Something compelled Edward to go back to the hospital.
A feeling of anxiety had been building in him for days, something that had to do with the creepy old building. Every time he walked by it now, he stopped. The Groaners would yip and whimper, going so far as to claw at his legs and butt their heads against him just to make him move. Edward would just continue to stand there, not even looking at the tall structure. Then, with a shake of his head as if to clear it, he’d keep walking.
The first few times it happened, he chalked it up to fear of the old hospital. After his first visit, he’d never gone back. The terror he had felt locked up in that small room with the screams of dying creatures and the nauseating smell of blood in the air was enough one time around, thank you very much. Since then he had avoided the building like it was diseased.
For a while he had avoided even walking by it, but somehow that only made the anxiety worse. It was getting so bad that Dahlia had taken notice and the Groaners were more affectionate than usual. He couldn’t sit still anymore, pacing around the room and venturing into ton more often.
Dahlia confronted him about it one day.
“Edward,” she started, snapping him out of a daze. He pulled his eyes away from the window and the general direction the hospital was in. “Is everything alright? You’ve been… strange… lately.”
Edward managed a small smile. “I’m fine, Miss Dahlia. I’ve just… I don’t know, exactly.”
The old woman’s brow creased with worry. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
“I feel… restless.” Edward rested his scissor hands in his lap. “I just can’t seem to sit still.” As if to prove his point, the blades that were is fingers opened and closed, the sound of metal scraping together piercing the air.
Dahlia continued to fret over him. For days, she would ask if he was okay and every time he would give her a tiny smile and say, “I’m fine.”
This day was different.
Earlier, Dahlia had gone out- to get food or to take a walk, Edward wasn’t sure. She hadn’t said anything to the scarred man, simply standing and leaving. Edward had thought it curious, but refrained from following. The older woman deserved her privacy, after all.
Not too long after she left, Edward felt the restlessness on him once more. He, too, left the hotel, Groaners following in his wake. That was how he found himself standing outside the hospital once again. He stared nervously at the doors. The Groaners were growling on either side of him.
“I really shouldn’t go in there, should I?” he asked them. One barked while the other continued to growl. “I didn’t think so…” Edward looked back to the double doors. He took a deep breath, bladed fingers twitching. “Well, here goes nothing.” And so, he trudged up the stairs. He could still recall dry-heaving over the side of them.
Behind him, the Groaners hesitated. Their half-eaten tails were between their legs and they whimpered as their companion went up. When he reached the door, Edward turned, spotting the dogs still at the base of the steps. He gave them a small smile. “You’re not going to make me go in alone, are you?”
Yipping, the ugly mutts raced up the stairs. Edward laughed softly and patted their heads with his palms. Despite their hideousness and violent nature, the two Groaners had grown on him and Edward appreciated their company these days. Being with them was much better than being alone, and Edward knew all about being alone.
Shouldering the doors open, Edward entered the dreary hospital for the first time in months.
Everything looked just as he recalled. Broken vases, broken windows, broken doors, cracked tiles, and cracked drywall littered his vision. The hallway he had explored on his last visit loomed to the right and Edward swallowed heavily. One Groaner growled.
“I think we’ll go this way this time…” the scissor-handed man muttered. He started down the opposite hall, his companions following slowly.
As he explored he notice that something felt different this time. There was heaviness to the atmosphere that hadn’t been present before. It frightened him and Edward felt as though it was threatening to crush him, yet he couldn’t bring his feet to turn him around.
Ahead of him was an elevator and a large map of the hospital was hanging on the wall next to it. As he stopped to study the map, the Groaners padded forward, sniffing at and around the elevator. They growled and barked at the contraption, the doors partially cracked open. Edward glanced over at them.
“Looks like the basement’s off limits…” he muttered. He turned back to the map. “I wonder if there are some stairs…” Behind him, the Groaners yipped nervously. One was watching the hall they had just come from, teeth bared. The other continued sniffing around, looking up and growling every so often.
A slight shuffling could be heard down the hall. The Groaner keeping lookout growled threateningly, but the scissor-handed man foolishly paid no mind. Edward lifted a blade and lightly poked the map. “There they are!” he exclaimed. For some reason, he felt compelled to go to the basement. He jumped when the dogs started barking, turning to them. What little fur they had on their malnourished frames stood on end and they snarled. Edward’s eyes widened. They only got like that when…
“What… What’s wrong?” he asked nervously. One dog took a threatening step forward as though to pounce. That’s when he heard the shuffling. He swallowed thickly, slowly glancing back the way they came.
The shuffling was soon accompanied by breathy little gasps and light moans. Before long, the stumbling figure of a nurse could be seen, followed by another, then a third. Each one clutched something sharp in their gnarled hands, their shivs glinting in the grey light. Edward gasped and stumbled back as the nurses continued forward. The dogs snarled in warning.
“I don’t think they’re listening,” Edward mumbled. Then he turned tail and mad a mad dash for the stairs, dogs bounding after him.
He didn’t like the nurses and the nurses didn’t like him. They were one of the few monsters in Silent Hill that attacked him. They were the main reason he had avoided the hospital for so long. Edward couldn’t understand why they attacked him. He hadn’t done anything to them! Then again, he was still surprised that most of the creatures in Silent Hill left him alone, so the fact that he could hear them shuffling along behind him shouldn’t have been too shocking. Maybe he was getting too used to all the other monsters?
Shouldering open the stairwell door, he let the Groaners run in before racing after them. He really hoped the nurses wouldn’t follow them down…
The blades that were his fingers scraped against the wall and banister as they raced down the stairs. Occasionally, Edward would lose his footing and stumble all while the Groaners loped ahead of him, panting and yipping. Far above them, a door creaked open and Edward heard the nurses’ gasping breaths echo down the stairwell. He ran faster.
Eventually, he caught up with the Groaners, barking and scratching their nails against a door. Finally, they reached the basement!
Edward rammed his shoulder hard into the door, bursting out the other side. Once the dogs were through, he pushed it closed, finally drowning out the nurses’ moans with his back pressed to the door. Edward slid down it to sit, gasping for air, knees bent up in front of him. A nervous, borderline hysterical laugh escaped his lips.
“I really can’t go anywhere without finding trouble…” he muttered self-deprecatingly. One Groaner hesitantly came up and licked his cheek as the other butt its head against his knee. Both whimpered. Edward sighed and patted each of their heads. “I think it might be difficult getting out of here,” he told them. They yipped. “Shall we keep going?” The Groaners barked, the one at Edward’s feet running in an excited circle. Edward laughed, this time much more calm, and he stood using the door as leverage.
He finally took a good look at his surroundings.
The sirens had not yet announced the arrival of the Darkness and yet the Darkness inhabited every corner of the basement. The air was damp, the lights dim, and the walls were bloody and peeling. Edward gulped. His companions were not the maggot-riddled monsters he had encountered the last time he visited the hospital, telling him that this wasn’t the normal Darkness that crept over town, but an overwhelming sense of evil filled his very being. This wasn’t normal. The Groaners whimpered.
“Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea…” he stated hesitantly for the umpteenth time. He glanced at the door. Taking a deep breath and keeping his hands lose to his chest, he started to walk. He almost wished Silent Hill’s executioner was with them. Edward always felt safe in the Red Pyramid’s presence.
The scissor-handed man had no idea where he was going. The small beam from his shoulder light was the only thing that lit their way. His companions would sniff when they came to a corner and when they growled, Edward would walk past the hall without a glance. At other corners, the dogs would turn and Edward would follow. He had long since learned that they would not lead him astray, and here, in this horrible place, they were in their element.
When they reached another crossroads, the Groaners paused. Edward tilted his head at them curiously. One barked.
The sound of a million tiny feet on concrete skittered past them. Thousands of Creepers moved about the hall. The Groaners growled at them but the little cockroaches paid them no heed. Edward knew they were no threat to him. As the last of them turned a corner, Edward jogged to catch up.
“Come on!” he called back to the dogs. The Groaners barked and went after him.
More hallways passed as Edward struggled to keep up with the cockroach monsters. He tried calling out to them but the Creepers didn’t seem to hear. They were getting further and further ahead around each bend. As the last few Creepers skittered out of sight, Edward felt a bubble of adrenaline burst inside him and he sprinted around the next corner.
He came to a sudden halt, arms wind-milling to keep himself balanced as the Groaners came panting up behind him.
The Creepers were all gone.
Before them were thick metal doors, rusted over from time and caked in blood and grit from the Darkness. Edward took a hesitant step forward, scissor hands once more pulled close to his chest. The Groaners sniffed the air behind him. They growled, hackles rising.
Edward ignored them. “This is probably a bad idea, too…” he muttered in self-depreciation. Something told him to open the double doors. The dogs barked louder. One rushed forward, teeth latching ono the back of Edward’s leg. Edward cried out and jerked back. The Groaner whimpered as Edward stared at it with wide eyes. It crawled forward on its belly. “It… It’s okay…” the almost-human muttered. The dog whined and its companion came forward. Hesitantly, Edward patted their heads. “It’s okay…” They whined again when Edward turned back around.
Taking an anxious breath, Edward strode forward purposefully, ignoring the barking Groaners, and pushed open the metal doors.
Bright white blinded him. The doors slammed closed behind him and he could faintly make out the barking Groaners frantically scratching at the doors. Images assaulted his mind’s eye; dark, horrible images of a little girl relentlessly being teased and abused, assaulted and mocked. He could see Dahlia, much younger and just as beautiful as he had imagined she’d be, fretting over the poor child and holding her close. Edward realized that this abused, beautiful, and frightened child was Dahlia’s daughter. Dahlia had told him of the cruelties Alessa had undergone, but he’d never imagined this! Such abuse on an innocent child and Edward was horrified. The cruelty he’d faced in that neighborhood so long ago couldn’t even compare to what this child went through. The final images were the worst. Alessa, burned alive, charred body barely breathing in the hospital. And there was the Demon…
The Demon the residents of Silent Hill feared and blamed for their hell, who they thought was Alessa, was there protecting her, keeping her safe. The Demon sent her innocence away in the form of a baby and Silent Hill was forever after damned.
“The Darkness is her revenge…” Edward whispered in awe and fear, brown eyes squeezed shut against the light.
“Very good,” another lighter, more childish voice replied. Darkness and mockery underlined the sweet tone. “I knew it was a good idea to bring you here. You, with such a gentle disposition, who is so used to the cruelty of men. You can open your eyes now, sweet Edward.”
Apprehensively, Edward opened his eyes.
He stood in a dark, dreary hospital room. It was large and Darkness reached out to every corner. Curtains hung in the center and Edward could just make out the wheels of a gurney behind them. He fear who might lay in that bed.
A woman with long, beautiful hair stood over the bed, tending to the patient with her back turned to Edward. Her shoulders shook as quiet sobs escaped her.
Edward took a cautious step towards her. “Excuse me…”
“Please don’t bother her,” that dark, childish voice told him. Edward jumped, glancing around the room for the speaker. A little girl with wild black hair and grey, cracked skin stepped out from the shadows. “She’s shy.” Her eyes were dark, and staring into them made Edward feel small.
She looked remarkably like the Alessa from the visions.
“You… You’re not Alessa… are you?” Edward asked hesitantly.
A low chuckle escaped the girl. “You are smart,” she said. “No, I’m not quite her. What remains of Alessa lies there.” She pointed towards the curtained-off bed. The nurse sat in a chair next to it, still sobbing.
Edward’s curiosity reared its ugly head and he tapped two blades together nervously.
“You can look if you want,” the little girl encouraged. “What you’ll see is no worse than what you’ve encountered.”
Edward tapped his blades together once more before creeping towards the bed. There was a gap in the curtains at the head of the gurney and Edward peeked in to get a look at the patient. He was surprised to see a human laying there, the figure wearing nothing but a thin hospital gown. Third degree burns scarred the person’s body and made the gender nearly impossible to tell, but Edward knew who this was. She had to have been in her thirties or forties, but Edward knew.
“Alessa…” he gasped.
The woman’s breathing was shallow, but she managed a small, lipless smile. Edward wanted to reach out to her, to touch her hand, something, but he knew that was a bad idea.
“What’s left of her,” the little girl explained. “The woman you see before you is all of the darkest parts of Alessa’s soul.”
“And this town is a manifestation of that darkness,” the scissor-handed man stated, turning back to the child.
She nodded and smiled. “And I am the one that gave her the Darkness.”
“To protect her?”
“Exactly. I sent what was left of her goodness away,” she pointed at the woman. “She remains to punish the ones who hurt her.”
Edward tapped his blades together again and nervously licked his lips. “And Miss Dahlia?” he murmured. “Why does she suffer?”
The girl shrugged. “Dahlia is here for not being able to protect her. She may be Alessa’s mother, but the old woman was unable to keep her daughter out of harm’s reach. She gave Alessa over to the townspeople, even if she didn’t know what was bound to happen.”
“But… but…” Edward stuttered. “Dahlia’s her mother!”
“No harm has befallen her,” the child said. Her eyes were dull as she spoke, as though she didn’t care about what happened to anybody but Alessa. Edward guessed this must be true. “As no true harm has befallen you.”
The only male in the room blinked in confusion.
“Oh, don’t look like you don’t understand,” the Demon chided. “Alessa may control the Darkness, and the monsters may come from her fears, but that doesn’t mean she can control every action. The creatures like you. They know that you are a decent person. Very few of them attack you.” She glanced at the doorway pointedly where the faint scratching and barking of the Groaners could be heard. “You have protectors. Dahlia is safe because she is the Master’s mother. You are safe because you are you.”
Edward didn’t know what to say to that. He blushed, color coming to pale cheeks.
The child turned away from him, walking back towards the shadows. “He’s coming for you now.”
She looked back at him over her shoulder. “The one you call Pyramid Head. He thinks you are in danger and is coming for you. It’s strange that he likes you so much.”
Edward’s face flushed further. The child smirked and walked away. Just as her feet were swallowed by the shadows, Edward reached out for her. “Wait!” The Alessa doppelganger turned around. Edward hesitated. “Why did you bring me here?” he finally asked.
As the shadows engulfed her legs, the child turned. “I was hoping to use you to get into the church,” she stated bluntly. “It’s the only place I cannot go.” A queer smile pulled at her grey skin. “But I think it’s time for a little light to return to town.” Then she was gone.
Edward was left with the nurse’s quiet cries and Alessa’s labored breathing. He glanced around nervously, unsure if he should just leave.
One whispered, ragged word was his answer. “Edward…”
He jumped and spun around. The nurse was still sobbing so that left only one other occupant. He went to Alessa’s bedside.
“Yes?” he asked quietly.
Alessa raised a shaking hand to him, gently shutting off his shoulder light. Edward gently rested one of his own hands on the bed and she laid hers over the metal of his wrist. “You’re… a good… person…” she wheezed softly. “I’m… sorry… for all… of this…”
Edward shook his head. “You were just doing what you could to protect yourself,” he told her.
The burned woman chuckled bitterly. “You… don’t… deserve… this…” She stared straight into soft brown eyes. “I thought… you would… do… but I… forgot the… townspeople’s simpleminded…ness. I don’t… want you… hurt. But I’m glad… to have… met you…”
Edward didn’t know what to say. Alessa simply smiled that strange smile and took her hand back. The scarred took that as her permission to leave, but he wanted to do something for her, anything. Slowly, he leaned down and pressed a kiss to her forehead.
Tears came to the burned woman’s eyes. “Don’t… tell mother…”
Edward nodded in understanding and stood straight once more. With a small smile of his own, he walked back out through the double doors.
The Groaners were at the other end of the hallway, barking and whining at the slowly approaching Pyramid Head. The heads perked when the heavy doors slid open and upon catching sight of the strange, scarred human they yipped and ran to him. Edward laughed softly as they nuzzled his legs, patting their heads and doing his best to ignore his dark surroundings. Something had been compelling him down there before. Now he just wanted to leave as soon as possible.
Pyramid Head was before him in an instant, Great Knife clutched tight in his fist. He gently grasped Edward’s chin in his free hand, tilting his face from side to side, checking for new injuries. Edward smiled sweetly up at him, placing his scissor hands delicately on the muscled arm.
“I’m fine,” he told he great monster. The executioner tilted his head to the side as if in question. “I promise, I’m fine.”
He was released. Pyramid Head took a step back. His helm jerked up and Edward guessed that h was looking at the rusted metal doors behind him. The monster’s grip tightened further on his weapon and he released a deep rumble. Edward squeaked as his wrist was grabbed and the monster dragged him back the way they came.
The almost-human stumbled over his feet as the hallways passed by. Behind him, the Groaners barked and ran to keep up.
“Slow down!” he pleaded with the great monster. He tugged uselessly to free his wrist. “I don’t have long legs like you do!”
Pyramid Head stopped suddenly just as they reached the stairwell, Edward stumbling into his back. Edward panted for air, lungs, legs, and wrist burning.
“I didn’t… think you’d actually listen…” Edward mumbled between breaths. The monster stood silent as he watched the strange man. When Edward finally caught his breath and stood up straight, he tilted his head and stared curiously up at the creature. “What?” he asked quietly, face flushed.
Another rumble escaped Red Pyramid. Then he bent low and with his free arm, scooped the smaller man up and threw him over his shoulder. Edward squealed indignantly.
“H-hey!” he stuttered. “I have legs! I can walk!” His usually pale face was bright red as the monster carried him up the stairs. For the most part, Pyramid Head ignored him. “Come on, this is completely unnecessary…” Edward trailed off, catching sight of the mangled dead bodies of the nurses who had chased him before. Nausea swept over him and he covered his mouth with a wrist, squeezing his eyes shut. He stayed quiet after that.
Soon enough, they reached the hospital’s entrance and the ashy, grey fog beyond greeted them. Pyramid Head meandered down the stone steps and onward. Edward kicked his legs out in an effort to be put down, earning a swat to his backside in retaliation. He squeaked, face flushing even darker if that was possible. He stared instead down at the following Groaners.
“He doesn’t like to listen,” the strange man muttered to them. One yipped in reply. He looked over his shoulder, propping himself up carefully to try and peer at the monster. “Are we going back to the hotel?”
Another grumble was his answer and the pyramid helm bobbed in a nod.
“You’re going to carry me the whole way, aren’t you?” Edward deadpanned. Pyramid Head nodded again. Edward sighed, hanging his head and arms in defeat. “Miss Dahlia will likely find this hilarious…”
He yelped as another swat landed on his thighs, blushing.