Fifteen: All The King's Men
Ancient Military Outpost of Tadmo
Cloistered in the flickering light from the nearby hearth,
the group gathered around a small table in the dimly
lit room. Beyond the door, a howling wind attacked the
small desert outpost, precursor to the approaching storm
that seemed to be born of something more than just the
torrid Middle Eastern summer. Yet even as the wind buffeted
the settlement, driving sand like millions of tiny daggers
at every exposed piece of flesh of those foolish enough
to be caught out in the tempest’s fury, the men
inside the little room still harbored a sense of trepidation
despite the apparent safety of their accommodations.
voices held low for fear of detection, the group conversed
nervously. With scores of battle-hardened years between
them, recent events in the kingdom had turned their
once-secure world on its end. Trusting few others outside
their small fellowship, their clandestine meeting on
this dark night was nothing more than one final mission
in service to their liege.
shall we do now? The king is dead, the kingdom in turmoil.
How can we few possibly protect so vast a territory
from being overrun by any of our enemies?” one
of the men posed.
must stand firmly behind our new king. We are honor-bound
to do nothing less.”
prince is a weakling, a mere shadow of his father. In
his hands the kingdom will fall. We can be assured of
are soldiers, it is not our place to decide the fitness
of our ruler, merely to protect him and serve the good
of the realm,” another refuted.
we do the one without the other? Perhaps the good of
the kingdom does not include the protection of the king?”
words, we must be cautious.”
son is not the father. We were entrusted with certain
duties, certain responsibilities that did not end when
the King drew his last breath.”
listened to the men around him, but remained contemplative
and quiet as he observed the worry scouring the faces
of those around him. These were good men, battle-tested
and true, their loyalty beyond question, yet the older
soldier knew that recent events were weighing heavily
on them. They spoke now not out of fear of anything,
man nor beast, but of the unknown that threatened to
swallow up the entire kingdom on the heels of the monarch’s
” My men, my friends, calm yourselves,”
Nadib spoke gently, rising from his seat in the corner
and stepping out of the shadows towards the table where
the men clustered.
He ran his hand along the edge of the rough-hewn wood,
his fingertips mere inches from the lengthy object that
lay sprawled across the surface.
cannot panic, we must plan carefully and act wisely,”
he informed them. “Truly, our liege is gone, the
realm is in turmoil, but we have a much larger problem
refer to the objects?” Kamir, his second in command
asked, his eyes glancing nervously down at the two items
on the table before them.
nodded solemnly. “Our king was a great and wise
man, but I’m afraid that he held many dark secrets
as well; secrets that we are now charged with protecting
from those who would use them for evil.”
bearded man reached for the small ring lying diminutively
on the table. Dwarfed by the larger piece, its worth
was no less significant to the gathered men and they
hushed in unison as their leader lifted it into the
Seal will be easier to manage. We must sequester it
so that it doesn’t fall into hands that would
use it for ill,” Nadib began. “Kamir and
Maloch, I charge you with taking it to the far western
edge of the realm. Protect it, let no one know what
it is you possess and do not return unless you receive
word from me personally.”
that, he handed the golden ring to his most trusted
friend, feeling the strange tingling warmth ebb from
his fingertips as he placed it into the other man’s
palm. The comrades exchanged a silent glance before
the two soldiers reluctantly followed the order and
exited into the gusting wind and darkness of the Tadmor
watched them go, shuddering internally as the door slammed
shut with a resounding thud. He turned back to the table,
avoiding the still-worried looks of his remaining men.
Sucking in a deep breath, he regarded the object left
out, he touched it this time, his hands caressing the
golden length as though it were the skin of a slender
beautiful woman. His digits carefully avoided the edge,
knowing all too well that beneath the magnificence there
lay a deadly hunger.
he continued. “presents a much more difficult
problem. “It is too large, too well known to conceal.”
should take it. You alone are capable of handling it,”
Hamid insisted. One of the younger of the group, he
had never seen the thing in action, but like so many
of the others, he was all too familiar with the stories
of both the object and his former king’s “dark
shook his head slowly, still regarding the gleaming
item. “I cannot. It is a burden that no single
man can bear. There are forces, both good and evil,
that would seek it for their own evil purposes. Asmodeus
himself, would give nothing more than to see it destroyed
so his kind could freely wreak havoc throughout the
mention of the name stirred the men in the room. Even
the flames in the hearth seemed to dance wildly at the
should destroy it or give it to Rehoboam to wield,”
one of the assembled suggested. “Surely the son
has the power to deal with it as his father did?”
he is weak and knows nothing of his father’s dark
arts,” Nadib replied.
send it away, like the Seal, bury it at the farthest
reaches of the world,” another offered.
not a secure option. Asmodeus surely holds the power
to locate it. We must be absolutely certain that it
is forever beyond his reach.”
must destroy it…” one of the men demanded.
must wield it…” another insisted.
must be someone that can harness the power of the thing…”
shall be lost to Asmodeus and his demon horde…”
listened as his men offered panic-driven suggestions,
his mind swirling with possibilities and outcomes, few
of which were to his liking. As the din of the men’s
talk rose within the small room, the longtime commander
formulated a plan. It was an option filled with risk
and uncertainty, but Nadib fully recognized that he
had few choices if he were to preserve the object and
still protect the kingdom from the evil that his liege
had precariously kept at bay for so many decades.
men,” he spoke, silencing them with a raised hand.
“I have another choice. It requires a great sacrifice
of each of us, but if we are to carry out our sworn
duty, it is the only choice.”
men listened intently, their eyes shifting warily between
their leader and the gleaming focus of their conversation.
we cannot destroy it, not entirely, we can certainly
render it unusable until perhaps someday a worthy king
steps forth to wield its great power. Even our great
king knew that inevitably the day might come where the
tools of his dark magic might have to be hidden away
for a time,” Nadib explained.
are you proposing then?” Hamid questioned, his
brown eyes seeking assurance from the older man.
must break it apart and scatter the pieces to the farthest
reaches of the kingdom. Each piece separated so that
it becomes impossible to tell what it once was while
we await the day that it might be restored to its former
power and glory.”
shall we ever keep track of the individual parts? How
will we know when that day arrives?” one of the
Nadib continued, gesturing toward the object. “was
bound to our king until his death. Likewise, we can
bind the pieces to ourselves. This is the sacrifice
that will be required.”
Hamid asked worriedly.
old soldier nodded. “Yes, my friend. A great sacrifice.
In order to protect it, we must bind ourselves by blood
to it. Should the piece under our care ever be lost,
we shall forfeit our own lives.”
paused as he watched the men’s reactions. “Each
of you must consider this wisely. This is no small task
to be charged. There is no assurance that another king
shall come along in our lifetime, capable of harnessing
the power contained within this thing. You bind not
only yourselves, but possibly your sons and their sons
to this task, and this fate.”
filled the tiny space and only the ghostly howling of
the wind outside the door broke the quiet as those standing
around the table considered what their commander asked
God and King?” Hamid spoke finally, his voice
hesitant and turning the proclamation into a question.
all mankind…” Nadib added reluctantly.
by one, each of the men gathered uttered their acceptance
of the plan. Nadib smiled sadly, never once fearing
that his faithful and valiant officers would do anything
hated to ask of them such a great commitment, but ultimately
he knew it was the only choice to be made. Reaching
down, he lifted the length from the tabletop, watching
as it reflected the light from the hearth and created
a prism of sparkling colors on the walls about the room.
is decided then. We shall do this tonight, melting it
down and each taking a portion to protect with the last
breath of our bodies,” Nadib announced.
men voiced their affirmation, each reaching a hand in
to touch the gleaming scrollwork on the flat of the
metal. If they felt the strange creep of energy and
warmth extend from their fingertips and course up to
their chests, none reacted, but Nadib knew.
his hands firmly grasping the hilt, he felt as though
every nerve in his body was on fire. Not painful, it
was a warning and a reminder of the awesome power contained
within the weapon. In a fleeting thought, Nadib worried.
Had he done the right thing or merely cursed his men
for all eternity?
deeply, he drew the blade slowly across the hands splayed
out along the edge of the weapon, bright red rising
from the wounds and staining the golden sheen. Once
each man's blood was coating the blade, Nadib raised
it above his head and spoke the invocation, sealing
their fate once and for all.
swear this night to protect the Sword of Solomon. Let
nothing sway us in this duty and may God protect us
until the day that it is brought together once again.
Six months ago…
Daniels pulled into the driveway of his condo and goosed
the accelerator one final time just to hear the rev
of the engine on his brand new Porsche. Smiling in satisfaction,
he switched off the ignition and flung open the door,
stepping out into the muggy southern night.
he turned to reach for his gym bag, his eyes caught
the scratch on the back fender of the precision sports
car and he groaned as his fingers touched the offending
He exclaimed, trying without success to rub away the
mark. “So friggin’ stupid...”
had been raining earlier and in his desire to get to
the gym, he chose to park up closer to the entrance
instead of his usual safe solitary spot at the end of
the lot. People were lazy and generally the further
away he stowed the car, the less likelihood that someone
would park near it. Now, he was paying the price for
his own haste.
friggin great,” he bemoaned one final time, gathering
his briefcase and gear bag and stalking towards the
front door of his home.
the door, Daniels immediately entered the code to disarm
the security system and then flipped on the switch to
illuminate the hallway. He reset the alarm then continued
through the apartment, quickly diverting into his study
to turn on his computer before heading off to his bedroom
and the beckoning shower.
briefcase and duffle on the floor, Gerard began stripping
off the shorts and t-shirt he’d worn home from
the gym. While he loved working out, in truth it was
the payoff that he most appreciated.
naked in front of the bathroom mirror, he looked at
his six foot three reflection with appreciation, taking
in the hard line of his abs as well as the finely sculpted
definition of his arms and legs. That the women loved
his body would have been ample trade, but Daniels loved
the endorphin rush more than anything that a good, hard
workout gave him.
off his watch, he casually tossed it onto the countertop
then repeated the process with his class ring and the
silver chain around his neck. His hand came to rest
briefly on the thick golden band at his wrist and for
a moment he considered removing that as well, but as
he continued to stare at his reflection, the all-too-familiar
tingle from the bracelet whispered a warning along the
edges of his mind.
Moving away from the mirror, he twisted on the knobs
to the shower and stepped in, relishing the scalding
heat of the water as it sluiced down his muscular body
and instantly forgetting the jewelry at his wrist. After
a time, he finished, coming out of the stall and toweling
himself dry before redressing in a worn pair of sweatpants,
emblazoned with the Harvard logo and letters down the
strode slowly toward the elaborate desk, stopping only
to pour a hearty glass of whiskey which he tossed back,
savoring the smooth burn as the liquor found its way
down his throat. He refilled the glass and continued
on to the highbacked leather chair, dropping into it
with an elongated sigh.
lights inside the condo flickered and the young man
looked up from the computer, glancing around the room
and over his shoulder to the window. Storms weren’t
that uncommon this time of the year and it had been
raining most of the afternoon. Still, he hadn’t
heard any thunder or noticed any lightning, but then
Georgia Power often had its issues with keeping the
lights on during high demand periods.
the financial whiz turned back to the monitor as his
fingers began flying across the keyboard, so focused
on the late morning Asian ticker scrolling across his
screen, he didn’t notice the shimmer of movement
creeping up behind him from the next room.
a flash, the attacker was on him, a meaty arm encircling
Daniels' throat and choking off his cry of surprise.
Despite being perceived as a “desk jockey,”
the muscular blond reacted with the skills of a trained
fighter, vaulting up from his chair and twisting out
from his assailant’s grasp.
spun around to face the threat, his hands held in front
of him, prepared to defend himself against the next
assault. Across from him, his foe stood cloaked in darkness.
Clothed in black from head to toe, Daniels’ attacker
looked like a sad extra from a ninja movie.
laughed, waving the man towards him. “What the
hell are you supposed to be?” he asked mockingly.
the mask, steely blue-green eyes stared back at him.
Lacking any emotion, the figure barely even blinked,
but the tension in the man’s body told Daniels
that the fight wasn’t over yet.
you got past the alarm, so you must be a decent thief,
but I guarantee you aren’t getting out of here
with anything other than a serious ass-beating,”
he promised. “So why don’t you just cut
your losses and go before I get seriously pissed off?”
dark-clothed form dropped his attacker’s stance
and for a moment, Daniels thought he had backed the
fool down. But as he tentatively relaxed his own body,
the man across from him shook his head, laughing low.
not even a challenge…”
taunt would have seemed laughable to Daniels had the
man not seemed so deadly serious. For an instant, every
hair stood on end and the muscular Harvard grad couldn’t
hide the shudder that coursed across his flesh.
you, buddy. You had your chance,” he threw back,
lowering his shoulder and rushing forward.
struck solid muscle, hardly budging the intruder from
his stance. Undeterred, Daniels launched his attack,
throwing a flurry of rights at the dark-clothed figure
before punctuating with a vicious left hook.
prowler staggered under the blows, falling back a step
but remaining on his feet. Daniels moved in again, striking
repeatedly as he wove back and forth like a boxer. Some
connected solidly drawing blood from a split lip or
a cut cheek underneath the knit mask. Others glanced
off harmlessly, deflected by raised arms.
Blocking the next couple of punches, the man smiled
unfazed, teeth gleaming out from the mouthpiece of the
mask, as Daniels retreated breathlessly.
expected better from you,” the stranger snarked.
the hell are you?” Daniels queried.
was worried now; having given this man everything he
had, he should have been standing over an unconscious
burglar waiting for the police to arrive. Instead, he
was face to face with a man who was defiantly staring
him down, seemingly uninjured despite the repeated blows
to his face and body.
what you could have been. What you were meant to be,”
the man replied, his green eyes narrowing. “But
like the rest, you’re soft, untrained. An embarrassment.”
backed slowly toward the hallway. If he could make it
to the kitchen, there was a chance he could snag a knife
out of the butcher block. Maybe he could even hit the
“panic button” on the alarm system near
the back door.
backwards, the tall blond raised his hands in submission.
Maybe he could just give this guy whatever he wanted
and file the claim later.
buddy, there’s two hundred dollars in my wallet
on the desk and a new Rolex on my dresser. Just take
them, okay?” he offered. “Hell, take whatever
stranger laughed and casually moved over toward the
window. Pushing aside the curtain, he peered out into
the night, seemingly unconcerned about Daniels.
you think I care about such petty trinkets?” he
replied, fingering the sheer fabric. Reaching into the
pocket of his black pants, he pulled out an object.
tried to see what the stranger retrieved but only caught
a brief flash of gold as the small article quickly disappeared
into the man’s hand. He watched in abstract fascination
as the intruder considered the object, rolling it between
his fingers as though it were a prized possession.
that it was now or never, Daniels chose that moment
to make a break for the kitchen. Sprinting for the hall,
he was in the other room within eight steps, his hand
closing around the largest knife he could pull from
the block in one fluid motion.
heavily, he retreated until his back was against the
cabinets, the blade held in front of him defensively.
condo was silent with the exception of the pounding
of his heart as he waited for the masked man to pursue
him into the kitchen. Several seconds passed while Daniels
waited, and still, the man did not appear.
an attack and feeling slightly more brave since he held
the knife, Daniels headed toward the rear door leading
to the back patio. Like many, the only phone in the
house was his cellular, so that left his only other
means of contacting the police the automatic signal
of the alarm system.
peeked over his shoulder and down the hallway as he
moved toward the door, but the corridor was silent and
empty. Reaching up to the control pad, he was about
to touch the “panic” button when he was
hit from behind and slammed into the glass patio doors.
he could react, Daniels was spun around and face to
face once again with the darkly cloaked man. He raised
the knife, bringing it down towards the intruder in
a wide arc that glanced off the man’s arm slicing
through material and skin beneath.
the wound, the man didn’t respond, never even
uttered a sound. Instead, he grabbed Daniels’
wrist and pushed it backwards, slamming it against the
doorjamb repeatedly until the force caused the young
man to drop the blade.
was a mistake,” the stranger hissed as he punched
Daniels brutally in the chest.
energy behind the blow was so powerful that it drove
the air from Daniels’ lungs and dropped him to
his knees, dazed and struggling for his breath.
From his vantage point, he could only see the man’s
feet, unable to find the strength to even lift his head
or defend himself. He was powerless to stop the intruder
and he still didn’t even understand what the man
booted foot lashed out and kicked at his outstretched
hand, knocking him to his face on the ceramic tiled
the man said in disgust.
was prepared to beg now even though he held no hope
that it would do any good.
please. Take my money, take my Porsche. The keys are
on the table by the front door. I swear I won’t
even call the cops. Hell, I don’t even know what
you look like…”
listened as the stranger paced around the kitchen, afraid
to make eye contact, yet wondering what the man was
up to. He kept his head down, hoping that just maybe
if he appeared subdued, the man might just leave.
only one thing that I want,” his attacker said
finally as he came back to Daniels side and bent down
close to the beaten man.
anything… just name it…” Daniels replied
he held any hope it waned thin as the stranger leaned
over and picked up the discarded knife from a few feet
away. The scrape of the blade across the tile sending
an ominous chill across the blond man’s body as
he caught the glint of the kitchen light reflect of
give you anything…”
know you will…”
is it you want?” Daniels screamed frantically.
man paused as he rose up over the begging man. Lifting
the blade high, he poised the tip of the blade directly
over Daniels’ head.
want it ALL!” the stranger snarled as his arm
whipped downward, the blade slicing through Daniels
neck and severing his carotid and trachea, showering
the area in a wash of blood.
stranger stepped back, carefully avoiding the pool of
red that was quickly spreading across the floor. He
dropped the knife next to the body, uncaring about evidence
as he examined the gloves on his hands.
didn’t care. Not like the authorities would find
him in any database if they did happen to find his prints.
He was a ghost for all practical purposes, coming and
going as he pleased. Anonymity suited his needs, especially
in situations like these.
the blood, he knelt close to the dead man and roughly
rolled him over until Daniels was lying face up. In
a matter of seconds, the stranger spotted what he wanted.
and gleaming despite the mess he’d created by
slashing the man’s throat, his prize lay wrapped
around the deceased right wrist. A thick gold bracelet,
plain and lacking any other jewels or engraving, adorned
out, he touched the gold band tentatively, always expecting
some sort of electrical shock that never seemed to come.
at his foolishness, he quickly became serious again
as he roughly tore the band from the arm. Once free,
he held it in his hand, appraising it with near-reverence.
more piece…” he murmured to himself. “One
Central City, Iowa
“Dude, I still say we need to get the hell out
of Dodge,” Sam insisted as he peeled back the
yellowed curtain to stare at the relentless downpour
that hadn’t let up for the past five days.
Shows how smart you are. We aren’t even in Dodge,
we’re in Central City,” Dean replied, not
bothering to look away from the television screen.
Dean. But seriously, if you’d turn off the cartoons
and turn on the local news, you’d see that if
we don’t get out of here soon, we’re gonna
need a canoe.”
older sibling rolled his eyes and loosed an exaggerated
grunt as he pushed off the musty smelling twin bed and
came to stand next to Sam at the window. Peering outside,
the afternoon sun had surrendered to the dismal gloom
that had plagued the Midwest for several days, blanketing
the area in torrential rain, frequent thunderstorms
and even the all too common threat of a tornado.
they were here to do a job. What was a little wet weather?
on. Sam. Are you afraid you’re gonna melt or something?”
Dean teased, turning to flop back onto the bed.
Sam snapped to his brother’s back.
rolled over to face him, a toothy smile flashing. “That’s
jerk to you,” he countered.
glared, ignoring his brother’s lack of concern
and striding over to the laptop at the nearby table.
Dean might not be bothered, but Sam knew enough to be
worried for the both of them.
been listening to the local news reports, he’d
heard how the Wapsipinicon River, like many of the other
nearby waterways, was already creeping over its banks
and threatening to flood the town. Like Cedar Rapids
and Iowa City, people were being advised to get out
while they still could, before the rising river water
made it impossible.
dropped into the desk chair and logged on to the internet.
Quickly pulling up the regional radar, he groaned when
he saw the entire area covered in shades of green and
rain coming, Dean,” he announced.
they say it happens this time of the year,” the
elder Winchester mumbled back as he flipped through
Dean. The friggin' river is already near flood stage
and we’re no closer to getting out to that cemetery.
Do you plan on putting on scuba gear to dig up those
bones? Oh and I forgot, just how were you planning on
salting and burning them in the pouring down freaking
rain?” Sam shouted.
Sammy. Since when did you become such a nervous Nelly
over some bad weather? I mean I know that whole deal
in Cali with the tornados was freaky and all but that’s
no reason to be wiggin’ out about the rain here…”
not it,” Sam interrupted. “Dean, don’t
you get it. There’s a crap-load of water coming
down out there. More than normal.”
what then? You think there’s another Nathan Cole
doin’ this?” Dean asked suspiciously.
sighed, running his hand through his hair as he shook
his head in frustration. “Sometimes I can’t
believe we’re related,” he groused. “Can
you please just shut up and listen and maybe act like
you learned some science in school and not off of Day
that was a kick-ass movie! Although, I still can’t
believe that Gyllenhaal dude went and made that Brokeback
Mountain movie. I mean, ewww…” Dean
mused, wrinkling up his face in distaste.
saw Brokeback Mountain?” Sam asked in
surprise, momentarily distracted from the main topic.
NO!” Dean yelled back defensively, rising up on
the bed. “Just what I read about it.”
when do you read anything that doesn’t have pictures
of naked women in it?”
they have fantastic movie reviews in some of those magazines,”
the elder hunter pleaded his case.
again I ask, when do you read anything?”
was answered by the stiffly raised middle-finger of
his older sibling.
okay. So seriously, Dean, we need to just forget this
job, pack up and get out of here. We can come back later
when things dry out.”
snapped off the television with an angry flip of the
remote before tossing the controller down on the bed
in exasperation. He stood up and crossed back to the
motel room window, looking out once again at the rain
pelting against the glass.
I know you’re worried, but dude, do you really
want to cut and run now? We took this gig because people
have been dying. We can’t just walk away when
we’re so close,” he asked. “Maybe
this will all let up and we can get out there and try
to find where our Casper is buried.”
we don’t even know who we’re digging up
yet. Not for sure. I mean, all we know is that our spook
is tied somehow to the county nursing home. Do you care
to guess how many dead people are buried out at the
cemetery from that place?” Sam whined.
of them?” Dean offered with a sneaky smile.
Sam asked with confusion.
said all of them were.”
of them were what?”
of them were dead. You asked if I wanted to guess how
many dead people were buried out at the cemetery. All
of them are dead… or at least they better be,”
Dean joked, wagging his eyebrows.
rose up with a huff of air and grabbed his jacket, yanking
it on without hiding his irritation. He stormed toward
the door, brushing past his brother and intentionally
pushing Dean into the windowsill.
come on. You’re gonna be pissy now?” Dean
asked, recoiling as Sam pulled open the door and the
wind-driven rain assaulted the room. “Where are
you going, Sam? It’s raining like a sonofabitch
you care now?” Sam snapped back, his hand on the
I don’t care. I just wanted to avoid you being
a pain in the ass and sick at the same time,”
Dean replied curtly, his own palm flat against the door
blocking his brother’s escape.
didn’t answer but roughly pulled the door free
of Dean’s grasp, slamming it closed hard enough
that the adjacent window rattled within its frame. He
stood outside the motel room as the rain showered down
on him, instantly soaking his clothing despite the meager
shelter offered by the awning.
really had no idea where he was headed, most of the
local businesses had closed early, the shopkeepers preparing
for the threatening flood. Sam just knew he needed to
get out of the motel room before he resorted to strangling
his brother... or worse.
thought about heading to the library but knew that there
was no point. They had already exhausted the resources
available there. Still, since it seemed that Dean wasn’t
about to budge from this job until it was completed,
flood be damned, then the only other option was to try
to solve the damn thing before they were washed away
in the rising water.
the collar of his already waterlogged jacket up around
his neck, Sam started off down the sidewalk toward the
main part of town. Passing the motel office, he noticed
that the clerk was busy packing boxes, glancing up to
cast Sam a worried look as he walked by.
nodded to the man but continued on, silently wondering
if they were soon to
be kicked out of the motel despite Dean’s best
intention of staying until the hunt was done.
he slowly made his way down the walkway, devoid of any
other pedestrians, the young hunter tried to work out
who might be the possible culprit haunting the local
nursing home and seemingly killing some of the patients.
At first, he’d thought it had been nothing more
than the work of a reaper, doing its macabre job and
taking some of the residents when their days were up.
as they dug into the details further, he and Dean found
that there were simply too many deaths, too many mysterious
circumstances to be attributed to a reaper, even an
over-active one. Checking deeper, they found a vague
tale about a former maintenance man who had been arrested
and imprisoned for allegedly abusing some of the residents.
The man had died in prison and the brothers thought
that perhaps his spirit had come back seeking revenge.
that theory hadn’t really panned out for them
and then another strange death occurred. This time a
staff nurse was found dead at the end of her shift,
her autopsy showing that she had somehow choked to death
even though no food or drink was anywhere near her body.
was no denying that something supernatural was going
on, but the brothers just couldn’t seem to figure
out who or what was behind it. Like Sam had said, dozens
upon dozens of people had lived and died at the Linn
County Nursing Home, any of which could now be their
vindictive spirit. If indeed it was a spirit they were
dealing with at all. The only thing they knew for certain
was that the body count was rising just like the nearby
crack of lightning accompanied by the booming roll of
thunder jolted Sam from his introspection and he hunkered
down slightly more even as he hastened his pace. Despite
the inclement weather, there were still a couple of
townspeople braving the rainstorm. Darting from the
various buildings to their automobiles and back, most
were rushing to remove precious belongings before the
river claimed their town.
me, but do you know where I can find a motel?”
looked up, startled by the sudden appearance of a tall,
sandy-haired man standing in front of him. He’d
been so caught up thinking about the case, and admittedly
still stewing over Dean’s somewhat juvenile behavior
and refusal to walk away from this hunt, that he hadn’t
even noticed the stranger approach him.
going there, Sam. Nothing like those hunter’s
instincts being on “full alert” he
silently chastised himself.
sorry… what did you ask?” he stammered,
unconsciously flinching as another crash of thunder
motel, someplace dry to stay,” the man repeated,
seemingly unfazed by the onslaught of rain.
stared at him, noting blue-green eyes so much like Dean’s
it was almost eerie, not to mention that the man was
about the same height and build as his older sibling.
As a matter of fact, everything about the man seemed
to remind Sam of his brother; the wary tension in the
way the stranger stood to the almost menacing hand that
remained suspiciously within the pocket of his coat.
there’s a motel just a few blocks back,”
the tall hunter finally answered, pointing back down
the street in the direction he’d just come. “But
considering that the town is likely going to be forcibly
evacuated soon, I’m not sure how long they may
be renting rooms.”
okay. I’m not planning on being here long,”
the man offered.
smart,” Sam added. “I wish I could get my
brother to think the same way. At least before the river
rises and we have to swim our way out.”
man smiled slightly, but his handsome features never
lost their cautious edge. “Well, good luck with
that. Thanks for the directions.”
problem,” Sam replied, watching as the stranger
pulled the collar of his jacket up tighter around his
neck to block the buffeting wind and rain, and continued
down the sidewalk away from him.
stared after the man until his shape was swallowed up
in the diminishing afternoon light and precipitation,
all the while feeling a sudden uneasy chill settle into
Sam turned away and darted into the small diner, hoping
to chase away the strange feeling about the man and
hopefully what wasn’t the start of some obnoxious
cold, with a hot cup of coffee. With any luck, Dean
would be feeling sufficiently guilty by the time he
got back to the motel and maybe then, he could talk
some sense into his older brother.
even as he ordered and then sipped the hot beverage,
the unnerving chill just wouldn’t fade away.
“Dammit, Sammy!” Dean groused as another
loud boom of thunder rocked the glass in the window.
“Why do you have to be so damn stubborn?”
it had never been his intention to drive Sam off, he’d
only been trying to keep things a little less serious
after being stuck in the small Midwestern town for the
past week. Sam had been right, the hunt was going nowhere,
their research hitting dead-ends at nearly every turn.
But Dean was reluctant to just give up, never being
one to walk away from a job. Still, as Sam had said,
even if they managed to figure out the name of their
homicidal spirit, the local cemetery was located adjacent
to the river; the same river that was already turning
the low area into a muddy field.
Dean had been pacing the tiny motel room for the past
twenty minutes, torn between chasing after his absent
sibling and tuning back to the Terminator marathon
on the television.
didn’t understand why Sam was being such a worrywart
about the weather. Hadn’t they dealt with worse
storms than this before? Was there more to it than just
floods and rain? Did Sam have some strange vibe going
on like back in Northern California … or like
in Leicester? Did his baby brother think there was something
more sinister at play here?
the thought of Lucifer scurried through his mind, Dean
felt his heartbeat begin to race with a twinge of panic.
If Sam did think this was something to do with Hell’s
Lord, then he’d just let his brother trot off
without him once again, unprotected.
Dean… When are you ever gonna learn? As if leaving
Sam on the side of the road for that bitch Mia didn’t
teach you a lesson, you go and let him walk off again…
stabbed at his gut, threatening to double him over like
a bad case of food poisoning. Every single word of the
brothers' heated exchange back in Texas replayed in
Dean’s head, echoing like the whispers of a ghost
trying to torment him.
hadn’t really spoke about that conversation
since leaving the Lone Star State, “forgive and
forget" being easier than dealing with the gaping
wound that still chose to bleed on occasion if either
of them inadvertently said the wrong word. And although
they hadn’t mentioned the happenings in Texas
or Mia much, Dean still couldn’t shake the feeling
that he had irrevocably betrayed Sam that fateful day.
flipped on the television again just as a weather alert
was flashing across the screen. His attention riveted,
Dean listened as the haggard-looking meteorologist warned
about the threat of flash floods invading several local
communities as the rain increased over the next several
the National Weather Service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm
Warning for the following counties: Benton, Blackhawk,
Buchanan, Cedar, Delaware, Iowa, Jones, Johnson, Linn,
and Muscatine until midnight. Conditions are favorable
for high winds, hail and even the development of tornado
Dean yelled at the T.V., cursing the broadcaster as
though the man were somehow personally responsible for
the current situation.
residents living along the Cedar, Iowa, Wapisinicon
and Skunk rivers should be on the watch for flash flooding.
A Flash Flood Warning has been issued for all counties
along these rivers as continuing rain threatens to push
water over the banks and into low lying areas. Viewers
residing in these areas are advised to seek high ground
crack of thunder rocked the entire room, punctuated
by the staccato drumbeat of something striking the roof.
Spurred by the new noise, Dean dashed to the doorway,
flinging it open and quickly recoiling as small, chunks
of ice bombarded him.
Hell!” Dean grumbled, ignorant of the pun.
icy pellets bounced off the pavement, pinging off in
a multitude of directions as they dropped from the sky.
Some were small, no larger than a pebble, but occasionally,
a larger chunk would smash into the ground with a heavy
stepped out onto the walkway, looking in both directions,
silently hoping his brother was sulking just somewhere
outside the room. The area was vacant, only the high-pitched
whistle of the wind as it drove through the nearby trees
left any trace of movement or sound.
the cellphone out of his pocket, Dean quickly scrolled
down to Sam’s number. Stabbing the button to send
the call, he impatiently waited, his breath held for
fear his brother was angry enough to ignore the call.
on, Sammy. Answer the damn phone…” he pleaded
under his breath.
Dean!” Sam’s voice carried across the phone
loud and strong.
are you dude? I’ll come pick you up,” Dean
down the street at that little diner. They were closing
up, but said I could hang out here till the hail let
come and get you,” the elder Winchester insisted.
“Just sit tight.”
what’s wrong?” Sam asked, picking up the
worried edge to Dean’s tone.
Sammy, just trying to be nice to my little brother.
Didn’t think you wanted to be walking around out
there in this weather. Besides, some of those chunks
of hail are pretty big. One might hit that huge head
of yours and cause some sort of brain damage, then where
would I be?”
on, Sam. I’m trying to say I’m sorry here…
I’ll meet you down here. You want me to see if
they’ll still make you a burger or something?”
Sam asked. Apology accepted.
I’m not really hungry and besides, I was thinking
about what you said. Maybe we should tackle this case
from a different angle,” Dean offered. Or
maybe from a different state…
was a moment of silence as Dean waited on his brother’s
response. He was prepared for some smart-assed comment,
even some jibe about Sam being right, but instead his
brother simply said he’d be waiting.
ended the call just as the storm began to increase in
intensity. He snagged the Impala’s keys from the
nearby nightstand, pulling on his jacket as he darted
outside heading for the black Chevy that was parked
several yards away, courtesy of the motel’s awkward
he tried to dodge the icy missiles, the hail stinging
with an arctic bite as it struck uncovered skin, Dean
spotted a shadow of movement out of the corner of his
eye. Alerted, his attention was diverted from the horrendous
weather to a dark SUV that was creeping along the edge
of the lot.
Dean went into hunter mode, reaching defensively for
the .45 tucked into the inside pocket of his jacket.
The big vehicle slowed to a stop as though the driver
were purposely stalking the elder Winchester, but with
the windows tinted nearly black, Dean couldn’t
see inside. All he could think of were Lucifer’s
minions, trailing and attacking them at Bobby’s
as they searched for Gudrun.
as quickly as the SUV pulled up, it moved on, continuing
out of the motel lot and on to the main street.
watched, shaking his head as he calmed jittery nerves.
demon-driven SUVs everywhere are you, Dean?” he
chided himself as he turned back toward the car, buffeted
again by the strong wind and rain.
was nearly there when the SUV came around once more,
this time on the opposite side of the road and this
time with one of the windows rolled down.
looked up, the keys to the Impala in his hand hovering
in the lock as a flash of light on metal caught his
no nearby cover other than the Chevy, Dean scrambled
to find some protection. Struggling against the nearly
blinding rain, his vision was assaulted by the flash
of lightning and the pungent smell of ozone. Another
bright burst of light flared, followed by a loud crack
and the young hunter felt himself slammed to the ground,
a heavy weight plowing into his body and robbing him
of the ability to breathe.
Dean lay against the wet pavement as the wind-driven
rain continued to pummel him. He wanted to get up, he
needed to get up, every survival instinct screaming
inside for him to get back to his feet. But his body
refused to cooperate. He managed to lift his head an
inch or two from the asphalt just in time to see the
SUV peel off, silver rims spinning madly and tossing
water in every direction.
coward…” he mumbled.
as the lightning flash around him and the thunder boomed
out angrily across the encroaching night sky, Dean’s
head dropped back down to the ground, his eyes closing
as the weather wailed and the water rose.
the episode here