Disclaimer: Silent Hill 2 is Konami's dream child, not mine.
Summary: James realizes that having sway over life and death isn't exactly a gift. One-shot.
Rating/Warning(s): T for dark themes, disturbing content, some sexual references, and swearing.
I didn't want any flowers, I only wanted
To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
How free it is, you have no idea how free—
The peacefulness is so big it dazes you,
And it asks nothing, a name tag, a few trinkets.
It is what the dead close on, finally; I imagine them
Shutting their mouths on it, like a Communion tablet.
- Sylvia Plath, Tulips
Mary sneezes, startling James awake again. He doesn't even remember falling asleep. The clock does what it does best—stretches out the time, stretches out the pain like irritated skin. He hates that feeling. He is awake now. And he has never felt so pissed.
Why the hell couldn't she be quiet? Damn it.
Mary turns to look at him, saying nothing. Her mortality is communicative, like the flowers he brought that neither he nor Rachel will remember to water. He feels it in his bones. That she is infecting him by her very presence. Now, he feels like dying too.
The priest had told her that this death should be welcome. It would be the end to her pain. The Lord will receive her then.
James doubts it. From the look of it, Mary isn't putting much stock in it either.
Even the doctor, who is white but for some reason Buddhist, had said that she is only passing onto another stage of existence. "Yeah, non-existence, ass wipe," she'd said as he left the room.
While James wouldn't word it so harshly, he admits that in the face of death, living with it, breathing the same air as it, he's lost the belief in the immortality of the soul. Despite the fact that he was raised Catholic by a mother who carried a Bible in her purse and a man who sat quiet and uncomplaining next to his wife in the pews while the bells solemnly sounded out the word of God.
Yet he can't believe in it anymore.
He doesn't know why. It should be stronger than ever—it should be the most comforting thought he possesses at a time like this, but it isn't.
He plays ping-pong with his own thoughts, trying to figure out why. Well, for starters, he supposes that if the soul survives the death of the body, it'd still carry the same knowledge that its body did. Wouldn't the thought of being dead bother Mary in the hereafter? Moreover, potentially seeing James move on and slip into bed with another woman at night sometime in the future?
He doesn't even want to think about being haunted by a spurned soul like Mary's. If anybody knows how much of a bitch Mary can be when she's angry, it's James.
He especially doesn't want to think about the prospect of being haunted as the thought of her death, like a black worm, wriggles in his mind. The thought is becoming so attractive, so doable, that he can't move his mind onto any other subject—even sex.
He thinks it would be civil to give her one last meal.
So James stands up from his worn wooden chair and heads for the kitchen. The pots and pans are suspended in midair from the rack above the island, like little hung silver men. The dishes are in disarray, stacked on one another like disjointed towers. The newspapers of yesterday, the day before that and the day before that are scattered everywhere like they have a pet. Everything's beginning to look murdered.
The tomato soup bubbles on the stove, crusting around the edges. He isn't paying attention, and Mary doesn't seem to care.
What to do after she's gone? Well, there's the laundry, the dishes, of course, and… Oh.
What's he going to do with her? It wouldn't be proper for her to just lie there as he does his chores.
What's he going to do after his chores?
James stares at the tiles in the ceiling. Maybe that wouldn't be so bad. Maybe he'll get to find out for himself what really happens after the curtain falls, after the candle blows out.
Just as he thinks about what tortures await him in hell—or even if there's a different kind of hell for each person—he sees that Mary's soup is burning. He quickly takes it off the stove and makes a long, drawn out sigh. Once again, Mary doesn't say anything. He's sure that she'll holler about the burnt smell soon enough—which makes him want to kill her quicker.
The Buddhists have hot and cold hells. He knows this, because the doctor told him.
What would be more preferable—freezing eternally or burning eternally?
Then he realizes, with a mental slap of the forehead, that hell doesn't give a damn about your preferences.
Mary's response to the soup is the everyday scowl, the furrowing of her brows and the pursing of her lips. James has gotten used to that ugly face. Just one more reason to kill her. Her skin is mottled and pale, not the pink, baby smooth peach that it used to be. Her hair is falling out.
Her eyes look like glassy, hollow marbles on a porcelain zombie.
He's careful to blow it first before he sets it on her bed tray. If she had any idea about what's going to happen after this soup, she'd throw it in his face and make him as ugly as her in an instant.
It almost makes him cry. It's astounding to watch her eat quietly, so complacently, not knowing that she will be stilled forever in only a few moments. Her trust in him hurts him irreparably.
As he predicts, she doesn't finish her soup. She lays back on the headstand and does what he does all too often—stares at the tiles in the ceiling.
His hands are trembling as he takes the bowl from her and folds the tray, sliding it underneath the bed.
The bowl becomes another part of the columns of stacked dishes. He fears that they will all topple over and crash, and with all this noise, his evil thoughts will evaporate. He knows that he's probably in the middle of a psychotic break, or that, in other words, he's not entirely here right now, but some large part of him doesn't want to be.
Can he plead insanity? Surely he is insane. Perhaps it'll work. He'll kill Mary here, cry and quiver in court, and they'll just put him in a hospital. Then when he's all better they'll let him free.
Ah, what a load of shit.
He's past the point of caring what happens.
He turns and makes his approach, trying to appear as bored as possible. He's so afraid that she can read the intent his eyes, even though she isn't looking at him directly. To his convenience, he finds that she is no longer propped against the headstand, but lying prone and straight on her back, with her hands crossed on her stomach. The womb that might have once held their child, if given the shot at a full life.
She is growing sleepy. Her eyes are fluttering. Her head turns away from him.
A little voice inside his head tries to reason with him. It says that she might not actually be falling asleep, but dying. So he won't have to.
He waits for a few minutes, his wooden chair aching to creak and break the silence.
No. Her chest is still rising and falling at a slow, steady rhythm.
This is his chance.
The room has suddenly darkened. He doesn't remember actually turning the lights off.
For about five more shivering minutes, he tells himself repeatedly that Mary will die.
This is the end of the line. There is no turning back.
But he really should turn back because this is his wife and he loves her—says the little voice—
Only to be snuffed forever when he pulls the pillow out from underneath her head and presses it down on her face.
But you are not going to hell, Mary. Not like me, he reasons. You are a saint. You are a martyr.
And with the surprising strength and mobility she didn't have only a few moments ago, she thrashes wildly and claws into James' forearms, desperately pinching, slapping, tearing, and yanking. A stray leg jabs him in the ribs, and he grunts loudly, almost doubling over and losing his grip. For a precious few seconds Mary thinks, as her brain slowly runs out of oxygen, that she can kick him off.
But her body begins to abandon hope. She wishes she could accept it—like the priest had said—but it's too painful. Why this way? If only without this pain!
This is where the thread of life has been drawn, and where it has been cut. This agony is inescapable and must be experienced. She isn't her own. It isn't her choice.
Slowly her thoughts dissolve, and the terrible pain ebbs into the dark.
Her legs become still and her arms fall away.
James regains himself and pulls the pillow off of her, throwing it so it whizzes away like a Frisbee and slides to a stop somewhere behind him. He expects an expression frozen in airless agony, but instead Mary's mouth is open slightly and her eyes are closed.
She is an angel.
His hands, his unforgivable hands, fall to his sides.
And I am a demon.
His scream breaks the sound barrier. It is a shriek unlike any other—a shriek that is both a bullet that can be heard around the world and as soundless as a dog whistle.
The painting of The Scream, and its powerful o-gape of misery, flashes in his mind. It doesn't hold a candle. He is on another level entirely—a level of despair that he's only seen in the war pictures of his elementary history books.
He remembers the photo of the girl in Vietnam running naked down the road after her village had been napalmed. Her back was burned.
He thinks of explosions, of buildings turned to rubble, of a mother trying to coax her dead child into wakefulness, and he understands everything. Everything and nothing.
Now he is awake. And he has never been this empty.
His scream can take nothing back, no matter how loud.
Mary is gone.