Rating: PG - Gen
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Dean let the engine idle as he took a good long look at the narrow path that lead into the woods.
They said it was a road but whatever road that may have been there was now so overgrown with jungle that a guy would need a four wheel drive with a cow catcher on the front fender just to get through. While he had neither, he forlornly parked the car further off the main road and took an even better look. He quickly took note of a small broken branch several feet into the trail. It was just about shoulder height of his brother. He cut the engine with a small sigh.
Sam had been this way. He was sloppy about it too. Dean glanced down at his phone.
Didn't explain all the missed calls though. It was probably tough to get a signal out in there. Or maybe Sam forgot to charge the damn thing last night like Dean had reminded him to do half a dozen times. He locked the car and opened the trunk, stuck a pistol down the front of his jeans, a flashlight down the back, a crowbar down through a belt loop and loaded a sawed off shotgun before he slung it over one shoulder.
Dean sighed again when he turned back to the vine choked path. Wiping a forearm across his sweaty forehead, he rolled up his black T-shirt sleeves to relieve some of the heat.
Now if only he had some mosquito repellent.
He thought he lost the trail several times when everything around him shifted into full on wilderness. But then he'd travel a few more yards and the old worn tire furrows in the dirt would appear under his boots.
Dean slapped at his ear where something large and unpleasant was buzzing.
The house sat almost sunken into the ground. It was big, not like the plantation mansions that were scattered around and historically preserved, but bigger than what he expected out here in the middle of no where. Two stories, but the second looked like it was about to fold into the first floor at any moment.
The front door was closed. Dean raised his chin to what little there was of the wind and inhaled. There was some smell coming from that house. Like an old apothecary left in some dank place. But mostly just rot. And that was saying something when you were standing in the middle of a freaking swamp.
Dean slipped up close to a large tree that had grown up big, draping the house below it with Spanish moss. He slipped out his phone from his back pocket and hit redial. Even if Sammy had run into some kind of trouble he'd have left his phone on buzz so if someone called it wouldn't announce himself to God and all creation--
He heard the ring. Far off but exactly that weird ass ringtone Sam had chosen for his phone.
Dean clicked his phone closed as quickly as he was physically capable without breaking it.
"Goddamnit Sam." He hissed as he slunk down low to the base of the house and started towards the back where'd he'd heard the sound. A quick glance up into a cobwebbed window revealed an empty living room and not much else. He stopped in a crouch at the corner, hand on his pistol and took a brief look behind the house before ducking back again.
Nothing remarkable. Some kind of old clothes drying line that looked like a TV antenna, what looked like a well overgrown with vines, beyond that was the remains of an outhouse. But no Sam. He could have sworn he heard that ring coming from back here. He leaned back out to eye the back door.
Being a fan of back doors, Dean decided that was his best bet at the moment. He crept out into what could be called a back yard, avoiding the mud so he wouldn't leave much of a track. And speaking of tracks, there were none out here but the ones he was making himself through the tall grass. His gaze fell onto the antenna like clothes line.
It was covered in something. No, somethings. Small things carefully tied with twine to its rusted aluminum limbs like some demented Christmas tree. As he came closer he could make out several watches. Some of their glass faces clouded up with the humidity, some looking almost brand new. There were keys, and even a chain with a locket attached. It was like a mobile of lost items, personal items, things a person wore or kept close to them everyday--
He reached up and yanked it down before he thought about the noise the clothes line would make when it creaked and whined, half turning on its post. Dean stared at it for a moment waiting for whoever dwelt inside to come bursting out through the door. But there was nothing but the creatures in the jungle croaking and screeching their songs. The sun was going down.
Dean had to move more quickly now.
The door was unlocked, and his shot gun was cocked and ready for anything that didn't look or sound like his brother.
He didn't bother with subtlety.
"Sam!" He swung a corner and took aim around an empty small kitchen. "Sam you in here!"
Getting no response he swiftly transversed the sitting room and was up the stairs. Flicking on his flashlight, he found only three rooms, the floors covered in undisturbed dust and mold growing rampant on the cracked plaster walls. The small windows were fogged with webs and moss, the last room at the end of the hallway was the darkest, with nothing but a brass bed frame in pieces on the floor.
"Sam?" Dean lowered his voice as the house's silence seemed to demand.
He put his shotgun down, leaving it leaning against the wall as he slowly entered the room. There was something different about it, the dust on the floor was disturbed, no tracks, but evidence of some kind of presence. And whatever it was, it was gone now. The beam of the flashlight ran up and down the walls and up onto the sagging ceiling. Turning, he paused when his light hit something.
Tilting his head, Dean walked closer, his fingertips tracing the bright white line of plaster that ran down the wall and back up again in a rectangle. Almost like a doorway. Feeling suddenly cold despite the heat, Dean stepped backwards.
The crowbar slipped easily out of his jean belt loop.
It was hard work with the temperature seeming to rise the darker the sky outside the window became.
By the time he had worked through one solid line down the wall, he simply slid his hands in and pulled. Dean put up one booted foot against the wall for some leverage and heard himself groan with the effort. With a loud snap he ended up on the floor with a triangular piece of drywall on top of him and covered in white dust. Coughing, he sat up, pushing the piece of wall off of himself.
His breath caught in his throat. There, in the crawlspace between the walls, was an upright box. Coffin like, it was large enough to hold a person.
"S-Sam?" The lack of any response made his heart rise in his throat.
He quickly picked the crow bar back up and wedged it in the box's corner. It gave easily with the force he put behind it, and the box's cover rattled forward and fell out onto the ground. Dean got out of its way, unsure of what he would find when he lifted his flashlight.
It was a man. Or what was left of him anyway.
Dean leaned in closer to examine the corpse. It was dried. Mummified like it had been out in the desert and not sitting behind a dank wall in the middle of a Louisiana swamp. The face was warped into a silent scream, and its clothes remained more or less preserved. The eye sockets were empty and the man had a tattoo that ran along his neck and disappeared under his shirt. Dean stepped even closer to give it a better look.
There was a mark over the tattoo on his throat. Someone had put a symbol there that he didn't recognize. Tentatively, he touched it, half expecting the body to disintegrate to dust under his hand. It didn't. The man's skin felt as tough as leather and dried tight to his skeleton. The mark was almost greasy. Dean rubbed it between two fingers and then hazarded a sniff of it. It was strong. It smelled like some concentrate of what the house already smelled like. Dead flowers and death.
He sighed and wiped his fingers on the thigh of his jeans. This dead guy had been deceased for a while. After hacking at the wall and getting more than personal with it, he could guess that the plaster was at least on the outside a week old. It wasn't enough time for ... this to happen.
He swung his flashlight around in frustration.
"You gotta be kiddin' me."
Across the room there was another fresh slash of plaster.
With a sinking feeling he gripped his crowbar and wondered just how many holes in the walls he was going to have to make that night.
It turned out to be four.
He slumped down exhausted at the foot of some poor woman that had died just a slow horrible death as the three others he’d found. The second one had evidence of being very much alive before being entombed if bloody scratch marks were any indication. The third was missing a head until Dean looked at the bottom of the box and found where it had fallen.
And this one seemed to be the oldest of them all. Try as he might he couldn’t find even a trace on the walls upstairs or down that indicated any other bodies. Or any sign of Sam. What was he supposed to do, rip the entire house apart? He decided to check the down stairs yet again, wondering in the back of his mind just why exactly no one had appeared to ask why he was putting a crowbar through their walls. The place felt deserted and left behind.
Dean spotted a gas lantern on a table and dug in his front pocket for his Zippo. It should have lit the room in a warm gold light but the flame was almost white, sending the room in a ghastly stark array of sharp shadows. He sat down tiredly on the sofa, a little surprised when it didn’t collapse out from underneath him. Elbows on his knees, he rubbed the back of his neck and studied the worn wooden planks of the floor. They weren’t very well made. There were uneven and had wide spaces between each one. Some were missing all together.
Dean stared down at the gap in the floor boards between his boots. The way the gas light struck the ground, it shone right down into the dark below. Probably a den for opossum and snakes. Dean leaned down. But it looked like something was down there, reflecting the light and almost shiny.
It took another moment before Dean realized what he was looking at down in the dark under his feet.
Someone was looking back up at him.
to be continued…