Ten: Distant Voices
darkness didn’t hinder the hands – instead,
nimble fingers moved swiftly, making light work of their
task. A husky voice joined the fingers’ movements,
chanting some bizarre incantation in an unknown tongue.
the unperceptive mind, the language could easily have
been mistaken for Latin. Except, this was no dialect
any church would ever adopt.
mantra was dark, evil, foreboding as the narrator
sprinkled nameless dried herbs over a strangely fashioned
amulet seemed to be in the shape of a humanoid, but
its outlandish body parts suggested this was no ordinary
figurine. The creature it depicted was a mysterious
mixture of both animal and human limbs – a thing
of malice – a bringer of death.
chanter paused, taking a vial and pouring its dark red
contents over the amulet.
droplets of blood splattered across the metal, adorning
the statuette’s grotesque features with its garish
color. As the coagulating liquid began to run down the
metal, the chant began again, becoming faster and faster
until the words were almost unintelligible.
voice became frenzied, its owner nearly gasping for
breath as it sought to finish the unholy summoning.
Just as the cadence became almost falsetto, the blood
on the amulet began to hiss, tiny wisps of steam erupting
from its surface as if the metal had suddenly become
a flash of white light, the blood and herbs ignited,
the abrupt discharge of heat burning away their very
existence to leave behind something far more sinister…
Desert State Park
Joe Bearwalker’s RV
Bearwalker dropped down from the rear step of his RV
and stretched. It was late afternoon, and the sun’s
waning position in the sky was making him feel like
taking a nap.
Tlingit shaman often worked night gigs, and the previous
evening had been no exception. So far, he’d managed
a little over two hours sleep in the space of two days,
and it was beginning to tell even on his well-honed
Joe been alone, he’d probably have been buck naked
sprawled inside his Winnebago by now, with a bottle
of Moonshine tightly clasped in his hand. Hell, he’d
earned it on his last hunt.
it was, there would be no drinking, and no carefree
Native hunter turned and looked out across the rocky
butte, enjoying this one last guilty pleasure before
returning to his job as custodian and all round protector
of Mia Cameron.
golden eagle soared high in the sky, diving on some
unknown prey among the spattering of red barrel cacti
that encroached the sand around his RV.
Joe, the sight made him feel at one with nature and
he inhaled, feeling like he was actually flying with
the graceful bird as it spread its wings, gliding just
above ground level over the mesa.
eagle, like Joe, was a hunter, a predator that shouldn’t
yet I am caged, while ever I have to play nursemaid
to the girl, Joe’s mind chided him, even
though the shaman didn’t really regret taking
in Mia to help his old time friends, the Winchesters.
hunters, they’d been through a lot together –
although he still figured they owed him big time for
the way Laura Mitchell had trashed his 1950 Indian on
a gig back in Big Bear.
is so gonna pay for that one day, Joe chuckled
to himself as he turned back to the RV, catching a glimpse
of his restored bike as he reached out to step back
inside his mobile abode.
bike was his “baby,” a red, two-wheeled
stallion that meant as much to the shaman as the Impala
did to Dean.
grinned with pride as the chrome-work shimmered in the
twilight afterglow, but then, he paused, taking a second
glance at the motorcycle.
bike was sitting innocently on its stand and yet it
seemed to be rocking – moving as if some ill-timed
wind had whipped up out of the ground – a wind
that was swelling outwards like the desert sand had
taken on a life of its own.
brow furrowed with a newfound concern and he abruptly
discarded the idea of going inside. This was something
that needed his attention – something unnatural
– something wrong in Mother Nature’s womb.
a tribal shaman, Bearwalker had seen and sensed many
things, but this, even for him, was frightening. He
could feel the energy building, and his intuition told
him to run like hell.
Joe felt a hand instinctively reach for the .44 Magnum
tucked into his waistband. He drew the weapon, eyes
darting back to the open RV door.
Mia run!” The shaman’s voice was
filled with dread, but he didn’t try to retreat.
If this thing was coming for the girl, then it would
have to go through him first.
sand ignored his yells, it ignored the weapon now pointed
at the strange, growing epicenter it was creating.
it changed, morphing, coalescing into a shape.
shape Joe Bearwalker had seen before in ancient texts
depicting some of the most dangerous demons known to
form didn’t take note of Joe’s awe, or his
fear, but instead continued to materialize from the
desert like some bizarre sculpture made from the sand.
As it grew, long taloned feet appeared along with a
hideous tail that took on the shape of a scorpion’s
a head emerged from the human-like torso, popping from
between the brawny shoulders like a balloon being filled
with air. The head was akin to a human-dog hybrid the
likes Joe had only seen in Dark Angel re-runs,
and for a second he felt a playful smirk cross his features.
this was not Joshua, and it would have none of his innocent,
fully formed, the demon’s eyes sprung open, locking
on the hunter as a dry smile crossed its canine countenance,
drawing its features into a more human expression of
pleasure. Its head cocked, but it didn’t speak,
nor did Joe expect it to.
was Pazuzu, king of the wind demons, bearer of storms,
droughts – and ultimately – death.
wasn’t here in the desert by chance. He wasn’t
here to talk about the niceties of sleeping out under
the Anza-Borrego sky and cooking on an open camp fire.
aimed the Magnum and pulled back on the trigger not
once, but six times in rapid succession until every
chamber was empty. He knew the bullets would do little
to the thing, except maybe piss it off, but even that
might distract it long enough for the girl to escape.
ruse seemed to work, and Pazuzu’s tail flicked
like that of a rattler as he whirled on the hunter,
sand churning as the wind from earlier returned, whipping
at the sides of the RV like a typhoon had engulfed it.
Joe screamed the girl’s name again, but there
was no movement from inside the RV. Had she dozed so
deeply as not to hear him? “Mia!”
features contorted in agony as Pazuzu engulfed him,
whipping at his body with millions of tiny sand pellets
until the shaman felt like he was being flayed.
then, maybe he was.
strange form spun faster and faster until Joe crumpled
to his knees, but he couldn’t fall forward –
the thing was holding him upright for the kill.
wanted to scream again, this time not for Mia, but to
any Tlingit deity that might be listening. But today,
even his Gods abandoned him.
oozed through raw patches of flesh, and in his last
conscious moments, all the hunter could think of was
the girl – why hadn’t she heeded his warning?
How could the Winchesters ever forgive him for failing
her, and ultimately, them?
Four Days Later…
felt every bump of the rough Arizona back road as it
tousled the steering wheel in his grip. He didn’t
want to be here. Hell, he didn’t want to be within
a hundred miles of Mia, and yet here they were in a
car together, neither one knowing what to say to the
was no doubt blaming herself for Joe Bearwalker’s
horrific injuries, and Dean guessed in a way she was
right. The Native hunter had undeniably put himself
in harm’s way to protect her.
then, that was what hunters pretty much gave their lives
up for – saving people – hunting things.
It had been their kind’s mantra since the dawn
of time, and Dean doubted it would ever change.
good news was the “hunter’s doctrine”
at least hadn’t gotten Bearwalker killed. The
shaman would be out of action for awhile and have a
bucket load of new scars to brag about, but he was going
to be okay.
bad news was he was in no shape to be Mia’s bodyguard
for weeks, and that left her right back in the hands
of the Winchesters. Whichever way Dean looked at it,
the girl was being pushed from one dangerous circle
damned if I can do jack about it. Dean was tempted
to slap the Impala’s wheel in frustration, but
then he realized it wasn’t fair to take his annoyance
out on a piece of metal that didn’t know any better.
know, you really didn’t have to pick me up,”
Mia sighed. “There’s nothing you can do
but watch my sorry butt, and look what that got Joe.”
smirked and shook his head, thinking of how inappropriate
his last thought had been. “Oh sweetheart, there’s
nothing I’d like better than to watch
your sorry butt.”
not what you said back in Texas…”
sentence was short – clipped – but it was
easily apparent to Dean what Mia was digging at. He’d
left her behind once even though he had feelings for
her; she wasn’t so naive as to think he wouldn’t
do it again.
Mia.” Dean took a breath, trying to find the right
words, the right justification, but in the end, he realized
he didn’t have either. “I left you with
Joe because of what I do. What I hunt could
get you killed.”
crossed her arms and looked out the window. When Dean
didn’t offer any more excuses, she shot Sam an
apologetic glance and reached for the stereo, flipping
through several tracks on the CD player until she found
Iron Maiden’s Only The Good Die Young.
eyes strayed to her and a spark of mirth flashed across
his hazel orbs. Even when she was pissed at him, she
still managed to know how to push all the right buttons.
He reached out a hand, turning up the volume even further
until Sam grabbed the fur pelt that covered the back
seat and tried to muffle out the sound from the speakers
was tempted to chuckle, but then the tupilaq hide he’d
brought back from Canada abruptly reminded him of Joe
again, and he remembered just why the shaman had been
hurt. He’d left Mia with Joe. He’d
asked Joe to look after her.
wasn’t Mia’s fault Bearwalker was now lying
in a hospital bed, it was Dean Winchester’s.
I think you should turn down the music.” Sam leaned
over the bench seat, his body bouncing as they hit a
patch of craters in the road.
it up, SuperSammy.” Dean glanced back
to his brother, the corners of his mouth ticking just
enough to say he wasn’t in a good mood, and that
meant someone would probably pay with a full-on dose
sat back, crossing his arms and looking to the roof
lining for Divine vehicular intervention. “Fine,
Dean, but when the car explodes don’t expect me
to be the one to walk to the nearest gas station.”
Dean’s brow furrowed and he finally saw his brother’s
point. Hastily switching off the stereo, his face contorted
in mental agony at the grating sound coming from beneath
something got caught on the chassis?” Sam offered.
shook her head, her mechanical knowledge far outweighing
Sam’s. “That’s coming from the transmission.
Maybe we should pull over?” She asked, head cocking
sideways as she looked expectantly at Dean.
Dean scowled. He knew every inch of the car, every tiny
scratch, every nut and bolt – and his baby couldn’t
be having trouble with the auto box – it was inconceivable.
“It’s not the transmission.” He kept
his foot on the gas, only easing off slightly as the
noise grew louder.
will you stop being an ass and face the fact that this
car is older than you are? She’s bound to get
a few aches and pains in her old age!” Mia lifted
a hand, threatening to swat Dean, but then retreated
when she saw he wasn’t playing.
if I pull over, there’s nothing we can do out
here in the middle of nowhere.” Dean’s eyebrows
sank into a huge frown and he hunched forward in the
driver’s seat enough to admit with his actions
– if not his words – that the Chevy was
in serious trouble.
being smashed into a tree, and later through a brick
wall, he’d probably pampered the car way too much,
but it was all he had left to cling to apart from Sam,
and maybe now Mia.
is there a town nearby, or maybe a gas station?”
Friggin’ women trouble, car trouble, can I
get more jinxed? I swear some sucker hid a hex bag on
pulled out his cell and began to scroll through all
the options that allowed him to access Sat Nav. Flicking
through two or three screens he paused on the last and
began to pull a face that said it wasn’t good
nearest place is called Cibola, but it’s tiny.
Only one hundred and seventy-two residents. It’s
not much more than a ghost town, literally.”
then you two should fit right in.” Mia
smirked, slapping Dean on the back so hard he knew
she was trying to irk him. They were just too much alike
for her not to be. People said opposites attracted,
but that so wasn’t true about their relationship.
was a much better description – and that was on
a good day.
looked over his shoulder to Sam who sat scowling right
back at him. Apparently, little brothers were very uncomfortable
when their siblings had a girl in the car. In fact,
Sam seemed very uncomfortable around Mia at all of late.
Maybe she reminds him what it was like with Jess?
shrugged off the thought. Whatever was bothering Sam,
he’d get over it. “Dude, are you gonna tell
me how to get to this place or do I gotta send me out
groaned and turned the stereo back on, masking the now
irritating sound of metal on metal from the Impala.
“Just don’t look at me. I’ve
already been dumped in the middle of nowhere by you
two bozos once…”
Sam had said Cibola was small, he hadn’t been
kidding. There was no real “town” to speak
of, just a few scattered houses among the desert landscape
that looked like they’d been buried and forgotten
since the west had been won.
suspected if they dug around enough, there actually
would be some real western ghosts in the place, ready
for their next gunfight at high noon.
course, right now, Dean didn’t exactly care if
Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid or Wild Bill were out ganking
on each other, he just wanted the Impala to stop sounding
like it was going to explode. Each gear change was accompanied
by a loud metallic scream followed by a lurching motion
as the car struggled to make shift changes.
Dean, it was bordering on psychological torture akin
to that dispensed by Haris.
why don’t we ask that kid if there’s a garage
or something here?” Sam gestured out the window
to a teenager. The kid was kicking a ball aimlessly
along a track obviously considered by locals to be a
I doubt if these people have electricity,”
Dean griped, tapping the brakes just enough so the Chevy
was matching the speed of the kid’s gait. He rolled
down the window. “Hey, you folks have a gas station
or garage around here?”
kid turned and shrugged with such a vacant look Dean
was convinced he wasn’t going to get an answer.
But, after a second’s more thought, the teen pointed
off the dirt road towards a farmhouse. “Mr. Pruitt
knows cars. Fixed my dad’s truck up real good
last summer when he shot out a light shootin’
at Robby McCallister…”
grimaced, nodding knowingly as the kid returned to the
ball he seemed so obsessed with. “Shot out his
own truck’s lights? Real smart folks
around these parts…”
vision of Deliverance seemed to stick in his
mind, right along with the classic Dueling Banjos,
but he turned the car towards the farm anyway. If Pruitt
could stop the Chevy screaming like a banshee, Dean
didn’t care how weird he might be.
kid,” Mia laughed. “Wouldn’t you just
love to meet his pa?”
unless I was armed first.” Sam shook his head
and watched Pruitt’s home grow closer until it
filled the Impala’s windshield.
they drew to a stop, the Chevy seemed to shiver and
something underneath finally gave way. Dean closed his
eyes, unsurprised when the column shift wouldn’t
slide into park and he was forced to shut off the engine
while the car was still in gear.
think maybe we need to salt and burn the bones,”
Mia teased, sliding out the passenger side before Dean
could growl a response.
followed her lead, looking up to the main house as a
stout figure in overalls emerged.
actual farm didn’t appear half as grimy as the
hunter had expected. The windows had been recently cleaned,
and the paintwork appeared to be fresh for the season.
Pruitt, on the other hand, was exactly what Dean had
looked to be in his late forties, with a fresh growth
of stubble the hunter swore had egg in it from the guy’s
breakfast. His face, like the overalls he wore, had
smears of black oil and grease daubed all over it. And
yet, his smile was enough to bring warmth to the coldest
instantly liked the man.
Pruitt was a whacked out version of Bobby Singer and
Cooter from the Dukes of Hazzard all rolled
me, sir, but someone back in Cibola said you fixed cars?”
Sam had climbed from the rear of the Chevy and taken
it upon himself to get things moving.
turned, nodding back at the Impala. “I think my
transmission is totaled,” he explained, feeling
like he was giving the car its Last Rites. “Funny
thing is, I never noticed a thing until we were about
twenty miles out.”
took off his soiled baseball cap and ran a hand through
his equally soiled hair. “Well, these classics
can be that way. They’re great while the going’s
good, but just like any woman you provoke too much,
they sometimes bite ya right on back when you’re
you do the work?” Sam asked, fingering his cell
phone in anticipation that the farmer would say no.
rubbed a hand across his nose and sniffed. “Sure
thing, used to work for a Chevy dealership back in Tucson
in my younger days. ’Course, I’ll have to
take a look at her and order in some parts. She ain’t
likely to be ready for a few days.”
ran her tongue across her teeth and to Dean it looked
like she was already annoyed. Maybe she thought she
could fix the car better than Pruitt. Hell, Dean thought
maybe he could too, but if Hank could get the parts
in, three sets of hands were likely to be way faster
don’t suppose there’s anything like a motel
in this place, either, right?” Mia eventually
asked, running a hand over her brow to mop away beads
no, ma’am, never been a need for one.” Hank
winked. “People usually want to leave Cibola,
not stay,” he chuckled, then realized what the
girl was asking. “You folks can stay on in the
house here with me if you like. I don’t bite.
’Course, Billy my dog might…”
turned to shoot the hunter a look that said “no
way,” but Dean was already walking closer to Pruitt
with a satisfied smile on his face. “We’d
really appreciate that, thanks.”
pleasure. Any man who drives a car like this deserves
a little respect. Young people today, too fussy buying
Japanese imports to notice what they’re missing.”
Hank cocked his head and squinted at Sam, appraising
him. “Son,” he continued the lop-sided stare.
“Now you look like the kinda guy who drives a
raised a brow, wondering just how Pruitt had pegged
him for a geek so quickly. He shrugged his shoulders
when Sam blinked, apparently speechless. “My name’s
Dean Blackmore and this is my brother Sam,” he
glanced at Mia, uncertain how to introduce her. “This
is Mia…a, uh…friend along for the road trip
narrowed his eyes again until his left was almost closed.
He rubbed at his chin, eyeing Mia appreciatively. “Friend,
huh? Yeah, I can see how that would be.” He jerked
a thumb to a shack at the side of the farm. “So,
you two wanna help me haul the lady into the barn?”
started, then stepped aside when she realized Pruitt
was actually talking about the Impala.
noticed her flinch and smiled again before heading for
the Chevy’s open
driver’s door. Dropping inside, he took a hold
of the wheel and then craned his neck back out with
a scowl. “Hey, you folks gonna start pushing sometime
today? ’Cause, hell, I’m sure too old to
put my back into it with you young pups around…”
shook his head and peeled off his jacket, tossing it
on the rear seat before joining Dean and Mia at the
Chevy’s trunk. “Can you believe this guy?”
He asked through clenched teeth.
shirked his head to one side. “Aww, c’mon,
he’s just a little eccentric. I like the dude.”
He placed his palms on the car’s metalwork and
began to heave, noting Mia was doing much the same at
Mia countered. “He’s whacked, Dean. Tell
me you’re not really planning on taking him up
on his offer to stay here?” She bobbed a head
towards the farmhouse and shivered. “That place
creeps me out! This is way too much like that whole
deal in House of Wax with the freaky mechanic…”
beamed, pushing harder as the Impala slid through two
large and slightly rotten barn doors. “Just don’t
go take a leak in there and you’ll be fine,”
he teased, noting the abundance of tools carefully placed
and ordered inside the makeshift workshop.
let go of the car and straightened up, brushing her
hair back away from her face. “Yeah, well just
remember, the girl lived in that movie, most of the
guys weren’t so lucky.” She looked over
her shoulder. “Right, Sam?”
wiped the grime off his hands on a towel he’d
retrieved from the trunk and winced. “I err…never
actually saw that movie…”
clambered from the Impala and scratched at his neck,
lingering at a spot behind his right ear. His expression
suggested his brain was probably on another planet –
lost there after a bad “trip” in the sixties
– but eventually, he glanced at Sam, patting him
on the back as if they’d known each other for
that was one bad flick.” Hank pulled
something from his pocket that looked suspiciously like
chewing tobacco. “I think I’m gonna like
you after all,” he warbled stuffing a wad in his
mouth and grinning like someone out of a National
Hank Pruitt’s Home
Some Time Later…
inside of Hank Pruitt’s home fascinated Sam. How
such a shabby man could keep such a clean house was
beyond him. Every item had a place, just like in the
mechanic’s garage, and every place was spotlessly
clean and unscrupulously tidy.
dining table was the focal point of a small kitchen,
with the oven, refrigerator and work surfaces lining
a wall with a small window at its center. The other
side of the kitchen was filled with a huge cabinet that
had probably been around in Civil War days.
was the cabinet that mesmerized Sam.
cabinet had two huge glass-fronted doors that invited
all to peruse its unusual and aging contents.
you should come look at this.” Sam laid a hand
on the glass while turning to glance at his brother.
had been seated at the table with Mia since they’d
been shepherded out of Hank’s workshop, and so
far all he’d done was sit and quibble with the
girl over every conversational topic they’d broached
– including whether or not their new host was
a mass serial killer.
far, Mia was for the idea that Hank had a huge axe hidden
somewhere ready to decapitate unsuspecting guests, while
Dean continued to insist the man was just a humble mechanic.
Hank has some really unusual stuff here.” Sam
tapped a forefinger on the cabinet. “It’s
like his own personal museum.”
scoffed. “Yeah, well as long as we don’t
end up as his next set of exhibits!”
for crying out loud!” Dean huffed back,
pushing back off his chair to visit the sink for a glass
of water. “He’s not a psycho, trust me,
I’ve seen enough of that type.”
shook his head and decided to return his attention to
the cabinet. Dean and women was always a touchy subject,
but Dean and Mia was like striking a match near a gas
leak – sooner or later there was going to be a
huge explosion – and Sam wasn’t sure he
wanted to be around to evade the falling debris.
wasn’t that he disliked Mia, but he disliked what
Dean became around her. There was just something wrong
about it all.
wrong about her, Sam’s inner voice screamed
as he eyed faded monochrome photographs. I mean,
c’mon, the Impala never breaks down, and suddenly
the transmission blows right after we pick her up..?
edged sideways, viewing more pictures from the thirties,
forties and fifties. Some of the ancient images he recognized
as aviators from a time long gone. Famous pilots who
had set records, crossed oceans, and in some cases,
even saved lives.
hunter closed his eyes, trying to allow Hank’s
collection to invade his mind and push away all the
negative thoughts he was having. Dean would say he was
wouldn’t listen, even if Sam tried to explain
that he sensed something, something “off”
about their current situation.
the circumstances surrounding Mia’s sudden return.
like my little stash of goodies there, Sonny?”
eyelids snapped open and he turned to see Hank looking
at him with a slightly crooked smile. The mechanic appeared
to have cleaned up somewhat, although he still had the
odd patch of oil on his face that he’d apparently
missed with the soap.
pretty…unusual,” Sam nodded, pointing to
an old leather flying helmet and goggles that had been
tagged as “Amy Johnson’s.” “Where
did you get all this? If you don’t mind me asking?”
smile broadened and he thumped Sam on the back again
so hard the hunter thought he was going to crash into
the cabinet. “Hell, no, ’course I don’t
mind! This was my pa’s collection. Damn near lived
his life for flyin’ and collecting this here memorabilia.”
shot a glance over Hank’s shoulder to where Dean
and Mia’s flirting was bordering on violent. Any
minute now, he expected Hank’s somewhat odd tea
set to go flying across the kitchen.
opened his mouth to intervene, and then thought better
of it, refocusing on the mechanic. “I recognize
some of the photos, but not the one on the end.”
He tapped at the glass, indicating a picture that’s
edges had curled and discolored to a dirty brown with
image depicted a woman in uniform with short, curly
dark hair, but there was no tag.
pursed his lips as if the history of the picture actually
pained him. He looked down, shuffling on the woolen
rug at his feet before answering in a dourer voice than
Sam thought the man could ever possess.
name was Gertrude Tompkins Silver. She was a WASP back
in the forties – ya know, women who used to fly
Mustangs across country ready to deliver to the war
effort in Europe. She vanished without a trace back
in ’44 and no one ever found her.”
unsung hero,” Sam noted, looking at the picture
with saddened eyes and a new kind of respect.
scratched at his head again, this time the motion looking
odd without the greasy baseball cap that normally resided
there. “Yeah, Pa thought so too. Mind you, Gertrude
got him in a bunch of hot water. See, back in ’44
Dad always swore he saw a plane flying low over the
desert the night after Gertrude disappeared. Everyone
thought he was crazy as a coyote that’d been chowing
on peyote. The authorities were convinced Gertrude’s
Mustang crashed into the sea shortly after takeoff and
wouldn’t hear any other theories.”
do you think?” Sam asked, real interest making
him want to know what had happened to the young woman.
dunno,” Hank stuffed in a wad of tobacco and started
to noisily chew. “But one thing I do know? Nobody
deserves not to be found like that. I mean, they can’t
rest.” He wiped flecks of tobacco off his fingers
down the front of his semi-clean shirt and then reached
out, opening the cabinet.
inside with stubby fingers, Hank pulled out a small
pair of wings and offered them up to Sam.
asking why, Sam felt compelled to take the gift. He
didn’t know Hank, nor could he ever know Gertrude,
and yet he felt a bond between them, between not only
the mechanic and the long-dead aviator, but also a bond
with them and himself.
was a disorientating revelation – one he couldn’t
hope to understand – and yet, Sam didn’t
the feeling, Sam let his long fingers graze over the
wings, sensing the cool metal, tracing the outline of
their shape. Eventually, he took them into his own palm,
staring at the insignia as if the pin could show him
the missing aviator’s fate.
ain’t it?” Hank swallowed, taking down a
segment of tobacco unintentionally. “But those
things always seem to feel strange – like they
got a life and soul of their own sometimes.”
raised both brows, surprised at how quickly he agreed
with the mechanic’s appraisal.
was something here in Cibola.
Sam wasn’t sure was good.
clasping the wings in his hand, Sam nodded to Pruitt
in an unspoken understanding. Stepping away from the
cabinet, he purposefully strode over to the dining table,
knowing what he had to do next wasn’t going to
had to get Dean’s attention away from Mia and
back in the game.
watched as his brother continued to bicker with the
girl, his ears apparently deaf to everything but her
Will you just cut it out a second and listen!”
Sam heard his own normally placid voice’s pitch
tick up an octave in anger. “I think there might
be something weird in this place.”
and Mia both turned, but it was the girl who bothered
shot a glance to Hank, not caring if he saw her or heard
what she said next. “The only thing weird
about this town is where you two clowns picked
to hole up for the night!”
hesitated, torn between respect for his brother and
the wariness he’d felt every time he’d talked
to Mia just lately – since she’d come back
from Joe’s place, in fact.
shouldn’t just burn out a transmission. Joe shouldn’t
just get his butt kicked by a demon. Girls shouldn’t
keep getting possessed over and over…
shouldn’t be so trusting.
maybe it’s not Hank I’m worried
about,” Sam spat out the sentence and instantly
regretted it. He had no reason to suddenly distrust
yet he did.
it’s this creepy Weirdsville freaking me out.
Maybe I’m overreacting…
Mia pushed back from the table and kicked away from
her chair. Her pupils narrowed and she looked over to
Dean as if he should suddenly be defending her. “You’ve
known my story all along. You know I can’t help
what happened to me and now you’re giving me this
crap?” She took a second longer to let her gaze
shift between the brothers and then stormed out into
yard, hissing expletives under her breath as she slammed
the screen door behind her.
Mia was out of earshot, Dean pushed out of his chair
and simply stared at his brother for the longest second.
“Sam, what the hell were you thinking?
Mia didn’t ask for us to pick her up, and she
sure as hell didn’t want to be stuck in this freakin’
cow town with us.” The hunter’s mouth quirked
as if he was trying to control his temper and failing
you blind, Dean? Every time we’re around
her something bad happens. You keep that car in perfect
shape all this time and now the transmission blows?
She’s a mechanic, Dean, she could easily
have rigged it. Or maybe you’re thinking with
your downstairs brain a little too much to even care
anymore?” Sam took down a breath and stepped back,
resisting the urge to grab his brother’s collar
and shake some sense into him. “And let’s
not forget the whole ‘silver’ thing back
because someone makes one stupid mistake you don’t
trust them anymore?” Dean’s cheeks began
to flush with color, and he stole a glance out of the
nearby window. “Is that it, Sammy?”
wanted to say there was more to it than that. He wanted
to explain that maybe he could sense things
Dean couldn’t. But then, Dean would probably turn
that right on back and say he was just as big a freak
as Mia – and he’d probably be right.
be careful, Dean…”
chewed into his lip, biting back the urge to say much
more because he could see his brother was close to exploding.
Dean had probably not even realized it, but he’d
clenched his fists so tightly his knuckles had turned
an unhealthy shade of white.
was a sign Sam knew all too well meant his brother was
about ready to start swinging punches.
a sharp intake of breath, Sam pushed past his brother
in silence and began to walk. He didn’t care where,
he didn’t care how far, because right now he felt
more alone than the day he’d stood over Jess’s
grave knowing he’d never see her again.
had lost Dean.
had lost Sam.
the only difference was, Dean hadn’t even noticed.
* * * *
hadn’t been keeping track of the time as he walked.
He never could when he did these “little walkabouts.”
All he knew was, he’d been pissed at Dean and
needed to get out before they both did something they’d
the time, anywhere had sounded like a good
idea, but in Cibola, anywhere was just about everywhere.
looked up as he trudged along the sandy trail, watching
as the last vestiges of sun seeped into the horizon
and were gone.
be told, he had no clue where he’d ended up, and
the wide open spaces of Arizona tended not to carry
too many signposts.
Sam had to admit to himself he was lost. Lost, with
no food, no water, and it was too late to even try and
follow his own footprints back to Hank’s place.
that he wanted to be there right now. Mia would probably
never speak to him again, and Dean would still be pissed.
Deep down, Sam wasn’t ready to apologize, because
his gut was still screaming that he was right.
Mia wasn’t bad, he’d admit that, but she
was definitely bad luck for the Winchesters, and they
had enough of that kind of misfortune on their own.
stuck his hands in his pockets and pulled the jacket
closer to his body. As the night took over from day,
the desert around him was getting cooler – maybe
began to walk faster, hoping the extra exertion would
keep his body warm, but it wasn’t going to help
when the time came for sleep.
needed shelter, and soon. Except I walked myself
into the desert. Not exactly a whole lot of motels and
bars out here, he chided himself. I mean, c’mon,
Winchester, it’s not even hot now, so not even
the chance of a mirage…
chuckled, suddenly getting the image of some lap-dancing
bar stuck in the middle of the Sonoran desert, complete
with ice-cold beers and some very curvaceous women.
he spoke to the empty wastelands. “Now I’m
starting to think like Dean. I must be losing it.”
He wrapped his jacket even tighter around his tall frame,
hands pushing deep into his pockets until something
sharp dug into his right knuckle.
winced before remembering the set of wings Hank had
given him. Coming to a halt, he fumbled until he brought
out the offending badge and pin that had stabbed into
wings glistened as the moonlight reflected from the
metal. They looked new – certainly not over fifty
looked at them and then shifted his gaze to the heavens
– to the stars pilots like Gertrude had easily
only I was so lucky,” Sam muttered to the night
sky, watching as a shooting star flashed across the
firmament far out in the harsh void of space. “Guess
this will teach me to stop crashing out of arguments
with Dean so quickly. First I get Meg and now I get
you should carry a compass…
spun around so fast he almost tripped over a small cactus
that he’d somehow missed in the darkness. He stumbled,
steadying himself before frowning.
was no one around, and yet he had heard the words like
they had been spoken right into his ear.
fact, when he thought about it, the voice did seem to
have come from his own head – but it hadn’t
been his thought.
so now I’m hearing things.” Sam blinked
and lifted a boot to move on, but he didn’t actually
start to walk. He couldn’t, because there was
something ahead of him in the desert he hadn’t
was impossible to miss, really, and yet he had.
dark structures made from timber jutted out from the
landscape like sentinels watching over the scorched
desert. Except these guardians were old – so old
– the timber they were built from had long since
ceased to be sound.
squinted, forcing his eyes to focus the shapes into
something more discernable. They had once been buildings,
of that he was sure – perhaps a whole street –
or maybe the remnants of a whole ghost town.
water butt lay on its side, in what the hunter could
only imagine had once been the center of the street.
And around its rotting carcass, balls of tumbleweed
drifted like angels floating above the clouds.
whole image was surreal, and it brought back memories
Sam would rather have remained buried. This was how
Dean had described Purgatory after his unwanted visit
to the “other side.”
unnerved, and yet curious, Sam began to walk towards
the remains of the long-dead settlement. It was probably
the kind of place the “Hellhounds” would
deem a den of psychic and spiritual activity, but to
a real hunter it was nothing more than a fascinating
piece of history.
because the place was old, didn’t mean it had
a bad history, nor did it mean the place was haunted.
It doesn’t mean it isn’t, either,
Sam’s inner voice warned as he stepped up onto
a decaying section of decking.
wood creaked beneath Sam’s boots but he ignored
the noise, concentrating on what he presumed had once
been a saloon. The place might hold a wealth of knowledge
and history – not to mention it might provide
warmth and shelter for the night if he was lucky enough
to find an intact stove.
slid a hand under his jacket and pulled out his mini-Maglite.
With a quick twist, the tiny beam illuminated the room
around him with just enough glow to let him get an idea
of what things had really been like here.
wasn’t like something out of a movie. It was bland,
practical, and after years of abandonment, it was filthy.
moved and Sam zeroed in on it, the glare of white radiance
from his flashlight catching in the creature’s
the hunter shook his head with a small smile. “Boy,
Dean would just love to be here right now.” He
turned back, focusing on his search for a stove.
the Maglite caught the ovoid shape of something metal
seated on cast iron legs. As Sam moved the light upwards,
he could make out a funnel from it into the roof. He
moved closer until the shape formed into the solid lines
of an ancient wood burner.
all I need is a couple more miracles and my night is
stuck the flashlight between his teeth and fumbled to
unlatch the stove’s door. There were cobwebs and
what looked like corrosion, but the metal swung away
easily to reveal logs that had been cut half a century
so that’s miracle number one.” Sam frowned,
unsure if he liked the odds of being so lucky. “Now
if I had Dean’s Zippo I’d be all set.”
the Maglite back in his hand, he headed for the bar.
Maybe there was something there he could use to get
the stove going. An old bottle of rot gut and a match
perhaps. Yeah, right, now that really would be a
swung the flashlight over the wooden counter to light
up the shelving behind it, but the ledges were empty.
Only a mirror remained at their center, the glass cracked
from corner to corner by some unknown object.
reflection seemed to split in two as it bounced back
off the glass and he abruptly shivered. Mirrors always
reminded him of Bloody Mary. Reminded him how his eyes
had bled and why. He moved the Maglite away, quickly
redirecting his search to behind the bar’s counter.
was even darker here, hidden in the gloom away from
the saloon’s broken windows, and as Sam crouched,
he realized he would have to actually rummage with his
hands as well as the light if he even hoped to find
anything in the nooks and crevices left by crumbling
his left hand behind the rotting shelving, the hunter
thought for the briefest of moments that he’d
felt something. He moved his fingers, wriggling them
further into the gap until something sharp seemed to
sink into his hand between thumb and forefinger.
instantly recoiled, instinctively grabbing at his flesh
so quickly he dropped the tiny Maglite somewhere in
the shadows. He cursed, an odd burning, tingling sensation
moving along the hand he had stuck behind the bar.
wasn’t pain exactly, because whatever had happened,
his hand had already begun to turn numb.
hunkered down onto his knees, fumbling in the darkness
for his flashlight. His good hand wafted through cobwebs
and inches of dust, but with no actual beam in sight
to guide him, his efforts were futile.
need to get outside, use the natural light to take a
look at my hand.
to get out of the bar…
didn’t know why, but his thoughts seemed to be
getting sluggish. Surely he couldn’t be that tired,
even with the cold?
forced his knees to haul him back upright, but as he
straightened, he lurched, grabbing at a nearby wooden
chair for support.
chair moved with Sam’s weight, skidding and finally
toppling sideways as the hunter lost his balance. An
awkward thumpf, followed by a large cloud of
dust signaled he had ungracefully hit the timber floorboards
not too far from where his flashlight lay hidden by
the saloon piano.
licked his lips and blinked, realizing that his whole
body suddenly felt paralyzed – in fact, his mind
did too. He couldn’t think, he couldn’t
force one coherent thought into his brain.
blinked again, feeling his eyelids close even though
he didn’t want them to.
* * * *
Sam didn’t know how long he’d gone without
a drink, but from the coarse feeling at the back of
his throat it felt like days. He swallowed, but his
mouth was so dry even that movement was an effort.
I drink too much?
tried to remember his last thought, his last action,
but neither involved alcohol. He’d been mad at
Dean and he walked out.
smack into the middle of a desert.
shook his head and found that surprisingly the motion
didn’t hurt. With renewed confidence, he gently
lifted an eyelid just a crack to find the sun glaring
down on him.
wonder I’m thirsty.
opened the other eye and rolled until he was sitting
upright. His muscles ached from the position he’d
been sprawled in on the sand, but he didn’t feel
any other injuries.
he cleared away the film that had formed over his eyes
and then glanced around.
was still wrong.
mind was foggy, thoughts disjointed, but Sam remembered
it should be dark. He should be in a building.
was in the saloon. I started to feel strange and…
used his elbow for leverage and forced his lanky frame
up until he was standing next to an outcropping of rock.
From what he could tell, it was the only thing for miles
to mark the open panorama of sand apart from various
species of cacti.
was lost and alone – not in an old ghost town
– but in the middle of the Sonoran desert, with
no food, water or any kind of supplies.
caught a breath and held it. Maybe he was dreaming.
Maybe he had fallen asleep behind the bar. Except, he
knew he hadn’t.
on his heels, he turned in a complete circle, frantically
searching the horizon for signs of humanity, but there
was nothing but the morning heat reflecting off the
Dean, now tell me the Impala breaking down
here was a coincidence?” Sam spoke to thin air,
letting his body loll back dejectedly until he was perched
on the rocky projection, one thing certain in his mind.
Winchesters had been brought to Cibola for a reason.
Maybe his first thought that Mia was behind it had been
wrong, but still his basic instinct hadn’t been
off the mark.
wanted the Winchesters.
now, that thing had separated them.
demon that’s after Mia, maybe? Or some random
malevolence in the town?
shielded his eyes with the back of his hand, watching
as a vulture dived in the distance. It didn’t
matter who had trapped him here. In fact, short term,
it didn’t even matter why.
now, only one thing mattered to Sam – escape.
as he looked over the baking desert badlands, he realized
he might as well have been transported to Hell itself.
the episode here