Season Two

Episode Sixteen: Dezòd

By Kittsbud & Tree

Part One

 

Forest Lawn Cemetery
Slidell, Louisiana


White puffy clouds slid over the full moon like heavenly blankets, blotting out the only luminance in the tiny graveyard. A cool unnatural breeze ruffled through the hedgerows surrounding the tombs, whipping at the stone with its malevolent chill.

This was not a night for the faint hearted to walk the streets, let alone this lonely burial ground, and yet, the night animals were not the only creatures in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Henry DuCroix was panting, the exertion from his frenzied digging making him sweaty and breathless. He didn’t notice the chilly zephyr biting at his perspiring flesh. He was too tired, too weak, but he couldn’t give in. The stakes were too high.

DuCroix’s corroded, time-worn shovel hit something hard and he dropped it, focusing on brushing away loose dirt from the casket below with his grimy fingers. Soil crumbled from the earth walls surrounding him, but he ignored the pattering sound, desperate to open the coffin below.

“Chantelle… ma chérie…” Henry’s eyes turned to two almost pan-sized white orbs and he clenched both fists, pounding on the casket lid until his muscles burned. “Chantelle!” His accent grew thicker as he began to babble in Creole – local words and phrases intermingling with a disembodied version of English until it seemed DuCroix had gone insane.

Above him, the clouds finally took heed of the uncanny breeze, their sprawling white masses moving just enough for a few stray shafts of moonlight to lighten the scene.

DuCroix at last noticed the changes around him – changes to the elements he had seen growing of late. Changes he feared more than Damballa himself.

Time was running out.

Henry grabbed at the shovel he’d dropped, using its sharp edge to hack at the brass hinges on the coffin. He was strong, days of road work making the muscles in his arms more powerful than most, but still, he wasn’t strong enough.

The hope he had felt at the sight of the white casket was waning again. It had been too long. “Ah can’t be too late. Can’t be…”

DuCroix raised the shovel above his head, slamming it down into the casket lid time after time until finally the wood began to splinter one side. Once he was sure he could swing it open, he slowed, not wanting to damage what lay beneath.

“Poukisa? POUKISA?” Henry screamed the word over and over in his native tongue, begging to know why this had been allowed to happen. Why?

Bruised and bloodied fingers clambered at the edge of the lid, feeling for a place to gain a good hold. Henry had paid for the best for his Chantelle, but now, that love may have been the thing to take her life.

Ah should have known!

Henry pulled back on the lid, feeling the hinges move as he put all of his weight into swinging the casket open. The brass fittings groaned in protest, the remaining stray soil tumbling from the coffin as DuCroix finally managed to open it.

“Chantelle…” DuCroix fell to his knees inside the casket, eyes streaming with sudden, unchecked tears.

Beaneath him, the body of a young woman lay in a grotesque posture, her eyes bulging, her nails and flesh torn from her fingers where she had scraped desperately on the inside of her tomb.

Even now, eyes bleary from sobbing, DuCroix could see the grooves on the underside of the casket lid made by his wife’s attempts to escape her underground hell. She had clawed and clawed until the oxygen had run out, leaving her to die alone, in darkness, gagging for air that simply wasn’t there.

Henry’s tears dripped onto Chantelle’s face, the moisture sliding down her graying flesh as if she were the one sobbing. He wanted to hold her, to pull her from this hell, but her normally nubile body had already begun to stiffen, turning her into some inhuman mannequin.

DuCroix’s agony began to change, to morph into something more productive. He couldn’t let this happen again. He couldn’t let Chantelle’s death be in vain. After all, if his suspicions were correct, he could well be next on the list.

Stumbling up from his knees, Henry wiped his soil-caked hands on his jeans and began to curse again in Creole under his breath. He couldn’t look at Chantelle anymore – not when her pretty face had been turned into something so horrific. Instead, he looked away, sliding the coffin closed without any last goodbye.

DuCroix leaned, stretching to retrieve his shovel. He would need to refill the grave or risk prosecution. Before his fingers could connect with the rough wooden handle, something above him stirred. It wasn’t a noise per se, and yet he sensed a presence – a presence he knew.

Henry forgot the shovel.

Temper replaced by sheer fear, Henry DuCroix climbed from his wife’s open grave, limbs floundering in soft, recently dug loam. Here, in the cemetery he was most at risk. This was his place.

“Dis can’t be!” Henry struggled to his feet, trying to run from something no human could, and still his mind screamed, why?

Something was wrong.

Something had changed the very forces he believed in, harnessing them, making them work against their true nature.

DuCroix faltered, his boot catching on a toppled headstone. He was losing ground, losing his very faith every time he looked back to his pursuer. This thing should never be his enemy.

His eyes grew wider as he finally saw what – who – was behind him in the full light of the moon. “No…” DuCroix stumbled again and this time he couldn’t regain his balance.

Arms flying wildly, he landed on his back, his spine straining as it slammed into another tumbledown monument.

DuCroix groaned as the air was knocked from his lungs and pain spiked down his back. For an instant he felt paralyzed, not from the fall, but from the thing now looking down at him. His body began to shake, the fetid breath of his pursuer bombarding him to the point he felt nauseous.

He could smell the rotting flesh tainted with the odors of spiced rum and tobacco. He could see the bony white skull and the almost opaline eyes that burned into his very soul.

“Poukisa?”

DuCroix wasn’t afraid anymore. He looked up at his enemy with a resigned defiance born of inherit knowledge of his own religion.

His enemy didn’t care.

As the clouds recovered the watching moon, a guttural scream filled the cemetery and then all was silent. Not even the night creatures dare to make a sound, for this was his place, not theirs.

DuCroix’s lifeless body lay where he had fallen, a thin white film forming over his pupils, his body stiffening, even though it was far too soon for the normal onset of rigor.

Another had fallen, and with each new death, with each worshipper’s soul that was dragged back to the crossroads of the afterlife, he grew stronger.

* * * *


LaBauve’s Bed & Breakfast
Slidell, Louisiana

The Impala grumbled to a halt outside the largest house on the entire street and Sam killed the ignition. When he’d gotten the address from Missouri for a place to stay in Louisiana he hadn’t exactly expected this.

The two-story building oozed local culture, its hanging baskets, archways, and fashioned upper balcony easily dating back to the 1800s. It was something he’d expect to see in some civil war movie, certainly not the kind of place he and Dean were used to staying in.

The fact brought a smile to the young hunter’s face for the first time since the brothers' last gig, and he glanced over to Dean in the passenger seat.

Sam had almost lost his brother back in Pennsylvania, and the fact that the Alp that had fed on his brother’s mind was long gone did little to make him feel any better. Dean had been driven almost to destruction with the nightmares instigated by the creature.

Even now, Sam could see his brother twitching and squirming in his slumber, despite the fact that this was the first occasion he’d actually been able to doze in a long time.

He’s going to kill me. Sam smiled at the thought.

When Dean had finally curled up on the Impala’s huge bench seat, Sam had taken to the wheel and just cruised to the nearest place he could think of where his brother might actually get some rest. They both needed a vacation. Hell, no, they deserved one. And while neither had a lot of money except for their fraudulent credit cards, they did have friends.

That was where Missouri Moseley had come in. Once Sam had hit Louisiana it had occurred to him they’d need a place to stay on his little impromptu holiday, so he had called up their old friend. Missouri hadn’t lived in these parts for many years, but she still had good contacts.

After Sam had explained he wanted to get Dean to a warmer, friendlier environment for awhile, Missouri had instantly suggested they stay with Marie LaBauve. Of course, when Dean woke he was going to be pissed. Dean hated being watched over at the best of times, he hated vacations, and most of all he hated how Missouri treated him like he was still a kid. If Marie was anything like Missouri, they were in for some fun – or serious Dean snark.

Either way, Sam didn’t care. Dean had been his protector for so long and now it was time to return the favor. The dark circles and pallid complexion said it all as he stared at his brother’s snoozing form.

No, if Sam had to drag him kicking and screaming to the local beach, Dean was going to have a good time.

“Hey, sleepy head, I think I have something you might need here…” Sam pulled a thong from his jacket pocket and wafted it across Dean’s nose until the elder hunter began to stir.

“Hmmn?” Dean fanned away the piece of beachwear as if it were a fly buzzing annoyingly around his face. When Sam floated it back again a second time, he started, sitting bolt upright in his seat. “What the..?”

Dean’s eyes widened in frustration as he saw what was dangling before his eyes. “Dude, and I thought you liked girls…”

Sam rolled his eyes and then grinned mischievously. “It’s for you, dork. You’re going to need it now we're at the beach-”

“The beach?” Dean’s face screwed up in miscomprehension. When he’d fallen asleep, they hadn’t been near any kind of water, let alone a beach. He looked around through bleary eyes till he came to a street sign. “You freakin’ drove us to Louisiana? Dude, I’m never gonna sleep again…” He shook his head. “Hello? Baywatch, Sammy? Ya know, hot blonde chicks in skimpy bikinis? That’s a beach, not bayou grandmas association…”

Sam’s dimples reached new depths and he tossed the thong on his brother’s lap. “You’re just scared to wear it in case I get more chicks than you.”

Dean huffed. “Dude, I don’t do shorts, so I sure as hell ain’t wearing that!” He flicked the thong back over his shoulder onto the back seat, wincing slightly as the motion made his muscles twinge from his recent injury.

Sam noticed the slight facial tick, but said nothing. It would be no use mentioning it anyway - Dean would shrug it off.

“Oh, and Sammy, I need to hunt, not rest. I don’t do rest with that yellow-eyed bastard still out there.” A look of hatred flashed across his tired features and he turned away to look through the Impala’s side window. He could never tell Sam how close he’d come to breaking at the hands of Volger, but he suspected his little brother knew anyway. That, coupled with Haris’ return was almost more than he could bear to think about.

“Dean, just a few days to catch up on some sleep-”

“Or die of boredom,” the hunter countered. “What am I supposed to do here, sit in a rocking chair on the porch and friggin’ knit me a sweater?” He pointed to a woman across the road that looked at least one hundred. She was dressed like Ma Clampett and was furiously clattering her knitting needles together to weave some unknown item.

“Just a couple of days, Dean? I need it too.” Sam changed the dimpled grin for something more pleading. It was an expression he’d used on his sibling since being a kid, and if he couldn’t get Dean to do something for himself, then this “look” usual got him to do it for his little brother.

He’ll fall on his ass if he goes on like this much longer, Sam fretted; biting into his lip until Dean finally sighed and agreed.

“Two days,” Dean acquiesced. “But I’m telling you, there better be a damn good bar around here, ’cause no way am I sitting on my ass listening to you whine how bad I look all day.”

Dean smirked as he exited the Impala, knowing Sam would fuss anyway.

Sam opened his mouth to respond, but realized Dean was probably right and clamped it shut again.

This was going to be one weird vacation.


* * * *

Dean walked up the brick porch steps as if he were about to start dragging his feet any minute. Sam wasn’t sure if his brother was just bone-tired or he really was reluctant to stay in this period house. Maybe it was a little of both.

“Tell me again where you got this address from? I swear I’ve seen this place on the back lot at Universal.” Dean shook his head, pushing back the wrought iron “screen” to ring the doorbell.

“Dean, you’ve never been to Universal, and two, this is nothing like the Bates motel.”

“Yeah, well, if there’s a granny in a rocking chair and a suspicious looking shower, you get to bathe first.” Dean scowled, impatience getting the better of him when no one answered after the first three rings. After a fourth push of the button, he was getting ready to retreat back to the Impala when the door finally swung open with a screech that would have made Bela Lugosi cringe.

“Hi, I’m Sam, this is my brother Dean.” Sam quickly pushed in front of his brother with a smile as he made his introductions. “I rang earlier?”

The woman opened the door to reveal what Dean considered way too much a likeness of Missouri Moseley. Marie was thinner and younger, sure, but she still had that glint in her eyes that made her a threat – at least on Dean’s snark meter.

Marie peered at the younger Winchester first as if she already knew him. “Sam, honey, it’s nice to finally meet ya.” She eyed Dean somewhat more warily. “Dean…”

Dean took a deep breath and shot his brother a look that said “you’re dead” in no uncertain terms. “And you must be..?” He queried, adding, “Old Mo’s twin” under his breath.

“Missouri wouldn’t appreciate ya’ll calling her that.” Marie shot Dean a stare that made him almost want to cringe and he half expected her to spout some line about whacking him with a spoon. Instead, she raised a brow as if he were a scolded child. “Ah’m Marie LaBauve, but you can call me Marie. Just Marie,” she reiterated.

Dean feigned a smile. “I wouldn’t dream of anything else.” Except, of course he was already thinking up some snide nickname for his host. If Marie wanted to play the snark game, he was so ready for it. Taunting Sam was fun, but having an opponent who appreciated the art was so much more interesting.

Sam scrunched his face up the minute Dean faked being a good boy. Dean just didn’t know how to behave, and Sam suspected Marie was already onto that fact. Maybe Missouri had warned her. Jeez, maybe Louisiana wasn’t such a great plan after all.

Marie seemed not to notice her younger guest’s pain and ushered both Winchesters through the house via a long corridor. “You boys can bring in yah bags later.” She offered in a somewhat mild local accent.

“Maybe we’ll be checking out by then,” Dean breathed out.

“Say what, honey chile?” Marie grinned at the hunter, using the slightly girlie sounding term to annoy him further.

Sam kicked his brother. “He said we’ll be sure to after we check out the town-”

Marie nodded knowingly and continued forward.

Inside the boarding house was just as period as outside. The ceilings were huge coved specimens complete with fleur-de-lis designs and small glass chandeliers. On the wall, Dean noted a carefully hung photograph of what appeared to be Marie’s son. At a guess, Dean put the kid to be about the same age as his brother. Maybe that’s why she took to his ass way better than mine…

“Would ya’ll like a bite to eat?” Marie already appeared to be heading for the kitchen where the strains of St. James Infirmary Blues were blasting from some unseen music system.

Dean visibly winced at both the music, and the mention of food. Both items brought back memories he didn’t want to share or even think about. St. James had been the hospital Sammy had nearly died in during the New Jersey fiasco. If he never heard the name again it was too soon.

Then there was the food issue. Normally, Dean could out-eat a Sumo wrestler, but since the Alp had almost sent him insane it was hard to just sit down and tuck in. Every meal was an effort.

Dean opened his mouth to refuse the offer, but Sam wasn’t about to let him get away that easily. “We’d love a sandwich, if it’s not too much trouble, ma’am.”

Marie’s piercing stare went from one brother to the next. Dean’s reluctance to go anywhere near the kitchen, for whatever reasons, hadn’t gone noticed with her either. There was no way to know why, but she sensed the boy was hurting – hurting something fierce. It wasn’t exactly a gift, more like an intuitiveness she’d built up over the years.

“Mah home is yah home. Anything for John’s boys. Come sit.” Marie pulled out two chairs and scurried into the corner to begin cutting up a freshly baked loaf. She didn’t elaborate on how she knew their father, but Sam guessed it was through Missouri.

As the elder woman worked, both brothers sat in silence, taking in the cultural differences they had never really gotten so close to before.

Everything here was bright and colorful – even Marie’s somewhat over the top clothes. Scattered about the kitchen, Dean also noticed various voodoo charms, mojo bags, an old railroad spike, and what appeared to be a set of chicken’s feet.

So close to the heart of the southern voodoo world the hunter wasn’t surprised to see any of the items. There was nothing here he hadn’t seen many times before, and yet, somehow it disturbed him.

Voodoo wasn’t normally the evil religion most people envisioned it to be. It was very spiritual, but not inherently evil like Hollywood usually depicted it. Most voodoo practitioners only used their art for good, and it was a sad fact the non-believers didn’t always see it that way.

So why was Dean getting a full-on red alert flashing in his brain right now?

The elder hunter shuddered and considered that perhaps it was the large slimy creature Marie kept in a corner vivarium that was currently staring at him as if he were lunch.

The snake was more than large, it was huge. What’s more, every few seconds its forked tongue flicked out at Dean and its serpentine eyes flashed to torment him.

The hunter decided he suddenly totally agreed with Indiana Jones. I hate friggin’ snakes…

“Oh, honey pie, I see you’ve spotted Hooper. Ain’t he the sweetest thing you ever did see?”

“Hooper?” Sam finally saw the snake his brother had been scrutinizing and leaned forward to get a better look.

“Awesome!” Dean raised a brow. “ Tobe, the director of Poltergeist and Texas Chainsaw,” he informed his brother.

Marie chuckled. “Nope, he’s named after the Burt Reynolds movie. ’Cause, my favorite was Deliverance…”

Dean and Sam glanced at one another knowingly. Neither would ever think of that particular movie the same way again after a certain Bender family back in Minnesota.

“Ugh,” Dean groaned. “I think Reynolds made better…”

Marie shrugged and placed two plates on the table, one in front of each Winchester. Somehow, she’d managed to know that Dean had a thing for a toasted B.L.T. the size of Everest.

Even so, the hunter just didn’t have an appetite.

Trying to veer away from the topics of food, and movies that imitated life just a little too much, Dean focused on the guest house that apparently had no guests. “So, how come a place this size only has our two sorry asses for customers? Don’t tell me Hooper scared ’em all away?”

Marie’s pleasant features darkened and she moved away, turning her back to the brothers to tidy up the breadcrumbs and other items that needed washing.

“Ma’am..?” Sam pushed from his seat to stand behind their host. Even from the odd angle, he could see her hands trembling just a touch as she wiped over the work surface. “Is something wrong?”

Marie’s head shook. “Tis nothing. Just a local thing…”

“If there’s something wrong, maybe we can help?” Sam pressed, using his best “helpful Sam” timbre. “You know what we do-”

“Boys, this ain’t like nothin’ you’ve ever seen.” Marie whirled around, at last dropping the façade enough to explain why her boarding house was empty. “There are things happenin’ here in Slidell. Bizarre things. Bad things. Some recent deaths, rumors of dark magic and murder all filtering through to the tourists. Soon there won’t be no holiday trade here. Hell, soon there won’t be nothin’…”

“Dark magic?” Dean latched onto his host’s comment, ignoring the look from Sam that screamed “let it drop.”

“Dean, we’re not here to hunt…”

“The hell we are! If there’s something out here that needs its butt canning then I’m sure as hell gonna can it.” Dean scowled at his brother and then focused back on Marie. “Just where did all these rumors start?”

Marie rubbed her hands together and began to unconsciously pace back and forth across the dark tiled floor. “There have been four deaths in Slidell of late – the last one was Henry DuCroix only yesterday – he was a personal friend. Henry was found near his wife’s open grave, seemingly frightened to death. The police think he was so distraught after Chantelle died that he couldn’t go on without her, and that he tried to dig her up. Poor fools think the sight of her remains gave him a heart attack.”

“But you don’t think that, do you?” Sam prompted, finally taking a bite from his behemoth of a sandwich.

Marie hunched her shoulders and peered from the window, her face wrinkling as she observed a high cloud bank that seemed to have settled over the town. The sky was literally full of wispy cirrus swirls that seemed to form a veil over Slidell and the surrounding countryside.

“There are people who have their own theories,” she finally answered. “Especially ’cause the other three victims were all supposedly scared to death too. Chantelle, Henry’s wife was one of them, along with two other local men who were found in their own homes, literally white with fear.”

“And just who are these 'other' people? Neighbors, what?” Dean left his sandwich untouched and began thinking up theories in his head. There was a gig here, he could feel it, and a gig was better than moping on the porch of a house that looked like it belonged to Rhet Butler – not that Dean didn’t think he was a match for Clark Gable when the chips were down – because mostly he didn’t give a damn, either.

Marie folded her arms and shook her head, her long dangling earrings bobbing with the motion. “Tis not something I should speak of.”

Sam looked to his brother and then to Marie. She was scared, and for a woman like her to be afraid of something it had to be bad. Sam had known her less than an hour and yet he knew she was strong willed and feared very little.

“Can you at least tell us where your friend Henry DuCroix was found?” Dean pushed up from his seat and picked up the Impala’s keys from the table, his snack left intact on the plate. “It has to be close by, right?”

“Henry was found at Forest Lawn Cemetery. Tis about a mile from here.” Marie put a hand out, touching Dean’s forearm with the nearest thing to maternal affection he’d felt since Mary’s death. “You shouldn’t meddle in these things, boys. Tis best if ya’ll stick to your vacation. I fear this is outta your league even…”

Dean smiled playfully. “Trust me, after the month I’ve had, anything is in my league.” He looked over to his brother. “Coming, Sammy? Or are you gonna stay behind and knit with the other girls?”

Sam took a deep breath and followed his brother out onto the back porch. What he had hoped would be a vacation was quickly turning into yet another Winchester hunt, and right now, that was something Dean’s drained body could do without.

“Don’t you ever stop?” Sam headed for the driver’s door of the Impala, but soon found he’d been headed off at the pass.

“Nope.” Dean face creased wider into a grin. “I’m the freakin’ Energizer Bunny, you should know that…” he climbed behind the wheel to be joined by his brother’s gangly frame seconds later.

“Ooh, all pink and very annoying?”

“Nah, dude, I can go all night…” He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. “Just ask that brunette from the Laundromat in Boise...”

Sam slapped a hand to his forehead but chose not to reply. When Dean was in one of these moods, it could easily turn into a prank war that Sam really didn’t think he could handle right now.

* * * *


Forest Lawn Cemetery
Slidell, Louisiana

Dean parked the Impala around the corner from the cemetery, deciding that it might not be such a smart idea for two supposed “cops” to turn up in a classic – not that he hadn’t dared to make such a brash move before, because he had – lately, though, with Ferinacci on their asses it was the sensible thing to take precautions.

“Looks like the local boys are still pretty much scouring the scene,” Sam observed as two obvious C.S.I.s brushed past them.

“Yeah, local yokels with no idea what the hell they’re dealing with. You know how I feel about cops in situations like this, Sammy.”

Sam nodded. It was funny how the police never believed in anything supernatural, and yet the Winchesters often faked being law enforcement officials to get the job done. Now was such an occasion. It had taken Dean all of twenty-two minutes exactly to muster up two technically perfect state police badges – technically perfect apart from the ridiculously obvious fake names on them.

Sam looked at the I.D. in his hand and couldn’t help but wonder just how the hell his brother continued to get away with such blatant fraud.

Dean had no such reservations, and as they approached the yellow police ticker tape he pulled out the phony badge as if he’d watched far too many episodes of the X-Files. Sam was pretty positive that someday soon Dean would actually have the gall to name himself Agent Mulder. It was only a matter of time, of that he was sure, and knowing his brother he’d actually get away with it.

Why the hell can’t I lie my ass off like that?

While Sam was good, Dean was always better at that particular skill.

“Hi, I’m Detective Sergeant Blaze and this is my partner Carter Slade.” Dean let the I.D. sit under the cop on duty’s nose for all of a second before closing the small leather wallet and stuffing it back into his jacket.

Sam followed suit, praying the uniformed officer wasn’t a comic fan, let alone a movie buff. Apparently he was neither.

With a wave of his hand, the bored and rather stocky cop lifted the tape and ushered the two brothers through. With all the extra commotion around the crime scene – if there had indeed been a crime – it wasn’t hard to spot what they’d come here for.

The body of the late Henry DuCroix had already been removed by the attending coroner, but the area where he had fallen was clearly marked, along with any other evidence that needed to yet be photographed before removal.

“Looks like we missed the stiff, already,” Dean observed. “Guess we won’t be able to take a look at this 'scared to death' expression everybody is talking about just yet.”

Sam glanced around, hoping none of the other attending detectives and lab guys had heard his brother’s words. Dean could just be so unprofessional sometimes; it was amazing they never got caught.

When no one seemed to pay them any heed, the younger sibling turned and headed towards Chantelle DuCroix’s still open grave. This area had also been carefully marked, but had already been photographed.

“Dean, look at this.” Sam hunkered down, running his fingertips over the ground as if he’d found gold.

“Huh?”

“It’s cornmeal. Look at the pattern.” Sam traced the outline of the sprinkled grain carefully, letting his brother see the shape. “It’s a veve, or vever – a symbolic design used in voodoo to invoke a loa – a spirit or intermediary to the greater gods.”

“So someone’s been playing summon the freakin’ voodoo prince out here?” Dean kneeled at his brother’s side, suddenly taking an interest in the shape on the ground. To a casual observer, there wouldn’t be a shape at all.

Sam shrugged. “We’re in a cemetery, so I’m guessing is was probably a ghede loa they were summoning. Those guys are the death loas. What doesn’t make sense is that loas aren’t normally evil. All I can think of is that Henry tried summoning this thing to take his wife’s spirit to the afterlife.”

Dean huffed. Meddling with any kind of “death” spirit was just plain dumb as far as he was concerned. He’d seen that back in Nebraska one time. “Yeah, well, I’m thinking this loa is a greedy ass that decided to take two for the price of one.”

“You know, I think ya’ll might have something there-” A thin looking deputy that hadn’t appeared interested in their presence before suddenly joined the brothers, a sly smirk cutting across his features. He wasn’t young, and his wily manner and looks instantly reminded Dean of “Teabag” from Prison Break. His accent seemed just as thick too, compared to Marie’s.

“And you are?” Sam straightened, determined not to let the little man try to intimidate them – after all, they were in charge here – or would be, if their badges were real.

“Deputy Franklin C. Carlyle.” The little man moved closer, his voice lowering as he took on an almost conspiratorial air. “These here murders? All down to some pretty nasty mojo goin’ on in these here quarters. Me an mah frens? We got us to thinkin’ we got us a bokor.”

Sam smiled, finding the odd cop amusing, even though the situation really wasn’t funny. “You think there’s a rogue voodoo priest here in Slidell practicing dark magic?”

“Yessir,” Franklin seemed in his element, totally out of character for any cop Dean had ever met. But then, maybe things were different here. “Ah is thinkin’ Chantelle DuCroix had been turned.”

“Turned?” Dean’s brow creased. What is this, Freaksville? We got friggin’ vampires again too?

“Zombies,” The deputy hissed, his voice all but a whisper. “Bokors are known for it.” He cast a sideways glance, watchful his boss didn’t hear his theories. “And the other two? One was killed by a damn voodoo doll, an the second, a snake was found in his house. Damn tiny coffin on his doorstep too…”

“Snake?” Dean quickly looked to his brother, a vivid image of Hooper burning into his mind. While it was true anyone could own a snake, he’d spotted other voodoo items at their host’s home.

Sam hadn’t missed the connection, either. “Thank you, Franklin. You’ve given us some very interesting leads.”

“Don’t you go forgettin’ where you heard ‘em when you bust this case!” Franklin watched as the two state cops headed back to the road. He could tell they believed him. Maybe this would be his big break after so many wasted years on the force.

Maybe.

“Dean, are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Sam took long strides across the velvet green carpet of the cemetery, his gait keeping in perfect sync with his brother’s.

“I’m thinking we set up house with a friggin’ poppet wielding momma bokor, is what I’m thinking. Jeez, and you ate her damn sandwich!”

“Just because she has voodoo charms and a snake doesn’t have to make her the killer, Dean. Marie said DuCroix was her friend.” Sam bobbed under the ticker tape and picked up the pace towards the hidden Impala.

Dean huffed, pulling the car’s keys from his pocket as he rounded the corner. “What, you never heard of people killing their friends? Dude, most victims know their killer. It’s a known fact!” He slowed, finally seeing his black charge waiting by the sidewalk. Placing his hands on the roof, he paused. “Sammy, Hooper isn’t just a pet. Damballah-Wedo, one of the most powerful voodoo gods, is a friggin’ snake…”

There was hurt in the hunter’s voice as he climbed into the Chevy and uncharacteristically slammed the door far too hard. So hard, in fact, that Sam thought the side mirror might loosen with the impact.

Dean had liked Marie – had taken to her when he took to very few – now it was going to be twice as hard to confront her with the murders.

Sam felt his brother’s pain.

Even though their father had never exactly betrayed them, he’d often lied or hidden things until it was hard to trust anyone anymore, even family. To think they had allowed this woman to gain that trust so easily and to have it let down was not something to be proud of.

“You actually know about Damballah-Wedo?” Sam asked, hoping to deflect the obvious discomfort Dean was feeling as he pulled onto the highway. “Since when did you actually research this stuff?”

“Since, ugh…” Dean spun the wheel in his hand, making the huge car tilt as he made a quick u-turn. “Since I saw The Serpent and the Rainbow, dude…”

 

* * * *


LaBauve’s Bed & Breakfast
Slidell, Louisiana

Sam couldn’t remember the last time his brother had been so careless as to mount the sidewalk, not even when he’d been half-dead or half-drunk. Today, though, the big Chevy’s front tire bounced off the asphalt and landed the car half in front of an ancient fire hydrant, half slewed across the road.

Dean didn’t stop to look where he’d parked, or what a bad job he’d made of the maneuver. He was hurting, and not even his precious car could bring him solace.

Marie had seemed so damn nice.

But then, there was never any such thing as nice – not in the Winchester world – not since the death of their mom and Jess.

Dean strode purposefully to the Impala’s trunk and popped it with an audible hiss as he jarred his still-healing shoulder. Tossing the fake lining out of the way, he began to rifle through various weapons, unsure just what to take into the bed and breakfast from hell.

“Dean, we can’t just go in there guns blazing. This isn’t our kind of gig,” Sam reasoned, alarm spreading across his face as he saw the wounded look in his brother’s eyes. “Dean, I know you liked Marie. I know she reminded you of…”

“Sammy, she’s a murderer,” Dean almost spat out the last word as he rammed a clip into his recently cleaned Desert Eagle and glanced back over to the house that looked more at home on a plantation.

“We don’t know that.” Sam held the trunk lid open, forcing Dean to look at him instead of slamming the aged metal closed. “If Marie killed those people, then why? What’s her motive?”

“Dude, people don’t need motives. You see whack jobs gunning people down in MacDonald’s on the news every damn day. People aren’t like spooks, they don’t need a freakin’ reason for the shit they do.”

Sam let go of the trunk and Dean paused, finally giving in a little to his brother’s pleas. Sam was always the voice of reason – especially when Dean needed to hear it, and right now he was so tired after the past two gigs he definitely needed to hear it.

“Look,” Sam continued now he had the edge. “All I’m saying is maybe we should just check out, drive down the road and make a call to the cops. We need to keep a low profile after New Jersey, not go into a house with a bunch of guns like we’re on drugs or something-”

Dean shook his head. “I can’t leave this one, Sammy. I can’t just walk away and not know why. Ya know?”

And Sam did know.

They’d seen so much in their lives, so many things that didn’t seem to have a reason, but Marie was different. She was like them, or had been, otherwise Missouri would never have sent them here. Maybe this was like looking at what they could become, given time.

“Okay,” Sam gave in. “We go in, we confront Marie and then we call the police. Shortest gig in our history.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Dean nodded towards the front porch, keeping his .45 hidden from view as he jogged across the sidewalk. “Just remember, this chick is the bad mojo queen of the bayou. Watch your ass in there. She might have that friggin’ snake waiting on us …”

Sam climbed the steps two at a time, pressing his back against the house as Dean peered into the darkness through the screen. “I kinda got the impression it was your ass Hooper had taken a liking to.” He smirked and blobbed out his tongue in an impersonation of the snake’s forked appendage.

Dean brushed off the jibe with a huff and yanked open the screen with his free hand. The door beyond was strangely already open, the corridor it joined enveloped in a blanket of darkness.

The hunter nodded to his sibling, letting Sam know he was taking point and needed his little brother to bring up the rear. Keeping the Desert Eagle stretched out before him, Dean launched himself into the passageway, ear tuned for any sound that may mean danger.

After three steps forwards, he paused, pointing with his forefinger to the first door on his left. From what the brothers already knew about the house’s layout, it was a small lounge area Marie kept for herself. It was usually locked, which led to the allusion that something other than relaxing and watching reruns of Dawson’s Creek took place beyond its threshold.

As Dean took position to launch his CAT boot at the wooden entrance, Sam strained to hear what his brother had noted as they’d entered. At first, it sounded like a low moaning or muttering – like the sound of an upset child rocking itself back and forth in distress.

The more he listened, though, the more the words became discernable. They sounded muffled, like someone was holding a cloth over the speaker’s mouth, but it was definitely native Creole being spoken – native Creole articulating some kind of voodoo rant.

“Kote mo ale, li sivre mo…”

“Mo finn perdi mo simé…”

“Mo anmwe! Mo anmwe!

Marie’s chant suddenly stopped, leaving a deathly silence in the gloomy hallway that made both brothers feel like their old friend Laura was somehow back.

It was cold, so cold.

“Dean, I think this is a voodoo Hounfor,” Sam whispered, keeping his Glock low but ready. “It’s a kind of sacred temple where they practice magic…” Marie must be the Bokor!

“Yeah,” Dean agreed. “And something tells me that ain’t voodoo phone sex she’s talkin’.” he grimaced, finally pulling back and letting his boot impact with the door.

As the ancient wood yielded, both Winchesters were greeted with a view of the inner sanctum where Marie practiced her art.

Whatever they had once thought of her, they now saw Marie LaBauve in her true form, and it wasn’t pretty.

 

 

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