Tracer & Thru Terry's Eyes
bro, this has got to be what? A ten-pointer?”
The dark-haired young man exclaimed excitedly as he
discarded his rifle and traded it for his favorite hunting
knife. Gripping the knife firmly, he knelt in the leaves
carpeting the ground around his kill to finish the job.
“I mean, look at this thing, Josh!”
Josh sauntered into the small circular
clearing, rested his rifle on his shoulder and crouched
down next to the fallen animal, admiring his younger
brother’s handiwork and clapping him on the shoulder.
“It’s great, Seth. You did good, little
The warm, pleased smile that appeared
on the younger man’s face in response to Josh’s
praise faded as the blood encrusted hand on his shoulder
moved to the top of his head and began rubbing furiously
over Seth’s short spikes of hair. “Stop
it!” Seth yelped, jerking his head away. “I
hate it when you do that!”
Josh laughed heartily as Seth pulled
away, a feigned look of disapproval clouding his face
as he swept his hands over his hair repairing the damage
his older brother had done. “I’m doing that
‘til the day you die, little bro,” Josh
replied, getting to his feet. “Now quit whining
and move your ass. The sun’s setting and we need
to get back before the rangers kick us out.”
“It’s open season.”
Seth protested, but mimicked his brother and began to
stand. “They usually let you stay a little bit
“Yeah, well, I’m tired,”
Seth wrinkled his nose, “And
“You don’t exactly smell
like the Irish Springs yourself,” Josh countered,
grabbing the binding from Seth’s pack and beginning
to tie the fallen deer’s limbs for better carrying,
all the while keeping his body open to ensure his brother
could see the proper way to do it. “Okay, all
set. Let’s go. The trucks about a half a mile
Tugging his camouflage jacket tighter
against the encroaching chill of the evening air, Seth
nodded and lifted the hindquarters of his trophy allowing
Josh to lead the way back. The brothers walked in easy
silence for a while, the steady crunch of leather boots
against nature’s floor comforting in its familiarity.
rusted dark blue truck was barely visible through the
dense green, but the small hint of color was enough
to encourage Josh to pick up his pace and ignore the
fiery burn in his muscles from the day’s exertion.
He nearly toppled back when Seth came to a dead halt
“What the hell?” Josh barked
in surprise when his portion of the burden doubled due
to Seth’s complete release of the deer’s
dead weight. Josh’s irritated blue eyes watched
as Seth wandered a few steps away towards a small ravine
nearly indistinguishable from the line of trees and
rock. “Seth, c’mon man,” he groused.
“Get back here!”
“Can’t you smell that?”
Seth asked, choking, his voice strained and mouth turned
down in disgust as he reached to pull the neck of his
t-shirt over his nose and mouth.
Josh snorted in annoyance but still
sniffed the air once for good measure. “I don’t
“Seriously?” Seth questioned,
his voice muffled by the layer of fabric, eyes widened
in disbelief at Josh. With a confused shake of his head,
Seth turned back toward the ravine.
“Seriously,” Josh replied
with a huff. “Now can we go?”
Seth ignored him as he climbed onto
a large rock along the ravine’s edge, eyes squinting
against the blackened dark encompassing the crack in
the earth’s surface. “I think someone left
a carcass or something, man.”
“Who gives a damn, Seth?”
Josh replied, irritated when his brother didn’t
even acknowledge him. With a heavy sigh, the older man
dropped his share of the burden and stalked over to
where his brother was leaning haphazardly over the edge
of the ravine, slapping a firm hand onto the brunet’s
shoulder and pulling. “Let’s go,”
Seth yanked back from the contact,
“I want to see wha--”
“I said we’re going,”
Josh interrupted, grasping his brother’s shoulder
harder as he used his leverage to jerk Seth semi-upright
without relinquishing his hold.
you’re hurting me!” Seth grit out, squirming
under Josh’s white-knuckled grip, but each movement
seemed to only increase the pressure of the fingers
digging into his shoulder. “Dude, stop!”
Whether it was the pathetic plea or
Seth’s pain-etched face, Josh suddenly released
his grip but issued a firm push that sent Seth off the
rock face and sprawling onto the ground with a resounding
thud. “Seth, get up, for God’s sake!”
A tight groan on his lips, Seth looked
up at his brother with wide-eyed confusion as he fought
to stand. “What the hell is your problem, man?”
“You,” Josh snarled, gathering
the crumpled material of his brother’s shirt front
in a fist and hauling Seth gracelessly to his feet.
“I’m tired, and want to go home; not chaperone
your stupid search for some friggin’ rotted deer
The older brother punctuated his words
with a sharp thrust of his finger into Seth’s
chest and Seth blinked rapidly, shifting nervously under
his brother’s new-found fury. “Dude, what
crawled up your ass? Calm down.”
“I don’t need to calm down,”
Josh declared, the angry lines on his face deepening
as his eyes lit with increasing rage. “Don’t
tell me what to do!” he ordered, spitting the
words out through his teeth.
Seth gaped at him. “I’m
not,” he protested, raising his hands in surrender,
his countenance pale with fear at his brother’s
“Like hell!” Josh stepped
forward, and Seth automatically shuffled back. “What’s
the matter, bro? Scared? You always were the pansy of
the family. Surprised Dad didn’t ship you off
to military school or something, put some man in you.”
“J-Josh, what’s wrong?
What did I do?” Seth’s hazel eyes frantically
scanned his brother’s face for an answer, but
only the eerie ghost of a smirk graced his brother’s
Josh pushed past Seth, ramming into
his shoulder. Hard. “Nothing. Shut up and get
in the truck.”
“What about my deer?” Seth
questioned, heading over to his kill.
“Leave it!” Josh commanded
and grabbed the lapel of his brother’s jacket,
sending Seth stumbling toward the truck. Watching his
brother’s frantic hands search for balance, Josh
scoffed a laugh and picked his rifle off of the forest
Defiance and anger slammed into the
younger brother. “No way! That’s got to
“Shut up, Seth, and leave it”
Josh warned, his voice low with menace.
“No,” Seth countered boldly,
“I’m not leaving without it.”
“I said shut up and come on!”
Josh roared, spinning around to face Seth, his face
twisted. “Just shut the hell up!”
“You go to hell,” Seth
shot back, fury in his voice as his long legs carried
him back to the prized carcass.
The swift blow to the back of his knees
sent Seth to the ground. This action had hardly registered
before he found himself airborne. A blast of pain shot
up his entire spine as he crashed onto the rocky ground,
back near the ravine, heaved there by his furious older
“You just can’t listen,
can you? Doesn’t matter what it is, you just got
to have it your own way.” Josh sneered as he stalked
up to Seth and stared down at the shaking form of his
younger brother, pupils blown with rage. “Well,
I’m sick of it, you whimpering little-”
“Josh, Josh, for God’s
sake what’s wrong? What did I do? You’re
not making any sense.” Seth’s voice was
soft but desperate, quivering in shock as he tried to
figure out what the hell was happening. His eyes searched
his brother for a clue to the sudden outburst but landed
on the hunting rifle gripped tightly at Josh’s
side, alarm rising up in him as his heart thudded painfully
in his chest.
“How the hell do you know what
makes sense?” Josh spat, hatred evident. “You’re
just another excuse for Mom and Dad to ride my ass and
I. Am. Tired. Of. It.” Josh’s lips curled
in contempt. “Tired of you.”
“You don’t mean that,”
Seth gasped, emotion clouding his voice as genuine fear
flooded his veins, making him shake under its intensity.
“Yeah,” Josh muttered,
locking his brother’s gaze. “I do.”
The swift cock of the rifle smothered
Seth’s shuddered gasp. Frantically, the dark-haired
boy swatted at the earth beneath him, struggling to
crawl away from his brother. His hands slipped frantically
on the wet leaves and the deep muddy earth clinging
to him, fastening him to the ground. A hard stomp of
Josh’s boot to Seth’s ankle quelled any
further attempts and Seth howled out in anguish. “Josh,
stop! Please! Let me go! You can’t do this!”
Josh tilted his head, his forehead
creased in thought. “Why?”
“What? Why?” Seth stuttered,
shaking his head, holding out a hand. “Josh, please,
I’m you’re brother...” he whispered
dejectedly, horrified that this could mean so little
in Josh’s mind.
shrugged. “Didn’t matter before,”
he countered frigidly, settling the butt of the rifle
against his shoulder and lining up the sights. Seth
lay three feet away, a perfect “T” shot,
and little brother knew it. “Doesn’t matter
Seth kicked out with his free foot
to no avail, voice rising in a desperate panicked cry.
“Josh---you can’t… Josh, no, I’m
you’re brother! I’m your bro--”
crack-fire report ripped through the incessant pleas,
cutting off any attempt for more as the body arched,
convulsing under the bullets Josh continued to pump
in until the empty chamber clicked repeatedly. Thick
red quickly smothered the entry wound and flooded Seth’s
shirt front as his body jerked in its death throes among
the golden leaves that were quickly becoming the deepest
Josh tossed away his rifle, face fixed
like stone as he stood looking down at the body of his
younger brother. He reached down and grabbed the ankles
of his kill and dragged it through the leaves a short
distance. “You liked that ravine so much, lil’
bro, well, guess what? You get to rot in it.”
With a grunt, Josh hoisted his brother’s
paling body over the edge, dumping it unceremoniously
into the deep black. He waited until the sound of dull
crashing ceased, then saluted at the darkness below
“See you in hell, little brother.”
* * * *
“We’re lost, Sam; just
admit it,” Dean smirked following Sam’s
lanky form up yet another rocky rise as they stumbled
through the trees in the slowly failing light.
“We’re not lost, Dean.
Stop saying that. I know exactly where we are.”
Sam’s voice had a bit of an edge after hearing
Dean chant “we’re lost, Sam” for the
tenth or fiftieth time in the last half hour.
“I’m just saying, dude,”
Dean continued as he followed Sam’s careful steps,
his voice still holding a hint of humor, mostly because
he just enjoyed rubbing Sam’s shortcomings in
his face. Hell, if he was going to be stuck out here,
he may as well have some fun. “It gets dark fast
in the woods, we’re hell and gone from the car
and all these friggin’ trees are starting to look
the same to me. The Donner Party had a better chance,
“Well, don’t worry, bro.
I promise to take a leg first.” Sam snarked, clambering
up over the small roots overhand.
Dean eased himself up onto the higher
ground, giving his brother an insinuating glance. “But
up,” Sam huffed, shaking his head as he turned
to continue onward.
Their boots crunched through the avalanche
of gold and red leaves littering the ground, sadistically
hiding the twisted vines and brambles that occasionally
leapt snarling from their hiding places to catch one
of the unsuspecting brothers by surprise and send him
They had been following up a rumor
of this forest being inhabited by Tree Sprites. Not
their usual kind of gig, but those things were nasty
little buggers, not capable of causing direct fatalities
but definitely responsible for causing the momentary
distraction that could lead to a serious injury if not
a fatality. And with it being hunting season, when everyone
from experienced to inexperienced hunters alike took
to the woods in the joyous pursuit and annihilation
of woodland creatures, it seemed to be a good alternative
to the pig farm in Rock Hollow.
Dean couldn’t get into hunting
something that didn’t have a chance in hell of
fighting back. It just didn’t strike him as fair
unless the deer got guns too. At least the ghosts and
nightmare inducers were asking for it.
“The car is a mile that way,”
Sam declared, pointing in a vaguely northwesterly direction.
“We have plenty of time to get back before it’s
“Whatever you say, Hawkeye,”
Dean replied, saluting. “I just don’t want
to get my ass blown off in the dark by some good ole
boy gunning for Bambi or Thumper.”
Sam turned, rolling his eyes. “Fine,
Dean, have it your way. We’ll head back. I haven’t
seen a single thing that points to Tree Sprites anyway.
I think this was just a wild goose chase.” The
dark haired brother sighed and brushed his hair out
of his eyes. Even though it was cool, he had still worked
up a sweat hiking.
Dean shouldered his shotgun, muttering
a ‘thank god’ to the sky, and shoved his
free hand in his pocket. He was hungry and it was getting
colder as evening crept through the woods and right
now his hopes of getting back to the car and civilization
anytime soon were swiftly waning.
Sam started heading back the way they
had just come, his own shotgun cradled in the crook
of his arm, muzzle pointed at the ground. Dean followed
in his wake, content to watch the back of Sam’s
boots rather than the trail. After all, Sam said he
knew where they were going and truthfully Dean really
hadn’t been paying much attention. He hadn’t
been that thrilled at hunting Tree Sprites anyway; kind
of beneath them in his opinion.
Sam paused up ahead, frowning at the
compass in his hand and turning left only to about face
right a second later.
Dean rolled his eyes, irritation creeping
into his face, as his lips formed a tight line and he
strode forward stiffly. “Jesus, Sam, if you don’t
know how to use a compass--”
The toe of his boot caught in yet another
vine snaking through the leaves and he was down before
he knew what was happening, the shotgun sailing off
to one side. His hands and knees were gouged by rocks
hidden beneath the wet leaves and he fell heavily on
his right hip as he tried to avoid another jagged stone.
“Shit! Dammit, Sam!”
Sam rushed to his flailing brother,
but knew he was too late. “Are you okay?”
he asked anxiously, reaching out a hand, and then laughing
despite his better judgment when he caught sight of
Dean’s mud-splattered face.
Dean jerked back out of his reach.
“It’s not funny!” He leaned forward
to try to work the vine off his ankle, whipping his
left arm across his face to clear the gunk off it.
“I’m sorry,” Sam
apologized, sounding damn near sincere. “You just
looked funny. Are you hurt?” He kept his hand
out for aid, but Dean slapped it away.
“Never mind! Just figure out
where the hell we are and let’s get outta here,”
Dean snapped, pulling out his pocketknife and starting
to cut through the tangle of vines.
Sam straightened up, hurt clouding
his features, and looked around. “I don’t
understand it.” He pulled out the compass once
again and held it away from himself, walking a few feet
from Dean as he watched the little needle rock back
and forth but never really settle. “Maybe there’s
a lot of magnetic ore in the ground. That might explain
“Explain what?” Dean growled,
relocating his rifle and carrying the shotgun by the
stock as he shuffled to join his brother.
“Why the compass is screwing
up,” Sam replied, shooting Dean a dirty look.
nothing wrong with that compass, Sam.” Dean studied
his muddied, gouged palms and carefully brushed his
hands against his pant legs. “You’re the
college boy, figure out the problem and let’s
get the hell out of here.” There was no humor
in his voice this time. In fact, he could feel the frustration
building with each passing moment.
Sam shoved the compass at Dean. “You
take it if you think you can do so much better!”
Dean glared at Sam but made no attempt
to take the compass. Instead, he crossed his arms over
the shotgun and braced his feet further apart, continuing
to stare at Sam through lidded eyes, brows drawn together.
“You’re supposed to be so damned smart,
don’t look at me.”
Sam turned, making an exasperated noise.
“Why do you do that?”
“Keep throwing the fact that
I went to college and you didn’t in my face? You’re
not stupid, Dean. You could have gone to college.”
Sam was honestly sick to death of this subject and couldn’t
understand why it had come up now of all times.
Dean snorted, rolling his eyes. ”Yeah,
“Dean, it’s not my fault
you wouldn’t let yourself go!” Sam yelled
back, gasping shortly after the words left his mouth
as if that would draw them back in. He knew better than
to go there.
Dean’s arms dropped, and he barked
out a laugh in disbelief. “Let myself go? You
mean just walk away? Like you did? Like I was the only
one who mattered?”
Sam’s eyes lingered on his brother’s
agitated form. “What the hell, Dean? Why are we
having this conversation?”
A sharp, rank smell flooded Sam’s
nostrils and the younger brother cocked his head, taking
in the cloying stench of rotting flesh being carried
to him in the breeze. With a sound of disgust and utter
repulsion, Sam turned and followed the direction of
the scent. His curiosity won out every time.
“Hey!” Dean barked angrily.
“Don’t walk away from me when I’m
talking to you!”
The sandy-haired brother dropped his
gun on the ground again and set off after Sam, grabbing
his arm and jerking him around. Sam yanked his arm free,
a look of surprise and rage on his face. “Back
off, Dean!” he exclaimed, sweeping his arm across
his body, turning away again. “I want to see where
that smell is coming from.”
Sam’s stomach lurched as he approached
the source of the smell, which was getting stronger
with each step he took. He literally gagged as he stepped
onto a large flat rock and looked down into the shadows.
Dean saw his brother reach out into
the darkness and grabbed him once again. “I told
you not to walk away when I’m talking to you!”
Sam jolted from the shock of Dean’s
furious timbre, and would’ve lost his balance
had it been for the way Dean’s hands were fisted
in his shirt front.
“Dean? What’s wrong with
you?” Sam demanded and pulled ineffectively at
Sam may have been taller and heavier,
but Dean was incredibly strong, always had been, and
Sam felt himself being pushed before he could brace
himself. His hands instinctively gripped Dean’s
arms tightly as Sam tried to climb back up to a secure
“Dean, c’mon man! What
are you doing?” Sam’s voice contained pure
panic as he locked his widened eyes with Dean’s
drag us out here for nothing, get us lost, it’s
getting dark, we don’t know where the hell we
are, let alone where the car is, I’m tired, I’m
thirsty and I’m hungry and all because you can’t
read a friggin’ compass and you wanna know why
I’m mad? God, you are an idiot!” Dean was
yelling now. The muscles of his arms bunched as he heaved
Sam away from him with all his strength.
Sam cried out as he felt himself thrown
backwards and clawed the empty air for any chance to
stop or break his impending fall. The shadow below the
rock he had been standing on wasn’t empty ground,
but a deep ravine half filled with leaves that did nothing
to soften the crunching blow as he hit the rocky side
and went rolling out of control down the steep embankment.
A sharp cry of pain escaped the younger
brother’s lips as hidden rocks and broken tree
limbs battered his flailing body as he tumbled steadily
downwards, coming to an abrupt stop as he slammed into
a jutting piece of stone. Sam laid still for a moment,
gasping and groaning but still warily conscious as he
took a mental assessment of himself and his surroundings.
The stench was thicker here, engulfing
every inch of the darkened landscape and Sam lurched
forward, his mouth open as he gagged jerkily under the
putrid odor. Tilting his head back up to where he knew
must be cleaner air, Sam worked to steady his shaky
breathing and quell the churning nausea in his stomach.
It didn’t work, and within an
instant, Sam had braced himself on shaking arms, expelling
every piece of the Quickie Mart’s Mexican Burrito
Special onto the damp, sticky ravine floor.
* * * *
A far off cry and resounding thud shook Dean from his
stupor and the older Winchester blinked slowly as cloudy
jade searched the forgotten forest area as if for the
first time. A sense of familiarity and then overriding
panic snapped the hunter into full fledged horror as
his mind cleared and the knowledge of what he had just
done pounded into his memory.
“Oh my God! Sam! Sammy, are you
hurt?” Dean screamed, not caring that his voice
sounded incredibly frantic as he leaned over the rock’s
edge only to be repulsed back by the wafting stench
flooding his senses. “Sam! Answer me!”
When no reply met his waiting ears,
Dean grabbed the flashlight out of his jacket hurriedly
fumbling it on and carefully slid from the rock face
into the ravine, landing knee deep in leaves. ‘Relief’
didn’t even begin to describe how he felt when
he entered the repulsive hole and heard Sam coughing,
the sound of brushing movements below him.
balanced himself on a tiny ledge, bracing his upper
body against the ravine’s wall and shone the flashlight’s
beam in the direction of the shuffle. A shaky smile
crossed his face when Sam’s quivering body filled
the yellow beam, half buried in leaves floundering at
the bottom of the ravine. “I’m coming, Sam!
Expertly, Dean shimmied down the rest
of the rock wall, the flashlight beam bouncing erratically
as he rushed to his brother’s position on the
covered earth floor. Sam’s eyes widened suddenly
and a yell flew from his lips as Dean approached, startling
the older brother as he reached Sam’s side.
“What? Sammy? What? I’m
not—god, I’m not going to hurt you.”
Dean’s statement went seemingly
unheard as Sam’s glassed eyes were fixed past
the older man, staring at something Dean couldn’t
see. Turning around, Dean followed Sam’s gaze,
flicking the flashlight beam in that direction.
A pale, stained object literally dangling
from behind a small crevice caught Dean’s eye
and he shot a look back to Sam who had made his body
as small as he possibly could, his clouded eyes far
from trusting. Dean sighed and reached out towards the
curious object aware that his younger brother had moved
closer in to study the sight as well.
A sharp crack was heard as the older
brother made contact and Dean recoiled back as a miasma
of decay rolled over him causing him to slam against
Sam, and sending both brothers back and floundering
into the space Sam had just vacated.
The flashlight hit the ground, illuminating
the area right in front of Dean, who found himself face
to face with a human head glaring out at him through
the leaves. Rotted flesh curled and dangled from the
bones, the decaying skin crawling with buzzing flies
and maggots as they gnawed new holes into the stiff
flesh expanding from every orifice and behind the remnants
of empty eyes.
Gasping in shocked surprise, Dean leapt
back and fell against Sam. “Holy shit!”
Gagging against the smell, Dean twisted
himself around and tried to see Sam in the dimming light.
“Are you all right?”
“Banged up a little, but nothing
permanent, no thanks to you!” Sam snapped, pushing
Dean away. “What the hell, Dean?!?”
At the moment, Sam wasn’t sure
if he meant their altercation or the body at Dean’s
feet. He had landed right against it, just as shocked
as Dean, and could smell the stench of it on his clothes
as well as his brother’s, a sickening odor that
nothing but a burning would cure.
“I don’t know. Okay. It
was like…like an Ellicot mind meld,” Dean
answered, a half-smirk on his face, although Sam’s
expression came more in the jutting finger and hard
stare variety. Dean shrugged and turned back to the
corpse, kicking the leaves away from the body he had
nearly come to kissing. His flashlight revealed the
entire body, clothing still relatively intact but the
body was in a fair state of decay. Dean held his hand
over his mouth and nose as he tried to breathe.
“This body hasn’t been
here that long,” Dean commented, coughing. “Few
weeks maybe.” he guessed gently toeing the stiff
form with his boot. “Maybe he fell and broke his
neck or something.”
Sam, still brushing himself down, made
a face and joined Dean, staring down at the ragged mess
of humanity. “You should check for ID.”
Dean blanched. “You look for
ID if you’re so interested in who he is,”
he countered, squinting into the shadows and shifting
the flashlight a few feet beyond the body. The light
expanded as Sam’s search for his own flashlight
ended in success and the newly- added beam increased
Both lights fastened on the same item
sticking up out of the leaves, a human arm, only more
bone than skin this time, skeletal fingers stretched
outwards, about five feet beyond their first discovery.
“Jesus…” Sam murmured
as they both moved forward. Another short leaf excavation
with their boots revealed the second body was older,
almost all the fabric gone from the bony frame, just
a few dried shreds of muscles and skin remaining.
Stepping back, Sam tripped and fell
back into the cushion of leaves, sending them fluttering.
He felt objects crunching beneath him as he went down
and rolled away, shining his light behind him.
okay?” Dean called from several feet away, continuing
to swish through the leaves.
“There’s another one!”
Sam exclaimed, pushing back to his feet, disturbed bones
and another skull appearing around his feet. He stumbled
backwards, every step kicking up more grayed remains.
“There’s more over here…”
Dean said grimly, going to his knee and brushing more
leaves away. His eyes ran over the ground, his eyes
becoming accustomed to the light and seeing more and
more flashes of what at first looked liked twisted limbs
and twigs but he now realized were anything but that.
Here and there eye sockets stared emptily at him as
half buried skulls reflected his shaking light.
“What is this?” Sam asked,
disgusted and horrified by the number of human remains
surrounding them. “Some kind of killing ground?”
he questioned, looking around as if the answer could
be found in the surrounding area.
“I dunno,” Dean replied,
getting to his feet. “But it ain’t Tree
Sprites. There’s at least ten or twelve bodies
here. Wherever they came from, they didn’t all
get here at the same time. Some of these are really
old, although that guy we found first looks as if he’s
only been here a few weeks.” Dean rubbed a hand
over his face. “Some of these have gunshot wounds
to the head. There’s one over there with a knife
buried in its chest.” He gestured with his flash,
and Sam could see the dull glint of metal sticking up
out of the leaves.
“Dean, what the hell is going
the episode here