Title: The Sin Eater
Description: The Winchesters should have kept driving
guiltypleasure - December 13, 2008 10:56 PM (GMT)
''How far 'til Bradford?" Dean asked. They'd been on the road for days, and the charm was wearing thin.
Sam unfolded his map of Pennsylvania once again, sighing with his own road-weariness. "Bout three hours. There's a little fly-speck of a town coming up. Spencerville. I wouldn't mind stopping, I could use a coffee."
Dean nodded. Yeah--a shot of caffeine would be a good idea about now. They were scheduled to meet up with Bobby in Bradford, at his request. Something to do with demons, some signs. Dean was loathe to address anything hell-related at the moment, it was all still pretty fresh. He'd only just regained his brother, and he wasn't in any state of mind, after everything, to deal with the ugly reality that he'd brought down on his own head. But Bobby Singer could ask him to send his right arm gift-wrapped, and he'd do it without question. Sam felt likewise.
They were driving through some breathtaking country. The Adirondack hills were beautiful in any season, but particularly so now, in the waning summer. Here and there were hints of the scarlet that the maples would explode into later, surrounded by deep, verdent green. It was lovely country to retire in, if you had money. Not so romantic for those who were born here. Generations lived and died in poverty in the hills. There was forestry, but little else to sustain anything beyond subsistence. And mills were closing left and right, throwing more and more of the current generation into dire straits. Farming opportunities were nil--the land was too hilly and rocky. There were little plots, carved out in the 1800's, between hills and ravines, just enough to grow a few things for the family's use. The mines that made hiking treacherous were all played out. The only thing that had sustained the people here now was oil. Small, backyard oil rigs dotted the view, some moving slowly up and down, pulling the precious commodity from the depths, but most sat rusting and silent, shut down by the Environmental Protection Agency.
A shabby little restaurant came into view. No cars graced its weedy parking lot, and Dean slowed as they drove past.
"Looks closed. crap---I gotta take a leak."
He pulled over and backed up, stopping in front of the abandoned building. He ducked behind it to relieve himself, and as he did, a pickup truck slowed and stopped on the road. An unfriendly looking man called out to Sam, who sat waiting.
"That place is closed. What do you want there?"
Sam pasted on his most innocuous smile. "Just looking for a coffee. Any place around here to grab one?"
The man sized him up, his frosty demeanor remaining unchanged. "Post office, up ahead a mile." With that curt statement, he pulled away and left. Sam whistled, as Dean re entered the car. "What'd he want?"
"To make sure we weren't strangers robbing the place. I asked him where we could grab something to drink, he said the post office coming up. Friendly bastard." he snorted.
"What, he didn't even melt a little at your dewy puppy eyes..?"
"Shut up, you freak. The place is a mile up the road. Maybe somebody there knows where there's a motel somewhere near. I don't know about you but I need to be horizontal for a while."
Dean grunted his agreement. After a few minutes, the building in question came into view. It was an old frame general store, with the post office being its main function these days. It seemed it was still the social hub of the community, such as it was. There were a number of pick-ups out front, several of which carried plywood crates with baying hounds as their cargo. Sam chose to stay behind. "Coffee, and see if they have anything like those pepperettes or something."
Dean nodded and headed inside.
The place was as he expected. The post office took most of the counter, along with an ancient cash register and a collection of lottery tickets. The walls were lined with hunting and fishing needs, some stale looking loaves of bread, and chips. The coffee maker was at one wall, a throng of scruffy, bearded men standing around it. He had to excuse himself to get at it, and they seemed reluctant to let him pass. At least he thought so. Their cold appraisal of him made him nervous, he didn't know why. But he smiled warmly and made a lame comment about the weather as he poured out two coffees. No one anwered, they just turned away in disinterest.
The coffee was so black and cooked smelling that he added extra sugar and cream, stacked the cups, and carried them along as he went in search of some snacks. The group of men were grimly discussing events of the previous days, Dean couldn't help but overhear.
"..I'm telling you, Frank--that place ain't right. Bert knew how to use that tractor, he woulda never took it near that slope. And lookit Dale--half his hand gone. Him too---been using a chainsaw since he was a kid, for christs sake, He don't make that kinda mistake."
The one called Frank grunted. "Them chains just broke off that load of logs, too. You see those links? Nuthin shoulda snapped them, they were so thick. Baker was nearly flattened when they came off that trailer. He was damned lucky."
"What's Alice gonna do now...hire somebody to finish clearing that lot? With Bert gone, she can't afford to quit that contract. That rich bastard from New York will probably kill the sale, and then she'll have piss--all."
There was general agreement to that. One of the men piped up- "Well, I sure as hell ain't gonna do it. I could use the money as much as anybody, but not if it's gonna cost me so dear. She can hire somebody that don't know the history..."
Dean's curiosity overtook his caution. It sounded to him that something odd was going on, something right up their alley. He decided to learn more. He unloaded his armload onto the counter and paid for it. At least the woman behind the counter was friendly enough. He asked her about a motel, and she laughed.
"Nothing like that, 'til Bradford. You can go check with May Adams, she keeps a couple of rooms for boarders and such. She might have room for you. Just head left after the blue house down the road---you'll see her sign. They're not fancy, but they're clean. How long you planning to stay?"
Dean smiled and thanked her. "Just one night. We've been driving for a while, supposed to meet a buddy of ours in Bradford. But since that's still a few hours away, we figured maybe we'd put up for the night."
"Well that sounds wise. Best not to drive at dusk on these roads, the deer are all over them at this time of year. Take care, now."
He nodded and turned to the men. "Hey, listen, I couldn't help but hear you talking. Something strange going on?"
They stared at him. "What's it to you?"
Dean was taken aback by their raw hostility. "Nothing. Just overheard, and it's my business to check things out." He reached into his coat and withdrew his wallet, and showed his federal badge. It was a mistake.
"Fed, huh?" the one named Frank said. "Well, you got no business round here, Mr. Federal Agent. Ain't nothing going on 'cept an accident, and folks mourning a good man. Nuthin here to tax, nuthin to legislate, nuthin to investigate, you got that?! This ain't no government business."
Dean was very aware that he was outnumbered. Even the lady that had been so forthcoming moments ago was now staring at him coldly. He wisely backed off.
"Relax, Buddy---I'm not here to interfere with you people. Sorry to have bothered you all." He smiled benignly, nodded to them, and backed out of the store. He returned to the car, tossing the sack to Sam and handing him the cups.
"Whoa...I was about as welcome in there as a freaking dentist. You shoulda seen that group of toothless mouth breathers, Sam; the second I identified myself as a Fed, they went all Deliverance.
Sam glanced back. "Well, they're coming out, and they don't look like a welcoming committee. Better go."
Dean put it in gear and drove away, leaving the grim group of men standing, staring at them with arms crossed.
"Why'd you pull a badge anyway?" Sam wondered.
"They were all going on about some incident yesterday. Some local guy got squashed---rolled his backhoe. Might've just been an accident, except they were saying that it was the fourth major thing to happen on that land in the past week. The dead guy just sold the plot, and was clearing it for the new owner to build, and they've had nothing but bad luck trying to work it. Since we're a few days ahead of Bobby, I thought it was worth looking into, what do you think..?"
"I don't know---could be a waste of time...what other things happened?"
"Equipment failures....truck broke an axle for no reason,...chains broke on a trailer of house logs and nearly pancaked some jerk. Oh, and some poor SOB cut off half his hand with a chainsaw. That's a little weird, I'd say. Can't chalk all that up to Murphy's Law."
"Ouch!" Sam snorted. "Guess he won't be playing that banjo anymore. So how'd you piss them off so fast in there, anyway?"
"I didn't do anything! Geez, not like I'm always looking for a fight--"
"No, but you do have a certain manner."
Dean frowned, wounded. "Yeah, well, all I did was flash my badge and ask about it. They all clammed up, and got pretty hostile as soon as Fed came up. Thought I was gonna get lynched."
Sam stretched and yawned, trying to get comfortable after so many hours in the car. "Well, we're in hill country now, Dean. Old area, historically resistant to government interference. Don't take it personally--you're just a revenuer to them. Just watch your back when you're around any of them, might get a load of buckshot in your ass."
Dean was still peeved when they located May Adam's place. Sam told him he would speak to her, worrying that Dean would alienate another local with the mood he was in. He waited in the car. Within a few minutes, Sam stepped out and waved to him to bring their gear. The room they'd gotten was at the back of the farmhouse, thankfully with it's own access and bathroom. Dean was relieved, the last thing he wanted was to have to go through some flowery, knick-knack-laden parlour with some old hag sitting crocheting or something, just to get to a can.
"So what's this gonna cost?" he asked sourly.
"Forty-five per night. Can't beat that, Dean."
Dean had to agree, it was particularly reasonable. They settled in to the room, hauling in the essentials and locking up the rest. "So what's May like?" Dean asked hopefully.
Sam laughed. "Depends on what your fetishes are, Dean. You like wrinkles? Facial hair? or maybe nice big gummy smiles..."
Dean shuddered visibly. "Ugh. It's been a while, but I'm not that desperate." He rolled over and closed his eyes for a moment, groaning. "Christ--I can still see broken yellow lines. Anywhere around here that I can pick up something stronger than bad rot-gut coffee?"
"Good question. We didn't pass any stores or anything, but the people around here must be able to buy stuff closer than Bradford. Wasn't there anything in the post office?"
Dean wracked his brain. "I saw a bunch of crap, but I didn't see any bottles. But from the looks of the clientelle, they weren't tea-totallers. I dunno---maybe they brew their own around here."
"Could be, Dean." Sam reached into his own bag, retrieving something, which he proudly handed over. "By the way, Merry Christmas."
Dean was delighted at the bottle of Jack Daniels. "Hey! Way to go! What made you get this??"
Sam looked at him a little shyly. "Nothing. I picked it up cuz it was on sale.."
"Liar!" Dean grinned. He was beyond pleased that Sam had thought of him. He knew his younger brother would rather drink bleach than something with the bite and personality of this particular poison. He put it aside, still smiling like a cheshire cat.
UKsnfan101 - December 14, 2008 12:34 AM (GMT)
Yeah yeah yeah a new story from you!!!!!
guiltypleasure - December 15, 2008 02:53 AM (GMT)
Yay--still someone out there reading lol
May Adams came around, knocking on their door, and entering before they had a chance to reply. She was exactly as Sam had described, a woman who had a lifetime of toil etched on her face. Her age was a mystery.
"Hello boys. Just thought I would advise you of my rules. No guests, no dogs, nuthin other than tobacco. And keep it quiet, thank you. Now, if you're hungry---there's snacks and such at the post office, and you got a hot plate there, but there ain't no restaurants or nuthin til Bradford. Now, I will have a nice stew done by evening, you can have a couple of bowls for $5 apiece. Just let me know." She smiled briefly, at least that was the intent--they couldn't be sure, as it came across more like gurning. She left before they had a chance to respond.
When she was safely out of earshot, they couldn't help but snicker. Dean was game, he was hungry now, and stew, no matter what the hell was in it, sounded pretty damned good. Sam was a little concerned that there'd be porcupine quills in it.
"Aw don't be such a princess, Sammy. Stew's great, no matter what. It's like anything---just don't over-think it and you'll enjoy it."
Sam made a face. His philosophies were polar opposites to those of his brother. He vowed to make lunch himself at least. He settled on his own bed, stretching out. "So...now what? Snooze?"
Dean shook his head. "Nah, I'm too wired. You can snooze if you want. I might take a drive over to that lot. Maybe I can see if there's anything worth staying around for."
Sam raised up onto an elbow. "Do you know where it even is?"
"Thought I heard something about the highway---they said something about Molly's---wasn't that the name of that restaurant that was closed up?"
Sam couldn't remember. "I dunno. Why don't you just relax, Dean? We'll meet up with Bobby in a couple of days, there's hardly any time to chase anything right now anyway."
Dean slumped back onto his bed. "Yeah, maybe. Bobby seemed pretty keyed up. Don't wanna get in the way of whatever he was looking into." He sighed and fiddled with the band at his wrist. The reality was, he'd give anything to avoid addressing whatever Bobby was researching. Hell, all he'd gotten was one damned year---couldn't he just revel in his little victory for a while..? He lay, wide-eyed and anxious, while Sam's breathing evened out into soft snores. It had been a long drive.
He almost drifted off, when May returned. She entered with her usual abruptness, one knock and no other warning. He made a mental note to push a dresser in front of the door in future.
"I almost forgot. Got a wake to go to tonight. If you want that stew, you'll have to serve yourself, it's on low on the stove. Just go on round to the front if you like, but mind Angus, he's nervous about strangers. I'll be at Munro's 'til nine or so. Poor man. Don't know how Alice will make do now."
She turned to go again, but Dean stopped her.
"Ma'am, we heard about the accident. We're sorry about your friend, --sounds like he met up with some bad luck." It was a calculated attempt, he figured she was either going to be closed-mouthed about it, or a gossip. Luckily, it was the latter.
"Oh, my, yes! Poor man. You know, we all told him he was playing with fire with that piece of land, after everything. Sure, he got it for a song, back-taxes, you know---but you couldn't pay me enough to set foot up there. Some things are just better left alone."
Dean would have loved some further clarification, but she swept out again. He exchanged a look with Sam. "So? Enough to go explore a little..?"
Sam shrugged. "I told you Dean, Go right ahead, I'm staying here and crashing for a while. I'll go with you later if you want, but not right now."
Dean huffed with annoyed impatience. "God you're a pansy. I can't sit still after that last couple of coffees. Stay here then, get your beauty sleep. I'm gonna go for a drive."
Sam raised his head. "Stay in touch, at least. And don't stay away too long, come back for three and I'll have some lunch ready."
Dean discarded his jacket, too warm for anything other than his long sleeved tee. "Yes, dear. Bye, honey." he grinned as he left.
"And don't piss any more people off!" Sam yelled after him.
It was acknowledged with a middle finger salute.
Sam lay awake for a while. He worried about his brother, about his state of mind. Sam was so conflicted---the sacrifice Dean had made, it was too dear, and one that Sam wasn't sure, deep down, that he would have made in the same situation. That admission filled him with a guilt that cut so sharply that he turned his mind away from it. And he knew exactly how his brother's mind worked. Anytime he was worried or bothered, he sought out some distraction, often with less than ideal results. Some female companionship would have been a good thing for him, but so far, the only woman they'd met was May Adams. But this little foray seemed safe enough, at least it kept him occupied and out from under the unfriendly scrutiny of the locals.
He was looking forward to talking with Bobby, alone. Genius came in odd packages sometimes, and Bobby always had a way of putting things in perspective, of slowing it all down and clarifying it. Sam needed that, because right now he was so damned filled with guilt and anger and stomach clenching turmoil, and the last person he could open up to was Dean. Everytime he looked at his older brother, he wanted to simultaneously hug him, and punch the daylights out of him.
He sighed for the hundredth time and finally gave in to exhaustion.
Dean cursed, annoyed that he would have to leave the Impala behind and walk in. The road was just too rough, only recently forged through the forest. He parked it and got out, surveying the place. Lots of trees, maples, birch. The forested mountain rose sharply ahead, but the ground here was rolling, ---here and there, were flatter spots, edged by small ravines. It was beautiful country---perfect for some massive log house. He opened the trunk, retrieving the EMF unit and a salt gun. If something weird was going on, he didn't want to be caught unprepared. Same reason stood for the handgun at his waist, --- living or otherwise, they were all pretty damned odd and unfriendly around here.
He trudged along the rock-strewn road. Half way, he came across the disheveled pile of logs that had broken loose from their transport. They were skillfully coped and dovetailed, ready to be snapped together like Lego. He whistled in admiration, the logs were huge, some with two foot diameters. Definitely not local trees. One of the yokels had said they were trucked all the way in from the west coast. The new owner obviously had some money. He leaned and picked up a section of broken chain. Heavy, solid steel links, they were of a size that he would have thought impossible to break, under any circumstance. He dropped the piece and continued on.
The leaves were only just starting to show hints of turning, everything was still predominently green. The air was warm, and smelled spicy and fresh--woodsy. The sun made bright, dappled patterns where it shone through the trees, if it weren't for the whining halo of midges following him, he might have actually enjoyed the hike. As he neared the end of the road, the land opened up. There was a clearing here, but it wasn't recent. He stood and scanned, looking for the backhoe, but it wasn't visible. He could see that this must have been some old homestead. The grass was tall, and golden with late season maturity. There were lines of stone peeking out of it, --walls, or old foundations. Here and there, he could see collapsed piles of weathered grey wood that used to be outbuildings. There was no evidence of a house standing, just a rectangle of stacked stone. It was fairly flat and level--there really wasn't any reason for trucks to be snapping axles on this terrain. The EMF remained silent. He walked through the grass, noting the remains of some old, small orchard. There were a few trees left, gnarled and twisted now with age. They hadn't been properly pruned for decades, thick sucker branch growth obscured their original form. But they still had healthy crowns of leaves, starting to speckle with brown. Yellow apples, stunted and pock-marked, hung from the branches. He reached out and pulled one off, and bit off a chunk. Despite its homely, un-tended appearance, it was perfectly ripe and sweet. He ate the good parts, avoiding the spots that looked occupied, and tossed the core away.
Now he could see where the clearing work was being done. A swath of level, fresh earth was carved beyond the apple trees, it extended to the edge, where a ravine defined the clearing. He followed it, and looked down the shadowy slope. The rusted yellow backhoe was there, lying on its side at the end of a scraped scar running half way down the ravine's side. It was pure luck that it had stopped where it was, a few slender trunks were all that held it. Dean wondered what the hell the guy was thinking, driving that machine down a slope like this. It was obviously too steep for that kind of equipment. He slid down, and grabbed the edge of the backhoe bucket to keep from skidding into the creek at the bottom. It shifted and moved a few inches at his touch, he let go in a hurry, in case the wreck decided to acquiesce to gravity and head all the way down. The machine was dented and scraped, and smeared all over with soil, it had obviously rolled a few times. The stink of leaking diesel fuel surrounded it. He circled it, examining it for damage. It was an old John Deere, pretty much at the end of its useful lifespan. Well, now, for sure. He could see shovel marks, where they'd dug the poor bastard out from under it. There was still blood spatter crusted on the yellow paint. --Oh yeah...closed casket--- Dean thought grimly. Nobody could have survived that. He paused at the place, and knelt, examining a curiously organized little pile of the yellow apples from above. ...maybe some rodent's stash-- He made his way back around to the front. The big earth trough was dented, there was a piece of grey stone stuck in the toothed edge. Dean pried it out, stepping back nervously as the machine ground a further few inches down the slope. He peered at it closely. It was marble, and showed a mason's tool marks. It was too smooth for a foundation stone. He turned it over, and saw the distinct shape of incised carving. Half of an 'S'. Yep---this was definitely part of a headstone.
Dean had his aha moment, it was a little clearer now just what could be behind the rash of bad luck. Seemed somebody didn't want to be disturbed.
trickie - December 15, 2008 03:22 AM (GMT)
Sounds like a good story so far.
So someone is building on a burial ground eh? Not wise, people should know better, :lol:
Cheap is not always better.
Its great how Bobby can always calm either of the boys down. Sounds like Sam needs it right now.
And what does Bobby need help with? I wonder if its connected with what's going on in this town?
I'll check in again.
UKsnfan101 - December 15, 2008 08:01 AM (GMT)
ah the story continues...sounds like a simple salt and burn, but it probably won't be that simple! great update...
guiltypleasure - December 22, 2008 12:23 AM (GMT)
Hey--back again but on the road--another update will follow soon---ml
Dean scrambled up the slope, back onto the sunny clearing. He ducked the scratchy apple branches reaching out from the trees where the backhoe had gone over, looking for the rest of the stone. He found it, it stood at the base of one of the trunks, at the clearing's edge. He was amazed that it still stood straight after being struck---he would've bet on the backhoe winning that battle. It was a small stone--spare and simple, one that showed more duty than love in its erection. He crouched to read the name. He read it over twice. It wasn't a typical name--wasn't a name at all, as far as he could tell. He placed the fragment against the place where it had been knocked off.
SIN EATER. That was all it said...sin eater, carved in unadorned block letters.. Dean tossed the piece at the base of the stone and stood, perplexed. Weird thing to put on a gravestone. He checked again, front and back, and dug away at the stone base, just to make sure he wasn't missing any other wording, but nothing was revealed. It was just those two enigmatic words. It could be a name---maybe Sin was short for something...like Sinead. And people had all sorts of stupid surnames. He decided to call Sam.
"Hey. You awake?"
"I am now.. Find anything?"
"Yeah. It was just off the highway, west of that closed restaurant we saw. Seems like some old homestead. I found the backhoe, looks like it was clearing land when it hit a gravestone. The gravestone won---tractor's upside-down in a gully."
"Huh. Could you read it? Are you picking up any EMF static? Do you really think there's enough to keep us here?"`
Dean swatted with annoyance at the cloud of insects. "Yeah, I'd say so. From what I can see, this should have been fairly easy for them to clear and build. EMF's quiet, but there's not much reason for any of the crap that happened. And get this--the words on the stone are Sin Eater---nothing else."
"Sin Eater? No other name?"
"Nope. Any chance that it could be one?"
"..I don't know. Pretty weird. Want me to check those words while you wait?"
"Yeah, do that. You might as well earn your keep."
"har har. ..Hang on while I type this in." Sam googled the words and instantly, a wealth of information sprang up. "Ok--it's not a name. It's a ritualistic or superstitious practice. It's old, but I don't know if anybody still does it. Looks like it was done in places like Wales, and then spread to the New World, especially poorer areas, where money and education were limited..."
"Well what the hell is it?" Dean demanded impatiently.
"I'm getting to it! Ok, sin-eating was a means for a dead person to be absolved of their wrong doings. A bowl of beer and a loaf of bread would be placed on the deceased's abdomen, and then the sin eater would come. He'd be given some money, and with some ritual words, the sins of the dead guy would be transferred into the food. Then the sin eater would...well, eat them, and the sins along with it. They believed that the responsibilities for the sins were then assumed by the sin-eater.These guys were pariahs, Dean. A necessary evil, in their community's eyes. They were shunned and avoided, and the only time they were wanted was when somebody died."
"Really. Well that's pretty crappy. Why would they do that, then?"
"It says here that it was usually the poorest of society--you know, desperate people who'd been reduced to doing pretty much anything for a buck. That, and sometimes a loving relative that was thrown into the position of eat the sins or let the dead loved one go to hell."
Dean grunted. This hit a little too close to home for his comfort. "Poor bastard. So the guy buried here was some lonely, shunned loser in life. They didn't even have the decency to write his name on his stone, for crap's sake. And then he died, and probably nobody came. Wonder if anybody ate his sins.... At least he got a headstone. Any chance of getting a name some other way?"
"Maybe through local archives. Not likely that anything from this area will be online, but all the birth, death, and property records will be stored somewhere nearby. It'll mean a drive, and some time in local libraries, or some town hall.."
"Well your day's shaping up just right then, isn't it, Professor Sammy? I guess I should head back then. You're gonna need wheels for your research, and I'm starving."
"I can make us some KD. How long until you get back here?"
"I dunno. Maybe a half hour. I'll just do a quick check around here to see if any other names or anything turns up. Not much left here, the old site was pretty much abandoned. I don't know why people didn't keep living here, it has an amazing view--no mystery as to why the rich guy wanted to build his log paradise here. May Adams said that this dead backhoe driver guy, Bert Munro, bought the land for back-taxes. Sounds like nobody else around here would touch it with a ten foot pole. You think it was because of the sin-eater thing?"
Sam didn't know. "Maybe. Superstitions run deep, even if people don't even remember the origins. I'll do what I can online, but like I said--most of this will be leg-work. Get here soon, will you? Otherwise lunch will be gross."
Sam waited a short while, then put the water on to boil. While he waited, he roamed online in search of information about the odd practice of sin-eating, and he tried to find any important anecdotal material for the area. Unfortunately there was little, this particular stretch of land was still fairly rooted in an older way of living, and internet had little meaning here. The best he could do was locate the nearest libraries and town halls, it would be the to start researching. Of course, they could always ask a local person, but somehow he felt that they would be met with more resistance and dead ends that way. They sure seemed protective of their privacy. Unless you could prove that you were a blood relative, you were an outsider, and apparently that meant you were going to stay on the outside.
Dean slipped his phone back into his jeans pocket. So sin-eater was a title rather than a name. He wondered what had brought him to becoming one. And how he died. Judging from his unsympathetic grave marker, it was probably alone. Somebody saw fit to put him here and mark his presence, but neglected to add the personal touch of his real name. He realized that the sin-eater was probably deemed too 'unclean' to be placed in a churchyard. So much for his sacrifice, it sure didn't seem to get him much in life, and not a helluva lot more in death..
He was hungry. He decided he's poke around the foundations quickly, just to see if there was anything there that could shed light on the person buried in this lonely place. The grass was so tall, it obscured much of the ground. He found the well, and what must have been a stable, judging from the old pieces of tack that still sat in moldering piles where they'd fallen from the collapsed walls. There was nothing left of the house, he found plenty of evidence that it had burned long ago. Satisfied that he'd seen anything of potential interest, he snagged another apple and headed toward the other end of the clearing, where the road entered.
It was a whisper, barely audible. Dean whipped around, seeing nothing. He wasn't even sure he'd heard it. Until the second time...
He was sure he heard it right. It was a drawn out whisper, seemed to float down on the wind, like it was breathed out. The hairs rose on the back of his neck. He wished he could see the car, but it's comforting image was out of view. He dropped the apple and stepped up his pace, clutching the salt gun nervously. He heard it again, and was sure now that the air had cooled around him for a moment. Definitely a presence... He stopped, holding the gun ready, and scanned around the sunny meadow. It seemed peaceful, nothing indicated anything unusual. As he stood, waiting, all he heard was the buzz of insects, or the distant song of a bird. The breeze was gentle and pleasantly warm. He was tempted to believe he was imagining it, when the EMF chirped. He glanced down at it, and saw the brief flash of warning lights. It stayed still for a moment, he shook it in case it was malfunctioning. But then it began to scream.
The whisper was loud this time, a sharp hiss---it felt like the speaker was right on top of him. Dean ducked automatically and stepped away. He spun and levelled the gun, but saw nothing.
"Who are you?!" he shouted to the empty air. There was no answer to that demand, only the same maddening word, hissed in his ear. Dean backed away, and stumbled in the long, tangled grass. He leapt up and again pointed the salt gun at the place where'd stood. "Show yourself!"
The spirit was not enticed to do so. Instead it continued to circle the hunter, whispering it's accusation, tormenting him. Dean kept backing away, equally annoyed and afraid. He tripped several more times, cursing. The grass seemed to hide a network of vines, wild grape, virginia creeper. The tendrils twined around everything, choking whatever they grew up against. Where the hell did all these freaking things come from?! He hadn't noticed them before, but here, they twined along the ground---dry, rough serpents, rising in tangled hummocks over rocks and stumps, and snaking through the grass in treacherous loops. He stumbled again, despite his scanning the ground for the obstacles. But he wasn't about to slow down now, he could see the road ahead, and the air had grown so chilled that his breath was condensing in puffs, despite the warm afternoon sun. The whispering seemed to surround him, as if it emanated from some constantly changing position. He wanted to cover his ears, but he kept both hands tight on the shotgun, pointing it frantically each time in the direction from which the sound came, but nothing ever materialized. The damned EMF kept up its screech, as if yelling an I-told-you-so, and warning him to hurry up and get the hell out of there. He fumbled a hand over it, finally shutting it off, it's message was already clear enough..
He felt a rising panic---it wouldn't leave him alone, but it wouldn't present itself either, and he could hardly hit a target that refused to show. He was startled by a touch, he felt it now, a cold wisp, an icy breath caressed his face as that damned word was whispered. No longer heeding the perils of the ground in front of him, he started to run.
He felt something strike him, whipping around to see what it was. More things pelted him, small stones, the stunted apples. He ducked what he could, and kept his head down to protect his eyes. The words hissed loudly all around him, he yelled back in fear and fury at the entity that attacked him now, and fired off several wild shots with no effect. The barrage of apples and rocks continued, forcing him back, away from the road, and he stumbled back toward the meadow's far edge, skidding through the raw, damp clay that had been turned over by the backhoe.
Afterward, he wouldn't be able to say whether he was tripped up by the vines, or if he'd been shoved. But either way, he suddenly found himself stumbling at the gully's edge, desperately trying to avoid falling. He lost his grip on the gun in a vain attempt to keep his balance. But his feet were caught in the damned grass, and the ground of the gully seemed to rush up to meet him. He reached with flailing arms toward something, --anything-- to slow his descent, but his nails scraped off loose bark.
He was struck and whipped by the twisted branches of the old apple tree growing at the edge, he shut his eyes against their sharp edges, and hit the ground rolling. For a second, he saw the crest of the meadow above him, a figure there... then collided face first with the hulking backhoe. It abruptly halted his headlong tumble. There wasn't time to voice the curse that flew through his mind. The violence of the impact knocked him breathless, he fell back limply against the earth, and slid past the machine. If it hadn't been for the scattered hawthorns at the bottom, he'd have landed in the water. Stunned, he lay for a moment against the trees, heaving to catch his breath, blinking hard to clear his vision of streaming blood. But his momentary relief at being spared a cold soaking in the creek was short-lived. Above him, the backhoe groaned and creaked, and began to slide.
He threw himself in desperation to one side as it tipped and crashed down, the effort sparing him from it's previous driver's fate. The machine screeched and ground and rolled, throwing up clods of earth and a shower of leaves. The ruined hydraulics snapped free of the digging arm, it flailed loose briefly, like a broken neck, and the iron-toothed bucket crashed down. Dean had no time to throw up his arms before it landed squarely on him where he lay.
His own coughing woke him. He lay quiet, uncomprehending, for a long time, gradually becoming aware of his surroundings. He pried his eyes open with difficulty, as his eyelashes were glued together with drying blood. His vision was too blurred to see much, but it was still light. The more he gained acuity, the more his hurts made themselves known. He groaned, spitting out the copper taste of more blood, as the numbness that was spread across his face began to wane, replaced by throbbing of increasing insistence. He moved his fingers carefully over his features. He traced the rise of an impressive goose-egg on his forehead, the skin split and bruised. He couldn't tell if he'd busted his nose. He ran his tongue over his teeth, relieved that they, at least, were intact. Instinctively, he tried to haul himself up to sit. He shocked himself to full awareness with his own yell, falling back again.
He shuddered, as a breath-robbing pain shot through his arm and shoulder. He stopped moving and lay his head back down, catching his breath and evaluating. Passing his fingers gingerly over his left shoulder, he groaned again. The outline was all wrong, and his light pressing brought a stabbing pain that drove deep into the joint. It was dislocated, no question. The force of the digger's impact had wrenched it out, but it was a minor inconvenience compared to the rest. The backhoe bucket sat upside-down, like the top of a grinning predator's head, it pinned his left forearm. One of it's great, rusty tines had pierced through, crucifying his arm to the damp earth. He reached his right hand out, fingertips just touching the huge metal thing. He tried to push it, but it was immobile, a solid four hundred pounds of pitted iron. The motion brought a fresh rush of pain , he groaned involuntarily as whirling stars prickled his vision and he was forced to stop before he passed out. He ground out a stream of choice words until the feeling faded.
His arm was already slick with blood His shirt was fast becoming sodden at his armpit, blood had collected there from where it streamed from higher up. He gingerly pushed himself up now, careful not to move his shoulder any more than he had to, and scanned where his arm was caught. What greeted him nearly turned his stomach. The source of the bleeding was obvious, it welled lazily around the iron tine with each heartbeat, flowing down from the puncture in a sluggish stream, where it collected in the absorbant cotton of his sleeve. He groaned in dismay.
He was a sitting duck for whatever had been following him, he knew he had to get free somehow, or god-knows-what else was going to happen. Taking a ragged breath, he tried to flex his fingers, hoping that he could somehow pull his arm out from under the thing. He could hardly feel them, his hand was so numb, but he could feel the ripple of his tendons under his skin, relieved that the weight of the heavy metal thing wasn't fully carried by his arm alone. He thought he felt a little give, and he dug a hollow under his elbow, swearing at the pain as he clawed out handfuls of soil and leaves so that he could push his arm down and free it from the tine. When he thought there was enough room, he gripped his arm at the elbow and pressed, feeling the rusted metal slide a reluctant increment out of his flesh..
He didn't try it twice, he blacked out at the resulting agony. When he came to, a deafening hiss still filled his senses, but after several minutes it faded, leaving only the quiet burbling of the creek below him, and the sound of his own rapid breathing. Shivering in a cold sweat, he felt suddenly and overwhelmingly alone. He was swamped by impotent rage and pain, and he squeezed his eyes shut and choked out a curse. Dean knew, now, that he was in serious trouble.
UKsnfan101 - December 22, 2008 01:01 PM (GMT)
Yikes, poor Dean trapped there...Sammy better get his cute butt in gear and rescue our poor adorable Dean.
Great update, so glad you have another story going!
trickie - December 23, 2008 03:14 AM (GMT)
Holy Crap! Nice update.
Boy Dean is in some serious trouble, at least he had called Sam. Now all Sam has to do is...uh..."Borrow" a car and get to his big brother, quickly!
MarquessaS. - December 24, 2008 12:28 PM (GMT)
Hope you all have a happy christmas holiday---mal
Sam checked his watch again, growing annoyed. Be back by three--he'd said to Dean. He'd made the triple-feed of kraft dinner that he'd promised---the stuff had a limited lifespan and it was already congealing into a gluey mass as it cooled. He picked at it, waiting impatiently. The scent of May Adam's roadkill stew was starting to waft over, and he was loathe to admit that it really smelled good. Finally he broke down and called, resigned to the ribbing he'd have to endure about his wifely nagging. When there was no answer, a cold worry began to overtake his irritation.
Dean's brush with despair was brief. He shrugged it off and became practical again. He'd ascertained that his phone was somewhere other than where he needed it to be, which was bloody typical. No doubt it had flown into the leaves somewhere down the slope. He was stuck where he was for now. He knew that he was losing blood, he had to stop that first. He reached down to his boots, trying very hard not to disturb his shoulder. He slowly unlaced both, and using his teeth to hold one end, he tied the cords together into something longer. Resting for a moment, he cleared his thinking, and pulled the sticky knit fabric of his sleeve up, puffing with the effort it took not to yell. Instead, he laughed, struck by the absurdity of his situation. He wound the lace around his arm above his elbow, and knotted it. He knew he couldn't tighten it enough that way, he felt around for a stick, and finding one that was solid, he slipped it under the cord, gritted his teeth and twisted it around and around, until he could feel the tell tale coldness creep down the offending limb. He held his breath and watched, squinting against the mounting pain, until the bleeding slowed to a tiny trickle. Satisfied, he pulled his sleeve back down over the stick to secure it and keep the cord tight. That task done, he leaned over and gave in to nausea, retching until he collapsed with exhaustion.
..god it hurt....
Under different circumstances, he'd keep trying to push his arm down, away from the metal tooth to free himself. Eventually he'd be able to pull away. But with his shoulder out, he couldn't bear the resulting movement on the displaced joint. Everytime he summoned the grit to try it, it sent a curtain of blackness across his senses. Finally he gave up and rested. He drifted off for a time, which was a blessing.
Sam paced as he called and called. --stupid--- he berated himself, how could he have let him go there on his own?? These things never worked out, he should know that by now. He couldn't believe that he'd been so selfish and short-sighted. A nap---just so he could take a bloody nap! Dean was clearly in a mood for trouble, and now it looked like he may have found it.
And here he was, without wheels, stuck in the farmhouse while...
"Screw this!" he growled to himself. He threw on his jacket and left, jogging to the highway. He had no idea how long it would take, but he vowed that he was going to walk, run or hitch-hike his way out to where Dean had said he was going, hostile locals be damned.
"...are you dead..?"
He turned slowly and squinted toward the whispered voice. "Sammy?!"
Sam didn't answer. No one did, the frosty air was still, and silent. Apparently the speaker's question was answered. Dean froze, wide eyed now, and his heartrate leapt in intensity. --aw, not now, jesus!--- He knew the spirit was near, it was unnaturally cold. He struggled to sit, fearful that his current jeopardy had just been eclipsed by something worse. A searing pain shot through him, it dizzied him and he lay back down, fighting the urge to heave again. He lay still for a long time, shutting his eyes and waiting for the agony to wane. He was at the spirit's mercy now, there was nothing he could do about it, and at the moment, he almost didn't care.
Dean roused himself with difficulty. "Why do you care?" he groaned under his breath. He wasn't expecting an answer, but he got one, a whisper, barely audible despite it's being breathed into his ear. He shuddered with the chill, and the unnerving sensation of the close presence.
"...can't save the living."
Dean thought that a talking spirit was better than one that was attacking. All he wanted to do was sleep, the shock and blood loss were taking a toll. But he mastered his fear and continued the unusual conversation.
"Did you save Bert Munro?"
The spirit seemed to back away for a moment---the air was warmed briefly, but after a time, the voice sighed out a response. "...he is saved. I ate his sins."
Dean remembered. The odd little pile of apples. ..the sin-eater. "Did you kill him?"
The spirit didn't answer for a time. When it did, it was almost too quiet to hear. "..Didn't mean to."
The silence stretched out again. "..he was gonna take my stone. Stone's all I got."
Despite his pain, Dean was intrigued, and it took his mind off his predicament a little. "What's your name, anyway?"
"No, your real name."
(pause) "...I am..sin eater."
"Don't you have a Christian name?"
Sin Eater was silent for a long time. Finally it whispered. "...Nathaniel. Nathaniel Willard is my christian name."
--Now we're getting somewhere.--- Dean thought. He swallowed hard, and collected himself. "So Nate, why are you hanging around here, saving our undeserving souls? ...don't you wanna go to heaven?"
Sin eater sighed, a long, drawn-out sound, heavy with pain. "...pearly gates will not open for me. I am reviled."
"Reviled? By who?"
Ah.... "So you stay here..."
"..don't wanna go to hell."
---Amen, buddy.--- Dean shifted a little, feeling the cold creeping into his bones. It brought such searing pain that he couldn't help but cry out. He grimaced and waited for it to fade.
Sin eater spoke again. "...you're hurtin..."
"Yeah..." Dean whispered, still clamping his eyes shut.
"...you want me to stop it..?"
Dean's eyes flew open at that. "What...what are you asking me, Nate---do I want you to kill me off?!"
"....yes. ...so I can save your soul..."
Dean recoiled painfully from the source of the whisper. "No! No, thanks anyway, I'm fine. Besides, Nate---you'd have to eat a mountain of apples to save me from my many sins... trust me."
"....you are not a good man..?"
Dean snorted. "I'm good enough. But good men do bad things, and bad men do good, Nate. It's not always cut and dried."
Sin eater wasn't convinced. "...don't matter what you done, I can save your soul....let me...."
Dean's heart rate spiked with renewed fear. The conversation had been going so well, but it had taken a dangerous turn. "No. I don't wanna die today, Nate."
But the sin eater was singular of purpose. It was all he knew to do, offering the service for which he had been both sought out and reviled.. "...ain't gonna hurt you.... But I will save your soul. I must...."
Dean's panic rose. He spoke urgently to the empty space in front of him, his voice growing hoarse. "No, Nate! You can't! You can't save my soul, ok? It's not possible!"
"Because...." he sighed. "..because I sold it already. The Devil owns it now, it's a done deal--you're wasting your efforts!"
That was met by lengthy silence. Dean's heart calmed a little, and he shivered in the shadows. He shifted again, trying to alleviate the pain that pulsed from his wrist to his neck.
Sin Eater picked up an apple from the ground beside Dean's head, it hurled through the air, shattering into bits against a black trunk. Dean shivered, afraid to breathe while the spirit ranted.
"...all them sinners, all hell-bound cuz of their own greed and lust and meanness.... all they wanted in the end was for me to deliver them from their due. Their kin would come, all cryin, all begging it of me like I was the blessed Saviour himself! I took their pittances and tarred my soul for all of them, though none of'em ever deserved their reprieve. But you--you damned yourself! Why... ? why would you do this terrible thing..?"
Dean found his eyes watering for a moment. "To save my brother."
Sin eater seemed to calm. It sighed again. "...family is a worthy cause. ...are you afraid.?"
"I'm lying under a tractor, bleeding out, and arguing with a ghost not to gank me. You're gonna have to be more specific."
"...are you afraid...of hell."
It was Dean's turn for silence now. Finally he answered. "....yeah."
The spirit had nothing to say for some time. Nor did Dean. Finally its whisper came again. "...then I will not send you to where I'm scared to go..."
"I appreciate that, Nate."
He really did. He shifted again, trying to sit up, but he was too weak now to withstand the resulting hurt. He groaned and curled up a little, feeling so chilled in the gloom, out of the sun that still warmed the clearing. And Nathaniel Willard's presence dropped the temperature significantly. He closed his eyes and drifted for a while.
Sam trudged along the sunny road, feeling nothing of the late sun's warmth on his back, and hating himself more with every step. He tried his brother's cell endlessly, but was met each time with a long period of ringing, and then the damned voicemail. He'd tried Bobby as well, but he too wasn't answering. He stopped leaving messages, worried he'd run out of juice. He turned toward the road again, hoping someone would drive past. Cicadas were singing back and forth in the tree tops along the roadside, as if chastising him, decrying his poor judgement. And of course Dean would be smacking him on the side of his head if he knew he was thinking this way. He'd deride him for even believing he had any control over what his elder brother did. But right now, that didn't matter, Sam shouldered the heavy blame and walked on. Finally he heard the dry sound of tires on gravel. He faced the road again, holding out his thumb hopefully...
Dean awoke with a start, shivering violently with cold. He didn't know what had pulled him back to the present, but he vaguely remembered strange sounds...small hollow thumps. He glanced up the hill, hoping desperately that it was Sam. It wasn't. Apples were rolling down the embankment, the limbs above shaking, dropping their misshapen bounty. He watched, mesmerized, as the golden yellow fruit bounced and rolled with purpose toward him. ---ok, that's weird. He wondered if he was hallucinating, and glanced down at himself, as the apples continued to find their way toward his prone form. There, on his stomach, was a little pile of them, with more and more eerily adding themselves to the collection. Wasps buzzed over the sweet, ripe flesh, angry at being disturbed by the activity. He swept them all off in horror as he heard the sin-eater's whispered words.
...I give easement and rest now to thee, friend. Come not down the lanes or in our meadows. And for thy peace I pawn my own soul. Amen....
"I'm not dead, Nate."
"...thought maybe you was."
Dean moaned a little, struck by the futility of it all. "..Yeah well soon enough, I guess. ..And I told you not to bother anyway, you can't save me. Why don't you do something useful and move this damned machine instead--?"
"...can't. ...too big."
"You pushed it down the ravine--"
"I didn't. ...only held onto my stone. ...didn't mean for it to roll."
"Bert Munro died by accident then--?".
The spirit seemed to fade again. Dean was struck by a lonely sadness. But it returned to answer. "...they bashed in his head, while he lay... begging them to help him......"
Dean's attention sharpened. "They? Who, Nate? ..and why?"
"...Them that skulks in these woods."
"Who, people? Living people--?"
"...yes. the living. Nothing but evil..."
Dean was growing weaker, he felt light-headed, the cold dulling his thinking. "Somebody's doing something out here? Something they're hiding maybe..?"
Nathaniel's affirmative came as a frosty sigh on the wind.
"Who, Nate? Who's out here, up to something-?"
"..his name...is unknown"
Dean got no further information from his companion. There was silence for a long time, but he knew Nate was still there, his own warm breath still condensed in the chilly air. He was losing body warmth too fast.
"Fine, Nathaniel Willard, you can't move a backhoe. Well how 'bout some dry leaves then? I'm freezing here."
Nate didn't answer. But a soft swishing sound floated down from the lip of the clearing, and soon, dry, golden leaves swept toward him, as if pushed by breezes. They collected around him, building into a pile that eventually covered his shivering body. It was creepy as all hell, but Dean was grateful. It lessened his chill considerably. He whispered his thanks.
Nathaniel said nothing. He began to grow restless.
Dean was sleepy, his thinking felt fuzzy, and unclear. He turned wearily toward the sound. "What, Nate? Who's coming--?"
"...them that wants to take my stone away. ...it ain't right, ain't fair, doin that. ..it's all I got."
The icy air that had accompanied his ethereal companion suddenly lifted. Dean knew that Nate had gone. He realized now the significance of the sin eater's words. Someone was coming up to the clearing, and Nate was determined to ward them off, just as he had the others. But what if it was Sam?! Nathanial Willard wasn't evil, but he had already proved that he would do violence to protect his sanctuary. At least one man was dead because of it.
"Nate? Nate! Nathaniel!" he cried out after him, but there was no response. Dean swore, terrified that Sam was in jeopardy, and he gritted his teeth, rolled over and pushed his pinned arm down hard. He howled in pain and frustration, streaming tears as he felt the flesh and bone move off the metal. But it hurt so much, he was too weak, and he couldn't keep it up. He fell back with a sob, as roaring blackness enveloped him.
guiltypleasure - December 24, 2008 12:37 PM (GMT)
Oops---those of you who know me are aware that I write under two names--guiltypleasure and marquessas. And once again I've confused myself (not hard to do these days) SO the latest update is one back, under Marquessas. I gotta stop cooking with aluminum pots..........
UKsnfan101 - December 24, 2008 03:18 PM (GMT)
Maybe you should try name tags to keep yourself straight as to who you are! :P
cool update...good that Sam is on the way and not so cool that the "baddies" are as well to Dean. The image of Dean lying pinned under the tractor with apples on him was great. For some reason i could really picture that...
once again loving your stories...but you probably knew that already!
seriously i have no reason to put the smiley face hologram in my post other than it is really cute
trickie - December 26, 2008 08:17 PM (GMT)
Hey! Hope you had a Great Christmas.
Nice update. poor Dean, in so much pain, and a spirit waiting for him to die so it can eat his sins...Eww! Not sure I'd like the taste of some of Dean's sins :lol:
And Sam is hitch hiking?! WTF! He shoulda "borrowed" a car. <_< He'd get there faster :lol:
Anyways, great update waiting for more.
Happy Holidays to you!
denise69 - December 27, 2008 07:16 AM (GMT)
As always another great story!! Can't wait for your next update!!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU AND EVERYONE ELSE!!! :P
guiltypleasure - December 28, 2008 01:46 AM (GMT)
Hey--Happy Everything to you. Thanks for reading and leaving comments!
Sam waved with relief at the occupant of the gleaming new black Ford.
The man leaned out of the truck window, smiling benignly. "Where you headed?"
"Not too far. My brother..uh..lost his keys, he asked me to come out with the spare. He was going hiking, he parked at a restaurant along the highway." He hopped up into the cab of the pickup, grateful that this individual seemed friendly enough.
"You must mean Molly's, then. That's only a few miles up the road. --Place is shut down, your brother woulda been outa luck if he was looking for dinner."
Sam nodded, distracted with worry. The man continued chatting. "Hiking, eh? Beautiful country around here. Your brother a hunting man?"
"Uh, no--not really. He just likes to get out into the woods, take some pictures, that kind of thing. We're just passing through, but we thought we'd take a day to enjoy the area."
"Uh huh. Lots of people like to do that. Gotta be careful around these hills though, plenty of old mines, and wild critters. A man can get lost out here pretty quick, just disappear. Where are you staying?" It was an innocent question, Sam saw no need to avoid answering. They were no doubt already subjects of the gossip grapevine anyway.
"May Adam's house."
The driver nodded, and offered Sam a smoke, which he declined. Sam had a moment to admire the new vehicle, which was a sharp contrast to the majority of beater pickups he'd seen so far.
"Nice truck. 2008?"
The driver smiled proudly. "Yep. Super duty one ton Hemi. I could pull a bus out of a swamp with this sucker. Sucks fuel like a bitch, but there's a price to everything, right..?"
Sam didn't have a chance to answer, as the Impala came into view as they rounded the corner. The man's eyes narrowed slightly as he pulled in behind the car, but his demeanour remained unchanged.
"Well there you go. You say hello to your brother, now. And better warn him to watch his step out here. Like I said, plenty of dangers to put a man in the ground before his time." He smiled warmly and Sam got out, thanking him. He waved as the shining truck drove off and faded from his view. As he opened the locked Impala door, the phrasing of his companion's conversation began to bother him. If the man hadn't been so affable, he might have taken it as a thinly veiled threat. But he shunted it from his mind, more concerned about Dean's whereabouts. His older brother didn't like the woods, but he was no novice to staying ahead of anything that was a potential danger,---the least of his worries would have been old mine shafts or forest creatures.
He quickly examined the interior. Nothing looked out of place, it was exactly as Dean would have left it. He reached under the passenger seat and found his hunting knife, securing it under the elastic of one of his socks, just in case. While he was at it, he popped the trunk and retrieved a gun, fervently hoping he wouldn't need to use it. He locked the car and stood, scanning the rolling ground and the blue green hill beyond. The new trail was obvious, he glanced around to make sure he was alone, and set out.
Within a short time he too came across the pile of logs that had rolled off their trailer. He stopped and took the opportunity to call Dean's name. There was no answer, and he trudged on. The trail widened and entered the clearing that Dean had described. Definitely an old homestead. He stopped again to call, but his voice echoed in the trees and was answered only by the wings of a fleeing bird somewhere high in the canopy. He could see a flattened path snaking through the long grass, where someone had walked recently. He followed it, passing the ruined outbuildings, the stone foundations. It continued on, and he found himself ducking under the branches of the old orchard. He stopped to call again, but it was met by silence. He saw the freshly graded soil just beyond, and remembered Dean's description of the stone. He searched for it and found it, and he crouched, placing his hand on the sun warmed marble. He traced the lettering with his finger. Sin Eater. He sighed with worry, and was about to stand when he was pelted by a soggy object. He spun in surprise as it rolled to his feet. An apple. It must have detached from the tree and dropped onto him, although he was surprised at how hard it had struck him. But when the second one hit with equal force, he was sure now that it was no natural occurrence.
"Dean--?" he called hopefully.
No answer. But another ripe fruit flew at him and shattered against his temple. Sam swore, wiping away the bits as he glanced around wildly for the culprit, and he backed away from the stone. It was then that he felt it, the sudden, eerie drop in air temperature. He felt a cold wisp against his ear, and he heard it, the whispered word--
He backed away into the clay swath, hands up, ready to defect any further volleys. The word sighed in his ear again, and his heart began to race. He had no salt, or iron--nothing to discourage the presence that made itself known now. He began to run, stumbling in the sticky clay, and tangles of vines. More and more apples bounced off him, he roared in frustration, ducking as many as he could. He skidded to a stop, huffing, at the sudden, echoing sound. He squinted against the onslaught of flying fruit, straining to hear.
A voice, anxious sounding words, came from somewhere below, in the ravine. It was followed by a broken wail, then nothing.
Sam knew that howl. He knew the voice, and he broke into a run, guessing at the direction from which it came.
"Dean? Dean!" he called frantically. He was met with silence. He reached the edge of the gully and stared down, scanning desperately. He saw the tangled backhoe. And after a moment, he saw a familiar pair of boots sticking out from a pile of leafy detritus beside it.
Sam plunged down the slope, heedless of the steep and slippery terrain, and he reached the pile, falling to his knees and frantically brushing away the dry, crunching cover that obscured Dean's body. He found his pulse, breathing out his relief, and held his face in his hands. His gentle, urgent words brought Dean back to surface.
"Sam--" he groaned.
"Shhh, don't talk." Sam checked him over quickly. He was horrified by what he saw. The backhoe bucket, the rusted and dirt encrusted iron tine buried in a bloodied forearm-- He reached under his brother's shoulders, pulling him up.
"Don't--" he cried weakly. "Sammy, don't---my shoulder's out--"
Sam laid him back down softly. "Jesus, man--what happened?"
Dean grimaced, and blinked away his fog. "It rolled. --caught my arm. Pulled my shoulder out...Sam, the sin eater--"
"I know, Dean. The spirit attacked me up on the clearing, we're not safe here--I've gotta get you out of here."
Dean struggled to stay lucid, the pain in his arm and shoulder was passing through him in stomach-turning waves. "No--he's not--not the only threat. Sam, I know his name--but there's more--"
Sam was busy examining Dean's arm in order to free him. He saw the results of the tactic Dean had tried--the soil clawed away from beneath his elbow. He quickly ascertained that it was the only way. "Tell me later. I have to get your arm free, ok? I'm gonna do what you tried, I'll dig the dirt out from under, then I'll push your arm down. Are you ready for that?"
Dean groaned. "No...but do it anyway.. Just don't move my shoulder--"
Sam nodded. He clawed and scraped at the soil and roots under Dean's arm, until the hollow was deep enough to clear the point of the tine when he pushed. He glanced anxiously at Dean, who had his head turned away, and was squeezing his eyes shut, his mouth a tight line. "Ok Dean, on three--"
Sam pressed firmly. Dean tensed, and shuddered, moaning as the metal slid out. He grabbed at Sam's shirt. "Stop! --wait, Sam--"
But Sam kept pushing until the arm was free. When the tine was out, he pulled the arm clear and laid it across Dean's chest for a moment. Dean was panting, fighting blackness, tears streaming from his eyes. As he lay there, coming to grips with the pain, Sam took a moment to survey the damage. There was a vicious, gaping puncture, all the way through, and he had felt movement in one side of the arm when he'd pressed, --at least one of the bones was broken. The wound was filthy with soil. He saw now the extent of the bleeding too. He carefully lifted the sodden sleeve, and found the cord twisted tightly at the elbow. --Smart. Sam understood that Dean had probably saved his life by tying off the arm. And once again he was impressed by his brother's strength and savvy in dire situations. It was more than their father's training, it was character.
He let him rest for a while. "How are you doing?"
Dean gave a thumbs up with his right hand. The next issue could be addressed. Sam had reset his brother's shoulder several times before---it was a weak spot, caused by a bad dislocation several years before, and it separated easily ever since. "I'm going to turn you onto your stomach, ok?"
Dean grunted. Sam gripped him, holding his injured arm, and skillfully rolled him. He put his knee in the middle of his back, and after counting three once more, he pulled the arm out, manipulating it until he felt it slip back into its proper place. Dean yelled against the forest floor, squeezing a fistful of dirt until moisture streamed out between his fingers. But his relief was instant once his arm was back in place, it ached sharply, but at least it felt right again. "Thanks--" he panted.
Sam patted his good shoulder in response. He was worried about a recurrence of his encounter with the apparently angry Sin Eater. Dean needed a few moments to recover, but they had to get to safety as quickly as they could. "Dean, do you think you can walk? I can try to carry you..."
Dean slowly, carefully, rolled himself on to his back. "I'll try in a minute. How'd you get here?"
"Hitch-hiked. Got a lift with a guy in a new black pickup. Seemed friendly"
Dean was still suffering the effects of his ordeal, he tried to clarify his mental processes, which were starting to feel disconnected from the present. He felt like he was wrapped in velvet, muffling sound and sensation. More than anything he wanted to be out of the damp and sour earth and in a bed somewhere. He vaguely remembered a similar vehicle at the post office. He wanted to say something, but it escaped him. Instead he drifted off.
Sam shook him awake. "Dean, you've got to stay with me, ok? I'm gonna get you on your feet, then we'll go to the car. You need a doctor, you've bled too much already."
Sam reached under his shoulders and carefully hauled him upright. After a moment, he pulled him up to his feet. But Dean was unable to stay that way, his knees buckled and Sam caught him. "It's ok, I've got you." He got his heavy form over his shoulder and carried him in a fireman's lift up the bank. Once at the top, he sat him down by the apple trees for a moment. Dean leaned against a trunk and steadied himself. Sam was about to raise him once more to his feet, when he suddenly felt the air chill. His breath became visible, and he was filled with dread. He knew that the spirit was in their midst once more. "Dean--!"
Dean had felt the change as well. "I know, Sam, it's ok.." He addressed the empty space between them.. "Nathaniel Willard, meet my brother, Sam Winchester."
trickie - December 28, 2008 04:46 AM (GMT)
Nice! i can almost picture Sam's face as Dean introduces him to a spirit :lol: .
Glad Sam got there to save his brother, but there's something about the guy in the truck that isn't sitting well with me.
No I'm not paranoid and suspicious :o :lol:
Great update, can't wait for more.
denise69 - December 28, 2008 04:40 PM (GMT)
Great update.... Can't wait for the next update and maybe some more HURT DEAN!! :cheer
UKsnfan101 - December 29, 2008 02:40 AM (GMT)
loved the idea of Dean introducing the spirit to Sam...and I agree with the previous poster, the guy in the pickup seems really suspicious!
love the story
irisheyes - December 30, 2008 12:52 AM (GMT)
Really enjoying this story.
Can't wait to read what happens next.
guiltypleasure - December 30, 2008 09:21 PM (GMT)
Thanks, guys--for the comments. Have a safe and satisfying New Year's ---mal
Sam looked at Dean as if he'd gone insane. "Dean--?"
Dean shrugged. "I was stuck where I was for a while, Sam. Nate here was kind enough to keep me company."
Nathaniel Willard whispered his hello. Sam was alarmed, but intrigued as well. "Uh...hi, Nathaniel. ..um, thanks for looking out for Dean, here. Were you the one hitting me with the apples? I'm not here to cause you any harm... I just came out to find my brother..." He paused, embarrassed. He looked to Dean for reassurance. Dean nodded wearily, and Sam continued. "--geez, I feel weird talking to the air....can you show yourself at all..?"
The sin eater was silent for a while. Finally he said, " It's hard. Tuckers me out...but gimme a minute."
Both Dean and Sam watched as a nebulous mist formed in front of them. It began to take shape, until finally, the Sin Eater stood before them. It was a horrifying incarnation. An emaciated, bearded man of about thirty appeared. He was dressed in rags, and was bloodied. His belly was laid open, a loop of intestine exposed and hanging. Both the brothers recoiled.
"Jesus, Nate--what the hell happened to you--?" Dean finally asked.
The apparition looked down at himself. "This is what I was, last...after the buckboard. This is Sin Eater."
Dean had no idea what he was referring to regarding the wagon. He shook his head at Sam's questioning look. He addressed the horror in front of him. "Nate--that's pretty brutal. But I'm not talking to the Sin eater, ok? I'm talking to Nathaniel Willard. Can you show me Nathaniel instead..?"
The spirit sighed in confusion. "I been Sin Eater more years than I was Nate. That was a long, long time ago....not sure I can remember--"
Dean took a chance. "Nate, show us the person that your mother would remember you as."
It took some time, it was clearly a struggle for the sin eater to recall that earlier form. But slowly, the apparition changed. What emerged was much easier on the eyes. A boy, perhaps in his early teens. He was thin, but had a look of wiry health. He wore clothing that was patched and darned, and his eyes were clear and hopeful, a shade of green. His short, tousled hair was bleached light by the summer sun, and his freckles were almost obscured by the tan of a boy who spent most of his days outdoors. Sam and Dean exchanged glances.
"That's better. Hello Nathaniel." Dean said quietly.
The apparition smiled shyly. Sam stared, fascinated. He'd never had an interaction with a spirit quite like this, they were most often tortured, angry wraiths bent on revenge or mayhem, the only interaction was their screaming anguish.. Nathaniel seemed sort of peaceful, despite his state of flux. At least when he wasn't pelting people with apples.
Nate still spoke in a whisper. "You never told me your name, but I heard it...Dean. Is this the one you damned your soul for..?" Dean glanced at Sam, who turned his eyes away. Dean nodded.
Sam wanted to turn the conversation anywhere but in the direction it was headed. "We have to go, Dean--we need to find you some help, and it's gonna get dark soon." He reached around his brother's shoulders to raise him.
"Wait, Sam---my phone--I need to find it. It must have rolled down somewhere from where I ended up. Could you call it? --should be able to locate it that way. I can't afford to lose it."
"Are you sure it can't wait?...you ok for a minute-?"
"Yeah, I'm ok. I don't want it to get wrecked if it rains or something."
Sam frowned, but he left on the errand. Dean leaned back and closed his eyes, rocking slightly, cradling his throbbing arm. The sin eater sat crosslegged on the ground, watching him quietly. Dean opened his eyes again, desperate for distraction.
"Nate, how come you came to be the sin eater? Seems like a lousy way to live.."
The apparition smiled wistfully. "Family...same as you."
The boy sighed, and launched reluctantly into his story. "I lived here, me and my mama, and my daddy. It was pretty, but it was hard. Especially in winter. Up here, there wasn't no way to get out when the snow came, you was on your own 'til the thaw. My mama was....she was beautiful. She taught me stuff, about how to grow things, and how to sing the church songs, and how to knit socks. She always told me I was the best thing she ever growed. She was always laughing, or at least smiling. At least when pa was out. She was real quiet when he was home. Had to be, else we'd set him off."
"Your old man was hard on you?"
The apparition frowned, and stared off into some distant and unhappy place. "He was a mean sonofabitch, that's what he was. And when he had the drink in him, well...we never knew what was coming. I was maybe twelve or something, when he come home, full of the devil one night. Mama and me had spent the day gettin' the grain in. He got real mad cuz his dinner wasn't sittin' there hot and waiting for him, and he started beatin' on her. He wouldn't stop, I remember...she was screaming..."
Nathaniel's image began to fade.
"Are you leaving, Nate--?" Dean asked.
"No--" he sighed. "Just gettin tired. I'm just gonna talk now, if that's ok.."
The boy faded from Dean's view, but his whispered tale continued. " I was real scared, more than ever. I always hid when he was like that, but this time I couldn't take it no more. I hollered at him to stop. Well, he didn't. He got this look on his face... Mama was lying quiet on the floor, and he lit into me. When he was done, I wasn't getting up, and he took the horses and left. He never came back. I crawled over to my mama, talkin' to her, beggin' her to be alright, but she wasn't. She died that night, I couldn't do nuthin for it."
Dean sat, shivering, his heart aching for that poor kid. He knew what that boy had felt. He waited expectantly for him to continue. After a while, Nathaniel went on.
" I was broken up bad, after what he done to me. I couldn't walk for days, couldn't get her to town, not without the horses. Nobody was there but me, so I just done what had to be done. I found some apples and I laid them on her. I said some words, maybe the wrong ones, I dunno...and I ate her sins. Don't think there was a whole lot of 'em. But once you done that, you can't go back. Anyway, I got her sorta wrapped up in a quilt, and I tried to bury her. I was too hurt to do it, so I dragged some stones over and covered her, best I could. Coyotes dug her up every night for four nights, I gave up after that, hardly nothin' left anyway."
Dean was truly appalled. "Wow...that's really.. jesus. ..And your father--?"
"Never came back. I hoped and prayed every day that he was dead and burnin'. I spent the winter here alone, I was real sick for a time, but the lord saw fit to keep me breathing. When spring came, I walked into town. After that, I had nuthin' to earn my way, so I started sin eatin' for money. That's about it."
Sam had returned with the cell. He saw that Nathaniel was gone, and turned his worried eyes to his brother. Dean shook his head and spoke to the sin eater. "Nate, I gotta go. I'll come back to talk to you again, later if you want.."
"Yes.." he sighed. "it's awful lonely here sometimes..." The voice faded away, and the air immediately lost it's icy edge.
Sam crouched in front of Dean. He didn't like how he looked, his pallor, and he was in obvious pain. "Ok, Dean--I did what you asked, but we are going now. Can I lift you?"
Dean nodded, and Sam carefully hauled him to his feet, holding him until he was steadied. The two made their way back through the grass, back down the rough road, and both were awash with relief at the sight of the car. Sam managed to get him in without eliciting too many curses, and he pulled away from the site.
Until Sam could ascertain where the nearest medical help was, he decided the most comfortable place for Dean was his bed at May Adam's. He got him in and settled, and started to call around. He knew that they would likely be able to offer a recommendation at the post office, but he would use that hostile source as a last resort. He searched online for the next closest town on the highway, and put a call in to a convenience store listed there. The news was not good. It seemed, like everything else, the nearest hospital was in Bradford. A long drive was inevitable.
Dean was shivering badly, and was reduced to one word grunts in answer to Sam's anxious queries. Sam covered him with blankets, and went out to the car for the first aid kit. Unfortunately, it hadn't been replenished after their last misadventures, and bandaging was in short supply.
"Dean, listen....I'm gonna check around in May's house for some med stuff, ok? Do you need anything first..?"
Dean pulled the blanket higher with his good hand. "I'm freezing, I need something warm---that stew smells good--get me some of that. And hand me that bottle, will you..?"
Sam did so, un capping it and pouring a good bit out into a mug. "Ok, back in a sec."
He left , walking around the tangle of hollyhocks that graced the sunny side of the farmhouse. He remembered May's warning, that they should mind Angus. He hoped he wasn't some huge half-bred wolf-dog or something. He knocked at the screen door, and when there was no answer, and thankfully no deep threatening growl, he entered the kitchen.
Angus was there, sitting silently. It wasn't a fearsome dog after all, wasn't a dog at all. He was the most grizzled, ancient old man Sam had ever seen. It appeared that Angus hadn't heard him enter, he sat snoring at the table, toothless old head resting on his chest, while his shirt-front slowly darkened with drool. He smelled of stale tobacco and urine. Sam gently nudged him.
"What? What?! Who're you? Where's May!" he croaked. Sam stuttered to answer, ducking the cane the old man swung at his head.
"Sir! Angus! We're the renters---May's at the wake, she told us to get some stew from the kitchen--!" He had to say it several times more before Angus seemed to hear, or comprehend it fully.
"Ain't free! Cost you a fiver." he said sourly, wheezing and hocking up something unpleasant and spitting it onto the floor. Sam handed him a ten and found some bowls, filling them full. He remembered his other need. "Sir--my brother had an accident---would May have any bandages around?"
Angus sized him up with faded, rheumy eyes. "Ain't free--"
Sam handed him another five, and Angus nodded curtly toward the cupboards. ''Over the sink. Don't touch nuthin else, hear?!"
Sam thanked him and retrieved two thin rolls of gauze. He was about to leave when Angus poked him with the cane. "What's wrong with him? Did ya tangle with the sin eater, like Bert? Stupid bugger, told him to stay away from that land, ---cursed, I tell you. You was poking around where you ain't wanted, wasn't you? Got what you deserve. Idiot boy--don't you know no better--?"
Sam was shocked that the old codger had nailed it right off. "No, no,--- he, uh, fell---cut his arm. Angus, do you know anywhere closer than Bradford that he could see a doctor?"
Angus snorted. "I know everything. I'm a hunnert-an-two years old, nobody knows nuthin more'n old Angus." Sam waited impatiently for the information, but the old man seemed to forget the question.
"What do you want?!" he griped.
"A doctor? Is there any doctor nearby?"
"How the hell would I know?"
Sam thanked him, collected his bowls and left.
Dean was into his second mugful. Sam was concerned, but the bourbon had made such a difference in his brother's suffering that he felt it was a benefit regardless. But the stew was a real help. Despite his miserable experience, Dean was hungry, and he took the bowl gratefully. And it was as good as the scent had promised. Only when Dean felt the curled spear of a tomato skin in his mouth did he even give a thought to Sam's porcupine fears. --Didn't stop him from finishing. He handed the bowl back, fortified somewhat.
"Ok, Nurse Ratchet, have at it."
Sam found a bucket in the bathroom, he filled it with hot water, and brought soap and towels. He sat down on a chair beside Dean's bed, holding his wounded arm on a towel across his knees. He carefully picked out the forest debris from the wound, and cleaned it as well as he could. Dean had his head turned, hand over his eyes, and was trying his best to keep silent during the process. He was nearly successful, despite the stream of tears that slid down his face.
"So...what's the damage..?" he asked, his voice hoarse.
Sam had done what he could. He'd cleaned out what he could see, and he'd bound it tightly in fresh cotton. He'd even sacrificed a brand new pair of sport socks, folding them into squares and tucking them under to absorb the blood still oozing from both sides. He'd tied a wooden spoon from May's kitchen into the wrappings as a splint. "Well...pretty sure you broke at least one of the bones.. Nasty, dirty wound, too. We really need to get this fixed up properly, especially after you bled so much. How's your shoulder?"
"--on freaking fire. Pass that bottle over again.."
Sam was about to, when the door abruptly opened. Old Angus shuffled in, leaning heavily on his cane. He wandered over to the bedside, peering at Dean's injury.
"It's whisky and a good sharp saw that you want for that." He cackled loudly at his own humour.
Dean shot his brother a look of alarm and disgust. "Sam--?!"
Sam turned to the old man. "Angus, is there something we can do for you?"
Angus pulled up a chair and sat his rickety backside slowly down. It was fairly clear that he had the intention of visiting for a while. Sam asked again. "..Angus--?"
He was either ignored or Angus simply didn't hear. The old man sat back, crossed his arms, and when he was sure their attention was rapt, he began to reminisce.
"You boys, being outsiders--you wouldn't know the comings and goings of folks from here. This here's hard country. Folks've been half starving here for over a hunnert years, ain't no better nowadays either."
Dean glared at his brother, in no mood to humour a stranger, especially this senile incarnation. Sam interrupted Angus. "Sir, we'd love to hear it, but right now my brother here could use some rest..."
Angus ignored him, and gestured toward the bottle. "this ain't free..."
"What? What isn't free?" Sam barked, his patience frayed.
Angus continued. "You wanna know about the sin eater, don't you? Nobody knows it proper but me. I was there, you know."
That caught his attention. Dean raised his head, and shared a glance with Sam. Sam shook his head. "Not now, Dean, it's not important--"
But it was important. Dean had to know. He'd felt a strong connection with the Sin Eater, his story had hit him hard, and for him, it was worth the delay. "Yeah, it is. Offer him a drink--" he said quietly.
Sam sighed in defeat. "Angus, care for a snort?"
The old man grinned slyly and held out his hand. Sam poured out a measure and passed it to him, pausing to ask, "Why would we want to know about that?"
"Didn't I tell you I know everything, boy? That yappy McCormack woman down at the post office phoned May and said there was two strangers what asked about it. And so far, you're the only outsiders here. So I done the math."
Dean didn't have the patience or stamina to put up with a production. "Fine, spit it out then, old man. If you have something to say, then say it, otherwise I could use some peace and quiet about now." Having tightly bound the arm, Sam had untied the makeshift tourniquet, and a flood of unwelcome sensation accompanied the renewed bloodflow. He really just wanted to be alone, at least until the bourbon kicked in.
The old man frowned. "Mind your manners, boy. Now, where the hell was I..?"
Sam rolled his eyes and prompted him, "The sin eater--you were telling us all about it--"
Angus remembered, and the rest of the story unfolded.
irisheyes - December 30, 2008 10:28 PM (GMT)
That ol' Angus is a rip. :lol:
UKsnfan101 - December 31, 2008 12:29 AM (GMT)
cool an update...angus is hysterical. can't wait to read more
hope everyone has a happy new year...i am going to be on a plane!
trickie - December 31, 2008 12:29 AM (GMT)
Aww...love Angus, he's a hoot! :lol: Reminds me of my Grandpa when he'd get to talking about the war. Sometimes its hard to follow along, but if you REALLY concentrate... :lol:
So Angus is going to fill them in on poor Nate (His Dad needs a good smack upside the head)
Somehow I doubt that they're going anywhere before the job is done. Dean will want to finish up before going to a hospital. Maybe Angus will remember if there's a closer Doc.
HAVE A SAFE AND HAPPY NEW YEAR.
chantald - December 31, 2008 04:26 AM (GMT)
:o Had me scared for a minute that old Angus was the doctor!!
guiltypleasure - January 2, 2009 06:06 PM (GMT)
Hey again--short but significant---
The old man quaffed his drink with relish. May rarely let him indulge in such vices, it was she who would have to clean up any aftermath. It lubricated both his willingness to share, and his memories. Sam sat, impatiently, awaiting the completion of the tale, and Dean lay, enjoying anything that took his mind away from his injuries.
"Well, I assume you boys know something about it all--"
Sam answered. "We know his name--Nathaniel Willard. And we know how he started sin-eating."
"Willard?!" the old man spat. " He was a Buell. Nate Buell. His daddy was Jeremiah Buell. He growed up on Buell Farm, and came into town after his pa took off, and his mama died. She was a Willard."
Dean wasn't surprised that Nathaniel had chosen to identify himself by his mother's maiden name. Not after what his old man had done. "So it's Buell farm then. We already know he abandoned the holding to come into town, and why. What happened after that?"
Angus had drained his glass. He stuck his stubbled chin out in defiance. "Damned small glass you gimme..."
Sam replenished it, and the old man continued. "Well, that boy struggled, like most of us in those days. He didn't have no skills--didn't know his letters, didn't know nuthin' other than a bit of farmin'. He took work, here and there, when it was offered. Pretty soon he was like so many then, half starvin', and outa choices. He took to sin-eatin. Folks are always dying, no matter how hard they prayed. A man who was willing to blacken his soul always had worth, and he was called to do his chosen task from time to time. Poor bastard never did learn any trade---there weren't no pa or otherwise to teach him nothing useful. He lived in the outskirts of town, in a shed, never had no wife or comforts. Nobody ever talked to him, he didn't mix with folks either. Weren't long before nobody even knew what family he come from. he was just Sin Eater."
The old man stared away, absorbed by the images his memories conjured. Finally Sam had to prod him to continue.
"Right. So, anyhow, he went on like that, for a long time. Folks came to know him as the man to hire, when death visited the house. He never earned much--never lived well, like all them others he was savin' from damnation.. But he accepted his place. And the one odd thing was, a man in his position--you'd think he'd take hard to the drink to pass his miserable days, but not him. He wouldn't touch any spirits, or even beer, all he ever wanted at any sin-eatin' was a cup of milk and bread and apple pie. Strange thing..... Anyways, it happened one day, there was a death that come to pass, and he was called upon, as usual."
Angus stopped there. He knew he had their attention. Both brothers stared at him, waiting for him to continue.
"Hell--it was so long ago. Hardly know if I can remember....."
Sam poured another drink for him.. Angus grinned and winked, glad that they had an understanding. He sat back and stretched, indulging in a drawn-out belch before continuing his tale. "Well, it was a man what died---a well known towner. His name was Jeremiah....Jeremiah Buell. He was a big man in Spencerville. He had a fine house in town, and a goodly living in his general store, supplying miners and farmers with his over-priced and shoddy goods. But for all his money, he died anyway--consumption, or maybe from the drink... And they called in the sin-eater. Well, that raggedy bastard took one look at the dead man laid out in finery, and didn't he refuse to do his duty. He cursed the corpse, and he backed away, and threw their coins back into the family's faces. He wasn't gonna eat those sins, he knew what they were, more'n anybody.. Buell was his daddy, the same man what used to treat his first wife and boy so bad, who abandoned them at the farm years before. Buell was the devil himself in the sin-eater's eyes. He spat curses at the widow, and at her gathered sons, and he ran out into the street. Buell's brother Henry was so angered by what he done, that he went after him.. Nobody saw what happened, but it ended up that Sin Eater was runned over by Buell's buckboard in the street. The poor bastard was laid open by those iron-banded wheels, and he died there in the dust, nobody wanted to touch his cursed hide to help him... He laid there for three days, dragged off to the side and stinkin' under a tarp, while they all argued over what to do with him. Since there was no willing witnesses, it was called an accident. The courts said that Henry Buell was obligated to pay the burial costs. So they threw his carcass in a box, made up a stone real quick and buried him back at the farm, cuz the churchyard was denied him."
Dean lay, engrossed in the telling. Sam too, was still, listening to the story unfold. Angus's tale explained the basic and unsentimental gravestone. It also explained why it was on the Buell farm, rather than in hallowed ground. Dean had to know more... "Angus, how come the Buells never took back that farm land--?"
Angus spat.. "Well, it weren't cuz they had enough shame, or fear, maybe--to leave well enough alone. Truth is, them Buells never had legal title to that land. Those days, you just squatted, you carved out your spread on whatever state land was half-level on them hills. Land was never good enough to think of payin' for official, 'cept in town. And people have gone out there, over the years, hopin' to buy it, --rich buggers who want their little acre of paradise to visit---and always they was scared away. I don't know what went on to spook them, but I guess it was enough to give that place the reputation it had. Cursed...haunted, whatever. Nobody really went up there after---least nobody what knew the story. Only jack-ass strangers... Hell, even Frank Buell wasn't innerested, til lately. But he lost his chance, bein' incarcerated at the time, when that land finally went to auction.."
The name struck Dean. He remembered the one that seemed to be the leader at the post office, they'd called him Frank. "Frank Buell--is he about mid-thirties--kind of a pushy bastard..?"
Angus gave him a look that suggested he was an idiot. "Well sure. Frank Buell is the voice of the men around here. Nothing goes on here that he don't have a firm hand in. Does well for himself--him and his group are the only ones around here that seem to be able to make a good livin' while the rest of us are wearin' patches and eatin acorns. Served him right when he was hauled in, guess he wasn't as slippery as he thought he was. He was put away for assault, did eighteen months. He went after some inspector, on account of them big wind generators he got up on the mountain. They wasn't safe, didn't have no permits or somethin', I dunno, but he beat the livin' snot out of him, poor bastard. While Frank was in prison, the auction was held, and old Bert Munro picked it up. Everbody told him he was nuts to touch that tainted ground, but he already had a buyer waitin'. "
Dean was losing the ability to concentrate. He wanted to learn more, but he was fighting weakness, and the pain of his arm was making him feel ill. Sam could see he was struggling. "Dean, c'mon, we can talk more later--you have to get to Bradford--"
Dean rubbed his eyes. "I know, Sam--just a few minutes more, ok? I need to know this."
Sam sighed, knowing the alternative was to haul him over his shoulder and dump him into the car kicking. He busied himself by collecting their things to leave while the conversation continued.
"Why does Buell have windmills?" Dean wondered.
"Well how the hell would I know? Frank keeps his business to himself, 'cept for his lackeys. Most likely he don't wanna be part of the government grid, he's particular sore about Feds."
Dean snorted. "So I noticed." He glanced up at Sam, who was waiting by the door, arms crossed, an anxious mother-hen expression creasing his brow. He decided that the rest could wait. "Gotta cut you off there, Angus. I'll save you some of that bottle for later. Sam, you wanna give me a hand getting out..?"
Sam nodded, relieved. He moved to the bedside, about to lift Dean and help him to his feet, when they all turned in shock-
The door was flung wide, kicked open with a splintering violence. Three men stood there. One of them was familiar to Sam--he was the one he'd hitched a ride with earlier. The second was some weaselly bearded sycophant. But the centre figure was none other than Franklin William Buell.
"Angus! Get home--!" Frank barked.
The old man took exception to the affront. "Now who the hell do you think you are, boy? This is my house--You just--
Frank Buell pointed his rifle at Angus's belly. " I didn't ask, you stinking old corpse. Get your ass back to the house, or you won't see your next year."
Angus wisely retreated. "I'm goin'. But you'll have May to answer to, Frank!. She won't take kindly to you bustin' in here--!"
Frank tossed him a roll of bills. "Maybe that'll ease her mind."
Angus unfolded the wad. It was at least a hundred dollars, and more. He looked up at the bully in front of him and grinned a toothless parody of a smile. "Well I believe it just might." He shuffled out the open door and retreated to the kitchen. Frank Buell turned his icy stare towards the brothers.
"Hello, boys. Or should I call you Agents? We got some business to discuss."
Dean was frozen, mid-rise from the bed. He was tense with adrenalin and waiting to spring, but with three guns cocked and aimed, he stayed where he was. Sam stood beside him, shocked by the intrusion.
"Who the hell--?!
Dean's demand was silenced by the butt of Frank's rifle. It caught him hard on his cheek, and it filled his vision with a splendour of bursting stars. Sam roared his objection, but his rush was stopped by the pummelling fists of the three men. He was hit, more times than he could recall, --and disoriented, he fell under the onslaught. Both brothers were trussed and gagged, and hauled into the back of a truck, and they lay in pained and frightened confusion. They had no time to react further, no time even to speak to each other before they were transported away from their momentary sanctuary.
denise69 - January 2, 2009 07:01 PM (GMT)
This was intense!!! you need to come back to update this awesome story!!! :bang
irisheyes - January 2, 2009 07:02 PM (GMT)
Poor Nate. I probably would've done the same thing in his place.
Now our boys have been kidnapped. Oh boy!!
UKsnfan101 - January 2, 2009 09:03 PM (GMT)
Yikes, both boys are getting hurt. Good story. The sin eater had such a horrible life..I hope that the boys can eventually help him rest in peace.
trickie - January 3, 2009 10:06 PM (GMT)
See? I knew we couldn't trust the guy in the truck ;) Now the boys are being taken God knows where...The sineater sounds like a sweet kid...maybe he'll help?
Hope you update soon.
MarquessaS. - January 5, 2009 06:55 PM (GMT)
--don't mind me--just posting under the wrong name again...grrr
guiltypleasure - January 5, 2009 06:58 PM (GMT)
ok--hi again--got it right this time....
It was almost dark when May Adams came home. She tugged the screen door open, juggling her empty casserole dishes and pie tins. It was dark in the kitchen, Angus must have gone to bed. She switched on the light, and noticed that the stew was depleted. It pleased her that her boarders had accepted her offer. As she put down her things, she wrinkled her nose at the strong smell of whisky and frowned. Angus had no doubt gone back and pestered those boys for a drink. It smelled like he was more than successful. She called out to him, and was met only by the cat, circling her ankles and voicing it's complaint of hunger. Angus was supposed to feed him. She tsked and found the kibble, filling his bowl.
When she proceeded to the parlour, she found the old man. He was snoring like thunder, sprawled on the flowery sofa, and stinking of drink. An empty bottle of something lay spilled on the wood floor.
"Oh for heaven's sake! Angus! Pa!--wake up!" She shook him mercilessly until he finally croaked his drunken objections.
"Waddya want, woman?! Leave an old man in peace!"
"You be quiet! Where did you get that liquor?!" she demanded.
"--them boys out back-" he grumbled, turning over and falling asleep again.
She was none too pleased. She left him there and marched around the house. When she saw the condition of the open door, she stopped. There was no light on inside the room. She called tentatively; "You there--are you home--?" When there was no response, she nervously stepped in and switched on the light, and gasped. The room was in disarray. The night stand was upended, a bucket of water tipped over onto the floor. There were towels lying beside the bed, they looked like they were bloodied. She had no idea what to make of it, but she knew it wasn't good. She hurried back and called her son.
Russell Adams had just come in from work. As a game warden, he was automatically an outsider, despite his deep-rooted lineage. The local men treated him with curt civility, and nothing more, and they avoided him socially. It was a product of the job, but a man didn't turn down work if he could get it. He wasn't terribly hurt by it, the men he grew up with were louts and jackasses, as far as he was concerned. He was about to sit down with a well-earned beer when he got the anxious call from his mother. He knew May was a strong and confident old bird, if she was worried, then it was justified. He hopped back into his truck and drove out.
She met him in the driveway. "Oh I'm glad you came-" she said, relieved.
"What's going on, Ma?"
"Your grandad is sotted, but he's fine, but there's something wrong with the boarders. The place is a mess, and --well, come and see," She led him around and the two surveyed the room.
Russell frowned. "The door was broke in from outside. Looks like there was a tussle. Who are these boarders?"
"A couple of young men, --brothers, on their way to Bradford. They took the room for the one night. They seemed decent enough. Their car is gone..."
Russell picked up one of the towels, examining it in the light. "This is blood, Ma. Something is real wrong here. I want you to get Grandad up, I'm gonna drive the two of you over to the Baileys' for the night--I don't want you here. Did Grandad say anything about it?"
May shook her head, her face creased with worry. " I just woke him, and he went back to sleep. Maybe you should talk to him."
May hurried to pack a few things while Russell woke the old man up. He rebuked him sharply when he complained, and he got a picture of what had happened finally. Angus told them about his visit with the boys, about Buell, and the resulting scuffle. He'd gone back to the room after the men left, to see if things were alright. When he found it empty, he took the bottle back with him to assuage his guilt, and had fallen asleep before he could alert May.
"Frank gimme a wad of cash, told me to keep my yap shut. " he whined, handing the money to May. She threw it onto the counter in disgust. "What about my towels? They're all bloody! Did they say why--?"
"One of those boys was hurt--he had his arm all bandaged up. They was up on Buell Farm, nosing around--I think it was the Sin Eater what got him."
Russell growled a curse. "Grandad, I told you that was nonsense! I'd be more inclined to think that that bastard Buell was behind that too. Whatever those boys were doing, they ran afoul of Frank and his cronies. Sonofabitch thinks he can do what he pleases, and law be damned. You two get out into the truck, I'm gonna call the station in Kinburn."
He was about to dial, when a cell phone on the floor began playing a tune.
The road was brutally rough. Neither brother could see a damn thing, the black truck cap all but eliminated any remaining light. They bounced and rolled in the truck bed, helpless to do anything to remedy their situation. If the truck would just stay still for a moment, then perhaps one could find the hands of the other and untie them, but that wasn't happening. The driving only seemed to get worse, they were clearly off-road now. Sam could smell the woodsy scent of crushed pine needles, he knew they were heading deeper into the forest, perhaps up the mountain. They both rolled heavily against the tailgate as the incline sharpened, and Sam's hands found Dean's shoulder, and he grabbed onto a handful of fabric. He was able to touch his face, but he didn't respond.
They were in the truck for some time, Sam estimated it at a half hour or so. He tried to make note of anything that he heard or smelled or felt, in case it would be helpful later. And he worried about Dean, lying limply beside him, as he tried to keep him pinned against the truck side to minimize the battering. Finally he felt the ground level off a little, and they stopped. He didn't know whether to be relieved or not. He heard voices, and the tailgate abruptly dropped, and they were hauled out roughly and thrown to the dirt. Sam looked around wildly, memorizing everything. It was dark, but there were floodlights illuminating the timber-framed doorway to what seemed to be a tunnel, he could see an old rusted metal sign above it. The entrance--an old mine apparently, was newly blocked with a heavy steel door system. There was a reverberating noise filling the air, and a deep hum. He nudged Dean, but still he remained immobile.
"Get up!" someone barked. Sam looked up and met the eyes of his affable driver. His demeanour was decidedly harsher now. He pointed his rifle at him, and Sam struggled to his feet. "You!-- I said up!" the scowling man yelled, prodding Dean. Dean groaned and got to his knees, as he slowly regained his faculties.
"Don't!" Sam growled. "Give him a second, let him shake it off!" With the gag, however, it didn't translate, but the sentiment was clear.
Frank Buell joined them now. He was disinclined to allow Dean the time to recover his equilibrium, he grabbed him be the shirt back and hauled him to his feet. Dean stayed there, swaying, leaning heavily on the truck and fighting a lingering blackness. A third man unlocked the very secure door, and they were forced inside. Again Sam memorized details as they moved along the descending space. The interior was rocky, and non-descript, framed by old, dusty beams, and level-floored. It was clean, definitely didn't look abandoned. They passed several doors leading off the main tunnel, they were all similarly secured, and had heavy electrical conduit leading to them. He counted his footsteps as they walked. Dean concentrated on placing one foot in front of the other successfully. When they had reached deep into the mine, they were pushed into an alcove, where both were tied to the heavy conduit that ran along the wall.
Frank Buell smiled an ugly, cold smile. "Well there you go, agents. This is what you came to see, aint it?" He turned and barked an order to the first man. "Colter--watch them. I gotta go check the systems."
Martin Colter nodded. He pulled a metal chair over, and sat down, while the others disappeared from view. He kept his gun at the ready, across his knees, and watched the Winchesters. Both sat, quiet for the moment, both secretly tested the security of their bonds, twisting their hands fruitlessly. Colter eyed them unhappily. "You shoulda never come here..." he said. "Shoulda left it alone."
Dean raised his head and swore at him, and even with the gag it came through loud and clear. Martin Colter shook his head and snorted.
They were left there for well over an hour. Colter was growing bored, he fidgeted and shifted in his chair, checking his watch frequently. The taller captive stared at him relentlessly, it made him uneasy. The other one was lying on his side, and was trying to find a comfortable position, and he was moaning every few minutes.. It began to weigh on his nerves, if not his conscience.
"Shut up, over there!" he barked to Dean in irritation. A muffled diatribe came from Sam, but it was unintelligible, which was probably for the better. Sam turned his stare away from his captor and back to his brother. He looked ashen, and in considerable pain. He knew Dean would be loathe to show these bastards any weakness, the fact that he was making any sound at all was significant. He wished he could speak to him. Dean stayed silent for a while, his eyes closed. But after a while he started to react again to the pain in his arm.
Martin Colter couldn't stand to hear it. The guy was either a pussy, or he was seriously hurting. He just wanted this thing to be finished, and wished Buell would hurry up.
" I said quit your whining!" He gave Dean a kick for emphasis. Dean winced and was silent. He wasn't even aware he'd been making sounds, but with his hands tied so tightly behind him, the pull on his arm and shoulder was excruciating. He was desperate to stay alert, but he was growing weaker, he drifted and moaned softly again. Stir crazy now, Colter stood up. "Jesus christ, he's been going on since he got here! What the hell's wrong with him?!"
Sam stared daggers at him and shrugged a shoulder toward his gag with an expression that telegraphed clearly what he was thinking. Colter swore, reached over and tugged it off.
It took everything Sam had to remain civil. He spat out the lint from his mouth and licked his parched lips. "He's hurt, alright? He broke his arm this afternoon, and it's open and bleeding. Look, you've got us now, I get that. But there's no reason to put him through that.. I'm not asking you for anything that'll get you in trouble--just , please--untie his arms and re-tie them in front. If his sounds are getting on your nerves, then that'll help."
Colter snorted. "Oh yeah, sure. Maybe I should untie his feet too, cuz they itch. And while I'm at it--how 'bout I loosen you too, maybe fetch you all a nice cup of tea--?!"
"Look at it yourself!" Sam roared. "I'm not asking anything for me--just be a little human for christ's sake!"
Colter scowled, but he relented. He rolled Dean over with a boot and shone his flashlight over his arm. When he saw the dark red stain soaking the bandage and his shirt back, and the makeshift splint, he rubbed his jaw and sighed angrily. He was not a man who was by any description decent, but he didn't delight an other man's suffering. That was Buell's way, not his.
"Fine!" he growled. "I'll switch them, just to shut him the hell up. But if you make me regret this, I'll kick his goddamn head in, and yours too!" He bent down and removed Dean's gag, since they were deep in the mine, and it no longer mattered. He swiftly loosened the rope. It was sticky with blood, he pulled Dean's hands roughly to the front, holding them there while he rubbed the rope in the dust to dry it off. Dean shuddered at the movement, but he kept his suffering silent as Colter re-tied his wrists.
"--thanks." he said quietly. Colter stepped back and nodded curtly. Having seen the cause of his captive's complaint, he was intensely uncomfortable, and decided to find Frank, eager to see this business done with. He left the brothers alone in the chilly quiet.
Sam leaned closer. "Dean? How are you doing, is that any better..?"
"Yeah, thanks." He shifted up to sit against the cold rocky wall, and surveyed their surroundings. "So we're underground. Any idea where?"
Sam shook his head. "No. All I saw was a sign that said Sutler Mines Number Five. Mean's nothing to me. But it must be near those wind turbines---I could hear them. And look at the electrical cables coming in ---they're doing something down here that they need a hell of a lot of juice for."
Dean grunted. "You think they found something worth digging for again? Doesn't look like coal, there's no black dust around. Maybe gold--?"
"Doubt it. As far as I know, this wasn't a gold rush area. Maybe it was silver, I don't know. Freaking cold in here, though."
"Just a bit." Dean agreed, shivering. In truth, he was chilled to the bone, his mouth so dry that he could barely wet his lips. He'd begun to feel a pounding headache, the constant bleeding was dehydrating him. "So, Sammy...what's the master plan--?"
Sam sighed and pulled uselessly at the rope that tied him to the conduit. "I was kinda hoping you had one."
UKsnfan101 - January 5, 2009 08:51 PM (GMT)
the boys tied up in a mind underground...hmm...not good..
I guess that might be bobby calling their cell phone...
trickie - January 6, 2009 02:31 AM (GMT)
Nice :clap They gotta get out of there and get Dean to a hospital quick. C'mon boys think!
And that Frank? Could you give him a big owie...sick the Sin Eater on him. :lol:
guiltypleasure - January 7, 2009 06:59 PM (GMT)
Thanks again for reading!
Russell Adams did what he thought was best, he answered the ring. "..Hello..?"
"Dean?! Where the hell have you been? I've been trying to get a hold of you for the past hour, boy!"
Russell cleared his throat. "uh--this ain't Dean here. It's Russell Adams---your friend rented a room from my family."
There was a pause. "Oh. Well, why do you have this phone?"
Russ sighed. "Look, I don't know your friend, or you, but I can tell you that things aren't right here. There was a problem--the room's a mess, and your two friends have gone missing."
Bobby's heart skipped a beat. --aw not now----"My name's Bob Singer--those boys are my nephews. And what do you mean by problem--?"
Russell described what he knew thus far. When Bobby had heard it, he cursed under his breath. "Listen--they were there cuz they were supposed to meet me. I was calling to tell them that my appointment in Bradford was a bust. I'm about two hours shy of it---can you give me directions to where you are?"
"Shy--like north or south? You're either real close or you got a drive ahead..."
Bobby relayed his position, and Russell directed him. "You're close then. Stay on 29--until you see the exit for Kinburn. You don't want to go as far as that, but you'll see a sign for Spencerville, hang a left there. I can meet you at the post office--it's right on the road."
Bobby agreed, and Russell decided to wait with going to the station until he'd met with him. But in the mean time, he still wanted his kin somewhere out of any possible harm. "Ok, Ma. That was a relative of your boys. I'm going to meet up with him at the post office. I want you and grandad to take your truck to Baileys' farm, can you do that?"
May scowled. "Russell, I'm not some frilly hothouse flower. I'm not scared of Frank Buell, and I won't flee my house the moment there's some kerfuffle-"
"I know, Ma. But just the same---I don't know these boys, I don't know this uncle, and more than that, I do know Frank Buell. Just do this for me, alright? I can only worry so much--"
She stood for a moment, hands on her hips. But she softened at his earnest expression of concern. "Well alright, Russell, but only for you. Besides, I don't want your grandad to get into any more nonsense tonight, drunken old piece of gristle. If I let him get into trouble, your daddy, god rest him, would be rolling in his grave." She turned away and went indoors. Russell smiled to himself. Ma was a fierce mother bear, but her father-in-law was her greatest challenge. He was glad they would be out of harm's way, should harm decide to join this little party. And somehow, he had a feeling it might...
Sam wore his heart on his sleeve. Dean knew his little brother was looking to him for leadership now, it was how things worked. Sam always had his back, no question, but it was up to Dean to lead when their world got complicated. He started by stating the obvious. " Bottom line-- we've gotta get the hell outa here. I'm guessing Buell will be back soon. I don't think he's going to want to have any long discussions, whatever his problem with us is..."
Sam 's pinched expression relaxed slightly. Dean might be in rough shape, but he was still capable and in charge...maybe things would be ok..... He shifted a little, shrugging off the chill that the cold floor and wall imparted. In doing so, he felt an uncomfortable lump under his ankle. "Oh!--crap--"
Sam looked at Dean, a renewed hope shining in his eyes. "When I went looking for you, I stuck my folding knife in my sock--it's still here!"
"..You're kidding me--"
But with his hands behind him and tied to the wires, Sam had no hope of reaching his feet. He bent and twisted and contorted, but he couldn't get near enough. He was too far away from Dean--he couldn't have him pull it either. He tried to snag it with his teeth, but after several tiring tries, he rested, dejected. "aw man, I can't believe it.." he muttered.
Dean was working his own tied hands. Every twist was agony, but the ropes had been stiffened by the blood and dust. Colter had done his best when he'd retied his hands in front, but the knots were affected by the filth coating them. They were definitely loosening. Sam watched as he worked them, he could see the sweat beading on his brother's forehead. Dean glanced up, intense and driven. "They're coming--" he whispered.
Sam thought he meant the knots. Unfortunately he was wrong, Dean could see the group of men turning the corner and approaching. "Sam--" he warned.
Sam could only nod. With seconds, Frank Buell and his two lackeys were back in the space shared by the Winchesters.
Frank stood and stared at them. Finally he spoke. "So. Here we all are." He crouched, so that he could speak directly into Dean's face. "You made a big mistake coming here, Mr Federal Agent. You think I don't know who you really are?"
Dean glanced feverishly at Sam, momentarily panicked that their true identities were known. He didn't know where this was going...
But Buell kept talking. "You think I'm some sort of back-woods half-wit? I know exactly why you come all the way out here. You, and buddy here, --you're D.E.A.."
Dean was struck dumb. DEA?! Drug Enforcement..? Buell thought they were some sort of narcs, and that was apparently a big problem for all of them. It struck him suddenly---the secrecy, the wealth.....the steel doors, the windmills, the power usage-- Buell was running a grow-op. They'd stumbled into the real Copperhead Road... He returned Frank's stare defiantly, with a mix of admiration and disgust. "Wow...John Lee Pettimore, in the flesh."
The song reference was not lost on Buell. "That's right, asshole. I knew what you was the second I saw you in the store. You're trying to find where I'm growin'. Well, now you know. Look around you---this is the best kept little secret in the state. Me, and my friends here--we're gettin' rich, while the stupid bastards around here sit on their thumbs and whine about the hard times, just like they always done. You have no idea how many miles of tunnels are in these hills--abandoned, most of'em unknown. I can grow year round, and nothing the D.E.A. has in the air will ever pick up on it. No heat signatures from way down here. No plants visible outside. No power use showing---I'm so off-grid out here that I could run my own damn country and nobody would have a goddamned clue." He leaned closer, breathing into Dean's face. "I bet you're real thrilled to break your big case now, ain't you? All your hunches come true....too bad nobody'll ever know." He laughed, and hauled back a fist, punching his glaring captive on the jaw. Dean shook his head, trying to clear away the maelstrom of lights.
"NO!" Sam yelled. Buell turned to him. "We're not Feds! Come on--that was a fake ID, it was a piece of crap, couldn't you tell that?"
Buell cocked his head a little. "Fake. Now why would he do that--?"
Sam wracked his brain. "Because we're really private investigators. Not Feds--sure as hell not DEA! The guy you beat up--the electrical safety inspector--it was his family that hired us! They paid us to look for anything to pin on you--so they could sue you in civil court! They want money! Look, this is just a job for us, we don't give a crap either way--"
Both Dean and Frank Buell stared at him, intrigued. Buell frowned: "Why should I believe you..?"
"Because....look at us! Do we look like feds? We're too damned young to be that high up! Look at what we're driving, does that look standard issue?" Sam was grasping at straws, but he was reaching his mark. Frank turned back to Dean.
"Private dicks. Figures. Who exactly hired you--?"
Dean knew that Angus had never mentioned the identity of Buell's reason for incarceration. He made up a name. "Marcy Peterson. She's his sister--married. They're looking for any info to nail you with--maybe to settle privately. You messed him up pretty good---they want something out of it."
Buell sat back, he swore and laughed. "Well hell, boys, wish I'da known that earlier. Coulda saved us all a whole lotta trouble if I'd known you were for sale. Guess I should have figured you wasn't Washington stock when I saw that car. Whose is it, anyway..?"
"Mine." Dean growled.
Frank smiled. "Nice old wreck, ain't it? Bet you're real proud of her. She's what, a 68? You got a frikkin' arsenal in the trunk too, don't you? Lotta weird crap in there. I don't know what you and Buddy here are into, but that's a small fortune in silver for one thing. And all the rest of it--" He whistled and shook his head, laughing. "--Yeah, now that I think about it, nothing about you or that car says Fed to me."
Sam visibly relaxed. But Dean remained tense and wary. Just because they were now 'private investigators' instead of Law, didn't mean they were any safer. And unfortunately, his instincts were usually right.
Buell's smile faded. "Don't matter none whether you're narcs or not. You fell down the wrong rabbit hole." He leaned closer to Dean, as if conspiratorily, and laid a hand on his bandaged arm. He squeezed, just a little. "You want to know a funny thing? Bradford Fair is in a week. Biggest event is the Demolition Derby. Now, I wasn't gonna enter nothing this year,--got a lot going on, you know,--- but now, with that old Chev falling into my lap--hell, I think I just might after all!"
He grinned at the raw horror on his captive's face, he'd guessed right--that car was a cherished thing. Dean spluttered and struggled. Buell's smile widened.
"Yeah--I got my boys paintin' her up right now--bright orange--big numbers on the side. All I need now is to pull the glass, weld in a roll cage and bash the crap out of her." He squeezed hard now, brutally twisting Dean's arm. It had the desired effect. Dean's back was rigid, pressed hard against the rock wall, he gritted his teeth and blinked away tears, as he swore and raged at his captor until he was dizzy with exhaustion. Sam howled at Buell, begging him to stop. Buell laughed. Martin Colter laughed along with him, as was required, but he everted his eyes. Finally Frank stood back up.
"Wish I could stay longer with you all, but I've got shipments going out. I'll come back and visit with you later." His jovial manner changed suddenly. "Seriously, boys, you made a real bad choice here, real unfortunate. Too bad." He planted a hard kick against Dean's head, snapping it back with violence. His scrawny companion had a similar parting gift for Sam, delivered with the butt of his rifle.. When he was satisfied that both were unconscious, he ordered his men to follow him and left.
Bobby's fingers drummed nervously on the steering wheel as he drove. Not only did his reason for coming all the way out to this backwoods paradise fall through, but now he had somehow led the Winchesters into danger. No, he knew better than that...Dean always dove head first into trouble like it was a hot tub full of playboy bunnies. But his anger was sharp and bitter. The Bradford thing was a good lead, it should have been worth it. He'd learned the name of a man who had supposedly managed to beat his deal with the devil. It wasn't a case of cheating death, or running scared just ahead of the snapping hellhound jaws, the man was free and clear, by some other means. Bobby had to know just what those means were. But before he got to Bradford, he received the news---his contact was dead. He died a normal, run-of-the mill death, a heart attack, apparently. No bloody end, no weeping and gnashing of teeth. Their opportunity to learn his secret went into the ground along with him. And now this. He sighed and swore to himself. It was a really crappy day.
He thought about the man who'd answered Dean's phone. Seemed normal enough. Bobby was well acquainted with the way people could be in these isolated areas, real closed mouthed. At least he'd agreed to meet him, and Bobby had talked him into waiting on the call to state troopers. That was a meagre plus, at least. He saw the sign that Adams had mentioned. A few more miles of anxious driving, and the Post Office loomed up ahead. He pulled in, and saw a man in a pick-up wave. Bobby pulled up beside him and rolled down his window. "Russ Adams--?"
Russell nodded. "Follow me." The two drove back to May Adams' house.
Once there, they introduced themselves grimly. Russell liked the look of the man, he seemed like a working type, and he had an honest way of talking. Bobby had a similar feeling of trust. Russell filled him in on what he'd learned from May and Angus, and they entered the Winchesters' room. He stood by as Bobby examined the mess. Bobby picked up the bloody towel and scowled. "Looks like he got himself into some something, alright. This ain't no little scratch."
Russell agreed. "That's what I figured. We'd best be finding him soon, or there ain't gonna be reason to anymore." He sighed angrily. "Whatever's going on, we know Frank Buell is at the heart of it. Sonofabitch runs this little corner like it was his own personal kingdom. He keeps a cabin somewhere on Beatty Mountain. But best way to find him would be to head right up to where he's got his wind turbines, we can follow the wires from there."
Bobby was leary of involving a stranger. This was dangerous business, and he voiced as much to Russell. Russell smiled a little. "Look, no disrespect, but you ain't exactly a young man no more. This is rough country, and you wouldn't last an hour before you got lost. I know these hills like the back of my hand, I grew up on 'em, and I work in them. And no matter what your kin got themselves into, Frank Buell came to my family's house and kicked in my door. That kind of thing don't go unanswered."
Bobby nodded. "Fair enough. And I appreciate the guidance out there, especially with it being almost dark. Do you want to head out right now, or wait..?"
Russell frowned. "Don't think we have a choice no more. We'll have to get back to my place and put some things together. Can you handle a gun--?"
Bobby nodded grimly. "Yeah. I have what I need with me."
"Good. Pray we don't need it."
irisheyes - January 8, 2009 02:51 AM (GMT)
Uncle Bobby to the rescue!!!! :supes
UKsnfan101 - January 8, 2009 09:14 AM (GMT)
Jeepers the boys seems to just attract trouble like magnets...so glad that Bobby is there to get them out of the frying pan....great update as per usual
trickie - January 9, 2009 01:47 AM (GMT)
Yay :cheer Bobby's coming boys...hang on. Frank really REALLY need a big owie...hurting poor Dean like that. Okay Bobby, I know you don't kill people, but a little rock salt in Frank's a$$ wouldn't hurt....much. :lol:
Great update...looking forward to the next one.
guiltypleasure - January 11, 2009 02:04 AM (GMT)
--what am I doing posting?? It's Sat night!
Sam was startled at the touch of hands to his battered face, and he reacted sharply. He flinched, growling, and shoved his attacker away with his tied feet. It brought a hearty string of curses.
"--Ow!! Quit it! --jesus, Sam, it's me!" Dean hissed angrily. He got back up to his knees and finished what he was trying to do, cutting Sam free of his bonds as the younger Winchester shook away the cobwebs.
"Sorry--." He sat up and rubbed his bruised temple. "How'd you get free--?"
Dean shrugged, glancing around nervously. "It was slippery enough for me to get it off." The ropes were a reddish pile on the floor. Sam glanced at the sodden bandage, angrily remembering Buell's relentless grip on Dean's arm. True enough, the blood still ran down over Dean's fingers. He remembered, too, the talk about the car. He hoped, he prayed--that Buell was just talking. Dean finished sawing at the nylon twine, and Sam flicked the segments away. They were free, at least for the moment. Dean took a moment to grill his brother about his state. He had, after all, been whacked repeatedly on his head, Dean wanted to be sure he was able to think and function without hindrance. They couldn't afford to make any false steps now.
Sam twisted away from his ministrations. "I said I'm fine! You're the bigger worry, Dean! Are you able to think clearly??"
"As much as ever." He grinned a little. "C'mon--we've gotta find our way back out of this freaking rat-hole. Do you remember anything that might be useful? I was just working at keeping up to you while we were walking down here--"
Sam nodded. "I think I have a pretty good idea. But there will be people--somebody's gonna be posted at the entrance for sure--"
"Then we'll deal with it. Just hope he's got some decently big feet--I'm shoeless here..."
Sam glanced at his brother's sock feet. Right--the laceless boots had been discarded when Dean had lain down on the bed at May's. Buell had hardly given them the time to grab such luxuries before they were hauled away. They rose in unison, taking a moment to stabilize and get their bearings, and Sam directed their skulking travel down the rocky corridors.
They stopped and hugged the wall when voices seemed to approach, afraid to breathe. There was no other cover to be had. But the voices diminished again, and Dean glanced at Sam, nodding to him to continue on. The second time they heard words, they seemed to grow louder. Dean gestured toward a doorway, and they ducked inside a side tunnel. It was empty, with the exception of row upon row of towering, green, fragrant plants. Their heads were crowned by light fixtures, their roots embedded in a sophisticated hydroponic system. They were a thing of beauty. Dean whistled softly and grinned at Sam, making motions to fill their pockets with the spiky leaves. Sam shook his head incredulously.
"Don't be an ass!" he hissed. Dean rolled his eyes and they waited in silence until it seemed safe to venture back out. Sam pulled the door open slowly, carefully, and glanced around. Seemed clear. They took to the main tunnel again, and after several twists and turns, Sam led them up to where the tunnel connected with the outside world. They were that close to freedom. The only thing standing in their way was the very capable-looking man seated with bored disinterest at the doorway. He held a shotgun loosely in one of his hands as he flipped lazily through a skin mag. Dean caught Sam's eye, and held his hand up. He dropped each finger in a countdown of five, and when no digits remained he ran headlong and threw himself at the guard. The man was caught entirely unawares, bowled over backward in his flimsy lawnchair, and Dean clamped a hand over his mouth before he could even think to yell. His plan did not extend to what should happen next, but Sam followed closely, and he delivered a crushing blow to the pinned man's face, it was enough to turn his expression from shock to blandness, then to slumber. Dean gave a thumbs up to his brother, and Sam busied himself by tying the guard with his own coat sleeves. When they were assured he was immobile, Dean took a moment to catch his breath. His shoulder was screaming from the impact, but he forced himself to hide it. Instead, he smiled at Sam, gesturing at the unconscious man's feet. Sam grinned back, and quickly stripped him of his footwear tossing each shoe to Dean. Dean sat, pulling the hiking boots onto his own feet with an expression of momentary distaste. Nothing quite like wearing a hillbilly's warm, steamy boots-- They were a few sizes too big, but at the moment he wasn't complaining...
Dean tied them as Sam turned the half-dozen deadbolts on the door. Suitably shod again, Dean grabbed the gun, and ransacked the man's pockets for ammunition, shoving shells into his jeans. When they were ready, they slipped quietly through the steel door, out into the fragrant and velvet darkness of the forest.
Bobby followed Russell Adams. Russell had outfitted them both with backpacks, complete with flashlights, ammunition, rope, anything that could be useful in the woods. Bobby had added his own firearms, plus a few things he needed for his own peace of mind, while Russ carried a well-stocked first aid kit.
The travelling was difficult in the dark. Bobby was more than appreciative that there was an experienced pair of eyes guiding the foray. He had his own set of very applicable skills, but they were of limited use here amongst the trees. Russell had stated that Buell was living on the mountain, but Frank Buell was himself an experienced woodsman---if he didn't want his home base to be found, then it wouldn't be. Russell knew that the huge wind generating towers would have some significant connection to whatever it was that Buell was immersed in. If they started at their base, and followed along where the power was being directed, then surely they would find out what was going on.
They had started with the newly forged road at Buell farm. It was a convenient path to higher ground, and they followed it with ease. They passed the flat clearing with its ghostly wooden ruins, skirting the meadow and heading deeper along less and less defined paths. Bobby looked down, startled, as they passed the old farm. His EMF meter, always part of his gear, had blipped, lighting up briefly. But it remained silent after that brief awakening. He said nothing to Russell, the man knew the forest, there was no sense in alarming him about anything less tangible. Russell Adams seemed to navigate by some sixth sense, Bobby was certain that he would have been lost and useless by now without the guide. They followed deer trails and hiking paths, on a constant ascent. The trails were rocky and winding, involving a great deal of scrambling and climbing over fractured rock faces slick with lichen and moss, or hollows filled with tangled blackberry and wild rose canes. They were scratched bloody, and the chill of the approaching night was already making their breath condense. Russell stopped frequently to allow his neophyte companion to catch his breath. Soon Bobby could hear the rhythmic beat of the rotating vanes of the turbines. They were nearing the summit, where the windmills turned lazily in the quiet night air.
Near the steel tower of one of the turbines, Russell stopped. They took a moment to recharge, eating chocolate bars and draining a few of their water bottles. He laid out their strategy for Bobby. "We should keep quiet, from here on. Don't know where these bastards are, so I don't want to give away our position with pointless chatter, agreed--?"
Bobby nodded wearily.
Russell continued in a hoarse whisper. "These mills should be feeding power to whatever that SOB is doing. We need to find where they go, and follow those lines. The ground here's rocky, so I doubt that they'll be underground--" His wisdom was sound. Buell would have had to dynamite a channel through the bedrock to bury his lines, even he couldn't pull that off without attracting unwanted attention. They had no trouble finding the cable, it led away from the towers like some massive, twisting spinal cord, feeding the mystery somewhere in the distance.
Finding the cable was easy. Following it was another matter. Frank Buell had sought to hide it as best as he could, using the natural features of the land to camouflage and protect it. Bobby and Russ Adams were obliged to crawl over the broken rock formations, down into the dank and steep ravines, because the alternative was to lose the trail and be left standing, while Dean and Sam Winchester fell deeper into peril. Russell had no emotion invested in these strangers, but he was a conscientious man. They were taken against their will from the sanctity of his family's house, and that was something he could not abide. And he saw the determination and grit of his older companion. Whoever, whatever this Bob Singer was, he was a loyal and dogged supporter of his kin. That carried considerable weight with Russell Adams.
It was fully dark when they found where the cable crossed a well-used ATV trail. Here, it began to run parallel to the path. They could see, by the light of their flashlights, that the makeshift road was recently used---clods of dirt were freshly turned, ruts damp with water that had yet to drain away..
Once out in the cool night air, the brothers exchanged looks. Neither had any real idea in which direction to head. Sam gestured toward the ATV road. Dean shook his head. "Too visible--" he whispered. "That's the first place they'll start looking." They could walk a parallel course, but it was still too risky, any snap of a twig could alert the searchers following the road.
"Guess we should just head downwards, then.." Sam ventured. "I mean, that's our ultimate goal, right? Maybe if we find a stream, we should just keep with it---it'll be heading down to lower ground.."
Dean nodded his agreement. He hugged his arms to his middle to ward off the cold, lamenting silently that they hadn't stripped their doorman of his coat as well as his footware. At least Sam was still wearing his jacket, Dean had only his long sleeved tee, and it was wet with blood in several places. It made for a chilly prospect. But as long as they kept moving, it would be fine. And the temperature at least kept the mosquitos at bay. He scanned around, trying to survey the terrain in the poor light of dusk. It was all black shadows, and even blacker hollows. But there was a definite drop in elevation in one direction. He pointed, and Sam agreed. Choice decided, they stumbled out into the dark.
The light feature on Sam's watch was helpful. It cast a cool, blue glow when the button was pressed, they used it sparingly, only when they paused, to illuminate their next choice of ground. A cellphone would have been brighter, but neither had one handy at this critical time. One of those would have been handy on a few levels. They hadn't gone very far when they could hear a number of angry voices floating down from the tunnel mouth. The unconscious doorman had been found, and a commotion could be heard. Dean cursed quietly and put a cautioning hand on Sam's arm, pantomiming silence. They stayed still, hidden somewhat behind a formation of tumbled rock. When they were reasonably sure that the voices were heading away, down the main trail, they moved on again, as silently as the forest floor would allow. More than once, they stopped, listening tensely as a shout echoed amongst the trees. Other sounds confused the issue---some lonely-sounding night bird calling intermittently, the wind rustling leaves. And not too far away, the unmistakable burble of water flowing over stones. It was the stream they sought, the avenue by which they could find their way to the highway.
Bobby looked to Russell for his input now. Russell was sure that they were on the right track. "I don't think we should stay on this road, though. It's gonna be too visible. I can see lights down there, we can head towards that, but we'll stay off the track." Bobby nodded his agreement. They followed the general direction that the ATV path carved, careful to stay under any radar. Within a short time, they had found themselves observing the entrance to Sutler Mines #5. Russell crouched, watching. What the hell was that bastard up to way out here, and underground--?
Bobby crept as close as he dared, listening keenly to the group of angry men standing there. He quickly ascertained what their issue was. He gestured to Russ. "Looks like the boys managed to spring themselves." he whispered. Russell nodded, and Bobby continued, "If I know Dean at all, he'll be avoiding the easy way down the mountain, there's no point following that track anymore. Do you know any other ways down?"
Russell thought for a moment. "Spencer creek starts up here. Do you think they would have thought of following it down?"
"If that's the next logical way, then yeah, I'd say so."
Russell turned their travel in that direction. Due to his experience, and his profession, Russ Adams knew how to track. He soon found telltale signs that some one had been thinking the same way. They followed the indicators, and they came across the little creek. Bobby was relieved, but when Russell produced his UV light, his tension cranked up again. As a game warden, Russell was constantly vigilant about poaching. The worst sort of hunters, poachers shot at deer in any season, regardless of the breeding season, or the numbers. And very often, they shot wild, hitting and wounding animals, leaving the poor creatures to wander, dying cruel and agonized deaths. Russell used the UV to track blood trails, finding and dispatching injured animals that had been abandoned to their suffering.
He found a blood trail here.
"Water? ---am I hearing water--?!" Dean demanded.
Sam nodded. "Think so--" Before he could add to that, his brother was moving clumsily toward the sounds of the stream. It hadn't occurred to Sam, but Dean was ravenous with thirst. Sam followed his crashing path downwards, terrified that the sounds would alert Buell and his men. "Dean--!" he hissed in warning, over and over. Dean ignored him, and Sam found him at the water's edge, drinking like a horse that had walked through a desert.. When he saw that, Sam berated himself in silence. --of course---Dean had lost blood, and had been expending energy he could barely afford, of course he was thirsty--- Sam waited quietly while his brother consumed his fill of the cold mountain water.
"Better..?" he whispered hopefully, when Dean had finally sat back, wiping his face dry with his sleeve.
Dean nodded. "--think I swallowed a frog with that last mouthful. " he joked. He did feel a little better.
Now that they had found their direction, they pushed onward with renewed energy. Buell and his lackeys still seemed to be following the ATV trail, no one was bothering to check their chosen route, at least not yet. They kept to the stream. It was not easy travel---the creek didn't simply lead them down the mountain like arrows painted on the floor of an IKEA store. The water disappeared occasionally in boggy or swampy areas, and reappeared in unexpected places. Beavers had damned the rivulet in one place--creating a large and shallow pond. They had to skirt it's soggy edge for some distance, sliding through dank, black peaty loam that soaked their ankles and filled their nostrils with the sewage smell of methane. But the downward direction continued uninterrupted, regardless of the difficulty. At least they knew that they weren't wandering astray.
After what seemed like hours, Sam tried to get his brother to take a break. But Dean rebuffed any attempt he made to slow down. He had a wildness in his eyes that sort of scared Sam. He'd tried to get him to halt--to rest, just long enough to check him over, at least to rewrap the bandage that hung loosely from his forearm. The wooden spoon had long since rejoined the sticks and branches of the forest floor. But Dean steadfastly refused, keenly aware of the threat that followed them now in this unfamiliar territory. There were many places where Dean felt he was master of his realm, but the woods was not one of them. It was a serious disadvantage, -- their pursuers knew the land well. Dean was battling blood loss and dehydration, had been for nearly twenty four hours. But now, he was beginning to feel something else. He felt flushed, a heat had begun to radiate from his face, it was more than simply exertion. As they stumbled along through the inhospitable and uneven terrain, he found it increasingly difficult to keep from tripping on the roots and stones. He knew he should step more carefully, pay closer attention, but he felt a strange disconnect, and his feet would simply not obey such precise orders.. The shotgun slung over his back seemed insanely heavy. Sam had noticed, and he relieved him of that burden. More than once he found it necessary to steady him as they forged on.
They were both feeling the cold, but Dean shivered so hard now that he could hardly whisper coherently. Sam finally had enough. He stopped Dean silently, and with a heavy and unyielding hand, he forced him to sit on a rocky ledge.
"We're wasting time--" Dean growled.
"Shut up....this'll only take a minute." Sam shrugged off his jacket, dropping it over his brother's shoulders. He took off his watch and shone its light over Dean's injured limb, finding the end of the bandage, and he carefully unwound the loose, wet cotton. When it was free, he wrung it out as well as he could and found another piece of wood to use as a splint.
"Hurry up!" Dean whispered, irritated. He was so tired, he was afraid that if he sat much longer he'd find it difficult to get up and moving again. Even in the poor light, Sam could see the dark line of fresh blood snaking away from the wound. He re-tied the cloth strip as tightly as he could, winding in the stick as Dean flinched and swore softly.
He worried about that blood. "Do you think maybe we should tie it off again? You're still bleeding a fair bit.."
Dean shook his head. " I need to feel my fingers. I don't want to be caught one handed if they find us." It was sound reasoning under the circumstances. Sam left his doctoring at that for now.
Sam took a chance and rested his hand against Dean's cheek. He felt the heat. "Are you sure you feel ok? You feel hot to me."
Dean scowled at him. "It's not easy, ok? Yeah, so I'm a little hot, what do you expect? I hate the freaking woods! It's not like I do this every day--I'm not an extreme fitness freak like you!" He got up angrily. "Well?! are you coming or not-?"
Sam sighed and followed him. His mind whirled as he went. Dean was a stubborn SOB. His wound was so deep, and so dirty---contamination was inevitable. If they's just gotten on the road before Angus had come, Dean would have been patched up and they'd be in Bradford having beer and wings with Bobby by now. He was absorbed by that train of thought when he was startled by the reverberating shot.
"Sam!" Dean hissed. "Get down!"
Sam dove, and another series of shots rang out. The brothers rolled along the dank ground, keeping their heads from being targets. They stopped, panting, and listening. A few more bullets whizzed through the trees, with no real target. Dean was sure that they were just guessing now. He gestured to Sam. "--stay down,, just keep along the stream--!" he whispered.
They crawled along on their bellies, not daring to look up. Another random shot rang through the trees, and they heard voices wane into the distance. Finally they felt safe enough to stand.
Adrenalin is an amazing thing. While it courses through your veins, nothing is impossible. Your condition, the conditions around you--are almost irrelevant, you blaze ahead and tackle the dragons until they are vanquished. But god-forbid, it runs out, before the battle's done. Your body is left to struggle on, beaten, weakened, --while the dragons regroup. Dean had finally hit his wall.
He stumbled by the stream side, and fell to his knees, clutching his arm to his side and panting in the cold. "Sam--"
Sam whipped around. He saw his brother falter, and leapt to soften his fall. Dean crumpled and dropped to the forest floor, exhausted and in pain.
"Dean--you alright?.....Dean?!" Sam repeated, lowering him gently.
"--tired--" he managed. His ears were filled with a hissing, it muffled all other sound. His vision was fading to black, and the cold that surrounded them seemed to wrap around him now like wet linens. He wanted to say more, to reassure Sam that all he needed was moment or two. He'd get up and keep going, after a short rest. He'd lead his little brother to safety---
But his mouth refused to form the words. He felt Sam's hands take hold of him, felt him lift him from the damp leaves. He wanted to object...I just need a minute....just a few minutes....but after a moment he stopped feeling anything.
irisheyes - January 11, 2009 02:21 AM (GMT)
Glad they made it out. I just hope that they can find Bobby and Russell soon.
trickie - January 11, 2009 03:34 AM (GMT)
Oh no...no,no,no,no,and no! They finally get away from the mine and poor Dean is all but bleeding to death! Bobby and Russ had better hurry up, Dean is in real bad shape.
where's the Sin Eater? Nathan? Where are you?
Waiting for more.
denise69 - January 11, 2009 06:55 AM (GMT)
OMG!!! Poor Dean!!
Great update as usual.... Glad that you updated this story!! :cheer