Fandom: YYH/Silent Hill
Warnings: Horror, violence, gore.
The Other Side of Reality
Part Three: In which Kurama contemplates interior design and Kuwabara calls the cavalry.
Kurama glanced over his shoulder at the cupboard beneath the sink. The doors were still closed, but think, fleshy tentacles were slithering around the door and feeling the sink, the floor, the little throw rug beside the tub. They slid farther into the room, apparently long enough that whatever creature they belonged to didn't have to venture out of the cupboard to investigate.
He had looked inside that cupboard just a moment ago, and aside from some blood and gore, it had been empty.
One of the tentacles curled around one half of the corpse of the creature Kurama had killed and dragged it into the cupboard so quickly Kurama took a step back. Sounds came from behind those mostly closed doors – the sound a dog makes when it's gnawing on a bone. Whatever was living under his sink was hungry and ate flesh. That was good to know. A second tentacle grabbed the remaining half of the corpse and it too vanished beneath the sink.
Another clatter of falling plaster, drew his attention back to the wall. The summoning circle was completely hollow now, the blank space within the inner circle had crumbled away, leaving a dark and empty space. Kurama could see only a few feet inside, but what he saw was not the linen closet, but instead a rough and narrow tunnel. The walls were rough and uneven, as if they'd been dug by hand. An unsettling thought.
Now that it had opened the tunnel, the steady drip of blood slowed. The symbols remained unscathed.
Kurama briefly evaluated his options. He could remain here, hope that whatever was under the sink was as easy to deal with as its predecessor had been, and continue trying to break down the door. Odds were good that eventually the others would figure out something was wrong and stage a rescue attempt, although at present, Kurama seriously doubted even Yuusuke was strong enough to open that door.
Or he could exit through the tunnel.
Beneanth the sink, the chewing sounds stopped, and the growling started again. The tentacles, which had been mostly at rest while the creature fed, began to explore again.
Kurama stepped into the tub, narrowly avoiding one lashing tentacle. There was still a slick layer of blood coating the bottom of the tub, making his bare toes curl slightly before he sternly reminded himself he had certainly dealt with nastier things. He examined the circle one more time, committing the symbols to memory, tracing a finger along the outer edge of the portal, then hefted himself up and inside.
It was narrow enough that he had to crawl, and his shoulders scraped against the walls if he wasn't careful. But the dirt was hard packed and rock solid – not freshly dug. It was as if the tunnel had been there for many years, waiting for someone to cross through the summoning circle.
Of all the things he hadn't wanted to find in his bathroom...
It was dark enough not that he couldn't see ahead of him; the light from the bathroom had reached only a few feet inside, then abruptly vanished. So when the tunnel dropped out from under him, he didn't realize it in time to stop himself from falling.
Kuwabara pulled the door open a half second before Yuusuke knocked – some little psychic parlor trick his sister and Genkai both tended to pull all the time, and once which annoyed the hell out of Yuusuke. He had his mouth open to say something to that effect, when he noticed that the whole damn house, Kuwabara included, reeked of blood. It rocked him back on his heels and made the demon part stir restlessly in the back of his mind. He shook his head to clear it and focused on Kuwabara.
The human was barefoot and wearing nothing more than a pair of jeans. There was a smear of blood on his shoulder and Yuusuke eyed him quickly checking for injuries. Kuwabara hadn't mentioned any, but hey, you could never be sure. "So," he said by way of opening gambit, "Kurama's hogging the bathroom?"
Kuwabara rolled his eyes, but grinned. "Yeah, you know how he gets with the bubblebath." He stepped away from the door, letting Yuusuke past. He glared out and up. "Hiei."
"Huh?" Yuusuke frowned over his shoulder as he felt the flicker of the fire demon's ki from out of nowhere. Feeling Hiei was like someone standing at his back with a candle, a warmth between his shoulder blades. He hadn't noticed it until now – he hadn't been looking for it – but evidently Kuwabara had.
Hiei dropped out of the sky and darted into the house so quickly that a normal human would have seen nothing more than a black flicker, if that much. He paused just inside the doorway, ignoring Kuwabara as he nodded briefly to Yuusuke. Kuwabara closed the door and glared at his back.
"This place reeks," Yuusuke said flatly.
Kuwabara frowned. "What?"
Hiei and Yuusuke both stared at him. "Blood," the fire demon said, finally, his tone carefully reserved in a way Yuusuke didn't like.
"It stinks, Kuwabara," Yuusuke said. "The whole place. It's like a slaughterhouse. You didn't notice?"
Kuwabara jerked his thumb over his shoulder. "Come take a look at this."
The kitchen was pretty much the same as the last time Yuusuke had seen it, except for the blood dripping down the walls. He followed Kuwabara's finger and looked up. There was a brown patch on the ceiling, and blood was coming out of it, flowing across the ceiling to the walls, and then dripping down in what had to violate some law of physics, even if Yuusuke couldn't tell you which.
"It's spreading," Kuwabara said flatly. "I measured it as well as I could while I was waiting for you to get here and as near as I can tell, the rot is spreading only as far as the walls of the upstairs bathroom."
"The blood?" Yuusuke asked, blinking and stepping back, just in case all that blood decided to stop violating the laws of physics.
"It's coagulating," Hiei said.
Kuwabara nodded once. "Once it hits the walls it starts getting thick, and by the time it hits the floor it's pretty much… congealed."
Yuusuke risked a glance at the floor by the refrigerator, where a particularly thick stream of blood was flowing into the floor. All along the baseboards was dried and drying puddles of blood. The fresher blood pooled on top of the dried, forming little mounds. "You're gonna need to hire a cleaning service when this is over."
Kuwabara grimaced at him. "Thanks for volunteering."
"Dude," Yuusuke said seriously, "there are limits even to our friendship."
"The bathroom," Hiei said, preventing Kuwabara from attempting to smack Yuusuke upside the head. "Show me."
"I thought you said it was gone," Yuusuke said.
The human shrugged. "I can't sense inside it. All I feel is a void."
"As if the room were empty?" Hiei asked.
"No." Kuwabara stopped at the top of the stairs and let them both examine the bathroom door. "An empty room still has feeling. A sense of space, lingering memories. This is as if nothing exists on the other side of that door."
Yuusuke gave the door an experimental shake, then kicked it just to see what would happen. It didn't even shake on its hinges. "Hiei, try cutting it open."
Kuwabara was already shaking his head as Hiei drew one of his katana and slashed at the door. No mark, no cut. Hiei didn't look surprised, but he did look annoyed. Yuusuke figured it was less that he failed and more that Kuwabara'd been right about him failing.
"It gets better," Kuwabara said, then he reached past Yuusuke and flattened his hand against the wood.
Kurama woke up in the kitchen.
He was lying on his back beside the refrigerator, his head tilted to the side and facing the door. For a moment everything was blurry and indistinct, but as he pulled himself up from unconsciousness the room snapped into focus.
It was… changed. The floor was covered in dirt and grime, the walls were streaked with filth where there were no holes and the wallpaper wasn't ripped away, the appliances were rust covered and decrepit. The windows were covered with handprints and dark brown stains, blocking most of the light and leaving the room feeling even darker and dingier than it was.
Kurama carefully sat up, grimacing at the feel of mold and mud beneath his fingers and the dampness soaking through his pajamas. He stood carefully, but he could already tell he was uninjured from the fall. His loss of consciousness had to be because of the tunnel, not from a head injury.
The tunnel. He scanned the kitchen quickly, eyes catching additional details – the phone cord dangling from the jack in the wall, as it if had been pulled away, the open drawers, the open microwave, crusted with something dark and greasy – and found what he was looking for. Tipping his head back he examined the ceiling, and the blood red summoning circle painted onto the wood. Like the one in the bathroom, this one was carved out in the center, making a tunnel that disappeared into the ceiling.
"I'm not going back that way," he murmured.
He examined the room carefully, searching the countertops and drawers, but found nothing of use. He flipped a long serrated cooking knife over his knuckles for a moment, then slipped a seed form his hair, a thin, supple vine sprouting in his hand. He pulled his hair back into a rough ponytail and wound the vine around it, the vine obeying his touch and holding itself tight. A second vine wound around his forearm and held the knife in place.
He had a suspicion that anything he encountered here would not be friendly.
The hallway and living room were in similar states, rust and water damage covering nearly every surface, fist-sized holes punched through the walls and occasionally the floor. He tested the stairs carefully, but they seemed steady, and he made his way upstairs.
The upstairs was drastically altered. The floors were gone, replaced with metal grillwork. He paused on the top step, his heightened senses catching the long faded odor of decay, and Kurama eyed the ceiling above him warily. The same metal grill was there, giving him a nearly unobstructed view of an attic that the house had not had that morning. He paused, listening for footsteps or breathing, but heard nothing.
The doors were also different. The bathroom door had been replaced at some point with a metal one, including a metal frame, and was welded shut. For good measure someone had nailed long planks across it. Kurama tested it quickly, unsurprised when it proved impossible to open.
The pantry door opened easily, showing a few towels and sheets, all stained with the same mold and grime that decorated the rest of the house. He ventured further down the hall, the grill a strange, uncomfortable feeling beneath his bare feet. Kuwabara's room was next, and though the door did not seem strange, and the knob turned beneath his hand, the door would not open.
His own door was open when he approached, a thin swatch of daylight spilling through the crack and lighting the grill of the floor.
Kurama pushed the door open the rest of the way.
His room was nearly unchanged, the only signs of dirt and decay being the floor and walls around the door. His furniture and personal belongings seemed unmarked, and the windows were clear. He crossed the room and peered outside, shading his eyes against the brightness. Outside the house, everything appeared perfectly normal. There were students in school uniforms walking past the front, cars driving down the street. The sky was clear and blue. Judging by the sun, Kurama guessed it to be nearly midday, for what that was worth.
Kurama pulled open the closet door and found that his clothes were as untouched as everything else in the room. Moving quickly, Kurama stripped out of his pajamas and into a pair of jeans and a long sleeved shirt. He slipped his feet into boots without bothering with socks and laced them up quickly while keeping one eye on the door. The knife he kept strapped to his arm, beneath the thin material of the shirt, just in case.
Casting one last glance at the windows, Kurama left the room and headed for the stairs.
Above him, something clanked across the grill.
He glanced up, one arm raised instinctively to defend against an attack, but only empty darkness greeted him. He narrowed his eyes, letting his sight adjust to the dark, searching for a sign of movement in the darkness. Another clank resonated across the grillwork, this time from directly above him. Kurama stepped forward cautiously, still seeing nothing, determined not to let whatever was up there cut him off from the stairs.
Something big struck Kuwabara's door from the inside, rattling the hinges. It struck again, a heavy crash, as if someone were throwing their entire weight against it.
Kurama hesitated, his partner's name coming unbidden to his tongue. "Kuwabara-kun?"
The screech that answered him was not human, and the door shook again.
Kurama cast a last wary glance into the darkness above his head, and crossed the last few feet to the stairs while behind him something shrieked.
He had barely given the living room a cursory glance on his way upstairs, now he checked it over in greater detail. The furniture was soggy and full of holes, the fireplace full of – Kurama paused and glanced again. Where those bones? – something, anyway, and the throw rug in front of the couch was ruined. Kurama seriously hoped this was an alternate universe. The cost of redecorating alone would bankrupt them if any of this were real.
On the table by the front door Kurama found Kuwabara's cell phone, and a notepad.
The notepad looked as if it had been sitting there for years instead of just a few minutes. The paper was browned and rotting from water damage, and there were rust-colored stains spattered across, which Kurama rather doubted were actually caused by rust. Faded letters, recognizable as Kuwabara's messy scrawl, could barely be read.
Gone to Genkai's. Meet me there.