Seven: Love Bites
SnSam & Tree
ranch outside Marathon, Texas
Whitiker lifted the brim of the cowboy hat from his
head and ran the back of his sleeve across his forehead
wiping away the sweat. Even at night, the West Texas
air was still warm enough to be uncomfortable. Add to
that the sticky humidity of the incoming storm and the
fact that Whitiker had spent the better part of the
day putting up bales of hay, and his body was well past
the point of being gritty and trail worn.
distant flash of lightning lit up the night sky and
the rancher spotted his small herd just ahead, milling
around a small clump of Ash trees.
cattle,” he muttered, replacing the hat and spurring
his Quarter Horse forward. “Pick a spot, lie down
and just wait for the damn lightnin’ to turn you
into well-done steaks.”
small-time rancher grunted in frustration. Unlike the
big operators back toward Dallas, he was just barely
scraping by on a tiny chunk of acreage passed on to
him by his father. The land wasn’t fertile, no
lush green fields for his herd to feed from, no crystal
clear streams that ran cold and free year round. Instead,
Whitiker barely clung to a hundred acres of rough scrub,
hit and miss water holes, and about fifty head of mixed
Black Angus and Longhorns that were bound and determined
to get themselves killed long before they ever made
it to the slaughterhouse.
seemed like the only thing that thrived in west Texas
were rattlesnakes and coyotes, and maybe his cheating
ex-wife, although Jasper was fairly certain that MaryKate
belonged to one of those first two categories.
the land was his, free and clear. Even though he lived
in what others might consider a ramshackle house, it
was his and no one could take that away from him. Like
the herd, he wasn’t about to lose it to a storm
or an ex-wife.
the darkness, the screech of some predator echoed across
the west Texas landscape, startling Jasper’s horse
and causing the herd to stir nervously. The haggard
rancher cast a wary look around, noting the faint glow
on the horizon from the lights back in Marathon.
I’ll head into Buck’s for a cold one once
I get these boys back safe and sound, he mused. Then
again, MaryKate’s sure to be trotting her cheatin’
ass around there with Toby and Lord knows I’ll
end up havin’ to kick his ass again…
the herd, another flash of lightning was followed by
an even closer call of a wild animal. Convinced that
it was nothing more than a coyote and not likely to
bother him with the incoming storm, but not willing
to take any chances, Jasper pulled the Marlin 1894 rifle
from the boot strapped to his saddle, cocked it and
held it at ready in his right hand while transferring
the reins to his left. Directing the horse towards the
nearest of the herd, he whistled in an attempt to get
the lethargic steers moving back in the direction of
come on’, let’s go boys,” he coaxed,
pushing the horse through the mass of cattle.
first, the cows moved slowly, ambling forward like they
were in no great rush to obey Whitiker’s command.
But as he cut his chestnut gelding back through the
black mass of beef, Jasper noticed that some of the
steers at the edge of the herd had begin to dart off
in various directions.
he had a chance to consider the implications, a third
high-pitched yowl sounded dangerously near. With only
one hand holding the reins to the horse, Jasper was
unprepared when the powerful steed reared up in terror.
boy, whoa there,” he begged as his vision was
filled with the darkness of the cloud-filled night sky.
gelding continued to buck, its nostrils flaring as it
could sense what its rider could not. In the end, the
beast won, dislodging the rancher, and dashing off into
hard on the ground, Jasper was momentarily dazed, suddenly
feeling every muscle and joint in his fifty year old
body. He pushed up from the dirt, grabbing his hat and
replacing it on his head before twirling around to look
for his misplaced rifle.
him, the cattle stirred more vigorously, brushing into
him and nearly knocking Whitiker back down to the ground
in their rush to move away from the perceived threat.
Retrieving his rifle, the rancher cast a final glance
in the direction that his horse had bolted then turned
back to the herd, determined to still bring them despite
being on foot.
it, Dusty!” he cursed. “Good thing you’re
already a gelding.”
the rifle in one hand, Whitiker began to circle the
cattle, whistling and clicking his tongue while he swatted
at the rough hides. It would be a long walk back to
the house and barn, but Jasper was determined not to
lose any of the herd.
on cows, let’s move, hee-yah, move up thar’.”
Briefly satisfied that the herd was moving in the general
direction of the ranch, Jasper stiffened as a rough
wind whipped up the loose earth, driving it into the
Texan’s face. He dipped his head down, sheltering
it against the gritty abuse and perplexed by the strange
hint of sulfur that filled his nostrils, as though someone
had just struck a match.
his shoulder, one of the steer bellowed in pain and
the others quickly shied away from it, their simple
minds set only to self-preservation. Whitiker brought
the rifle up to his shoulder, scanning the herd for
any sign of a predator.
a cautious step forward, he spotted the downed steer;
the animal still struggling to rise, its brown eyes
flashing wide in panic even in the darkness. Whitiker
knelt beside the steer, running his hand along the creature’s
body and looking for signs of injury. As his hand reached
the animal’s flanks, he felt a patch of sticky
the hell?” he muttered, raising his hand closer
to observe the thick blood coating his fingers.
him, another steer bawled in pain while others around
it cried out in bovine terror. Whitiker spun, searching
for a target but settling for simply firing a round
into the air, hoping the noise would scare the predator
away. As the herd scattered, he quickly fired another
shot, dashing toward the second downed steer.
than the first, the rancher had to turn away from the
sight of the mutilated animal, its belly torn open as
though someone had slashed at it repeatedly with a machete.
Sickened by the smell of blood and freshly exposed intestines,
Jasper stifled back a gag. He sucked in a deep breath,
hoping that the night air would clear the nauseous smell
that was threatening to make him vomit, but instead,
his nostrils were assailed by the overwhelming stench
not willing to submit to the panic teasing the back
of his mind and setting the hairs on the nape of his
neck on end, Whitiker, pulled the neckerchief up around
his nose and mouth, trying to block the disgusting odor.
He redoubled his efforts to collect his stock, a task
that had become even more difficult now that the creatures
were nearly ready to break into a stampede.
Whitiker skirted around the edge of the moving cattle,
he stumbled across two more slaughtered animals. Tightening
his finger on the trigger of the Marlin, the rancher
could only stare incredulously as a set of red eyes
blinked at him from behind the body of one of the steer.
”What in the Sam Hill is that?” he mouthed,
taking aim with the rifle, still determined to defend
his dwindling herd.
before his index finger could squeeze the trigger, something
slammed into Whitiker’s back, driving him forward.
Fighting to maintain a grip on the rifle, he staggered
ahead as red-hot pain lanced between his shoulder blades.
Something solid struck his side and a similar agony
joined the sensations flaying at the flesh on his back.
now, battling to stay on his feet, Whitiker could feel
his flesh being torn apart by sharp claws and even shaper
fangs, his clothing offering no protection against the
attack of the predators that had devastated his herd
and now seemed intent on finishing him as well. Dropping
to his knees, he saw even more red eyes peering at him
from the surrounding darkness.
smell of sulfur was so strong now that even the cover
over the lower half of his face couldn’t block
it out. But that was the least of his concerns as the
coppery taste of blood began to fill his mouth. Jasper
could feel his heart pounding in his chest, the wild
thrum of it duplicated in his ears. He wasn’t
a man that frightened easily, but as he felt teeth sinking
into the back of his neck, deep down he knew his fate
was sealed just like his livestock.
forward on his belly, blood coursing from the ribbons
of tattered flesh that hung from his body, Whitiker
could finally see his attackers. Small and compact,
the creatures looked like a cross between hairless wild
dogs and oversized rodents. Combined with the red eyes
and fangs, Whitiker had never in all his years of ranch-life
seen anything like the hideous looking things that were
now swarming all over him.
he could hear more of his cattle screaming as the strange
beasts attacked them.
from… my… herd…” he choked out
defiantly, blood frothing from his mouth in between
each gasped word.
able to raise his head as yet another of the creatures
launched at Jasper’s face, the rancher succumbed
to the onslaught, as the feeding-frenzy began in earnest.
He tried to scream; pain, defiance, and anger at how
life had seen fit to treat him, all culminating in one
final primal yell. Before the noise could escape his
mouth however, gleaming fangs plunged into his throat,
tearing back and forth until nothing but a weak gurgle
of blood sounded across the West Texas night.
Karla’s Suds and Buds – Laundromat and Bar
sat with his back propped against one of the commercial-sized
washing machines as he killed time working on a Sudoku
online. Across from him, Mia sat absently turning pages
through a tattered copy of Car and Driver. The
laundromat was empty otherwise, everyone else electing
to pass the time in the “other” half of
the establishment, much like Dean had chosen to do.
younger Winchester looked up from his laptop, bored
with the puzzle, tired of the ongoing drone of the television
mounted in the corner and most definitely aggravated
that he had been relegated to laundry duty by his older
in the two weeks or so that had passed since tangling
with the NuJack in Bennington, even the relative quiet
of the western Tennessee town was beginning to wear
thin on Sam’s nerves. Sure, they had worked a
couple of minor gigs in between, but overall, they had
avoided anything that even hinted at being dangerous
knew that Dean was being cautious with Mia being around.
At first he thought it was because his older brother
was still bothered about the young woman’s “mistake”
during that hunt, but as the days passed and Sam watched
their interaction, he realized it was much more than
banter, the sarcasm, the shared glances, the casual
touches, it was all adding up and even though Sam knew
his brother would fervently deny it, Dean was attracted
to the girl.
I got a booger or something hanging out of my nose?”
What?” Sam stammered, suddenly drawn alert by
the strange question and noticing Mia looking at him
were staring at me. It was kinda creeping me out. What’s
the deal?” the brunette asked.
smiled sheepishly, dipping his head so that his face
was hidden beneath his own unkempt dark hair. “I’m
sorry. I was just thinking.”
what? It must be something good if you where staring
at me and now you’re kinda blushing,” Mia
really,” Sam insisted.
So, does thinking about whitening your underwear and
reducing static cling always turn you red and make you
Sam looked back up at her knowing he was busted but
deciding to try to change the subject regardless.
I think white underwear is overrated. I pretty much
subscribe to the ‘throw it all in one load and
hope for the best’ method of doing the laundry,”
he admitted with a chuckle.
as Mia snorted and rolled her eyes, for the briefest
moment, Sam was reminded of Jessica. He remembered chasing
the playful blonde down the steps to the basement of
their apartment complex to do their accumulated laundry.
Then, like now, Sam had taken over the duty, but mostly
because Jess had a tendency for turning things pink.
He teased her unmercifully about her lack of ability
to handle such a simple task and just as Mia had done,
Jess would roll her eyes and then go on to declare that
contrary to popular belief, laundry was not genetically
encoded to women.
Earth to Sam…” Mia called out.
sorry, Mia. I was just thinking again,” he answered.
do that a lot I’ve noticed. Did I say something
wrong? You look kinda, I dunno, sad?”
smiled at her. “Nah, You just reminded me of someone.
It’s alright, really.”
woman?” Mia dug further.
Sam admitted. He took a deep breath then continued.
“Her name was Jessica. I uh… loved her.”
felt the lump rise in his throat, but he managed to
swallow it down, knowing that Mia’s question was
innocent enough. “She died,” he answered
was a moment of silence between them as Sam nervously
toyed with the keyboard and Mia mimicked the motion
with the edge of the magazine in her lap. He could feel
her eyes glancing back up at him, wanting to initiate
more conversation but cautiously refraining.
you and my brother, what’s up with that?”
he asked quickly.
looked up abruptly, her own cheeks now a rosy color
as her eyes widened in surprise.
ya don’t mince any words do you Sam?” she
replied with an edgy laugh.
closed the laptop and shifted slightly to face her.
“Hey, don’t get me wrong Mia. I don’t
mean to stick my nose where it doesn’t belong,
that’s not the point.”
what is the point?” she asked defensively.
care about him. He’s my brother. There’s
nothing I wouldn’t do for him, and I know you
already got the same speech from him about me. But still,
that’s not it. See, I know you and Dean have a
lot in common but there’s something really important
about him that you don’t know at all,” Sam
watched her face soften, curiosity lighting her cinnamon
eyes as she waited for him to continue.
never asks anything for himself, Mia. He gives until
it kills him, especially for the people he cares about.
And along those same lines, he doesn’t expose
any vulnerability, any weaknesses; but the thing is,
deep down, Dean isn’t as tough as he like to make
people think. At least not when it comes to those he
lets get close to him,” he explained.
get that, Sam,” Mia interjected.
you?” he challenged. “’’Cause
my brother, he deserves to be happy Mia. All his life,
ever since our mom died, he’s devoted himself
to being Dad’s second in command, to raising and
protecting me, to trying to save all the people we come
across in our work. And he’s never once asked
anything for himself, Hell, I’m not even sure
he knows how. So yeah, I want him to be happy and if
that’s with you or because of you, I’m good
with that, so long as you know where I stand.”
watched the lithe young woman stand and walk slowly
toward the row of washing machines across from them.
She ran her hand along the edge before she turned and
leaned against the washer, facing him.
I think it’s really fantastic how you and Dean
watch out for each other. I never had that. I won’t
lie to you, I am attracted to your brother, but I’m
not sure that Dean sees me the way you think he does,”
she said solemnly.
laughed, startling her with his reaction.
trust me. Do you realize that in the past three weeks
or so that you’ve been with us, my brother has
barely even talked to another woman in a convenience
store much less hooked up with his normal small-town
barmaid? I mean, considering Dean, I’m almost
ready to either have him committed or try an exorcism,”
watched as the implication of his comment sunk in with
the brunette, her face blushing again even though she
tried to hide it by twisting her fingers into her long
she began, small dimples forming at the corners of her
mouth as she spoke. “Are you saying that Dean
shook his head. “You really are just like my brother.
He usually needs something hard to hit him on the head
too before he sees what’s standing right in front
of him. Well actually, it’s more like he gets
tossed into something but that’s neither here
nor there. I’m just saying that Dean has been
rather ‘reserved’ since you’ve been
around him and that’s not like him.”
rose, stretching his long body and enjoying the satisfying
“pop” of cartilage in his back and neck.
He moved closer to Mia, bending down until his mouth
was near her ear.
talk to him, Mia. Trust me, waiting on Dean to make
the first move in this case, you’ve a better chance
of getting him to trade the Impala in on a station wagon.”
nodded in the direction of the bar, encouraging her
on, and for a second, Sam laughed to himself, suddenly
feeling as though the tables had turned and he was “pimping
his brother out”. He watched Mia stop and turn
back to him just before she reached the entrance.
thanks! I, uh…” she stammered.
watched the young woman standing there fumbling for
words and he nearly forgot why she was in their care
in the first place, forgetting that she too had known
very little joy in her life.
Mia. You both deserve it,” he reminded her, turning
away to move the clean clothes over to the dryers.
In the bar
sat at the bar his hands wrapped around a tall glass
of beer that was already too warm for him to truly consider
drinking. In truth, he wasn’t even sure why he
had ordered the damn thing, not that he had never drank
at eleven in the morning, but it wasn’t his customary
lunch beverage unless of course he had something weighing
heavily on his mind.
I have something on my mind?
lifted the beer, taking a swig and grimacing at the
bitterness of the warm brew. Setting the glass back
on the counter the buxom blonde behind the bar quickly
scurried over to check on him once again just like she’d
been doing frequently for the past hour.
ready for a fresh one, darlin’?” she asked,
leaning in so that there was no mistaking her overt
attempt to flash her breasts at him.
thanks, I’m good,” he replied, barely even
looking up, but not missing her disgruntled snort as
she walked away, denied his attention.
just ignored 36DD’s on a tall blonde dude, where
the hell’s your head? He silently chastised himself.
answer came without a second thought. Mia!
The image of the brunette flashed into his mind, her
brown eyes sparkling as she smiled.
his head, Dean dismissed the vision from his brain.
The woman was an enigma to him; involved in some of
the most violent and hideous murders he’d ever
witnessed during a hunt, he tried to remember that she
was nothing more than an innocent pawn in a demon’s
he took away the possession stuff, he was left with
a girl that knew as much about cars and classic rock
as he did. If he was honest, Mia was a beautiful woman
with a smart wit and an even smarter mouth that rarely
if ever was at a loss to put him in his place. While
he feigned irritation at her matching his sarcasm and
snark, part of him was actually impressed and looked
forward to the challenge every time he was around her.
Get out of my head,” he grumbled aloud at the
thoughts rambling through his mind. “This is ridiculous,
Winchester. Where the hell do you think things could
possibly go with her?”
a hunter! There’s no room for a personal relationship
in your life. Don’t you remember where you are?
you dumbass, don’t you remember?
remember the last time you were in Tennessee? Remember
the last girl you thought you could get close to? Brunette
too, dark eyes, her soft touch…
up until she nearly brought a killer Wampus cat down
on your ass!
Dean muttered, quieting the ongoing barrage taking place
in his mind.
but not quite. Are you already so drunk that you forgot
my name?” Mia quipped.
blinked several times, waiting as the memory of the
deceased girl was replaced by the taller brunette that
had dropped onto a barstool beside him. He flashed her
a weak smile, before running a hand through his spiked
sorry. I was thinking.”
is it with you Winchesters? Or is it just me that seems
to have the penchant for bringing out the deep thought
in you and Sam today?” she asked.
looked at her blankly, not understanding the reference,
but knowing he was missing something by the smile on
what’s going on Mia? You and Sammy all done with
the clothes?” he asked.
and speaking of which, why do we get stuck with laundry
detail while your ass is in here sucking down brews
and watching football?” she challenged.
because I’m the oldest. And because I’m
responsible for car maintenance and weapons. That leaves
things like laundry, cooking or any other sundry duties
to you and Sam,” Dean explained with a grin.
I’m pretty handy around a car too ya know,”
honey, I’d never ask you to break one of those
pretty nails of yours. Besides, the Impala is a one
man woman. I don’t think she’d take kindly
to having a female’s hands on her chassis. She
just doesn’t swing that way,” he joked.
laughed, amused by his sense of humor even if it bordered
on chauvinistic. When it came to the classic Chevy,
she understood where Dean’s possessiveness was
you want a beer or something?” Dean offered when
the silence between them and Mia’s brown eyes
no thanks. Uh, Dean…”
to eat then?”
no… look, Dean. I came in here to talk to you
about something,” Mia blurted.
hunter recoiled with apprehension. I need to talk
to you about something… Were there any more
fearful words to come out of a woman’s mouth?
visibly jumped as the cell phone in his pocket chose
that moment to begin blaring his most recent ringtone.
He fumbled as he reached for the cellular, holding up
a finger to silence the young woman as he slid the Motorola
open and tapped the button to answer. He didn’t
even bother to check the caller ID, preferring whoever
was on the other end of the call to the direction this
current conversation was headed.
voice that returned was deep with just a hint of southern
name is James Dixon. Sorry to bother ya but your dad
told me to give ya a call.”
flinched at the mention of his father. With no word
from their dad in nearly two months, the mere thought
that someone had spoken to him was at least encouraging,
but he wanted more.
talked to my dad, Mr. Dixon?” he asked, trying
to hide the desperation in his voice.
And call me Dix. Talked to John just yesterday. Was
hoping he could help me with a hunt I’m on down
in West Texas.”
Dean was stunned into silence that this man had spoken
to his dad as recently as yesterday when John Winchester
hadn’t seen fit to return a phone call to his
own sons since mysteriously walking out of Bobby’s.
got me a problem with a chupacabra down near Marathon.
I was hoping John could help but he said he was too
tied up with the gig he was currently on. Told me you
boys were cut from the same cloth and gave me your number,”
did my dad say where he was by chance? What he was hunting?”
son, he didn’t, and I didn’t ask. You’re
a hunter, you know what a cautious bunch we can be,”
the hunter replied. “Besides, the few times I’ve
run into your daddy before, he wouldn’t have said
crap if he had a mouthful. Hell, I’m surprised
he even returned my call.”
well that’s John Winchester I guess,” Dean
admitted dejectedly. “So, Dix, how can we help
as I was saying. I’m on a hunt down here in West
Texas. Thought it would be a simple chupacabra thing.
Get in, get out. But there’ve been too many killings
over too much territory to be just one chupa. So, I
know when I’m in over my head. And I could use
some extra hands and eyes.”
considered the man’s request. West Texas was at
least warmer and a chupacabra hunt was generally a cake
walk in the park. Besides, it beat Tennessee, the memories
and the threat of the “conversation” with
Dix. We can be down that way by tomorrow lunch. I’ll
give you a call once we hit town.”
other hunter acknowledged and Dean ended the call. Swinging
around on the barstool, he downed the last of the now
completely tepid beer, uncaring how vile the alcohol
tasted, just wanting it to take the edge off the heavy
ache in his chest.
okay?” Mia’s voice broke through his inner
call, it’s another hunt?”
Dean answered shortly, wishing she would just be quiet.
asked about your dad. Did that guy know where he was?”
you string together more than one syllable at a time?”
felt the explosion boiling up inside him. Anger and
pain resulting from the feeling of being abandoned yet
again by his father threatening to surface and level
the young woman even though he knew she wasn’t
the cause, only the accelerant. He fought back the urge
to snap at her but couldn’t hide the emotion from
his face or body.
just leave it be, okay,” he pleaded, pulling away
slightly when she placed a petite hand on his.
be. It’s just how it is with my dad and us. Been
there, done that.” He answered, standing up and
jamming a hand into his pocket to pull out several bills.
slapped them down on the countertop then swung around
and gave Mia a weak smile.
go round up Sammy before he starts ironing the underwear.
I hope you didn’t leave him with any of yours
or we’ll never peel him away from the Spice Channel
tonight,” he joked, waggling his eyebrows as he
led Mia from the bar.
Dean walked back toward the Impala, a scowl darkening
his features as he joined Sam and Mia by the parked
car. He looked down distastefully at the two room keys
in his hand and cringed; the cold, scaly feel of the
disembodied rattles gave him the creeps.
fifteen and sixteen,” he announced, drawing closer
and wiggling the keys for effect.
What is that?” Mia exclaimed.
it isn’t a baby toy,” Dean replied, tossing
one at the young woman. “For what it’s worth
though, Uncle Fester in the office assures me that none
of those were taken off snakes gathered from our rooms.”
isn’t that a comfort,” Sam grumbled.
one look at the guy in the office and I’m less
worried about the snakes and more concerned about whether
they filmed Texas Chainsaw Massacre here,”
for one don’t care, so long as it wasn’t
Psycho. Just point me in the direction of a
hot shower,” Mia whined, slinging her bag over
her shoulder and heading toward the room marked on her
watched her walk off, his eyes glued to her as she sauntered
might need someone to scrub her back,” Sam suggested,
jamming an elbow into his brother’s ribcage as
up,” Dean snapped, turning back to the car and
grabbing his own duffle before stalking off toward their
he unlocked the door and flung it open, the sight of
their latest lodging loosed a string of expletives from
the young hunter. Pulling up next to him, Sam could
only stand in stunned silence as he took in the décor.
the hell, Sam?” Dean complained as he tentatively
took a step inside the room.
guess it makes the room key seem… appropriate?”
the taller man replied.
walked around the room, curiously touching the bizarre
decorations. Everything from snakeskin lampshades to
a bleached out longhorn skull adorned the room, but
the piece de resistance in Dean’s estimation was
the stuffed armadillo that sat atop the dresser.
that’s just not right,” he protested, pointing
at the offending mammal.
could be worse, Dean,” Sam suggested.
that? I mean, seriously dude, the damn thing is staring
at me no matter where I go in the room.”
just a trick of the taxidermy.”
gotta go, Sammy. Put it outside or something,”
kidding, right?” Sam asked, surprised.
you stick that damn thing outside or in the closet,
or I swear I’m gonna ventilate it until there’s
nothing left to identify it by.” Dean threatened,
pulling the .45 from the pocket of his jacket.
it’s already dead,” Sam implored.
that looks like that shouldn’t ever have been
alive to begin with and I’m not taking any chances.
You gonna take care of it or am I?”
watched, his hand still tensely wrapped around his Colt,
as his younger brother, barely containing laughter,
walked over to the dresser and began to lift to dead
creature. Sam tugged, grunted, and tugged again.
“Got a little problem, dude.”
heavy for you there, Samantha?” Dean taunted.
no. It’s actually screwed down to the top of the
dresser. I guess they were afraid someone might steal
it. You know how motels are?” Sam explained.
groaned, hastily moving closer to check and see if Sam
was telling the truth or just screwing with him. Tucking
the automatic under his armpit, he yanked on the rigid
animal to no effect.
told you,” Sam stated smugly, standing back with
his arms folded across his chest as he watched his older
brother’s peculiar behavior.
it. I’m getting another room,” Dean insisted.
Uncle Fester?” Sam reminded. “The next room
might be worse. Just suck it up. What’s so bad
about a dead armadillo?”
spun around, away from the animal cadaver and away from
the suspicious eyes of his younger brother.
Just forget it,” he grumbled.
come on, what gives,” Sam edged on, a mischievous
smile creasing his face. “You’re not afraid
of it are you?”
be ridiculous…” Dean protested.
are, aren’t you?”
we don’t have time for this. We’re s’posed
to meet Dix in an hour and we need to make sure Mia
is secured before we go,” Dean tried to change
just a dead armadillo, Dean. They’re harmless,”
like clowns,” Dean threw back, watching his brother
for his reaction.
low, Dean. I was a kid. Besides, you’re one to
talk. How is it with your little phobias of planes and
rodents?” Sam countered.
glared back at his brother before betraying himself
and casting a glance back at the dead animal. Sam followed
his gaze, suddenly making the mental connection.
it, isn’t it?” he asked, as Dean grumbled
and started for the door.
for the handle, he paused, turning to look back at his
brother. “It looks like an overgrown rat,”
he admitted. “A friggin’ giant, armored-car
of a rat and I swear if you say one more word about
it, I’ll put a round in your ass right after I
put a round in that thing.”
that he stormed out of the room determined to ignore
the loud laughter of his younger sibling and even more
determined to stop at the first McDonalds he could find
in Marathon, Texas and purchase the largest red-headed
clown the fast food chain offered.
Winchester didn’t get mad… he got even!
up to the front of the rundown ranch house, Dean felt
his chest seize tightly as the dust stirred up from
their drive down the lone dirt road finally settled
to reveal a black pickup truck parked just off to the
side. Deep down, he knew it wasn’t his dad’s,
but getting his brain to convince his heart of that
reality was another matter entirely.
or not, the illusion was shattered when a shorter,
slightly rotund man, strode down the steps of the porch.
If Dean had any thoughts that his father was waiting
for them at the Whitiker homestead, the appearance of
James Dixon quickly wiped them away.
that’s him?” Sam asked skeptically, eyeing
the middle-aged man as he approached. “Seems more
like an accountant than a hunter.”
so,” Dean answered. “But looks can be deceiving,
I s’pose, and Dad trusts him, so that’s
good enough for me.”
brothers exited the Impala and moved to meet the stout
hunter. Despite his rather short legs, he scurried forward
toward them, extending his hand while a wide smile spread
across an otherwise pale and clean shaven face.
met him first, towering over the smaller man, the thought
skittering through his mind that Sam was nearly twice
as tall by comparison. He cocked an eyebrow as the older
hunter pumped his hand in greeting, surprised by the
strong grasp and worried that his shoulder might be
dislocated at the rate Dixon was shaking his arm.
Dixon, but my friends call me Dix. Can’t tell
you boys how much I appreciate you giving me a hand
on this one,” he welcomed them. “I was a
bit surprised when Johnnie told me he had a couple of
boys that were following in his footsteps. He’d
never mentioned that you boys were hunters before.”
uh, you and our dad have hunted together before?”
a couple of times, nothing major really. We worked together
on a pack of black dogs near Modesto and then one other
time he helped me out with a poltergeist,” Dix
you known him long?” Sam questioned suspiciously.
“He’s never mentioned you.”
few years I guess, but like I said, you know John, not
like you could get a glass of water out of that man
if he was standing outside in the pouring down rain
with a cup in his hand,” the older man joked.
glanced over at Sam, knowing his younger brother was
still wary, while he too wanted to question the man
more about his absent dad. Yet the little man was likeable
enough, honest and forthcoming, even if he seemed too
soft, not nearly hardened enough to be an actual hunter.
Dix, what are we doin’ out here on the farm?”
Dean asked, waving his hand in a wide gesture.
is where one of the victims was killed,” Dix stated.
“I wanted to show you the kill-spot.”
not here, boys. Jasper Whitiker ran his cattle over
several hundred acres. The chupa took him down out on
the pasturelands,” the heavy-set man informed
with a slight chuckle and a tip of his head.
followed his nod, suddenly spotting three horses tied
to a rail a few yards away by the barn.
hell no!” he groaned.
You don’t know how to ride, son?” Dix asked.
we drive out there?” the young hunter queried,
a hint of a whine to his voice.
if you want to replace the transmission and suspension
in that classic car of yours,” Dix responded.
“If you’re worried about the horses, I promise
you, they’re as gentle as kittens.”
my brother, Mr. Dixon,” Sam interjected, starting
toward the waiting steeds. “He just doesn’t
like any animal that’s smarter than him.”
Dean snapped, coming up behind his brother and slapping
the back of his head.
ride out to the kill zone only took about fifteen minutes,
but to Dean’s body, it felt as though he’d
been on the horse’s back for half the day. His
teeth felt as though they were ready to fall out of
his mouth from the sheer bouncing up and down in the
saddle. If there was any satisfaction in being subjected
to the torture it was that ahead of him Sam was also
bobbing up and down like an over-sized ragdoll and fighting
his own mount for control as though the beast had been
fed LSD-laced oats just before leaving the barn.
ya doing there, Sammy?” Dean called out as they
pulled to a halt and dismounted.
friggin’ great,” the lanky hunter replied,
glaring first at his horse, then back at his brother
as he stretched his sore back.
hear you laughing now smartass,” Dean snarked.
it up, Dean and your little hard-shelled friend back
at the motel will end up in your bed Godfather
style,” Sam threatened.
guys, over here,” Dix called out, waving the brothers
over to his position.
ambled slowly over to the older man, neither of them
walking without a pronounced bow to their legs, but
neither commenting on it either. As they neared, the
stench of the rotting cattle wafted on the air while
the faint buzz of the mass of flies swarming over the
carcasses could finally be heard.
Dean exclaimed, taking in the slaughter.
around them, the ground looked scarred, the blood of
the cattle and rancher having transformed the landscape
from green to reddish-brown. The remains of the cattle,
picked nearly clean by scavengers, lay raw in the sun
while dozens of small tracks surrounded the butchered
bodies like frantic invisible dancers.
at how many there are,” Sam observed.
too damn many,” Dean added. “And they took
down a human too?”
“Yep, a rancher out trying to bring in his herd,”
aren’t usually greedy. They don’t normally
bring down more than they can eat or go after larger
prey,” Sam commented.
not usually humans either,” the elder Winchester
is just the tip of the iceberg, boys. There have been
other attacks. First was a Conservation Officer found
ripped apart over by Big Bend Park.”
to say for sure, wasn’t much left of him. But
not long after that, a couple of tourists were found
dead next to their broke-down car out on I-385. There
have been a few other attacks closer to town, family
pet kinda things,” Dix recounted.
chupacabra couldn’t be responsible for all this.
You sure that’s what it is?” Sam challenged.
the cops think it’s just some whacked-out psycho-killer,
and I gotta admit, at first I was pretty skeptical too.
I mean, it doesn’t fit. One chupa can’t
possibly be responsible for all these kills, spread
all over this territory. And now, seeing all these tracks,
I’ve never seen anything like that before.”
sure isn’t typical chupa M.O.. So what’s
your plan then?” Dean asked the older hunter.
the damn thing and kill it. Isn’t that what we
do?” Dix answered bluntly. “But this is
West Texas and it could be nearly anywhere.”
you’re assuming there’s only one,”
Sam countered, gesturing at the myriad of prints.
thought has crossed my mind that there could be a pair,
maybe mates or a female and her brood or something,
but with this many tracks, I’m thinking now we
might actually have a pack on our hands. Still, it doesn’t
matter, we find them, we exterminate them,” the
older man steadfastly maintained.
’em all, let Fish and Game sort ’em out?”
for me,” Dix agreed, his usual jovial smile disappearing,
replaced by a steely glint to his eyes that suddenly
sent a chill up both younger men’s’ spines.
it’s too late in the day to accomplish anything
out here now. And I for one would rather have some idea
of what we’re getting into before we walk blindly
into it,” Sam remarked with a huff. “Let’s
head back, check on Mia and I’ll pop on-line and
see what I can find out about this area.”
with me. We can get a fresh start in the morning. I
have some topo maps and have marked some spots that
I think warrant checking out,” Dix stated reaching
for the reins to the chestnut mare.”We can hook
up at sunrise. That’ll give us maximum daylight
to scout the area.”
joy! Sunrise, horseback rides, why don’t we ever
get any gigs in Vegas?” Dean grumbled as he trudged
back toward his waiting horse.
had that job in Vegas, Dean.” Sam reminded. “Or
have you already forgotten your special friend with
the sequined wardrobe and the um…”
up, Sam!” So gonna stop at McDonalds on the
way back to the motel…
Back at the Rattler Motor Lodge
stopped the Chevy in front of their room, but despite
Sam’s plea for a hot shower, the older Winchester
was still determined to head for the office and demand
they be switched to other “armadillo-free”
accommodations. Ignoring his own protesting derriere
and disregarding the mixture of perspiration and equine
odor that seemed to waft off both him and Sam, Dean
stalked off to see Uncle Fester.
don’t know why you’re being so stubborn
about this, Dean. It just a stupid dead animal,”
Sam whined, trailing a step behind.
you, I’m not spending a night in the room with
that thing. Besides, after the day I’ve had, cut
me some slack,” Dean retorted, yanking the door
to the motel office open with enough force to emphasize
was just a horse,” the younger hunter added, barely
scooting inside before the screen door slammed shut.
was a walking can of Alpo dude, or it should be,”
Dean insisted, striding up to the counter.
pounded the bell repeatedly, taking great satisfaction
in the grimace creasing his brother’s face at
the racket that filled the small space. When there was
no response, Dean yelled out for the night clerk.
ominous quiet returned his call sending the hairs up
on the back of Dean’s neck. While Sam looked at
him curiously, he vaulted over the countertop and headed
to the back of the manager’s quarters.
He didn’t make it far into the living area before
the smell of death and the stark evidence of slaughter
in the form of a massive pool of blood greeted him.
“Uncle Fester” lay sprawled across the floor,
his intestines scattered across the shag carpeting like
lengths of raw sausage while his chest was torn open
and exposed like a side of beef in a meat market.
fought down the contents in his stomach as Sam pulled
up abruptly at this side. All around the room, bloody
little tracks marked the earlier presence of some small
his eyes scanned the area, Dean followed the trail to
the opened patio door leading to the outside deck and
the dark Texan landscape beyond. The hunter carefully
stepped over the slaughtered clerk, walking over to
the glass sliding doors and peering out.
Sam asked, breaking the silence.
Dean could answer, a woman’s scream tore though
the nighttime quiet, echoing from further down the row
Dean yelled, simultaneously pulling the .45 from the
back waistband of his jeans as he darted out into the
darkness and towards the young woman’s room.
the fatigue and sore muscles, Dean drew up to the doorway
marked with a sixteen, his brother just on his heels
and brandishing his own automatic.
Open up!” he shouted, pounding on the door with
the young woman’s shriek sounded once more, Dean
didn’t delay. Taking a step back, he put every
bit of force he could muster into launching a booted
foot against the locked door. The cheap, hollow door
gave way in a shower of splinters, caving inward with
a loud crash as the hunters followed behind, entering
on full alert.
into the corner, Mia huddled between the nightstand
and the farthest bed, a thin trickle of blood trailing
down the side of her face from below the tangled mess
of her brown hair. She held the chair from the desk
before her, using it as though she were a lion tamer
trying to keep the lions at bay, except Simba wasn’t
in her room.
Dean looked on in horror, a half dozen chupacabras were
pouring into the young woman’s room from the open
patio door. Like ants swarming a picnic, the creatures
flooded the space, the stench of sulfur nearly overpowering
as the snarl and snap of fangs sounded loudly. The pack
growled in unison, their red eyes glowing even as their
maws were still stained with the night clerk’s
snapped off a shot, clipping the first of the chupas
as it approached the crouching girl. The creature dropped
on its side only to be attacked by the next of its brethren
as they continued to seek out fresh meat. Like a tidal
wave of blood-thirsty jackals, the chupacabras continued
to fill Mia’s room, climbing over one another,
snapping even at their own in their quest to reach human
kept firing, dimly aware of the report of Sam’s
weapon behind him. He spotted the solitary red-eyed
creature leap toward the young woman, fangs bared as
it launched toward her exposed throat. Somewhere in
his mind, he calculated the distance between himself,
the open patio door, the onslaught of chupas and the
Dean yelled at the top of his lungs. Diving across the
open expanse of the room, he emptied the remainder of
his clip, even as the beast landed on top of the young
brunette with an unearthly howl.
the episode here