Three: Tastes Like Chicken
Mine – Tunnel 3
Brackett pressed the small nub on the side of his watch,
smiling slightly as the white-blue Indiglo numbers reflected
back at him through the light bug dust that covered
the face. Punching the red “shut-down” button
on the jackleg’s control panel, he waited patiently
as the drill cycled down, the long telescoping bit taking
a last bite at the rock wall Joe had been working on
for the past several days.
recently been assigned to Number Three in order to sink
a drift shaft and hopefully relocate the vein of coal
that had petered out a hundred yards back in the main
tunnel. Under normal circumstances, Joe would have been
tending the Ripper, a massive machine that chewed into
the rock face and tore the coal from the wall. But the
Ripper had been shut down, a full shift of miners laid
off as the Goodwell Corporation decided if there was
anything left to strip from this area of West Virginia
was all about the money from where Joe sat. Goodwell
wasn’t about to drop another dime in the Mingo
operations if there wasn’t a significant return
on their investment. Considering they’d been working
these shafts for the past two decades, Brackett wasn’t
overly confident that there was anything left in the
mountain to mine. Goodwell was thorough in their operations,
never walking away from an area until it had given up
every ounce of coal available.
Joe hadn’t earned the nickname “Bloodhound”
for nothing; every miner in three counties knew if anyone
could sniff out the dark veins of coal hidden amid the
thick layers of limestone and shale, it was him. Jumping
down from his perch behind the jackleg’s controls,
the forty-something miner hoped they were right. As
a third generation rock-hound, Joe didn’t know
how to function outside the pitch blackness of the mines.
Sure, he’d wanted something more from life than
a perpetually sore back and the threat of Black Lung,
but all in all, he couldn’t complain. Coal mining
was hard, dirty work, but it paid decently enough and
the lifestyle was simple and peaceful tucked away in
the remote Appalachian community.
Joe walked back to the haulageway, sighing with relief
when he reached the main shaft and could stretch to
his full height. Making his way over to some unused
timbers, he plopped down and unscrewed the cap on the
dented thermos. Pouring a cup of lukewarm coffee, he
considered heading topside to get some hot brew, but
decided against it as he spotted Lennie Miller slowly
approaching down the tunnel.
was a massive man, too tall to even navigate main shaft
with its elevated ceilings, let alone any of the more
claustrophobic crosscuts or passageways. Even after
all the years he’d worked in the mines, he hadn’t
managed to develop a sense of where his body was in
relation to the low hanging braces and ribs. In fact,
Lennie singlehandedly went through more hardhats than
ten miners. Like Joe, the other men had tagged the big
guy with a nickname. But where Joe’s conveyed
respect, Lennie’s “Brained” was a
by-product of the scores of times he’d smacked
his head, sometimes even knocking off his helmet and
laying open the flesh on his skull. The miners often
joked that Lennie had left everything he could claim
as brain-matter smeared on the rock walls and deteriorating
But what the man might have lacked in grace and intelligence,
he more than made up for in sheer muscle and brute determination.
There were four miners, Joe included, who owed their
lives to the powerful strength of Lennie Miller. A human
roof jack, the huge man had held a crumbling rib support
with nothing more than his broad shoulders as the others
escaped certain death below the collapsing ceiling of
been best friends ever since, hunting, fishing, even
spending the occasional Friday night sitting on Joe’s
porch drinking whatever recent batch Lennie had cooked
up. And it had been Joe that managed to sweet-talk the
shift boss to keep Lennie around as they struggled to
keep the mine open. It seemed the least he could do
to repay the gentle giant for saving his life.
Joe called out as the lumbering shadow neared. “You
bleed the lines before you came down for lunch?”
grunt he got in reply told the miner that his buddy
was likely nursing yet another hangover, or possibly
had once again “brained” himself on a low
hanging top. Joe chuckled to himself and waved Lennie
towards a seat on the portal bus that sat quietly waiting
to transport them back to the outbye at the end of the
okay?” he asked as the tall miner stood there
silently. “What’d you bring for lunch today?”
didn’t respond and Joe turned his attention away
from the left-over roast beef sandwich his Hattie had
lovingly packed into his pail. Setting the metal box
down by his side, he was about to get up to make sure
his big friend was alright when Lennie abruptly dropped
onto the rear bed of the personnel carrier.
watched as the other miner toyed with the large, plaid
thermos in his hands, rolling the container back and
forth as though he was reluctant to sample the contents.
know, Hattie would be more n’ happy to pack you
a meal or two. She feels sorry for you, being alone
and all… got no woman to care for ya’…
thinks you can’t fend for yourself. But I keep
tellin’ her that you just prefer taking your meals
in the liquid form,” Joe continued jokingly.
gripped the thermos tighter, holding it protectively
against his chest as Joe chuckled again.
I got a n’uther roast beef sam’wich in here.
Hattie packed me a spare n’ case I worked a double.
You have it and then I got a big hunk of rhubarb pie
too,” Brackett offered, reaching out to hand the
extra sandwich to the other man.
fine,” Lennie snarled back, his yellowed teeth
standing out amongst his dust-covered features. Joe
pulled his hand back, recoiling slightly at his friend’s
sudden burst of aggression.
alright… suit yourself. I was just trying to be
nice. I can see ya’ll rose up on the south side
of the bed this mornin’,” Joe teased, returning
to his lunch. “You got more hair o’ the
dog in there’?”
watched as Lennie looked down longingly at the thermos
before finally twisting off the stained red cap. The
smell that emanated from the open container instantly
filled the narrow confines of the tunnel and Joe had
to swallow hard to keep the last bite of beef from reappearing.
the hell, Len? What you got in there? Roadkill or something?”
Joe asked as he lifted his hand to cover his nose and
mouth. “You been making possum stew again? How
many times I gotta tell ya’ll that eating that
sort of garbage is gonna put you in your grave early?”
if Lennie was listening to the older man’s tirade
it wasn’t apparent. Lifting the thermos to his
lips, he took a long chug from the container, his throat
bobbing as he swallowed down several mouthfuls.
looked on in absent fascination as his friend drank
greedily from the tall, metal bottle. In the dim light
of the shaft, he could see the rust-colored lines trailing
down from the corners of Lennie’s mouth. Not one
to be the poster- child for manners, even Brackett had
to grimace as the larger man attacked the contents like
a ravenous wolf.
Len. That smells just god-awful. You sure you don’t
want the extra sandwich?”
paused, his hand slowly lowering the thermos from his
mouth. Joe noticed the wild look in his eyes long before
the miner spoke.
smiled and reached for his lunchbox. He was about to
hand his friend the extra food when Lennie’s towering
shadow fell over him. Close enough now, he could see
that the dark stain on the man’s face held an
eerie resemblance to blood. The smell of copper filled
his nostrils and his stomach rolled as the gruesome
odor assaulted him.
Joe called out worriedly. “What’ve you done?”
the big miner slurred, his arms reaching toward Brackett.
looked down at the blood-stained hands coming at him,
his eyes conveying the image but his brain struggling
to make any sense out of what he was seeing.
are you hurt? What happened?” he asked, scanning
his friend’s body for the source to the blood.
was then that he also noticed the discarded thermos,
tipped over and spilling its contents out onto the tunnel
floor. Thick dark fluid, interspersed with larger flesh-colored
chunks, seeped into the dirt, congealing as it was exposed
to the cool air of the mine. Joe gagged again, the mess
reminding him of the time Bobby Meekins had gotten tangled
up in a chain conveyor, the crossbars dragging him into
the mechanism, tearing his arm off and shredding it
into so much human coleslaw.
the hell?” he cried out, stepping away from the
smiled then, his eyes widening so that the whites nearly
swallowed his pupils. His appearance was unnatural,
unnerving even. Something was seriously wrong with the
man and, despite his allegiance, Joe wasn’t sure
he wanted to wait around to find out what.
out of Lennie’s reach, Joe struggled to get to
the carrier, hoping he could fire up the transport and
bust ass back to the entry. Nearly a half-mile underground,
he knew there was no way to outrun the larger man on
thumb stabbed frantically at the power button, the portal
bus rumbling to life. Joe grabbed the control bar with
his left hand even as his right yanked the gearshift
down into reverse. The carrier jerked backwards, metal
screeching in protest as it ground against the rough
rock wall of the tunnel.
corrected the direction, but not before Lennie vaulted
over the front end, his thick fingers closing around
Joe’s neck. Brackett released the controls, his
own hands flying to his throat as he tried to pry the
other man’s hands from his windpipe. Struggling
to breathe, he realized a fraction too late that the
real threat wasn’t suffocation; it was far worse.
in, his face so close that Joe could smell the awful
odor of rancid meat and blood on his breath, the bigger
man’s mouth opened in a wide, almost macabre smile.
Pressed back against the metal seat of the personnel
carrier, Joe couldn’t budge Lennie’s heavier
weight off his chest. Pinned down, terror filling him,
he briefly felt the pressure on his neck lessen, replaced
by a sharp, tearing sensation that nearly made him black
would have screamed, cried out a warning, begged for
his life, yet even as the air briefly returned to his
desperate lungs, he couldn’t make a sound. Looking
up at his former friend, Brackett felt his mouth fill
with blood, the sticky warmth pouring out and spilling
down his chest. As his vision dimmed, Joe’s last
glimpse was Lennie chewing, his lips smacking together
as he finished his first bite and leaned in to tear
the suffocating darkness of the mine, Joe Brackett died
quickly, his body held in place like a meaty bone between
a dog’s paws as his flesh was torn away. Amidst
the empty tunnels and silent shafts, the only sounds
to be heard were the grotesque noises of Lennie Miller
finishing his lunch.
Mingo, West Virginia
was dark, cold and desolate, the road winding before
them empty except for the occasional pile of roadkill
that Dean deftly steered around. A hardened hunter,
the elder Winchester wasn’t fazed by any amount
of blood and guts, human or otherwise. But there was
no way he wanted to have to pull over and power wash
off the fresh entrails of some possum or skunk from
the undercarriage of the Impala.
to miss another gooey target, he chuckled inwardly.
This was becoming something of a game - Roadkill
Slalom - and he absently wondered how a stretch
of backwoods highway with hardly any traffic on it had
become so lethal to the local fauna. His snicker must
have been audible after all, the oppressive silence
that had enveloped the car for the past hundred plus
miles suddenly lifting when Sam spoke.
Dean replied, glancing over out of the corner of his
wasn’t looking back at him, a relief considering
neither of them really had anything left to say. It
had been an awkward silence at first; Dean torn between
screaming “I told you so” and more gently
whispering “I’m really sorry, Sammy.”
Either statement would have been appropriate considering
how things had turned out and deep down, Dean knew he
needed to say something to ease the tension between
them. But in the end, he had ended up saying neither.
Instead, bitterness and worry had taken over his tongue
and while his brother was still reeling from the aborted
attempt to go back and save Jess, Dean had chosen to
remind him that the only thing they’d managed
to accomplish was wasting time on a wild goose chase
while Dad remained trapped inside Stull.
brother had tried to answer, had tried to tell him that
he was sorry, that they’d had to take the chance
with the watch, but Dean refused to listen. Interrupting
with a wave of his hand and an even snippier “Let’s
just get back to Lawrence”, he’d plunged
them into a long, silent drive; Sam darkly sullen and
Dean entrenched in his stubbornness.
laughed. I just wondered what was funny,” Sam
asked again meekly.
Dean answered sharply.
okay… fine. Sorry to bother you.”
looked over again, this time actually staring at his
brother’s face. No one wore the whipped puppy
look better than Sam; in fact, the younger sibling had
actually perfected the sad, downcast eyes and slight
quiver to his lip to the point where Dean generally
couldn’t ignore it.
Except this time…
was simply too angry now to let his brother off the
hook so easily. Well, not angry per se’, Dean
admitted silently. More like he’d been scared
half out of his mind when he realized what Sam was gonna
do with the watch. His worry and fear had translated
into the spiteful words he’d thrown back at his
brother, his bizarre way of saying “I couldn’t
lose you too.”
none of that would have ever happened if they’d
just stayed in Kansas. Dean just couldn’t let
go of the thought that while they’d been wasting
time in Enigma, their dad was trapped God only knew
where and suffering God only knew what kind of tortures.
matter how hard he tried, Dean just couldn’t force
himself to think about anything other than getting Dad
back. No matter how much he tried to convince himself
that John was only skipping across the other alternate
universes like he and Sam had, the vision of his father
screaming as demons swarmed over him filled Dean’s
every waking moment. And sleep was no better. When his
eyes closed, the real nightmares began.
that’s no reason to take it out on Sammy…
His conscience berated him.
I..” he began.
Dean… just don’t,” his brother cut
was only gonna say…”
know what you were gonna say, Dean. You made it pretty
clear back in Georgia,” Sam growled back.
was worried…” the older man started.
you were right. It was a huge waste of time and I’m
sorry… I am. But I still don’t think the
answer to getting Dad back is gonna be found poking
around some old graveyard.”
Dean’s voice lowered, his irritation returning.
“We’re not gonna hash this out again. We
can do research from Lawrence as easily as anywhere
else. What if the church reappears and we’re not
sighed loudly and Dean had to fight down the urge to
call him on it.
already told you. According to legend, Stull only appears
twice a year, the autumn and spring equinoxes. So unless
you have a way to speed up time or trick Mother Nature
into skipping a season, there’s no way to get
into the place before the twentieth of March,”
Sam stated angrily.
pounded his fist against the steering wheel. “I’m
not giving up, Sam. Dad wouldn’t give up on us,
no way am I leaving him in there one second longer than…”
not saying we’re giving up, Dean! Damn, why can
you see that I’m just as desperate to get Dad
back as you are? I’m only saying that if there’s
some other way to open Stull early, we aren’t
gonna find it there.”
what then?” Dean demanded, his gaze leveling angrily
on Sam. “We just roam around the country, chasing
down every witch, soothsayer and two-bit carny act in
the lower forty-eight that might have some half-assed
idea or obscure piece of lore in hopes that it might
get Dad back?”
it helps… yes!”
snorted. “Helps? How’s it gonna help Dad?
We might as well be turning our backs on him.”
don’t get you. Four years ago when we were searching
all over for Dad, weren’t you the one that kept
telling me that we’d find him? But all the while,
we took every freakin’ hunt, checked out every
damn ghost story or Weekly World News article, from
one end of the country to the other. So, how is this
any different?” Sam threw back.
back then Dad wasn’t trapped in some disappearing
gateway to Hell,” Dean yelled, his voice booming
within the small confines of the Impala.
didn’t know if he was dead or alive back then
not dead now!” the elder sibling shouted. He
just can’t be… remained unspoken.
I know you’re worried, scared even… so am
I. But you know I’m right. And sitting around
Lawrence, well… that’s not gonna help. In
fact, you said yourself that the place is like the locus
of bad luck for us. Too many bad memories, too many
awful things have happened. We can’t think straight
there. We can’t see outside the box,” Sam
continued, his voice softer, pleading even.
clenched his jaw tightly. He knew his brother was right;
he just couldn’t force himself to admit it. Deep
inside, he was afraid if he agreed, it would be too
much like giving up, like leaving their dad behind.
And as much as he never wanted to see Lawrence, Kansas
EVER again, every fiber in his being was screaming at
him to get back there and dig till his fingers bled
if necessary until he found that freakin’ church.
Did you hear a word I said?”
Sam, I heard ya’,” he answered noncommittally.
where are we going then, Dean?” the younger man
didn’t have an answer, especially not the one
his brother apparently wanted to hear. He only knew
that right now he hated the twangy country music that
was the only thing that came in on the radio, he hated
the cold that seemed to be seeping into the Impala,
he hated the barren West Virginia landscape, and he
most certainly hated feeling so helpless.
Glancing up as his eyes caught the sudden bright lights
at the edge of the dark road, Dean brightened slightly.
gonna eat,” he proclaimed, slowing the Impala
and steering the old Chevy into the truck stop parking
could feel Sam look at him with disbelief, but Dean
didn’t care. Let his brother be angry with him.
Sam could get over it or not. Dad was stuck in Stull
and they had to find a way to get him out; that was
all the older hunter could focus on.
truck stop was nearly as deserted as the highway they’d
just been travelling, with only two semis idling quietly
in the lot and just a few customers seated within the
restaurant. Heading inside, they were greeted by a vivacious
blonde waitress who all but rubbed against Dean the
minute he entered. Her blouse was cut low enough to
display her ample breasts like melons at a market and
her skirt was high enough to barely be worth the effort.
She was young, pretty, and asking to be noticed. Dean
did, but for once he just didn’t care.
She broke into a wide smile, jutting out her chest,
her hips swaying left and right as she guided them to
the nearest booth. Dean still didn’t respond to
her overt sexual advances, instead just dropping into
the seat and immediately flipping opening the oversized
can I get you to drink, Darlin’?” she asked
with an overly thick accent.
Dean answered without looking up.
how about you, Good Look’n?” she drawled
at Sam next.
younger Winchester flushed slightly but replied in kind.
She gave him a quick wink before bouncing off.
mark this day on the calendar,” Sam joked as he
unfolded the napkin and set the silverware to the side.
are you talking about now?” Dean grumbled, peeking
above the top of the menu.
I’ve never, in over fifteen years and
forty eight states, ever seen you pass up something
that looked like THAT!” Sam teased.
glanced in the direction the waitress had gone. “Yeah,
so? You make it sound like all I do is chase tail.”
broke into laughter. “Dean, there are several
constants in this world. The sun rises, people die,
the government taxes and you… go for THAT!”
well whatever. Not tonight. Hand me the laptop,”
Dean demanded evenly.
watched his brother’s face darken, the humor giving
way to a scowl. “Dean…”
just pass me the damn computer. You want to research
from somewhere other than Lawrence, well I don’t
need a friggin’ GPS to know we aren’t there,”
the elder hunter growled with an angry smirk.
boys ready to order?” the buxom waitress interrupted
as she set down the beverages. “Everything’s
pretty tasty, both on… and off… the menu.”
take the special,” Dean snapped as he flipped
open the laptop, barely even making eye contact with
the blonde and ignoring her blatant offer.
heard the waitress huff, even caught a petulant eye
roll as she scribbled down his order before turning
her attention on his brother. Sam was more pleasant,
obviously trying to make up for his lack of nicety,
and Dean idly wondered how far his brother would go
when it came to being civil.
blonde apparently was now focused on Sam, as evidenced
by the casual touch of her fingers against his as she
gathered his menu and the smattering of “honeys”
and “sugars” she tossed his way before sashaying
off to place their order. Dean snickered silently as
he stole a quick glance at his brother’s fumbling
response and the faint red tone to the younger man’s
cheeks after the waitress left.
returning to the task at hand, Dean’s fingers
traced across the built-in mouse as another website
flashed up on the screen. The same silence that had
permeated the Chevy settled over the booth and despite
Sam’s strategically placed sighs, he refused to
take the bait, steadfastly concentrating on the information
appearing on the computer.
minutes passed and their food was delivered, the waitress
nearly throwing the plate down in front of him while
conversely placing Sam’s Cobb Salad on the table
like she was serving a visiting dignitary. Dean toyed
with his food with one hand while the other still played
at the keyboard. He was hungry, but distracted by the
images on the screen, his appetite taking a backseat.
gonna eat or stare at that screen all night?”
Sam asked, after the waitress walked away.
gonna tap that tonight or just dream about it?”
Dean replied, nodding in the direction of the blonde.
you tell me repeatedly…”
dude. Put the computer away and eat. Just take five
damn minutes. You don’t do anything anymore but
obsess over Stull. You barely even sleep much less eat…”
erupted. Throwing down the fork, he simultaneously slammed
closed the laptop. “We’re gonna do this
again? Here… now? Sorry if I’m not living
up to your expectations, Sammy. Maybe you’d prefer
me to be stuffing my face and banging some chick. Is
that the way I’m s’posed to be acting, Sam?
Tell me, huh, ’cause obviously I didn’t
get the memo on the correct way to act when your dad’s
stuck in some gateway to Hell.”
yelled louder than he’d intended and the other
patrons had now ceased their conversations and were
staring at his outburst. Sam smiled weakly at their
startled looks, even waving off the burly cook that
had peeked out from the kitchen.
rose from the booth, throwing down his napkin and upsetting
a glass of water. He was still sort of hungry but realized
that his little tirade had managed to draw all attention
to himself within the restaurant, not to mention there
was no way he could sit back down and act like everything
was okay with Sam. He needed some space to cool off,
so he stalked from the restaurant and out into the chilly
a bee-line for the Impala, he climbed up on her hood,
ignoring how the metal instantly transferred the bitter
cold from her skin to his own. He closed his eyes and
inhaled the crisp, fresh air, relishing how it cleared
his head, if only for a moment. It brought him a semblance
of clarity, quieting the myriad of voices that had been
screaming in the back of his mind for most of the evening.
his fury washed away, Dean found himself feeling remorseful
yet again. His emotions were spinning like a revolving
door, alternating between anger and guilt like some
desperate housewife too long off her Prozac. Worse still,
the unfortunate target of his wrath had all too often
been Sam. Dean knew he was lashing out at the one person
who was also shouldering a fair amount of his own pain
it… you’re not really even angry at Sam.
You know who’s really responsible for
Dad being left behind?” he bemoaned.
fact, for all his complaining to Sam about wasting time
in Georgia, Dean was really still blaming himself that
they hadn’t gotten their father out of the church
when they’d escaped. Sure, it had perhaps only
been sheer luck that he and Sam had managed to get out
of the church as that last strange reality disintegrated
around them, but he couldn’t shake the memory
of his dad’s eerie call to grab his brother and
run. If only he’d only tried harder, maybe he
could have reached out and brought John back too. If
he could have cleared the chasm, if he could have grabbed
his dad… if he hadn’t hesitated… if
Sam hadn’t yanked him back… if… if…
sucked in a breath, his chest shuddering with the memory.
He needed to go back inside, if for no other reason
than to avoid catching a cold. That, and the overwhelming
need to make amends with Sammy. They were a family after
all, even if it was just a family of two right now.
down from the hood, he was two steps towards the diner
when he heard the shrill scream from a female. Pausing,
he cocked his head as he listened for the direction.
Another cry sounded and Dean zeroed in, his feet rapidly
carrying him around the back of the building.
eyes already adjusted to the darkness, he had no trouble
making out the two shapes tucked between the dumpster
and the back door. Without a doubt, one of the forms
was the waitress from inside, her blonde tresses tossed
about inelegantly as her body was roughly jerked by
the larger male. The latter, dressed in jeans, flannel
and a thermal vest looked the stereotypical trucker,
complete with a grease-smeared ball cap.
Dean yelled, grabbing the man’s arm and yanking
him around and away from the woman. “Doesn’t
look like the lady is interested.”
your own business, asshole,” the big man snarled,
tearing out of Dean’s grasp and moving back toward
don’t think so, jerkwad,” Dean growled,
snagging the trucker’s collar and whipping him
back around. He was ready for the punch that was aimed
for his jaw, deftly ducking it and delivering his own
in return to the bigger man’s gut.
dance started in earnest, blows exchanged as blood began
to flow from split lips and abused faces. Dean grunted
as the behemoth drove a shoulder into his chest, lifting
the hunter up and driving him into the side of the dumpster,
his back slamming into the unforgiving metal.
let his earlier emotions feed him as he drove his fists
into the trucker’s fleshy gut, but the other man
was simply larger, outweighing Dean by at least a hundred
pounds. With a loud bellow, Dean felt himself hefted
off his feet, a void of air created between his boots
and the asphalt. In the next instant he was flying through
that same empty space, landing hard on a squishy pillow
of rotting food and other trash inside the dumpster.
With a groan, he struggled back to his feet, wading
back to the edge of the container in time to see the
trucker running off into the darkness. Heaving himself
over the side, Dean made his way to the still-shaken
waitress, flinging off pieces of clinging garbage with
okay?” he asked with genuine concern as he neared.
looked up and smiled weakly, cradling her arm to her
chest. “Yeah, thanks to you. Can you believe that
he hurt you?”
not really. I was just finishing up for the night, taking
out the trash, when he caught up to me. He wanted me
to go back to his rig and when I told him I didn’t
do delivery, he wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Things got a little rough and can you believe it, he
freakin’ bit me,” she exclaimed, thrusting
her arm out for Dean to see.
gently took her arm, carefully examining reddened flesh.
It was true, there was a small wound in the round shape
of someone’s teeth, but it had barely broken the
skin, just the faintest blush of blood trickling down
her arm. Pulling a blue bandana from his pocket, he
lightly wiped it away and then wrapped it around her
doesn’t look like it needs stitches or anything,
but you should probably wash it good with soap and water,”
Dean advised. “How ’bout I make sure you
get to your car okay?” he offered, looking around
the darkened lot.
blonde smiled but took a step backwards, trying in vain
to hide her disgust from the odor that was now emanating
from the bits of trash still clinging to his clothing.
“No! Thanks, but really, I’ll be okay.”
cast a glance down at his clothing and shrugged. Funny
what a difference a little left over spaghetti and rotten
lettuce apparently made. He watched her trot off, her
bounce less pronounced now that she apparently wasn’t
trawling for a big tip or after-work snack.
back to the Impala, he wasn’t too surprised to
see Sam waiting impatiently beside the black Chevy.
It was all part of their normal game when they were
pissed at each other, seeing who would cave first. Detoured
by the waitress and the resulting fight, Sam had apparently
come looking for him.
happened?” the young hunter asked worriedly as
Dean approached. “How the hell did you get into
trouble that quick?”
scowled, rubbing absently at the bruise that was forming
on the side of his temple. “Was nothing,”
Sam repeated, drawing near and reaching up to wipe at
the trickle of blood seeping down from the corner of
the older man swatted at his brother’s hand. “Get
off me. Geesh, think you never saw a little blood before,”
know, the food inside was pretty good, Dean. No need
for you to go dumpster diving,” Sam teased with
an impish smile.
in the car,” Dean snarled without any real anger
and flinging a stray piece of pasta at his brother’s
drove a short distance before coming across a decent,
by their standards, looking motel. Checking in went
smoothly, the pimple-faced teenager at the desk paying
little attention to the fake credit card as the latest
episode of Melrose Place and a nearly naked Katie Cassidy
graced the television screen.
wasted no time claiming the first shower and Sam didn’t
argue. Already the stench from the rotting food was
settling into the small motel room and they elected
to leave the door cracked slightly while Dean’s
leather jacket was banished to the Impala’s trunk
until they found a dry cleaner.
hot shower was a welcome relief to the stress and the
encroaching West Virginia winter. It might only be November,
but the mountains told a different story. Still feeling
a little guilty, Dean cut off the tap sooner than he
would have liked and decided to extend the olive branch
to his baby brother by leaving a little hot water.
off, he donned clean boxers and a fresh t-shirt before
stepping back into the main room. The T.V. was playing
the local news and thankfully Sam had closed the door,
but neither of those things really captured his attention.
Instead, it was his brother, seated at the small table
and tapping away at the laptop.
better?” Sam asked, looking up as Dean returned.
“You definitely smell better.”
nodded and dipped his head toward the computer. “What
you up to?” he asked suspiciously.
well…just looking for…”
hunt?” Dean finished the sentence. “You’re
looking for a hunt aren’t you? Can’t even
wait a friggin’ day and you’re looking for
a hunt. I cant freakin’ believe it!”
it… Knock yourself out, Sammy. Don’t let
me or saving Dad get in your way!” Dean growled
as he tugged on his jeans and another shirt.
are you going?” Sam asked worriedly as Dean pushed
his arms into his blue jacket.
does it matter, Sam?” he threw back over his shoulder,
heading for the door. It slammed shut behind him with
a resounding thud, the silence deafening in his wake.
Sam lingered in bed longer than he’d intended.
Not because he was tired, in fact, he was more than
rested. He mostly just didn’t want to wake Dean
sleeping dogs lie… or in this case, let the
grumpy brother remain unconscious.
between his full bladder and his empty stomach, something
had to give. As quietly as possible, Sam threw back
the covers and crept across the threadbare carpet to
the bathroom. He closed the door, cringing when it creaked
but relieved when he came back out and found Dean in
the same sprawled position on the far bed.
wasn’t really surprised and if truth be told,
Sam wasn’t even sure why he was taking so much
stealthy precaution. He’d been half awake when
Dean had come staggering back to the motel room at half-past
early, reeking of stale cigarettes and alcohol. The
behavior itself wasn’t all that surprising; Dean
had been teetering between anger and guilt since the
morning after they’d popped out of the church.
Like a festering wound, it seemed the only palliative
treatment had been eighty proof or stronger and then
only in quantities that left his sibling comfortably
wasn’t that Sam wasn’t sympathetic; he was
shouldering his own fair share of guilt since Stull
as well. And he knew that Dean had every right to be
angry with him over the whole deal with the watch, but
somehow he needed to persuade his single-minded brother
that they needed to move on. It hadn’t been all
that long ago that Dean had so blatantly informed him
that while they were hunting for Dad, there were still
plenty of other evil creatures to put to an end to along
of them pitching a pup tent and waiting for the spring
solstice, hanging around Lawrence wasn’t going
to get Dad back. Somehow Sam needed to convince Dean
he shot a quick glance at his still unconscious brother.
Dean hadn’t budged, his still clothed limbs draped
from one corner of the bed to the other. No doubt he’d
remain that way for a couple hours more.
stomach growled and he quickly decided that he’d
feel better if fed and ultimately his brother would
be in a much better mood if he slept off his high blood
alcohol content. Dressed and leaving a note, Sam was
out the door and down the road to the truck stop diner
in less than fifteen minutes.
place was no busier than it had been the night before,
odd enough considering it was only eight a.m. and Sam
would have expected some sort of breakfast crowd. He
was motioned to a place at the counter by an older version
of the blonde, this one saggier and bearing far more
wrinkles. To top it off, she didn’t flirt with
him nearly as much, matter of fact, she was barely congenial
d’ya’ll want,” she asked sourly as
she filled the coffee cup in front of him, her drawn
on eyebrows raised in irritation.
short stack?” Sam replied, lowering the menu without
it to ya’ as soon as I can. Short-handed this
morning thanks to Shelly’s lazy ass,” the
sorry,” Sam offered good-naturedly.
waitress wheeled back around, pausing as she leaned
slightly on the counter. “You’d think she’d
worked so hard, ya’ know? Serve a couple meals,
flash those boobs in some trucker’s face? Is it
too much to ask for her to do the prep for the morning
crew like she’s s’posed to?”
the waitress that was working last night?”
If I know her, she’s probably shacked up with
some trucker that came through here.”
she was attacked last night, just outside in the parking
lot. My brother fought off the guy,” Sam stated.
woman paused, seeming to consider the information. “Good
for your brother, wasted on that piece of trash though,”
she grumbled before turning away to place Sam’s
snorted. Reaching for his backpack, he drew out the
laptop. In a few seconds, he pulled up the newspaper
article he’d been looking over last night. The
report told of two recent deaths at a lumber mill in
Colorado. While the authorities said the deaths were
unrelated, one a heart attack and the other an accident
with a chain saw, Sam was skeptical. Digging deeper,
he also found a police report of a fatality involving
one of the mill’s logging trucks as well as another
death six months prior that was written off as an accidental
was all too coincidental to a hunter like Sam and the
details screamed “angry spirit”. Now if
he could only talk Dean into looking into the situation.
ya’ll go,” the waitress announced, delivering
a plate of pancakes that wobbled precariously.
thanked her, pouring a generous amount of warm syrup
over the stack before digging into the mound. He devoured
them like a ravenous dog, partially to satiate his hunger
and partially to get back to his research.
for waking me,” an all-too-familiar voice grumbled.
looked up and into the red-rimmed green eyes of his
older brother. Dean dropped onto the seat beside him
and grabbed for Sam’s coffee cup.
help yourself,” Sam replied, shoveling another
bite of hotcakes into his mouth. “You gonna eat
anything this morning?”
I’m not planning on scoping out the dumpster if
that’s what you’re thinking,” Dean
smiled and nonchalantly closed the laptop.
scoping out a hunt?” Dean asked as he slurped
another sip of coffee.
young hunter swallowed nervously, breakfast suddenly
sitting heavily in the bottom of his stomach. He really
wasn’t in the mood for round three, especially
with his hung-over sibling.
nothing major… just something out in Colorado,”
Could be a spirit. I’m not sure. I haven’t
really put all the pieces together yet.”
if anyone can, it’s you,” Dean replied confidently.
was speechless. He’d expected several reactions
out of his brother but acquiescence hadn’t been
at the top of the list.
your mouth, bro. This place ain’t the cleanest
in the world and you’re about to attract flies.”
You’re telling me you want to check this out?”
Sam asked, unable to hide his surprise.
not?” Dean answered, fishing a bill from his wallet
and tossing it on the counter. “Colorado’s
just a hop, skip and a jump from Lawrence, couple of
groaned, he hadn’t seen that coming. He should
have known that Dean’s interest had to have had
an ulterior motive.
on, Sammy. Daylight’s burning. I can catch a bite
on the road.”
he was about to rise when he spotted the older waitress.
Dean, hang on a sec. Last night, the other waitress,
how bad was she hurt?”
shrugged. “I dunno. Not too bad I don’t
think. Just a couple of bruises, maybe a split lip.
She seemed alright, why?”
waitress here today was saying that Shelly didn’t
finish up last night, didn’t call in today. Something
about that she’s not answering any calls this
morning either,” Sam filled in.
her name. You think she’s okay?”
dunno. She seemed okay last night, not even shook up.
But that dude was pretty big. Maybe he came back after
her again,” Dean admitted.
somebody oughta check on her?” Sam suggested.
as in us?”
like the right thing to do?”
we always do the right thing?” Dean sighed audibly.
“I s’pose we could check on her on our way
out of town. You see if you can get her address from
Flo there and I’ll go load up our stuff in the
nodded as Dean whirled around and up from the seat.
He was out the door even as the younger man was calling
the attention of the waitress. By the time she begrudgingly
wrote down Shelly’s address and Sam made his way
outside, Dean had returned.
drive out to the young woman’s place didn’t
take long and finding the address wasn’t hard
considering the nearest neighbor was a good quarter
mile away. The house itself would have been the Webster’s
picture for the word “shack”, complete with
worn and discolored siding, a front porch that sat askew
to the main structure and a front yard with grass tall
enough to nearly obscure the entire place.
obviously she’s never met a landscaper,”
Dean snarked as they pulled up the gravel drive.
maybe just not one that she wanted to bring home,”
Sam added with a laugh.
she did but she lost him in the front yard,” Dean
continued the joke.
how she was hitting on you last night, maybe it was
a good thing you didn’t take the bait.”
that?” Dean asked as he stopped the Impala behind
a blue Cavalier and shut off the engine.
as bad as it was picking spaghetti out of your hair,
I would imagine it would be worse picking crab grass
out of your ass,” Sam teased, climbing out of
continued laughing as he followed his brother up to
the front door. Standing off to the side as Dean pounded
on the rotting wood, he subdued his humor as the sound
of movement inside eked through the door.
Dean called out, knocking once more.
no one came to the door.
the next instant, Sam had out his lock pick while Dean
was drawing his Colt M1911. They were inside the house
in less than ten seconds, warily pausing just beyond
the doorway as Dean called out to Shelly once more.
previous sounds of movement were absent and no one responded
to the elder hunter’s call. Cautiously, they began
to move through the small structure, separating as Dean
turned right into the kitchen and Sam continued down
the narrow hallway back toward the rest of the house.
Sam called out gently. “We came to check on you.
They’re worried about you back at the diner.”
was quiet, almost too quiet as he slowly crept down
the corridor. Just ahead, he could see an open doorway
that exposed an unmade bed and scattered clothing tossed
about on what had to be the bedroom floor. To his left,
a second entry led to another empty bedroom and to his
right, a half-canted door hinted at a bathroom.
toward the far bedroom Sam yelled again. “Shelly...
are you here?”
well-honed hunter’s instincts called out a warning
at nearly the same moment he spotted movement out of
the corner of his eye. Whirling around, he saw her,
blonde hair unrestrained and draped down across her
face like a long yellow veil.
moved slowly at first, unthreateningly, yet the voice
in the back of Sam’s head and the skin on the
back of his neck weren’t buying it. He took a
half step back and held out his hands palms up.
My name’s Sam. We didn’t mean to scare you.
We just wanted to make sure you were okay?”
couldn’t see her eyes beneath the unruly mane
but he heard the unmistakable growl, low and throaty.
And he didn’t miss the way she lowered her shoulders,
dropping into a crouch like some predator about to pounce.
when she attacked, Sam was prepared, but he didn’t
expect the young woman’s maniacal scream or the
way in which she clawed at his face and neck. Her momentum
carried them both to the floor and despite her lighter
weight; Sam found it difficult to throw her off.
raged like a rabid animal, her fingers weaving into
Sam’s thick hair as she pounded his head against
the floor repeatedly. Dazed, he raised his arms to fend
off her attack, absently wondering where the hell Dean
was. Surely his brother had to have heard the banshee-like
screams of the crazed woman.
as the blonde continued her abuse, Sam looked up into
her face, glimpsing her eyes between the strands of
blood-streaked blonde tresses. The whites engulfed her
pupils and numerous small capillaries had burst, filling
the edges with a bloody tinge that made her gaze look
even more deadly. Whatever was wrong with the waitress,
it was well beyond a simple misunderstanding of Sam
being in her home unbidden.
stop…” Sam pleaded.
shrieked once more, her hands closing around Sam’s
neck as she pinned him to the floor, eyeing his flesh
with a gaze that resembled hunger, saliva collecting
at the corners of her mouth. He reached up to tear at
her grasp, but she was suddenly stronger than her small
stature should have accounted for and she batted aside
his hands like he was a gnat.
was panicking now. He tried to call out to Dean, but
little more than a strangled cry escaped. Shelly cocked
her head and looked back down at him with a sadistic
smile. She shushed him like a child, one finger gently
placed against his lips. Her finger then gently trailed
from his mouth until it rested on his jaw. Almost seductively,
she turned his face to the side and exposed his neck.
Then without warning, her face turned into a snarl,
and baring her teeth, Sam could feel her hot breath
as she lowered her mouth toward his throat.
the episode here