The strangeness started with a dog, which was a bizarre way for it to begin.
You see, Silent Hill was foggy, the fog rolled in off the forests like clouds, often covering the whole town in a strange ethereal whiteness, diffusing away shadows and washing out the already faded colours of old gnarled wood. It crept into Lawrence’s garden where he was sitting on the porch reading a book and made it feel like he was in his own strange bubble, separated from the rest of the world. It wasn’t an unpleasant feeling.
He was just getting absorbed into the reading when movement at the corner of his vision pulled his attention away from the book.
Something was standing there at the end of his garden which hadn’t been there before and he looked up with a start. It was a dog, a huge bull terrier just standing stock-still and staring at him. It had a large dark spot over one eye and he could see its pig-like eye from where he was sitting. There was something unnatural about the animal, too sentient looking and strange to be a normal dog. Time seemed to stretch out too long as he sat there, scared to move lest he provoked an attack.
The strange dog moved first, taking a few steps forward towards him, its head staying uncannily level as it did, closer and closer, not running, unhurried and fixed. The world seemed to fall silent as it did so, the quiet seeming more than just a lack of noise, veering into an oppressive quiet that dampened even the sounds that there were. As it got closer and closer he could see its eyes and realized that both were wildly dilated. He started to back away, or tried to, almost tripping over his own chair as he stood, heart hammering in his chest.
Still the dog walker forward, closer and closer until he could practically smell its warm rank breath. It stepped onto the porch, he tensed to run.
And then it vanished and sound flooded back into the world.
It wasn’t up for question that it could have run away, there were no obstacles and he hadn’t seen it move, simply one moment it had been there, a nightmare outlined against the fog-skirted trees, and then it was gone, leaving him feeling sick with fear. It felt like he was going crazy, so certain that what he’d just seen was real. There were no rational explanations he could even use to handwave away the encounter, he hadn’t been sleepy, he wasn’t tired now.
He’d seen plenty of dogs in his career, being a vet you saw animals of all shapes and sizes, but that one in particular seemed familiar in a way he couldn’t begin to place.
He put his book away, feeling distinctly that he’d had enough reading for that day and went back indoors, suddenly feeling like he needed to talk to someone, anyone human and ground himself back in the world.
After the incident in the garden things for the most part went back to normal and it was easier and easier to pretend that it had never happened and that perhaps it had simply been some manner of auditory and visual hallucination. It wouldn’t be the first time in his life that he’d experienced those things either, but it would make it the first time since coming off of the medications he’d been put on as a child to control whatever it was they’d decided was wrong with him at any given time. It didn’t bode very well, but the continued lack of recurrence lulled him into a sense of security.
It didn’t last all that long.
The next strange thing that happened occurred when he went into town, he’d made plenty of trips there since moving in and had grown accustomed to the small town charm of the place, the people who lived and worked there were good natured and open with him, speaking of the things the town had going for it, the great views of Toluca Lake and the park, he’d even declined discount tickets to the local theme park, not really inclined towards theme parks in general. When he’d mentioned that he played the piano he’d been roundly invited to the town’s church to attend and this, of all the offers had been most tempting. There was something very attractive to him about churches, as a lifelong con man it was always ideal to get yourself a good social standing as soon as was humanly possible. He was emphatic and eager and one of the older ladies invited him over to show him the way to the building and to introduce him to the pastor.
The church itself was strange, with an air of an unorthodox sect where he’d expected something a little more conventional and conservative. It grabbed his interest immediately. Inside the unassuming little building with its white wood paneling and dilapidated sign out by the street (THE SHEEP RETURN TO THE SHEPHERD, it read) there were the expected rows of pews leading up to an elaborate altar, but it was the paintings around the room which normally would have shown the stations of the cross which had caught his eye as different, they showed strange and contorted figures in twisted and painful looking poses.