I do not own Silent Hill. It belongs to Konami.
CHAPTER 04 – DECEPTION
"I see," said a rather disappointed Frank. "You didn't find them."
Douglas just nodded, genuinely sorry for the superintendent. "I'm sorry, Frank. But it's passed so many years since. There wasn't much hope from the beginning."
An uncomfortable silence filled in Room 105 of South Ashfield Heights. Mr. Sunderland had an upset expression on his face, while he processed everything that had been talked. Finally, he broke the quietness.
"Well, I suppose this closes the case then." Fetching his wallet out of his pocket, he continued. "How much do I owe you?"
At that question, the detective only held up his hand, dismissively. "Save your money, Frank. You owe me nothing."
"Excuse me?" the older man asked, a bit surprised at the investigator's refusal.
"It's just fair trade," Douglas retorted. "I couldn't find your son, so it wouldn't be fair if I charged you."
Nevertheless, Frank insisted on. "Are you sure, detective? This whole investigation took a hell lot of your time."
Douglas sighed before he told his reasons. It was personal, yet somehow he thought his client deserved to learn. "You know, Frank, I shouldn't be telling you this, but I'm also a father. And like you, my son's also long gone from my life."
That last statement rendered Frank speechless. For moments, the superintendent didn't know what to say and, given his silence, Douglas reluctantly continued on. "I know what is like to have a child taken from you, and that was the reason I took your case in first place. I thought I could help you with your son, but unfortunately I was wrong. As such, if I accepted your money, I'd be betraying myself as a father."
Frank managed a faint smile, putting the wallet back into his pocket. He was happy that there was someone who understood his pain. However, at the same time, he still grieved the loss. If even Douglas, a detective with more than genuine reasons to bring James back, couldn't do it, no one else could. Most likely, James and Mary were lost forever.
Douglas produced a small card from his coat pocket and handed it to Frank, who took and eyed it.
"There is my psychiatrist's address," the investigator explained. "Good doctor helped me through the years after my son's death. Tell him I recommended you, and he'll gladly aid you. In addition, I wrote my personal number on the back. If you need anything, anything, feel free to contact me."
As the older man thanked him, Douglas stood up from the couch and put on his hat. "I think this is goodbye then, Frank."
The superintendent simply nodded in parting, but didn't escorted his guest to the door, instead remaining sat on the armchair. In the doorway, just about to leave, the former cop looked back once more at his former client.
"I'm pretty sure your son's still out there. One day, you'll see him again." He assured, before opening and closing the door soon afterwards.
Outside the room, Douglas sighed half in relief, half in distaste. It went better than he had expected, nonetheless it still held a bitter taste reporting this kind of outcome. As walking towards the exit, he was almost sure the superintendent was silently crying behind that door, deep in sorrow. It bothered him as a father not being able to do anything else for the distraught older man.
Besides, what bothered his conscience the most was the fact he had actually lied to Frank.
He remembered that tape found in Lakeview Hotel, and the horrible truth it had unveiled. After that, the investigator consumed an extra handful of days around Silent Hill, looking out for any other clues that would contradict that revelation. Something that he could have overlooked, but it had been futile in the end. The former cop had even considered mentioning the other missing individuals whose names he came across in the meantime, but what was the point? Three missing people in Silent Hill meant only three missing people in Silent Hill, and unless he proved some sort of connection between their disappearances and James', that was all.
He wasn't better off than when he had started. So, with no more proofs to back up his investigation, the tape was the sole thing he had left to show.
He didn't want to, however. In his judgement, it would bring more harm than good to Mr. Sunderland if he ever learned of his son's deeds. He could relate to that himself, as not a single day went by that he didn't think of what happened to his own boy. Douglas has never been one to blame life for throwing shit at him, but the position he was put in looked much like mockery from fate. For many hours prior to his reporting, he sat undecided about what choice to make.
Finally, after carefully weighting down the alternatives, he ended up choosing the lesser evil. Before calling off the investigation, Douglas had resorted to destroy that tape.
Inwardly, he was quite ashamed with himself. Outright lying and destroying proofs, almost things that a criminal would have done. Had anyone got a word of this, his reputation would be over. Despite his good intentions, the detective mulled over the righteousness of what he had just done, whether he wasn't only making excuses. He pondered if it would have been better not knowing what had happened to his own son, taking the boy for missing instead of dead. Would it have consoled him more at the time?
Anyway, what was done was done and sulking wasn't going to make things any better. Douglas could only hope Frank would eventually overcome his son's absence and live on.
Unlike Douglas supposed, although, Superintendent Sunderland wasn't crying. Sad, yes, but not crying. The moment the detective left, he got up from the armchair and walked up to the shelf. Pulling one of its drawers out, he searched among the objects within until finding a particular one: a small box.
Taking off the lid, inside the box lied a cloth with brownish-red stains, resembling coagulated blood. It didn't take long to the nasty odor invade the old man's nostrils, yet he didn't seem to bother at all. Umbilical cords weren't expected to smell like flowers, especially one this aged. Frank could still remember that night nearly thirty years ago when he had found this abandoned baby in South Ashfield Heights' Room 302 and, taking him to the hospital later, opted to keep the bloody appendage.
In normal circumstances, the idea of keeping someone's umbilical cord in his room for all those years might have labeled him as a total nutcase, not to mention gross. This was a trait he and his son shared actually, as he recalled that James had the nasty habit of never washing his hands whenever he touched something filthy.
Nevertheless, on that particular night, Frank had what people would call an... epiphany. A deep, strong sensation that he shouldn't throw the cord away, that he'd be glad later on for that. He couldn't explain exactly why, but the feeling was that of something... or someone... whispering into his very mind, claiming that the appendage would be of great importance futurely. Therefore he chose to heed the advice and store it.
It hadn't been until a few weeks back that he took note of the cord again.
Finally hopeless of seeing his son again, the superintendent started packing James' old stuff in his room. Every time he saw them, painful memories of his missing son returned, so he decided they'd better be gone, perhaps given to donations. While rummaging through the shelf, he stumbled upon that very same box, which, as a matter of fact, wasn't smelling nice. Not recalling why he was still keeping it in first place, he just absentmindedly put it in the trash.
On the same night, he went to bed early, tired of both the cleaning and the related emotional stress. Parting away with a child's mementos was always hard.
As he slowly drifted into sleep, a strange vision came to him. He found himself in a pitch dark place, with no walls, no ceiling, only the floor beneath his feet.
"Dad!" called suddenly a familiar male voice.
"James?" Frank asked, trying to spot the voice owner among the blackness. "James, is that you?"
"Dad, why did you throw it away?" the voice repeated, its owner remaining unseen. "Don't throw it away!"
"Throw away what?" the father asked, confused.
"The box!" replied James' voice. "You shouldn't have thrown it away!"
The last remark made the old man even more confused. "The umbilical cord? But why would I keep that thing?"
"You're going to need it, Dad! The Receiver of Wisdom is going to need it!"
'Receiver of Wisdom'? Now what the heck he was talking about?
"Son, I don't think I'm understanding..." Frank retorted.
"You have to get it back, Dad! The Receiver of Assumption is coming! Your life and the others' will be in danger!" the voice finished, falling mute afterwards.
"James? JAMES?" the superintendent shouted for his son, complete silence being the only reply.
In a bolt, Frank awakened off his slumber. He looked around and realized to be in his room. It was only a dream, but still it seemed so real.
'Receiver of Wisdom'? 'Receiver of Assumption'? His life in danger? What kind of nonsense was that? Was it really James he was talking to? He brushed slightly his eyes, trying to sort out his thoughts, when something abruptly registered.
'The umbilical cord!' he remembered of a sudden and frantically rushed up to the trash container outside the building. Although not fully understanding what his son meant (or if it had any meaning at all), somehow he had a feeling that the dream had some truth on it. The appendage must be retrieved, so he silently hoped that the garbage truck hadn't passed yet.
Luckily, it hadn't. Opening up the garbage bag inside the container, he found the smelly little box still there and fetched it back, relieved.
It was bizarre, but as much as it sounded crazy, that vision renewed his hopes that James was alive somewhere. That was what made him call on Detective Cartland in first place. And even if the investigation had resulted in naught, he still nourished the tiny, little hope that him, his son and his daughter-in-law would be reunited one day.
He just wished his child would have been more clearly about that message in the dream.
"One day, James. One day..." he nostalgically mused, putting the box back in the drawer.
It was nighttime. Back at home, after these many days of investigation, Douglas was utterly beat. The distress of dealing with Frank had also added to his fatigue, so he wanted nothing else than a bed and a good night of sleep.
And leaving all of it behind.
That was when, while pulling the car into his estate, he noticed a blond woman awaiting in front of his door. As he stepped out of his car and approached her, her features could be better distinguished. She appeared to be in her late twenties, clad in a long dark dress and, oddly enough, wore no shoes and had no eyebrows. At first, Douglas thought she was a beggar or a loony, and was about to dismiss her, when she acknowledged his presence.
"Detective Cartland, I presume?" she asked, in a cold voice.
"Uh yes," he replied, a tad surprised that she knew his name and address, as most of his contacts were made via phone. "May I help you, lady?"
"I have an assignment for you." She said, never changing her serious (and creepy) demeanor.
As stated, Douglas was tired, yet he remained professional. "Please come back in the morning, okay? We'll discuss this then."
So he proceeded to enter his house, when the woman interceded. "It's very important. My sister is missing!"
That caught the old man's attention. Another missing person's case? Another lost family member? What was happening to this world, for that matter? Of course, that put food on his table, but the way things were, it was almost as though mankind itself was driving towards ultimate chaos!
He carefully examined the mysterious woman: her stoic and eyebrow-less face made it hard to read her expression, so he couldn't say for sure if she was telling the truth or not. Nevertheless, he decided to listen what she had to say.
"Come on in," he beckoned her to enter. "Tell me more about it."
One year. That was approximately how long Detective Cartland has been working on this case, by far the lengthiest he had ever accepted. He didn't complain, nonetheless. His client, Claudia Wolf, was paying well after all.
Since a few weeks back, the investigation ceased being a search, turning into mere observation. After months of careful and patient work, the investigation subject, a teenage girl named Alessa Gillespie and supposedly Claudia's missing sister, had finally been found in a district town of Ashfield, living with her supposed captor, a man called Harry Mason.
According to Claudia, this Harry guy had kidnapped Alessa twelve years ago in the city of Portland and made the girl believe he was her father. A case of Stockholm Syndrome, his client alleged. It also seemed that they had changed their original names, in order to keep themselves hidden. Currently, Harry Mason and Alessa Gillespie answered by the aliases of Harry and Heather Morris, respectively.
Right now, the detective found himself in the local mall, tailing Heather and bidding his time, just waiting for the right opportunity to approach her. He hated doing it though. It made him feel like a creep, stalking a young girl like that. Even so, he knew it was necessary. Ever since that last case with Frank Sunderland, Douglas had decided, with sharpened resolve, that he had enough with broken families. It was now almost a matter of honor to retrieve Alessa back to her rightful family.
That way he would at least start making up for his previous failures.
Despite that, the former cop still sensed there was something wrong about this case. For starters, that woman Claudia looked a bit suspicious. She had the papers proving that Alessa was her adopted (yet legitimate) sister, and a few photos of her and Alessa had been shown as additional proof. Even so, call it foreboding or anything, his guts kept nagging that there was something Claudia wasn't telling him. That woman unsettled him somehow. Her papers seemed in order, but Claudia had made it a rule: no talking to the girl. He was hired only to find her, she stated.
Why that? He was a detective, for crying out loud; talking to other people was part of his job. Claudia was also pretty adamant on getting Alessa back, almost to the point of obsession. This, and the fact her expressions couldn't be read disturbed him to no end.
His musings were cut off when he saw Heather leaving a Happy Burger restaurant towards the nearest pay phone. Her hair color mismatched Alessa's, but at spotting the dark roots, one could guess she had dyed blond, maybe to enhance her disguise.
He discretely followed her and watched as she dialed a number, probably Harry's. From afar, he waited until she finished the call, picking up snippets of the conversation meanwhile. The sweet tone she spoke although, confused even more Douglas. That wasn't the tone someone unhappy would use. Once again, the investigator pondered if he was doing the right thing.
When she finally hung up, Heather seemed to have noticed his presence and gestured to the phone, presuming he wished to use it. As he dismissively shook his head, the girl shrugged it off and took her leave.
Before she left, however, Douglas called her over. He needed to talk to her. He needed to settle things up once and for all.
The old detective just hoped he wouldn't end up regretting it.
Well, that's it for the first installment of Silent Hill Reminiscence, folks. From this point on, it starts the canon of SH3, with which you're already familiar.
Thanks for reading! Please check out on my profile for the second installment of Silent Hill Reminiscence: Officer Wheeler.