A steering wheel, gripped.
A windscreen, pale in the fog light of morning.
A car, dull green, come to rest at the crossroads, engine killed.
There was a face in the glass, as if a ghost had come to hover inside the vehicle. Ashen hair, strands once brown now lost to silvered grey. And the skin once pitted and coarse with life's hardships was sunken. He was almost lost beneath the fog, the subtle slants of sunlight... lost to dust.
There was a pop... the squeak of leather seats... the softest thud as his boot touched the pavement. The man stepped out of the car, a brown longcoat falling around the shape of his prison-hardened body.
The trees weren't moving, every branch and leaf hung in suspension, just as the fog seemed unmoving, a white haze to surround the morning. His hazel eyes tracked, regarding the town in sorrowful sweeps.
No one was up yet. The town was still sleeping.
Thank God. He closed his eyes and let the silence comfort him. Nothing seemed to get through the fog, not even the distant rumble of the mountain highway he had entered from.
He stepped to the centre of the crossroads. Bachman Road to the north, taking him back to the highway. Finney Street ahead, taking him...
A slight clattering sound.
The man looked over to the left, peering through the shroud of fog, where the outline of the Convenience Store struggled against the glare. The owner was probably opening up for the day, the only other soul who stirred in the early morning.
The man slipped his hands into his coat pockets, covering the red-raw stumps of bitten nails. And then he moved towards the store, each footfall seeming to echo against the wall of fog. He had left his car door open, as if forgetting it.
His hand came to rest on a news stand, and he stared at the grime-black windows of the Store.
The softest touch.
He looked down, seeing the fragment of paper. It wrapped itself around his leg, forced by the slightest breeze to nudge against him. He knelt and picked it up, opening out the creased and tattered advert.
He read. He paused. His other hand reached into his inside pocket and took out a duplicate.
Both adverts identical, his own a little cleaner than the one he had found.
<p>I can help you...</p><p></p><P>In this tired world, do not sneer at me,</p><P>as you have sneered at all other things.</p><p>Do not cast away my offer and think me</p><p>fraud or foolish. But please, if you have</p><p>courage left to believe in anything...</p><p>Believe in me.</b></p><p></P><P>Carmen Azalea, Exorcist of demons</p><p>7, Finney Street, Silent Hill</p><p><b>Let the sleepers rest once more.</b></p></i></td></tr></table></center>
He turned over the original in his hand. As before, the underside was cleaner... smoother... lighter...
And it bore his name, written in crimson ink.