Back in 2005/2006 I took part in my first forum based RPG run by a group of amazing and very talented people on a Silent Hill board of around 10,000 members strong. It no longer exists, but my love for psychological horror, roleplay and the Silent Hill series remains. What began then continued in a new reunion style RPG of the original players of that first game around three years ago.
Gravity is my part and my characters extended story of what happened in Silent Hill on our last visit, but more importantly what happened before. That was the story that was not told in it’s entirety. I barely even brushed the surface. What was intended to be a straight forward game resulted in a documents folder on my computer of around 80,000 words. This story is not over for me. Although it reached completion in the structured game setting at the time, I have unfinished business with it. A lot of unfinished business.
Feedback is more than welcome, by the way. It feeds my motivation!
~ Chapter One ~
Do birds scream?
Claire hadn’t even noticed the fog until the bus crawled to a stand still and her eyes flickered open from the nap she’d figured on taking on her way to where she was going. It hadn’t been any kind of quality sleep, that was for sure. This was no quality ride. You got what you paid for, and ‘economy’ in this case had meant a musty smelling old bus with tattered and stained seating and anything but a smooth ride. Her only goal had been and still was to just get to the destination as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Comfort hadn’t factored into the equation when she’d purchased the Greyline bus ticket, although she was regretting that oversight right about now as her back and neck ached.
If it had been a familiar bus route, it wouldn’t have been such a long, tedious jouney. There would have been familiar landmarks to make it at least feel as if the ride was getting shorter. But this trip, well, it was one she had never taken before, and it was all unknown, or at least most of it was. The first couple of hours in was familiar territory and landscapes, but everything after was all new, as the bus turned and took a direction that she’d never been before. And it all looked the same. Seemingly endless rolling stark hills, thirsty for rain and in between, flat lands, equally as dry and barren. It had crossed her mind once or twice before she felt her eyes grow heavy that it would be really bad if they were to break down unprepared somewhere on that never ending stretch of road.
She pulled her forehead off the window and pushed a stray strand of unruly red hair from her forehead behind her ear and sat up taller in her seat trying to see why the vehicle had come to a stop. Looking out the window she felt uneasy. Gone were the plains and hills, now replaced by dense fog. She shuddered as she had the odd notion for a moment that if she was to put her hand out the window now that she would almost be able to curl her hand around it and hold it as if it had actual substance. Strange. Very strange.
People were starting to talk now, some amongst themselves and some at the driver. She was only two seats back from where the driver sat but she said nothing, only listening for a short time to the questions issuing forth from passengers who were tired, impatient and some of them a little afraid.
“Wasn’t the weather supposed to be fine?”
“Is this type of fog normal around these parts?”
“When do you think it will clear?”
All questions she would like the answer to also, but the driver just shook his head, finally banging his fist down on the steering wheel in frustration as the passengers’ voices started to rise to an uncomfortable volume.
She understood his frustration. After all, he wasn’t a weather man, was he? Just a bus driver. A bus driver in an increasingly unfortunate situation.
She watched as he shut the engine off and took the keys out of the ignition, sliding them into his pocket. He pushed a button on his dash to open the doors and stood up to move down the steps going outside. She peered around the edge of her seat watching him go. Obviously, he wanted a closer look at the road ahead.
Somebody, a loud, obnoxious sounding man who had moved forward to stand at the vehicles open passenger door called out.
“What do you see, driver?”
When the bus driver turned around slowly, it was the expression on his face that struck a chord of fear in the pit of her stomach right away. He shook his head once, twice and then again before he turned back towards where she assumed the road was and leaned forward for a closer look.
“There’s no road…”
“The road is gone!”
People started to shout again and Claire’s head began to spin. And then, it all happened so fast, almost too fast to actually register what was happening.
The sound rang out at the same time she heard the wings flapping. A screaming sound. It felt like it reverberated in her brain, making her feel ill, weak, disoriented even. It was too loud, far far too loud to be a normal creature, she knew that much. Startled, she looked out the front window just in time to see a bird, or what she could only describe as a bird even though it looked more like a pterodactyl or something that wasn’t even possible, swoop down and pick up the driver in it’s huge talons and fly back into the fog.
Do birds scream?
A laugh escaped her, so loud and out of place that folk immediately turned to stare as if she were insane. But she wasn’t crazy. She’d fallen asleep and she was still asleep. This was a bad dream, that was all; it was the only explanation.
This isn’t real. This isn’t happening.
A woman further towards the back of the bus started to scream and that was all it took to make Claire start moving. She wouldn’t stay in here with that noise. The driver was gone, and she wasn’t going to sit here and wait for that thing to come back.
That screaming bird thing.
Birds don’t scream!
She looked forward to the now empty driver’s seat and wondered if the man had left anything behind that she could use. Some kind of weapon, cash? Maybe even a map. It suddenly occurred to the young woman that she didn’t even know where she was. Where had the bus broken down? How far from or close to their destination had they travelled?
A crumbling sound outside the door startled her for a moment and some rocks rolled down the cliff face. Jesus, what next? The bus was going to be buried under an avalanche of dirt and debris? There was only one possible way to go. Forward. The wall to the left was crumbling and to the right was only a sheer cliff face going who knew how far down. It wasn’t as if she could tell through the fog.
She noticed a small dark haired girl walking in the same direction. Claire stood at the edge of the chasm for a moment and glanced over at her. She looked scared. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed that others had started to gather now too, probably considering the same thing she was.
“I don’t know about all you people, but I’m not staying here to wait for that thing to come back,” she muttered, as she readied herself to moved forward.
“Oh shit, my bag!“ She mumbled it more to herself than to anybody else and turned to get back onto the bus. She’d stowed a small canvas shoulder bag in the overhead compartment where she’d been sitting, and in the excitement had forgotten to get it out. She pushed quickly through the gathering crowd and stumbled up the bus steps in her hurry to get back to her seat, crashing down on the top step, smashing her knee into the front facing of the metal step. She cried out and threw herself down into a sitting position cradling her knee, groaning in pain.
What an idiot. Good job, Claire, she berated herself. She looked around for help, and saw a man straighten up, seeming to have just been rifling through the glove compartment up front. He was unkempt looking and wearing a pair of those round glasses that everyone had gone crazy over in the 70’s. Come to think of it, he looked as if he might just have stepped straight from the era with his long hair and overgrown beard, trench coat and general appearance. She found that amusing for a moment, despite the situation.
“Excuse me, Sir?” She smiled weakly, even though her knee still throbbed. “I wonder if you’d be kind enough to throw me down my bag from that overhead?”
“Hurry we don’t know how much longer this rock face is going to stay in one piece!”
Claire heard the dark haired girl say and she nodded in her direction right before the other man spoke, catching her attention.
“The driver is gone.”
State the obvious. Actually she didn’t think badly of him for saying it at all, verbalizing the words seemed to make it all the more real and reminded her that she needed to be moving faster. The scared girl outside was right. The rock face was starting to shower the gathered crowd below it now with debri.
He reached up to the overhead a few moments later as she’d asked him to, although he delayed momentarily as if he were confused she had asked for his help, giving her an odd look. While he retrieved her bag, she tugged at the tight jeans and managed to roll the denim up over her knee to get a closer look. There was already a nasty dark bruise forming. She would pay for that later, she was sure of it. Inwardly she groaned and tugged the leg down again, rubbing on the swollen joint gingerly before she stood up, hand outstretched to take the bag from the older man.