Title: Tricking part 1 - part 2 - part 3 (Completed)
Author: Mink (thank you Jink)
Rating: PG - Peril - Gen
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: An abandoned house out in the middle of a swamp isn't as empty as it appears. An old woman decides Sam is a worthwhile keepsake to add to her collection...
They did their work together most of the time.
An extra set of hands and eyes, Sam's superior picking skills, Dean's nonchalance with any powers that be. As work went, they made a special army unit look like bumbling amateurs. At least Sam imagined they would considering how many times they'd slipped out from underneath anyone who had tried to keep them or pin them down. That's all team work really was wasn't it? Knowing the first thing the person behind you is going to do when things go south so fast you barely see it coming.
Two sets of eyes and hands. Used to be three sets of eyes and hands. But even then they sometimes had cause to split in three different directions, connected only by the thin tether of a cel phone and a promise to move as fast as they could. But one direction was always the softest and least dangerous. There was always a book to be found at the local library, or an old woman to reach out to confirm a dead surname. There was always one path that allowed for error without the worst of all consequences, and Sam always got it.
This morning was no different. Dean had taken one look at their leads and tore the piece of paper in half. He handed Sam the lower part that consisted of a grave etching, a library search and a stroll down a dirt road to confirm if there was indeed an old house there.
Southern towns were as rich with questions as their sweets with syrup, old, dark and potent. The kind of questions that got answered with the business end of a rifle were Dean's forte. He was professional at meddling, being in harm's way just another perk. If there was ever anything intentional about his designation to grunt work, Sam knew better than to put up much of a fight about it. He was used to the non confrontational. Uncomplicated. Milk runs.
The etching lay carefully on his motel bed. The library was long empty of everything but its shelves and some mold growing and seeping through its sealed windows.
That left only a stroll in the woods.
It was not easy to get to or so he'd been told by the few older locals who could still vaguely summon its whereabouts. No one ever really thought about it much these days, maybe torn down already by now and you didn't want to go wandering there unless you really had an urgency to.
Sam assured them that he did.
It was difficult to walk the unused road, the undergrowth came up quick and hungry around here if there wasn't a soul about to keep nature at bay. Sweat ran down his forehead and stung eyes, humidity making his head swim and his shirt stick to his skin. Sam cursed when a difficult bramble smacked him in the face as he released it, half ready to call it quits and come back tomorrow.
It was then that he paused.
It was the smell that came first. His head turned up at the scent before the house even came into view. A sweet smell, like varnish and something organic beneath. Damp carpet and decay. The place was old, abandoned left half rotting out in the sub tropics of the Louisiana forests. Moisture had warped the wood, peeling paint grayed and muted. The exterior was unremarkable. No symbols, nothing etched in the wood or mounted. No sign of anything living but the bright green moss that crept up its sides.
Sam let his fingers brush the metal hilt of the semi-automatic tucked carefully in the backseat of his jeans.
The door hung on its hinges, and unconcerned about much more than the snakes and spiders whose bite left more than blood, he entered. He did not expect the rush of cooler air that met him, the space infused with a heady, musk-like scent. It wasn’t exactly what he expected. It wasn’t gutted and devoid of furniture like the neglected local library, but it still appeared deserted, left to the elements and the creatures that dwelt in these wilds. He avoided a wide spider web with its long legged owner sitting squarely in its middle. The front room had a small narrow staircase that wound up and vanished behind the corner of the wall. An over stuffed sofa, its upholstery seemingly too rich and uncomfortable in the heat, split its moldy cotton insides from ripped rotted seams.
The smell in here was much stronger, old flowers on the verge of wilting and something else under it that he couldn’t identify. It reminded him of the dry dusty scent in a shut up mausoleum, its underlying presence strange in the humidity that hung in the air like smoke.
A voice startled him.
"Know what happens to children in stories who wander into strange houses, boy?"
The tawny wrinkled face of the old woman was suddenly and startlingly close to his when he whirled around, heart thudding in his chest. Her skin was dark, large eyes milky and pale in her frail face.
“You lookin’ for a phone? Ain't got a phone.” She dismissed him, turning around back to what looked like a small crowded kitchen. Her pale hair hung down her back in a long braid.
Sam ran his hand nervously through his hair. That hand had been hovering dangerously close to the weapon stashed in the back of his jeans. The kitchen was filled with dried flowers tied in bunches, piles of them crushed into powder on a long wooden table. Her fingers, though they had shook on her walking stick, were nimble and quick as she sorted and bunched up each stack, binding them together with twine.
"My man died years ago." She said as though speaking to no one. "Left me this place. Children wanted to move me back to the county but..." She turned and smiled with a small shrug. "....you know how old people are."
He tried to return her smile.
A wave of dizziness flowed over him. He should leave. He should leave right now.
She was standing in front of him, palm open and filled with a powder she had collected in small piles along her cluttered counters.
She softly blew it into his face.
Sam stepped backwards clumsily, coughing harshly only once. It smelled vaguely pleasant, like molasses and the crushed musk of some sweet heady flower.
"Sit." She said, invitingly.
He sat down in a chair that was directly behind him. Her pale eyes assessed him, moving in close to get a better look. Casually she pulled up a small wooden stool and sat down. To his horror, he found he could not flinch back when she touched his face with her shriveled hands. Small bony fingertips pressed gently on his lower eyelid, pulling down to carefully observe the color below. Briefly she opened his mouth and shut it again. He was aware that he was trembling and suddenly feeling very tired. He fought his drooping eyelids.
"I'm an artist, honey. A perfectionist." She explained sedately.
Her fingers traced his cheekbone, gently massaged the soft flesh beneath his jaw. His frozen eyes watched her remove a tiny brass pot from her apron pocket. He smelled something strong and pungent on her fingers when she touched his throat, finding the rapid beat of his pulse. A mark was traced over his jugular. Fighting, he swallowed, a small, futile noise escaping him.
"Shhh now. Almost done."
She lifted his heavy forearm in her hands and turned it, rolling up his sleeve to expose the inside of his elbow and wrist. His hand was bent back, the greased fingertip marking his pulse again. The spot on his throat tingled where she'd touched him, burning gently into his flesh.
The slow distracted hum from her throat was like velvet, her tone pleasant.
"You're 24 this May."
Eyes lovingly crinkled met his gaze. He could not turn his head, could not tear away from her. He could see the crochet pattern of her woolen cardigan, the two dark red earrings in her lobes like droplets of blood. He heard her draw her breath in sharply as she stared into his face, as thought she had seen something she was not meant to.
"You want peace." She whispered very quietly. "I'll give ya peace."
Sam felt his heart pound in his chest. He struggled to speak but he could manage nothing more than a rasp.
“Innocent blood is powerful medicine, has been since the dark ages. But I can't just cut a vein and take it from ya now." Yellowed teeth in her smile, soft laughter. "You're too green yet."
A flush rose to his face, throbbing with a dull heat.
"Suffering. Courage. Fear. Hope. They enhance the blood, make it weak or strong."
His was throat working, eyes moving frantically but his limbs were dead and useless as though the nerves had been severed, ligaments stiff and joints hard as stone.
"We have time. We'll wait first until you stop breathing, grow less soft. Till your bones dry up. Till there's nothing left of your eyes. Till your blood clots and thickens and we can make better use of you."
She placed a withered hand over his breastbone.
“We'll soak your heart in brine when we have need of it.”
A sudden shrill sound against his chest made him shudder involuntarily. Calmly, her hand moved into his jacket, ignoring the response of his heaving body as she searched him. She removed the ringing cell phone from his inner pocket. She held it between her fingers.
He watched as she tossed it aside.
Without missing a beat, she returned to her ministrations, murmuring words in a low voice, half chanting. His frantic thoughts centered on Dean, panic and fear mixing in his blood. With a surge so intense he thought he might pass out, he tore an iron arm from its paralysis on the arm of the chair, groping desperately for her. A guttural sound exploded from deep inside his chest, making her jerk back with a surprised chuckle.
"Oh my!" She covered her mouth.
Rage flooded hot through him, spilling from his staring eyes.
Like a mother correcting a fidgety baby she pushed his arm down, clucking her tongue patiently.
"Shhh. Hush now." Tenderly, she patted his dead hand, resting it once more on his lap.
Sam felt the moisture on his cheek grow cold.
"Sleep." Her voice was like the crackle of fallen leaves blown across the ground.
Sam closed his eyes.
It came steady as drops of water from the gutter after a rain storm.
It was distant at first, but each time it came it brought him that much closer to his own surface. It got louder the closer he came, his eyes fluttering open until it was so loud it rattled the teeth in his head. There were shadows. Indistinct. Divided and fleeting. He realized he was looking up through something slated, catching glimpses of someone moving over him through spaces in the barrier. Sam tried to reach up and touch it but his body wouldn’t respond to his commands.
The cracking sound came again, along with a small muttered curse as the person above him paused.
Sam started at the sharp end of the long stainless nail that had come down close to his face. As he stared, it was withdrawn, placed again where it would be better used. On the edge.
Of a wooden box.
S-Stop. He heard himself try to whisper and suddenly the hammer ceased its pounding down around him.
He felt the gritty saw dust under his hands, the hard uneven grain of the wood under his back shudder. The sharp grating hissing sound of the box being moved startled him. His stomach lurched as the box was lifted too swiftly. The pounding started again but it was farther away this time. The box was being put away somewhere, put away and sealed up like a tomb.
With him inside of it.
Sam’s mouth opened, intent to scream, beg, anything to make them stop. All he could feel was his heart thudding wildly, the noise of it filling his ears with each steady crack of the hammer he couldn’t see. Steadily sealing him up, taking away his light, leaving him soundless, unable to move—
Somewhere he heard it.
His phone ringing again and going unanswered.
to be continued…