Resident Evil: Arklay Horror – Chapter 1
I’m proud to present to you all the first chapter of a fan fiction I’ve been working on for quite a while. Be sure to read the prologue if you haven’t already! This is a very important project to me and I really hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. Please leave your thoughts and reviews in the comments below!
Disclaimer: Resident Evil and all of its characters are owned by Capcom.
“You Are Dead”
Those are the first words I see when I open my eyes. At first I think they’re written in blood, hoping it isn’t Alex’s. Then I realize they’re apparently written in luminescent red paint. I don’t know where I am, or how I got here, but one thing I know for sure is that my girlfriend had been with me before waking up in this mess I now find myself in.
This can’t be real… I know for a fact I’m awake, but it feels like I’m lost in a nightmare. God I hope she’s fine.
Completely bathed in darkness, save for the bright red writing right above me, I can only move my eyes around freely. It feels like I’m experiencing one of the worst cases of sleep paralysis from my past, desperately struggling to regain control of my body. It’s a condition I would always connect with the fictional monster living under my bed as a child, reaching up to grab me in the quiet of the night with its sharp claws.
Steel rubs roughly against my wrists as I reluctantly attempt to free them from the handcuffs I can now feel restraining me. Thankfully my hands aren’t cuffed behind my back. Breathing is proving to be a challenge, though, thanks to the claustrophobic enclosure I’m lying in. After a few moments, I come to the shocking revelation that I’ve possibly been buried alive. The question now is, who could be responsible for this? And why?
Suddenly, I can feel something crawling all around my body, with the speed and mobility I wish I had right now to escape this slice of confined hell. At this point, screaming would be expected, but I have to remain as calm as possible. Crying for help would only attract the attention of whoever might be out there, perversely watching this sick game unfold. I keep telling myself that I’ve survived worse, but I would rather not remember that…Especially not now.
Whatever’s claimed my body as its home continues to crawl its way around me, now inching closer and closer toward my face, accompanied by a profound hissing noise. The heat of a heavy breath clashes with my own. I arch my head forward to see what this creature could be, and I’m faced with two glowing, bloodshot red eyes, piercing through the sheet of darkness over me on this deathbed. Like two red jewels floating in empty space.
Then I see the entirety of the black rat that had been holed up in here with me this whole time, perfectly blending in with our immediate surroundings. Circling my face, as if looking for something of interest, the rat seems to channel my strong sense of panic and anxiety, made even more evident by its continued heavy breathing. What the hell could be wrong with it?
My mind swings to a far more important concern; I have to get out of here and find Alex. A multitude of worst-case scenarios start playing out in my head, like they always do when I’m pitted in a complex case, but I try my best to ignore them. It feels like I’ve been unconscious for days, as if whoever is responsible planned for the exact moment of my awakening; or in this case, taking death’s wooden grasp on me into consideration, my “resurrection.” All this reeks of some sick cult group. I hope I come face to face with whoever they are once I get out of here.
A loud click noise then startles the agile rat and I.
“It’s unlocked,” I hear a girl outside say.
“Alex! Is that you?”
Damn it. Quiet, Joel. Whoever she is sounds too calm to be Alex, especially under these circumstances. But the voice is quite similar…At least now I know that I can get out of here. Whoever this mysterious girl is will surely get my thanks. I sit up, pushing the coffin’s lid open with my head with as much force as I can build up. I take a moment to enjoy the sensation of this night’s cool air finding its way home to my lungs, and then I’m struck with utter dread at the realization of my current location. The road sign up ahead mentally impales me with a terror-tipped dagger.
“Route 6…No…Not this way…”
The Arklay Mountains…But how is this possible? I always hoped I would never return here, especially this particular road, which used to provide easy access to the mountains from Raccoon City; a city that no longer exists. After its destruction by the US government following a viral outbreak last year, the status of the Arklay Mountains had remained unknown. Well, looks like I’m right in the middle of ground zero now.
My childhood fear of this place comes back, hitting me as hard as the fall I just took dragging myself out of the coffin, landing headfirst on the pavement below me. I look up and see the “voice of salvation” from a little earlier. She’s young, can’t be older than 14, and looks completely lost and out of place here. It’s too dangerous for her to be out here alone. What the hell is she doing here anyway? Her family must be worried sick about her.
Looks like this is shaping up to be an escort mission now as well.
The fall, coupled with my prolonged time in complete darkness, distorts my vision for a bit as I try to finally stand up. My head spins, and the lost girl in front of me appears to transform into a terrifying monstrosity, the withered branches from the trees behind her appearing as spider limbs bursting out of her ears, eyes, mouth and nose. I shake off this hallucination and get myself up on my feet. She looks at me like I’m crazy. I don’t blame her.
Just try not to scare her off, Joel.
“You’re not my father,” she says with utmost disappointment and sadness in her voice.
“Uh, no, I’m not. Me and my girlfriend, we’re expecting, but I’m sure I haven’t been sleeping in there for that long,”
It’s strange. She doesn’t look like she’s been wandering through these woods for that long, judging by her clean appearance. Even her bare feet don’t have any dirt on them, meaning she mustn’t have been running this whole time. Perhaps she was waiting for me to wake up and get her to safety. I feel a strong chill course through my body as I reach out to comfort her with my restrained hands.
“Where are your parents?”
“I don’t know. I just woke up in a cabin nearby and they were gone.”
“Well, just stay by my side, okay? I’m Joel. Tell me your name.”
She looks at me with uncertainty painted across her innocent face; perhaps she’s also lost her memory. What was she and her family doing here in the first place I wonder? This area has been off-limits for almost a year now. Regardless, protecting her and finding Alex is at the top of my mind, but I also hope to cross paths with whoever is responsible. No one should have to involve a child in this; but her being here possibly means that this isn’t a personal attack on me. Or so I tell myself.
“Alrighty, then. Have you seen a girl around here? She’s a little shorter than me, has long brown hair like you, and wears glasses.”
“No, I’m sorry, mister. You’re the first normal person I’ve seen all night.”
“Normal? What do you mean by that?”
“Are you a bad person?” she asks after a long moment of mutual silence, looking at my handcuffs and the blood around my wrists.
“No, I’m…” Right as I’m about to put her expected concern to rest, the coffin’s lid behind us closes shut, the loud noise summoning a horde of crows that had been seemingly monitoring us from the tree tops. Shrieking and letting off a deafening caw, they fly through the road, forcing me and the girl to fall to the ground. One of the crows slices open part of my forehead with its sharp beak as it zooms by. Ignoring the excruciating burning pain for a second, I look over at the girl to make sure she’s safe. The blood gushing out of my open wound starts pouring down my eyes, making me see red all around me. I lie on my back, applying pressure on the wound as I look up at the now crimson sky, while the crows continue to swarm us.
After a few minutes, the ravaging birds finally disappear into the night sky overhead. The mysterious girl then helps me up to my feet. For some reason, she doesn’t look too terrified about what just happened. She’s probably already been exposed to this a little earlier. I wonder if she’s been confronted with other threats as well. She did seem relieved that I was “normal.”
“Thank you… So, what did you mean before by calling me normal? What have you seen out here exactly?”
“…You’re hurt, you should use one of those over there.” Dodging my question, she points at the grass and bushes on the side of the road behind her. No argument on my part, though, my whole body is in pain and I fear the cut on my head could get infected soon.
“Okay, but when I come back, I want some answers.”
My legs feel like they’re about to give out, and my head is throbbing. With this physical disorientation, and blood around my white shirt, this poor girl could have mistaken me for a zombie if she hadn’t showed up when she did. I reach the area she had pointed out to me, a little garden of green herbal plants. By instinct, I take one and apply it on the open cut on my forehead. I crush what remains into tiny pieces and eat them. My sight is then pulled toward a lone bright red light up ahead through the trees. Before I can check it out, I hear the girl approaching me from behind.
“Those plants are the only good thing this place has brought,” she says with a little smile on her rosy face. I’m quite surprised that she knows about the herbs and their healing effects.
“One of the two…But how do you know that? You from around here?”
“Well, me and my parents moved here a while ago.”
“By here you mean these woods?”
She remains silent once again, staring at me with a blank expression. Her reluctance to provide any further details is starting to mildly annoy me, but I can’t let that show. We’re both in a similar situation, and scolding the poor child won’t help anything at all. A scream far off in the distance then breaks up the silence. Automatically, I associate the location with the red light glowing up ahead. It could be a flare, possibly belonging to yet another lost person.
This night just keeps getting even more bizarre…
“Just come with me and don’t leave my sight.”
Despite being unable to fight back in case a hostile shows up, thanks to these damn cuffs, I can’t delay this search; I have to do whatever I can to help. We keep walking, crouching regularly to maneuver past some of the downwards-growing branches from the trees in our way. If this was me 15 years ago, I would just run back to the coffin and wait for help to arrive, scared out of my life. There’s no room for fear, though. Not now.
We finally reach the exact location of the red light. It’s a burial site. Carefully making our way around the deep hole in the ground, I reach over for the red flare and pick it up. Sharing the horror clouding over me, the little girl is holding onto me, tightly grabbing my shirt as I become immobilized at what I see next as the flare is shaking uncontrollably in my trembling hands.
A tombstone rests on the ground below us with a note taped to it. Next to it lies a clean gold lighter and a pack of lighter fluid . What’s engraved on the tablet right before my eyes becomes carved into my mind; something those damn green herbs won’t be able to heal:
“Here rests the Raccoon City survivor:
Detective Joel Puente”