Hi! New story. I hope you'll like it. The only thing I want to say is that Erica's apartment is very similar to Henry's apartment from 'Silent Hill 4: The Room'. I know, I know, Zoe had the same one, too, but don't blame me; I loved that apartment. And I loved that game. This story is inspired by it, after all.
That said, please enjoy.
The bedroom door creaked open slowly and Erica found herself in the darkness of the hallway. She remained there, at the doorway, unmoving, staring at the closed door of the bathroom across her. The periodical sound of liquid tapping on hard surface, echoed like explosions in the deadly silence of the empty apartment.
Suddenly, she was filled with an irrational fear. She fought the urge to run back to her bedroom, jump on her bed and curl under the covers. She turned to her right, to the direction of the living room. She frowned; a diffuse reddish light was coming from there. She could see the opposite wall between the kitchen and the living room. Its surface looked rough and bumpy; some kind of dark, thick liquid was smeared all over it.
Erica's heart began beating violently in her chest. At the same time, a bitter, tangy taste reached her lips. The air felt heavy, thick, it made it hard for Erica to breathe. She felt her legs heavy as lead. However, there was a powerful force that prompted her to take that first step. It was like an invisible hand was pushing her towards the living room. Almost mechanically, she walked down the small hallway.
A low, hissing sound reached her ears. This only added to the terror that already roved around the apartment. Still, she kept walking. She only stopped when she felt something warm and liquid under her left sole. She lifted her foot and looked down. There was a small pool of a dark crimson liquid on the floor just in front of her. Suppressing the feeling of nausea that threatened to take over her, she circled around the small pool and reached the end of the hallway.
First, she turned her head to the left. She saw strange objects upon the counter and inside the kitchen sink. But the thing that made her eyes widen was the door of her apartment. Or better… the absence of it. The area on the wall where the door used to be, was now nothing but only solid wall. A sudden feeling of claustrophobia arose within her. Even as she turned to her right, she knew there was worse to come. The sickening reddish light was more radiant in the living room, although the direction it came from was unknown. It seemed like a heavy, bloodied veil fell upon the walls, the furniture, the TV. The walls looked corroded, fleshy pieces of something that reeked sliding slowly down them, leaving red trails along the way. Erica felt a scream climbing up her throat but it never broke free. However, she took some more steps inside the living room; she knew she had to go all the way. She came to stand in front of the couch. And she was faced with it.
The body of something that could have been a human once, was half sitting, half lying on the couch. It would slide down the squabs and in a pile of blooded flesh on the floor, had it not been for the thick, barbed wire that held it tied tightly on the couch. There was no skin, no lips, just blood everywhere, an eyeball hanging down from the socket by a single nerved, stained bone protruding from horrible wounds. And even that wasn't the worst. For there was a small necklace hanging from the body's cut-open throat; the same one as the Pisces necklace Erica's father had given her as a present when she had turned twelve.
That was all Erica could take. The scream that haunted her throat finally found its way out of her mouth and filled the apartment with pure terror.
Six years ago…
The man in the long grey coat tightened his grip on the leather briefcase he was holding as he crossed the road. There were black circles underneath his eyes and his cheeks were sucked in, obvious signs of anxiety and lack of sleep. His right eye was red and the eyelid was half-draped over it.
He walked down the pavement with hurried strides. It was early in the morning and the streets were filled with people that went to their jobs. He stopped in front of a tall building and stared up, towards the higher floors. Gripping his briefcase tighter, he entered the building.
He came out again, ten minutes later. He wasn't holding the briefcase anymore, but his left hand was hidden in the pocket of his coat, playing nervously with something that was there. He walked a few blocks until he reached the subway entrance. He stepped on the moving stairs and disappeared down the depths of Hetherfield's subway.
He had done the same route a hundred times throughout the last two years. Handson's Station, Main Lane Station, Cross Station, East Hills Station. He headed directly to the second level of the subway. Lots of people were standing at the edge of the platform, waiting for the train. Jason looked up at the electronic wallpad. The train was scheduled to arrive in a minute and ten seconds. He slowly walked to the edge of the platform himself and stood still. Time seemed to roll slowly as he waited. At last, he heard the rumbling noise of the train. He raised his eyes and saw the light coming from the turn of the rails.
He turned around sharply at the hearing of his name. His eyes widened in utter horror before he felt the push on his chest.
Erica woke up with a throbbing head. She slowly sat up on her double bed and massaged her temples. Lately, she had been waking up with a strange dizziness almost every morning. She was sure that she had very intense dreams during the night's sleep but she had a hard time recalling them in the light if the morning.
She got up from the bed tiredly and made it to the bathroom for her morning routine. Shower, brushing her teeth, combing her hair. Then dressing, eating breakfast. Half an hour later, she was walking out of her apartment building and heading for the nearest subway entrance.
Morning tended to be boring. Until she arrived at the campus, at least. Then, her day would actually start. Erica was a biology student at the eighth semester. She had moved to Hetherfield after she finished school, so she could attend the university there. That was the first time she had left her home. Living away from her family was a bit strange at first but she had soon gotten used to it. In fact, she kinda enjoyed living on her own. She was now twenty-two, smart, independent, promising. Since she had started living alone, she had lost a few pounds and she was now slender enough for her mother to scold her for not eating properly every time she visited her family. Besides that, Erica was of medium height and she had shoulder-length hair, light brown and wavy with side swept bangs. Her big chocolate eyes, narrow face and thin lips were all features she had inherited from her father. Her mom always laughed about how she hadn't taken anything from her – physically, at least.
She spent all of her morning and early noon there. Attending her classes and working at the labs. She was lucky to be able to do what she actually loved the most. Biology was her passion and she could study and work on it all day long. And that's exactly what she did, most of the time.
At five, she was still in the lab, sitting on a small desk at the corner and working on the skulls. She was rapt with adjusting the lights under the stereoscope when she felt a light tap on her left shoulder. Turning around, she saw Gina's smiling face.
"Hey. Am I interrupting?" the raven-haired girl greeted.
Erica smiled back.
"Of course not. Take a seat" she motioned at a chair nearby.
Gina grabbed the back of the chair and brought it closer, then sat down on it.
"How's it going? We haven't talked since Saturday. I hope you're not mad at me."
Erica stared at her friend in confusion.
"Why would I be mad at you?"
"You know" Gina laughed. "About that guy, Jake, I introduced to you at the party. I saw you trying to get away from him during the whole time."
"Yeah, well… He said that if you add an 'ot' in my name, it becomes 'erotica'. I mean… Jeez! Anyway, he's just not my type. I tried to be polite but he kept following me." She shook her head laughing. "At the end I had to tell him that I had to go home and do some laundry. At 1a.m. And the worst part? He seemed to believe it."
They both giggled.
"Look, I'm sorry. I didn't really know him. Alex told me he's a friend of his and that he's okay."
"It's okay. I wanted to leave at that point anyway."
"You're not a party type, huh?"
"Not so much."
"Don't worry. Next time I'll find you a good one" Gina assured her.
"Oh, please, no." Erica clapped her palms together feigning a prayer. "I beg of you, don't."
"Spare it. I'm not giving up until I get you hooked. Say now, what are you doing there?" she asked pointing at the stereoscope with the adjusted camera on it.
"I'm taking photographs of Microtus skulls. Then I'm gonna put hallmarks on specific spots on the pictures and run them through a special computer program that will determine their evolutionary relationships."
Gina blinked. "Uh-huh. Yeah, I understood everything."
Erica smiled. "It's nothing too complex, really. Basically, I'll determine if all the specimens of the population belong to one species or two different ones."
"Okey-dokey, whatever you say, professor. Are you gonna stay here for long? Me and the guys will go for a cup of coffee. Wanna join?"
"I have to finish these samples today. Then I think I'll go straight home. I'm kinda tired."
"Okay, you look a bit tired. Better get some rest" Gina advised her. Then her eyes narrowed and she stared at Erica intensely. She brought her hand to her friend's chin and pushed her face gently to the side.
"What?" Erica asked.
"Your right eye is red. Does it hurt?"
"Oh… no. Not really."
"Better stop with the pictures, girl, and go home to get some sleep" Gina advised.
"Okay, mom. I will."
"Don't you talk back, young lady" Gina said with a fake frown. She got up. "Okay, I'm going. You be a good girl and go home soon, alright?"
Erica nodded. "See you."
As Gina left, Erica went back to the stereoscope. She lowered her head and looked through the lenses. It was a little blurry towards the right edge of her vision. She raised her head and used a special tissue to clean the right lens. When she looked down again, it was still blurry.
She arrived home just before seven. Middle winter as it was, the sun had set almost an hour ago and it was already hard outside. She locked the door – she wouldn't go out again until tomorrow – and she walked to the living room, where she slumped upon the couch.
She was glad she was finally home. She liked her apartment; she had moved into it last summer. Apartment 307 was bigger and more comfortable that her previous one. Also, the building was closer to the university and the rest of the tenants in the building were very friendly. She was lucky to have found it.
She took off her jacket and threw it on the armchair. She yawned and stretched her limbs like a cat. Then, she grabbed the remote control from the low table in front of her and turned the TV on. She changed through several channels until she came upon something she liked; a documentary about reptiles. She let herself relax as she watched small alligators collapse from small, round legs.
She woke up with a start and looked around her as if she expected to find something. She calmed down when she realized she was in her apartment, sitting on her couch. A snake was slithering towards a nest of bird eggs on the TV. Erica looked at the clock that was placed on the higher shelf of the bookcase, next to the 'Thinker Frog'. It showed eight thirty. Rubbing her forehead, Erica got up. She wanted to go to bed immediately, as she felt really tired, but she knew she had to eat some dinner first. She went to the kitchen, pressing the button on her answering machine along the way. The machine began replaying her messages as Erica opened her fridge.
"Hi, darling" – her mother's voice – "are you alright? Call me back when you get home, alright, sweetie? Bye."
Erica placed the toast breads, the cheese and turkey on the counter and started preparing a cold sandwich. The answering machine proceeded to reproduce the second message.
"Hey, it's me Jake. Uh, Alex gave me your number and I called to see if you wanted us to go out some time. What do you say? Gimme a call."
"You can bet on it" Erica murmured as she finished her sandwich. She put it on a plate and poured some peach juice in a glass. Plate in one hand and glass in the other, Erica headed for the living room.
"You have no more messages" the machine's electronic voice said before Erica pushed the button with her elbow.
She walked to the couch and sat. Hungry as she was, she began eating her makeshift dinner ravenously while at the same time watching a lizard basking in the sun.
"Cold-blooded" she said with her mouth stuffed. She quickly finished her sandwich. As she reached her hand to grab the glass of juice she'd left on the table, she accidentally knocked it over. The juice spilled on the table and dripped over it. "Shit!" she cursed and humped up. "Damnit…"
She rushed to the kitchen and grabbed a blue towel from the counter. She returned to the spot of the accident and kneeled next to the table. First, she wiped the juice from the surface of the table and then mopped some from the floor.
"Damn, not even under the couch" she said as she noticed that some of the juice had slipped under the couch. She literally lied fully on the floor and pushed the already ruined towel beneath the couch. She moved it around to make sure she wiped all of the juice that had spilled. Suddenly, she felt something brush against her hand. She let out a shriek and pulled her hand out from beneath the couch. She quickly crawled away and stared at the dark narrow space between the couch and the floor with wide eyes. It took her a few moments to calm down. 'Stupid' she mocked herself as she got up.
"A biologist that freaks out with insects. I'm a laugh" she murmured as she went to the kitchen and picked up a fly swatter. "I'm gonna show that little bastard for entering my apartment."
She returned to the living room. Tentatively, she checked around the perimeter of the couch. No loathsome Blattodea crawled from underneath the furniture. Erica pushed the back of the couch to move it. She looked down but saw nothing. She pushed it further. And this time she saw it. She couldn't help but jump back before she realized that it wasn't a cockroach. It was only the corner of a piece of paper. Frowning she bent down, grasped its edge and pulled the whole piece of paper out. She looked at it inquiringly. It looked like a page, torn from a notebook. There was a text written on it.
"How did this get here?"
She moved the couch back its place and then sat on it with the page in his hands. She brought it in front of her and examined it carefully. It looked old and was dusty as expected since it was found under the couch. Erica dusted it but there were also some dark stains here and there. The letters written on it seemed hurried and scrambled. Some parts of it looked indecipherable, but she began reading it, anyway:
"He gave me two candles and some incense for the apartment. He also gave me a remedy he made himself. I hope it will work. My headaches are getting worse. I can't concentrate some times. And I can hardly see from my right eye.
I hear the whispers again. Right now. As I'm writing. Is he coming? The night is coming…
I'll go to Mrs. Richardson's house tomorrow. If he lets me… I have to ask her about that stone I found. It changes colours and it seems to ra-"
The following passage was stained with that brown liquid and Erica couldn't read until several lines below:
"…noises I hear. They're closer tonight. I know they're coming from there. I can't go. If only I can leave the apartment tomorrow morning. This night is everlasting…
It was the end. Erica turned the paper around but nothing was written on the back page. It made no sense. Especially the last lines… They were meaningless. Like the delirious speech of a madman. But for some reason, it had caused her a sudden feeling of uneasiness and nervousness. She placed the page on the table and turned to the TV. Commercials.
The girl sighed and shook her head. She got up. It was time to go to bed. She was too tired and that made her have strange thoughts. She went to the bathroom. She took a quick shower, slipped into her warm pajamas and crawled on the bed. She hid under the fuzzy blanket and cradled in a fetal position.
She woke up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat and panting. She sat up and threw the covers off her. Why was it so hot in here? It was January and at – she looked at the clock on the nightstand – 4 a.m. it should be quite cold.
A noise made her turn her head to the half-closed door of her bedroom. Had it come from her living room? She got and stepped on her slippers which rested beside the bed. She walked to the door and exited the bedroom. Once outside, she was greeted by a latent rancid smell. Erica walked down the hallway and towards the living room. She looked around the apartment. It was empty.
She felt like a fool for getting scared so easily. Feeling her mouth dry, she went to the kitchen to get some water. She turned the faucet on and poured some in a glass. As she drank from the water her eyes fell on the apartment door. Suddenly, the image if the wall without the door popped in her mind. But her door was still there, of course. And then she noticed it. She left the glass on the counter and walked in front of the door. Her eyes widened. The key wasn't fully inside the keyhole; half of it was out and only the tip was in. Her mouth was dry again. She pushed the key fully inside the keyhole and turned it. Her blood froze inside her veins; the door was unlocked. It couldn't be… The thoughts raced in her mind as she felt panic rising inside her. She had locked, hadn't she? She always locked the door. Or… maybe she had forgotten this time… She tried to recall her movements as she had entered her apartment some hours ago. She had locked, hadn't she? She wasn't sure.
Fear rising in her, she turned around and looked around the kitchen and living room. It was empty. Swallowing, she reached next to her and grabbed the knob of the door. She opened the door and peeked inside the small storage room. Also empty. She pulled the door close again and sighed. She had panicked for nothing. There was nothing wrong; it was only her idea. She had probably forgotten to lock this night. She remembered being very tired when she arrived home. Yes, that was it, she had forgotten to lock. She sighed and made sure to lock, this time.
Feeling less tense she decided to return to her bed and go back to sleep. As she reached her bedroom door, she paused. She turned around and stared at the closed door of the bathroom.
'You're being stupid' she mentally scolded herself, but she already knew that she wouldn't be able to resist the urge to check. She seized the knob and turned it. Slowly, she opened the door and stepped inside. At first everything looked normal. There was only the annoying dripping sound of the water that leaked from the faucet and into the washbasin, drop after drop. This always managed to annoy the hell out of her. She walked in front of the sink and turned the valve tighter. And then, as the tapping sound ceased, she became aware of another sound. She frowned; it sounded like far-away whispers and low voices. Erica looked around the bathroom. Nothing. However, she could still hear the creepy whispers. They were fading and then rising again unexpectedly. It freaked her out. But… no, they probably came from outside, from the small window next to the bathtub. Yes, street noise. The explanation seemed reasonable but Erica continued to feel uneasy. She exited the bathroom, closing the door behind her, and headed for her bedroom.
She entered her room. And froze on the spot, just at the doorway.
The man who was standing next to her bed, looming over it, turned slowly towards her. Chills run down her spine as she took in his features. Long white hair. Face like the white mask of death. And eyes that burned like two coals from Hell.
Her scream echoed through the apartment. Unable to even think reasonably, she turned around fast and ran down the hallway and to the apartment door. Hands shaking, she turned the key and opened the door. She was certain he was right behind her, she had to hurry. She had to…
She pushed the door open and ran outside, shouting 'help'. The tenants from the other apartments would surely hear her and come out of their apartments or call the police. Someone would definitely…
She slowed down when she actually realized she wasn't… She looked around her with confused eyes. What…? Where was… where was the hallway? This was not her apartment building!… This was… this was…
A forest clearing…
I really hope you liked the first chapter. Please leave your comments on the review board! Thank you.