than you believe."
He shrugged, looking at the letter again. "South Ashfield Café?" he read. "I never even heard of it."
"You need to get out of the apartment more, Henry," she said, but with a smile. "I know where it is. I can take you there, if you like."
"Do you think I should go?" he asked.
"I think it would do you good."
Slightly bothered by that, but happy enough to have an excuse to spend additional time with Eileen, Henry shoved the letter in his pocket and smiled. "All right, then."
They walked downstairs and out of the apartment buildings in silence, but after they had been outside for a little while, Henry cleared his throat.
"You said it would do me good. Do you think I need to get out more?"
She laughed. "I don't know if I would put it quite like that."
He knew he wasn't a very social person. He never had been; it just wasn't his nature. He enjoyed spending time indoors, keeping to himself, and generally not bothering anyone. When he did go out, it was usually to admire his surroundings and photograph them. Other than Eileen, people rarely came into it. He had never considered it a problem, and he hadn't thought she did, either.
Fortunately, that wasn't what she meant. Unfortunately, it raised a point he wanted to think about even less.
"I heard you scream this morning, Henry."
"Oh," he said, feeling his face redden. "It was just a bad dream."
"About Walter Sullivan?"
They had walked past the many buildings near their apartments before he finally nodded. It hadn't occurred to him that she could hear him through the wall. He began to walk faster out of anxiety. How many nightmares had she heard him awaken from?
He had never told her about his nightmares, and although he had often wondered if she suffered from them, too, he had never planned to ask. Her ordeal had been much worse than his. He couldn't stand the thought of reviving those memories for her in any way.
Eileen put her hand on his arm, squeezing it gently as they walked. "If you ever want to talk about what happened three years ago…"
"I don't," he responded quickly.
She sighed. "You can't ignore the past, Henry. You need to accept it and move on." When he didn't answer, she said, "Try to enjoy yourself today, all right? Whoever this old friend of yours is, they're sure to take your mind off of what happened."
In light of the conversation, he didn't admit that the very thought of this meeting was making him nervous. What would he say? He had no idea who this person might be, and it would be very embarrassing if he couldn't remember the name of someone who considered him a friend.
"Henry, relax," she urged, seeming able to detect his worries. "This is a friend you're meeting, not some monster. Everything will be fine."
"This friend wants help with something."
"It's still better than dwelling on the past."
He couldn't think of anything to say to that, so he tried to convince himself of the truth of her words as they continued through the city. In a way, it was a relief, he realized. Worrying about something as simple as a social matter was nothing in comparison to those dreams. He began to breathe easier at last, just in time.
Eileen stopped walking in front of a small building that boldly announced itself as the South Ashfield Café, in neon letters.
"This is it," she said.
"Thank you," he sighed, "and, Eileen? I'm sorry."
She looked startled. "For what? I'm only worried about you."
For waking you up with my nightmares and forcing you to remember Sullivan.
He held his tongue before he could say that and feel like an idiot. He shook his head. "Nothing. I'll see you later."
Henry peered through the glass door of the café, and finally, conscious that Eileen was watching him anxiously, he walked in.
It was a small place, with several little tables placed around the room. A wooden counter to the left of the door separated the café from the door leading to the kitchen, and one man, wearing an apron and nametag that said his name was Alf, stood behind the counter to take the customers' orders. The air was thick with the smell of coffee and cinnamon buns.
Henry glanced around. A few of the tables were occupied, but no one looked even remotely familiar. He stood there awkwardly for a few minutes, in case someone was going to notice him and wave him over. After nothing happened, he walked over to the counter.
"Err, excuse me," he said to the man called Alf, who nodded for him to continue. "I'm supposed to meet a friend here. My name is Henry Townshend. I don't suppose anyone has mentioned that they were waiting for me, have they?"
He expected not, but to his surprise, Alf raised his eyebrows and nodded curiously, saying, "Oh, so you're his friend."
Henry's nervousness escalated. The man's tone was a mixture of amusement and annoyance.
"Which one?" he asked embarrassedly, glancing back at the customers again.
"He's not here anymore. He'll come back," he assured him quickly, raising a hand. "He showed up as soon as we opened, and asked if Henry Townshend had come yet. He was going to wait for you, but he was scaring my customers away. I had a word with him, and he left, but he's been checking in every fifteen minutes or so."
Henry took a deep breath. It was starting to seem like a better idea to burn the letter and pretend it hadn't arrived. "He was…scaring your customers away?"
Alf laughed. "Oh, I don't think he meant to. He just has a way with people, or rather, he doesn't. He seemed nervous about seeing you, actually."
"It's been many years," he explained, wishing he knew more than that. He began mentally going through all of the classmates he could remember.
"Ah, I see. Well, order something, and sit down! He'll be along soon enough."
"I'll have a coffee," Henry decided. He paused. The cinnamon buns smelled good, and having some more food might calm his nerves. "I'll have a cinnamon bun, too." He held up his hand. "Actually, two of each." Whether he remembered this friend or not, it wasn't a good idea to start out by being impolite.
He paid and waited patiently for his order to come. He eventually ruled out most of the people he had known from high school, keeping only a few names for consideration. Had any of them considered him a good enough friend to seek him out after all this time?
"Here you are, Mr. Townshend."
"Oh, thank you."
Carefully balancing everything, he moved to an empty table and set it down. He sat in one of the chairs, pulling his cinnamon bun and coffee to a spot in front of him where he could stare at it.
He had a plan. He could pretend to be interested in his meal until the friend approached him, so his lack of recognition wouldn't be obvious. He hoped the voice would be enough.
He continued to stare at the table, occasionally taking a sip of his coffee, and thinking about people he had met in the years after high school. He had quite a tidy little list of possibilities, when he heard the café door open.
Focusing on the cinnamon bun, he breathed carefully as he heard footsteps coming in his direction. This would be incredibly embarrassing if he didn't recognize the person at all. Eileen was right. He needed some time to just enjoy himself. This could easily become a disaster, and he didn't want that.
Focus, Henry, he warned himself. Focus on the voice.
A hand clapped on his shoulder. "Henry. It's been a long time."
Henry's heart leaped into his throat. He recognized the voice. He did, but…that was impossible. That voice had haunted his nightmares for the past three years. Eileen was more right than even she knew. He had been dwelling on things far more than was healthy.
Think! It's not his voice, so whose is it?
As the figure moved around from behind him to sit in the other chair, he tried desperately to replace the face that had sprung up in his mind. He couldn't, however, and he hoped his momentary alarm hadn't shown.
Readying an apology in case he couldn't even recognize his friend upon seeing him, Henry looked up at last, into a familiar pair of green eyes.
He went completely still, frozen in shock.
Walter Sullivan smiled.