F.E.A.R 2: Encounter – Wade Elementary
Author: Ignorant One aka Matthew Parmentier
Disclaimer: I have no ownership rights to the characters Sgt. Beckett, Alma Wade, Replica soldiers, ATC Black Ops, or the entire game or premise of First Encounter Assault Recon 2. They belong to Monolith, and Warner Bros. Entertainment.
Premise: I wanted to write this because as I progressed through F.E.A.R. 2, I began to notice how Alma changed in not only her attitude, but in her appearance as well. When Sgt. Beckett first see's Alama, she's still that little girl in the red dress we all know and love, and by the end of the first F.E.A.R. we see that she has grown to be woman. (Albeit a decaying woman…but a woman none the less.) And when she first appears to Sgt. Beckett, she is still the little girl, but as you progress, you see her shift from a girl to a woman. I found it kind of intriguing, so I decided to write about one particular event that really caught my attention.
Beckett paused in his tracks.
He could see a glimmering figure running down the hallway of the large, Wade Elementary school, and it triggered a sudden pain at the top of his skull. His vision blurred as he could feel his heartbeat drumming in his skull, and soon a wave of air swept down the hallway. The Special Operations soldier couldn't help but shiver as the combination of pain and the dozens of metal lockers opening and shutting sent chills throughout his body; making his grip on his SHO Series-3 Combat Shotgun loosen and the hair on the back of his neck stand on end.
As quickly as the pain arrived it had departed in the same fashion, leaving the Sergeant temporarily disoriented; the red rings around his vision slowly fading away. Soon as he could see clearly, Beckett let out a breath he hadn't even known he had been holding, and he inhaled deeply; trying his damndest to calm his nerves. He looked down the hallway with a sense of foreboding, knowing that even with all of the fucked up shit he'd seen in the past three hours it could always get worse.
Killing was always something Sgt. Beckett could deal with because it really only had one goal: Kill the other guy before he killed you.
Beckett could deal with it because to him it was impersonal, and he could do it without a need to think about it. It wasn't like he had gotten a drink with the men he put down. It wasn't like he had gotten to know their families, wives, children they might have, and their friends. It wasn't like he had developed a friendship with the people he killed…he just met them on the battlefield.
It was him and the other guy…and they both had guns. And Ninety-five percent of the time Beckett always had the bigger gun.
Shooting a man he could deal with.
But seeing ghosts. Seeing those ghosts attack him. Seeing men have their flesh melt off and their skeletons fall on top of a pile of their innards. Seeing Red Jankowski ripped to shreds by a surgical machine and Staff Sergeant Fox dissolved into nothing but a bloody mist.
That was the shit that was hard to stomach. Not to mention the little goblin-like monsters that liked to bite people's heads off.
That got to be a little much, and the Sergeant had a fun time trying to figure out how he managed to not throw up the breakfast he had earlier that morning.
Beckett shook his head and told himself to get a grip on the situation.
He had a job to do. Objectives to complete.
He had to find "Snake Fist", the man who had guided him through maze-like underground medical facility and back to his squad.
But still. Looking down that long, narrow, dark hallway made him think twice about going forward.
He swallowed hard and began to take baby steps down the hallway, the ten-gauge shotgun firmly nestled in the crook of his shoulder as he scanned the row of open lockers; most definitely trying to expect the unexpected. He steeled himself for whatever might be thrown at him as he shuffled down the corridor, his boots kicking loose papers that nearly covered the floor; the loose-leaf paper courtesy of the dozens of open lockers.
Sounds of doors slamming in the hallway started from behind him, and Beckett quickly turned around to another mirage shooting down the hallway at him; the doors slamming shut loudly and the lockers opening and shutting, flinging more papers everywhere. Despite his little mental preparation, the display of paranormal activity made him shake and shiver, wishing that he had someone by his side to draw strength from.
Then the fire alarm was set off, and he could hear that sounds of hundreds of children giggling and laughing all around him; the papers on the floor were flying everywhere as if some unseen feet were kicking them all over the hallway.
He didn't realize it until he shot the fire alarm bell that he didn't have his flashlight on. And that he had been breathing like he just finished running a marathon.
To say that unsettled him was an understatement, but he turned around and flicked on his flashlight, casting the beam down the dark hallway; the luminescent green sight posts of his shotgun lighting up and providing him clear aiming points. He took a deep breath and continued down the hallway, this time at a much faster pace, the idea that "the faster he went through the area the less time whatever creepy ghouls that were causing the crazy shit to pack more paranormal stuff in" driving him.
Sgt. Beckett managed to make ten whole paces before he paused again. This time it was because he could see an ATC Black Ops member laying on the ground in a pool of his own blood; the deep blue flack vest torn to shreds and the unfortunate man's goggles stained with blood spatter.
By now Beckett had learned a few new items to add to the soon to be updated "Rules of Engagement" booklet under the section labeled "Paranormal activity".
Rule Number 1:
Dead bodies meant that there was someone in the area.
Rule Number 2:
Dead bodies with gunshot wounds meant that you were facing skilled adversaries, and that they are in the area.
And finally Rule Number 3:
Dead bodies that bear marks other than gunshot wounds mean that you need to get the fuck out of Dodge.
A chill shot up and down his spine when he heard a gurgling, and he trained the beam of his flashlight onto the source: an ATC Black Ops member that was still alive.
He let out a sigh of relief, but that small amount of elation faded away when he saw that the man was clutching at his neck, crimson blood seeping between his fingers as he looked at what was left of his trachea on the floor three feet away from him.
Beckett swallowed and raised the Combat Shotgun to his shoulder as he walked forward, trying desperately to keep his sight off of the dying man and trained on the hallway that the man had come from.
The Special Operations soldier was about five feet from the ATC Black Ops contractor when the bleeding man let out a surprised gurgle, and despite missing an entire portion of his throat, he rolled onto his belly and started to crawl in the opposite direction of the hallway; decorating the pale beige floor a brilliant crimson.
This act baffled Beckett for a moment until he saw a glowing green arm grab a hold of the ATC operative's leg and dragged him out of sight down the hallway.
Beckett dashed after the man in an attempt to save him, quickly rounding the corner, his mind screaming at him to stop when he saw a glowing figure appear in front of him and then disappear, but he charged forward anyways; his world slowing to a crawl as he fired off a round at the glowing figure dragging the soldier.
The figure, which was something Beckett could only put in his mind of as a ghost, exploded in a brilliant display of yellow and green ectoplasm; the brightness of the creature's departure disoriented Beckett's vision. The man was beyond help, Beckett decided as he vaulted over the ATC operative and continued his charge into what opened up to be a rest area; two support pillars broke up the open space to compliment the few desks strewn about.
Two more ghosts flared into view, and two quick cycles of the shotgun's action made them disappear in the same fashion as the first one. He barely noticed it at first, but the darkness had blinded him as to the contents of the room, and a quickly flicker from the ceiling lights brought the entire room into perspective.
There were nearly eight bodies in the room. And there was blood everywhere.
On the floor, on the walls and even the ceiling was coated with the red liquid.
Just the sight made him want to vomit, and the smell certainly didn't help his stomach. Oh, and the gurgling that permeated his ears was driving him crazy. He flashed his light over to the man he had seen earlier, well prepared to shoot him and ease his passage, then he realized that the man had already bled out. He narrowed his eyes.
Something wasn't right.
He shook his head and pushed onward until he came to a stop at a row of glass windows, computer monitors and a blue plastic plate drilled to the wall indicated that to be a "MEDIA ROOM". He broke the glass, and then gurgling returned, and he felt something warm and wet drip onto his forehead. The Sergeant wiped at it with the back of his hand and brought his weapon to bear on the ceiling, the beam illuminating another ATC Operator who was missing a large portion of his throat. Only the strange thing about it was the man was sucked against the ceiling.
He gritted his teeth and pointed the barrel of the shotgun at the man's chest, and the Operator shook his head up and down; clearly wanting to be shot rather than spend another minute in agony bleeding to death. Beckett stepped to the side and pulled the trigger, the ten-gauge buckshot ending the man's life quickly.
Beckett had never been a religious man, but there was a point at which no man, no matter who they worked for, deserved to die in such a manner.
With a small hop Beckett cleared the glass and worked his way through the media room, taking a short amount of time to gather the Incendiary grenade and the ammunition from the combat shotgun that resided on a table of in the corner of the room; the blue monitors casting thick shadows on the walls.
Soon he was worked his way through the room and to the other side of it, breaking another glass window so he could step through it. He jumped slightly when the fire escape doors to his left began to open and shut like crazy; startling when he saw another ghost materialize to his right. Ignoring the fire doors, Sergeant Beckett brought the Combat Shotgun to bear on the glowing figure with a simple pivot of his shoulders; letting loose a roar of buckshot from the barrel.
He pumped the action to chamber another round just in case another apparition decided to capitalize on his state of disorientation.
Beckett let out a shaky breath as he watched the doors go ramrod stiff and lock in the 'open' position. The Sergeant was understandably reluctant to walk through them, but what choice did he have? He had to make it to the Central Office to take the card key so he could access the heavily guarded "Nurse's Office".
He took a deep breath and stepped through, relieved that nothing had happened, and he soon found himself standing at the bottom of a short flight of steps staring down another long, foreboding hallway.
Shivers shot up and down his body when he noticed that this hallway was flooded with what looked to be a hazy clear miasma.
A miasma usually means some form of chemical gas, but it just didn't register with his suit or the sensors built into his proto-type tactical sunglasses; so that means something else was afoot.
Nervous at the new development, Beckett slung his shotgun over his shoulder and took out his Andra FD-99 Submachine gun and aimed it down the hallway at the miasma. When he looked down his weapon and through the red dot scope, the Sergeant noticed that whatever was down the hallway bent light around it, and even the red dot in the sight was hazy when he looked through it. The Special Operations soldier lowered the weapon for a moment before pointing it at the wall, scanning over the bullet holes and splashes of blood; noting that his sight performed just fine, giving him a neat red dot wherever he aimed…except for down the hallway.
Beckett didn't like it. He didn't like it one bit.
Crazy shit had been happening to him all day, and the fact that Alma, thanks to the information provided by Snake Fist, has been stalking him since he had undergone his surgery at the hands of Dr. York and the amplification of his Telesthetic signature when he was forced into some kind of chamber by Genevieve Aristide, his squad's target. What the hell was "Snake Fist" yammering on about when he was talking about "Telesthetic Signatures", and how the hell did that attract the undead woman's interest? Did it mean that he was physic or something?
However, there was one thing that he knew about for sure in all of Snake Fist's techno-geek babble: He knew that if Alma ever got her hands on him, she would undoubtedly absorb him on the spot.
Beckett winced, thinking back to how SSgt. Fox was "absorbed"…leaving nothing but smoking blood covering the walls of the mock hospital. No bones. No organs. Just smoking blood.
Alma had gotten stronger, and Beckett knew it was because she absorbed Fox. He could always sense when she was near, pulse-pounding headaches, hallucinations. He'd already met her twice before, remembering her as a little girl in a blood red dress the first time, and then as a naked woman the second time; her long hair barely covering her breasts as he attacked him. Her hands left nasty looking burns on his forearms the last time they met, and he was sure it wouldn't be too much of a stretch if it were to happen again.
Beckett let out a cry of pain as his head felt like it was going to split in two.
'I'm coming for you.'
The Sergeant clutched his head as he heard her whisper in his mind, his vision already playing tricks on him as he saw a woman appear behind him before she quickly disappeared and then reappeared ten feet away; cutting off his escape route. Beckett shook his head and forced himself to think through the sharp spikes of pain.
The situation was painfully obvious. Head through the miasma or die.
He clenched his teeth and fought back at the red that crept up from the edges of his vision, placing a foot up on the first step, and then the second step. Within a second he had stumbled up the small set of stairs and hobbled towards the hazy clear miasma.
His blood froze as Alma appeared in front of the gas, and then she blinked out and then appeared right in front of him.
Only Beckett's lightening fast reflexes that he had gained from the surgeries had saved him from being hit, and the Sergeant managed to raise his weapon parallel to his chest to block her advance; the psychic woman's hands grappling onto his sub machine gun. Alma was so close he could feel her breath on his face, and he struggled for control against the woman. Beckett could feel her tugging as his mind, and he resisted as much as he could; the soldier would be damned if he would end up like SSgt. Fox.
The Special Operations soldier roared and shoved forward as hard as he could, the woman stumbling back before she disappeared into thin air.
Beckett's vision blurred, and then he was hit from the side; the air escaping his lungs as he saw Alma's thin arm pressing him up against the wall, and then his body did something it shouldn't have been able to do.
Beckett was lifted off of the ground and suspended against the wall.
The soldier could move anything but his head, and he looked down at Alma…looked down at the woman who stood beneath him with water-logged flesh that clung to her bones; the soldier able to see each and every rib on her body. He could now clearly see her face, which was sunken and pasty. He grimaced, wondering why the dealer of his death had to be practically a walking corpse.
Then he noticed how Alma paused, and her head tilted to the side like a confused dog as she stepped back.
'Do you see me?'
He could hear her voice echo in his head, and Beckett continued to stare at the woman until his vision faded to black, and Alma all of the sudden became a blinding white figure against his inky vision. The figure of Alma slid backwards about five feet before his vision cleared itself again.
Alma was standing about seven feet away from him, and he had noticed some drastic changes in her.
What was once a waterlogged, skinny, sunken woman now stood something completely different.
Her hair was a silky black, and she had filled out considerably, her waistline narrow and hips wide, her long hair barely covering her full breasts, and her face, which was sunken and disfigured, was smooth and angular; her blue eyes peering behind her bangs. Her full lips quirked into somewhat of a smile as she slowly walked towards him, hips swaying in a seductive fashion in which Beckett had never seen her do before.
Alma stopped about two feet from him.
'Do you like what you see?'
Beckett couldn't really answer the question, but what he saw before him was a dramatic improvement to the walking corpse she had previously presented herself as.
Beckett let out another yell as it felt like his mind was being yanked on, and he knew who was tugging at the string.
Alma was trying to absorb him again.
The Sergeant steeled his mind and started to force her away, 'Get out of my head!'
Another spike of pain racked his mind, and Alma just looked at him for a moment before she disappeared.
And when she disappeared, so did the unseen force that was holding him up against the wall, and Beckett collapsed onto his hands and knees; his breathing heavy as he fought off the chills that surged throughout his body.
Alma had changed up her tactics and that had thrown him off.
Did she really want to absorb him?
Or did she have an even grander plan for him?
With her dramatic switch from terrorizing him to a quick attempt at seduction…it made him ponder for a moment as regained his bearings; looking around the hallway as he made sure that an ATC Black Ops squad, or worse yet, a squad of Replica soldiers had not come to check out the commotion.
"Beckett!" He heard his com go off, a woman's worried voice filtered through the headset..
"I know you're having a great time, but Keegan and I really need your help. Rendezvous with us in the hallway adjoining the courtyard!"
First Lieutenant Stokes, the only female member of their Special Operations team assigned to capture Genevieve Aristide, and she wasn't too bad to look at either. However, Sergeant Beckett was all business, so he stood up and ignored the headache that preceded his visits from Alma and started down the hallway towards the courtyard where two members of his squad were holed up against Replica attack.
Beckett didn't even notice that the miasma had disappeared with Alma, or the fact that he had now caught Alma's attention for real.