Season Four

Episode Seven: Detroit Spirit

By Kittsbud

Part One

 

Disused Car Plant
Oakland County, Michigan

Will Gant looked out over the vast expanse of shop floor before him and sighed. Part of him could still hear the echoes of workers’ voices and the soft whirls of machinery like phantoms flitting on the wind.

Except, there wasn’t even any room for ghosts here. The “company” had seen to that. Will could only be thankful that he didn’t work for the car giant that had closed this plant. At least he could hold some solace in the fact he’d played no direct part in what had happened here.

Still, that did little to quell the uneasy feeling in his gut – a feeling, he noted, that he only usually got after eating his wife’s pumpkin pie.

He grunted, and even that sound bounced hollowly off the walls.

Working jobs like this depressed him. It was one thing to put the wonders of robotic automation into a factory, but to have to tear it out knowing it was at the cost of hundreds of jobs, well, that just didn’t sit right.

The problem was, the American car industry was a dying trade, and this Pontiac factory had been one of its casualties. It wasn’t Will’s fault, and it wasn’t the fault of Trentham Robotics who he worked for.

It was just a sad economic fact that now meant he was disconnecting the vast robots from the lines, stripping them and removing them for later refurbishment and eventual resale.

“Hey, Will, are you gonna stop staring at the emptiness here and give me a hand?”

Will looked up to see a short, dark haired man in a similar white coverall to his own working on one of the giant machines. Ed was his partner in crime on this job, and he seemed just a little quirky. Maybe Ethel, his long-suffering wife, hadn’t fed him breakfast this morning.

If their wives ever got together, no man in a hundred mile radius would be safe, he was sure.

Ed didn’t see the flash of Will’s smile at the thought of their beloveds and continued poking inside the robot.

The thing’s huge yellow frame looked like a motorized arm that was ready to snatch out at any second.

Sometimes, even though he’d worked with the robots for over ten years, Will still got the creeps just looking at the things.

Was man really meant to create such behemoths?

“Yeah, yeah, keep you voice down or you’ll wake the natives,” Will grumbled, striding over a long power conduit channeled into the floor to join his friend. “I was just thinkin’,” he explained. “About all the years this place was here. All the people…all the cars.”

Ed nodded, stuffing a small spanner between his teeth as he pulled out a section of wiring. “It’s all the imports,” he agreed. “Folks just don’t want to buy American anymore. Gas guzzlers, that’s what they’re saying.”

Will huffed and handed his friend a screwdriver, watching with interest, but apparently no intention to actually aid in the task. “Gimme my Bonneville to some souped-up battery on wheels any day…” He glanced around sharply, distracted by a new sound. “You hear somethin’?”

Ed shook his head.

“I coulda sworn I heard somethin’.” Will frowned, straightening from his position to look around the cold, empty plant.

The noise came again.

A rich, metallic sound as if a car panel had been dropped. This time, Ed looked up too, his eyes widening slightly. “I thought we were the only two on this job today?”

Will bobbed his head. “Yeah, and you know that whacky security guard said we wouldn’t catch him coming inside.”

Ed dropped the spanner and slid the screwdriver into his pocket. Moving away from the robot, he joined Will in scanning the factory for signs of life. “It’s the why he wouldn’t come in here that’s got me worried,” he muttered, voice quivering just a touch.

“Those rumors are just local talk to get the big guys at Pontiac to open this place back up. Whole lot o’ stuff and nonsense,” Will grumbled, but the way his hands had begun to shake suggested he believed the hearsay more than he was admitting.

Overhead, a long row of florescent lights began to sputter and flash until they died completely.

“Tube musta blown,” Will tried to convince himself.

What? Every tube in the whole row of lights?”

The metallic sound came again. It was closer this time, like the assembly line was kicking into action – without its workforce.

Another row of lights cracked and flickered into darkness.

Crap!” Ed scooped up his tool bag and began picking his way hastily through the machines towards the door. “I never signed on for this. I work with machines, not…well, not THAT! Dang place wants tearing down before it’s too late…”

“Whattya talking about, Ed? It’s just an old, dead car plant. There’s bound to be a few creaks and groans in a place that’s been around as long as this.” Will tried to reason with his friend, although his better judgment told him to run faster than even Ed was attempting.

Ed turned on him unexpectedly, a feral glint in his eye that said he wasn’t to be messed with. “Can’t you feel it?” He spat, his lips trembling in unison with the rest of his body. “There’s something in here with us. Something alive.”

“It’s just rats, maybe a bird got in the roof, or…”

The mammoth yellow robot that Ed had been dismantling suddenly jerked into life, cutting off any more of Will’s excuses.

Both engineers stared at it in open-mouthed astonishment as the double pincers meant for vehicle assembly spun around and pointed in their direction. There was no question about it. The thing was pointing at them like a human hand.

“Well I’ll be damned. I thought the main control terminal was shut down when this place closed.” Will scratched his head and began walking back towards the machine. “I guess that’s what got us all spooked,” he chuckled. “Must be power left to some of the equipment in here…”

Ed didn’t move, but the ruddy color to his cheeks caused by years of hypertension suddenly drained away until he was the shade of fresh white linen. “Wait…Will, I cut the electricity feed to that puppy a coupla minutes ago! Even if the main terminal was working, there can’t be any power…”

Will’s boot stopped midair and he swallowed – hard. “No power?” He questioned, even though he’d heard perfectly well the first time.

Ed nodded. “There’s somethin’ in here…”

“They’re just machines,” Will rationalized. “They need to have power from somewhere.

But as he scrutinized the yellow creature before him, he wasn’t so sure.

The robot hadn’t moved, but two blue diodes on the huge servos controlling its arm flashed almost threateningly. Will realized they reminded him of a monster he’d once seen on the big screen. It’s just a friggin’ machine. What’s it gonna do? Sprout legs and chase y’all outta here?

The robot seemed to sense his challenge, and with a jerk, the arm shot forward, its pincers pausing only when they were a millimeter from his right eyeball.

Will didn’t move. He didn’t blink.

Behind him, he could hear the distinct footfalls of his colleague making a dash for the exit. Stupid S.O.B. Doesn’t he know he’s heading straight into the paintshop? Ten more of these suckers just waitin’ in line in there…

The robot’s servos whined and groaned, as if they were receiving contradicting signals. Then, abruptly, the yellow arm of death simply froze as if it had lost all power.

The blue L.E.D.s faded and grew dark, the monster safely asleep in its cave for another night.

Will sucked down a breath, his beer gut rising and falling sharply as panic and relief overwhelmed him at the same time. He closed his eyes, opened them again, and when the factory remained silent, headed back to find Ed.

“You hiding behind some damn cabinet back there or…”

Will stopped as he reached the double doors that led into the paintshop. When the plant was operational, cars would have been rolled through them whilst still on the line, ready to be sprayed a variety of colors.

Now, though, only one color was evident in the massive booth, and that was the bright scarlet of fresh blood.

Will doubled over, gagging as his eyes followed the garish splatters to their origins.

Ed may well have come here to hide or escape, but he would never leave again – at least not in one piece.

One of the huge robots now had Ed’s skull crushed between its metallic fingers.

Will wasn’t sure, but it looked like his buddy’s head had been squished into the shape of an egg, his eyeballs popping from their sockets with the immense pressure.

Will coughed, trying to retch up the bile that was burning in his throat, but for some reason, he still felt compelled to look upon the grisly sight. Perhaps it was to convince himself it was real.

It was.

Ed’s head had cracked open so badly that both congealing blood and brain matter were pushing through the splits in his cranium and seeping onto the floor.

The robot didn’t seem to understand what it had done. With a whir of motors and hydraulics, the machine released its grip on Ed and simply returned to its starting position on the defunct line.

It was like it had been overcome by a glitch in its programming and had now been rebooted.

Will ran the back of his hand across his mouth and swallowed down the rest of the bile trying to escape his body. He couldn’t stay here. The natives were revolting and he was the enemy.

Pushing up from his kneeling position, he glanced around warily. Without the lights, the plant was dark, but not pitch black. The ceiling tiles allowed enough natural light in at this time of day for him to be able to navigate his way out without passing any more of the automated lines.

At least, he hoped.

His leg muscles felt like they’d turned to Jell-O, but he forced them to move, to run as fast as his chubby frame would carry him to the nearest fire exit.

Not gonna die here, not gonna…

Will remembered how bad his wife’s pie was again, and prayed that he lived to taste it just one more time. Hell, he’d even tell her it was good, if he could just make it home.

His hand fell on the “push bar” that opened the fire door and he shoved so hard he thought the metal would sheer off in his hands. But it refused to move.

Over the plant PA system, Will heard the twangy tones of a rock song begin to play. Was there someone else in here all along? Was it man, not machine, behind Ed’s death?

I got a brand new car
And I like to drive real hard
I got a brand new car
And I'm feeling good so far

Why, the sick sonofabitch, Will’s mind screamed at him to go back up into the offices and kick the bastard’s ass that had dared to do all this. But then, common sense took over.

If there really was someone else here, he was a murderer, and he wasn’t going to want to leave behind a witness.

Will shoved on the emergency exit again, putting all the weight behind his shoulder as he bounced on it. This time, the bar gave, and he was unexpectedly catapulted outside by his own momentum.

Will rolled over in the overgrown grass that had begun to encroach on the factory, staring back into the paintshop.

Inside, all ten of the massive yellow robots had moved, their pincers and spray heads pointing towards his escape route as if they were angry he had evaded them.

He scrambled to his feet and for a second thought of flipping the machines the bird. Then he realized how foolish and pointless it would be.

They were just automatons, weren’t they?

From somewhere inside, The Rolling Stones Brand New Car grew louder and louder until it reached crescendo point.

All the extinguished lighting modules rapidly flicked back on, and as Will watched in open-mouthed wonder, the plant somehow came alive as if a ghostly workforce had clocked on for a shift of the dead.


Bobby Singer’s Salvage Yard
Sometime Later…


Dean sat squarely on the hood of the Impala, taking a slug from the beer Bobby had handed him whilst attentively listening to the older hunter’s story.

Bobby had called the previous day to offer them a rather unusual job – a job that Dean sorely wanted to take even before he knew any of the details. It wasn’t that he didn’t like Christmas, or in this case the aftermath of the yuletide season, but he needed to rid himself of the festive cheer that seemed to have settled over him since the gig at Westland’s toy store.

He was a hunter, after all, not some extra in a Disney movie.

Of course, Dean knew Sam felt the exact opposite. The “possessed” toys and happy ending tale had left the gangly Winchester all warm and fuzzy inside. The stupid lopsided grin and all-dimples cheeks told that story well enough.

Not than Dean didn’t have feelings. He just didn’t want those feelings clouding his judgment when they had a missing father to find.

Hell, if Sam ever looked a little too closely in the Chevy’s glove box, he might just find a certain wooden train that would make his big brother feel very uncomfortable, but that didn’t mean they could go soft, either.

“So,” Bobby was explaining through the last gulps of his own Budweiser. “Old buddy of mine who just happens to be an exec over at GM has a very interesting problem. After listening to his story, I reckon you boys might want to check it out.” He cocked his now empty bottle towards Dean. “This one should be right up your alley…”

“Oh yeah? His car plant infested with multiple hot babes with very little in the line of clothing?” Dean quipped.

“Not even close,” Bobby’s beard twitched, emphasizing the fact that the dilemma was much more serious than it initially sounded. “Seems like ever since the global economic slump, car builders have been shedding jobs. GM decided to discontinue the Pontiac line and have begun closing plants. That’s when my friend Mike’s problems started.”

“You called us in about job losses at a car plant?” Sam‘s brow quirked up. “How can that be our kinda gig?”

“If you two knuckleheads will just listen, I’m getting to that part,” Bobby groused back, tossing his empty bottle into a rusting Lincoln that had once been a lovely shade of satanic red. “When the Oakland County plant closed recently, several workers were hurt trying to remove machinery. Said it was like the equipment had a life of its own.”

“Possessed factory?” Sam squinted in surprise. “You’re not buying that, Bobby?”

Bobby pulled off his greasy baseball cap and scratched at his scalp absently. “Oh, it gets even better. Since the closure, locals have seen the place light up at night and they can hear the robots and lines runnin’ even though there’s no workers. And the dang power’s been cut off for weeks.”

Dean scowled. He wasn’t exactly a lover of technology at the best of times – well, unless it involved the invention of “magic fingers,” but this was giving him the creeps. “Machines? Working with no power? Man, that’s seriously freaky. I’m starting to get that Will Smith ‘I hate robots’ kinda vibe before I even see this joint.”

“So how’d your friend know to call us?” Sam grabbed another beer from the case on the ground and cracked it open on the Lincoln’s hood.

“Oh, me and him go ways back. He knows I kinda deal in cars and ‘other’ problems. Guess he thought I was the perfect man for the job. Seems like GM can’t afford any more bad press on this thing with their current financial difficulties and all. “

“Maybe they should just open the plant back up,” Dean suggested, tipping a brow. “I mean, killing the Pontiac line is tantamount to sacrilege in my book. I mean, c’mon, they’re ganking a piece of history and they expect it to go down without a fight?”

Bobby chuckled. “Now that’s why I thought you’d be perfect for this hunt. You gotta have a vested interest in keeping classic names alive when you drive a crate like yours.” He nodded playfully to the Chevy and Dean’s scowl lengthened.

“Hey, quiet! She’ll hear you!” Dean patted the Impala’s hood affectionately. “S’okay, he doesn’t mean it, baby…”

Bobby’s eyes narrowed mischievously. “Wanna bet?” He flipped his soiled cap back on. “So you boys in? Or do I gotta go figure this one out on my lonesome?”

Dean opened his mouth to offer the brothers’ assistance, but Sam caught him off guard by cutting in, a deep frown forming on the younger sibling’s face.

“I don’t know, Bobby. I mean, I know we need to hunt, keep busy even, but there’s only a couple of months left now and…”

“Coupla months until you get your chance to pull John out…” Bobby put a concerned hand on Sam’s shoulder. “I know you got your daddy to be thinkin’ about, but until that church opens again, there ain’t squat you can do but wait – or hunt.”

“But we still don’t even know how to get Dad out. It’s not like we can just walk in and grab him. We don’t even know which plane of existence, which universe he’s trapped in.” Sam’s shoulders hunched over and his expression darkened. “The closer it gets, the more I’ve gotten to thinking about what he’s had to go through. How many versions of us has he had to see die? What if…what if he’s in…”

Dean and Bobby watched as Sam squinted back moisture from his eyes. And both knew the unspoken word he couldn’t bring himself to mouth.

“What if he’s in Hell?” Bobby finished for him. “Well then we just gotta drag his ass outta there. Lucifer ain’t gonna like it none, that’s a fact, but since when did we give a rat’s ass about his opinion?”

“And besides,” Dean chimed in. “We don’t even know if any of that crap Ash spouted was true. Hell might not be a part of the whole Stull thing, and if it is, Dad might not be there.”

He bit the bottom of his lip as he spoke, knowing that Sam would read through him in a heartbeat. Because deep down, Dean had been wondering the same thing for months.

How did time pass on the “other” side? How many bad things had John been subjected to since his imprisonment in the bowels of Stull? If Hell was really there, then did Luciano Ferinacci still preside over it while he was “topside?”
And if he did, what would he do if he got the chance to have John Winchester as a prisoner there?

Was trapping John in Hell, or maybe all the Winchesters, Lucifer’s goal all along?

Dean turned his back to his brother and their best friend as he hopped down from the Impala’s hood.

Now he finally realized why the festive season had annoyed him so much.

Because they’d had to live it without knowing the truth about their father.

It had been one thing for John to be on hunts every Christmas during their childhood, but at least they had known he was somewhere. Now, now they didn’t really know if he was alive, or some demon’s bitch in Gehenna.

“Dean?” The tone of Sam’s voice was asking his big brother’s opinion.

What can I say that could possibly make any of this right when I don’t know myself?

Dean turned back, ramming his hands in his leather jacket’s pockets as he focused on Bobby. There was an understanding between them in just that look without words having to be expressed, but Dean asked the question out loud anyway.

“You heard anything on the grapevine about our pal Ferinacci while Dad’s been gone?”

Bobby shook his head and let out a low sigh. “Nope, not diddly squat in months. At least nothing other than his usual low-life skank dealings with the underworld. If he’s got your daddy, he sure as hell ain’t advertizing it.”

Dean rubbed a hand over the stubble on his chin in thought. If Lucifer had John, he’d have taunted them with the knowledge by now. Chances were, John was just bouncing around from one reality to another – just like he and Sam had.

If that was the case, there was very little they could do yet, except to follow his favorite idiom, kill as many evil sons of bitches as they could find. Maybe Bobby’s hunt fit into that category.

And even if it didn’t, it involved his second favorite subject – cars.

He glanced across to Sam’s waiting gaze and nodded. “We should do this one, Sammy. If for no other reason than maybe we’re the only ones who can.”

Sam exhaled and set his beer bottle down still half-full. He didn’t try to argue, but it was obvious the way his shoulders sagged that he had hoped their next hunt would take them back to Lawrence. “I’ll go boot up the laptop,” he offered quietly. “I’m guessing there’s a bunch of stuff on Pontiac and Oakland we can use on this gig…”

Dean watched as his brother headed up to the main house looking deflated and worn down, and he had to wonder if he’d made the right choice.

It seemed like they were always chasing something or someone, but they rarely had time for one another, for family anymore.

“He’ll come around,” Bobby reassured.

“Yeah, I know. The thing is, I’m not even sure which one of us was right.” Dean shook his head uncertainly. “You know when Dad got left behind, for weeks I was the one who couldn’t focus on anything else? I was obsessed with getting Dad out until nothing else mattered. Hell, life didn’t matter. Sammy talked me into hunting again and now…”

“What goes around comes around.” Bobby nodded. “It’s only natural you boys feel the way you do. And when the time comes, you know if there’s anything I can do to help you haul John outta Stull…”

A small smile of appreciation crept across Dean’s lips. “I know you will, Bobby, but until then, what say we go ventilate a few robots’ asses?”

Bobby smiled back mysteriously and opened up the red Lincoln’s trunk. Inside was a long wooden crate with no markings. He patted it like a pet. “Don’t worry,” he winked. “I already got my packing done…”

Dean frowned back, wanting more than anything to pry open the crate and find out what his old friend was up to.

Bobby had other ideas, however, and hoisted the box carefully over his shoulder. Looking over three vehicles he’d hodgepodged together from wrecks, he chose a pale blue Bonneville station wagon from the sixties and dropped his load inside. The car’s springs groaned as he slammed the tailgate shut and jerked a thumb up towards the house.

“Well what are ya waiting for?” Bobby griped. “C’mon, let’s go see what Sam’s found on that fancy computer of yours.”

Dean smirked lewdly. “What? You mean other than my naked Lindsay Lohan collection?”

 

Bobby’s Place
Sometime Later…

Sam tapped absently at the laptop, his eyes not really focusing on the pages anymore as they scrolled rapidly across the screen. The truth was, he didn’t even know what he was researching – except that it definitely wasn’t car factories, or even haunted car factories.

Since he’d left Dean and Bobby out in the yard, all he’d been checking on was Ferinacci, New Jersey, and possible demonic signs related to either or both.

So far, he’d come up empty on all counts until he felt like a smoke screen had been deliberately set up for him to run into.

Of course, in all likelihood, Ferinacci might just as easily be laying low after his little coup in Stull. Building his newfound army, training them, working out strategies for his big offensive.

Hell, Lucifer probably had no clue John Winchester was bouncing around where normally only the legions of the dead played.

But that didn’t stop Sam looking, and then looking some more.

Behind him, Sam heard the door slam and footsteps approach the dining table. He quickly hit a key, closing several windows to just leave an article about Detroit and Pontiac visible.

If Dean, or for that matter, Bobby, saw what he’d really been checking on, he’d get his ass chewed out royally. Maybe they were right. It was still too soon to be planning The Great Escape for their dad. But just like in the movie, if Sam had to dig the longest freakin’ tunnel in Kansas with his bare hands to make it work, then he would.

Sam smiled at the thought, remembering scenes from his big brother’s favorite war flick. Yeah right, Dean down a claustrophobic hole in the ground where rats like to play. He’d so be a girlie screamer…

“So what’s got you smiling so much all of a sudden, Sasquatch?” Dean pulled up a chair and dropped down to the left of his brother while Bobby merely peered over at the laptop.

“Um…nothing.” Sam shrugged innocently. ”I mean, I can’t find anything on Oakland County or Pontiac that might be causing the problems Bobby mentioned.”

He moved the laptop around so everyone got a view of the page. “Says here the Pontiac name was originally used back in 1900 by the Pontiac Spring and Wagon Works. The name was taken from Chief Pontiac, an American Indian chief who led an unsuccessful uprising against the British after the French and Indian war…”

Dean squirmed on his chair like he’d sat on a mound of fire ants. “Indians,” he muttered with a shudder. “Man, don’t tell me we gotta deal with more native mojo like in Oasis Plains and La Jolla? I had enough of that crap with old Moonie and her Triffid ivy.”

Bobby read further down the article and shook his head. “I don’t see anything that connects the haunting to where Pontiac got its name from.” He pulled up a chair of his own and rubbed at the bottom of his beard in thought. “Truth is, I reckon we might be dealing with something weird here, boys. Somethin’ like we’ve never seen before.”

“You mean like a bunch of wuss ass dicks in suits being afraid of their own car plant?” Dean shook his head, obviously still not happy about the loss of an American legend.

“Well, whatever it is, nothing is jumping off this page to give it a motive other than this thing is pissed the plant got closed.” Sam tapped some more on the touchpad and the second page of the article appeared. “The Oakland Motor Company and Pontiac Spring and Wagon merged in November 1908 under the name of the Oakland Motor Company. The operations of both were joined together in Pontiac, Michigan. GM bought Oakland in 1908, and began using the Pontiac name as a brand in 1926…”

“Which is all very interesting, but tells us squat about what might be going on, Samantha. You telling me it took you half an hour to find that? Dude, your geekometer hit a new low!”

“What happens if we check for accidental deaths at the plant?” Bobby offered. “If someone died there and holds a grudge, their spirit might be tied to the place.”

Sam pulled a slightly guilty expression, suggesting he should have thought of looking for the possibility already, and began typing in a new search criteria. “Okay, so we got a few accidents, one serious, but no actual deaths until Ed Berezovsky, and he was the guy with the robot company dismantling the place.”

“You telling me no one died there until it got haunted? Dude, that doesn’t make any sense. We gotta have a victim before we can have a vengeful spook creeping around the joint.”

Sam shrugged. “I’m telling you, man, there’s nothing on file.”

Bobby pushed up from the table and slid out his favorite silver flask. Taking a swig of his homemade moonshine he sighed as if he’d expected these results all along. “Well fellas, looks like we got ourselves a trip to Michigan.”

“Yeah, as long as it’s not the one way ticket kind,” Dean grunted and then accepted the flask as it was passed his way. He took a quick slug and inhaled sharply as the noxious liquid burned his throat. “By the way, Bobby,” he croaked out. “Nice to see you’ve gotten this place right back the way it was…”

Bobby scowled. “Say what?”

Dean gestured around the room, pointing at the huge piles of books, scrolls, ancient texts and other strange objects that filled every spare segment of space not occupied by regular household items. “The new house Sam and me built you? Man, it’s just as big a junkyard as the one that got fried.”

Bobby’s scowl transformed into a smile and he slapped Dean squarely between the shoulders. “I tried,” he chuckled. “Oh, and speakin’ of “new” things? I have someone I’d like you two bozos to meet…”

The older hunter wiggled his eyebrows jokingly and moved to the nearest closed door. Grabbing the handle, he tugged until the sticking jamb gave way.

As the door swung open, all Sam saw was a moving black blur that seemed to lurch forwards in attack mode. It was all he could do to stop pulling his Glock and letting off a couple of rounds at the “thing.”

Luckily, he restrained himself long enough for his attacker to wrap both front paws around his neck and land a drooling tongue straight in his face.

“You got another dog!” He managed to blurt out happily in between the slobbering animal’s affectionate kisses.

“That’s not a dog,” Dean observed. “It’s a friggin’ buffalo in disguise. Jeez, the thing’s huge…

“Huge, and smart,” Bobby corrected. “Max has a nose for our black-eyed friends better than any hound I’ve ever owned.”

“Max?” Dean leaned low to inspect the Malamute and pulled a face. “Bobby, I hate to be the one to break this to you, but ‘Max’ hasn’t exactly got any family jewels back there…”

Sam stopped petting the creature and took a peek to confirm his brother’s suspicions. “You bought a girl dog and named it Max?” And one that looks too much like a certain tupilaq for comfort, he considered, recalling bad times in Canada.

“Damn straight,” Bobby admitted. “I needed some intelligent company around here – not something I exactly get from you two,” He teased. “And I figured a little help in the demon hunting department would be a bonus.”

The dog whirled to look at Dean as if it had assessed Sam and now it was his turn. Blue eyes stared for the longest moment and then Max padded over to take up position at Dean’s feet.

He stretched forward and stroked the animal, careful to let it get his scent.

Max’s head cocked to one side and suddenly a huge paw slapped itself into Dean’s unsuspecting palm.

He grinned like a six-year-old that had just been given a puppy for Christmas. “See,” he beamed. “Even dogs know I’m adorable…”

Bobby tried unsuccessfully to stifle a chuckle. “Either that, or Max is eyeing you up for supper…”


Disused Car Plant
Oakland County, Michigan

Bobby followed Sam and Dean over the top of the wire fence and grunted as he hit the ground the other side a little too hard. Clambering over a perimeter railing might all be in a day’s work for the brothers, but Bobby wasn’t sure his old bones liked it one bit. For his age, he was still fitter than most, but the odd ache and pain still plagued him when he tried to act twenty again.

“You okay, Bobby?” Dean had rolled over and taken position by a wall, using the shadows it threw for cover. Sam’s gangly frame was already heading in the same direction.

“Depends on your definition of okay,” Bobby grumbled, bringing up the rear with his Remington in hand. “Next time I remember to bring a pair of dang wire cutters…”

Dean and Sam smiled at one another knowingly and drew a scowl from Bobby in response.

He knew the Winchesters liked nothing more to tease him, but dammit, one day they’d be his age too – at least, they would if they kept their heads down, their wits intact, and were luckier than most hunters tended to be.

Bobby pushed away the thought. Dean and Sam were downhearted enough about their daddy being MIA, they didn’t need him turning glum on them as well.

He hunkered down next to Sam, keeping the shotgun in front of him like a steadying rod of steel. Just a few feet away from their position lay the plant.

All three stared at the place, illuminated in the darkness, not by the night sky, but by an array of lights that shouldn’t, couldn’t be working.

The factory was somehow lit up like it was still hooked in to the county grid, and worse still, the heavy noises coming from within confirmed the stories Bobby’s buddy had conveyed.

“Well I’ll be…” Dean winced. “The lights are on, but nobody’s home.”

“Yeah, well there’s somethin’ in there.” Bobby carefully stood from the shadows and jogged over to one of the few windows on the lower story.

Even before his eyes met with the view of the inside, he could hear the mechanical clank of robots performing the same motion over and over.

Could a spirit control a machine that way?

“Man, look at those puppies work.” Dean had joined the elder hunter and was so close to the grimy glass his nose could have been stuck to the pane. Watching the bizarre robot ballet appeared to be the most transfixing thing he’d ever seen.

Sam, on the other hand, didn’t need to get close to get a good view. His height simply let him peer over the top of his brother and best friend’s shoulders. “They’re actually still building cars!” He exclaimed in surprise.

Bobby wasn’t so sympathetic to the robots, or whatever was making them dance. “Are you two done? You’re acting like this is a beautiful thing. Don’t forget those metal monsters have no power. Dang it, they shouldn’t be alive anymore than a car without gas.”

“But, dude, they’re making Pontiacs in there.” Dean spoke as if he almost revered whatever was at work inside the plant. “I mean, c’mon, this is definitely my kinda spook here.”

“Yeah, well, don’t get too attached to whatever the crazy-assed thing is, because we gotta go in there and end it.” Bobby wiped a bead of sweat from his brow with the arm of his plaid shirt and pumped the shotgun ready for use.

Dean pulled out a sawed-off from under his jacket and did much the same. “GM tried ganking Pontiac, and now we’re gonna finish the game for them,” he groused, his face puckering in distaste. “Man, did I ever mention, sometimes this job sucks?”

“Err, mostly, actually,” Sam teased, checking his own weapon. “But we do it anyway because we get such a great retirement plan…”

“Alright,” Bobby nodded. “Let’s go find out who or what we’re fighting here, boys.”

He moved to take on an assault position, but never made it past the window.

Something was behind them, casting a silhouette on the factory walls that made it seem twice its actual size. It had appeared from nowhere and was just sitting, watching, waiting.

A giant unknown vehicle that was revving so hard it seemed a demon that loved velocity was gunning the gas.

Bobby swallowed until his Adam’s apple bounced uncontrollably. Part of him wanted to turn, to see what the car was, but the other part wanted to begin a silent prayer that this thing was no Pontiac.

“That’s as GM big block, I’d own the sound anywhere,” Dean offered his classic knowledge helpfully, and when both Bobby and Sam scowled he just shrugged back.

“So are we going to stand here like jerks, or are we going to turn around and see who just made an ass out of us?” Sam asked, his finger itching to hover over his shotgun’s trigger.

“On three then,” Dean agreed as Bobby nodded, and all three men whirled around, poised to shoot.

The car continued to rev, its hood shaking with the raw power beneath it. The glare from the headlights blinding all those in its path.

From this distance, it should have been easy to make out the color, the model, and maybe even the driver.

But all that seemed to matter was the large, unmistakable Pontiac emblem that appeared to pulse with every throb of the car’s engine.

Maybe the hunters had come here to find trouble. But blinking away the ferocious light blinding him, Bobby was certain that trouble had found them instead.

And death would surely follow.

 

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The Winchester Chronicles

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