Rating: R for gore, blood, violence, and disturbing imagenary.
Series: Fullmetal Alchemist/Silent Hill fusion
A/N: This is actually something I started May or June 2007, can't really remember. Then I got the block for like half a year before starting to write it again. Let's see where this one is going.
cryogenia for encouraging me to actually write this thing, for giving me ideas, cracks, CCs, and the will to listen to me nitpicking at my own plots without losing the patience. Oh, and helping me with torture ideas, of course. ILU.
pikka and hinotori for helping me remember that German is fun when you know where to look, and the suggestions I found tremendously helpful to make Hei sounds like the geeky German in suspenders he is.
Word count: 7840 words or so here, 25,590 words or something in total. Whoa. Go me.
Chapter 1: Silent Hill
Chapter 2: Midwich Elementary School
Chapter 3: Otherworld
* * * * * * *
Chapter 4: Alchemilla Hospital
* * * * * * *
Aside from the different roads taken and the company, the trip to the hospital is not much of a difference than the one to the school. That is, a lot of fig, monster slayings, and Alfons getting number and number the more he swings his bat. And like Hughes, Colonel Mustang is very helpful to him. He seems to be less skilled when it comes to wielding a melee weapon, not using it as effective as Hughes did, but he is more strategical when it comes to attacking the monsters. He doesn't bother with the four-legs unless they come too close to them, and even then prefers to outrun them. The dogs he bashes first with the pipe he took off from a wall near the cafe, then they run before they manages to get on their feet. All in all, it is a whole lot more running than massacre and Alfons' lungs are threatening to go on a strike.
"Are you alright?" the Colonel asks as Alfons stops to catch his breath again. "We can go slower if you want."
Alfons shakes his head. He takes a few deep breaths before he straightens up, forcing himself to say, "It is fine. Edward waits."
The Colonel gives him a thin smile, but he continues on, albeit noticeably on a slower pace. Any other time Alfons would have been annoyed at the notion of being coddled like that, but for now he is rather grateful. His lungs can only take so much, even without the---
Alfons stops dead on his track.
All the chaos that has been distracting him for the last few hours has made him forget about his physical condition. Namely, his lungs' lack of health. Before he came to this place, he couldn't walk a mile without coughing out mucus, or lately, blood, and if the tension in the lab was too great, he would have to retreat to a secluded tower, trying to hide his burning lungs and the blood-soaked handkerchief.
But he hasn't coughed out his lungs here. Not even once.
Alfons turns to the Colonel, who is looking back at him, worry evident in his eye.
Alfons shakes his head.
The Colonel doesn't look like he believes him at all, but he says nothing and turns to continue their path. Alfons tows behind him, trying to focus on the present, but his mind is racing once again.
Something is definitely wrong here. Granted, the monsters are a dead give-away of that fact, but when one should be having damaged lungs and ends up not having one, then something is horribly horribly wrong. Alfons grabs his hand, trying frantically (or as frantic as one can be when one is trying to be discreet from his company) to find a pulse.
Found it. And it is beating in synch with his heart too, evident as he feels for his chest too, so at least he is not dead yet.
Or is he?
Alfons quickly tries to recall everything that has been happening since he arrived at that place and find anything that is out of ordinary. There is the lack of cough, he has just noticed now, then... there is the lack of memory. And there are the monsters, and the pyramid head, and---
Wait, wait, wait! He needs to classify!
Alright, internal deviation. Lack of memory, with a progressive return (he has remembered the names of his research mates so far). Lack of lungs with fatal problems, replaced by a pair of normal ones. Progressive fatigue, though that can be attributed to the physical and mental extortions.
Environmental deviation. The fog. The lack of other non-gorish beings except for Hughes, Nina, Alexander and Mustang. Four-legged humanoids. Two-headed canines. Animated dead children. Humanoid figure with pyramid-shaped helmet. Cockroach-like insects.
Phenomenal deviation. Finding himself in Cafe 5to2 without knowledge of how he got there, twice. Change of environment that occurred in the school. Having people from two parallel worlds meeting in one place.
Alfons frowns. There must be a pattern in those statements. Formulas and constants to the variables. He can feel it, but he still can't see it.
He pauses for a moment to smack his bat against a stray four-legged before he resumes his thought.
Well, in a way, Edward seems to be the only obvious constant so far. He doesn't know who Hughes is to Edward, but judging from Edward's attention toward Officer Huge, they must have been close. Mustang was his superior officer. Nina and Alexander could have been close too. Alfons himself is Edward's roommate (Only roommate? something in his mind is snickering at him but he ignores it), so emotional-attachment-to-Edward seems to be the best name for the constant.
"A penny for your thought."
Alfons breaks the line of his thought and blinks at the man walking in front of him in confusion.
Colonel Mustang turns and smirks at him. "What do you have in mind?" he amends.
"I think," Alfons says. "Every human I here meet know Edward. It is strange."
The man snorts, "Not really, considering that Trouble seems to be Edward's middle name."
"No. His middle name is Bombastus."
The Colonel stops mid step and stares at him. "Are you for real?"
"He said so." Alfons tilts his head. "Why?"
The Colonel stares at him, then he waves his hand at him and turns away, but not before Alfons notices the edges of his mouth twitching. He can also see, or rather hear, the Colonel trying to say something, but the man will snort and end up saying nothing, repeated a few times.
Alfons wonders what is so funny.
"But anyway," the Colonel finally seems to be able to overcome whatever was tickling his stomach, and turns again to give him a more serious look. "Who are those you have met here so far before me? Aside from... Hughes."
There is a slightly odd look in the man's face as he says Hughes' name, but Alfons chooses to ignore that for now. "Only a little girl and a dog. They call Nina and Alexander. She said, they wait for Nina father."
The look becomes even odder. "Nina Tucker and Alexander, her dog? Waiting for Shou Tucker?"
"You know them?"
"Of course. I had the... honor of examining their... remains when we found them."
Alfons blinks. "Wie bitte?"
"Fullmetal... Edward used to live with the family until Shou Tucker did a horrible experiment with his daughter Nina and her dog. Nina and Alexander died the same day."
Alfons' mouth is open but he finds that he can't figure out what to say. Because he knows he hasn't been imagining the girl, because despite Nina and Alexander are both common names, it is a probability of one to at least several millions, not including the two world factor, for two names from his imagination to match two names in a real life situation in the same sequence and situation. And linked to Edward too. So it is either Nina and Alexander are real and he really has met with their ghosts, or---
"Ouch! Young man, what the hell are you doing!"
"...'st kein Traum." If he pinched himself and it hurted, and he pinches the Colonel and it hurts him too, so he can omit that possibility that he is dreaming it all.
Which kind of makes it suck, really, because that means this whole nightmare is really not one. It is real.
"Das ist mir zu hoch," Alfons sighs. Yes, completely beyond him. The concept of quanta in light instead of wave is very much easier to understand compared to this... this... oh God, he is so tempted to call this bullshit had he not experienced it himself.
A four-legged approaches him and he channels his frustrations at it.
"Are you always this violent?" The Colonel is smirking in amusement again, and Alfons suddenly has the urge to swing his bat at him. No wonder Edward hates the man. How can he be so calm in this situation?!
"Nein, I am calm so weit," Alfons tells the man sweetly. "Sonst noch etwas? Other you told me not?"
The man shrugs. "If it helps, Hughes is supposed to be dead too."
Alfons stares at the man. "You mean it serious?"
"I wish I didn't."
"He was alive. He breathe. No radio noise."
"I attended his autopsy."
There is silence for a while. Then Alfons looks up to the foggy sky and yells, "Gott, das ist wahrhaftig zuviel, ja!"
"I'm afraid God is apparently on a vacation right now," the Colonel provides.
Alfons knew there was a reason he was never too religious.
"You can lie," Alfons points at him. "Nina und Alexander und Herr Hughes are alive, und you lie to lose me make."
Colonel Mustang gives him an exasperated look. "And why would I do that?"
Alfons thinks for a moment. "Because, when I believe you, you me can me against others."
The Colonel raises his eyebrow. "And who might be these 'others'? It's not like there are others we have seen. Well, admittedly I did meet with Doctor Marcoh a few hours ago before he disappeared on me too, but it's not like there is any reason to be wary of anybody you and I have encountered so far. Oh, and by the way, Doctor Marcoh has been missing for years too and presumably dead, so looking at the pattern so far, the two of us might be dead people too."
"...We are not dead."
"I hope so too. But neither Hughes nor Nina Tucker realized that they're dead, no?"
Alfons stares at the man. How can he be so calm when saying that he might be dead? Is it because soldiers are trained to face death at any given time? But Hughes said that Mustang is also a State Alchemist, so he must be a scientist as well. But even scientists are supposed to be afraid of death, right? Hell, he was afraid when the doctor told him that---
He remembers now.
"I could dead be," he whispers.
"Exactly my point. Not it is to say that--"
"I have only six months."
The Colonel blinks at him mid-sentence. "Pardon?"
Alfons looks up to the man, not able to believe that he didn't remember this at all, and feels very lost suddenly. "The doctor said, I will die. Meine Lunge ist... Colonel, I can also dead."
Colonel Mustang blinks at him. Then the eye widens.
They just stand there looking at each other, Alfons' mind and world spin around him (IamdeadIamdeadwaitIcan'tbedeadbutIcanbeb
"It was a hypothesis," the Colonel suddenly says. "We could have been wrong. Or even, it is possible that they are all alive instead. After being dead."
Despite the loud litany in his head, Alfons finds himself snorting at that. "After death life? Is that scientific?"
"Maybe yes, maybe no. We all know that this place isn't even scientific, how do we know that the physical laws as we know it can be applied here? And if they can't, then they can't really be called scientific, no?"
Alfons blinks, suddenly remembers something. "Like alchemy."
The Colonel blinks as well in return. "Pardon?"
"Alchemy," Alfons tries to explain. "Edward complains, alchemy cannot use in my world. In my world, alchemy is not scientific."
"And alchemy is the science in ours." The Colonel frowns, looking like the gears in his head starting to move. "So if this town... is a different world than mine, since I can't use alchemy here, and different than yours?" (Alfons nods.) "Different than yours, then the law here...." He looks around, his eye stopping on the carcasses of the monsters they have slain. "I surely hope that it's not anything magical or supernatural, because I honestly have no idea how to kill an already dead person."
"World of the Dead." Alfons grimaces. "I like not."
Colonel Mustang snorts. "Neither do I. But you know, standing here and trying to figure things when we're lacking information is like the three blind men and elephant, so we should get to our next clue as soon as possible."
Alfons doesn't really get the reference with the blind men and elephant, but he says nothing about it. Instead he asks, "How?"
The Colonel sighs and jerks his thumb at the hospital before them. "Go find Edward and ask what the hell is happening."
* * *
As Alfons has thought the first time he saw it, there is nothing extraordinary about Alchemilla Hospital aside from the lack of inhabitants and the thick dust that seems to cover the whole building. It is a suitable-sized hospital for a town like Silent Hill, comparatively small, very much unlike the hospital of University of Munich. But still, it gives out the same vibe as the giant hospital, and Alfons finds his stomach doing a jig, trying to make him feel sick.
"Are you okay?" the Colonel asks, noticing Alfons' hesitance upon entering the hospital yard.
Alfons gulps inaudibly and nods, before he takes a deep breath and forces his feet to move.
It is lucky that even then the electricity is still available, so as they enter the waiting room in the lobby of the hospital, they manage to turn the light in the room without any fuss. As expected, it is devoid of any life signs. There are signs that the hospital was quite lively once, from the rows of seats, the magazines on one corner, and the smell of alcohol and medicine reeking through the air. But there is also the uncomfortable smell of iron, and Alfons doesn't want to wonder if it comes from rust or blood.
They walk pass a counter, 'Receptionist' written on it. Alfons finds him eyes straying there, as if trying to find anyone there even though he already knew that there cannot be anyone there, but he can't help but have his attention piqued by the lines of blood smearing the wall of the small reception room, so he cautiously peers over the counter, ready for anything to jump at him.
He stops, ogles, then promptly turns around, trying not to suppress the violent nausea.
And he had thought that nothing could faze him after the whole nightmare.
The nurse is lying on the floor on a very obscene position. Granted that it is not a real nurse, or at least he rather hopes it is not, but on a passing, it does look like one, in the dirtied white uniform that looks one or two size too small. However, it is obvious that its face is flat with no eyes, nose nor mouth, and it is matted with blood from the wound on its head, most likely the cause of its death. Its legs are sprawled wide among the pool of blood and its body is twisted. It is a gruesome image, but with a morbid fascination, Alfons cannot help but be reminded of the images that his research mates have under their beds and between their personal journals, a mutual secret among the boys that he himself has tried to pretend enjoying, just to fit in.
Alfons feels a worse nausea coming and gives up. He throws up.
A warm hand massages the back of his neck as he tries desperately to stop the bile from choking him. After exhausting himself with it for a while, a bottle of water is pressed against his cheek and Colonel Mustang is giving him a sympathetic look. "This helps," he says.
Alfons nods helplessly and lets the Colonel guides him to one of the chairs. There he forces himself to drink the water. Oh, how he misses a good lager. Bourbon will do too. Anything that can make his head buzz and forget about this. Preferably for a non-limited time.
"Nasty, isn't it?" The Colonel's tone is light, as if trying to reassure him that it is fine to have that kind of reaction, but Alfons finds himself feeling rather guilty. Of course, the man is a soldier, he must be used to seeing such a gory sight. But still, Alfons has been butchering (he shudders at his own choice of word) monsters for the last few hours. He should be by now either shell-shocked or completely used by it.
And what the hell is it with the shapes of those monsters?! He could swear that the only ones remotely not making him want to dig his eyes out are the giant cockroaches and he hates cockroaches.
Grinding his teeth, Alfons forces himself to stand up. "Komm," he says to the Colonel. "We must help Edward."
The Colonel gives him an amused look, but he says nothing. Instead, he saunters to the wall next to the reception counter, pointing at the map on the wall. Alfons approaches as well and looks over it.
Indeed the hospital is not very big. It has three floors, neatly drawn on the map, a basement, and from the looks of it, an attic or rooftop. The first floor seems to be aimed for the hospital administrations and outpatients, while the second and third for the inpatients. Thirteen rooms (don't they know that that number is so cursed?!) and one intensive care unit. Alfons wonders if Edward is in one of those rooms.
As if reading his mind, Colonel Mustang asks, "Did Fullmetal give any indication of where he might be?"
Alfons shakes his head. "He only say Alchemilla Hospital."
"Alright," the Colonel nods, tapping his finger at a room in the basement casually. "As long as he's not here."
Alfons reads the tag. "'Morgue'?" he tilts his head at the Colonel.
"The room where they store dead bodies."
"...Oh." Alfons massages his head anxiously, but not a little peeved for some reason. "I think, this town ist a Morgue."
The Colonel snickers and Alfons pouts at him, which only elicits more snickering from the man. "Can't agree more at that, I'm afraid," the man says with his smirk that Alfons has come to despise. "Come on."
They walk down the short hall to the end where two doors await them and Alfons groans inwardly. Not the 'guess who is behind the door' game again. He lets the Colonel try opening the larger door to no avail, before he pokes at the one to his left.
It opens with a loud screech, and suddenly the light goes off without a warning.
Alfons can't decide whether he should scream, faint, or piss in his pants.
"You might want to calm down," the Colonel drawls next to him. "It's not like we're thrown in pitch dark or something."
No, Alfons wants to respond, but he sure doesn't like to be in a place dark enough to hamper them knowing if the monsters that are ready to make him dinner anytime are anywhere in the vicinity. But instead he just continues to flail.
The Colonel can be heard sighing, and then there is light.
Alfons pauses mid panic and stares at the man.
In the man's hand, there is a burning match. The man's other hand is disappearing behind the man's cape, before it comes out with two candles. "Here," he says, lifting them, and gives one to Alfons. "No need to panic."
Alfons accepts the candle gratefully. No matter how much the man can be grating on his nerves, truly Alfons has come to despise the dark and anything that goes bump in it, so he welcomes any help. "Thank you."
"Anytime. Come on."
They enter the room. Because of the dark and the limited light from the candle, they can't see very well of what is inside, so on unspoken agreement, they go to separate ends of the room. There is a door to each of the end, and Alfons tries to remember the map he saw near the reception, picturing the first floor plan in his mind. Hallway... to the stairs if he goes straight... but to the left is... the examination room... connected to....
"I think, this is an office," Alfons says out loud, then points at the other door before the Colonel. "That is the medicine room."
"We'd better not split," the Colonel says, leaving the door and coming over to Alfons. "Let's try the office first. Maybe they have Fullmetal's record in there."
Alfons nods in agreement, relieved that he doesn't have to have a repeat on the events in Midwich School. He takes out his radio, pressing it against the door. They listen to it for a while, noting the static noise that seems to fluctuate now and then, and look at each other.
They have a prize behind door number one, it seems.
Colonel Mustang gives his candle to Alfons and readies his pipe, and after bracing himself for any incoming attack, he kicks the door open.
Alfons can't see what the Colonel is killing, but he can hear its screaming. Or rather, its moaning. It is strangely familiar, not in the sense of knowing who it is, but familiar in the sense of him having the experience of hearing them. In the back of his mind he sees flashes of white skin, blond hair, cheap rouge, and the queasiness in his stomach is back ten fold. He shakes his head, trying to get them out of his mind.
"Coast is clear," the Colonel says from the office, thankfully calling for Alfons' attention. Alfons takes a deep breath and follows him inside.
The office is small enough for the two candles in Alfons' hands to light upon sufficiently. It is littered with papers, probably knocked off the only desk in the room, and despite the dim light, Alfons can see that they have sprays and splatters of blood on them. The source of said blood is obviously the corpse of the no-face nurse lying in the middle of the room, its broken body twitching in an obscene way before it lays completely still after the Colonel delivers a final blow to its head.
Alfons tries not to puke again.
"You try that one," the Colonel instructs, pointing at one of the iron drawers. "See if you can find any clue."
Alfons nods, and ignoring the traces of blood on the drawer (God, is that finger prints?), he opens the upper case. It seems to be the filing for patients, so he goes straight to the letter E. He flips through the thick folders of Eberth... Eckart... Edison... Edwards... Ekmann.... Elmer... Elric!
Triumphantly he pulls the folder out. Blowing the dust off, he rubs the name on the tag. Elric, Edward stands bold on the thick paper, as if waiting for Alfons to, challenging him to open it. So Alfons does so.
Edward Elric, it says on the flimsy bright-colored paper. Born 1905. No official records until 1921, when he was recognized as son and heir by Philip von Hohenheim, professor in University of Munich. Later, he recognized a brother, Alphonse, in the official family register. Exited German Reich in 1933 to seek asylum in France. Entered United States of America in 1934 and applied for permanent residence, granted in 1950. Tenured in Institute for Advanced Study, New Jersey, as research student since 1934, later an assistant to Professor Albert Einstein since 1941. Resigned in 1945. Worked for United Nation since 1947 to 1969. Moved to Japan in 1970. Died 2005.
Alfons stares at the papers in his hands for who knows how long.
The first thing in his mind is that for a medical report, this way too full of non-medical information.
The second thing in his mind is that this must be rubbish, because based on the years in the record, the file must have been written in 2005, and the last time he checked the calendar, it is still 1923.
The third thing in his mind is that he is glad that Edward was reunited with his brother and has lived a long and presumably happy life.
The fourth thing in his mind is that he needs a drink more than ever. A very stiff one.
A piece of paper falls out from the folder he is holding. Still trying to digest the information on the folder, he absentmindedly kneels to reach for it, only sparing a glance at it.
Then he pauses. And turns his attention toward it completely.
Edward Elric, it says on the totally different textured paper, with a sigil as the background that looks like a lion with no hind legs. Born 1899 to Trisha Elric of Resembool, father unregistered. Has one brother, Alphonse. Mother died in 1908 and his guardianship is handed over to Pinako Rockbell. Alchemical training under Izumi Curtis in Dublith until 1910. Obtained State Alchemist license in 1911, notably the youngest ever to achieve the title, under commanding officer Roy Mustang. Deserted in 1915 and subsequently went missing. Alleged appearance in 1917 Battle of Central City. Brother, Alphonse went MIA as well in the same incident.
Alfons stares at the paper for who knows how long.
"He, Herr Colonel?"
"Yeah?" the Colonel answers from behind him, busy with his own stack of papers.
"Look," Alfons turns and gives the two papers to him. The man takes them, and while he reads them, Alfons goes back to the rest of the folder. Credentials... newspaper clippings... records... all of Edward's. Why are they there? Isn't this supposed to be a hospital, not a state managed library?
A thought occurs to him, that makes his insides sudden chill.
He looks to the second case and opens it. Finding the letter H, he turns the names on the folders. Handel... Hannibal... Hegel... Heidrich... Heiderich.
He pulls out the folder and opens it.
It is empty.
Alfons stares at the empty folder, uncomprehending. Why is it empty? He takes out the other folders, Heidrich, Heinrich, Hendricks, but none of his files are in there. Just things about people he doesn't even know. He looks around, his folder in one hand and the other hand rummaging through the stacks of papers, not caring that he is stepping on somebody's files, somebody's life story. But his life is just not there.
"What are you doing?" the Colonel asks, sounding rather alarmed but does nothing to stop Alfons.
"My life is none," Alfons tells him, still looking for the papers. Maybe it is not on the desk. He opens the drawer of the desk, but only finds stationeries and tools. He slams it close and tries the cabinets on the walls. Drugs, chemical substances, syringes, more papers! He takes them down and scans them one by one, throwing the irrelevant ones to the floor. "I have to read."
"Why would you want to read about your own life?"
"Why?!" He turns to the man in disbelief. "Why not?"
Colonel Mustang shrugs. "It just doesn't seem to be relevant to our current predicament."
Alfons nearly wails in frustration. "It says there, Edward died in 2005. You said, Herr Hughes, Nina, Alexander are dead. I want to know that I die not!"
The Colonel shrugs. "Well, I for one, would rather not know the end of the story. Spoiler is a rather big turn-off, don't you think? Besides, what would you if you found out that you died? Just stay here and be miserable without even trying to get out of this place? Without trying to find where the hell Ed is?"
Alfons stares at the man.
The Colonel raises an eyebrow at him.
"You make sense zu viel. I think, I like you not," Alfons tells him.
"Why, thank you. That is a rather flattering compliment." The man grins widely.
Alfons considers punching the man across the face, but that sounds rather painful, so he changes his mind and sticks out his tongue at him instead.
The Colonel is obviously amused. "You are indeed Fullmetal's roommate, if you started to develop behaviors like his around me," he says as he takes Edward's folder Alfons has left on the top of the iron drawer. He stuffs the files inside the folder and scans through the other papers, efficiently absorbing the information in it, before he stops at a certain page. "Room 302."
"He's in room 302." The Colonel shows him a paper that looks like a real medical record. It registers Edward as an inpatient for an unmentioned illness, and has been hospitalized since August 17, 1921. The record itself was last updated at November 8, 1923.
November 8, 1923....
"Stichtag ist der achte November," he told his mates, his heart could barely containing the excitement. "Zeigen wir die Welt, dass Deutschland noch nicht verloren hat."
"Let's," Alfons says, ignoring yet queasiness in his stomach. "Edward waits."
The Colonel nods. "To room 302." He turns around and proceeds to go back to the examination room. But before the door, he suddenly stops, his eye fixated on a spot behind the door. He extends his hand around the door, rummages, then pulls out a stick.
Actually, a stick is not an appropriate tag for it, Alfons notices as he comes to look at it closer. It is a long tube with a switch on its side. On one end is covered with a glass-like material that upon further inspection is obviously not (is that polymethylene?!), but under the cover, he can see the presence of a light bulb. Fascinated, he presses the switch on the side, and lo! There is light.
"I will admit," the Colonel says, obviously impressed. "This is a lot better that a candle."
"Only one?" Alfons wonders out loud. After all, judging from its place, the torch is probably aimed to be used in emergencies.
Colonel Mustang goes to the examination room and looks around with the torch. Then he goes to a corner and triumphantly holds up another torch. "Seems to have one for each room. You have to admire their caution."
On the other hand, it might be an indication that emergency situation is something that is quite common here. Alfons doubts that the former residents of the city had wandering monsters in their mind, though.
"Okay," the man says. "Off we go. Lead us to the stairs, young man."
Does that mean Alfons goes first? But Colonel Mustang doesn't seem to remember much about the details of the map they saw, despite Alfons being the one with temporary amnesia. But he can also tell the way to the man and let him lead. But then again, most of the nurse-shaped monsters are either behind closed doors, lurking around like those fake ghosts in the carnival's haunted house, so he can probably lead the Colonel to a door and let the soldier finish them off. Good idea.
The smell of alcohol assaults Alfons' nose as they open the other door in the examination room, strong enough that Alfons has to hold on to the door frame and wait for the disorientation to pass. The door, as Alfons remembers it and it obviously turns out to be, leads to the medicine room. He shakes his head after a while before he opens his eyes to take a look into the room.
It is a relatively small room, filled with glass cabinets. It does not look too different than the office room, except for the rows of bottles and vials line in the cabinets on the walls. Alfons quickly spots an open cabinet, and inside it, an empty bottle, which on closer inspection, is labeled 'Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol, 70%'. Its cork is open, but it is not toppled from its place. Most likely the source of the hideous smell that nearly knocked him out, Alfons gathers. And it really had been the source of the smell, then the town was indeed deserted long enough for its content to completely evaporate, but not long enough for them to completely be absorbed into the non-proof walls. Which makes it several weeks.
...Which makes it weird because the place looks more like it has been abandoned for months.
"There is somebody here, before several weeks," Alfons says.
The Colonel gives a sharp look. "Not just now or in the last few days?"
Alfons shakes his head.
"Interesting." The Colonel comes closer to the cabinet bottle, and leans forward to see the bottle clearer. Upon inspection, he straightens himself again, declaring, "You are right. And this was even put out deliberately."
Alfons raises an eyebrow and approaches the bottle as well to look. Contrary to his first thought, this was not put hapzardly by somebody who tried to disinfectant a wound and forgot to close it again. There is no sign of any first aid kit on the desk under the cabinet. Handprints over the dusty desk, yes, but no other sign.
"Why leave this?" Alfons wonders out loud. "Only scientist understand----"
They look at each other.
"...It could be Marcoh," the Colonel says, but even as he is saying it, he doesn't look convinced at all.
Alfons nods, but he can't help but feeling torn. He feels relieved because this might be a proof that Edward entered this same room a few weeks ago and there is a chance that Alfons might be able to find him. But on the other hand, he was horrified because it can also mean that Edward has been in this hell hole for weeks, alone but monsters around. And the more he thinks about it, the faster his heart beats, demanding that he moves now because he can't let Edward alone longer than it is necessary here. To hell with monsters. Edward must be seeing a lot of them while he is here and it must be driving the poor man crazy. No wonder he sounds so scared in the letter. No wonder he wants Alfons to come. No wonder Alfons is here. He might be here to get Edward the hell out of here and just forgot it! Bloody amnesia hindering on the mission!
"Come on," Colonel Mustang gestures with his hand. "Let's see what we have behind door number three."
The door leads them to a hallway, and upon opening the door to their immediate right, the hallway they would have arrived at first had it not been locked. Alfons takes a long breath before he turns to the right, his bat ready in his right hand and the torch on his left, and walks slowly, the stairs in his mind.
Even without the light being dead, the hospital would have been scary. Completely deserted, with no sign of life. Seats in the hall covered with dust, some of them upturned. A wheelchair lies neglected on the floor in front of two doors with the signs 'Ladies' and 'Gents'. Wallpaper scaling here and there. Like an abandoned house, but lacking the smell of rats that Alfons associates with it, and it does tell a lot if even rats refuse to inhabit this place. Especially with the smell of iron (not blood, God, he hopes it's not blood again).
Nothing else makes any sound. Only the low whisper of the static from the radio, the echoes of their footsteps, and the sound of their breath betray the silence of the place. But even then, Alfons' ears are filled with even more. The beating of his own heart, the rushing of blood in his ears, and he even fancies he hears whispers, malice whispers talking to him, laughing at him. Rationally, he knows that this is created by the claustrophobic effect of only being able to see as far as the light from his torch go, which is not more than a few meters before him. Human mind is feeble, he has known for long. But even so, the more emotional part of his mind is gathering more strength the more he spends his time in this forsaken town despite all, and it is taking over his logical mind, beating it up and forcing it to surrender.
Not bloody well yet, he firmly tells himself. After finding Edward you can go all lunatic as you want, but not now!
The voices in his head laugh, jeering at him.
Something lands on his shoulder (a hand, he realizes a few seconds later) and it takes all of his will not to slap it away in reflect. "Are you alright?" the Colonel asks him, and Alfons knows that he is worried.
"Ja," he says, trying to smile reassuring, but he can feel it faltering.
"Too bad there's no window," the man says lightly as he pats Alfons shoulder and walks forward, wordlessly volunteering to go first into the staircase. "It would have helped getting rid of this stink."
"It smells after blood," Alfons says, absentmindedly following the man up the stairs carefully.
The man pauses ever so slightly in his steps that Alfons nearly misses it. "It does, isn't it."
"Or iron. The same," Alfons mumbles on. "It is iron factory to alike. Rust. Or war, said a man."
Colonel Mustang chuckles. "Indeed. It does smell like a war."
There is something the man's voice that makes Alfons looks up to him. He looks at the man's back that should not be any different than any backs he has seen, but somehow it makes him think about the wounded soldier in the mansion, and before he realizes it, his mouth speaks out the question. "War you have gone?"
The man stops in his track. Then resumes. "I went," he says, no change in his tone, and Alfons thinks that is scarier than if the man has suddenly thrown a tantrum.
"You are than Herr Hughes more---" Alfons struggles for the word, not only in English, but also in German, trying to find the right word to convey what he thinks, before he finally gives up and sighs loudly.
The Colonel turns his torch towards Alfons. Alfons can see that the man is amused and he doesn't know why. "Hughes opted to stay behind the desk," the man says. "It was a wise decision."
Alfons feels he has to ask. "Why went?"
The man chuckles, then gives him the least expected answer he would expect from the man. "Because I was young, stupid, and idealistic to the boot until reality bit me on the ass."
Alfons gives him a confused look.
The Colonel is about to answer his unspoken question, but the radio suddenly blares. Without missing a beat, the man says, "Excuse me for a moment," as he turns and swings his pipe to the legs of a flat-faced nurse that has shown up above him. The nurse tumbles down the stairs with a loud groan (Alfons winces as it falls pass him), and Mustang chases it down, bringing down the end of his pipe right toward its head swiftly with enough energy to drive it through the head with a sickening crack and splat, before straightening himself up and moves up the stairs again, as if nothing has happened. "Where was I?"
"You said, you were young, stupid, and idealistic," Alfons points out, trying to repress a shudder and the bile in his throat at the sheer effectiveness in the killing.
"Ah, yes," the man says before he stops at what seems to be the second floor of the building. He turns to Alfons for confirmation. Alfons recalls the map of the hospital in his head and shakes his head. There is still one floor to go. The man shrugs then continues to climb more stairs.
Nobody talks for a moment. Then Alfons clears his throat, trying to call the Colonel's attention. When it fails, he does it again, and when it fails again, he let out a frustrated sigh and says again, "You said, you were young, stupid, and idealistic."
There is no change in the man's pace. "I was."
"What is your meaning?"
The man chuckles. "Ah, the usual stuff. Young lad wanting to do something for his country, choosing to serve in the military so that he can bring glory to said country by fighting off its enemies."
Alfons frowns, somehow a little unnerved at how familiar the notion is. "Is glory for country not good?"
"It is, if you're one of those people who actually believe that shit and die for it. Ignorance is rather a bliss."
Alfons shifts uncomfortably. "For the people. Pride of the country is good. War can be lose in a Treaty, but people fight, war is not lose."
The Colonel glances back to him, an amused smile on his mouth. "A fellow idiot, I see. Very different than Fullmetal."
Alfons wonders what Edward has to do with this, but he is more affronted that the man dares to call him an idiot. Despite that, he says nothing, waiting for the man to continue.
And continue he does. "Fullmetal didn't believe all those bullshit about alchemy for the good of the people. I personally think that deep somewhere in him, he wants to, seeing all the things he did that made him famous as the People's Alchemist. But he was a State Alchemist, as we fondly refer to, a military's dog. Using alchemy for the nation, even if that means killing our own people."
Alfons stops on his track. And thinks hard. "Edward went war? His hand and leg---"
"---weren't lost in the war," the Colonel interrupts him quietly. "I happened to be there when he lost them. I cannot tell you how, it is his secret to tell. But I can assure you that it was a result of his own selfishness."
Alfons frowns. But before he can say anything, the man speaks up again. "You, young man, on the other hand, interests me quite some."
Alfons blinks at the very abrupt change in topic, dimly recognizing this as a diversion tactic Edward often used against him. "Wie bitte?"
The Colonel is looking at him, and Alfons realizes belatedly that from his position, the man looks like he is looming at him, and there is a sudden claustrophobic feeling in his gut. His heart starts to pound harder.
The Colonel tilts his head, curiousity blazing in his eyes. "You are... too interested in Fullmetal to be a mere roommate."
Alfons' throat swallows involuntarily. "Bitte, what mean you?"
The Colonel takes a step down toward him. "You and Ed," he starts.
The radio suddenly screams.
They whip their heads toward the end of the stairs, and true to the warning from the radio, they can hear moans, growing louder as their owners showing up one by one from the third floor.
"Well shit," the Colonel mutters as the ghoul nurses, obscenely twitching and moaning, blocking their way from the entrance, watching them with nonexistent eyes like vultures. "Must be our good day to have the ladies welcoming us to their lair."
Alfons can't decide whether he should laugh or cry at that remark. "Der Elevator ist the other side of the floor dasein," he manages to croak out. "Run second floor from there?"
"Good idea," the Colonel agrees. "On three."
And the nurses let out high pitched screams as they jump toward the them.
The Colonel swings his pipe as the nurses descend on them and the first nurses get their heads' insides splattering against the wall. But soon it is obvious that facing them one by one is quite futile as more nurses are coming from the third floor.
"Alfons! You go first!"
Swinging his own pipe at yet another nurse, Alfons screams back. "And you are how!?"
"Just go!" the Colonel yells back. "You have to find Edward, remember?"
The radio keeps screaming and the nurses scream as well. Then suddenly Alfons fells a heavy blow to his side. Falling down the stairs rolling, he lands heavily against a wall, his head pounding like mad, and he can only hear the Colonel yelling at him again. "Run! Now!"
So Alfons scrambles to his feet, ignoring the way the earth spinning him around like a rag doll and stumbles to the nearest exit.
Ear-splitting screams running after him, and Alfons forces himself to keep running and running. He doesn't know if he has run to the right or to the left, the elevator should be to the right, but if he ran to the left then he is so going to be finished, but he doesn't know so he has to run to run run runrunrun---
But only too soon, he comes to the end of the hall, and there is a door which he burst into, and immediately close, lock, and he looks around, finding a row of seats, and pushes them against the door as the first of the nurses come and start to pound at the door loudly, angrily screaming.
And Alfons knows he is trapped in this dark room alone, with a group of grouls ready to maul him just outside the door, and he has to find a way out because Edward needs him, oh where is Edward, he needs a way out, doesn't want to be here, tired of this place, Edward---
He hears a moan behind him and he freezes.
Turning his head slowly, dreadfully, and---
---oh God. It is another nurse. And it has a face. A discolored face, but nevertheless a familiar one that he has been burying in the back of his memory because it reminds him of the shrill laughter and the humiliation that follows---
The woman snickered, her yellow teeth bared at him, and her eyes looking at him as if he was merely a toy.
It moves one step toward him, its mouth moaning huskily, its breasts threatening to spill out from the very low cut uniform, while behind him, the banging and screaming continue, and the hinges of the door are forced to its limit by the blows from the ghouls, and Alfons freezes on the spot, his mind screaming at him to run, but the nurse is getting closer to him, and shrill laughter is echoing in the room, and the angry screamings on his back, and the loud banging, and the door is blasted off, and Alfons drops his torch.
And everything goes black.
* * * * * * *