ran; ignoring the sharp pain of the rocks and sticks
as they pierced the soft flesh on the bottoms of her
feet leaving behind bloody little splotches to mark
her trail. She ran; despite the branches that seemed
to have come alive and were reaching out to lash at
her face, slashing open the flawless, creamy white skin
that had been the envy of many of her friends, but now
was battered, bleeding and tear-streaked. She ran; fear
pumping adrenaline into her bloodstream, numbing her
brain to all sensations of pain or discomfort and feeding
that primal place that told her to keep moving if she
wanted to survive. She ran; unsure of where she was
or even where she was going, only knowing that where
she had just been was not a place that she ever wanted
to be again.
the moonlight peeked through the light mix of clouds
and the tall cover of the tree tops, she stopped running
finally to catch her breath, winded and leaning against
the bark of the nearest pine. She shivered violently,
not so much from any nighttime breeze, although her
being clad in only a thin t-shirt and a pair of shorts
certainly wasn’t helping. The goose bumps on her
skin were the result of terror and the memory of seeing
her boyfriend lying in a pile of shredded flesh and
jutting bones only moments before.
had walked out into the woods just an hour earlier,
blanket and cooler in hand, sneaking away from the bright
lights of the main compound and the prying eyes of the
other staff. Not that “extracurricular”
activities were uncommon among the staff, but no way
was she taking him back to her quarters and no way would
she be caught dead in his. After all, as hot and hard-bodied
as he was, she still had her standards.
found a quiet place not too far from the facility, a
thick bed of fallen pine needles providing a soft base
for the blanket. Within minutes, they were on the ground,
bottles of beer opened and any inhibitions that had
existed being washed away with the alcohol. She kicked
off her shoes, complaining about an offending stone,
but really hoping he would take the hint and start rubbing
her feet. Having her feet rubbed always turned her on.
He quickly obliged and it wasn’t long before her
fleece hoodie was lying in a pile near her shoes.
encouraged, he ripped the t-shirt up over his head,
purposely flexing the muscles in his arms and upper
chest for her to see as he hovered over her. She sucked
in a sharp breath, appreciating the fine physique, knowing
that while he would never be a prize to take home to
Mom and Dad, he certainly would make do as a diversion
for the remainder of the summer. Her eyes rolled back
in her head as his mouth descended on her earlobe, nibbling
hungrily before beginning a slow trek down the side
of her throat.
moaned softly, which only spurring him on more, his
hand snaking up under the thin fabric of the staff t-shirt
to grab at her while his other hand headed for the button
on the waistband of her shorts. Despite the tingling
that threatened to overtake her entire body, her heart
pounding in time with her heaving chest, her mind screamed
out and she suddenly rolled from underneath him. She
knelt on all fours, facing him like a lioness, a coy
smile on her face in response to the look of confusion
that covered his.
fast, slow down! Her brain shouted above the rush
of endorphins. Making out is one thing, going all
the way on the first date, that’s another. Still,
he is hot!
got to pee!” She mumbled finally, the smile even
more demure than before. “I’ll be right
back. Don’t go anywhere,” she added over
her shoulder, tossing blonde hair in a way that she
knew was going to drive him mad.
watched a moment longer as he sunk down onto the blanket,
leaning against a fallen log, muscles and other things
still bulging in the moonlight. He feigned dejection,
but she blew him a kiss before trotting off and caught
the sly upturned grin he offered as she turned away.
hadn’t walked far, maybe several yards, just far
enough that she could maintain a certain degree of modesty
since she did in fact need to relieve herself. Finding
a large tree, she was about to undo her shorts when
she heard the first growl. A low rumble, it reminded
her of the tabby cat she had as a child, only much louder.
nearly had her shorts undone when she heard the first
screech followed by the first blood-curdling scream.
She knew instantly that it came from him; it was too
close to be anyone else. Fear caused a moment of hesitation,
but more screams followed by the loud sounds of tearing
and the call of a wildcat spurred her into movement.
crept slowly from tree to tree back the way she came,
listening to the mixture of animal growls and weakening
moans as she drew closer. Just as she reached the edge
of the clearing, she caught sight of a blur of yellow
fur blending back into the dark forest. Too large to
be a mountain lion and definitely not a human, she shrunk
back behind the closest tree for fear of being seen.
hugged the pine, pressed close enough that the rough
bark tore into her exposed skin. She wished she could
blend right into it and hide until someone came and
found her, certain that the pounding of her own heart
would be heard and give away her location. Hovering
there for several minutes, she waited until nothing
more than the normal night time sounds of the forest
agonizing slowness, she peeked around the edge of the
trunk, looking into the clearing, seeking some sign
of the young man she had left just a few minutes before.
Atop the fallen log, she spotted his muscular, tanned
forearm dangling limply. Obscured by the deadfall, she
could barely make out the rest of his unmoving form.
She’d heard his screams and assumed he must have
been injured by whatever had made the growling noises.
she approached the clearing. “Matt?” She
called out, her voice a mere whisper. Two more steps
and she was nearly around the fallen tree.
are you okay?” she called out again.
past the obstruction, her scream ripped through the
silence of the mountain air as she came face to face
with the carnage. What had been a tall, well built and
handsome young man was now reduced to a mass of torn
flesh, exposed organs and glistening white bones bared
beneath raw muscle.
the echo of her scream faded, she emptied her stomach
of the remnants of the evening’s meal as well
as the small amount of beer she had drunk just before.
Heaving until she could barely breathe, she forced her
eyes away from the bloody remains, her brain unable
to process the sheer horror of what was laying before
mind shut down, she was glued in position, seemingly
unable to make herself turn away from the place of the
slaughter. Somewhere in her head, she knew she needed
to go for help or at the very least, run for safety,
but she couldn’t seem to compel the muscles in
her legs to budge. The sudden scream of the wildcat
in the woods behind her managed to do what her central
nervous system could not and in immediate panic, she
fled in the opposite direction.
air on barely clothed skin, blood seeping from dozens
of cuts, lungs heaving from exertion and fear, all ignored
as she paused now only briefly to catch her breath.
She strained to listen for sounds of the creature pursuing
her and when she heard the sharp crack of a snapping
branch, she did the only thing possible; she ran.
her, she heard the beast crashing through the underbrush
as it matched her every move. She stumbled over a raised
root, falling forward and avulsing the skin on her right
knee. She cried out sharply but struggled back to her
feet just as the rancid smell of the creature filled
the air around her.
spun quickly around and found herself looking up into
glowing yellow eyes set into a fur-covered, feline head.
Standing nearly a foot taller than her, the creature
looked like a mountain lion reared upright on its hind
legs. She knew it wasn’t possible, but there it
was in front of her, long fangs bared, dried blood from
the earlier slaughter covering its muzzle.
a move that seemed like slow-motion, she twisted away
and was nearly about to break into another panic-driven
run when the bizarre cat lashed out with an arm-like
appendage, its claws grazing her shoulder and opening
four long wounds there.
her credit, she cried out in pain, but managed to continue
forward, her legs churning as she tried to escape the
creature. She dodged back and forth around trees, jumping
over fallen logs or larger rocks that blocked her path,
ever conscious of the thing that stalked her. Another
loud snarl to her right distracted her and she tripped
over another concealed root, this time face-planting
directly into the night-cooled earth.
lay there unmoving, barely breathing, waiting for the
painful death she felt was surely coming for her in
the form of sharp claws and hungry teeth. When seconds
finally turned into a minute and her heart continued
to beat signaling the continuance of life, she slowly
raised her head up and chanced a look at her surroundings.
sucked in a sharp breath of excitement as her eyes caught
the bright shimmer of lights coming from the camp not
far in the distance. More than just a beacon in the
darkness, the camp meant safety and escape from whatever
the thing was that had butchered her young date.
once more to her feet, her abused body sluggishly responding
to her brain’s commands, she pushed forward. Fifty
yards and she sighed in relief as the forest cleared
and the trail became apparent once again. She could
almost see the main hall in the distance, but the support
staff’s quarters were nearly within reach.
she thought to herself. “Had I only swallowed
my pride and gone back with Matt to his room, how different
this night might have turned out.”
haggard smile crossed her bruised and bloodied face
as she limped painfully ahead toward the buildings.
Almost within reach of the maintenance shed, she was
about to call out for help when something slammed into
her back, knocking her to the ground and squeezing the
air from her lungs before words could be formed.
ribbons of pain flaring across her spine were nothing
compared to the absolute agony as claws impaled her
calf and she felt herself being dragged backwards towards
the forest once again. She managed a scream this time
but it was drowned out by the louder cry of the creature.
fingers frantically dug into the soil, perfectly manicured
nails and soft cuticles ripping apart as she fought
to slow her movement. Still screaming, she heard the
sounds of activity back at the compound and clutched
at the briefest hope of rescue. Kicking out with her
free leg, she felt her other limb suddenly drop and
despite the weakness from exhaustion and blood loss,
she forced herself to her feet one final time.
managed two steps; a few of the staff awoken by her
screams were now searching the camp perimeter and she
was almost close enough to recognize their faces. Limping
as fast as she could, one hand reaching out toward her
would-be rescuers, she was about to shout out to the
group when the low growl sounded in her ear and warm
fetid breath bathed the back of her neck.
mouth opened in a silent scream as the strange beast’s
claws tore through the carotid artery on the right side
of her neck, ripping out her throat and nearly decapitating
the voices from the camp grew louder, flashlights piercing
the darkness of the mountain woodland, her lifeless
body fell silently to the ground, warm blood still pulsating
from the torn artery as her heart completed its final
creature looked down at the body lying on the ground;
red blood, nearly black in the darkness of the late
night, covered the ground and most of the cat’s
torso and claws. It cried out once more, a victorious
roar offered up to the heavens, then turned and sauntered
back into the thick cover, disappearing like a golden
mist within the trees.
* * * *
41 – Outside Monteagle, Tennessee
rode in silent anger for the first two hundred miles
so it wasn’t surprising that he had now escalated
to a seething rage while driving the past three hundred
or so more . For the first time in his life, the Impala
felt small, the interior choking him and the nearness
of his younger brother creating a feeling of claustrophobia
that was usually reserved only for flying. His hands
held the steering wheel with a white-knuckled grip that
threatened to cut off circulation to the ends of his
fingers. In fact, he had held his arms so stiff, elbows
locked for so long, that sometime during the past fifty
miles spasms had turned to pain and now both extremities
were nearly numb from remaining so rigid.
he remained as unrelenting on his own body as he had
chosen to be with Sam. To say that Dean Winchester was
pissed was to say that the Grand Canyon was a hole in
the ground: huge understatement. To be honest, he was
more than just angry with Sam, he felt betrayed. How
could Sam so casually bargain his life away and without
even considering talking to him first?
mind flipped back and forth between anger and guilt.
This whole mess was ultimately his fault and Dean knew
that the real anger was aimed internally. Maybe if he’d
only been more careful and not fallen for Zack’s
trap? Maybe if they would have continued with the exorcism
back at Bobby’s? Maybe if he had tried to control
the damn demon just a little harder and resisted tapping
into the thing’s power? Maybe… maybe…
maybe…? The truth of the matter was that maybe
if he would have just done his damn job and protected
his brother the way he was supposed to he wouldn’t
be having this conversation with himself right now.
In the only religion to which Dean Winchester subscribed,
he had just broken the cardinal commandment, and burning
in hell for his transgression was the least of his concerns.
as he stole a quick look at Sam out of the corner of
his eye, a part of him wanted to pin his brother to
the ground and beat him senseless while an equal part
of him smiled just a little at how well his sibling
had orchestrated the whole deception. It was a plot
that Dean had to admire on some level even if he was
still angry about Sam’s choice of slipping a "ruffie"
into his beer.
to self: From now on, switch beers with Sam when he’s
not looking,” Dean thought to himself, a
soft grin forming at the corners of his mouth for the
first time in the past twenty-four hours.
grin was short-lived as Dean glanced up catching sight
of the “Welcome to Monteagle” sign on the
side of the highway. Taking off on a hunt, even if it
was their Dad that was doing the sending, was the last
thing he wanted to do right now. There had to be some
way to get Sam out of this deal and spending precious
time solving somebody else’s problems certainly
wasn’t going to help with theirs.
and irritated once more, he turned the Impala sharply
into the motel parking lot, making no effort to reduce
his speed and getting a certain amount of satisfaction
at watching his oversized brother scramble to hold on
as his long legs and knees slammed into the dash.
the last possible minute Dean slammed on the breaks
propelling Sam forward towards the windshield and then
sharply back against the dark leather seats. He killed
the engine as a large cloud of dust settled on the black
metal and turned to look at his brother, doing nothing
to hide the utter look of contempt on his face, almost
daring his younger brother to complain about his driving.
his part, Sam opened his mouth slightly but bit back
the protest after seeing the flash of green glaring
out from above the rim of Dean’s sunglasses. For
a brief instant, Sam thought he might have even seen
the hazel turn black, but he knew it was simply a trick
of his imagination coupled by the antagonism that was
seeping out of every pore of his older brother.
had tried to talk to Dean, had tried to explain why
he’d done what he’d done, tried to make
him understand that had he not bargained for Dean’s
freedom, in the end they might both have been lost.
But his pleas for understanding had been met with a
hardened exterior, three times more reinforced than
any other wall he’d ever seen his brother erect
in his entire life. He knew how stubborn Dean could
be, he even knew how vengeful his brother could be too,
had seen it often enough when Dean had his mind set
on “righting” some injustice he perceived
to have taken place. Getting Dean to listen to reason
was not going to be easy let alone getting him to accept
that for the first time in Sam’s life, he was
able to give back something to repay his older brother
for all the sacrifices Dean had made for him.
was worried. He knew Dean was smoldering, like a dry
forest just waiting for the wind to sweep a spark up
into a raging firestorm that would engulf everything,
it was only a matter of time before his brother’s
rage found a focus. Sam could only pray that he was
well out of the kill-zone when that happened.
we staying here?” Sam asked as the Impala’s
driver’s side door creaked.
paused, one leg already out on the ground as he turned
back around to face his brother. He did nothing to hide
the annoyance in his face or the irritation in his tone
as he answered.
know, for someone supposedly smart enough to go to Stanford,
you sure can be a dumbass sometimes.”
considered replying, but he knew that the comment was
directed toward more than the obviously rhetorical question
he had just asked.
get our gear while you check us in, okay?” he
whatever, do what you want,” Dean shot back over
his shoulder as he stormed off toward the motel office.
returned several minutes later, room key in hand to
find Sam standing patiently beside the car with both
their duffels, his backpack and Dean’s weapon
bag equally distributed over both shoulders. He tried
to look sufficiently apologetic, but if it was having
any effect on Dean it wasn’t showing. Instead,
Dean grumbled “Number 5,” motioning with
his head toward the room just to the right of the car.
He made no offer to assist Sam with any of the bags,
content in allowing his brother whatever form of self-flagellation
he chose. After all, it was so much easier to let his
brother think he was truly angry with him when actually
Dean was really fuming at himself.
unlocked the motel room door, flinging it open with
enough force that it smacked into the interior wall
and swung back, nearly closing before Sam could enter.
Dean flopped down on the nearest bed, crossing his arms
over his face and pretending to ignore Sam’s huffs
of exertion as he struggled through the doorway. He
continued to lay there as Sam dropped the gear bags
to the floor at the foot of the second bed and then
returned to close the door.
wasted no time in unpacking the laptop and powering
it on. Within a few minutes, he was on-line and surfing
the local news trying to pick up on some clue to why
their dad had sent them coordinates to this place. It
didn’t take long before he found several articles
about the brutal killing of two local summer camp workers
near Savage Bluffs. The report described the deaths
as appearing to have resulted from some sort of wild
animal attack but so far the regional game warden had
yet to identify the likely culprit.
peculiar as the deaths seemed, Sam didn’t think
that they warranted the attention of John Winchester.
Surely, there must be something more insidious that
had spurred his dad into sending them here. Sam considered
mentioning his preliminary findings to Dean, but a quick
glance over at his brother revealed the same rigid posture,
the same arm thrown across his face, the same tense
vibe emanating that warned him off like the low growl
of a pit bull.
Sam was never one to let his older brother sit and stew
about things, especially when Sam had a deep need to
resolve the conflict between them. His mind raced as
he considered starting another verbal war with Dean.
how long are you going to continue the silent treatment
with me?” he asked finally. “We got a job
to do and we can’t do it if you’re gonna
act this way!”
sprung up from the bed so fast that Sam could not help
am I acting Sam? Better yet, you got all the answers,
tell me, how do you want me to act?” he shouted
back. “Am I supposed to be like you? Act like
nothing happened, act like you never made that damn
deal and life is just gonna go on like always? 'Cause
dammit Sam, you didn’t drug me nearly enough to
make me forget that!”
please,” Sam begged, reaching an arm out to grab
his brother as he saw the car keys appear in Dean’s
hand. “Can’t you understand that there was
no other choice?”
other choice, Sam? Who said you get to make that decision?
Who said you got to make that choice? What the hell
makes my life more important than yours?” Dean
yelled back, his voice betraying him, cracking with
had no right?” Sam shouted back, no longer content
to be the silent target of his brother’s wrath.
‘You’ve been making decisions for me for
most of my life, deciding where we go, what we do. How
many times have you sacrificed for me, risked your life
for me? Who said YOU had the right to make those choices?
Who ever said that my life was more important than yours?”
did.” Softly spoken. Dad did the night he
put you in my arms and told me to take you outside.
I’ve been in charge of protecting you ever since
Sammy! Dean finished the reply to himself.
answer was a mere whisper and Sam wasn’t even
sure that he heard Dean say those two syllables, so
when he replied with the standard “huh”
it was all the escape that Dean needed.
past his brother, he had the door partially open before
he turned back towards Sam. In the time it took for
him to reach the exit the impenetrable wall was back
in place, emotions back in check.
stopped me from getting acquainted with a six-pack yesterday,”
Dean began. “I’m going to catch up. You
go do what you do best and figure out why Dad sent us
are you coming back?” Sam asked worriedly.
I’m good and numb,” Dean replied as the
door slammed shut behind him.
* * *
his anger and his threat, Dean returned just a few hours
later and not in the least bit intoxicated. Even though
he wanted to drink himself into oblivion, they were
on a hunt; no way would he jeopardize that.
had passed by several bars but instead followed the
main road through town until he spotted a turnoff that
ran down toward the local river. Shutting off the car,
he climbed out and walked down to the bank. His mind
swirled in much the same way as the fast moving current.
up a rock, he tossed it into the water. In his head,
he could hear his Dad telling him over and over to watch
out for Sam, keep him safe, and protect him. How was
he ever going to tell his Dad that he had failed? What
punishment could his father possibly dole out that would
be fitting for this botched duty? That Sam was now going
to die all because he hadn’t been strong enough
to battle the demon inside him.
up another rock he threw it even harder, his shoulder
protesting at the strain. He remembered Haris’
taunts, telling him that he had killed Sam, had sacrificed
his brother on the ceremonial altar. Maybe not true
back at the compound, but in a strange sort of way,
he had just as effectively signed Sam’s death
warrant just the same.
stood there by the river’s edge, picking up and
casting stones until his shoulder screamed at him to
stop and until the voices in his head were shouting
over top each other and he couldn’t hear any of
them clearly. Physically exhausted and emotionally drained,
he sunk down to the dirt and simply sat there staring
off at the water. Lost, confused and true to his word,
numb, except for the agonizing pain in his chest and
the accusatory voice in his head.
to the room, he found Sam in much the same place as
he left him, huddled over the laptop, one hand making
notes on a small tablet while the other floated across
the built-in mousepad. Dean merely nodded as Sam looked
up, still unable to force himself into making small
talk with his brother. He swooped down, grabbing his
duffle before dropping onto the bed and immediately
set to sharpening his Bowie.
frowned. Seeing Dean back so soon and with not a hint
of alcohol on board was surprising to say the least.
He briefly wondered if Dean couldn’t find an open
bar, but then admitted that Dean not finding a bar was
about as likely as a cop not finding a donut shop. So
then, where had his brother been for the past couple
of hours if not socializing with Jim, Jack or Jose'?
Lost in his thoughts he didn’t realize he was
staring until the mesmerizing whoosh of the blade against
the whetstone was absent and he blinked feeling Dean’s
eyes glaring back at his own.
Dean asked annoyed.
Sam stammered back.
staring at me. What? Have I got something on my face
no, sorry. I, uh, found something. Probably why Dad
sent us here,” Sam continued, his head going back
down to the computer.
What is it?” Dean questioned as he continued sharpening
the long knife, seemingly disinterested.
well at first I didn’t think it was much, just
two college kids getting murdered at a local summer
camp, slaughtered actually. Kinda like some wild animal
tore them apart.” Sam explained.
you thinking wendigo or even werewolf?”
the lunar cycle is wrong for a werewolf and a wendigo
would have taken its kill back and stored it for later.
These were left behind, all torn up but not fed on,
just outside the property of Ridgecrest Youth Resort
where they worked,” the younger man informed.
resort?” Dean questioned.
that’s what they call summer camp when your parents
have more money than most third world countries,”
Sam answered. “Besides, this isn’t the first
time it’s happened which is why Dad probably sent
us here. There’s a report of two deaths at another
camp last year and then again at a different camp a
year before that. Each time, the bodies were mauled
like by a wild animal.”
how do we know it wasn’t a wild animal or a serial
killer or something? I mean, come on, I saw all the
Friday the 13th movies, Jason Voorhies with a machete,
always catches the camp counselors when they’re
half naked getting it on! Am I right?” Dean asked,
his eyebrows waggling suggestively, a playful smile
creeping onto his face.
wanted to be irritated at his brother’s lack of
seriousness, but considering that this was the first
crack in the hardened exterior of antagonism that he
had seen in his older sibling for the past twenty four
hours, he shrugged it off and simply smiled back.
here’s the weird part then. Near each of the bodies,
there have been tracks, big cat tracks like a mountain
lion or cougar. Normal enough for the area, but dude,
the tracks were never four at a time, only ever two
side by side. It’s like the cat walks upright.
They’ve tried tracking the thing, but the tracks
just disappear into thin air, no scat, no lair, like
the thing just kills and vanishes,” Sam explained.
watched as his brother absorbed the information, Dean’s
hand returning to work the blade’s edge along
the stone, while his mind was working the details of
Sam’s findings. Neither brother spoke for a long
moment; only the rhythmic cadence of the knife broke
waited patiently, knowing full well that he needed Dean
to buy into this hunt for more than just the hunt’s
sake. He needed Dean to focus on something other than
the futility of Sam’s predicament and he desperately
needed Dean to not be angry with him any longer. It
was hard enough being faced with the countdown to his
own mortality, but it had been an easy decision to live
with when he could wake up every day and see the clear,
hazel eyes of his brother. But having those same hazel
eyes glare at him in anger made everything much more
difficult to bear. Still, he wouldn’t have changed
his mind even if Dean never spoke to him again. Luckily,
that wasn’t to be the case.
what are you thinking? What do we do next?” Dean
asked, finally looking up from his task and running
a careful thumb down the edge of the blade.
smiled, this was all working out nicely.
need to get up to that camp,” he stated matter-of-factly.
as what? F.B.I.? Forest Rangers? Game Wardens?”
Dean ventured, but grew suspicious as he noticed the
grin spreading widely across his brother’s face.
I got us something even better than any of those.”
cocked his head, warily waiting for Sam to divulge his
plan. “Well?” he asked impatiently.
got us jobs as camp counselors,” Sam revealed,
before protectively ducking behind the laptop just as
the Bowie impaled itself well above his head into the
motel room wall.
* * *
Youth Resort – Later the next day.
the Impala up to the front of the building marked Cumberland
Hall and below that “admin.” It was the
largest of a dozen buildings on the property and according
to Sam was where they were to report for their new jobs.
joy!” Dean groused out loud, meaning to keep the
comment to himself but unable to restrain yet another
in a long litany of complaints since checking out of
ignored yet another grumble, content that his brother
was at least communicating on some level albeit not
exactly the most civil. Stepping out of the car, Sam
stretched, inhaling deeply, actually relishing the fresh
mountain air. Dean, by comparison, was ready to launch
into another tirade when two blonde twenty-somethings
flounced by in tight fitting t-shirts with "Ridgecrest
Staff" emblazoned across their chests. Both smiled
demurely at Dean, before turning back to each other
and exchanging a knowing giggle. His head nearly swiveled
on his neck as he followed their path from the admin
hall, leering at their firm derrières as they
know Sam, I could definitely get into some nature hikes
with those two. Ooh, the things about my nature I could
teach them,” Dean lewdly suggested staring after
the two young women.
grabbed his brother by the arm and tugged him around,
guiding him up the sidewalk and the entrance to the
on the job, Dean!” he admonished.
you drag me up here to where the local flower is poison
ivy, the local bird is the mosquito, there’s no
cable TV, no cell service, and god knows no nightlife.
I gotta find something to do to pass my time,”
they entered the main doors, the elder hunter’s
argument was cut short as the brothers took in the interior
of the spacious lodge. Instantly awestruck by cathedral
ceilings, vaulted by rough-hewn timbers, a towering
stone fireplace and décor that looked to belong
in Aspen rather than the backwoods of Tennessee, Sam
and Dean could only stare at the opulence of the place.
was already fervently hoping that the rest of the place,
including the food, would measure up to what they were
seeing now. Sam, on the other hand, was impressed, but
just praying that his brother wouldn’t end up
acting like Bo Duke cut loose in the Hamptons.
Winfield?” Sam spun around, startled by the woman’s
voice. Standing before him was a middle-aged woman,
wearing a red cashmere sweater with the Ridgecrest logo
embroidered tastefully on the upper edge. There was
no mistaking it, everything about her screamed class,
refinement, breeding and money. She eyed Sam’s
tattered jeans suspiciously, making no effort to hide
her distaste of his poor clothing. She cast an equally
disparaging glance at Dean’s appearance as well,
but the elder Winchester matched her stare, his body
remaining rigid under her scrutiny.
Elizabeth Rhodes. My husband, Roderick, and I own Ridgecrest.
We’re so happy that you and your brother could
join our staff with such short notice,” she greeted
congenially. “If you’ll follow me, I’ll
take you to meet Roderick.”
moved off toward a short hallway, leading the brothers
to an office that was nearly as large as the foyer they
had just been standing in. The office was just as lavish
as everything else they’d seen so far with numerous
stuffed wild game heads surrounding the room. A tall,
dark-haired man rose from behind a gigantic oak desk,
his hand offered out in greeting.
Rhodes. Thank you both for coming up so quickly.”
good to meet ya Rod. My name’s Dean and this is
my brother Sam,” Dean introduced, enthusiastically
pumping the older man’s hand.
sneered in displeasure. “The staff here at the
resort refers to me as Director Rhodes. I would appreciate
you doing the same. We expect a certain level of decorum
here at Ridgecrest and I expect you both to adhere to
stepped in front of Dean, intervening and diffusing
the situation before his brother’s dislike for
all things snobbish or cultured turned into a pissing
contest between him and their new employer.
Mr. Rhodes. We’re just glad that we could find
positions so close to the season beginning,” Sam
stated back, offering his hand out to the older man.
it is we who are grateful. Considering the last minute
vacancies, I was skeptical that we would be able to
fill those positions on such short notice. I truly appreciate
that you and your brother were so readily available,
however, please do not mistake our need for desperation.
I do still expect that our rules will be adhered to.
We operate a facility that caters only to the most privileged
children. Crass behavior in our staff simply will not
be tolerated. Is that understood gentlemen?” he
asked, looking intently at Dean during the last statement.
sir!” Sam replied, while Dean nodded submissively.
Rhodes, what happened to the staff members that we’re
replacing?” Sam asked innocently.
older man glanced up nervously, a flash of fear briefly
appearing on his face. He quickly regained his composure
and cleared his voice before speaking.
were caught in a somewhat compromising position, if
you understand my meaning. We had to let them go,”
Rhodes explained, even as the first trickle of sweat
beaded at the edge of his brow betraying the lie.
really?” Dean pounced, sensing the man’s
discomfort on the subject. “We heard in town that
they were mauled by some wild animal or something, not
far from the camp.”
fumbled nervously with a letter opener on his desk,
twirling the item around, the sweat now collecting at
the side of his face although the office was air-conditioned.
it is true that the two staff members were attacked
and killed by some wild animal, but I will not tolerate
public discussion or conjecture about the matter. The
publicity so far has already resulted in several cancellations.
Besides, I’ve hired two of the area’s best
hunters to track and destroy whatever killed the two
staff members, so everyone will be quite safe I assure
you,” Rhodes asserted.
looked over to Sam and mouthed “hunters”
before smiling. Rhodes meanwhile pressed the intercom
on his phone and called out to someone named Angela.
Within seconds a petite redhead appeared in the office
door, clad in typical Ridgecrest apparel.
would you please show Sam to his room in the lodge and
Dean to his quarters with the rest of the support staff,”
Rhodes instructed. “Gentlemen, you can get settled
in and acquainted with the facilities. The first group
of attendees will arrive tomorrow morning. Dean, Angela
will give you a list of your duties and Sam, you can
coordinate with Marcus Hathaway, our head counselor,
to see what groups you’ll be leading this week.”
did not leave open any chance for reply or comment as
he immediately picked up the phone and began another
conversation. Dismissed, the brothers obediently followed
Angela out of the office. As the secretary began droning
on about Dean’s very obvious maintenance related
duties which included but were not limited to emptying
the camps dozens of trash cans, Dean very quickly realized
how short the end of the stick was that he had just
gotten stuck with.
in towards Sam, he whispered in the harshest voice he
could muster and still be discrete, “I’m
outta here Sam. No way I’m playing servant, picking
up shit after a bunch of spoiled rich kids all day.
Let 'em all get eaten for all I care. Besides, how’d
you get the nice cushy job?”
smiled deviously. “ 'Cause I told them that I
attended Stanford, whereas you on the other hand, I
told them got your GED from a correspondence school,”
he stated, breaking into laughter as he saw the look
of utter fury return on his brother’s face.
out, Dean punched Sam as hard as he could in the arm
so quickly that Sam couldn’t stifle the yelp of
pain. Angela stopped her dissertation of responsibilities
and turned to check on the disturbance. She was understandably
perplexed when she saw one brother grimacing and holding
his upper arm in pain while the other brother muttered
a staccato “bitch” under his breath.
* * * *
Dean entered the dining hall several hours later. He
was more than ready for something to eat having spent
the better part of the afternoon emptying trashcans
and picking up litter. Not that he minded the manual
labor, but he felt quite certain that several of the
“Counselor” staff were purposely dropping
things on the ground just to see him have to come along
behind them and pick it up.
quickly scanned the large room and found Sam seated
next to a couple of young ladies. By the laughter and
the batting eyelashes of one of the young women, Dean
was fairly certain that his baby brother wasn’t
asking her anything about the recent deaths. He smoothly
slid into the nearest empty chair and flashed his best
ladies,” he greeted enthusiastically. “I’m
women looked over at him smiling, but simultaneously
frowned, their noses wrinkling upward, hands rushing
to their faces. Without a word, both quickly got up
and scurried away from the table.
sat there looking dumbfounded as the two young women
hurried off. It wasn’t until he turned back towards
Sam that he noticed that his brother also mimicked the
same look of distaste.
you have showered or something before dinner?”
Sam asked, one hand covering his mouth and nose.
bent his head down towards his chest and sniffed.
yeah, well Angela wanted me to get rid of this dead
raccoon over by one of the lodges,” he answered.
“Must be from that.”
you roll in it or something? 'Cause dude, you reek!”
well, sorry Mr. My Ass Gets the Cushy Job While My Brother
Works His Ass Off In the Sun. Next gig, you get to do
the stinky crap, the down in the hole with the rotting
corpse kinda crap,” Dean retorted.
smiled. “Oh dude, you oughta see my room. Bigger
than any motel room we’ve ever stayed in, I swear.
Satellite TV, internet access in the main lodge, which
is good. But the bed dude, oh god, the bed. So freaking
glared back at his brother. By comparison, his room
was only slightly larger than the average closet. Tucked
in behind the facility’s garages, certainly well
away from the “paying customers'” eyes,
the support staff were given just enough space to sleep,
shower and store their clothes. Not much more.
of listening to Sam go on about his wonderful accommodations,
and focused on the remnants of food scattered about
the tray in front of his brother, Dean rose and sauntered
off to the food line, his stomach growling in anticipation.
Support staff or not, Ridgecrest certainly put out a
worked his way down the line, first grabbing an assortment
of fruit and pastries until he reached the hot entrées.
Focused on the steaming potatoes and thick slab of roast
beef, he nearly missed the doe-eyed brunette standing
behind the counter.
smiled at him shyly before asking him if he’d
like some of the beef, but he was so caught up in her
rich brown eyes, the question didn’t register
in Dean’s ears. When she repeated it a second
time, a broad knowing smile on her face, Dean finally
stammered out a “yes”.
as she was about to spear the last thick piece and place
it on Dean’s plate, a tall figure clad in a Ridgecrest
polo pushed in front of the hunter and slid his plate
ahead of Dean’s demanding the last slab of meat.
Nearly as tall as Sam, the young man glared at Dean,
defying him to make a comment or better still, dare
to make a move.
Dean watched, three other young men joined the first,
backing him up just beyond his shoulder. Still, outweighed
and outnumbered really meant nothing to him as he placed
his tray down on the counter, his body tensing, fists
clenching open and closed.
a shame that some people just don’t know their
place in the scheme of things,” the young man
stated to his friends who all laughed in agreement.
coiled. He was ready to punch the cocky S.O. B. so hard
that he’d have to suck the roast beef through
a straw when Dean got done hitting him. But a split
second before he struck, the brunette behind the serving
line placed the portion on the young man’s plate.
on Nathan,” she commanded. “Take you food
and your goons and leave him alone.”
the four young men moved on, but Dean maintained his
glare with the one named Nathan until the latter finally
turned away. Dean then looked back at the brunette who
simply shrugged and smiled apologetically. He wanted
to be angry, but he realized that she was just hired
help like him, not one of the “beautiful people”
like the rest of the counselors or the guests that would
be arriving in the morning. She finished serving him
and he returned dejectedly back to the table where Sam
ate mostly in silence while his brother laid out a plan
for investigating the recent deaths. Sam suggested that
Dean scout the facility grounds tonight while he interviewed
as many of the other staff about the deceased. They
agreed to meet back at Dean’s quarters after dark
and would pool their findings then. Dean watched, a
glimmer of jealousy tingling in his head as Sam trotted
off with a group of other staff. He dug ferociously
into the remainder of his meatless meal, shoveling the
food in angrily as he thought about just how unfair
life was treating him lately.
a healthy dose of self pity, he realized that he was
the lone person in the dining hall, the silence of the
cavernous place now catching his attention. Finishing
off the last of the cookies, he rose and took his tray
to the wash line and headed for the exit.
mind was caught once again in a miasma of thoughts.
Sam’s birthday was a short time away, there just
had to be some way to get his brother out of the deal
he’d made with Haris. Maybe he should call his
Dad. Any extra help in solving this problem couldn’t
hurt? Right? But he had gotten Sam into this mess, wasn’t
it his responsibility to get him out? So many questions,
he couldn’t think straight anymore. And what the
hell was he looking for here at Ridgecrest anyway? Tracks?
A mountain lion? A creature? Who the hell knew?
in the jumble, he ran head first into the brunette as
he left the dining hall, knocking her down onto the
sidewalk. She let out a muffled yelp of pain that instantly
snapped Dean out of his introspection. Quickly, he knelt
down and offered her his hand back up.
she was just a little shorter than him, but minus the
hair net and protective apron, he might not have recognized
her. Standing before him now, her hair fell in waves
just past her shoulders and her petite form curved just
nicely from waist to hips.
smiled at him again shyly as he mumbled out another
quick apology. She took a quick step back from him and
he remembered that he was still pretty ripe from the
afternoon’s activity, so he apologized once more
for the smell. She smiled yet again and thrust out a
brown paper bag. He took the bag from her hand and as
he opened it to look inside, she darted off like a scared
wild animal, never once uttering a word.
Dean found two sandwiches and a piece of apple pie.
Never one to turn down food, he glanced back up in the
direction that the girl had charged off and shouted
“Thanks!”, hoping that she might hear.
on, he began to walk the perimeter of the facility grounds.
Immaculately kept, there didn’t seem to be a stick
or stone out of place. As the evening gave way to night,
the sun setting slowly behind the western edge of the
bluffs, Dean finished his circuit of the camp coming
finally to the maintenance shed near to the support
entered the shed and fumbled for a second until he found
the switch by the door and turned on the interior lights.
The inside was lined with various tools and implements
and as Dean walked along the walls a blood-stained shovel
caught his attention.
the tool from the hook holding it, he held it up to
the light examining the brownish-red blot that covered
the lower third of the blade. Suddenly, Dean was thinking
that maybe the creature really did walk on two legs
as he found a bloody fingerprint on the wood handle
of the shovel.
to go and show Sam his findings, Dean startled when
an unearthly screech from outside the shed sounded.
Weaponless except for the shovel in his hand and the
small knife in his boot, Dean moved warily from the
building. Stepping out into the darkness, the night
was moonless with only the limited light from the single
bulb inside the shed illuminating a small patch outside.
growl sounded just beyond him in the forest as Dean
moved cautiously forward. He considered going for Sam,
thought about getting a flashlight or a more useful
weapon, but as he breached the edge of the tree line,
a dry twig snapped behind him and he spun around. Instantly,
the night lit up in a multitude of brilliant lights,
searing his eyes and blinding him as pain filled his
head and he collapsed in a heap onto the cool earth.
the episode here