Three: Hole In The World
don’t panic, Sam told himself, leaping out
of bed and nearly wrenching the bathroom door off its
hinges in an effort to find his missing brother.
not in there. Think, Sam…
Impala keys. He never goes anywhere without that
stopped abruptly as his eyes lit on the key ring still
sitting on top of the slightly lop-sided wooden dresser.
take something more valuable…
No, that had just been a dream. Sam had been dreaming.
No one had said those words to him. No one had warned
threw open the motel room door, insensible to the early
morning chill of the parking lot, the other residents
who may have been spying out of grimy windows to see
what all the noise was about, or the fact that he was
only wearing his underwear.
Impala stared back at him silently.
No, this wasn’t happening.
turned, slamming the door closed again and grabbing
couldn’t possess Dean before. The amulet wouldn’t
let him. So if this was demons…
what if it wasn’t? What if this wasn’t demons
and the thing that had been trying to get into Sam’s
head had… Taken something more valuable?
into a shirt and his jacket, Sam reached down for his
sneakers, his hand brushing against Dean’s boots,
still lined up neatly where Sam had left them last night,
under the chair by the door which…
just stood, numbly looking at his brother’s jacket
draped over the back of the chair.
was pretty chilly out and Dean didn’t have any
enough! Snap out of it, Sam! They did something to him
and you’re the only one who can find him!
yanked on his sneakers before grabbing one of the duffels
and beginning to stuff it with everything from Dean’s
sawed-off Remington to a flask of holy water, silver
bullets to rock salt rounds, a Bible to Dad’s
up the keys to the Impala, Sam grabbed Dean’s
jacket and boots before stepping out into the deserted
parking lot, slamming the motel room door shut behind
him so hard the window rattled. Stalking over to the
waiting Chevy, he yanked open the door and slid purposefully
into the driver’s seat. Then he just sat there
for a second, staring out of the windshield and breathing
Sammy, get a grip! Dean’s voice echoed in
he swore softly.
the engine, he quickly snapped off the CD player as
it began to blare out Motorhead’s The
Ace of Spades, trying not to think about how
Dean always insisted on screaming along at the top of
his lungs, head thrown back in a self-proclaimed “homage
the car into gear, he screeched out of the parking lot
without the first idea of where he was going or what
he would do when he got there, only one thought stuck
on perpetual repeat in his brain.
slung Dean’s boots and jacket onto the passenger
seat next to him and was doing his damnedest not to
keep looking at them, because looking left him hoping
that the next time he looked Dean would be sitting there
bitching about Sam ruining the Impala’s transmission.
not there, he reminded himself. But he will
be soon. He will be…
at an intersection, Sam wrenched the steering wheel,
slewing the Chevy to the left and straight through a
red light as he hurtled towards the road to Worcester.
It wasn’t even 5 a.m. and Sam figured all the
traffic cops would be sitting in some coffee shop eating
donuts. Or whatever cops who weren’t in The
Simpsons did at this unearthly time of the morning.
his foot down even harder against the accelerator, Sam
flew down the highway so fast he wouldn’t have
been surprised if he had arrived at Saint Vincent’s
Hospital before he set out, having broken through the
time-space continuum somewhere outside of Leicester.
wasn’t entirely sure why he’d decided the
hospital should be his first port of call in his search
for his brother. Maybe he was secretly hoping there
were some cops in the area and they’d found Dean
wandering along the highway in bare feet and instantly
decided he was a whack job who needed sectioning.
knew he was unlikely to get that lucky, but he at least
figured if Dean wasn’t at the hospital, then Rosa
might be able to give him some clue as to where he should
course, he also doubted Rosa would be at work at 5 a.m.,
but there was no way he was sitting around his motel
room counting ceiling tiles and waiting for office hours
to roll around while his brother was out there somewhere;
maybe not himself, not in control of his actions. Alone.
Barefoot and without a jacket.
glanced once again at the passenger seat, clamping his
lips together and pressing even harder against the accelerator.
red light was beginning to color the sky a delicate
pink by the time Sam reached the hospital parking lot,
which seemed pretty deserted, even for this ungodly
hour. Hospital staff were shift-workers after all, and
even without visitor traffic, he would have expected
the lot to be fairly busy.
it was, Sam was able to pull into a space only a few
yards from the main entrance, shifting the Impala into
park and glancing about himself, unnerved by the lack
of movement around him.
his gaze toward the E.R. entrance on the far side of
the building, he noted four ambulances parked empty
in the emergency bays, no paramedics or hospital staff
rushing around patients strapped to gurneys or in wheelchairs;
no cop cars ejecting drunks whose heads had come into
sudden and unfortunate contact with the gutter; no cabs
dropping off screaming women in imminent danger of giving
birth right there on the asphalt.
the general atmosphere was…eerie.
Dean, Sam had never really hunted alone, and while he
had no evidence to suggest anything was amiss at the
hospital, his hunter’s instincts were currently
screaming at him that he shouldn’t go in there,
not without backup.
with no backup forthcoming and his brother God knows
where, Sam didn’t have a whole lot of options.
in a breath, he swung himself out of the Impala and
made purposefully toward the glass lobby doors, which
slid noiselessly aside to admit him into the hospital.
over the threshold, he felt a chill run down his spine.
lobby was deserted.
one patient, not one visitor sat on the rigid plastic
chairs in the waiting area; no clerks or nursing staff
buzzed around the front desk, where the computers were
still switched on and a half-eaten Danish rested atop
a stack of manila folders; the elevators all stood empty,
doors gaping open and no lights flashing above to indicate
they had been summoned to another floor.
swallowed. “Hello?” he called out hesitantly,
taking a further step toward the abandoned front desk.
only response he received was the low hum of air conditioning
units and the lazy motion of screensavers.
what to do next – call the cops or just get as
far away from here as he possibly could – Sam
finally decided on a third course of action.
again and wishing he’d brought his Glock with
him now that it transpired hospital security wasn’t
something he needed to concern himself with, he strode
decisively toward the elevator bank. As he boarded one
of the cars, he silently prayed that this was all some
incredibly well-executed evacuation drill and the elevator
doors would open onto a comfortingly bustling psych
he would even have been happy to see Nurse Schwarzenegger
scowling at him over her glasses right about then.
it was not to be, the elevator doors opening only to
reveal another floor as deserted and desolate as the
cautiously along the hallway, the flat of his left hand
pressed against the cold gray wall, the first thing
Sam noticed was that the entrance to the psych ward’s
secure dayroom was no longer barred, the gateway hanging
open at a crazy angle from only one hinge still secured
at the top.
his way slowly into the dayroom, he ran his gaze over
upturned tables and broken chairs, several drugs carts
piled atop one another in the center of the room like
some whacky avant-garde sculpture.
he said quietly, clearing his throat before managing
to repeat the greeting a little louder. “Anyone
no answers in the affirmative forthcoming, Sam crossed
the dayroom and made for a doorway that had been securely
locked on his and Dean’s previous visit but now
hung open, the metal door almost twisted right out of
entering the psych ward’s secure accommodation,
Sam shuddered when he realized the door to each small
room branching off the main hallway was hanging open,
the occupants long gone, beds unmade and empty, possessions
strewn all over the floor.
was incredibly bad.
backed up a few steps before making to turn back toward
the dayroom, sucking in a sharp breath when a dark shape
suddenly flung itself at him from one of the rooms he’d
off guard, he was knocked backwards, hitting the wall
with a thud as he instinctively brought up his arms
to protect his head from whatever was attacking him,
steeling himself for the inevitable punch, kick, bite
or recurrent strangulation that generally accompanied
occurrences such as these.
nothing happened after several seconds of breathless
waiting, he cautiously lowered his arms, only to find
himself eyeball to eyeball with a disheveled Doctor
Mister, can you help me?”
hair hung wildly around her shoulders, crisp white lab
coat gone completely, eyes sunken and hollow and staring
at him as if he were the last lifeboat on the Titanic.
– Rosa?” Sam straightened, frowning at the
young woman, whose pretty face was contorted into a
look of confused agony. “Are you –”
he reached out a hand toward her, but she lurched back,
covering her head with her arms, much as Sam had done
mister, I’m sorry!” she burst out, cowering
away from him. “I never meant to do it! I never!
I never saw the baby…”
frowned at her, hands held out at shoulder height to
prove he had no intention of hurting her. “Rosa?”
he said quietly, perplexed by the doctor’s sudden
change in demeanor. Not to mention her sudden change
of accent. He couldn’t quite place it, but he
was inexplicably reminded of Dick Van Dyke in Mary
woman looked up at him cautiously, slowly lowering her
arms away from her face. “I never saw no baby,
mister, I swear!”
swallowed, deciding to play a hunch. “What’s
your name?” he asked neutrally.
stiffened, back suddenly ramrod straight, shoulders
back, eyes front, and Sam was uncomfortably reminded
of a twelve-year-old Dean standing to attention in front
of their father. “Private Frederick Clarke, sir,”
the doctor snapped out smartly. “His Majesty’s
nodded. “How did you get here, Private?”
eyes flickered uncertainly. “Lost the rest of
me regiment, sir,” she said, a trace of embarrassment
in her confused voice. “Can’t find ’em
nowhere, sir. Looked everywhere I did.” Her eyes
were suddenly downcast, shoulders drooping again.
the last thing you remember?” Sam asked gently.
seemed to shrink in on herself. “Boston, sir.
Fighting the rebels, sir. The Patriots. And I –
I –” She broke off, suddenly burying her
head in her hands. “Didn’t see no baby.
Musket just went off in me hand. Didn’t mean…”
put a gentle hand on the young woman’s shoulder,
and although she flinched slightly, she didn’t
pull away. “Is that when you lost your regiment,
seemed to ponder that. “Terrible pain in me back,
sir. Like – like nothing I ever felt before. And
then – then I was – I was somewhere else.
Alone. Not here. And there was –” Her eyes
widened, absolute terror suddenly reflected in her dark
irises. “Fire!” she cried out. “There
was fire, sir! Burning. Pain beyond imagining.”
She pulled away from him again, backing up against the
corridor wall and sliding down, curling herself into
a ball on the floor, her head buried against her knees.
“Fire. Terrible. Brimstone. Brimstone…”
She began to rock slowly backwards and forwards, shaking
her head from side to side and repeating the words,
“Never saw the baby. Never saw the baby…”
over and over.
sighed. He wasn’t getting anything else out of
Doctor Benjamin right now, and she sure as hell wasn’t
going to be any help in finding Dean. The best thing
he could do for her would be to track Dean down, figure
out what the hell was doing this to her town and finish
it before there was no town left for them to save.
gently patted her shoulder before backing slowly away
from her in the direction of the dayroom. “I’ll
get help for you,” he promised. “I swear,
you won’t be alone for long.”
meant to kill the baby, sir. Didn’t see it…”
* * *
was exceeding the speed limit.
a little bit.
Sam was way exceeding the speed limit.
justified his blatant disregard for highway safety with
the fact he hadn’t seen a single vehicle the entire
trip from Worcester to Leicester and that his brother
could be in some kind of mortal danger. If some deputy
with a radar gun tried to pull him over, then he figured
they deserved the humiliation that would undoubtedly
follow when they found themselves eating the Impala’s
course, if he wrapped the aforementioned Impala around
a tree in his bid to escape local law enforcement, he
was pretty sure Dean would be less than pleased.
was just after 7 a.m. now, and he should have been seeing
signs of life as he crossed into Leicester. But there
was no one; no early morning joggers or dog walkers;
no delivery vans or kids on bikes delivering the morning
paper; no cops, no buses, no cabs. No nothing.
he neared the town center he began to realize why.
was almost like a scene out of one of those cheesy ’70s
disaster flicks with Chuck Heston or Doug McClure. There
were people everywhere – fighting, looting, running
from something. Although Sam wasn’t convinced
they knew from what, constantly glancing over their
shoulders as they stumbled onward, no idea where they
were going, picking their way through abandoned vehicles,
torn down billboards, glass littering the sidewalks
from smashed store windows.
cacophony of intruder alarms almost drowned out the
wailing and the screaming, and Sam had to swerve almost
onto the sidewalk to avoid a man brandishing what looked
like a metal fence post stumbling down the middle of
the road, yelling in Russian as he waved his makeshift
weapon toward the heavens.
a breath, Sam briefly considered what Dean would do
to him if he left the Impala here and something happened
to it. But, figuring he could live with whatever punishment
Dean saw fit to dish out, as long as he had Dean back
to dish it, he cautiously exited the big Chevy, his
Glock gripped firmly in his right hand and his brother’s
silver Colt tucked in at the small of his back.
edging his way down the main road into town, it was
becoming all too clear to Sam the place was a total
that that had been no dream he’d had last night.
seemed the locals had all had their own nocturnal visitations,
but they obviously hadn’t been able to fight off
– whatever it was – the way Sam had.
neither had Dean.
again, his mind tracked back to the way he had “reflected”
Alyssa’s memory-stealing powers back onto her;
the way he had “reflected” the spell the
shaman had cast to create the tupilaq back in Canada.
Maybe he had done something similar to the – whatever
it was – that had tried to take possession of
him last night?
apparently, had not been so fortunate.
checked himself mentally, refusing to give in to the
wave of guilt that always came crashing down over him
whenever he considered his dubious “gifts.”
After all, it wasn’t his fault he’d
been able to fight this thing off when the rest of the
town couldn’t. It wasn’t his fault
these other people – and Dean specifically –
hadn’t been so lucky. They’d been defenseless.
So maybe even though most of the time he didn’t
feel particularly “gifted,” this actually
was a gift – because he was still in
control of his faculties, still able to save his brother
from whatever currently had a hold on him.
he would save Dean. Of that he had no doubt.
at least, he had no room for doubt.
was counting on him, and so was the rest of this town.
Time to step up and be a hero. Like Dad. Like Dean.
Not the sub always waiting in the dugout for his one
chance at glory.
course, this was never about glory for Sam. Saving
people, hunting things… Saving Dean. That
was all that mattered to him right now, all he could
up in his own considerable angst, he almost collided
headlong with a young woman he vaguely recognized as
the waitress from the diner where he and Dean had eaten
the night before. Belinda? Bonnie?
He caught hold of the young woman’s shoulders
and she glanced up at him, sparkling blue eyes now dull
and desperate, devoid of any spark of recognition. Which
was surprising, considering she’s made several
rather – uh – forward suggestions
to both Sam and Dean during the course of their meal,
and had they not both been so exhausted, Sam was pretty
sure Dean at least might have taken her up on a couple
right?” Sam repeated the name, shaking her slightly.
“Waitress at the diner down the street?”
girl seemed to straighten then, righteous indignation
finally igniting some fire in her eyes. “Young
man,” she said, a pronounced southern cadence
in her accent that definitely hadn’t been there
last night. “I am certainly no waitress! I’ll
have you know my husband owns the largest cotton plantation
in all of Georgia!”
frowned. “Your –?”
in the family for generations,” Brenda continued
haughtily. “Renowned throughout the country! Why,
we have over a hundred Negroes working our land! My
husband paid a small fortune importing them from Africa
or wherever it is they come from…” She shook
her head, eyes suddenly downcast. “Although if
this Lincoln fellow has his way, well I honestly don’t
know what will happen. Emancipation indeed.”
She said the word as if it left a bitter aftertaste
on her tongue. “For Negroes! Did you ever hear
of such a ridiculous thing?”
baulked slightly. “Wait,” he stopped her
with a wave of his hand, ducking as something flew over
his head and smashed into the streetlight on the corner
of the block. He never even turned around to assess
the damage, continuing to stare at the person formerly
known as Brenda in complete horror. “Let me get
this straight,” he managed, when he once again
had control of his vocal cords. “Your husband’s
a slave owner?”
returned Sam’s horrified gaze guilelessly, as
if owning slaves was the most normal thing in the world.
“Well of course he is!” she burst out, blinking
in a way that suggested naive ignorance rather than
malevolence. “Who else would tend our crop if
not for the Negroes?”
did a reasonable impersonation of a goldfish, opening
and closing his mouth several times before finally managing
to splutter out, “But you – you can’t
own another person –!”
girl giggled merrily. “Oh, but they’re not
just stared at her mutely, the rational side of his
brain telling him whoever was currently borrowing Brenda’s
body was a product of her time, her society and her
education. The emotional side of his brain, however,
was struggling to resist the urge to shake some sense
deciding he really didn’t have the time or the
energy to get into an argument on the immorality of
slavery with a twenty-year-old waitress who believed
herself an early nineteenth century plantation owner’s
wife, Sam just shook his head and sighed. “Listen,
Brenda,” he began, figuring from the look on her
face that right now she didn’t take too kindly
to being addressed by that name. “I gotta find
my brother. I don’t guess you’ve seen him,
huh? The guy who was with me in the diner last night?
Y’know, yay big, short hair, loud mouth and kinda
– uh – pretty in a guy sort of way?”
Brenda continued to stare at him vacantly, and he wondered
whether he was suddenly speaking in Swahili. “You
were pretty much trying to get in his pants all evening,”
he added helpfully.
angry slap to the face kind of took Sam by surprise
just a little bit, and when Brenda turned on her heel
and began to stalk away, squeaking, “Young man,
if you’re suggesting what I think you’re
suggesting… Well, I am not that kind
of woman!” followed by a string of affronted mutterings
about never having been so offended in her entire life
and having her attorney sue Sam for slander, Sam figured
letting her go would probably be for the best; she wasn’t
going to be any more help in finding Dean than Dr. Benjamin
had been. And right now, that was pretty much all that
mattered to him.
on into the town center, it wasn’t long before
Sam stumbled across another familiar face, this time
the weedy teenaged motel clerk who had checked them
into their room last night without once taking his eyes
off the TV balanced on the corner of the front desk.
He was about five feet five, weighed about a hundred
and thirty pounds soaking wet and was utterly convinced
he was an Irish navy building a railway tunnel in nineteenth
century England when it collapsed in on him, burying
him alive. He’d then burst forth into a litany
of Hail Marys as he confessed to having slept with his
brother’s wife, and, God forgive him, he never
meant for it to happen.
although once again disappointed in his quest to find
someone who might lead him to Dean, was beginning to
put together a pattern, something all of these people
from the past had in common: They were mostly horrible
human beings. Killers, adulterers, thieves and liars
almost to a man. Or woman. Or woman who thought she
was a man.
they weren’t demons.
a corner, he almost tripped over a stocky figure curled
into a ball on the sidewalk, head on his knees as he
rocked back and forth, much as Sam had last seen Rosa.
knelt down next to the engineer, one gentle hand on
the young man’s shoulder.
You hear me?”
didn’t even seem to register his presence, mumbling
jumbled words under his breath in a language Sam couldn’t
far this morning, Sam had seen countless people like
Malik dotted around Leicester’s streets, islands
of stillness in the midst of chaos, all in some state
of deep shock or trauma, pressed into doorways or curled
up behind dumpsters, in the grip of fear so terrifying,
so bone-deep that it was all they could do just to breathe.
had visited a couple of VA hospitals with his dad when
he was younger, when John had been looking up old buddies
from the Corps. So he recognized Post-Traumatic Stress
Disorder when he saw it.
people had been through something truly horrifying,
witnessed something beyond their ability to process
it, to deal with it. Something terrible. Something Hellish.
at least, they believed they had.
continued to hold on to Malik’s shoulder as the
engineer’s incoherent mumblings were gradually
replaced by silent sobs, the sidewalk beginning to send
a chill up through his knees as he gazed around the
stricken town, not entirely sure what to do next.
didn’t know what this was, what was afflicting
these people, but if the same thing had taken Dean then
he needed to find his brother. Right now.
where to look?
eyes drifted down to Malik’s ID card, still clipped
to his jacket, a little askew but clearly showing the
logo of the local utilities company, a flowing river
forming the initials MPW – Massachusetts Power
then it hit him.
where the people had been congregating before this happened,
where some of the more acutely affected residents of
Leicester had said goodbye to the world.
consciousness that had tried to take control of Sam
last night hadn’t seemed desperate, just determined,
but Sam had no way of knowing whether the same entity
had taken his brother. “We’ll take something
more valuable,” she’d said, implying
she – it – was but one of many. And she
had been a whole lot more lucid than the people Sam
saw all around him, wandering around like lost souls
looking for pieces of their lives to pick back up.
Malik’s shoulder again, Sam murmured, “I’ll
get you some help, man, I swear,” before slowly
rising to his feet, pulling the young man up with him.
The engineer didn’t resist, merely looked at Sam
with tear-filled eyes and nodded slowly.
swallowed. He’d been wandering the streets of
this town for a good few hours now – the sun was
already high in the sky – and he still had no
clue where to find Dean or whether he was in an even
worse shape than Malik.
what could it hurt to check out the river?
stomach lurched slightly as he pondered that, the people
who had thrown themselves into the water not knowing
what they were doing; the corpses rising bloated and
lifeless to the bloody surface days later.
had to find Dean. Before it was too late.
Malik behind him, he started to run.
Outside Leicester, MA
slewed the Impala into the same graveled parking lot
Dean almost parked in the day before, opening
the door before he’d even shut off the engine.
at Malik, who was curled in on himself on the passenger
seat, Sam exited the Chevy and carried out a brief visual
recon of the area, noting how deserted it seemed compared
to yesterday. Only one lone figure dressed all in black
was anywhere within Sam’s field of vision, standing
by the edge of the river slightly downstream from his
blew out a frustrated breath when he realized it wasn’t
Dean, running a hand through his hair as he scanned
the area for any further signs of life.
water was still bloody, but it looked as if yesterday’s
glut of corpses had been removed overnight, and Sam
was about to turn back to the Impala when the guy further
down the riverbank suddenly began to wade into the crimson
Fearing another attempted suicide, Sam sprinted toward
the man, slowing as he drew level with him. “Sir!
Just – just come back up onto the bank! I can
help you –!”
God can help me,” the man said calmly, not turning
back as he continued to wade out into the river. “Only
God can help all of us.”
recognized the determined voice as that of Elijah Warriner,
the preacher he and Dean had seen here yesterday. “Sir
made a move toward the edge of the water, but Warriner
had stopped his forward movement, the bloody currents
only reaching up to his chest.
Lord,” the man said, raising his head and his
hands toward the heavens. “With this water, wash
away my sins. Make me clean, make me innocent. Free
me from my past transgressions. Let your waters cleanse
me, oh Lord! Wash away my sin with your grace and let
your waters run as pure as the heart that beats within
stood watching as the preacher continued his prayer,
relaxing slightly once he realized Warriner wasn’t
about to kill himself, but was instead attempting some
kind of self-baptism. Sam wasn’t sure whether
baptism in blood could ever be a good thing, but right
now maybe the preacher’s faith was all the town
and its inhabitants had going for it.
attention wandered further downstream, where the waters
became choppier as they headed off into the rapids which
in turn led to a small waterfall known locally as Devil’s
Gorge. The current was faster flowing once it passed
beneath the rusty bridge upstream, but Sam figured the
preacher would be safe between the two as long as he
stuck to the shallows.
sound of a car pulling up behind him alerted Sam to
the arrival of a dirty brown Ford pickup that halted
with a jerk and a spray of gravel before a middle-aged
couple jumped out and headed straight for the riverbank
nearest the preacher’s position, passing Sam by
as if he wasn’t even there.
began to turn toward the couple when the muted midday
sunlight glinting off something shiny up on the bridge
suddenly caught his attention. Squinting, he felt himself
compelled to move toward the shiny object, his footsteps
speeding up to match the increasing rhythm of his heart
as he realized the thing up on the bridge glinting at
him was attached to a figure moving toward the center
of the span. Like the person was wearing a necklace.
Or an amulet.
said the name slowly, uncertainly, pace quickening to
a trot as the figure on the bridge stopped dead center
and began to climb the rickety-looking safety railing.
broke into a run, eyes never straying from the figure
on the bridge; the figure straddling the railing; the
figure about to jump.
sprinted to the bridge’s footings, looking up
into his brother’s vacant eyes as the older Winchester
swayed slightly in the wind beginning to pick up along
Don’t!” Sam yelled, feet pounding against
the bridge’s metal footplates as he raced toward
his brother’s position, skidding to an abrupt
halt six feet away from him as Dean suddenly raised
a 9mm Beretta and aimed it at his little brother’s
raised both hands in a gesture of surrender, visually
checking Dean over for injuries as he balanced precariously
atop the railing, the gun trembling in his hand. Aside
from the paleness of his face and the wild terror in
his eyes, he seemed to be in one piece.
he didn’t have any shoes on his feet.
Sam said softly, voice artificially calm. “Dean,
it’s okay. Just come down from there. Everything’s
going to be okay.”
stared at him unblinkingly, a tiny frown creasing between
his eyebrows as the Beretta continued to tremble. “Don’t!”
he said, a pleading quality to his voice Sam didn’t
ever remember hearing before. “Please! The –
the water. I have to – I have to – to put
out the fire. I have to put out the fire.”
swallowed, eyes never leaving his brother’s. “There’s
no fire, Dean,” he assured him softly, resisting
the urge to rush over and grab hold of his brother for
fear of causing him to lose his balance and fall into
the fast-flowing water below. “There’s no
fire. Come back over here and let me help you.”
if in response, Dean swung his other leg over the railing
until he was balanced precariously on the opposite side
of the barrier, Sam lurching forward a step before Dean
once again brought the automatic to bear in his direction.
to get away from the fire,” Dean insisted, his
voice sounding odd, somehow not his own, as if his throat
was raw and scratchy from breathing in smoke.
nothing’s on fire, it’s okay –”
let it get me! Please!”
–” Dean never talked about the fire that
had taken their mother, and Sam couldn’t help
wondering whether whatever had taken control of Dean’s
body had somehow released the childhood trauma locked
up in his brain. “The fire’s not here. It’s
not going to hurt you –”
not going back.” Dean squeezed his eyes closed,
the barrel of the Beretta pressed against his temple.
“You can’t make me go back there!”
–” Sam made another abortive lurch toward
him, but Dean once again brought the gun back up in
can’t make me go back!” he insisted. “It’s
like – like drowning. But – but in fire.
Drowning in fire. And – and you can’t breathe
and you can’t move and you can’t pull yourself
out because it’s everywhere and it’s
always and forever and there’s never ever any
end to it…” He trailed off, rubbing the
heels of his hands into his eye sockets, the Beretta
dangerously close to his head. “I can’t
go back there,” he whispered at length. “I
can’t. Please don’t make me go back…”
It slowly dawned on Sam Dean wasn’t talking about
Kansas. In fact, Sam didn’t think it was Dean
doing the talking at all.
Dean’s voice broke on the single syllable. “I
can’t go back. The fire – the – the
screaming. The noise of it. The heat of it. Fire and
brimstone, just like they warned us. And – and
the Beast. Always there. Always watching. Always hurting…
I can’t –” His hand trembled, the
Beretta dropping to his side as he ran his left hand
over his face. “No more. I can’t. I can’t.
No more. Please don’t let them take me back there!
Hellfire and brimstone and – and demons.
I never meant – I didn’t think – I
didn’t think it was real. I didn’t
think they’d really send me there! After.
After I – when I –” He looked at Sam
suddenly, blinking tears out of his eyes. “When
don’t send me back there.”
Sam took a cautious step forward, hands still raised
placatingly. “Dean, that’s not you. You’ve
not been there. It’s the thing inside you! You
have to fight it! Understand? You have to fight it,
blinked at him, the gun lowered a few more inches. “I
can’t go back –”
whoever you think you are right now, that’s not
you! Something – someone – has taken control
of you! Dean, listen to me –”
was Sam’s turn to blink. “It’s me,
Dean,” he said after a second’s pause to
collect himself. “It’s Sam. Your brother,
Sam. Sammy.” He smiled awkwardly, and Dean just
continued to gaze at him. “And you’re Dean.
Dean John Winchester. You were born in Lawrence, Kansas,
January 24th 1979. Your dad’s name is John. Your
mom was called Mary. And I’m your geeky kid brother,
right? Sam. You remember me, Dean? Huh?”
continued to stare at him, brow creasing slightly. “She
had – long blonde hair…” he stammered
Yes!” Sam agreed enthusiastically. “Mom!
You remember Mom!”
frowned again. “I remember fire.”
bit his lip. “It’s okay,” he repeated,
although he wasn’t entirely sure he meant it this
time. “It’s okay, Dean.”
brought the Beretta back up as he once again rubbed
at his temple with his right hand, seemingly oblivious
to the weapon now held slackly between trembling fingers
as a look of stark confusion darkened his features.
“Fire and brimstone,” he mumbled. “Fire
your brother outside –”
breath hitched in his throat as his brother’s
eyes slowly rose to meet his own.
recognition rippled across Dean’s face for the
briefest of instants, the 9mm dropping heavily to his
side while with his left hand his grip increased on
the rusty railing, knuckles whitening as Sam pressed
home his advantage, making a swift and sudden lunge
for Dean’s wrist.
that split second, however, something altered in Dean’s
expression, breaking apart and reforming into the fearful
look of a cornered animal, and Dean once again brought
the Beretta up to shoulder height and pointed it straight
at his baby brother. “No! Have to put out the
to slow his forward momentum despite the weapon now
aimed squarely between his eyes, Sam only registered
the sharp crack of a gunshot as he crashed headlong
into the railing, all the air driven from his body as
pain lanced out from the point of impact with the rusty
metal and his arm collided with Dean’s hand, knocking
the Beretta from his grip and sending it tumbling into
the waters below them.
decaying barrier groaned ominously as Sam’s powerful
frame slammed into already weakened support struts,
the railing finally giving out and crumbling into little
more than metallic dust as Sam fell through, barreling
into his brother.
eyes met Dean’s as he felt himself briefly suspended,
time seeming to stop as gravity paused before reasserting
its inevitable hold.
he was falling, one had clutching Dean’s t-shirt
at the shoulder, the other encircling his brother’s
wrist as the brackish waters of the bloody River Quabaug
rose up to meet them, claiming them with icy fingers
as it pulled them down into the churning darkness below…
the episode here