I was 16-years-old at the time. It was about 11 PM. Both my parents were working and didnít come home until midnight. My older brother was out attending a party, and I had the place all to myself. I made myself some microwave pizza, watched some TV, played video games, and took a quick shower before I went to bed. I lived in a small apartment complex in Queens, New York. There are two windows in my room. In one of the windows I can clearly see the street outside the building without the obstruction of any trees, an advantage my mother used to see where my brother would go anytime he left the building.
That night while sleeping I was awaken by a scream. It was coming from outside. My windows were shut, but I could clearly hear the screams of a woman. I didnít move, but my eyes were wide open. For a moment, it seemed like I was frozen in time. I just stayed in my bed, eyes opened, and carefully listening to the cries of a helpless woman. Eventually I got up and went to the window. I saw a man pulling the hair of a woman; she was on the ground crying her heart out for help. The streets were empty. I opened the window to get a clearer sound of what she was saying. ďStop hitting me,Ē she screamed at the man I presumed was her boyfriend. The next few minutes I witness the man slap, kick and yell at her - and yet, no one came for help. As I was witnessing this, my heart was pounding. I wanted to go down there and stab the guy in the eye. But I didnít. I did nothing but stand still and witness the violence that was being displayed. At one point the man dragged the woman from one side of the building to another. I followed them by going to the living room, but my view was covered by some trees. I couldnít see anything but her screams were as clear as a sunny afternoon. I could hear my neighbor calling the police and was relieved I didnít have to be the one to do it. Eventually she got up and they left. The police arrived three minutes later, but the couple was long gone.
This event has stayed with me ever since. The image and sound of a woman being hit will never leave my mind and I still get this strange feeling every time I think about it. At times I wish I wasnít so small and skinny. I wish I went down there and saved her. When I saw her getting hit, I seriously thought of going to the kitchen and getting the sharpest knife I could find, go down there and stab the guy repeatedly in the face. Unfortunately the facts differ from my fantasy of revenge. I did nothing. My apartment was simply good seats for the concert.
Silent Hill 4: The Room
scared me, not because of its story (which is good) or gameplay (which is bad and boring), but with its concept. The game starts with your character getting up from bed. Quickly you start to notice that the apartment is covered in dust, itís as if no one has lived there in years. As you explore the apartment, you noticed the door is locked from the inside by chains, and the windows are sealed shut. Eventually you'll find a hole in the bathroom, having no choice, you enter the hole. This hole acts like a portal; it takes you to different worlds. Once you beat a world or find a certain item, the apartment subtly changes. The apartment is your safe haven only for a few hours; slowly it starts to come alive and becomes as dangerous to be in as the worlds you explore.
I have a very mix reaction towards this game. I found the story to be fascinating; however, the gameplay left a lot to be desired. In the end of the day, the concept of being trapped in an apartment is what I find to be most captivating and disturbing. For instance, very early on the game you meet a woman badly beaten up, you finish the level, and suddenly the apartment opens itself up to you Ė you turn the radio on and hear the report of a missing women. You look outside the window and see the ambulance carrying out a dead body from the subway entrance Ė the apartment is your seat for the show. Youíre an observer, not a participant. You can look through the peephole on the door, look outside windows, look into your neighborís room by a small hole, etc. The essence of a safe haven slowly decaying as you progress got to me, and the reminder of my own helplessness was constant in the game. Chaos as an observer is what I find more disturbing than anything else. Witnessing something you really shouldnít see. Wanting to help, but canít. These are the situations that disturbed and unsettled me, not only in the game, but in real life.