“How do you know this is going to lead us to Silent Hill?” Dean asked as he ran his flash light over the tunnel walls.
“I don’t,” Anne said as she shouldered her bag. “Call it a another hunch.”
“I hate tunnels,” Dean bitched. “I hate tunnels that have viscous material for walls. Check it out, Sam.”
“So wait a minute, Anne. The journal talks about two different Sects of this cult,” Sam said as he handed Anne an extra handgun.
“Um, yeah, I remember reading something like that.”
Sam shook his head. “Don’t Anne. Don’t play dumb now. You knew there were two different Sects, didn’t you?”
Anne looked up at Sam. “So what? Does it really matter now?”
“Yeah, it probably does matter,” Dean said. “What were the names of the two Sects, Sam?”
“The Sect of the Holy Mother and the Sect of the Holy Woman. The Holy Woman Sect is the cult Dahlia Gillespie belonged to. The one that burned the little girl.”
“Which one did your mother belong to?” Dean asked.
Anne stared at Dean and swallowed hard. She shook her head and turned her back on the two of them, her silence all the answer they needed.
“Son of a bitch,” Dean said. “Your mother belonged to that cult? The cult that tried to murder a little girl?
Anne turned and stared at Dean. “I don’t know, Dean. I wasn’t there, in case you forgot.”
“Yeah, but your mother was, wasn’t she? It was her eyewitness account of Alessa’s burning you found. Wasn’t it?”
Anne threw up her hands. “You’re right, Dean! You’re absolutely right! My mother was part of the group that attempted to murder that little girl, I’m sorry she wasn’t as perfect as Saint Mary! But you know what? And correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to recall my mother paid for her involvement, didn’t she? Do you think she deserved it? Do you think it was an eye for an eye?” She took the handgun Sam gave her and tucked into the back of her pants. “Can you judge her without knowing everything that happened? Do you think she deserved to be murdered while her children hid in a closet, listening to every scream, every sound her body made when it struck the floor?”
“Anne, Anne, come on, calm down,” Sam said, taking her arm and pulling her away from Dean. “He didn’t mean it that way, look, you just surprised us, you know?”
Anne stared at Dean. “Of course that’s what he meant. It’s always black and white with you, isn’t it?”
Dean watched her, his jaw clenching as he bent to pick up his gun. He opened his mouth as if he were going to say something and then shut it again, instead smiling at her. “You know what? You’re right. It is always black and white with me. Do you know how to use that handgun Sam gave you?”
“Of course,” Anne said. “Bobby’s a good teacher.”
“Fine,” Dean said and shoved the handgun in his hand into the inside pocket of his jacket. He picked up a third one and mirrored Anne, tucking it into the back of his pants.
Anne turned away from him. “Can we please just go find my brother?”
“That tunnel is nasty,” Sam remarked, tilting his head to glance inside the tunnel and changing the subject. “It could be worse, though.”
“How’s that?” Dean took the flashlight from his brother. “How can anything possibly be worse than what’s in there?”
“We could be flying,” Sam said.
“Shut up about the flying thing,” Dean snapped. “Right now, I almost wish I were in an airplane. Heading somewhere warm. Tahiti would be nice.”
“Sorry to ruin your vacation plans,” Anne snipped at him.
“Whatever,” Dean said and turned back to the wall.
“I’ll go firs…”
“No, you won’t,” Dean said. “I’m going first. Then you and Sammy’ll bring up the rear.”
Not the time to complain, not the time to complain, she thought to herself as Sam handed her another hand gun and a flashlight.
“Is he always like this?” she whispered.
“Naw,” Sam said in her ear. “He’s just pissed because he didn’t learn about this Silent Hill place first.”
“Oh, please. I’m not pissed, I’m excited. See this,” he pointed to the wide phony grin on his face. “This is my excited face. Can’t wait to find the nasty bugs and the disappearing walls,” Dean said as he pushed past her. He stepped over the lip of the tunnel and plunged in.
Sam gave her a sympathetic smile and waved her into the tunnel.
“Let’s go, children.” Dean called from inside the hole. “If I’m having fun, everyone’s having fun.”
They traveled the first hundred feet or so hunched over, ceiling hanging low, but soon the roof of the tunnel opened up for Sam to stand up straight. “God, it stinks in here,” he said.
Anne nodded her head. Rotten meat and stagnant water and something else, something she couldn’t yet identify. Their feet squelched with every step they took and something was leaking into her boots.
They walked in silence for a little while and Anne shivered violently as a cold wind blew down the tunnel. Sam took Anne’s arm, saving her from falling as she slipped on a wet spot on the tunnel floor. “I don’t even want to think about what that was.”
Dean paused ahead of them and waited for them to catch up. “Coming, kids?”
“Disgusting,” Sam said.
“I know,” Anne said and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear.
“Hey, in those news clippings you found, it says Alessa survived the fire, right?”
“Barely survived, but yeah. I don’t know what happened to her after that night. Obviously, the world didn’t end and I think we’d know if God roams the earth, right? Even though we’re heading for a ghost town where monsters are real.”
Dean started walking again, the beam of his flashlight illuminating the glistening walls in streaks of quick moving light. “There’s something up ahead,” he said, pulling the shotgun down off his shoulder. Sam pulled Anne further behind him, putting his own gun up.
Dean put his hand up and they stopped, their flashlights pointing down towards the oozing floor. “It’s the end of the tunnel,” he said as he stepped over another lip. He did a quick sweep of the room with his light and gun and then turned back and took Anne’s hand. She tripped on the lip and would have fallen, but Dean grabbed her tightly as she stumbled into him. Her body tightened at his touch, the shiver running up her spine having nothing to do with the coldness of the room.
Then just as suddenly, he pushed her away and rubbed the back of his hand across his mouth. “Let’s go,” Dean said once Sam emerged from the tunnel.
“Where are we?” Sam asked.
Anne ran her flashlight over the peeling paint on the walls. Pictures of the sun, of tropical places adorn the frames scattered along the floor. “I think this must have been the bus station,” she says, turning in a slight circle.
“What about this darkness you were talking about? How often does that happen?” Sam asked as they walked around the rows of abandoned chairs.
She shook her head. “I don’t know. The birds went crazy right before, it seemed to be some kind of a warning it was going to begin.”
“How about we get outside,” Dean said. “This place is giving me the creeps.” He pushed the door open, looked up and down the street.
Anne looked at Sam, shook her head. “He hasn’t seen anything, yet.”
She was right. They stepped out of the pale gray light of the bus station into the pale gray light of the street. Ash fell like snow all around them, covering the silent cars and sidewalks with a thin film of grey. The drifting ash mimicked the fog on the roadways leading into town – Anne could see Sam and Dean clearly, but when she looked down the street, the haze deepened. The second car parked along the curb was blurred, the fourth indistinct. The bricks of the building beside them were sharp and clear, but at the end of the block, the next building was impossible to distinguish from the mist. The buildings beyond the intersection faded into obscurity. The silence was absolute except for the sound of the door slamming behind them. It echoed against the street fronts, gathering speed and density as it raced away from them.
Both Anne and Sam jumped and spun around to face Dean, who held up both of his hands, the shotgun raised high above his head and apologized. Somewhere off in the distance, something clanked against metal.
“Look,” Dean said, gesturing at the desolation before him. “We stick together. None of this Scooby-Doo crap of splitting up, understand? We might not be in Kansas anymore, but I ain’t going to see the wizard alone, all right, Anne?”
“Why are you singling me out?”
“Because if you suddenly hear your brother calling for you or if you see him out of the corner of your eye, I want you to understand it’s not on for you to go tearing off looking for him. If you see something, or hear something, you tell us and we’ll all go.”
“I’m not a child, Dean. And I’m not your brother. You can’t just order me around because you feel like it.”
“Listen cookie,” Dean said, leaning into her menacingly. “You got us into this mess, and you better as hell not leave us here to clean up after you. If either one of us gets killed because of something stupid you do, I’m going to haunt you for the rest of your life. Understand?”
“How many more times do I have to apologize to you? You weren’t supposed to be here. I understand that and I’m sorry you’re here. Stop taking your anger about it out on me!” She poked at his chest with her finger. “You wanna be pissed at anyone, be pissed at Bobby. He’s the one who called you in the first place. Not me.”
Dean threw his hands up in exasperation. “I’m not angry with you, Anne. I’ll admit you’re not at the top of my most favorite people list right now, but I just want us to find Billy and get out of this place alive. We can deal with all the other bullshit afterwards. Okay?”
Anne looked up at him and then at Sam. “Okay.”
All three of them jumped as something else crashed. “That was closer than the last one,” Sam said.
Dean nodded. “Let’s go.”
They moved down the center of the street, guns at the ready. The silence of the town was deafening and oppressive. “Hey, Sammy,” Dean asked, eyes and shot gun barrel tracking over the windows on the right side of the street. “Do you feel them?”
“Yeah,” Sam said. “All around. I can’t get a vibe on where it’s coming from.”
“What?” Anne asked.
Dean glanced back. Nothing was moving. There was no breeze, no wind. The trees stood silent and dead against the gray sky. “We’re being watched.”
“By people?” Anne asked, bringing the gun up a bit closer to her chest.
Sam glanced around the deserted streets. “I don’t know.”
“Something stinks,” Anne said as she raised the collar of her shirt over her mouth and nose.
Sam and Dean exchanged a look. “Brimstone,” Dean said.
“And sulfur,” Sam added.
“And burnt flesh,” Anne said, gagging a bit.
All three of them shared a disgusted look.
Suddenly, something darted into the street from behind an abandoned car in front of them. The features on the figure were indistinct, body lines blurred by the blinding fog. Sam and Dean raised their guns, backing away from the coming threat, both squinting in their attempts to make out what it was. The fog around it swirled and dissipated as it came closer. It stood crooked, knees bent inwards, hands and arms bound against its body by gray skin. The head shook violently from side to side, and it was coming at them, faster than Anne had ever seen anything move.
“Where the fuck’s the face?” Dean asks.
“Shoot it!” Anne cried as she raised her gun and fired. She missed, the round punching into one of the cars lining the street.
Both of the brothers took aim and shot at the thing, but not before a hole in the chest opened up and black liquid shot out in an arc in front of them. “What the fuck is that?” Sam yelled as the liquid hit the ground and started to smoke.
“Don’t care,” Dean yelled back. “Bring it down!” He jacked another round, fired again.
Anne held her arm straight and sighted down the pistol again. She shot at the creature too, the thunder of the guns muted against the fog. Finally, it fell. Somewhere up ahead, a siren began to wail.
“I think the town knows we’re here,” she said as she brought the smoking gun down. “Come on,” she yelled at the brothers over the noise. “We’ve got to get off of the street.”
“And go where?” Dean shouted.
“Anywhere but here! There has to be more of them! Do you want to wait for them to show up?”
“Christ, no.” Dean said as they ran towards the cross street in front of them. The darkness was swallowing the town whole, and he grabbed Anne’s arm and pulled her into an alley as it settled over them.
“I can’t see a fucking thing,” Sam muttered beside her as he reloaded his gun.
Dean patted his jacket pockets, trying to control his breathing. “What the fuck was that thing?”
Sam handed Anne a new clip as she released the empty one. “Fuck if I know,” she said, slamming the clip home in the butt of the pistol. “But if we see anymore, we’ll know to steer clear. Did you see what that black crap did to the street?”
All around them, the walls whispered, squished and moaned. “Get away from the wall,” Dean said, grabbing his brother by the arm and pulling him away. The building behind them was disintegrating, the concrete walls giving way to bleeding, puss-filled rot. The siren stopped. The corruption spread along the walls of the building in front of them until the bricks are completely gone and a fence stands in its place. The light of day is completely gone and darkness surrounds them. The alley is illuminated faintly by the glow of their flashlights.
“God, this is like that room of rotting corpses we found in the lair of that Gegbo in Louisiana, huh, Sam?” Dean said, covering his nose with his forearm. “No chance you have any Vicks vapor rub in that backpack of yours, is there, Anne?”
Anne eyes were tearing as she breathed shallowly through her mouth. “No.”
“How long?” Sam asked. “How long is it going to stay like this?”
“I don’t know. A few minutes, a half hour, look, I don’t know.”
“Well, I don’t think we can stay here,” Dean said, swinging his flashlight along the walls and the chain-link fence across from them. He moved the beam above, illuminating a mutilated body hanging from the fence. “Jesus Christ,” he hissed, moving the beam away.
“What!” Anne cried. “What was it?”
“Nothing you need to see.”
Anne grabbed his arm. “I do need to see, Dean. I have to know, I have to make sure it isn’t Billy.”
“It’s not,” he said as he pulled his arm from her grasp. “Here,” he said as he pointed the flashlight back at the body. “That look like Billy up there to you?”
Anne stared upwards, her eyes moving rapidly over the body. “No,” she said as she looked away. “That’s not Billy. It’s too decomposed.”
A sound from behind made the three of them swing around. Sam and Dean swung their flashlights down the alley, and lit a dark figure for a split second before it ran away. “What the hell was that?” Sam yelled as Anne ran towards it, turning a corner. Dean and Sam followed close behind.
“Billy,” Anne screamed. “Stop, Billy, please!”
Sam snatched her by the arm. “Anne, hush.”
“Let go, that was Billy!”
Dean had her by the other arm now. “Maybe it was, but we talked about this – no running off, and no screaming and bring the fuglies down on top of us!”
He let go of her arm, stepped back. “Now. Look around. You recognize any of this?”
They stood at the mouth of another long alley. “This is it,” Anne said. “This is where I was before. I remember that thing over there,” she pointed towards a hulk of trash piled behind the fence.
She crouched along the wall, keeping as close to it as she could without touching it, pointing her flashlight into every nook she saw. “Where’s the dumpster. Do you see anything?”
Things began to skitter in the darkness. Quiet for a moment, the three of them listened to the whispers surrounding them. Anne slowly stood. The brothers moved close together, their bodies triangled against the threat coming. Hundreds of voices maliciously whispering came from everywhere and no where at once.
Dean swept his flashlight from side to side, the light playing across blood oozing from the walls, creeping towards their feet. And then, at the end of the alley, a pair eyes glowed red in the darkness. They blinked and disappeared.
A heartbeat later, hundreds and hundred of red eyes opened all at once.
A short, strangled cry escaped Anne before she could stifle it. The eyes were coming closer.
Dean lit them with his flashlight, and almost dropped. “Son of a bitch!” Mutant children with outstretched hands swarmed towards them, their faces melted, swollen bellies obscenely glistening in the glow of the flashlights.
“Holy fuck,” Sam whispered. “They’re just kids.”
Anne cocked her gun and fired at the one in front of her. As if it were a signal, the others began to wail and rushed towards them. She fired wildly, screaming as the mutant bodies burned, the ashes flying up towards the sky as the alley began to lighten.
Ash fell on her upturned face, the gray fog settling down on top of them, blinding them once again. Anne wiped her face convulsively, and shuddered. The concrete buildings faded into view. Sam stood beside her, and turned slowly around. “That was real, right?” he asked. Everything they saw during the darkness was gone.
She nodded, turning around, looking for Dean. He stood a few feet away, staring at the brick wall. He touched it with his hand, as if seeking proof of its reality. “I hate this fucking town,” he said as he turned to look at his brother and Anne.
“Did you see anything of Billy? Anything at all? Sam asked.
Anne shook her head, her throat dry. “That’s a good thing though, right?” She tucked the gun under her arm and put her head in her hands. “John was right, this place is cursed.”
“Dad knew about this place?” Sam asked.
“I don’t know, Sam. Why don’t we ask the little ray of sunshine next to you.”
Anne stiffened. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You told Dad about your family history, Anne? Maybe you guys talked about it after you fucked?”
Anne flinched like Dean slapped her.
“Dean!” Sam said, raising his voice. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“Ask her,” Dean said as he stared hard at Anne.
“I didn’t,” Anne said, shaking her head. “I…Your father and I never, we never... Why do you think...” she stopped and placed a shaking hand to her forehead. “You weren’t asleep before. You heard me use your phone to call him.”
“No, but imagine my surprise when I looked at my dialed calls and there he was. I didn’t call. Sam sure as hell didn’t. So why’d you call him, Anne?”
“I called John because he’s the only one who can pull you two out of here after we find Billy. He’s your only link to the real world.”
“Our link? Don't you mean yours? You have some kind of special connection to our old man? What the hell is that all about?”
Anne laughed, but it was harsh. She stared at the sky and shook her head. “He’s not my link, he’s yours, you and Sam. Me? He hardly knows I exist. I wanted him to, back when I was eighteen and he was…I don’t know how to explain it. He was everything the other boys in town weren’t. But he was never anything more than a gentleman. I tried once to make it more, yeah, and then he knew how I felt, but he just let me know in no uncertain terms my feelings were never going to be reciprocated. He still loves your mother. And yes, if you want to know the truth, I was jealous of a ghost for a really long time.”
“That’s what you were talking about that night, huh? You couldn’t become obsessed with me because you were already obsessed with my dad. A simple no would have worked. Nice.”
“I did say no!” She cried in frustration. “You came on to me, remember? You know, this is bullshit, Dean. This right now, doing this here is bullshit. I called your father so he can save your ass. That’s it.”
“Anne,” Sam said, moving closer to her. “We’ll get out. All of us. If Dad helps, that’s great but if not, we’ll figure it out on our own.”
“No, you won't. You don’t get it do you? I called your father because I realized…”
“Realized what?” Dean asked.
“That Billy and I are never leaving Silent Hill.”
Dean strode up to her and grabbed both of her upper arms. “Will you stop saying that?” He shook her. “My father isn’t going to come. He won’t.”
“He has to,” Anne said. “Because I can’t do it again. I don’t know how I got out the last time. I don’t know why Alessa let me leave. Maybe because I felt half-insane and it wasn’t fun playing with a crazy person. I don’t know! I don’t have anything tying me to the real world anymore. But you two do. You have your father and he has you and you have your hunt. It’s not over yet for the two of you. Your story hasn’t ended yet.”
“This is no damn story, this is our lives, girl!”
“It is a story! It’s mine! Billy and me, it’s here. Our history. We’re the only living survivors left of Alessa Gillespie. Do you think she’ll let us leave now that she has us both again?”
“She will if I have anything to say about it,” Dean said as he released Anne. “Dad or no Dad, we all go home from here.”
“Dean?” Sam called. “I hate to break up our little share-therapy session here, but more of those skin straight-jacket freaks are heading our way.”
Dean looked up and over Anne’s head. “Jesus fuck. We need to keep moving. Let’s just find your brother.”
They trotted down the alley and came out on a cross street not far from the center of town. “God,” Anne panted as they stopped to catch their breaths. “What was the name of that street again?”
“Of course,” she said, turning around and staring up at the sky. “The school isn’t far. That’s where I think Billy would go if he was still alive.”
They moved silently through the fog, stopping twice to look at the bus maps to check their bearings until they came to the school, an imposing two storied building.
They opened the doors to the school cautiously, Dean and Sam both covering Anne as she walked inside. Dead leaves and discarded papers lined the deserted hallways, and whispering shadows moved along the walls.
“Anne,” Sam whispered. “Anne, you keep talking about this Alessa like she’s still alive.”
She turned to Sam, her face empty. “Can’t you feel her all around you? This is Alessa’s realm. This is her world. These are her toys. We’re just the mice she trapped in the cage.”
Their footsteps echoed throughout the empty school. “Billy?” Anne called into the silence.
She stopped by the staircase, listening, as Sam and Dean made their way down the hallway, peeking into open doorways. Overhead, something fell, the boom echoing through the building. “Billy!” she yelled and took off running up the stairs.
“Anne, stop!” Dean shouted as he and Sam pounded up the stairs after her. They stopped at the open landing at the top of the stairs.
Anne was gone.
“Welcome home, Annie,” the voice says, close to her ear. “Should we wait for your friends before we start the party?”
Anne shakes her head. “Let them go, Alessa. They have nothing to do with this.”
The giggle is high pitched and from the mist in front of her, a little girl appears. “But I’m having so much fun with them!”
“You can have me!” Anne screams. “I’m here. Take me instead. Just let them and Billy go and you can have me!”
“That’s not how it’s supposed to happen! You can’t sacrifice yourself!” The little girl shrieks before she smiles brightly, tilting her head to look up at Anne. “Do you like your pretty white dress? The red ribbon I pulled your hair back with? It looks just like the one my mommy gave me. Before she tied me to a chair and left me to burn!”
Alessa’s porcelain face is cracking. As the layers begin to peel, more blacken and charred skin appears. Blood flows down her white neck.
“Do you think it’ll hurt as much if you surrender yourself? I don’t! I want you to feel every flame licking against your body while you struggle to survive. I want you to hurt more then me. I want to watch as the fire flicks up your legs, your face! I want to watch while your pretty hair burns!”
Alessa Gillespie’s clothes are fusing with her skin. Her long dark hair shrivels and shrinks against her head, her lips pulling away from her face. “Your mother was only the beginning. You should have heard the way she screamed before she died. You really don’t think I didn’t know the mice were hiding behind the walls? It wouldn’t have been any fun taking you then.”
“Where’s Billy? Let me see my brother.” Anne’s legs tremble as she struggles to remain standing.
“Ah yes. Your brother. He’s over there. Can you pick him out from the others?”
Anne shakes her head in denial. “You didn’t. Please, Alessa. He didn’t do anything to you!”
“He was born!”
Anne’s hands begin to shake as the fog is lifted away from the burning wall. There are bodies there, squirming against the heat, against the fire. “Thank you, Alessa,” Anne says, her eyes filling with tears. “I know how to end this now,” she whispers.
“Calm down,” Sam told Dean as they searched through the abandoned classrooms. “We need to think about this.
“Think about what?” Dean said as he slammed open another door. He kicked over a desk, sending tufts of dust in the air like smoke. “She’s gone.”
Sam stopped Dean by putting a hand on his arm. “I think I know where she went.”
“Well, she said Alessa Gillespie was burned, right? But that she survived the burning?”
“They would have taken her to the hospital, Dean. If Alessa is what’s controlling this madness, she must still be in the hospital, right?”
Dean nodded once. “Let’s go kill the bitch.”
Neither of them had ever encountered a hunt quite like the one they found in the ruins of the hospital. Walls of bloody gore and shit lined their step. Nightmarish doctors wielding bloody scalpels roamed the halls. Faceless nurses turned and as they passed, their broken bodies moving grotesquely in the hunters' wake.
“Where would she be?” Dean whispered.
Sam clenched his jaw as he ducked beneath the jungle of eviscerated intestines hanging from the ceiling. “In Hell, right? The bowels of the hospital?”
Dean swept his flashlight over the breathing walls until he found a staircase. “The basement.”
They crept down the stairs, ignoring every monstrous nightmare that shuffled around them until they came to the end and faced the swinging double doors, they reloaded silently. Now they were in their element.
“What do you think you’re doing?” the little girl cries as Anne moves closer to the wall of fire.
Anne pretends she doesn’t hear her. All the struggling she has done to escape, to run away – it's been a mistake. Her first impulse, the one that had led her to Silent Hill, had been correct. Alessa was right. Anne’s come home.
The brothers nodded at each other once before they slammed their shoulders into the door. They rushed through the doorway, weapons at the ready, sighting on the first thing that moved.
Anne stood in the center of the empty room. Her childish white dress glowed and her dark hair was tied away from her face with a scarlet ribbon.
“Anne?” Dean shouted as she started to walk towards the back wall. It burst into flames, the blaze licking hungrily up the wall. “Anne, no!” he yelled as he ran towards her. She looked back at him, and he froze in mid step. “Annie, please. Please don’t do this.”
“I have to,” she whispered as she took another step towards the fire. “It’s the only way.” Anne looked over her shoulder and smiled sadly. “Tell Bobby thank you. For everything. Tell him I said…” she paused and looked back at the burning wall. “Tell him she would have come after him next, just for loving us and giving us shelter. I think...I hope he’ll understand.”
“Annie, sweetheart. Please come to me and Sam. This isn’t a delusion, it’s not a dream. That’s real fire in front of you. You’re going to die if you go…”
And then someone, something in the fire reached out to her. Dean could see features in the flames, recognized Billy. There was someone else beside him, reaching for Anne as well. She smiled faintly, turning back to the wall. Anne took their hands. She gazed up at the ceiling, her face at peace as the flames licked up her arms, lighting her clothes, her hair.
“No!” Dean screamed and Sam was pulling him back with a death grip on his arm as Anne became engulfed in the flames. She didn’t scream, but something did. He and Sam ducked their heads away from the furnace blast. The flames flashed out, licked over a decaying hospital bed tucked in the corner of the room. As Anne and her family burned, so did the bed. The screams climb higher and higher as the fire reached the ceiling and exploded along the rotting plaster.
“We have to get out of here,” Sam yelled into his brother’s ear. “The whole place is going up.”
Dean nodded once and let his brother lead him back up the stairs. The fire following them, biting at their heels, hot on the back of their necks. The monsters and the creepers on the walls of the hospital caught fire and screamed in pain.
They reached the main floor and turned down the final hallway, racing towards the exit doors as the hospital exploded around them.
There’s a voice pulling at him, but he doesn’t want to go. It’s warm here and Anne isn’t far. She needs him, even if she always pretended otherwise. He can see her just ahead, teasing him, never letting him get too close. “Go, Dean,” she finally whispers and he opens his eyes against the bright sunlight.
He sat up too fast, and the blood rushing in his head brought him back down again.
“Thank God,” said the voice beside him.
Someone lifted his head, touched a canteen to his lips. Dean drank deeply, sputtering as he said, “Sam.”
“I’m here,” his brother said from the other side of him.
Dean opened his eyes again, and blinked rapidly until he could see. He ached all over, beat up and bruised, but nothing felt broken. All around him, the town smoldered and burned. Black smoke drifted high above them, blocking out the blue of the sky.
The face of the man kneeling beside Dean surprised him and brought him up onto his elbows. Son of a bitch! She had been right.
His father put a hand on his shoulder and looked up at the devastation surrounding him. “We need to get out of here before the fire trucks and police arrive. Did you boys set this fire?”
“No, sir.” Sam answered, his face covered in black soot. “But we know who did.” He gave Dean a hand and pulled him to his feet.
Dean stared around him, his eyes finally coming to rest on the smoking ruin of the hospital. “They’re in there.”
“Who?” John Winchester asked, turning to look at the hospital. “Annie? Anne and Billy are dead?”
“She saved our lives, Dad.” Sam said, voice like sandpaper.
“Did you try and save them?”
Dean turned to his father and gave him an incredulous look.
“Of course we did. What do you think we’d been trying to do since we Bobby called us?” Sam asked.
“She didn’t want to be saved,” Dean coughed and ran an ash-stained hand over his face. “She knew from the beginning she was never leaving Silent Hill. Annie knew the only way to end the cycle of murder begun in this town thirty years ago was to sacrifice herself. Stupid girl,” Dean looked back once before limping away from the burning buildings.
“She’s dead and she’s with her family. Let her have her peace.” Dean said over his shoulder.
John Winchester sighed once and said a prayer for the girl he once knew before turning to follow his boys.
Edited to add on 12/5/08
I didn't know about this poem when I wrote this. But once I found it, wow, just wow.
Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Anne says she dreams sometimes -- and so do I
About the child we saw go by.
In the late afternoon we saw her pass,
Slowly and without a sound. The deep grass
Bent before her, as where a soft wind goes.
Except we know that no wind ever blows
The dark deep grass on Silent Hill.
My grandma says that back before her day,
There was a fine house there upon the crest
Where now a blackened chimney leans to rest
Against the sky. And now and then nearby,
Like a leaf of ash, a dark bird drifts without a cry.
Nothing else goes there. No boy climbs up to play.
Even the wild deer seem to keep away.
But Anne is not afraid. And sometimes we go near
To listen to the soft hush, deep as fear,
Heavy smoke, that seems to hang there still,
Where only dreams walk now -- on Silent Hill.
Anne says she dreams sometimes -- and so do I --
About the child we saw go by,
On Silent Hill.