|Silent Hill 2: Maria, Theme 4: Rainy Night
||[Feb. 9th, 2008|12:00 am]
Title: Town Without Pity
Theme #4: Rainy Night
Fandom: Silent Hill 2
Characters: Maria (claim), James Sunderland, Mary Sunderland, Pyramid Head
Word count: 2918
Warnings: Bad words, character death
A.N.: Thanks to rosehiptea for excellent beta-ing. All mistakes are mine. Cross-posted to sh_het. Feedback is a good thing.
Summary: "It isn't very pretty what a town without pity can do."
Maria took a drag off her cigarette and jiggled the radio's dial. Finally, through the hiss of static, she adjusted it so that she could hear the music clearly. It was the crowning insanity of this place, in her mind, a bizarre mix of music flowing over the radio waves, with no ads, no call signs, serving no apparent purpose. She wasn't going to complain though, even if she thought they had too much Elton John on rotation.
She sat back and put her weight on one hand, cigarette still firmly in the other, and looked down the steps to the empty street. It was a pretty nice day for Silent Hill, although it looked like it might rain later, and everything seemed merely abandoned and rundown, as opposed to filthy and monster-infested. Not that those conditions couldn't change in a second, but still, she felt fairly comfortable at the moment.
“Town Without Pity” wafted from the radio's tinny speakers and Maria laughed. Abruptly, her laugh turned to a cough. Preoccupied with her choking, she startled when she heard James' voice from the bottom of the steps. “You're getting sick,” he said.
“Fuck, James, have you been taking lessons from the monsters?” she snapped. “Don't sneak up on me like that.”
James walked up to the top step and sat on the other side of the radio, ignoring her comments, and said, “You shouldn't smoke. It's bad for you.”
Maria coughed a few more times, then tossed the cigarette down and put it out with her boot. “Believe me, I considered my health before I started,” she said sarcastically. James didn't pay attention.
He was even stranger than he used to be, although she would have scoffed at that possibility a few weeks ago. She had initially started to avoid him because his misguided idea that Silent Hill was some kind of game that he could beat infuriated her. However, his misplaced optimism had now been replaced for the most part by a creepy, brooding stoicism.
They sat in silence for several songs before Maria gave in and lit another cigarette. James didn't comment, but said, “I want to find that guy again. I talked to that girl, Angela, but she doesn't know anything. She didn't even make any sense.”
“You shouldn't talk about your girlfriend like that,” Maria said, automatically mocking him. “She gave you a knife and everything. Anyway, what guy? You're not talking about Eddie, are you?”
“I guess that's his name,” James answered, still looking distracted.
“Yeah, you'll want to stay the fuck away from that one. I'm serious. If this was jail, you'd be in for check fraud and he'd be in for armed robbery.”
James turned in confusion, finally seeming to look at her. “Maria, what the hell are you talking about? I just want to ask him some questions. I need to find the answers.”
Maria felt an unexpected swell of kindliness towards James, with his bewildered eyes and furrowed brow. She looked at him seriously and reached over the radio to take his hand. “James, I have all the answers that you need. You just never ask the right questions.”
His confusion changed to mistrust, and with a sullen look at Maria, he pulled his hand away. She sighed inwardly, but didn't let anything show on her face. “Just be careful with Eddie is all that I am saying,” she said. “I don't think he's a very nice person.”
“Superstition” came on the radio and Maria laughed again, raising the cigarette to her smiling lips.
Maria really was sick, and it wasn't just coughing from cigarettes. She had even stopped smoking, she felt so bad. Not that this town wasn't full of medical professionals, mind you, but if she got really bad off, she wasn't sure what would happen. Actually, she was sure that if she got to the point that she couldn't take care of herself, she'd die alone in the shitty little apartment where she'd been staying, but she wished she could come up with some better solution.
It also vaguely worried her that she was sick to begin with. She was used to getting injured, sometimes pretty seriously, but med-kits took care of that. They didn't seem to be helping her now though, and she'd stopped using them because it was such a waste. Mostly she slept, trying to ignore the uncomfortable fever feeling of being simultaneously cold and hot at the same time. Some days passed like this—she wasn't sure how many. She didn't get better, but she didn't get worse either.
Late one afternoon, she woke up and felt a bit more like herself. She managed to get from her bed to the couch in her small living room, just to try to get a change of scenery. She was sitting listlessly when she heard knocking on the apartment door. It startled her so much that if she'd had more energy she might have screamed. She was going to ignore it when James called out. “Maria, are you in there?”
Of course, she never left the door unlocked, so she couldn't just tell him to come in. She hobbled to the door and opened it, turning without even bothering to greet him. All her energy was focused on getting back to the couch, where she collapsed.
Maria listened as if from far away as James clucked and fretted over her condition. She was thin as a rail, sick as a dog, she was burning up. She started to wonder in the back of her mind if she wasn't suffering from a cliché overdose, rather than illness, but it didn't seem worth arguing with him. That aside, she was grateful for his presence as he changed the sheets, heated a can of soup for her, and did other small things to be helpful. She wondered though, at her feeling of revulsion each time he put his hand on her brow.
Tucked into her bed listening to the rain, some time that evening her fever returned with a vengeance. She listened vaguely to James as he sat by her bedside. “Don't worry,” he said, on the edge of her awareness. “I'll take care of you, Mary.” She thought that she told him that she was Maria, not Mary. But even though she moved her mouth to say the words, she didn't hear her voice. Then sleep claimed her.
In her dream, the doors of the well-lit elevator opened smoothly onto a clean, bright, hospital corridor. She stepped into the hall and immediately began walking towards the faint sound of a radio playing towards its end. The tile was cold under her feet. Glancing into the rooms she passed, she saw no one else.
Stopping in the last doorway on the left, she surveyed the room, generic enough to be a hospital anywhere: curtain drawn back around the empty, white bed next to an uncomfortable chair, where Mary sat placidly. She really does look like me, Maria thought. Or I look like her. As the last wail of guitars faded away and silence fell, she started towards the other woman, wanting to touch her to see if she was real, and then stopped.
“It's alright,” Mary said, as if she knew Maria's thoughts. She smiled a little, content in her floral dress and light sweater. Maria did approach her then, reaching out a tentative hand to touch her cheek lightly with a finger. She was real. Maria stepped back and let her arm fall to her side. They looked at each other in silence for awhile; Maria didn't know how long. Finally, Mary spoke.
“Silent Hill is a town without pity,” she said, and somehow this made sense. “You'll wake up before I did.”
Maria felt a sudden sorrow overwhelm the strange bliss she had felt since she her exit from the elevator. “I'm sorry,” she told her, but Mary just smiled again and shook her head.
“It happens the way it's supposed to,” she said, standing as she spoke. “Come,” she said, opening her arms. Maria accepted her embrace, unsurprised to find the other woman was her exact height. She felt tears prickling her eyes and she squeezed Mary tightly.
Then Mary was clucking over her, helping her into the room's bed. Once she was safely tucked under the white sheets and blanket, Mary leaned over her, wiping Maria's tears with the heel of her hand. Smiling at her one last time, Mary bent closer and brought her lips to Maria's, and Maria closed her eyes.
Maria opened her eyes in the dark of her own bedroom, as unsurprised as if she'd planned it herself. And perhaps she had, but that was another question for another time, because in just a moment she would have her hands full. For here in this room, looming over this bed, was not a beatific Mary, but James.
James had one of her pillows in his hands and seemed to be muttering to himself. “I'll take care of you, Mary,” he whispered loud enough for her to make out.
“I'm not Mary,” she said clearly, and this caused him a moment's pause but wasn't enough to stop him. She had time to take a deep breath before he was on her, his befuddled whispers and dazed expression at odds with his speed and obvious intent to kill her.
Finally, the vague, dull anger that engulfed Maria's every waking moment had a focus, a target, and it was James. He was at the center of the bull's eye, and the perfection of this rage was the underlying certainty that he belonged there; the calmness that had overtaken her with Mary's kiss that assured her that this was what was to be. She was filled with surety and purpose so strong that it made her nerves sing and engulfed her body like sexual excitement.
Brief but bitter, Maria would later have trouble recalling the order of events precisely, but she never forgot the feeling. At a disadvantage on her back, she struggled against him, surprising him in her efforts. She attacked like a mad woman, but if the fight had relied on strength alone she would have been lost.
Luckily for her, she knew the only thing she needed to do was get away.
She knew that he punched her, and she remembered sinking her teeth viciously into his wrist, amazed at the savagery that her own teeth could inflict and the amount of blood. Then she was up, and out, not minding the darkness of the apartment that she knew like the back of her hand. She ran, feeling buoyant and strong despite the injuries he'd inflicted and the fact she was running barefoot headlong into a rainy night with a murderer chasing behind her.
She had enough of a head start to pause at the sidewalk at the bottom of the building's stairs, slicking her wet hair back from her face. She waited a moment, attuning herself to the inexorable flow of events, and seemed to know exactly when to turn to her right and start running. The rain poured as thunder rumbled somewhere far away, and she heard James shout hoarsely behind her.
Maria ran as fast as she could, holding nothing back, the way children do before the idea of running for fun becomes foreign and strange. The wet world of Silent Hill sped by in a blur, and she felt her face curve into a crazy crescent and thought of Mary's smile. She laughed then, if you could really laugh while you were running for your life, a kind of chuffing and huffing in between gasps. Her whole chest burned, as if she was sucking in fire instead of air, and she knew that she couldn't keep running like this forever... Or even for very long.
Fortunately, though James had shortened the distance between them, she felt that she had almost reached her destination. Like a runner with a torch, Maria needed only to hand off the burden, not take it all the way alone. Laughter forgotten, she bit her lip and tried to run faster as she turned the corner at an intersection lit by flickering, yellow street lights barely visible in the rain.
He was waiting for her down the street, as she somehow expected. Even knowing he was here to play his role, Maria felt a delicate thrill of fear. She wanted to slow as she approached him, but with James hot on her heels, she didn't have that luxury. She settled for ratcheting her sprint down to a jog, but she still misjudged her own forward motion and basically ran into him. She would have knocked over a normal man, but he merely wrapped his free arm around her as she clung to him as if they were embracing.
Maria felt a strange sense of completion mixed with shyness “I'm here,” she said inanely, but of course he didn't answer. A thought struck her. She knew she must face James, but in the brief moment she had, she reached a hand up to his neck. Carefully running her fingers up the bony ridge of his windpipe, she followed the underside of his chin up under his horrible helmet and rested her fingertips on his lips.
They twitched a little at the pressure, but that was all. She looked up at where her hand disappeared into the darkness. Then the respite was over and she turned back the way she came.
A few yards before them, in the dim light with his hair slicked to his head like a skull, James was a ghoulish sight. At a loss, he stared at the both of them as if they were demons from the depths of hell, and Maria felt a reluctant worm of sympathy wriggle in her heart. Maybe they were something like that, but even monsters had their purpose.
Lightning flickered somewhere across town as James began raving, and any softness Maria felt disappeared in a wave of anger that crashed over her and smashed pity into a thousand tiny, meaningless pieces. She had trouble hearing him clearly over the ringing of her own blood pounding in her ears, but she knew his story, and his excuses; she knew the pitiful patchwork of lies and weakness that had brought him here to this town to look for a wife that he knew in his heart was dead.
James' madness was so that even though she stood with an executioner, her back so close to his chest that it touched, his arm still around her, James stepped towards her. With this movement, Pyramid Head, who had been still since Maria turned to face James, shifted the Great Knife where it rested against the ground. Maria stroked the arm holding her briefly and comfortingly, and then, as loud and long as she could, she screamed.
James stopped his tirade against her, against the town, against everything but himself, staring at her in shock. In the quiet, she felt the words come from her mouth like a script, like her face was a mask: Mary is not here; Mary is dead, and you killed her. He made feeble attempts to correct her at first, but she was implacable and answered each in turn, telling him his own story, telling him their story, answering the questions he never asked about the town of Silent Hill because he never really wanted to know the truth.
Like most puzzles or mysteries, the truth at its heart was surprisingly brief. In the silence following it, Maria stood tall in front of her unlikely savior, but she knew she was at the end of her strength; kiss or no kiss, she was sick and tired. James lifted his bowed head to look at her, and she wasn't sure if his face was running with tears or rain. She felt the sadness loom up again, the same as in the hospital, and she knew it was almost at an end. James closed his eyes, as if in pain, and then said, “Mary, I'm so sorry.”
“I'm not Mary, James,” she said, and her voice was hers again. She closed her eyes in exhaustion and leaned back, starting to slip in the dark of dreams or nightmares. “She knows,” she told him, without opening her eyes. Then she turned towards Pyramid Head, eyes still closed. With his impossible strength, she felt him tighten his arm around her waist, lifting her off the ground, leaving him free to step forward.
He did, her in one arm, the Great Knife in the other. There wasn't much noise: a resigned breath, a small whimper when Maria felt Pyramid Head swing the huge weapon. The other sounds didn't bear thinking about. Then it was done. She still didn't open her eyes, and as she drifted back into the dark of sleep, she told herself that the tears she felt welling behind her lids were only for Mary.
Pyramid Head shifted the knife to his back, scooping her up into both arms. He paused for a long time, and as far as his actions could be interpreted, he seemed to be considering the corpse at his feet or the woman in his arms. Finally, he raised a hand to Maria's face, tracing the line of tears on one cheek with a dirty finger before taking her off into the night without a sound.