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  Hello again, all you bastions of liberty! It is I, Jonathan Charles Bruce, guide to the sticky, icky underworld that is Silent Hill! Last time, our lead buffoon Harry Mason acquired a golden medallion by melting a random old man’s hand statue with hydrochloric acid, as you do. There was also a magical cat that was eaten off camera for its ability to open and close doors and my own buffoonery that led to trying to access a puzzle before I made it available. This was the result of Konami’s buffoonery in demanding an additional forty five seconds or so be added to the game time by making Harry run back to the clock tower.

For reference.
For reference.

  With that, let’s head on out of the music room and unlock the door to the south wing, just in case we’re possessed by spirits and feel the need to revisit item- and enemy-stripped locations. Before we allow such time-consuming horror to grip us, however, let us turn on our heels and head to the north wing so we can hop on down some stairs. The first floor’s north wing is not all that exciting outside of the now habitual unlocking-the-doors that has to be done to ensure someone, somewhere is enjoying themselves.

  Seriously, why are all this doors locked? And from one side? If we go with the scenario that there are people trying not to be killed by monsters, we’ve seen that the creatures can’t use doors—the survivors would be fucking themselves over. If it’s just being controlled by Alessa, then why mildly inconvenience Harry? If you want to stop him, have the earth swallow the place. If he needs to be there, open it up. God, stop being a dick, Alessa.

  We can pop into the northern classrooms and poke around a bit after we teach the mildly inconveniencing locks a lesson. The eastern one has nothing, but the western one has a tasty box of bullets. Unfortunately, it also spawns two demon children with designs on Harry’s crotchitological region, which results in panicked running away. Or… you know… turning around and heading through the classrooms to a slightly-less monster swarmed exit into the north hallway.

  We eventually make our way back to the courtyard and deposit the golden medallion in the gold medallion spot, not unlike putting the right jeweled ant in the correct jeweled ant hole. Such actions are going to open up that piano, for there is a direct connection between the clock tower and the music room… somehow. Did the architects of Midwich Elementary ever question their bizarre orders, or did they just kind of go with it for fear of being savaged by a skinless bird-monster?

  Running back to the goddamn music room

Egads! Symbolism! Maybe? I don't even know anymore.
Egads! Symbolism! Maybe? I don't even know anymore.

  So as I mentioned in the last update, you can see the silver medallion hanging out over the blackboard. There is a sheet of music stapled to the blackboard covered in spaghetti sauce yet more fucking blood. Are you scared yet? Well, pop some diazepam and pay attention, because the blood takes the form of yet more terrible poetry that I am going to share with you now:

QUOTE

            “A Tale of Birds Without a Voice”
            First flew the greedy Pelican,
            Eager for the reward,
            White wings flailing.

            Then came a silent Dove,
            Flying beyond the Pelican,
            As far as he could.

            A Raven flies in,
            Flying higher than the Dove,
            Just to show that he can.

            A Swan glides in,
            To find a peaceful spot,
            Next to another bird.

            Finally out comes a Crow,
            Coming quickly to a stop,
            Yawning and then napping.

            Who will show the way,
            Who will be the key,
            Who will lead to
            The Silver Reward

UNQUOTE

The second we get Cheryl back, we’re investing in a pen.

  If you examine the freshly uncovered piano, you discover that someone has spilled (surprise!) blood on a smattering of keys. You are given the option to investigate it, which gives you a close-up of the keys in question. If you just start hammering away on the ol’ ivory, some of them produce sound and others do nothing but make a weird clickity noise. Those keys are as follows:

Mr. Mittens from last update helped me with this image. Give him a hand folks! Consummate professional.
Mr. Mittens from last update helped me with this image. Give him a hand folks! Consummate professional.

  Now, the solution to this puzzle is to first convert the birds into their primary color—pelicans, doves, and swans are white while ravens and crows are black. Then we arrange them in order—white-white-black-white-black. Then it’s a matter of figuring out the rights keys to press in which order to complete the puzzle.

  Well, since English normally goes from left to right, let’s try that, shall we? The first white key is the pelican. The white key furthest to the right is the dove, as it wanted to keep away from that prick pelican. Next, the raven shows off by flying higher than the dove—directly speaking, that could be either black key, but we’re gonna go with the one adjacent to the dove because I bet raven likes to show off. We get the swan trying to find a peaceful spot, so that would be the white key next to the dove, as the pelican is a spaz. Also, it’s the only white key left to strike. Finally, the crow comes quickly to a stop, so that brings us to our last black key. This doesn’t quite fit as well as the other elements of the poem, as apparently the crow can sleep next to that dick pelican, but whatever.

  Actually, the crow seems to have the laziest passage overall… it’s like “Then the crow came and existed. So that’s it. Stop looking at us. It’s quitting time.”

  Anyway, this is what the solution looks like:

Dramatic re-enactment.
Dramatic re-enactment. Font.

This causes the glorious silver medallion to drop from its hidey-hole in the ceiling and ker-plunk to the ground where Harry can pick it up.

  Full disclosure here: I actually managed to solve the piano puzzle when I first looked at it this run-through. I still read the poem before I looked at the keys (I actually did it when I first tried getting at the damn thing and didn’t yet appease the puzzle gods), but the image of the keys is burned into my brain to the point where I knew which ones were broken without trial-and-error. With that, I completed the puzzle when I first looked at it. So… um… skills, I suppose?

  Either that or I played the 1998 demo of Silent Hill so much that I could probably have recreated Midwich from memory at this point. But to-may-to, to-mah-to.

  The biggest thing about this puzzle is that I really, really like it. It’s not just a “find x to rub on y” or “use key on door”, but something which requires a bit of abstract thinking. Further, it’s almost impossible to brute force the puzzle, with 120 possible solutions if you try every “answer” key only once (I’m going by 5! (that’s five factorial) solutions, the rationale being there are five possible first keys, four second, three third, two forth, and one final key, so five times four by three by two by one resulting in 120 combinations (I think that’s how that’s supposed to work)). It’s clever and fun, and it is thus far the high point of puzzles in the series, the previous contender being math-based fun in the Artaud Theater in Nullrigins.

  But enough of enjoyment! I have things to do! Surprisingly enough, the only monsters to spawn after this are a couple of demon kids on the first floor’s eastern hall. You can just run to the western hall to gain access to the courtyard if you’re somehow hurting on ammo or health, but you can also bludgeon them to death.

  You know. For variety.

  The medallion in its home, we now have access to the boiler room, which you’ll remember is another part of the trifecta of bad poems we started this whole elementary school adventure with. Well, to be entirely honest, we actually had access to the boiler room the second we got into the northern hallway, but knowing what I know about the stupid clock tower, we wouldn’t have access to what we need to do there until the silver medallion is set into place.

  And what we need to do is push a button.

  Yes, that’s it. We run down some stairs and push a button on a boiler to get it started. That’s… the extent of the puzzle. Sure there’s a weird monster growl that subtly plays when the machine warms up and begins humming along, but I’m far more interested in the various award plaques this boiler has managed to earn through its years of service.

Three years long service... six years long service... Bronze swimming certificate... WAIT A MINUTE.
Three years long service... six years long service... Bronze swimming certificate... WAIT A MINUTE.

Also, Harry can examine those valves on the wall, but it’s just muttering about how he shouldn’t touch them. This does lead me to believe that, at some point, we were supposed to have another puzzle in here—probably something to do with equalizing pressure (‘twas a popular puzzle in the hedonistic fading years of the last century). It would have been an interesting juxtaposition from the more esoteric bird-based-piano-puzzle moments ago.

  We are now in the last moments of Midwich Elementary School, so now is as good of a time to mention that, if you’re interested, the game designers took cues from the movie Kindergarten Cop when designing different areas. I don’t know why. Maybe they were huge fans of the future California governor. Maybe they picked a random movie about a school and just went with it.

  Also, at least one of the posters in the school is creepily violent if it says what I think it says—“DOG KILL CAT”:

Your honor, I call Mr. Woofies to stand trial for the murder of Mr. Mittens!
Your honor, I call Mr. Woofies to stand trial for the murder of Mr. Mittens!

But I doubt we’ll ever know, what with PSOne-era graphics and all.

  Somberly, we return to the courtyard and enter the clock tower. There is a ladder leading down, which deposits us in what looks to be a hidey-hole, what with the garbage on the ground. Above what I’m assuming is the exit is a sign that says “KEEP OUT”.

Well... that's actually ominous.
Well... that's actually ominous.

It seems like a place that a child would find and utilize to keep safe in, like a treehouse, only underground. Honestly? I could imagine the poor, abused Alessa squeezing into the clock tower in between classes, hiding from the eyes of adults she doesn’t trust. You know, before she graduates onto playing full-on hooky and accidentally mind-blasting shitty actors at the Artaud.

  Sigh. I miss Alessa. Travis, too, but I really miss my favorite psychic ghost murderer.

  Harry pulls himself up the ladder that’s through the “KEEP OUT” hallway… door… thing. Archway? Fuck, I cannot for the life of me know what that is. Anyway, there’s another door at the top of the ladder. What awaits Harry on the other side? Find out in the next thrilling installment of Traipsing Through Silent Hill: Harry is Really Bad at Worry About the Appropriate Things at the Appropriate Times. Until then…

Dead demon child optional.
Dead demon child optional.

  As a delightful continuation of our “What will Harry do without understanding why?” series, it turns out that you never actually have to read the three initial poems for Harry to start fucking about the school and picking up items. That means that he will pick up hydrochloric acid and dump it on a statue to recover a gold medallion without context. Further, you don’t have to read “A Tale of Birds Without a Voice” to access the piano puzzle. And of course, then, the boiler can be futzed with for absolutely no clear reason.

  So the Silent Hill story can literally start with Harry waking up, gathering some keys, heading to the school, melting an old man’s hand statue, playing the piano randomly, turning on a suddenly and suspiciously active boiler, and blundering into a secret tunnel beneath the clock tower, all without the faintest hint of someone, anyone telling him that to do so would be a good idea, let alone having a solitary thought of his own sputter to life in the flabby mass of nerve cells he calls a brain.

  But he won’t check the only doghouse in town. BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE ABSURD.

  …

  Silent Hill!

Purchase Project Northwoods at Amazon.com.   Purchase Washed Hands at Amazon.com   Purchase Improbables at Amazon.com.

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