"So it's this little town in the middle of nowhere," York said, pulling out a cigarette. "Everyone knows each other, no big crimes or big politics. Sounds like paradise, right Zach? But these things are never what they seem. Small towns… they have just as much darkness as any big city. This becomes clear later in the film, when our supposed 'hero' encourages his romantic rival to kill himself."
He dropped the cigarette without lighting it, and fumbled for another. "1955. Fred Zinneman. That was his first musical, you know Zach, and he'd go on to win four academy awards. Quite an inspiring figure."
Signs passed on the highway. His destination was only 26 miles away, but a little café identified itself as "The Last Chance."
"Last chance? That doesn't make sense Zach. The town's less than half an hour away." He turned onto the ramp anyway. "Still, I could use some coffee."
The café wasn't too busy; a few couples scattered around, and two men sitting at the counter. The waitress smiled at York as he walked in, and grabbed a menu from by the register.
"Hi there. Here for lunch or directions?"
"Just coffee, thanks."
"Perfect timing, I just finished a fresh pot. Go ahead and have a seat anywhere."
York sat down at a booth, his mood already perked up. This case was an odd one, which normally intrigued him, but his research so far was depressingly vague. No one knew much about the little town. It had a lot of tourists, and a few reports of drug-related crimes, but nothing to indicate what had happened.
A dead policewoman. A missing man and his daughter. If anyone else was gone, it hadn't been reported, but the whole thing was… muddy. No one had seen anything, any of the people involved. It shouldn't be possible, how could three people die or disappear with no one even remembering they'd been there?
The waitress reappeared, coffee pot in hand. Her nametag read "Bev," and she had a rainbow of markers tucked into her apron pocket.
"Thank you Bev."
"My pleasure, stranger."
"Just call me York. That's what everyone calls me."
"Well then York, let me know if I can get you anything."
"Actually, I did have a question."
"The town that's not far from here, Silent Hill." As soon as he said the name, Bev's smile faltered. But she didn't move, and he continued. "I'm headed there to do some investigating on an incident that happened not long ago. You wouldn't have heard anything?"
"An incident? In Silent Hill?" York got the feeling he was missing a joke, albeit a dark one. "Sorry, York, but I don't pay much attention to the gossip out of there. If the rumors are to be believed, that town is a death trap."
"You don't say…"
"But I'm sure it's just rumors. Stories to scare tourists. Good luck on your… investigation." She turned away, ending the conversation beyond a doubt.
"She didn't sound sure, did she Zach?" York swirled creamer into his coffee, studying it thoughtfully. "Lucky color is white. Hm, I wish I'd brought my white tie."
He spent a little time at the café, enjoying his coffee and watching the people there. Bev kept glancing at him, but she might have just been judging if he wanted a refill. Leaving enough of a tip that he'd be remembered fondly, York slipped out while Bev was distracted.
"I know, Zach, she knew something. But I don't think it was about this particular case. Remember, this isn't the first odd news out of Silent Hill…"
There were rumors of a cult. Rumors of drug activity. Rumors of arson, murder, jaywalking. So many rumors from one town… Originally York had only been drawn to the case because of the death of the young policewoman, but when he started reading more about this town, he got curious.
The highway didn't connect to Silent Hill directly, so York had to pull off and take a few narrow winding roads, and it was mid-afternoon when he reached the city limits. A warm spring day, a small town… everything looked peaceful.
"Too quiet, Zach? I'm not sure…"
He followed the directions he'd been given to the local police station, not surprised to find a tiny building. Like every other small-town police station he'd been to, it smelled like coffee and newsprint, and ringing phones echoed from behind closed doors. There was a chalkboard on one wall, the words "White Claudia" barely visible beneath a half-erased smear.
The officer at the front desk barely glanced at him when he walked in, then looked again and sat up straighter, tucking something under the counter.
"Yes? Can I help you?"
York flashed his badge. "FBI Special Agent Francis York Morgan. Please, just call me York. That's what everyone calls me."
"Oh, of course. Agent… York. Um. Well, let me just get someone to let you into the file room."
York tapped his tie. "Have to man your post, right?"
The officer gave him a crooked smile, before muttering into his radio.
"Suspicious of outsiders. Par so far, Zach."
The officer glanced at him, forehead wrinkling. York offered a smile.
"Uh, it will just be a moment."
"Maybe you can fill me in a bit, in meantime."
The officer looked nervous. "I'm sure you know more than I do. I wasn't on the initial investigation."
"You must have heard something. It's not every day a policewomen ends up murdered on a merry-go-round."
He tilted his head, looking like a confused dog. "Well no, that doesn't happen every day."
"Curiouser and curiouser," York mumbled. "Does the investigation have any leads?" he added, louder.
"Well… not exactly. At least not that I've heard."
Another officer approached, even younger and most likely with even less authority. The desk officer stood up eagerly. "Mal, help Agent York, would you?"
"Me?" the young officer blinked. "But I-"
"Just let him into the file room and get him whatever he asks for."
"Oh my god, Mal," the officer rubbed his forehead. "Yes. Whatever."
"Okay…" the young officer smiled nervously. "I'm Mal- Officer Malcolm Goodman."
"Special Agent Francis York Morgan. Please, just call me York. That's what everyone calls me."
"Oh… kay. The files are this way."
'This way' proved to be about four steps. The desk officer really hadn't needed to call for Goodman at all, it seemed. "Pecking order, Zach? Or more hostility?"
"Here," Goodman pulled open a drawer and removed a slim folder. "This is all the information on the Bennett case."
"Officer Cybil Bennett, you mean?"
"Y- yes sir."
"This is all of it?"
"Yes? I mean, I don't think there was much to go on. She was just there… dead…"
"And what about the Mason case?"
"Mason? I don't think there is a case by that name."
"Could you check?"
Goodman cringed a bit. "Sure, but… I really don't think so…
While he was looking, York took the folder and flipped through it. From the way the late Officer Bennett was laying, the placement of the shots… "She was fighting someone, Zach. And they fought back." He pulled out a cigarette and flipped through the photos one-handed. "But they weren't experienced, or maybe she was moving too much? Hard to tell…"
Goodman was staring at him. "Um, I checked. There's no Mason case."
"Harry Mason? Disappeared with his daughter? Before leaving, he told friends he was coming here."
"Maybe he never even made it?"
York shook his head, and went back to the file. "There's nothing in here about evidence found at the scene."
"Th- there wasn't any."
"No bullets in the body?"
"Oh those, well-"
"I- I think they'd be in evidence?"
"But there's no pictures of them."
York sighed. He would get the rookie. "Take me there."
By evening, York still hadn't figured out whether the police were completely clueless in all this, or knew more than they wanted to share. It could be both. The main thing he wanted to know now; was what Cybil had been doing in Silent Hill in the first place. She was from the next town over, not one of the locals. So what brought her here?
He'd need to ask her precinct, but that could wait until morning. The town had a couple of hotels, and the Bureau's dime could put York up for a few nights while he investigated. He thanked Officer Goodman for what little help he'd given, and headed outside.
"Um, Agent York?" York paused, and glanced back. Goodman was standing just outside the door, looking like he wanted to say something. "I…" He bit his lip. "I hope you have a good night."
"Thank you, Officer Goodman." A last question occurred to him, and York turned. "Officer, just… idle curiosity."
"What's 'White Claudia?'"
Goodman gulped. "That's… a local problem, Agent. If it had to do with the Bennett case, it would have been mentioned."
"I see… Well, that's all then. Goodnight."
He could feel Goodman watching him as he walked away, but didn't look back until he got to his car. When he did, the young officer was gone.
"I don't like this place, Zach. There are a lot of questions to ask, before I can even get to the questions I should be asking." He lit another cigarette, sitting in his car while he gathered his thoughts. "White Claudia… Like the Black Dahlia, eh Zach? 2006, Brian De Palma. But that was based on a real event, all the way back in 1947. I hope we don't run into anything quite that twisted here. Then again, white's our lucky color today."
He started the car, glancing at his map in the passenger seat. Norman's Motel was over near the amusement park, so it was convenient for his investigation. That, and the Bureau had gotten snippy over his choice in hotels lately. Better to play it safe for a few cases, and let them think he'd changed his ways.
He got his key, dropped off a few things, and went looking for a diner. One called "Jude's" was nearby, so he stopped in for a hamburger and coffee. Lackluster, the both of them. All his coffee said was he should dress warmly. The weather was supposed to get warmer, but York decided to lay out a long-sleeved shirt for the next day. Couldn't hurt.
As he got ready for bed, York went over what he'd learned.
"Little on Cybil Bennett, less on the Masons. It's like this town thinks nothing of murder and disappearance. Or maybe they have bigger problems…"
He covered his eyes with a hand. "Maybe we have bigger problems. Well, whatever they are, they can wait until morning. Goodnight Zach."