Nine: Let Go
hate you!” Ashleigh Newton threw the
framed photograph at her younger sister’s head
with such venom that when Caitlin ducked out of the
way it flew right through the open door and into her
bedroom, smashing into the far wall and raining down
onto her bed in twenty jagged shards.
look what you did!” Caitlin whined. “Mom
not here, remember?” Ashleigh spat, anger, hatred
and every other emotion a teenager ever feels at one
time or another towards an annoying younger sibling
boiling like hot lava behind her pale blue eyes. “She’s
never here! She’s never been
here! And I’m tired of it! I’m tired of
taking care of you!”
backed into her bedroom sullenly, glancing at the pieces
of broken glass on her bed. “I’m thirteen,”
she asserted quietly. “I can take care of myself.”
stared at her, before tossing her long blonde hair over
one shoulder. "Yeah, well tell that to Mom, geek!”
she spat. “Take care of your little sister
while I’m at work, Ashleigh!” she mimicked
her parent sullenly. “Do you know how many years
I’ve been hearing that? Well I’m sick
of it! And I’m going to that party tonight,
I don’t care what Mom says!”
get in trouble.”
narrowed her eyes. “Only if you tell, freak.”
It was a warning, and Caitlin recognized that only too
well. Ashleigh took a breath, closing her eyes dramatically,
before adding, “Do you know who’s going
to be at that party?”
Ross?” Caitlin hazarded an informed guess. That
was, after all, the only name she’d heard out
of her sister’s mouth for the last two weeks.
And Justin said this to me in English class…
And Justin has the coolest car… And Justin says
he’s getting a tattoo – maybe I should get
a tattoo… Caitlin shook her head in exasperation.
nodded, not picking up on her little sister’s
sardonic tone. “Yes he is,” she confirmed,
hands on hips, lips pouting. “And I’m
going to be there. Bad enough I’ve got a geeky
little sister following me around everywhere I go, ruining
my credibility.” She set her jaw, and through
gritted teeth added, “And if I don’t get
Justin to ask me out tonight, it’ll be all
turned on her heel in that dramatic daytime soap style
she’d perfected and started to head for the stairs,
before suddenly stopping and turning back to face her
sister. “You know what?” she said, eyes
Caitlin was almost afraid to ask.
overly lip-glossed pouting lips had compressed into
a thin line. “I wish you’d never been born.
Then I wouldn’t have had my life ruined
having to look after you all the time!”
stared after her big sister for a long moment as she
stormed off down the stairs, wincing as she heard the
front door slam shut behind her and secretly wishing
that there had been some sign in Ashleigh’s eyes
that she hadn’t meant what she’d just said.
there hadn’t been. And she had meant
it. Every word. Caitlin just knew it.
back the tears stinging her eyes, Caitlin quietly closed
her bedroom door, turning to look at the pieces of shattered
picture frame strewn across her bed.
between the shards of broken glass, she carefully withdrew
the photograph, staring at it through the tears blurring
and Ashleigh when Mom had taken them to Disneyworld.
had been twelve, Caitlin eight. Ashleigh had her arm
around her little sister’s shoulders, and a big
toothy Mickey Mouse smile lit up both their faces.
had adored her big sister so much at that moment.
been holding a balloon nearly as big as she was, but
had fumbled the string when Mom had presented her with
an ice cream cone, too klutzy even at that age to be
able to handle two different operations at the same
time. “Don’t let go!” Mom had cried
too late, the balloon already having started to drift
then Ashleigh had chased after it, all the way back
to the ice cream stand and beyond, until finally she’d
jumped up and caught the string, proudly returning the
balloon to her sobbing kid sister’s clumsy fingers.
that’s what big sisters did.
had taken a photo then, as soon as Ashleigh had wiped
the tears from Caitlin’s cheeks, and the younger
girl had treasured it ever since: a moment caught in
time that she would never get back, but a memory that
transported her to happier days whenever the world got
to be too much for her.
might not have been pretty; she might not have been
popular; she might not have had lots of friends and
a cool dad who took her camping.
she had Ashleigh. She’d always have Ashleigh.
hates you, you know,” a small voice said from
ran her fingers over the photograph, for once ignoring
always hated you. You’re a burden to her. You’re
ruining her life.”
spared a tearful glance for the young girl standing
behind the door. She was unnaturally pale, long lank
blonde hair hanging down in tangles to her waist, long
black dress down to her ankles that made no sound as
she glided towards the bed.
you there all the time?” Caitlin asked quietly.
girl nodded, dark, dark eyes as black and as hard as
coal glinting as they swept the scene before them. “She
wishes you were dead,” she said, her voice as
cold and as dead as her black-rimmed eyes. “You’re
ruining her life.”
nodded, tears slipping down her cheeks and landing on
the photograph she still clutched in her trembling hands.
of the corner of her eye, she noticed something glinting.
wishes you were dead,” the little girl repeated,
holding up a piece of the broken glass, sharp edges
grasped between long, thin fingers. “You’re
such a burden.”
held out the glass towards Caitlin, jet black gaze boring
into the young girl’s eyes.
stared at the glass in the deathly white hand, sobbing
silently, but knowing deep down what she needed to do.
her burden, Caitlin,” the child in black said.
“Show your sister how much you love her. Let her
nodded. “I do,” she whispered through the
salty tears dripping from her lips. “I’ll
always love her.”
her burden. Let go.”
reached out and took the piece of glass.
* * * *
Catie? I’m home!”
Newton tossed her house keys into the pot she kept by
the front door. Ugly little brown ceramic thing Vince
had given her as a present from the girls on the last
Mother’s Day before the accident.
Where are you?”
shrugged off her jacket, absently smoothing down the
blue nurse’s uniform she wore underneath.
climbed the stairs tiredly, aching limbs yearning for
the imminent bathtub.
door was closed, which wasn’t unusual in itself:
Catie had become quite withdrawn over the past year
or so, which Gina put down to puberty. She’d get
over it. Ashleigh had been a handful at that age too.
Still was, in fact.
pushed open the door, her attention drawn to a piece
of broken glass lying incongruously on the fluffy pink
carpet. “Honey, you break something?”
looked up from the piece of glass, frowning. There was
something dark staining the candy pink quilt cover.
Something running down the lace frill and dripping onto
eyes followed the stain up onto the bed.
where her youngest daughter lay, ashen face staring
sightlessly up at the ceiling, blue lips wet with tears.
She held a photograph of herself and her sister clutched
to her chest, as the gashes to her wrists oozed her
lifeblood away like cheap red wine.
scream never made it to Gina’s lips before she
collapsed to the floor, her baby girl’s name trapped
in her throat as her world shattered around her like
the shards of a broken picture frame.
young girl in the black dress emerged from behind the
door, smiled at her handiwork, and moved on to the next
* * * *
the baby’s crying!”
wasn’t listening. Daddy was clutching the picture
and staring out the window.
He did that a lot now.
Daddy, the baby’s crying!”
Daddy was crying too.
“The baby’s crying.”
Winchester glanced sideways at his kid brother, head
lolled back against the car seat, eyes closed shut,
long gangly limbs twitching.
had heard Sam talk in his sleep before. Hell, Sam was
always talking in his sleep. Especially when the
nightmares took hold of him, creeping into his head
and exploding behind his eyes when he least expected
usually, he cried out for Jessica. Or for Mom. Occasionally
for Dad, although that was rare these days. More often
than not, Sam cried out for Dean himself, like he used
to when they were kids.
this was new.
the baby’s crying,” Sam repeated, his voice
high-pitched, almost frightened, eyes bouncing around
beneath tightly closed eyelids.
pulled at the back of Dean’s mind, something painful
and almost familiar, and his stomach lurched for some
reason he couldn’t seem to put his finger on.
he reached over, tugging gently at Sam’s jacket.
baby’s crying,” Sam repeated, stubbornly
refusing to wake up.
saying that… Please, Sam…
Dean barked his brother’s name a little louder
than he’d intended, and Sam sat bolt upright,
eyes wild and unfocused.
glanced about himself uncertainly, Bambi caught in the
headlights of a semi, taking in the details of his surroundings
piece by piece until the pieces started to fit together.
as it should be.
took a deep breath, releasing it slowly as he drew a
tired hand across his sweat-sheened forehead.
spared him a brief "you okay?" look before
that practiced air of being more interested in the road
than his brother’s freaky nightmares quickly fell
across his features.
he asked, trying not to sound overly concerned. He knew
if Sam got wind of just how much his nightmare visions
freaked his big brother out, then he himself would be
ten times more freaked out than he already was.
Dean couldn’t have that.
shook his head, forehead crumpling into an uncertain
frown. “I don’t think so,” he said
spared him another sidelong glance. “Sure looked
like it from over here,” he commented. “You
were doing that whole demented windmill thing.”
corners of Sam’s mouth lifted in a grudging smile.
“I do not ‘windmill’,” he protested,
the smile reaching his eyes and pushing away some of
yeah you do,” Dean insisted, trying to keep a
straight face. “Like a giraffe on roller skates.”
getting dangerously close to a mixed metaphor there,
dude,” Sam admonished, turning back to the road
as a large sign reading “Connecticut’s finest
apple pie” drifted past, closely followed by another
that simply read “Hungry?” and a third directing
the famished traveler to Ma Baker’s Pantry, next
ignored the growling in his stomach, not for the first
time wondering how Dean survived on a diet of M&Ms
me, Mr. Shakespeare,” Dean muttered, for once
forgetting to play the dumb card. “But I’m
telling you, you kick the crap outta my car one more
time and I’m tying you up next time you go to
sleep in here.”
raised an eyebrow, pseudo-psychic panic almost forgotten.
“Never had you down as the kinky type,”
he said, grinning.
shrugged, object of the exercise successfully achieved:
Sam’s hands had stopped shaking and the color
had returned to his pale cheeks. “It was just
that one time,” he protested, flashing that naughty
schoolboy grin of his. “And she was possessed
by the spirit of a psycho machete-wielding mass murderer…”
sniggered, and it was Dean’s turn to take a deep
speaking, talking was Sam’s thing, but Dean figured
some talking was probably called for right now. “So…”
he said, Serious Face returning with an almost audible
clunk. “Not a nightmare?”
shook his head. “Just words,” he said enigmatically,
as if that made any more sense.
took all of Dean’s self-control to keep his eyes
on the road. “So you were just talking in your
sleep?” he clarified tentatively. “Like
looked a little fazed. “I guess,” he said.
Then, glancing uncertainly at Dean out of the corner
of his eye, he asked, “What did I say, anyway?”
fingers tensed on the steering wheel. “You don’t
remember?” he asked.
shook his head.
shrugged, trying to lighten his tone. “Something
about a baby crying,” he said, deliberately vague.
raised an eyebrow. “Huh,” he said. “Pretty
nodded. “Yeah,” he agreed. “Seems
to be a lot of that going around these parts: Clifton
Connecticut, Capital of Weird.”
shrugged, picking up a sheaf of motel notepaper he’d
discarded on the seat next to him and frowning thoughtfully.
“This month’s Capital of Weird, at any rate,”
Dean thought. Subject successfully changed…
“So,” he continued aloud. “How many
folks have offed themselves in this little burg?”
He knew the answer, but was eager to keep Sam’s
Sam replied instantly, eyeing his notes carefully. “In
raised an eyebrow. “That’s a pretty high
suicide rate for a town this size,” he observed,
frowning as the brake lights of the car ahead of them
suddenly lit up red. “What…?” He slowed
to match the Camry’s deceleration, as both cars
found themselves joining the back of a line of slowly
Sam agreed absently, craning his long neck to try and
see what was causing the snarl-up.
truck was skewed at an odd angle on the opposite side
of the road, a big burly guy in a red checkered shirt
and ball cap leaning heavily against the cab door. A
lady traffic cop put her hand on his arm as he leaned
over and threw up all over the tarmac.
frowned, not for the first time reflecting that if he
had Spidey Senses, they’d be tingling the hell
out of him right now.
slowly pulled the car up level with the truck, matching
the tortoise-like crawl of the line of traffic. The
big trucker seemed to have lost all sense of composure
– probably at the same time as he lost his breakfast
all over the black top – and was trying desperately
to look anywhere but at the yellow tarpaulin stretched
across something caught between his front and rear axles.
was used to the sight of blood. But even he clenched
his jaw and tried not to look at the dark stains oozing
out from beneath the tarpaulin, or the glistening substance
that he was pretty sure was brain matter adorning the
truck’s front grille.
don’t understand! I don’t understand!”
A middle-aged black lady sat sideways in the back seat
of the police cruiser which was parked to the rear of
the truck, leaning against the open door as she tugged
hysterically at her hair. Another woman, of similar
build and features to the first, leaned into the car,
trying to pull the older woman’s hands away from
her thick curls.
– ” the younger woman began, but got no
further as the older woman’s wailing increased
baby brother, Connie!” she cried, grabbing one
of the younger woman’s hands and pressing it to
her own cheek. “Our baby brother! Why? Why?”
averted his gaze awkwardly as the younger woman suddenly
turned to stare blankly in his direction, a look so
empty in her dark brown eyes that he almost felt like
he hadn’t the heart to take another breath.
the passenger door and rolled right out, right in front
of the truck,” one of the traffic cops was telling
a guy in oily blue overalls who had just jumped out
of a nearby orange tow truck. The mechanic turned his
attention to a dark red Chrysler which was parked astride
the lines in the middle of the road, three doors standing
open, as if it had been hurriedly abandoned. He shook
his head sadly, running a hand over the rear driver’s
side passenger door.
damage here,” he announced with a sigh, almost
as if he wished there had been. “Definitely not
a fault with the door mechanism.” He drew himself
up to his full height and sighed again. “Marvyn
Hayes. Jeez, I known him since he was ten years old…”
tow truck guy’s voice faded into the distance
as Dean and Sam passed out of earshot, moving alongside
two more police cruisers blocking the opposite side
of the road, as various officers milled about, eyes
downcast and voices subdued.
squinted into his driver’s side mirror, where
he saw the two women seeming to collapse in on each
other, the younger one falling to her knees on the tarmac
as she clutched her sister’s hands to her face.
swallowed hard before muttering, “Victim number
glanced away from the morbid scene, eyes straying to
the sign at the side of the road: Welcome to Clifton,
he said quietly.
* * * *
clerk at the Clifton Motor Lodge was kind of pretty
in an undemanding way, Dean thought idly, as he and
Sam approached the front desk. She was a little tall
for his tastes – probably only a couple of inches
shorter than he was – unless she was standing
on a box back there. Her gingery-blonde hair was scraped
back into country-girl pigtails, and her big blue eyes
were magnified to owlish proportions by pink wire-rimmed
glanced at Dean briefly before her eyes shifted to Sam
and practically lit up like a pink-rimmed blue neon
accounting for taste, Dean thought to himself,
chalking this one up to another chick into tall, dark
the girl said, more to Sam than Dean, a big smile lighting
up her features as she leant much further across the
counter than was strictly necessary. “Welcome
to Clifton Motor Lodge.”
smiled weakly, before suddenly glancing behind him,
a frown creasing his brow. He stared briefly at the
candy machine propped up against the rear wall of the
office, before shaking his head and returning his attention
to the desk clerk. “Hi – ” he squinted
at the girl’s name tag. “ – Cindy,”
he finished, trying to put a bit of effort into his
yourself,” the girl was still grinning at Sam
inanely, which Dean would have found amusing if he wasn’t
still puzzling over what Sam had just turned to look
like a room,” Sam managed, trying not to act all
cold and standoffish. The locals, after all, were going
to be the key to their cracking this whole thing.
– ” Cindy faltered. “Two singles?”
she asked tentatively, briefly eyeing Dean, who, rather
than roll his eyes at the all-too-familiar insinuation,
merely flashed her his broadest grin.
nudged him, shooting him a “play nice” look
before nodding. “Please.”
girl relaxed visibly, smile broadening as she readied
was Dean’s turn to nudge Sam, inclining his head
in Cindy’s direction and mouthing the words, “Go
glared at him for a second, before sighing and turning
back to Cindy. “So…” he began, never
much good at this part of the job.
girl returned his gaze enthusiastically as she slid
a piece of paper and a pen across the counter at him.
“Sign please,” she said brightly.
nodded, for a second at a loss as to what name was printed
on the credit card he’d placed on the desk. Remembering,
he scrawled "Sam Williams" on the bottom of
the form before continuing, “So what was going
on out on the highway when we came in? Bad accident?”
big smile died a little. “Just been on the news,”
she said, nodding towards a beat-up old radio on the
window sill. “Marvyn Hayes,” she confirmed
sadly, eyes downcast for a second. “He and his
sisters run the hardware store in town.” She shook
her head. “Such a nice guy…”
glanced sideways at Dean. “Been a few –
uh – incidents round here lately, huh?”
looked at him carefully as she swiped his card. “Yeah,”
she said at length. “Too many.”
she didn’t add anything else, Dean gave Sam another
"what are you waiting for?" look. Sam scowled
at him. “Anyone have any idea what’s going
on?” he asked tentatively, turning his attention
back to the desk clerk.
girl just looked at him before shaking her head. After
a beat, she returned her smile to its rightful place,
shrugged her shoulders and handed him back his credit
card. “But hey,” she said resignedly. “Life
goes on, huh?”
smiled as engagingly as he was able. “I guess,”
he agreed, as Cindy slid him a couple of room keys.
four,” she said, pointing towards the office door.
“Turn right, next to the soda machine.”
smiled again. “Thanks, Cindy,” he said,
turning to leave as quickly as possible.
a nice stay, Sam,” Cindy returned, staring after
took Dean’s entire reserve of self-control not
to laugh out loud as he followed Sam back out into the
courtyard. “Have a nice stay, Sam,”
he mimicked Cindy cruelly, gazing up at Sam and batting
his eyelashes adoringly.
up,” Sam returned, squinting back at him with
stormy eyes. He jammed his hands into his pockets and
scowled menacingly as Dean breezed past him with a derisive
snort. “And I’ve told you before about trying
to pimp me out,” he added, matching his brother’s
out okay with Sarah though, right?” Dean pointed
out, grinning. He stopped suddenly, causing Sam to pull
up short behind him. Turning and putting a hand on his
kid brother’s shoulder, an earnest expression
on his face that had absolutely no business being there,
he added, “Dude, sometimes you just gotta take
one for the team.”
grin widened as Sam shot him a disgruntled scowl, and
he turned and slid his key into the lock of the door
next to which he found himself standing, pushing it
open and surveying the room beyond thoughtfully.
only concern was that the beds were a little too close
together. Sam had a habit of starfishing in bed which
tended to transform him into a mass of dangling arms
and legs, and this, coupled with his Pete Townsend-style
nightmare windmilling, could more than likely prove
hazardous to Dean’s health if there wasn’t
at least a three feet gap between him and his brother’s
than that, the room was virtually identical to a million
others they’d stayed in over the years, and Dean
merely shrugged and dumped his duffel bag down on the
bed closest to the door.
sighed loudly as he pushed the door closed behind him.
“Just our luck,” he said resignedly, shuffling
over to the far bed and sitting down heavily, hands
massaging his temples.
glanced over at him. “Huh?”
looked up, inclining his head towards the adjoining
wall. “Next door to that,” he said, as if
that were an adequate explanation.
frowned at him, cocking his head to one side as he listened
out for whatever it was Sam was referring to. He shook
his head after a couple of seconds of listening to nothing
but the distant roar of cars on the nearby highway.
“I don’t hear anything,” he admitted
finally, his frown turning into that look of big brotherly
concern that always irritated the hell out of Sam.
was the younger brother’s turn to frown. “What,
you don’t hear that?” he asked incredulously.
just looked at him. “I don’t know,”
he said carefully. “What do you hear, Sammy?”
raised his eyebrows as if it was patently obvious. “Baby
crying,” he said blankly, blinking hard as he
tried to fathom his brother’s darkening expression.
in the car?” Dean asked at length.
was Sam’s turn to look blank. “Huh?”
kept his expression purposefully neutral. “When
you were talking in your sleep,” he prodded gently.
“You said something about a baby crying, remember?”
put a weary hand to his forehead. “God, is that
kid never going to shut up?” he muttered,
as if Dean hadn’t even spoken.
bit his lip anxiously, caught between two conflicting
responses: concern for Little Brother Sammy and fear
for – of? – Freaky Psychic Sam. “What
did you see back there?” he demanded suddenly,
the question eliciting a raised eyebrow from his brother.
“In the office,” he clarified.
just looked up at him, that blank look still seemingly
nailed to his face. “Huh? I didn’t –
give me that whole ‘I don’t know what you’re
talking about, Dean’ crap, Sam,” Dean snapped.
“’Cause I don’t wanna hear it, not
expression was enough to convince Sam that his big brother
wasn’t kidding. “I don’t know if it
was anything,” he managed with a resigned shrug.
“I just – ” he stumbled over the words,
the noise of the screaming baby making it hard for him
to concentrate. “I just felt like someone was
standing behind me, that’s all.”
raised an eyebrow noncommittally. “That’s
Sam confirmed, resisting the urge to put his hands over
his ears. “Listen, I need to get out of here.
I think I saw a diner across the street…”
Although he’d suddenly lost his appetite, Sam
needed to get the hell out of the motel room and this
was the only excuse he thought Dean might actually buy.
however, didn’t seem completely convinced, but
was also vaguely aware that they hadn’t eaten
in a while. “All right,” he agreed slowly.
“Maybe a good helping of cholesterol and caffeine
is what you need.”
smiled weakly, following his brother from the room gratefully…only
to have the noise of the baby’s wailing stop abruptly
the instant he stepped over the threshold.
he muttered, glancing behind him, back into the motel
room, before returning his attention to Dean, who had
stopped and was just standing there watching him. He
had that expression on his face that he used to get
when they were kids and Sam was getting picked on by
the school bully.
always ended in tears.
they were never Dean’s.
Dean asked carefully, shuffling his feet and trying
not to look too worried.
stopped,” Sam said shortly, closing the motel
room door and shrugging mentally as he headed off across
the parking lot. Dean paused for a second, before turning
them, a deathly pale little girl emerged silently from
behind the soda machine, thin fingers twisting at the
ribbons adorning her long black dress as a satisfied
smile played lopsidedly across her lips.
the episode here!