By Jordan "BluntJoey" Adorno
Chap. One – Out of Hiding
"The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." - Matthew 26:4
Jill Valentine couldn't help but compulsively check that her Desert Eagle, her handgun of choice, was still secured in its holster on her belt. She suspected her paranoia was perhaps getting ten times worse each and every day since the nightmare (nightmares, rather) in Raccoon. At this precise moment she was trying to venture, hopefully unseen (if possible), through a deep forest in perhaps the remotest area of the already very remote country of Belize. Jill herself had surely never visited here - nor even seriously thought about this very tiny Central-American country called Belize for that matter - although she figured that it was no surprise that Umbrella was getting cleverer about their choice of locations; in fact, Jill was certain of it: Umbrella had mastered the art of prudence - how much trouble she could only imagine went into relocating their top-secret base here, to Nowhere, Belize! She really had to hand it to Chris - a fellow S.T.A.R.S. member back in Raccoon who'd also walked into that mansion and miraculously escaped - for flying out here first on his own and managing to actually verify Leon's ascertained tip.
'God knows we wouldn't know anything about it if it weren't for the amazing Chris Redfield; only he could take the hunch of a spunky young cop and raise this sort of hell!' Jill contemplated to herself, climbing over a long, tied-up tree trunk in her way. 'Probably a silly kid's fort or something...I am just about there, after all.' There, quite specifically, meant Elizabethtown, a rural-as-can-be small town way out from everything else in Belize. Not surprisingly, Jill had found little on the city anywhere. The best she got was a shitty photo of the hotel she'd be staying at. '...But hopefully not for TOO long, though!' she seemed to remind herself practically every five seconds.
Finally moving a last tree branch blocking her way, Jill got her first glimpse of Elizabethtown: There was a plain-looking road with another forest behind a line of square, also plain houses. The lawns were, oddly, uniformly unkempt, and a deteriorating street sign read "Paul Road" nearby. And as Jill stepped over cracked cement and walked onto the filth-covered, asphalted road, overall it looked to Jill like Elizabethtown might well be a rather bleak resort to take up. Well, whatever — she would have a place to rest tonight if nothing else, and right now that alone sounded really good.
Jill Valentine, inhaling a deep breath, proceeded up the street, directions in her hand. Next she turned uphill onto Stonehill Way. This small rural town, Elizabethtown, felt surprisingly spooky someway, at least right now at midnight, as she passed a sizable Presbyterian church on her left ("An Elizabethtown historic landmark - built 1899") and a small playground on her right. A moment later Jill made a right onto Auberry Road, and there was Lakeside Resort, her temporary "vacation" home. She had arrived a bit later than expected, and thereby felt very relieved that a room was of course already preplanned very specifically to welcome her.
The hotel was unexpectedly grandiose-looking, its five-story building gold-painted and intricately well lit. At the front of its big, almost filled parking lot, a tall electric sign read, "Lakeside Resort: A Vacationer's Dream Stay Since 1957." A long, fancy-looking white limo was parked straight in front of the entryway, its (assumed) driver leaning against the driver seat door and jingling keys in his hand. He probably awaited a party of very affluent clientele based on the elite standard of vehicle. Taking in these surroundings, Jill swallowed and confidently paced up the asphalt parking lot, curling around the limo, and approached the red double-door entrance.
Pulling on one of the golden handlebars, Jill exhaled a weary deep breath and walked into the hotel's lobby. A scruffy middle-age pale guy with a thick mustache sat behind a check-in desk with a grumpy look on his face. A large fish tank with an assortment of colorful fish and a built-in castle sat in a corner — fold-out chairs to and around its either side — and then directly in front of her a hallway of hotel rooms followed past the immediate silver-framed elevator. Turning to the clerk, Jill managed a polite smile and enunciated clearly, "Hello there. My name is Jill Valentine and I have a four-night reservation for Room 278."
The man did not smile back but instead looked rather visibly harassed as he perused through three separate drawers before finally drawing out her room key. Reading the thin white label on it, the clerk asked the routine question, "What is your pin code, Ms. Valentine?"
"6290," she responded promptly.
Nodding, the dull man handed her the room key. "There you go, miss. Take that elevator right there to the third floor; your room 'oughta be the third on the left when you get out. Enjoy your stay," he recited dryly. He did not wait to see if she had any other inquiries before letting his eyes distract back into their uncaring daze.
Jill nodded assertively to herself, ready. Then with the key in one hand and her duffel bag in the other, she went forward to the elevator and pressed the call button. It turned orange, and then several seconds later the elevator's doors opened in front of her. Entering, Jill Valentine shuddered aback herself for a split second as the realization of things battered upon her: indeed — she, Jill Valentine, was actually daring to take up the (likelier-than-not) impossible task of infiltrating and disarming a top-secret Umbrella base located right here — yes, in the rural and seemingly uninteresting village of Elizabethtown, Belize indeed.
And yet — As Jill walked into the elevator, an unexpected rush of actual happiness surprised her. Trapped in her own apprehensive mind all day long, she'd forgotten all about the one good reason to be here: Chris Redfield was awaiting her right now in Room 278! She hadn't seen Chris in almost a full year, having been in different continents most of it even, yet now he seriously was just two stories up waiting. The circumstances weren't great, they were grave as can be in fact, but you know what?
'I'm seeing Chris fucking Redfield again. I can't believe we're even still alive. Hell, maybe this isn't going to be so bad after all...' she thought over with a surprising dose of cheeriness in her. And Jill Valentine smiled, really smiled, for the first time in a very long while as the elevator began ascending to the third floor.
Chris Redfield sat waiting for his comrade, Jill Valentine, in anxious excitement - It'd been a while. On the other hand, the first thing he had for Jill when she got to the motel was good news: he had the all-revealing diary, as promised, safe and ready for her scrupulous perusal. It was the single-handed compelling force (officially anyway) that had drawn Jill to seek him out in the first place, the crucial discovery which at last gave them an up-to-date lead on Umbrella's latest collusion. This diary belonged to the currently elite Umbrella scientist, Helen Schmitz, whom, with the help of Leon Kennedy, was found by Chris here in the dire remoteness of Central America.
He himself had been harboring Room '278' for close to a month now. Though at the beginning he'd definitely kept a low-profile, it wasn't long before Chris recklessly dared trying to break into Dr. Schmitz's house, as it for almost certain doubled as her secret laboratory. And by stroke of miraculous luck Chris, in but the brief minutes which he allowed himself to spare, bulls-eyed and acquired his new nemesis' personal diary. Once back in his hotel room safe and sound, Chris quickly discovered the contents of it were amply filled with dangerously revealing details about her research. Needless to say, Chris immediately contacted his fellow surviving teammates, Jill, Barry and Rebecca, as well as Claire and her befriended surviving RPD cop, Leon Kennedy of course (given he alone made the trip to Belize possible in the first place).
Now though, feeling anticipative as ever, Chris checked his watch incessantly, trembling a bit in his nervousness until finally three deliberate knocks disrupted his door.
Jill Valentine had at last arrived.
Chris raced in step over to the door following a rather repellant second of shock. Nervous as ever and barely breathing, he checked the peephole and, as he'd expected, saw Jill Valentine for the first time in almost a year, standing there waiting. Excitement predominating him all the sudden, Chris eagerly unbolted and opened the door to welcome his most anticipated guest: Jill, leaning one leg against the other's thigh, could not hide the astonishment in her stunned features as Chris at last looked at her face-to-face properly after spending almost a year apart. Immediately her worn facial expression was reanimate with a wholly joyous sensation for probably the first time in a long while. In response, Chris felt his face flush, turning a vulnerable scarlet as a long-awaited bolt of satisfaction vibrated through him. The two both burst into radiant, all-authentic smiles that competed in their beaming grace.
Jill was first to speak, gasping incredulously as she tried fathoming that this was truly reality. "Chris Redfield...God, I can't believe how great it feels to see you again, in one piece that is," she candidly joked, gliding off her words a bit. "Oh, Chris!" Diving desperately, she damn near suffocated Chris into a heart-filled embrace.
Holding her tight, in a comforting voice Chris said, "Jill Valentine, Jill fucking Valentine...is it really you, gal?" He was surprised how quickly his naturally dry mode of humor seemed to return. Letting go, Chris pulled the door fully opened and made a welcoming, pointed gesture inside.
Jill walked in proper first, glancing about as Chris closed and re-bolted the door shut before returning to her. Jill's head was tilting side to side as her prominent green eyes surveyed the small (albeit manageable, he hoped) terrace of refuge. Turning to look at Chris once he moved to stand next to her, Jill nodded her head with an easy-going, approving look on her face. "Not too shabby...It's a minor miracle in itself to see a room belonging to Chris Redfield clean, actually CLEAN. Trying to kill me with shock?" she teased him harmlessly, and they both laughed.
Chris looked rather pleased with himself, making a facetious, slight smug look. Grinning pompously, he then folded his arms at his chest, sarcastically replied, "All done just for you, Miss," and winked.
Tipping her head appreciatively, Jill responded with a genuine smile of silent gratitude before returning to look around at her new surroundings. "That my bed?" She pointed at the identical made-up bed next to his on the other side of the peach night stand bridged between them.
Chris nodded earnestly, still smiling. "Make yourself at home best you can," he encouraged, though awkwardness wedged his welcome just a tad.
Jill nodded, appearing perfectly composed nonetheless and not at all beside herself. Without another word she fell into seat on top her new bed, only now realizing how truly exhausted she was. Leaning back comfortably, Jill reassured her friend. "I can manage just fine here, Chris, don't worry. You've done a really good, if super surprising, job of keeping this place up." But before Chris could even thank her, Jill's expression darkened sharply, and then she took him aback with her follow-up, surprising bold words. "But before we get TOO comfortable...first, the whole reason you sent me halfway across the world: the diary, Chris, show me the diary."
And once the diary was in his comrade's hands, Chris soon learned, they were far beyond crunch time.
Less than five minutes later indeed, most magically Chris felt tantalized, even pulverized somewhat, by the flashing of his friend's amazed, studious eyes. He gulped bracingly. As Jill finally opened it, in a somewhat hoarse tone Chris first advised, "Skip ahead to late-April, 1999 for now."
She nodded affirmatively, and immediately immersed herself upon finding the right page:
April 28, 1999
After all the trouble of just being approved, alas I've arrived at my fortress in Belize. My Umbrella seniors even made sure to station me in a very remote location, too, just as I ideally requested. I'm truly in perfect condition to conduct 'X' research & experiments in peace; I couldn't be more untraceable than in this practically unmapped hiding space of mine, here in the remotest, entirely rural seclusion of Elizabethtown, Belize. Hehe —
(Rest of page is illegible due to a blotchy stain.)
May 5, 1999
I did it, I finally prototyped a replicable sample of the X-Virus! Alas, yes, my many months of devoted research are complete. Dr. Berkin, my greatest inspirer, would be proud if he were still living. He inevitably agreed with me that the scientists who completed the T-Virus project, calling it 'perfect', befooled themselves in not ensuring the virus had an unfailing, mass-distributable vaccine. Look what happened to Raccoon City and Rockfort Island! I, wiser than that, SPECIFICALLY designed 'X' with the precept that it would be non-infectious for humans. Many fellow Umbrella employees frowned upon this, or were at least mystified (that's for sure) as to my motive here. I supposed it IS slightly baffling to hear someone working for Umbrella has a conscience for humane ethics — fools.
What these scientists don't understand is that if nothing else, the risks of experimenting on humans by far outweighed any such 'benefits'. Again, look at Raccoon City: 100,000 people died at the blood lust of the T-Virus, died after being mutated into brainless, flesh-hungry zombies; without a doubt it was an abomination. But even if the question posed was simply whether anything "genius" could derive from using human lab rats, STILL, the answer is no — A doubtless, definite no. I actually find it rather sad that I'd even need mention the truly possible apocalypse that the T-virus could technically cause...
Anyway, 'X' instead has extraordinary potential in the animal kingdom, with mammals particularly.
May 9, 1999
At last my first X-Virus trials (rat experimentation) began miraculously right on schedule! Things already look good. Promisingly, my original expectation that 70 % or more of the subjects (100 in total) would die immediately following X-Virus injection proved wrong - 70 % survived! We'll have to wait and see if they experience positive accelerated growth in upcoming days...
May 21, 1999
55 % of the rats remain alive. These survivors have experienced extraordinary growth. This is great progress! The subjects are a third larger in proportion than at the start. Soon I can move on to new species!
June 15, 1999
Okay, now only 15 % of my rats are alive. Increasingly with each day, more reach an inevitable death (although recently the rate of death has significantly slowed). I admit this is a source of great disappointment considering their bright early progress. Nevertheless, the survivors have mutated to the unbelievable size of a Green Shepard dog; their teeth are practically shark-like, their claws deadly, instinct & senses intensely sharpened. If the survivors are any indication of the X-Virus' potential to create bio-weaponry, then the rats prove ''X' exceeds insurmountable boundary. I have no doubt about it.
July 09, 1999
Today my experimentation advanced to canines, cadaver dogs, even, by a wonderful dose of serendipity. So far, so good — well, not including the rough initial struggle the canine likes put up in the leading moments prior to their 'X' injection, anyway. Heh —
The remaining pages were ripped violently from their spine in what must've been a fit of rage. Chris found this rather puzzling; why destroy the consecutive pages but not the preceding ones too? The hitherto salvaged pages certainly contained beyond confidential information. If any of this came to light — if but a sentence describing such BLATANT exploration into the darkest depth of inhumanity were exposed — '…the lady scientist would be looking at life behind bars almost undoubtedly', Chris thought to himself. 'At least in any country bound by Geneva Convention laws against torture, which protect even terrorists, for God's sake!' Chris of course imagined that the pages following the ninth of July were even more inflammatory, but it was extremely rash to not in turn dispose the entire diary altogether. Extremely.
As she finished reading, Jill looked at Chris with a frightful look of worry combined with pure astonishment. Pale as ever, the two glanced silently at one another for an appreciative moment, and then finally she confusedly uttered a mere two words. "How sick." A raw look of disgust vividly animated her face, a revelation into the depth of Jill's hatred for Umbrella. "How fucking sick…But at least we found it, well you did that is. You're the best, Chris," she commended, but though her words were genuine, the sound of her voice trickled by an unsettling hollowness.
Chris smiled. "Thanks, Jill, but I got nothing on you," he said, winking kindly, but the moment passed quick as they once again glanced at one another with faces grimaced with apprehension...
Author's Endnote: Stay tuned! This is just the beginning of a huge, exciting, Resident Evil-style horror-adventure!