Hey, even if you hated 'Receding', check out the other stories she's got set up. I'm sure there's something else to dig around there! :D
Access Fanfic_Read_by Library:
Title: Receding part 1 – part 2 - part 3 - part 4 - part 5 - part 6 - part 7 - Completed
Author: Mink & Jink
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: After a visit to an old abandoned theme park in the desert, Sam begins to notice strange lapses in Dean's memory. As his brother starts to disappear before his eyes, Sam must rush to find an answer before there isn't anything left to save...
The first sign they saw along the dusty highway was nothing but chipped blue paint on an old wooden board.
The second was the same.
It was only after they saw the third one that they figured out what was on it.
The sky was endless and orange, layers of purple clouds like a blanket, tucking the sun goodnight. The light was glowing like the last of a fire, and even though the sign was falling apart they could still make out the words, painted in extravagant white script.
Come one, come all...
They had come for the destination if not the same purpose as most. The tales varied. Some people were seen again. Some were not. Rumors of joy rides gone astray. They'd lost their minds some said. Left whole and sound in body only to shed blood without explanation back in the lives they knew. A curse. One hundred versions of something that could be almost anything if you heard it the way you wanted. That was the way the unexplained usually went.
The map in Sam’s hands was older than the Navajo that sold it to them. Sitting in the shade at the ancient gas station and selling arrowheads for a buck fifty, the old guy was also giving out stories for free if you knew to ask. The old man had said they would find the place somewhere around here. It was just taking a little longer than expected.
A small click and Sam’s gaze shifted over to the driver's seat, the headlights were on, illuminating the faded yellow line that stretched off into forever. He yawned into the back of his hand just as a freight truck roared by, making the car shift and sand shower the glass. Another small click and the cigarette lighter was pushed back into the dashboard, the driver's window rolled down a few inches before the whole car was full of smoke. The wind that rushed in was loud, the smell of the cigarette and the even more acrid scent of the desert reaching him and tossing his hair around his face.
"Hey, can I have one?" Sam asked.
Glancing over at him, Dean took a drag, the orange head crackling as it receded. "Since when do you smoke?"
Sam stifled another yawn. "Since when do you?"
Dean sighed, settling back into his seat with his cigarette, his hand relaxed on the wheel. "What else is there to do?"
All around them was nothing but oceans of sand and far off silhouettes of teetering formations of stone, more likely erected than shaped by wind and time.
Sam's eyes narrowed at the passing landscape.
"Look, there's another one."
“Must be almost there.” Dean said.
Sam could see that it read the same as the others they’d seen as they sped closer. The same weathered faded paint and the same rusted frame half holding it up.
Come one, come all, just down the road...
There was something out here in the vast acid trip of a landscape that made Sam feel like some kind of intruder.
He wasn’t sure if it was just his presence in places that liked to be void, or if it was the sounds and voices that his passage brought to spaces that wanted none. Either way, when he saw evidence of their destination finally appear on the horizon, he felt right away that it was a spot that was used to its silence. As they drew closer he could better make out the towering sagging form of the Ferris wheel looming over the road like a sentry. It was a strange rising shape to see in the middle of no where, its tall stark shadow seemingly misshapen and alien.
Staring up at the sight, they pulled over, going from asphalt to desert floor. The gravel crunched under the tires as they rolled to a stop, the cut of the engine plunging the twilight into windy silence. Getting out of the car, Sam took in the sprawl and jumble of the decayed theme park. The desert had taken this place over again, claimed it back into its dry hands and smothered it.
The old rides were skeletons against the sky. The old ticket booth beside him was wind scoured with the last remnants of the bright red paint clinging stubbornly to it. Sam rubbed his mouth with the back of his hand at the smell that lingered right under the steady wind. There was something sickly sweet under the clean scent of the land the place sat on. Some kind of rot that shouldn’t be out here in the arid dusk.
He turned to see Dean had joined him, and was studying the rocky ground. Sam turned to see what his older brother was looking at. A dusty doll, her round glass eyes missing, leaving two stark black holes in her plastic skull. What was left of the Carousel lay lop-sided just beyond them, the horse’s eyes baleful, their coats faded to gray, the shiny posts that had once animated them now impaled them. Jagged and crooked, they stared at the sky or the earth.
"Charming." Dean commented, the EMF gauge in his hand blipping and purring to life.
"We have any history on the place?" Sam asked, turning over a fallen signpost with his foot.
"Couldn't really get a name from the old man. All I got was falto."
"Which means?" Sam blinked.
"You speak Spanish?" Sam had to raise an eyebrow in his surprise.
"Not famously." Dean shrugged, slowly waving the silent EMF over the splintered remnants of the carousel. "Anyway, what people don't say about something usually says enough. They're scared of it."
Sam scanned the darkening wreckage doubtfully. This abandoned waste was immense, overturning all its corners would be a daunting job even if they had help.
"Well, where’re we gonna start? This place is totally dead."
Dean wandered away easily, his answer ready and uncomplicated as his next breath.
"Then let's wake it up."
It hadn't taken them long to find the ancient rusty generator, the gigantic levers that sat in a jumbled row alongside the fuse box groaning and coughing red dust as they protested Dean's meddling.
Sam wandered away when it seemed like a lost cause, more interested in the peeling posters that lined the tilted plywood walls. Old freak shows and circus acts. Psychics and palm readers. The mermaid and the world’s strongest man. All sun bleached and almost gone, layered over each other in a frenzied haphazard display.
A sudden noise startled him.
With a sharp hiss, the old lights of the dead park flickered and crackled, seeping into life, lighting up the twilight like pale dusty multi-colored stars. He was more than surprised that his brother actually managed to get the thing started no matter how much juice Dean had insisted was left in the power lines by the road side.
Sam watched the Ferris wheel light up in humming sections above him. One block of it flicked on and then stayed off, leaving the towering structure three quarters glowing. Dean jogged out from behind the distant shack that housed the corroded electrics, smiling like a kid.
Sam couldn’t help but smile a little back.
"Ya see that?" Dean stopped to look around, the dust unsettled around his feet, the very last of the dying sunset behind him. "The carnival is in town."
The plan was simple as it usually was.
"You take that side.” Dean gestured. “I’ll take this one.
Sam turned towards the rows of splintered carnival booths at his back, their striped, ragged awnings and muted colors rippling weakly in the dying breeze. He also grimly noted it was also in the direction of the park’s very old and very dilapidated public bathrooms.
“Why do I get that side?” Sam wanted to know.
Dean turned, jerking his thumb over his shoulder. "Because I call dibs on that gnarly fun house."
Looking in its far off direction, Sam studied the lunatic painted face of a clown that formed its door. Of all the park’s buildings, it seemed the most preserved. The paint still seemed bright and rows of lights more intact. But all in all, he found that he did not share Dean's exuberance.
“Knock yourself out.” Sam mumbled as he clicked his flashlight on and off in a brief test.
His older brother checked his own light before sliding it into his back jean pocket. "We do a full circle and meet right back here by the car."
Sam turned, about to get to business when he paused suddenly and turned back around.
"Be careful." Sam told him.
His older brother could only be bothered to smile before he turned the corner and was gone.
Dean almost had his whole side of the park covered.
The search had so far been fruitless. Though this vast secluded and decaying mark of mankind seemed ripe enough a dwelling for his usual suspects, the EMF meter in his hand had remained as silent and still as his surroundings. The dull weathered wooden structures were oddly spread out, half of them crumbling in on themselves, the wood dry rotted, the rides left to fall apart. He peered through the broken doorways and rusted gates, a little fascinated where time had left the place. And maybe just a little disjointed as well, leaving him on his own in this little piece of broken past. Turning, he saw Sam hadn’t yet arrived back yet at their meeting place, the car sitting by itself far off by the thin strip of highway.
That gave him just enough time to kill.
Searching the horizon, Dean paused and smiled. There was one place left to explore. He’d saved it for last because that’s just what you did with the best things.
The Fun House.
It lay far away from anything else on the park's flat landscape. Its slanted roof had collapsed in on one side and it sat as a black silhouette against the deepening purple of the sky. As he got closer he realized it wasn't the same size as the rest of the abandoned attractions. It was much larger. As he continued walking across the sun baked sand, he saw its distance disguised its massive size. Set back from the whole park amongst rough shag bush and rocky ground, it took him much longer than he thought it would to reach it. When he finally did, he paused and took a good look at its façade.
He eyed the chipped gaudy paint and showy bulbs that were lighting up in crackling rows over the marquee. The hectic flitting shadows of frantic moths were sputtering and dying in their heat. Hopeful, he watched the EMF for signs of life. Scowling at the whole lot of nada it had to say, he shoved in back into his jacket pocket.
“Oh well,” Dean said to himself. “Maybe we should have rang first.”
With one last look up at the doorway that was fashioned like a the insane gaping wide grin of a clown mouth waiting to swallow him whole, he slipped into the stale rot of the sagging building.
The lights had come in even in this unlikely place.
The bulbs that still could be brought to life flickered and blinked weakly, the chipped paint on the glass bearing their weak yellow flames. There were bits of faded rainbow paper and the dull gleam of old glitter on the walls. A dust choked liquor bottle lay on its side in one corner. The dried limp carcasses of balloons littered the floor. The yellowed show posters glued to the walls were peeling or faded to nothing, whispers of a party that had ended a long time ago. Dean stood in the dim room, the colored lights, cycling on and off, throwing his shadow in a different direction every time.
On first inspection the place seemed to be gutted of anything but some left over trash. The air hanging stale and unused. Flipping through a brittle pile of crumbling newspapers with his boot, he noticed a slight wind disturb the fragile paper. Flicking up his flashlight he saw there was a small hallway that lead towards the back of the building.
It was narrow.
He half smiled when he realized he’d have to turn sideways just to walk down it. The old school fun houses always got away with this fire hazard shit. Couldn’t do this kind of stuff now without a court full of soccer moms forming a lynch mob.
Dean went right on in.
Making his way through it, he found it made several sharp turns and had no end in sight. The third turn was almost at a right angle in which Dean started to think that maybe those soccer moms might have a point. Sucking it in and forcing himself past it he finally emerged breathlessly out into another ill-lit room. Having almost just gotten wedged in the hilarious passageway, his appreciation for the carnival arts had cooled substantially. It didn’t help matters when he saw the ridiculously small doorway was facing him. He made a face when he realized he would practically have to crawl to go through it.
“Fuckin’ fun houses think they’re so funny—“
Dean suddenly paused.
He could hear something.
From somewhere inside the little crawl space, there seemed to be what sounded like faint music. Dean leaned down to peer through the murk and could see the glimmer of lights on the other side. And music. Yes, he was sure of it now, just ten feet or so when the tunnel ended, there was music playing. The EMF whirred to life in his pocket.
He smiled and slipped it out to study it.
“There ya are.”
He bent down and disappeared into the gloom of the tunnel, the grind of the music urging him forward.
The tunnel was much longer than Dean had thought, taking him almost several minutes to reach the other side. The floor was dry and gritty under his hands and alive with the soft scratching sounds of things hurrying to get out of his way.
He began to wonder if it was such a great idea to have done it, backing out would be nearly impossible. The way seemed to have sloped down a bit as well, the air growing even more acrid and musty. It was a relief to see the narrow passage end but disappointing when the EMF went quiet once again. Finally standing and brushing away the thin silken strands of cobwebs that had clung to him, he paused, listening for the music he had heard. Yes, it was still there in the dim wavering light he had emerged in. Now that he could hear it better, it sounded like there was the scratchy tune of a record playing somewhere deep inside the place. He looked around, surprised and a bit let down to see just another large empty room with nothing but another door waiting on the far side. This time it was a normal sized oval entryway with more lights flashing sporadically in the room beyond.
Holding up his meter, a small frown came to his face.
Whatever it was that had set off his EMF was either gone or too shy to play. Maybe Sam had found something of more interest than a few spikes on the spook machine. When they regrouped he’d suggest they try coming back later tomorrow. Sometimes these things liked to show themselves by their own set of rules. He stepped forward to do a final sweep of the room.
And struck something hard with his face.
There were several moments of startled silence until he realized what he had hit.
It was a wall. A clear glass wall.
The room wasn't empty at all. It was full of the clear glass walls, the dull gleam of them suddenly obvious. Dean shook his head, rubbing at his forehead where he'd smacked it. It was an invisible maze. Looking with regret at the tall and narrow door beyond the maze, he sighed. He didn't have time to get lost in here. Sam was probably looking for him and about to pitch a fit by now. Turning to go, he stopped suddenly.
The soft glint of glass met his hand. There was a wall behind him. Feeling the clear walls, he tried to find the spot where he had stepped through. Maybe he had turned a corner? It was no good, by the time he had gone several feet he was behind another clear barrier.
"Aw crap." Dean sighed, looking now with frustration at the small tunnel entrance.
He didn't want to do it, and ruin what he kind of liked about the decaying place, locked in a moment after its death. He didn't want to help it along to dust and the waiting dark. But it was time to go and he had to leave. Dean hauled back one steel-toed boot and was ready to send it right through what was blocking his exit. But right as he was about to let go, a noise distracted him.
It was the music.
It had gotten louder. He cocked his head, listening. Looking more closely he saw quite clearly the path of turns he would need to go to reach the tall oval door. It was simple, barely a maze at all. Surprised at how the simplicity of it was lost to him earlier, he walked easily through the hidden openings and around invisible corners. Touching the fragile walls with his hands when he wasn't sure if it was just air that stood there instead, he smirked when he got to the end. The door was in front of him, appearing as he made the last turn, his hands out to stop himself on the unseen.
"That wasn't so hard." Dean whispered to himself and the door.
The door did not answer as he stepped through it, a silent witness content to be only a passage to the other side.
Sam was quickly feeling whatever trace of enchantment he might have had for the glittering grounds slip away with the onset of full nightfall.
Since the sun had gone down, the temperature had begun to swiftly drop, and the wind started to howl softly around him. The brightly-lit buildings that stood strewn across the sand started to slowly fade in and out. The bulbs going from bright to a dying pale orange in slow waves, like embers in a fire.
What the hell was taking Dean so long anyways?
His brother wasn't anywhere in sight but Sam knew better than to start looking around. It was better to stay still if you wanted to run into someone. His own part of the search hadn’t revealed much besides some empty beer bottles left over by thrill seekers, a few recent attempts at graffiti by bad artists and an annoyed rattle snake Sam had disturbed under an old tire. That didn’t mean much. Just because nothing came out to announce itself this very moment didn’t mean there was nothing to hunt. It just meant they were going to have to take a little bit more time on it.
But not tonight.
It was getting more than way past dark and all he knew was that he just wanted to get going. He wasn't positive but it seemed as if the lights were getting dimmer after each time they pulsed bright hot, the sick yellow bulbs draining at last.
"This place is dyin again." He murmured to himself.
Five more minutes.
If he didn’t see his brother by then, he’d go find him.
As Dean rounded the corner he smiled.
He had found the room he had expected to see in a place like this. The dull silver gleam lined the walls, some narrow some wide, but all of them tall enough to reach the ceiling three feet over his head. The splintered wooden boards creaked under his step as he examined them, the thin stretch of spider webs delicately blocking his path.
Coughing softly in the dust, he walked up to the first mirror and studied his blurred reflection. He looked so tall, he laughed a little bit out loud, the sound of it ringing oddly in the quiet place with the music once again gone. The next and the next, all of them making him different bizarre new beings that grinned back at him from the silver surfaces. He moved to the very last one. It was the only one damaged, cracked and standing in its sad halves against the garish colors of the wall. Dean stood in front of it and looked to see what it would make him into.
But the very last mirror was strange.
It did not warp his image into a grotesque being, or make him appear shorter or taller. It, in fact, did nothing at all. It was his very own plain image looking back at him in the dimness. His same old shape. The same old eyes blinked at him. Same cheeks that had gotten a bit red from all of the sun. His dusty wrinkled T-shirt and his faded blue jeans were just as disheveled in the mirror as they were on him. Making a small sound of confusion, he tried to move around a little, shift his reflection to see if it was some trick. His own confusion was reflected back to him, a perfect jagged fracture splitting his face into two halves.
It was an ordinary mirror.
His interest gone, he shrugged and turned his attention elsewhere. Seemed like this was the end of the road so to speak. The very next doorway had an exit sign over it. Just in time too. As he left he noted that the blinking bulbs that flickered and clung to their weak flames had began to slowly dim leaving the room in a stale yellowed haze.
Moving through the exit, he left the soon to be bleak darkness behind him.
“Where the hell were you?”
Sam propped himself up from the hood of the car where he'd been leaning, his relief colored with annoyance.
“Sorry.” Dean jogged over, scratching the back of his head absently. "Guess I took longer than I thought."
"Great. Well, didja find anything?"
"Nah." Dean's boots crunched on the warm gravel as he made his way to the driver's seat.
His older brother looked about as tired and sluggish as Sam felt but nowhere near as frustrated. But he forced himself to shrug it off. They did their job and now they could be on their way. They could get out of here now and talk about how Sam almost had made himself a nice new pair of snake skin boots. They could get some coffee and something hot to eat. The thought of it all put him in good spirits.
In fact, he felt like indulging what had so intrigued Dean earlier with a question.
"Did you get to check out your Fun House?"
Dean paused, eyes flickering in confusion.
"Fun House?" He frowned.
“Yeah, that freaky clown building you couldn’t wait to look at?”
His brother blinked at him before he shook his head as if to clear it.
"Oh! Right!" He brightened but than suddenly sagged. "Nope. I-I didn’t get to."
Sam watched his brother turn in plain and blatant disappointment back towards where the house was sparkling distantly in the growing dark. He thought it was kind of strange that Dean hadn’t made a bee-line for it as soon as he could but there were plenty of things around here to distract a guy. Especially a guy like his brother.
"Yeah, well, maybe next time." Sam pulled his own door shut with a sigh and willing Dean to leave as fast as possible.
The entire place was fazing in and out much slower now, creeping from burning to dying, taking a longer time to become even a glimmer again and he didn't want to be here when it all gave out at last. This place was best left like they had found it.
to be continued...