Thirteen: No Second Chances
Sutton Hallam Aviation Museum,
let his ancient bicycle freewheel as he headed down the slope
toward the old airfield. It was a dry, perfectly clear morning
that reminded the old soldier of days when the base was still
As he sped
down the rutted lane, bike bobbing over potholes, he remembered
the drone of engines that had been replaced by the whoosh of
jet turbines, which in turn had eventually be replaced by the
simple sounds of the country.
had been a bustling base during World War II, but now time itself
was the enemy, and the old place was nothing more than a defunct
site turned out to pasture – much like Harry.
Harry knew that things could have been a lot worse, both for
himself and the old airfield. Most places like this ended up
overgrown with weeds or turned into some industrious farmer’s
next project for genetically modified crops.
Sutton Hallam was preserving the past. It was a museum now.
A place dedicated to the airmen who had lived and died here
over the years.
his bike begin to slow and realized he’d been daydreaming
again. He was almost at the main gate and would run into the
wire fencing if he didn’t hit the brakes.
the levers lightly on the handlebars he brought the bike to
a halt and hopped from its rusty frame more lithely than his
years should allow.
life in the old soldier yet, he inwardly chuckled to himself
as he leaned his trusty steed against the airfield fence and
mopped his brow with his cap.
skywards at the rising sun, noting that he was sweating already.
It was going to be a glorious morning, and he needed to get
busy before the tourists arrived.
along the edge of the field towards the visitors’ center
where he regularly volunteered to work, Harry began to ponder
just what new adventures the day would bring.
souvenirs to cheeky kids or less-than-understanding parents
could sometimes be a tricky job – but someone had to do
it to keep the museum going. The upkeep of the aircraft here
cost thousands, after all.
As he approached
the main hangar, Harry paused and took a breath, his chest wheezing.
Perhaps all the cycling was a little too much for him after
all. He took a moment to close his eyes and regain his composure,
using the chirping of insects and abundance of birdsong to soothe
his weary lungs calmed, and he opened his eyes again, expecting
to see the broken concrete of the airstrip in front of him.
just in front of the lone remaining hangar, was a shadow.
assuming his aging eyes were seeing things.
in a USAAF uniform was walking across the runway, a figure that
somehow looked faded, incomplete.
chest began to heave again, and his heart joined in the frantic
motion, thundering against his ribcage as he suspected, nay
realized, what he was seeing.
been rumors of late. A ghostly pilot that haunted the field.
Harry, a none-believer, was witnessing it too.
man’s hands began to shake, and it was all he could do
not to drop the cap wedged between his left thumb and forefinger.
And yet, he was still strangely compelled to watch the ghost.
stared, wide-eyed, the apparition began to run, and as the thing’s
gait increased, it was joined by the droning sound of four Boeing
gaze from the spirit just long enough to look further down the
cracked runway, Harry could see the outline of a Flying Fortress
bomber fading in and out of existence.
seemed to run towards the olive drab aircraft, and eventually
appeared to clamber on board via a hatch under the front of
sounds grew louder, as if the pilot was increasing the throttles
ready for takeoff.
feel the thinning hair on his scalp blowing backwards as the
phantom engines grew closer, roaring, propellers spinning wildly
as they dragged the metal behemoth skywards.
as quickly as it had appeared, the plane and its ghostly cargo
and leaned forward, hands pressing on his knees as he almost
doubled over with fright.
always said I shouldn’t have that tot of brandy in my
tea in the morning, he told himself. But I need a little Dutch
courage from somewhere on those darn winding lanes. A man could
get knocked off his ride as easy as…
easy as he could see things that aren’t there if he had
a wee dram too many…
Harry straightened up.
he had convinced himself he’d been delusional from the
effects of alcohol, but because there was a new sound assaulting
his tired ears.
time, they weren’t in multiples of fours, they were single.
his eyes from the morning sun and instinctively looked up. He’d
heard the sound of these particular engines before at re-enactments
– they belonged to German Messerschmitts used during the
ether above him was empty and Harry couldn’t help but
blink, stretching his eyelids to convince himself what was happening.
appeared and disappeared, engine noises that had no source.
None of it made any sense.
still trying to work it all out when the rebuilt conn tower
to his left suddenly exploded in a hail of invisible bullets.
The brickwork was torn open, and the wooden door was splintered
so badly that it teetered and then dropped from its groaning
old military training taking hold, Harry made a dive for the
ground as more strafing ripped into the earth around him. He
rolled and rolled, his aging body screaming as muscles he hadn’t
used in years were forced to work.
from the old soldier’s eyes as he tried to comprehend
how or why he was being targeted.
the Luftwaffe engines grew closer and closer, until eventually,
Harry couldn’t help but look up one last time.
And as his
gaze locked on the diving aircraft, Harry realized he was looking
directly into the eyes of the man who was going to kill him.
pilot fired one last time, the shells from his ME109’s
guns tearing into Harry Sedgwick until the old man’s shredded
body could sustain his life no longer.
quickly as it had come to pass, the phenomenon was gone, leaving
a grieving Wiltshire countryside to mourn its dead as it once
had before so many years ago….
the doorbell for the fourth time and wondered just why he was
standing on the porch of such a nice house when he could be
oozed money, and no doubt the owner had enough of the stuff
stuffed in his wallet to make him a prize dick to boot. Not
that Dean wouldn’t take some of that cash off the guy
if he offered it up for spook-hunting services rendered, but
that was unlikely to happen.
were usually also tightwads.
me again why we’re here, Sammy?” Dean groaned, stealing
a glance across the road to where he’d parked the Impala.
here because the house’s owner called us up and asked
for help,” Sam supplied. “And because said owner
was a friend of Dad’s.”
“Yeah, well I don’t recall Dad ever mentioning any
retired Airforce Colonels named Billy Woodward…”
He poked his finger hard on the bell button again in annoyance.
because our dad is sooo talkative…”
painted white door behind Sam finally moved and a gentle-looking
old man, clearly in his eighties, greeted both brothers with
a thin smile.
a moment to appraise the pair before him, the graying Colonel
offered up a hand obviously gnarled with arthritis. “John’s
boys,” he visibly brightened. “I knew I could count
on the Winchesters for this.”
could ask what they were being counted on for, the old-timer
vanished back inside his lavish home, leaving them to follow
passageway led off into several side rooms, and Woodward made
a beeline for the third on the right, which turned out to be
a small library.
his frail body behind a desk and sank into a weathered chair
that had the same texture as his craggy skin.
Sam pulled up a chair each from a selection that lined one wall
and sat in front of their host as he poured them all a Glenmorangie.
Colonel Woodward,” Sam began as he accepted the scotch.
“What exactly is it we can do for you?”
took a sip of his own drink and gazed out of the window, apparently
savoring the urban vista. Eventually, he took a deep, wheezy
breath and began. “During the second World War, I served
in England as a B17 pilot. Just recently, I’ve learned
that my old base may be being haunted, and I’d like you
two to investigate…”
hide his surprise and grimaced before his mind caught up with
his facial muscles. “You want us to go to England just
to gank a spook? Don’t they have hunters over the pond?”
at his brother. “Actually, Dad knows some pretty good
hunters in the UK.” His brow furrowed as he apparently
realized this had a deeper meaning. “So why would Dad
suggest us to the Colonel when there are perfectly good people
smiled, and, placing his tumbler down, leaned over to clasp
his hands together on the desk. “I’ll tell you why,
boys. Because this is no ordinary ghost.”
convinced – especially not when the prospect of getting
on a plane was looming ever closer. “Oh yeah, so who is
it, friggin’ Elvis?” he muttered slightly disrespectfully
under his breath.
smile faltered and his expression saddened, the creases of his
skin seeming to increase a thousand fold until he looked like
a taller version of Yoda. “No…the ghost is me!”
me, sir, but..?” Sam questioned. “How can a ghost
be of you when you’re…”
alive?” Woodward shrugged. “I don’t know,
but what I do know is that every witness who has seen the spirit
identifies it as me – or at least me when I was about
nineteen. And then there’s the plane.”
plane?” Dean dared to ask, abruptly wishing Woodward
would fill up his suddenly empty tumbler.
nodded. “People don’t just see a ghost of me, they
see a B17 – my B17. Every aircrew back then named
their bird and mine was called “No Second Chances.”
Me and the boys renamed her after we nearly bought the farm
on our first rookie mission. You soon learned back in those
days that you didn’t get any second chances in our line
of work. One mistake, that was all it took, and you were snuffed
witnesses are sure it’s your plane?” Sam pushed.
Billy sighed. “They’ve seen the name on the side
of the ghost plane as it taxies down Sutton Hallam runway and
a hand through the spikes of his hair as he often did when something
was puzzling him. “You have to know this is impossible,
right?” he eventually suggested to the Colonel. “You’re
either a spook, or you’re not. Maybe the plane we could
fathom, but how can your ghost be haunting a place when you’re
still in the land of the living?”
slid the top from the whiskey bottle and poured each of his
guests another large drink, eventually stopping off at his own
tumbler to do the same. “I don’t know how, that’s
why I asked for the best – the Winchesters.”
I don’t mean to be rude.” Dean took a swig of the
single malt he’d been given and savored it. “But
why do you even care about something happening all those miles
away? So the spook looks like you, why do you care?”
man’s sad look grew in intensity, his eyes almost blinking
back tears of regret, and maybe something more. “Because
in the last manifestation, someone died. Old Harry was a friend
of mine who used to volunteer out at the airfield museum. Last
week, he was cut down by what appeared to be a strafing run
from none-existent aircraft. The local police, are, of course
you think it’s all part and parcel of what’s happening
there?” Sam was nodding as if the gig was becoming more
and more like their kind of case.
desperately to nudge him and say it wasn’t, but try as
he might, he couldn’t bring himself to let Sam, or Woodward,
this was their kind of job, and if their dad had thought the
Colonel needed them, who were they to doubt it?
why isn’t Dad here himself? Dean’s mind questioned.
This is his friend, his gig…
of course, John was off doing something secretive again. Something
even they weren’t privy to yet. And it was something big.
do you think you can help?”
Woodward ask the question, and was vaguely aware of Sam suggesting
that they could.
argument to give, save for his fear of long-haul flights and
utter dread at leaving behind the Impala, Dean simply nodded,
wondering deep inside how he all-too-often let himself be railroaded
by his younger sibling.
never mind him being a special kid, he was definitely some kinda
hypnotist in another life…
Avis Car Hire
Sam watched his brother circle the car they’d been given
by the rental company for the tenth time and only just managed
to stifle a grin.
up on the plane had made Dean more than just a little wired,
and anyone or anything he came in contact with for the next
hour or so was going to find out just how much with more than
a few choice expletives.
the little car’s fault, it wasn’t England’s
fault, but Dean was going to vent anyway, and Sam knew it.
against the driver’s side window and squinted at the steering
wheel as if it were an angry poltergeist. “Jeez,”
he bemoaned. “I forgot we have to drive on the wrong friggin’
side of the road in Merry Old…”
some more, nose puckering in disgust at the size, or lack of
size, of the vehicle. “Sammy, what is this thing, a roller-skate?
Hell, it’s so small I need one for each foot and then
some.” Dean’s arms wafted skywards in defeat. “And
what kind of a name for a car is a ‘Vauxhall Corsa’
for crying out loud?”
Sam’s features did pucker into a grin. “Actually,
it’s a GM…”
expression changed from loathing to one of apprehension. “Great,
just great, you’ll be telling me next it has a mind of
its own, like those freakish things in Michigan!”
his head, finding it hard to believe sometimes just how childish
his ass-kicking brother could be. And it wasn’t even that
Dean was mad at Sam for luring him over the pond – no,
Dean was mad at himself for allowing it to happen, and for actually
stepping onto the Boeing at L.A.X.
and Dean Winchester?”
up first to see a thin, angular looking man with a well-trimmed
beard approaching them.
lilt to his voice said he hailed from Scotland, rather than
Wiltshire, and his casual, but well dressed appearance suggested
he was here on business rather than pleasure.
could answer the man, Dean had stepped in front of the Corsa’s
hood, arms crossed, looking more confrontational than civil.
“Who’s asking?” He snapped, obviously still
tetchy with jetlag.
didn’t seem to take offence and offered up a hand. “Alan
Hamilton, I’m the owner of Sutton Hallam.”
the proffered palm and shook it. If Dean was going to be a rude
ass, then he’d have to make up for it. “I’m
Sam, this is my brother Dean. How did you know we were here?”
shrugged. “Billy Woodward gave me a call and asked me
to meet you here. He thought it best if I take you out to the
airfield and bring you up to speed on what’s been going
me for saying this, but you two don’t look like the most
likely of buddies there, Haggis.” Dean shot Hamilton an
unsavory glance that suggested he had already taken a dislike
to the man.
squirmed. Dean’s intuition was rarely wrong, but being
out and out offensive wasn’t going to get them the information
they needed. Besides, this guy seems nice enough. Maybe
a little up himself, but that’s businessmen for you…
seemed to sense Sam’s pain and simply smiled at Dean’s
remark. He was apparently a man who could control his emotions
way better than a certain Winchester.
that immediately make him a suspect in whatever was going on
out at the field?
realizing he was being scrutinized like an ant under a microscope,
Hamilton continued to answer the brothers’ questions,
although Sam couldn’t help wondering whether he actually
did realize and was one step ahead of the game.
was a friend of my father’s. They were both old-school
pilots who wanted to leave Sutton Hallam behind as a legacy
to those who died there. I barely know him, really. We talk
on the phone occasionally, and Woodward makes the odd donation
to help keep the planes we have flying…”
his tongue. “Figures,” he muttered. “Funny
how most things always come down to greenbacks.”
Hamilton almost broke into a grin as he retorted. “Actually,
pounds here, Mr Winchester.”
well, Haggis, you can take your pounds, and your midget-mobile
cars and shove them right…”
his brother’s shoulders, snapped open the Corsa’s
door, and pushed his brother inside. Looking back to Hamilton
apologetically, he could almost feel himself blushing.
seemed to appreciate the sincerity of the move and nodded good-naturedly.
He pointed to a Land Rover Discovery parked a short distance
away. “It’ll take a while to get back to the airfield.
Make sure your brother keeps close. I wouldn’t want you
to get lost on your first day here…”
I’m already wishing I could get lost on this pokey little
island,” Dean muttered as he cranked the tiny vehicle
into life. “Lost right on up to the nearest diner…”
a face. “Uh…I’m thinking they call them cafes
over here, dude…or maybe chip shops?”
Dean groused as he pulled out of the lot after Hamilton. “All
I can say is, the food better be damn good, or I’m takin’
the first plane right on outta this joint tomorrow…”
then winced as his head bumped against the Corsa’s low
roof. “I’m sensing some seriously negative vibes
from you,” he sighed. “Especially with Hamilton.
C’mon, man, what’s eating at you about him already?”
his head. “I dunno, there’s just something off about
Kiltboy, and I don’t mean because he’s not wearing
his native skirt. Maybe it’s just a Brit thing…”
never did get over the Boston Tea Party, huh?” Sam chuckled
face contorted into a scowl, and he flipped someone the bird
with his left hand.
sure if the gesture was aimed at him for being sarcastic, or
at Hamilton, as the Scot sped down a one track winding lane
that the Corsa struggled to traverse.
was gaining a little sweet revenge, the younger Winchester pondered,
as both he and Dean fought to keep their breakfast down over
the myriad of potholes that littered the country backroad.
RAF Sutton Hallam Aviation Museum,
the Corsa’s brakes just a little too harshly as he pulled
up outside the airfield’s main gates. He grumbled, slid
the gear lever into neutral, and then killed the ignition before
jumping out like his jeans were on fire.
I can handle a stick shift, but that thing is evil.
Remind me to salt and burn the sucker before we fly home, will
his gangly frame from the car and stretched, finally free from
the vehicle’s cramped confines. “I’ll definitely
supply the salt,” he agreed, rubbing at his apparently
what’s with Brit roundabouts? Hell, I thought ours were
weird, but these guys are plain suicidal at those things. Do
the English like to be confusing just for the heck of it?”
then blinked when his eyes locked onto the tiny cottage they’d
parked out front of. The place was white, with a thatched roof
and climbing roses that made it look like something straight
out of a fairy tale.
it was stereotypically British to the extreme.
noted his brother’s gaze and joined in the gaping. “Jeez,
is there anything that isn’t creepy about this
whacked out country?”
his mouth wider to apparently respond, but a little old woman
popped out of the cottage’s front door, halting his answer
with her perfectly wizened features – she was a total
match for the cottage.
hobbled down a cobbled garden path, her grey bun bobbing and
her hand-knitted cardigan flapping in the breeze. At the gate,
she paused to look over her wire-rimmed spectacles in annoyance
– right at Dean.
man, don’t you have any notion of the Highway Code? You
can’t park there, it’s blocking my right of way!”
Her no-nonsense voice told both hunters she was in no mood to
be trifled with, despite her age.
At her side,
a minute Yorkshire terrier, complete with a red bow in its fur,
decided to yap in agreement with its mistress.
one seemed to pay it any heed, it dived underneath the wooden
gate and swiftly attached its razor sharp canines to the bottom
of Dean’s jeans.
tugged, growled and chewed its way into everyone’s attention.
will you get this mutt off of me? What is it with this place?
Midget cars and now midget dogs…” Dean’s expression
suggested he’d rather be mauled by a pit bull, and the
fact that Sam was laughing almost hysterically wasn’t
helping his already irked demeanor.
woman sniffed, but seemed to realize things were getting out
of hand. “Here Beth!” She called softly. “Don’t
bite the young man, you don’t even know him!”
and leaned over, gently trying to pry the snorting animal off.
“Who’d have thought it, a junior friggin’
hellhound right here in Merry Old,” he muttered, sending
the Yorkie on its way with a tap to its rear end. “And
just who does that old biddy think she is anyway, Miss Marble?”
Marple,” Sam corrected, watching as the cheeky old lady
skittered back into her cottage.
you two ready for a tour of the museum?” Hamilton had
returned from unlocking the gates to the airstrip, and had been
apparently watching and waiting at a short distance as the pensioner
He was smiling
now, the corners of his beard creased in amusement.
Miss Marble and her pet pooch,” Dean huffed, “I’m
so ready for anything you and your mystery spook can throw at
havoc, and let slip the dogs of war, eh?” Hamilton nodded
and led the way back into Sutton Hallam, his pace quickening
as if he were late for some unknown date.
up his nose as he followed. “Is that a Scottish thing?”
He mumbled, asking no one in particular.
Caesar,” Sam offered helpfully.
sooo never knew he was from Scotland…”
a look of mirth on Dean’s face as he walked away –
whether he was truly ignorant of the quote, or yanking his brother’s
chain, was anyone’s guess.
* * * *
Dean drank in the atmosphere of the old airfield with a strange
sense of dread. Hamilton escorted them through the old conning
tower, and then a hangar containing a vintage B17 and Mustang,
offering the odd narrative about each item’s history.
little or no new information for them to really glean from the
tour, but the air seemed to ooze something weird - like this
part of England was somehow “off balance” with the
was the ancient smell of must assaulting his nostrils, oddly
accompanied by a strong tang of aviation fuel from a nearby
was just the thumping headache he’d had since landing,
like pressure was building to some kind of crescendo in his
Dean couldn’t help but wonder just why their father had
sent the Winchesters here. It was obviously important to John
– like he already knew about the off kilter ambience of
Dad knew this place was important somehow – and not just
because of its weird spook…
But if John
had believed Sutton Hallam was special, then why hadn’t
he been the one to investigate?
what he’s working on is even bigger, knucklehead,
Dean chided himself.
the self-rebuke helped him any.
head still pounded until he wanted to snap at everyone he encountered.
He wasn’t even sure why he’d taken a dislike to
Hamilton, maybe that was just the jackhammer in his cranium,
or perhaps his intuition was saying the Scot was bad news.
this whole gig is already so clichéd we could be stuck
in a friggin’ episode of “Murder She Wrote”
and I wouldn’t even be surprised…
you can see we’ve attempted to preserve everything here
as best we can. Everything is original.” Hamilton was
pointing to an old fire truck rather proudly.
except your ghosts,” Sam corrected. “From what we
hear, you have the spirit of a man who isn’t even dead
cleared his throat. “I wouldn’t really know about
that. Not something I’ve been privy to.”
Dean had expected as much. That was probably why he thought
the man was a dick from the get go.
at the idea, looking around for something to focus on rather
than the annoying Scot. Eventually, he noticed a strangely interesting
mound at the end of the potholed runway.
what’s Mount Rushmore over there for? Some kinda natural
brake for planes overshooting the concrete?”
appeared to find the idea distinctly amusing. “That,”
he explained matter-of- factly, “that is an ancient
barrow. You’ll find Wiltshire is full of them.”
He was sounding like a smarmy school teacher now. “Don’t
you two know you’re in Stonehenge country?”
know I’m in Asshatsville,” Dean mumbled, coughing
slightly over the comment to hide the scorn in his voice.
appeared amused by the mockery, his eyes sparking with something
Dean couldn’t quite put his finger on.
Hamilton droned, dragging out the word. “It’s getting
time to open up, and without old Harry I’ll need to leave
you awhile to man the office. We’re a wee bit short staffed.”
He looked at his watch to make a point. “Perhaps you could
retire to your rooms at the local? It must have been a long
flight. You can always come back later if there’s more
you want to see?”
this schmuck trying to get rid of our butts already? Dean’s
mind was screaming at him, wanting him to put everything and
everyone under suspicion. Were they being railroaded by the
museum owner, or was something here putting him on edge so badly
his cognitive reasoning was out the window?
at his temples, wondering why the pressure there seemed so familiar
– so frightening, almost.
at Sam, who had been even quieter than usual. Was he feeling
you don’t mind there, Haggis, me and my brother would
like to take another quick look around before we leave. But
don’t worry, we don’t need a babysitter.”
shrugged. “Fine. I’ll be in reception if you need
me.” He blinked, looking both brothers over warily, as
if they might suddenly get the urge to meddle with some of the
second of deliberation, however, he strode quickly away from
them, back towards the main gate and newer buildings that had
been constructed there to sell memorabilia, tea and the odd
assorted, and very British, cream cake.
there a reason why you hate him so badly?” Sam asked,
stuffing his hands in his pockets.
I need one?”
seem to have an answer to that question, so posed another. “So
now what? I don’t know about you, but I haven’t
seen anything to suggest paranormal activity here.”
either,” Dean conceded. “But something is wrong,
I just feel it, Sasquatch. Something real big. And
I don’t mean your over-sized butt.”
so what say we try the EMF? If we’re really dealing with
a spirit, we might get a reading near some of the old pilot’s
gear, or maybe off the runway itself, where the phantom plane
pulling his home-made meter from his pocket with a grin. It
had been a little tricky explaining to airport security why
his Walkman had been modified, but in the end, he’d been
able to convince them it really wasn’t a terrorist’s
take the runway,” Dean suggested quickly. “No way
do I wanna get cooped up in those damp, smelly hangars again.
I’ve had motel johns smell better!”
it,” Sam dared. “They creeped you out.”
this whole gig is making me feel jittery. And seriously, I don’t
do jittery. You know that.”
down at his own EMF, but the needle remained static. “I
know,” he agreed without probing his brother for more.
“I’ll take the conn tower and bullet holes near
where Harry died…”
around to head towards the barrow and then turned back. “Thanks.”
his head in silent acknowledgement and then began to walk towards
the damaged control tower.
him amble away for a second and then resumed his own hike down
the runway. As he walked, he scrutinized the cracks in the crumbling
concrete, wondering how many aircraft had rumbled over them
felt like a graveyard, a shrine to something long gone –
or perhaps, something still lurking in the shadows.
up now as the morning sun appeared from behind a high bank of
clouds. Peering out across the open vista of countryside, it
would be easy to let the place charm him into carelessness.
could see why England could be considered by some to be a quaint,
old-fashioned country, but as a hunter, he knew, sensed,
that evil lurked here just as much as in the States.
from the way the hairs on the back of his neck were reacting,
maybe England – or this place at least – was worse
than anything they’d encountered in the U.S.
what is it I’m feeling? Spiritual? Demonic? Something
shading the sun’s rays from his eyes enough to take a
second look at the burial mound that sat innocently at the end
of the airstrip.
It was just
a lump of earth covered in grass, and yet something was drawing
away quickly as he felt a sudden tug at his senses, like an
unknown entity was invading his soul.
danced once again over concrete, and he expected to see encroaching
weeds assaulting the runway, but instead, he caught a fleeting
glance of an array of symbols.
that appeared oddly familiar, even though he was convinced he
had never seen the likes of them before.
to kneel, but before his legs would obey his brain, there was
another sensation, yanking at him.
time, it was more than a mental jerk, it was physical in the
spun around him as the molecules in his body were yanked to
infinity and beyond.
to night, night turning to…
familiar numbness that Dean Winchester had hoped never to feel
Comment/Review the episode here