Title: Ripple Effect One - Two - Three - Four - Five 1/5 - Five 2/5 - Five 3/5 - Five 4/5 - Five 5/5 - Six - Seven - Eight - Nine 1/5 - Nine 2/5 - Nine 3/5 - Nine 4/5 - Nine 5/5 - Ten - Eleven - Twelve - ?
sequel to: With a Bang and The Aftershocks and Not a Whimper
Rating: SPN/DA Crossover - PG - Gen – AU in the year 2020
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & DA characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Alec POV. Tiny mini-series inside the ripples. The Winchesters go on a camping hunt and Alec is forced to
Alec smeared a glob of smashed fungi across the front of his shirt and tried not to dry heave.
It was pretty hard not to make a lot of physical contact with the crap sticking all over the cave floor, walls and ceiling. Glancing back at his miraculously clean father, he was glad Sam was a lot more agile when it came to crawling around in enclosed tight spaces coated in mind altering slime. It was rapidly becoming very clear that it was going to be very important that at least one of them remained sharp.
Or at least mostly sane.
“You okay back there?” As the cave deepened the temperature started to plummet, and the long walk through the woods hadn’t quite completely dried Alec’s damp clothes. “A-Are you maintaining lucidity?”
“Yeah. I’m great. Keep going.”
“I have an idea,” Alec said. “It's a method on how to tell if either one of us starts day trippin’ during our spelunk.”
“Yeah, I figured we can just talk. You know, have a perfectly logical and rational conversation?” Alec used his flashlight to whack a clump of fungi out of his way. “That way you can monitor me too.”
“Okay,” Sam conceded. “Just keep your voice down.”
Alec grinned in the dark. He was all about playing this one by soldier’s rules but thirty minutes of crawling through rank fungus had dulled his need for cautious silence.
“What can we talk about?” Alec wondered out loud. “Am I allowed to ask questions?”
“This isn’t truth or dare, Alec,” Sam mumbled. “Just ask whatever you want.”
“Sure thing.” Alec allowed his body to shiver like it wanted, his muscles making warmth as his core cooled below his above normal average. At least the reek of musty lake water covered up the stink of the fungi a little bit. Flashing his light upwards, he felt a measure of relief when he saw the tunnel finally widening enough to permit walking. It forced him to walk in an uncomfortable low crouch, but anything off his knees was good enough for him. “So, Sam? Who was the worst roommate you’ve ever had? Ever?”
“Never had one,” Sam answered from behind him. “Roomed with a guy for the first few weeks at school, but he dropped out. After that I never lived with anyone else besides Jess.”
Alec thought it was interesting that his father’s brother apparently didn’t fit into the category of ‘anyone‘. “I had lots of roommates. When we got older they took us out of the general barracks and assigned us to smaller units. I even had my own quarters a couple of times.”
“Did you like it?”
“No.” Alec thought about it. “Yes? I don’t know. Sometimes.”
“So?” Sam prompted. “Who was the worst roommate you ever had?”
“Sounds like a nice enough guy.”
“That whole series were all a bunch of jerk offs,” Alec checked the small ledge under him to make sure he was jumping down two feet and not two hundred. “I got stuck with him and his twin for an entire month. The lab bred the 62s for heavy combat duty but they screwed them all up in the head. Barely any pain receptors left so they bled all over the place all the time.”
Sam was quiet behind him, the noise of the rocks and dirt sliding under their boots sounding flat and oddly far away in the dark. Realizing that the story wasn’t all that amusing, Alec suddenly remembered why he wanted to tell it in the first place.
“And they couldn’t talk,” Alec said. “They were built mute.”
“They could talk to each other though,” Alec sighed in annoyance. “All day and night, they had these hand signs I could never figure out. And they‘d change the code all the time so I would never know what the hell they were saying!”
“I told you,” Alec shook his head. “Total jerk offs.”
“Did you have friends?”
Alec’s thoughts flashed to the rainy streets of the city and a broken down Mexican restaurant that Cindy liked go after work. All you could eat and drink for the spare change in your pocket. “Not like out here,” he smiled a little. “What about you?”
“What about what?”
“Do you have… friends?” Alec realized it was a stupid question, but he found himself unsure of what the answer might be. “Besides Bobby and Jim?”
“Yeah, I got a few left,” Sam said. “Despite all my best efforts.”
Wondering if Dean fit into that category too, Alec paused when he felt a shift in the smothering air. The tunnel abruptly widened until his flashlight was unable to catch the edges of it on either side. Knowing they’d arrived into a much larger and open space, his father elbowed up beside him to shine his flashlight down into the indeterminable size of the cavern below.
“Can you hear anybody?” Alec whispered. “I can’t.”
“Wait,” Sam’s lowered his voice too. “Switch your light off.”
The bio-luminescence that lit the dark rippled like ocean plants in the push and pull of an undersea current. The grotto spiraled above them, and swept off in two directions as the cave divided into two different passageways that both led deeper down.
“Is it just me,” Alec asked. “Or are these things getting bigger?”
“Looks like we’ll have to split up after all,” Sam said. “You take the left and you shout if you find anything. Otherwise we meet back here in exactly twenty minutes.”
Alec wiped some blue slime off his watch.
“Exactly twenty minutes, Alec.”
He watched Sam carefully negotiate the slick rocks that led down the tunnel, and the flashlight dim and flicker from view off the wet walls. Left alone with his own tunnel to explore, Alec scratched at the fungi slime drying on his exposed arms. He was starting to feel a little dizzy but nothing he was really all that concerned about. If this stuff hadn’t made him feel like the Lizard King by now he still had a ways to go before he started going stark raving crazy. But he knew even his resistance wasn’t going to last forever. Sliding down the passage he quickly found the short reconnaissance mission to be even shorter than expected. After only a dozen yards he met a solid wall of rock that ended the trip. Climbing back up the way he came he decided not to waste precious minutes sitting in the dark and waiting around.
To help make up his mind, the fungi covering the cavern ceiling started to glow brighter, the ripples in their light becoming agitated. Looking straight up Alec felt something like a raindrop land on his face. Then another and another and another…
“Great,” Alec spit out a mouthful of fungi juice. “They’re leaking.”
Quickly following the tunnel Sam had taken, he was immediately glad its shelter took him out from the shower of rancid fluid. Feeling a little queasy, he swallowed the strange taste that was still burning gently in his mouth.
“Sam!” Alec called out. “Sam, I’m coming!”
His voice was eaten up by the dark, not even an echo of return. But he knew his father couldn’t have gotten too far away in such little time. He’d catch up and then they’d figure out what they next step would be. Moving more carefully, Alec kept expecting something to appear in the sweep of his flashlight that wasn’t made of stone or plant. A lot of people had walked into these caves and when Alec tuned his mind to listen he couldn’t hear a single one of them.
Alec stopped when he turned the corner. Just ahead the air changed from cool and damp, to sour and thick. The further he moved down the tunnel the more it smelled like a killing field in a war zone. A place were bodies had been left to putrefy because there was no place or time to bury them. With an uneasy sigh, he remade the grip he had on Dean’s gun and got himself going again. Looked like he’d finally found that party everyone had been talking about.
And it was packed.
At first he wasn’t sure what he was looking at.
Besides the fact that he could smell something else besides the fungus now. He had compared the plant’s scent to rotting flesh since he’d first gotten a whiff of the stuff, but now with actual corpses somewhere present he realized there was a subtle but distinct difference.
“Sam!” Alec tried again. “Sam, are you in here?”
The cavern had opened out into another large space again and this time it was curiously flat and as immense as a football field. He shouldn’t have been able to make out its size but there was enough ambient light in the chamber for him to see all the way across the other side and back again. And the dim light looked like it was coming from an underground lake. It was glowing blue like a night time swimming pool overloaded with too much chlorine. But it was just filled with the plants, immersed in the water and fluttering their gentle light and rippling strange patterns over the walls and ceiling. As he stepped closer, he saw these plants differed even more from the larger ones he‘d seen above. They lay in giant and bizarre shapes that made no logical sense. Kneeling down at the lake’s edge, he peered down into the glimmer of the water and slowly realized why he could smell the corpses but still hadn’t seen any.
There were bodies in there. Hundreds of bodies. Some definitely human and some assuredly animal. The fungus had grown and attached to them, deforming their limbs and dimensions like barnacles did to an unmoving object. Crusting over its host and inundating it with its roots and thick vines, the large still pool shuddered with soft light as Alec stumbled back away from it.
He knew way better than to lose his nerve. He also knew better than to be scared of a bunch of stiffs. But his equilibrium lurched alarmingly to one side, forcing him to grasp at the slick stone floor until the ground stopped swaying. Those stupid flowers were finally getting to him. And he couldn’t help himself from calling out for his father in a way that he hoped Sam could actually hear.
Sam? Alec clutched at his head as a pain burned through his temples with the effort. I found something bad, Sam. I found people. I think they are the people that might have gone missing. Lots and lots of people-
It was hard not to stare at the hypnotic stutter and flow of the lights in the water. Alec tried to concentrate on contacting Sam again, but instead he took a step closer to the lake. Small waves lapped on its shore and soaked his boots, the water was just a few degrees above freezing. It numbed his legs so quickly that he stumbled after a few steps and landed hard on his knees.
Alec gasped when his hands met the gritty bottom, the water splashing up into his face and shocking him with how it tasted.
It tasted… good.
Looking down, he saw the slick soft form of one of the plants had slithered over his submersed hand. He watched in fascination as another one joined it. A stray thought wandered through his mind telling him that he should really add to the notes in the old journal. It was a pretty important detail that these fucking things could move on their own power. He watched another and another, joining and interlocking like starfish over his skin. Alec knew he was staring and he tried to stop, but it was so pretty…
The chemicals were burning full steam in his blood and his time had run out.
Something nudged him back towards reality. Under the haze he felt a sting of pain, something piercing his skin under the soft blue shapes on his hands. The fungus was biting into him, countless razor sharp teeth sinking into his flesh over and over again.
He tried to draw his arm away and immediately knew that was a mistake. One of the floating vines whipped out from the water and caught him right across the face. The force of it knocked him backwards, but instead of falling hard onto the rocky shore there was another curl of vine right behind him. Both his arms were suddenly wrapped in them, and as he weakly fought their sticky grip he realized that he was being slowly pulled under the water inch by inch.
“Sam!” Alec heard his real voice in a desperate echo off the cavern walls. “Sam, I think I’m in trouble…”
Struggling to keep his face above the water, Alec panicked when a vine curled around his throat continued to wrap around his face and cover his mouth. He shook his head from side to side as it worked its way in, squeezing its soft unyielding shape between his lips and teeth. Alec growled in disgust when he felt it spread over his tongue, easing backwards into his throat to start to choke him. Kicking backwards, he dully understood the glowing strands were all over him and he’d only managed to get himself stuck worse than if he hadn’t fought at all. The slick leaves on the vines sealed around his mouth and covered his eyes, and suddenly he really was choking as something began trickling down the back of his throat. With a fresh surge of fear, Alec knew the plant was delivering a strong dose of whatever it was that had lulled these people here. It wasn’t an airborne spore this time or particles clinging to his skin, but its chemical insides being siphoned directly into his system.
He felt the frigid water close over his head, but it was far away and detached. Blinded and wrapped in a tangle of the plants, he dimly understood that oxygen was being delivered along with whatever else was being forced down his throat.
Thrashing in the icy void of the water, he felt the vines constrict more tightly around his body until he ceased moving at all.
And for some reason, he couldn't bring himself to care.