"Where are we going, exactly?"
"You're not going to try to push me off the edge of town again, are you?"
"Not in the mood today, cupcake."
For once, the sky was clear and blue over Silent Hill. Murphy had been surprised when Sewell dragged him out into the town that morning; the man had been reticent about leaving the apartment he claimed to hate so much. Since leaving the hospital, Sewell had predominantly spent his time in his boyhood room. Murphy had even glimpsed him trying to clean up the wreck he had made of it. The sight of Sewell picking up action figures and toy cars had been a bit absurd.
"Oh, I get it," Murphy said as they came to the shores of Toluca Lake. "You're going to try to drown me. Real original, Sewell."
"You've gotten paranoid, cupcake," Sewell said. "It makes you sound like a bitch."
Murphy gave him a look, and Sewell just smiled. Though he did not trust him, it was true Sewell didn't seem to be particularly angry today. In fact, he seemed to be in a good mood. Murphy decided to humor him as they went to the boat launch on the docks nearby. They got into a small boat, and Sewell piloted them across the lake.
"I've been thinking, cupcake," Sewell said, gazing across the rippling blue waters. "I was wondering why we were brought back here. It couldn't have been just so we can eternally torture each other, or sit on our asses talking, like we've been doing. Everyone in this town has some kind of role to play."
Murphy remembered DJ Ricks, condemned to play the same music over and over again until he was snuffed out. He also thought of Blackwood, delivering mail all throughout this strange town for God knew how long. The idea that he and Sewell were here to fulfill a similar role was not comforting. He said as much to Sewell, but it did not dampen the man's spirits.
"Those chumps just didn't have any passion for their careers," Sewell said. "Not like me. I loved my job."
"Yeah, I know," Murphy said. He was beginning to get a bad feeling. "You had a real passion for being a bullying son-of-a-bitch."
"I kept those scumbags in line, that's all," Sewell said. "And I was good at it, Pendleton, you know I was. And what about you? You were good at giving them what they deserved, too. Ha, Napier found that out, right?"
"I'm not proud of that."
"But you should be," Sewell said. "Those skills will serve you well. You'll see."
The moment the island and its sole facility came into view, Murphy knew where they were going.
"Christ, are you insane?" he asked angrily. He reached over and grabbed Sewell by the front of his shirt. "You think I'm going back to prison? To Overlook? Turn the boat around, Sewell!"
"Been here before, huh?" Sewell said. "Look, whatever you saw here before, it isn't like that now. I came out here just the other day. It's a prison like any other."
"That's even worse," Murphy said. "I'm still a fugitive, remember? I'm not going to waltz in there, with you of all people, and let them lock me back up!"
"Relax. No one is going to lock you up, cupcake," Sewell said calmly. He methodically pried Murphy's hands off his shirt. "You've been all around town and no one has recognized your stupid mug yet, right? You're protected by the Order, same as I am. God knows why. Believe me, if I could get you arrested, I would. I tried."
"Of course I did," Sewell said. "Told everyone in town who you were. Finally, that old bartender from the Heaven's Night told me to give it up: no one was going to arrest you. He said your slate has been wiped clean—at least inside Silent Hill."
"You expect me to believe that?"
"Yeah," Sewell said simply. He started the boat's motor again and steered on towards Overlook Penitentiary. "You think that if I could have you arrested, I wouldn't? There's nothing I'd like more than to see my little cupcake back behind bars. But it ain't happening. So, this is the next best thing."
"And what exactly is 'this'?"
"They need guards, Pendleton," Sewell said, dark eyes shining. "Ha, ha! It's going to be just like coming home."
Murphy stared at him, dumbfounded by the man's exuberance. He looks like a kid on Christmas morning, he marveled. What the hell is wrong with this guy?
"You're sick," Murphy told him. "You are aware that this goes beyond dedication, right? That it's more like a fetish at this point?"
"We all need our fantasies, cupcake," grinned Sewell. "Don't tell me you never dreamed of being on the other side at Ryall, Pendleton. I saw you looking at my uniform. You wondered how I must have felt, having all that power, didn't you? Well, now you get the chance to find out. It's your lucky day, cupcake."
Murphy sighed, looking at the island ahead. Fine, when he finds it in chaos, when he sees those monsters I fought there, then he'll give it up, he thought. He must be lying about having come here before. When I was here, it was a nightmare. No way they cleaned all that up in a couple of weeks.
Yet the island was still when they docked at the small launch. A few crows cawed and fought over something down the beach. Overlook Penitentiary consisted of several massive concrete buildings behind a stately wall topped with nasty-looking barbed wire. Murphy's stomach twisted at the idea of being inside a prison with Sewell. If he tries anything, I'm going to kill him, he thought. I don't care if he dies for good or not, I'll kill him.
"You look queasy, cupcake," Sewell smirked. "Boat ride upset your stomach? Or is it something else?"
Murphy glared at him. Sewell laughed. He knew what it was, and he was enjoying Murphy's anxiety. Just before they reached the front gates, Murphy grabbed the man by the hair and arm, and slammed him into the wall.
"Hey, hey, hey!"
"You try anything, and you're going to suffer," Murphy hissed in the man's ear. "Understand me?"
"I get it!"
Murphy released him. Sewell rubbed his shoulder, giving him a sullen frown. There was still a great deal of danger in those eyes, Murphy thought, but Sewell had been tame since his attempted suicide. Murphy wondered what the fallout would be when the man finally recovered some of his pride; not pretty, he suspected. I'll have to keep an eye on him.
Still eyeing Murphy warily, Sewell went over to the guard booth by the gates. He pounded on the glass, stirring the guard from his nap.
"Hey, Donnell, it's me," Sewell said. "Said I'd be back, didn't I? Open up."
"Hi," the sandy-haired man greeted him, rubbing sleep from his face. "Don't know why you'd come back here, George, it's a real shithole."
"Nowhere else to go, I guess."
"I hear that," the man said. "Hey, it was great catching up the other day. Drinks at the Heaven's Night later?"
"Hell, if I can get a job here, the rounds will be on me."
Murphy listened to the casual exchange, remembering many others of its kind at Ryall. Some of the guards had hated Sewell with a passion, but he got along quite well with the others. Though certainly not the biggest man on the guard force physically, Sewell's hard edge and cruel streak had earned him respect. Murphy mentally lamented the sad state of humanity as Donnell buzzed them in through a small side door in the prison wall.
"Hey, Donnell?" Sewell spoke up before they went through the door. He pointed at Murphy. "This here's Murphy Pendleton."
Murphy's heart skipped a beat. His entire body tensed for action. Donnell just looked at him blankly.
"Oh, ok. And?"
"Just a friend," Sewell said, patting Murphy's shoulder. "I thought you two should be introduced. He's applying for a job here, too."
"Oh," Donnell said. "Yeah, nice to meet you, then, Murphy."
"You, too," Murphy said thickly.
They went in through the door, and it slammed automatically shut behind them. Sewell's barely-contained laughter burst out, echoing down the long, pale corridor.
"Oh ho, man! Your face was priceless, cupcake!" he chortled. "You didn't shit yourself, did you? I don't think that would make the interview go in the right direction."
Murphy felt sick. Unable to say anything, he reached back, and slapped the man upside the head. Sewell complained, but it did little to stifle his mirth. He looked right at home within the prison walls, and Murphy had no choice but to fall in beside him.
"I think you'll like being on the other side of things," Sewell said as they walked. "Never have been before, have you? Yeah, I read your records, all the way back to your juvenile delinquency arrests."
"Those are supposed to be sealed," Murphy said. "Hell, I don't know why I'm even surprised. Let me guess, you called in a 'favor' to get your hands on the records?"
"Sure did," Sewell said. "No parents, no home. You've been a prisoner ever since you were born and sent to that orphanage, huh?"
"The nuns were very nice," Murphy said. "It wasn't like prison, not at all."
"Whatever you say," Sewell said nonchalantly. "Locked up at the orphanage, and the few times you went to juvenile detention. You know, you went about getting Napier ass-backwards. You should have just tried to get on guard detail, with me. But what did you do? You went and got yourself arrested!"
"It never crossed my mind," Murphy admitted. "I guess I just never saw myself as the enforcement type. Besides, I couldn't chance someone finding out about my juvenile record and denying me the job. I needed to get that bastard."
"See, I was never that stupid," Sewell boasted. "I screwed around, sure, but I never got myself arrested, not even as a kid."
"Yeah? Sure your daddy didn't just cover for you?"
"My old man wouldn't have covered shit for me," Sewell sneered. "In fact, he was always threatening to be the one that finally locked me up."
"But he never did."
"Never got a chance," Sewell said spitefully. "But we weren't talking about me, cupcake."
"No, you were talking about me," Murphy said. He grabbed Sewell by the arm. "What is it with you? Why have you always been so interested in me? Was it really just because I went to Ryall to avenge Charlie?"
Sewell jerked his arm away and walked a little faster ahead. Murphy had seen by now that the man was uncomfortable discussing his feelings—if he had any human feelings in that black heart of his, that was.
"You can talk," Sewell finally said. "As much as you claim to hate me, you're still following me around like a lost puppy."
"Nowhere else to go."
"Silent Hill isn't the smallest town in the world," Sewell pointed out. "You could find another district. Hell, you could find friends, maybe a woman. Have you even been with anyone since escaping? Other than yours truly, of course."
Though he spoke of it lightly, Murphy glimpsed a twitch of pain on the man's face. He almost sounded hurt. Murphy hated being reminded of that night, no matter how he tried to justify it to himself. It made him feel dirty, like a wretched beast more than a man. He wondered how Sewell, guilty of so many similar crimes, lived with himself.
"No?" Sewell echoed, eyebrows raised. He looked up at Murphy incredulously, but then his cynical mask covered his face. "So, you spent all that time just missing me, huh? That's touching, cupcake."
Though he spoke sarcastically, Sewell seemed genuinely pleased by the information. Murphy recalled a passing comment one of the other guards at Ryall had made, about his not knowing what Sewell's 'obsession' with Murphy was about. Towards the end, Murphy had noticed quite a few of the guards losing their admiration for Sewell. Had it been because Sewell had been fixated with him, to the point where even his coworkers noticed?
"I think I get it now," Murphy said.
Sewell paused, a hand on the door at the end of the hall. He looked at Murphy with his usual blend of amusement and curiosity. Murphy pulled him closer by the arm, and bent down to bring their lips together. Sewell gave a murmur of surprise. He pulled back for just a moment, before kissing the man back with a furious passion. He bit Murphy's bottom lip hard enough to shed blood when they pulled apart.
"Hell was that?" he asked, sounding shaken. He licked blood from his teeth, grinned uncertainly.
"Just testing a theory," Murphy said, pulling the door open, "cupcake."
Sewell followed him into the prison proper. There were guards around, so whatever he was going to say died on his lips. He followed Murphy, staring at the floor, his face flushed crimson. He was pensive, but not, Murphy thought, displeased.
Several days later, Murphy and George were back on the little boat, motoring out to Overlook Penitentiary. Murphy unbuttoned the top button of his blue guard's uniform shirt, shifted on the boat's small bench. George steered the boat confidently ahead.
"I still can't get used to this," Murphy said. He tugged the stiff shirt, adjusted his belt. "I feel like an asshole."
"That's the way of the world, cupcake," George said. "You either spend your life locked up by assholes, or you become the asshole doing the locking up."
"There are other places to work, you know," Murphy told him. "The Heaven's Night. I heard they're reopening the Historical Society. Hell, Alchemilla Hospital is hiring."
"Trust me, you don't want to work at Alchemilla," George said. "And you heard the interviewer, didn't you? We have a 'special skill set'. He said we'd be perfect."
"If that guy knows anything about you, then he's got a weird definition of 'perfect'."
There was a small radio in the boat, spitting music out between spurts of interference. "Born Free" began to play. George listened a moment, shook his head, and shut it off.
"I thought you liked that song," Murphy said.
"It's a lie, Pendleton," George said. "No one is born free. We're spewed out into this world, chained by the cord, between the bars of our mothers' legs. We're imprisoned by whoever our parents happen to be. We're imprisoned by whatever type of person we're inclined to be. Freedom is a lie. All we can do in life is find the right kind of prison to be trapped in."
"You take that a bit too far, don't you?" Murphy said. "I mean, a literal prison?"
George was quiet for a while, his eyes showing some internal debate.
"You know why I became a prison guard, Pendleton?" he finally asked. Without waiting for an answer, he admitted, "I was going to be a cop, like my father, but I didn't pass the psychiatric exam."
Murphy snorted. George's grip tightened on the boat's motor handle.
"I swear to God, if you laugh, I'm going to push you into the lake!"
"That explains a lot, Sewell," Murphy said. "It really says it all, doesn't it?"
"Fuck you, Pendleton," was all the mortified man said in reply. "I don't know why I tell you anything."
"Sure you do. You know why."
Murphy reached across the boat and touched George's face. George turned away, his ears turning red. Since kissing him, Murphy had discovered that the way to shut the man up was by showing him any form of affection. This time was no different; George didn't say another word until they were in the prison. All you need is love, Murphy thought dryly.
George could tell Murphy was enjoying his chagrin. He wondered if the man was merely trying to bother him, or whether he was genuinely beginning to feel affection for him. He had always believed their connection went both ways, and now that they were stuck together, he suspected whatever passed for fondness between them was mutual. Pendleton had been fluctuating between violence and those oddly paternal touches more often recently, after all.
'I never got being a father out of my system, I guess,' Pendleton had confessed to George the other night. 'I suppose this town has just twisted those instincts like it twists everything else.'
At least Pendleton was a self-aware freak, George figured, unlike his state of chronic denial back at Ryall State. He had come to terms with the monster inside, and with the fate it had led him to in Silent Hill. Most importantly, he had accepted George's dark side, he understood it now. George had always known they were two of a kind, and now even Pendleton could not deny the fact any longer. It took a monster to love a monster.
Not that I love the stupid son-of-a-bitch, George told himself. That would be a step too far. But we can have some real fun now. Which reminds me …
"This way today, cupcake."
George turned a corner after they punched in for their shifts. Murphy followed him down the rows of cells. He glanced into a few of them, remembering what it was like to be confined, the desperation and misery that seeped into the very essence of those tiny rooms. He hated to admit it, but George had a point: it was much better to be on the other side of those bars. Occasionally, he met the eyes of a con, and wondered what the poor bastard had done to be imprisoned in Silent Hill. Then he remembered what Napier had done to get himself incarcerated, and thought, screw them, they probably deserved it.
They walked down a ramp leading to one of the prison's sub-levels. The bustle of the upper floors died down. Pipes lined the ceiling, and there was a musty smell of mold. Despite his denouncement of the song, George was whistling "Born Free" again. Murphy figured he simply liked the irony.
"Where are we going?" Murphy asked. When he was ignored, he reached out and pulled George back by the arm. "Hey. Where are you leading me? You got some trap set up or what?"
"You really have to watch that paranoia, cupcake," George said. "We're friends now, aren't we?"
"No. I don't know what we are, but we're not 'friends'." Murphy shook him. "Just tell me where we're going, Sewell."
"Fine." George shoved Murphy back, straightening his shirt. "I wasn't going to ruin the surprise, but if you insist. I got a guy down in the old shower rooms. No one goes there anymore. The Order told me they need a certain confession from him, so we're going to get it."
"You want me to just beat up some guy with you?" Murphy asked. "Are you nuts?"
"That cuckoo flew over the nest a long time ago, cupcake," George said. "Look, the Order is important to this town. They got real power. It would be good for them to owe us a favor."
"I'm not going to hurt someone just to get a favor."
"No?" George asked, looking him up and down. "Okay."
"Just like that?"
"You're not a prisoner anymore, right?" George said, though there was a sly smile on his lips. "You can do what you want."
George began to walk down the basement hall, arms behind his head casually. He walked backwards, his eyes still boring into Murphy's.
"You know, I don't blame you," he said. "You want to do the right thing. You still think there is such a thing as the 'right thing' in this world. It's cute, cupcake, real cute. Know what else is cute? Kids. Little girls like the ones this guy in the old shower room just loved to rape."
Murphy had been turning away, but now he stopped. He glared at George, but his anger was not entirely directed at him. He thought of Napier. He thought of Charlie. The hallway seemed very still, as if time itself had frozen. The old fluorescent lights flickered.
"Yeah, diddling little girls was the guy's hobby." George stopped walking. "When he wasn't strangling them to death and then posing them up around his house like plastic dolls. Taxidermy for adults. The Order says he had about eight when they caught him. Some were sitting at a tea party table just like the ones they'd never see again at home."
"Sewell, damn it! Stop!" Murphy yelled at him. "How do you even know any of that is true?"
"The Order doesn't have to lie about the evil in this world," George pointed out. "You know there's no point in lying about evil, when there's so much right there on the surface for everyone to see."
Murphy said nothing. He realized that his hands had curled into fists. He kept seeing Napier's face: laughing about the atrocities he committed, that soft pudgy face that had been the last nightmare Charlie had ever seen. George dropped his arms and walked up to him.
"So you can go if you want to, cupcake," he said. "You can just walk away. But you didn't walk away when it was your boy. Did you?"
Murphy shook his head. George put his arms around his neck, startling him.
"You didn't walk away from me, either," George went on. "You paid me back for hurting you, didn't you? You're a big believer in payback, same as me."
"Are you saying you're just okay with that?" Murphy asked. "After what I did to you?"
"I'm not gonna say it was pleasant, being on the receiving end," George said. "But hell, I had my fun with you, you had your fun with me. We're even now. We're more than even, we're the same. It's like I've been telling you all along: we're the same kind of guy, Murphy."
Murphy wanted to deny it, but he no longer could. He had done too much, had come too far, to exonerate himself from the kind of cruelty that lived in George Sewell. He thought of the way Carol had looked at him that last time, the abuses he had heaped upon this man during the thunderstorm, the absolute pleasure he felt in killing the monsters that lurked in the bowels of Silent Hill. No, he was no different from Sewell, after all. He had been running from that truth from the moment he met the real George Sewell at Ryall, and now acceptance had brought him full circle.
"So you can go." George took Murphy's face in both gloved hands. "You can go and keep trying to run away from me. Keep trying to run away from the Napiers of the world and what you want to do to them. Or you can come with me, and help me give this sick bastard what he deserves."
George released him and went walking backwards down the tunnel again.
"It's your call, cupcake," he said. "But sooner or later, you'll come around. What do you think we're in this town for, anyway?"
George shrugged and turned his back on him. Murphy watched him walk down the tunnel, getting smaller as he went, whistling his tune again. Murphy stood in the middle of the passageway, looking from one end to the other. He hesitated, turned, and finally went jogging after Sewell.
"You made the right choice, cupcake," George said when Murphy caught up to him.
"I made the only choice, Sewell," Murphy corrected him. "I made the only choice I could."
- End -
I'm friends with the monster that's under my bed
Get along with the voices inside of my head
You're trying to save me, stop holding your breath
And you think I'm crazy, yeah, you think I'm crazy
Well, that's nothing
Well, that's nothing
"The Monster" - Eminem feat. Rihanna