Fic: Down To The River 1/1
Title: Down To The River Author: Lopaka Tanu Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural or the Mist. Characters: Dean, Sam, Castiel, OCs. Words: 7027 TimeLine: General Season 4. Dedicated: to TK, for showing me the way. Prompt: Monsters aren't real...are they? - From peja Fandom: Supernatural/The Mist X-Over Pairing: N/A Rating: Adult Warnings: Language, Secondary Character Deaths, Violence, Dark Imagery. Summary: Someone is calling to him; in his dreams, in his life. Author's Note: Best read on a cold, windy night. ______________________________________
A gentle breeze buffeted against the tips of his hair. Slowly blowing across his skin, he could feel the cool caress of moisture in the air. There was something off about it. The air tasted wrong.
The quiet around him was almost painful. Dean forced himself to hold his breath that he might hear better. When he still heard nothing, he exhaled. The fog seemed to swallow noise too. It was surreal to the point of unnerving.
Swallowing, Dean felt his pulse start to race. A fine tremor ran through the ground beneath his feet. He wasn't sure how, but Dean knew he was no longer alone.
The moisture tickled at his eyes, making them blur. Blinking, Dean tried to keep them focused. He had to see in order to confront this.
Prickling on his neck started as the air behind him seemed to suddenly change. His eyes widened. Instincts kicked, telling him to get the hell out of there. Yet, Dean knew it was too late.
Screaming, Dean felt his eyes pop open. What they registered wasn't what he was seeing. He tried to roll over, to get away from the thing, but something held him. He was bound in something.
Dean kicked at the bindings, his breath coming in ragged gasps. He had to get out, had to get away. There was something after him and if he didn't leave, it would kill them all!
A sudden pain to his cheek snapped Dean from his panic. Tears filled his eyes as he blinked. He took a slow breath as he opened them.
Standing above his brother, Sam stared down at him in horror. His skin had gone pale, making his eyes look dark. "Dean. Are you with me here?"
"Yeah. I'm fine. I'm good." Pushing back from Sam, Dean forced himself to sit up in the bed. His chest rose and fell quickly as he tried to orient himself with the motel room. Almost bashfully, he realized the blankets were what had been holding him. "What the hell just happened?"
"You're asking me? I only came to check on you. You're the one who started shrieking like some scream queen and thrashing around in the bed!" From the way Sam's throat flexed, it was obvious his pulse was racing. "What the hell had you so worked up anyways?"
Dean shook his head. He couldn't actively remember, but knew that it would come back to him if he tried. He most certainly did not want to try. "I don't remember."
The frown Sam gave him made clear that he didn't believe him. Still, he took a quick breath, then sighed. Closing his eyes, Sam sat down heavily upon his bed. The blankets were half off the bed beside him from where he had climbed out of them.
Uncomfortable in the silence that settled between them, Dean looked over to the clock on the wall. He could see in the morning light that it was now almost ten. That was way too early after the job they had pulled last night. Dean wanted to go back to sleep, yet something urged him out of bed.
Spurred on, he scooted to the edge of the bed. He ignored the look Sam gave him as he stood up. His joints popped in several places, an unpleasant reminder that he wasn't twenty-five any more. There had to be a limit to the abuse he took with little rest.
Rolling his eyes, Dean tugged the underwear from the crack of his ass. Heading for the bathroom, he heard Sam shift on the bed. "Don't even think about it, Sam. Once I get out of the bathroom, we're getting out of here."
"What?" Sam's annoyed reply was more of a whine than a question. "Is this because you had a bad dream?"
Dean shuddered at the reminder. Shaking his head, he paused in the doorway to the bathroom. "I got this weird feeling..." Shrugging, Dean stepped in to the bathroom and closed the door behind him.
Once the door was closed, the only light came through the crack under it. Dean considered turning on the light for only a moment. The lack of sleep was making his eyes burn.
Dean walked over to the bathroom sink. Instead of looking at his reflection, he bent forward to lean on the basin. The muscles in his back were still tense from waking up suddenly. Whatever had been in that dream had his stomach tied in knots.
He wasn't certain what had woken him, but he knew that it wasn't good. Still, he felt absurdly grateful to it. The dream had been twisted enough that he was going to be thinking twice about going to sleep for a while now. That was all he needed.
"Hey, Dean!" Sam's voice carried through the door, almost like he was standing just outside it. "The power's out."
Frowning, Dean glanced about in the dim light for the switch. Upon finding it, he reached out and flicked it on. He blinked in confusion when nothing happened. That wasn't right. He tried it twice more just to make sure.
"Man, this sucks. The laptop's battery is too weak for me to power it up." The echo was more faint now, but still loud enough for Sam's words to be clearly made out.
Dean snorted. With a sigh, he grasped the hot water tap. Giving it a twist, he looked down at the sink. Nothing happened. Closing his eyes, he shook his head. "The water's off too!"
"Great. Guess that means no showers."
Grumbling to himself, Dean shook his head. He glanced over at the toilet. Even with the power out, there was still enough water in the tank to flush it once. That was good because he had to take a piss.
Coming out of the bathroom, Dean looked around the motel room. Their gear was still in the bags by the door. He had been too tired to do much beyond take a shower and put on a pair of underwear last night. A tense feeling between his shoulders made Dean head for his.
Sam was sitting at the foot of his bed. His cell was open and he stared at it with a frown. Closing it, he sighed. "Looks like the cell signal's out too."
"The storm must have knocked the towers out last night. Well try again when we get on the road." Having unzipped his bag, Dean riffled through the clothes. All of it needed to be washed, but it would have to wait. He found a pair of jeans that only had been worn twice and pulled them out.
Watching him, Sam made a face of disgust. There was no reason for him to let the laundry get that bad. "I hope you're not planning on spending the next day driving around in those."
"No, just to the store." After he buttoned up his jeans, Dean bent over to grab his bag. The old black Tshirt inside was dark enough to hide the blood stains, just so long as he wore his jacket, that is. He slid it on over his head with a grimace. May be he should have done his clothes like Sam had last week after all.
"What's so important that you have to get it now?" He knew he sounded whiney, but Sam couldn't help himself. Reaching up, he scrubbed at his still burning eyes.
Dean frowned. "I don't know." His eyes quickly jerked back and forth as he tried to remember what he tried to remember. "It doesn't matter, it'll come to me." Zipping up his bag, he grabbed Sam's and threw it at him. "Put something on, now."
"Come on, Dean! We're both too tired to be out driving." Having caught his bag, Sam clutched in his lap. "I just want to lay back down and get a few more hours sleep."
"You can sleep in the car!" Dean took a step towards his brother. Sucking in a quick breath, he had to force his hands to stop shaking. "Now quit your bellyaching and get dressed."
Lowering his hand from his face, Sam stared at Dean with a frown. "You're really serious about this."
"As a heart attack." Dean sucked in a shuddering breath. Glancing to the door, he stuck his hands down the back of his pants. "So, come on, we're going now."
Still watching him, Sam stood up and opened his bag.
Opening the door to the motel room, Dean winced as the sunlight hit his eyes. Even filtered through the clouds, it was still too bright after being in the dark room. He took a deep breath before walking out in to the morning air.
The wind smelled of ozone.
Dean had to brace himself on the doorway as a wave of fear hit him. Shivering, he glanced about the parking lot in front of him. Much like the night before, there were only two other cars. Pushing off from the doorway, he adjusted the duffle higher up his shoulder.
Behind him, Sam stepped through the door, closing it after them. His sunglasses made it easier for him to see. What he saw didn't seem to impress him. "Looks like it's going to rain again."
This made Dean look up. The clouds were thick, true, but no where near as threatening as they had been the day before. Shrugging, he headed for the car. As he walked, he kept glancing about, feeling uneasy. There was something unsettling about the morning.
He cast a quick look to his brother. Seeing that he was looking the same old bored and tired Sammy set him even more on edge. Popping the trunk open, he looked up again. It was then he realized what had his nerves on edge.
Pausing beside his brother, Sam set his bag in the trunk. "What is it?"
"No birds." It was said in an almost daze. Dean hadn't been aware he was going to speak until the words had left his lips. "They're gone."
This time, it was Sam's turn to shiver. To hide it, he slammed the trunk lid closed.
Dean jumped from the sudden noise. "Jesus Christ, Sam!"
"Let's just get in the car already. I'm tired." Shrugging his jacket up higher on his shoulders, Sam walked around to the passenger side.
Watching his brother go, Dean wanted to say something. As it was, the nagging feeling returned with extra urgency. Dean gave in with a sigh. Besides, he figured he could yell at the big ass in the car just as well as he could standing outside it.
Letting his fingers drum on the steering wheel, Dean looked to oncoming traffic. There were considerably more vehicles in that lane. From the looks of things, their numbers were starting to pick up. A quick check of the clock on the dashboard revealed that it was almost eleven.
Great, lunch traffic.
He looked at his brother in the rear-view mirror. Thinking how he had squeezed the bulk of his mass in the backseat made Dean's head hurt. Physics had never been his strong suit, but he still thought the feat should have been impossible. Either way, Sam was back there now, out cold.
The road hummed under the Impala's wheels as he switched lanes. Dean hadn't been aware he was doing it until he switched off the blinker. He wasn't sure where he was heading, just that it felt right.
A tour bus passed him on the left. An old woman in the window smiled at him.
Dean gave her a small wave in acknowledgment. It never hurt to be nice to the blue hairs. Checking his mirror, he signaled that he was pulling in to the turnoff lane. A small truck suddenly pulled in behind him, so close that it was riding his ass.
The engine roared as he gave her a little more gas. He would be damned if he let some prick in an S-Ten get too close to his baby. If they even so much as grazed, that dick would learn the true meaning of road rage. Luckily for the asshole, he let off and Dean easily pulled away.
A little ways down the road, Dean checked his mirrors for the asshole just in case. As far as he could see, the road behind him was clear. The guy was no where in sight. Dean allowed himself a little relief. They were close.
Checking his location, Dean noticed that they were surrounded by strip malls and fastfood restaurants. He saw a steak joint up the road on the left that made his mouth water. Then, he passed it by. It wasn't open yet.
Cresting to an intersection, Dean flicked on his blinker. He raised an eyebrow upon seeing where he was heading. "You've got to be kidding me."
Standing in the middle of a sea of asphalt was the ugliest mall he had ever seen. It was huge and painted seafoam green. The only reason he knew the color name was because some chick had liked the damn color in the eighth grade.
That was beside the point. The damned thing was ugly, plain and simple. Still, whatever was driving him on wanted him to go there. He prayed that it was something evil. Anything that made him want to come to a place like this needed to be shot purely on principle.
Turning in to the parking lot, Dean sighed. Just to be a prick, he hit the curb with the rear wheel. The Impala jumped, smacking Sam's head against the back window.
Snorting awake, Sam groaned. He blinked a couple times before he focused on the fact that he was in the backseat. Rubbing at his now sore head, he glared at Dean. "Where are we?"
"The mall." His tone implied pain of death if Sam laughed. At that moment, Dean wasn't certain that he would rather be back in hell than here. During peak hours, it was relatively the same place.
He frowned as he pulled in to the main parking lot for a Sears. Then he headed towards the front spaces. It must have been no where near peak hours as there were almost no cars in the lot. Granted it was a Tuesday morning, but there still should have been more people.
A chill ran down Dean's spine as he pulled in to a stop two spaces from the front doors. Two his left were three small cars. There was nothing to his right all the way down back to the road but empty lot.
Switching off the ignition, he sat back in the seat for a moment. His hand shook as he reached for the keys. Looking down at them, he frowned. It was close.
In the back seat, Sam sat up. He had to duck his head a little to keep it from rubbing against the ceiling. "Why'd you stop here, Dean?"
"I'm not sure." Dean felt numb as he turned his head to face Sam. Whatever he had wanted to say died on his lips as he caught sight of something out the back window. Swallowing, his hand went to the door handle. "Sam, get out."
"What? No way! You're not leaving me here while you go off and do god knows what." Starting to sit back, Sam's movement was halted by Dean grabbing his shirt. He was jerked forward almost over the front seat. "Whoa, Dean! Man, what the hell?"
"Get out, now! Come on!" Dean kicked the drivers side door open with his foot. Spinning around, he grabbed Sam by the front of his jacket. Not caring that he was hurting him, he pulled him over the seats in to the front.
"Hey! Quit being an asshole!" Sam rolled over the driver seat to smack in to the steering wheel. He groaned as his back impacted against the horn.
Sliding out of the car ass first, Dean hooked his hands under Sam's arms. He hauled his struggling brother out with him until the taller man's body sank to the parking lot. When he was certain Sam was clear of the car, Dean released him. "Get to the store! Don't stop, don't look back!"
"What the hell?" His bottom now hurt, Sam jerked his feet out of the car. He started to spin as he stood up. "Are you out of your god damned mind?"
"Go!" At the trunk, Dean fumbled with the lock as he inserted his keys. "Just go!" He didn't have time to make sure Sam was complying with his order. The moment the trunk was open, he grabbed their bags and pulled them out. He took the two shot guns and the ammo they had left out before slamming it shut.
Dean turned to head for the store, but he caught sight of Sam. He frowned. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
Standing there, frozen in place, Sam stared with wide eyes. His face twisted in horror as he watched it draw near.
It was a massive cloud of gray. Moving fast, it covered most of the parking within seconds.
"Come on!" Having rounded the car, Dean grabbed his brother by the jacket. The bags were slung over one shoulder while the guns were tucked under his arm. Running for the store, he dragged Sam for the first two steps. Then they were both rushing for the store.
Slamming through the automatic doors, Dean jerked Sam in behind him. He spun to face them as he released his brother. Standing under the sensor so it couldn't read him, he waited until the doors closed. The moment they shut, he flipped the lock.
At the side door, Sam already had the lock shut tight. "What the hell is that, Dean?"
Dean swallowed as they watched the approaching fog through the door. "I don't know." Shaking his head, he took a gasping breath. "I have no idea."
An involuntary shiver made Sam tremble. Staring through the window, he seemed plastered to the door. "Do you think this has something to do with Lilith?"
"If only that were true."
Both men spun to face the familiar voice almost as one.
Skin looking waxen and oily from sweat, Castiel stared hard past them. "Step away from the doors. Now!"
Pushing off, Dean didn't hesitate to follow the command.
Sam was a little slower by half a breath. He came away, spinning to stare at the doors as he walked.
Closing his eyes, Castiel raised his head. As he faced the ceiling, the main lights above them came on.
It was then Dean realized they hadn't been on before. Only a few smaller ones had been turned on. Hearing the whirring of motors, he glanced over to the doors.
Unrolling from the roof, the metal storm-shutters came down over the entire glass store front. At the same time, the metal security barrier slid down on the inside.
Watching through the glass, Dean saw the fog coming closer. It was shifting, seeming to take on different shapes. Something about it made him take a step back.
Beside him, Castiel's body trembled. He gasped as the shutters crossed the top of the doors. The fog was almost upon it as he clenched his teeth. With a growl, he sent the barrier the rest of the way down.
The shutters hit the ground with a metallic echo. As they slid in to the lip to protect them, the locks in the ground secured them in place. The moment the barrier was fastened, something hit it hard.
Sam jerked at the noise. "What the hell was that?" He spun to face Castiel. "What is going on here? Did you bring us here?"
"Yes." That was all Castiel had the time to gasp out before his body jolted. Back straightening, his entire frame seemed to seize in place. He opened his mouth to scream but no sound came out.
A moment later, Dean became aware of a faint, but growing buzzing. Eyes going wide, his hands automatically went to his head. "Sam, cover your ears!"
This time, there was no hesitation in Sam's actions. Slapping his hands over his ears, he hunched his shoulders to brace himself. It didn't help when the shriek started.
The cry seemed to come from the every where and no where. It felt like it the soul as it rang out in an ever increase wave.
Dean's knees gave out under the onslaught. Dropping to the floor, he was aware of things around them exploding. Lights above came raining down upon them in sharp chunks. The wall of windows and doors behind them shattered against the storm-shutters. Clenching his eyes shut, he felt something in his head snap. Then all went mercifully black.
His head was throbbing. It was a dull ache that made it hard to concentrate but not impossible. Groaning, Dean rolled on to his side. The hard tile floor beneath him brought back memories of what he knew was probably hours ago.
Putting a hand under him, Dean eased himself in to a sitting position. The store was dark but for the security lights. Who knew how long those would last? What he could see in the dim didn't fill him with confidence.
A few feet away, Sam lay sprawled unconscious. Directly across from him, Castiel's vessel was in much the same condition.
Dean could make out the rise and fall of their chests so he knew they were alive. Relief made him close his eyes. He groaned as he sat all the way up. His body shook a little as he climbed to his feet, but he eventually got there.
Once he was standing he looked around. What he could see of the store was pretty much standard. The rows of racks meant they had entered the clothing section. He let his eyes follow the central aisle to a fork. One side veered off further in the store, the other to an entrance of the mall.
A door on the far wall said 'Employees Only'. Thinking about them made him remember the cars out front. Dean wondered where the owners were. The lack of main power explained why there hadn't been anyone else at the mall. He hoped they weren't out in the fog.
Just imagining it sent a shiver down Dean's back. There had been something in the fog, he knew this to be true. Whoever was caught in it wasn't coming back.
Dean glanced back to the metal storm-shutters. They were the only thing standing between them and the fog. A welling of gratitude had him looking back to Castiel.
The angel was asleep now, but he would be awake soon. They could get some answers then. It would all make sense.
In the mean while, they had to be secure. Glancing back towards the door, Dean found their gear. He had dropped it in the rush to get away from the door.
An idea occurred to him that made him look up at the metal storm-shutters. They had held while he was unconscious. Since it was designed to withstand hurricane force winds, Dean wasn't surprised. His eyes went to the brick walls, and traced them all the way to the reinforced steel roof. As a bunker, it was the perfect place.
He now understood why Castiel had called him to this place. There was no doubt in his mind that it had been Castiel in his dream. The dream had probably been the angel's doing as well. Closing his eyes, he allowed himself a moment to digest that.
When he opened them again, he found the world was still pretty much as it had been. Sighing, he figured there was at least something he could do. Dean walked over to their bags and the guns. He picked up his duffle and reached in to the side pocket.
The container of salt was right where he had left it next to the chalk. Whatever was out in the fog was held in place by the walls and barrier. There were still other things out there that weren't bothered by such trivialities.
He had work to do.
Wiping the sweat from his forehead, Dean stood back to admire his work. The tent would have to suffice as far as a shelter was concerned. It wasn't difficult to put together. The spikes had been the hardest part. That was where the heavy duty drill had come in handy.
Floor tiles and concrete were no match for the power of Black and Decker.
There was a gasp from the air mattress behind him. Casting a glance over his shoulder, Dean snorted at the blinking figure. "Perfect timing as always, Cas."
Twisting his neck, Castiel raised his head so he could look. "Dean." His voice was gravely from exhaustion. "How long was I unconscious?"
Checking his watch, Dean raised an eyebrow. "About ten hours." He shook his head, then grabbed his shirt hem. Bringing it to his face, he wiped the sweat from his brow. "Sam's out getting something for dinner. Got any requests?"
Instead of answering, Castiel started to sit up. He made it about two inches off the mattress before he fell back with a wince. Panting from the effort, he tried rolling on his side. This time, he succeeded; leaving him pale and sweaty.
Dean shrugged and went back to admiring his work. There didn't seem to be rod or stitch out of place. "You want to tell me what the hell happened out there?" Bending over, he picked up the drill and began wrapping the cord up. "It's not that I'm ungrateful that you saved my life, again, but what kind of messed up stuff did we get involved in this time?"
Castiel's eyes went a little wide for a moment before going back to half mast. Taking a deep breath, he forced himself to face Dean. "I do not know what exactly has happened."
This gave Dean a moment of pause. Looking over from his work, he met Castiel's half lidded gaze. "Well what do you know?" He was a little proud of the fact that he kept his voice steady.
Blinking, Castiel seemed to consider this. Whatever conclusion he came to he remained quiet on.
"Okay, let's start with something a little easier." Dean didn't want to get upset with the angel just yet. There was still a chance of getting information out of him. "What is out there in the fog?"
"I don't know." Blinking, Castiel missed the tightening of Dean's jaw as he glared at the angel. "It is primal, from a time before creation." Castiel forced his eyes open to their normal width so he could stare back at Dean. "Humans in times past named it simply as 'the wild'."
"You expect me to believe that?" The look he received made Dean snort. So the annoying one was telling what he believed to be the truth. "Okay, so say you're telling the truth. How did this happen, and better yet, how do we undo it?"
Cocking his head to the side, Castiel just stared at Dean.
"What? Aren't you going to say anything?" Dean set the drill aside. He was no longer in the mood to clean up his mess.
"I cannot give you answers I do not have." When this didn't satisfy Dean, Castiel eased himself back to the mattress.
Clenching and unclenching his jaw, Dean crossed his arms over his chest. He looked away to keep himself in check. "All right. Now that we established that you know nothing. What about getting us out of here?"
"I would not recommend that. That which is in the fog has no belief in the superiority of your species or their weapons." This time when Castiel closed his eyes, it was to rest.
Dean took an impatient step towards the air mattress. "Well, can't you do something about that?"
"What would you have me do?" The peace on the angel's face broke with a scowl at the ceiling.
He couldn't believe it. The god damned angel was being deliberately stubborn. "I don't know, but getting your smite on would be a nice start!" Dean shook his head in disbelief. "Come on, Cas, you gotta..."
"I cannot!" Voice hoarse from barely restrained emotions, Castiel clenched his fists at his sides. For a moment, he trembled on the mattress. Then he closed his eyes. "It is the primordial mist, God has no dominion here. I have no more power over this place than you."
The news hit Dean like a ton of bricks. It couldn't be. Swallowing, he spoke in a tone barely above a whisper. "So, does that mean you're what, trapped here, with us?"
Curling on his side, this time facing away from Dean, Castiel refused to answer.
Pressing the pump knob on the cook stove, Dean primed the burners. He turned on the gas and lit the first one. It came to life with a small roar that made him smile. He set the lighter aside and picked up the cooking pot to set on the burner. That done, he sat back to enjoy his handiwork. "Just like camping."
There was no comment from the mattress to his right. Not that he expected one.
Dean glanced over. He wasn't a bit surprised to find that Castiel still wouldn't look at him. "Just so you know, you're going to have to get off that when Sam gets back. We're moving it into the tent."
Castiel still refused to acknowledge him.
Snorting, Dean went back to watching his stove. He sat there waiting for the water to boil for another minute before he heard movement in the clothes racks. His hand went automatically to the pistol at the back of his pants. "Sam, is that you?"
"Yeah!" The younger man's voice sounded a little rough. He groaned a second later. "I got something that you might find interesting. I could use a hand bringing it over though."
"Okay, be there in a sec!" Standing up, Dean pulled the gun from his pants. He cast a quick look to Castiel to check on him. "I'll be right back. Shot gun's on the wooden chest behind you just in case."
Castiel spoke for the first time in a half hour. "It will not be needed." Then he went back to staring at the far wall.
Dean snorted. How very unangelic.
"Dean, come on!"
With a roll of his eyes, Dean sighed. "I'm coming." He checked his gun to make sure the safety was off before starting through the clothes racks.
Standing on the edge of the junior miss section, Sam had a large duffle thrown over his shoulder, a cart in front of him, and a cart behind him. All three appeared to be overloaded with goods. He met Dean's assessing gaze with one bordering on irritated. "About time!"
Dean surveyed the area around them for a moment before he put the gun down the front of his pants. Checking out the goods as he walked over, he began to read the titles to himself. "Cas is awake."
Sam froze. Staring at Dean, he tilted his head a little. "He is? What did he say?"
"Something about weird shit, primordial soup. Bad stuff in the fog, don't go out in to it. You know, the usual." Having spotted nothing appealing in the first basket, Dean walked around to the second one. There he found bags of jerky and snack cakes. "All right, the good stuff."
"Hold it." Sam put out a hand on Dean's arm to keep him from the cart. "Back up a minute. What was that about primordial?"
Sighing, Dean jerked his hand free. "He said it was something from before creation. God has no dominion." That said, he went back to inspecting the contents of the cart. "Oh, and Cas is essentially castrated here."
"Funny, Dean." At his brother's chuckle, Sam shook his head. "So, what, we're stuck here?"
"Essentially." Picking up a can, Dean read the label. "Oh, chicken and stars, I love this! Where'd you find it?"
"Can you focus for like five minutes?" Not that he believed it possible, Sam just hoped. "Did he say anything else about what is happening?"
"No. I got the feeling that none of this was supposed to happen. Not as in, we lost, oh damn it, but as in some body, some where really fucked up." Dropping the can back in the cart, Dean walked around to grasp the handle.
Sam watched him with a perturbed expression. "You're taking this remarkably well."
"The world came to an end, it wasn't my fault, and we're not dead." Reaching in to the child seat, he grabbed a box of twinkees and held them up. "I got my emergency rations. What's not to like," he asked, forming the words overly perfect? Raising his eyebrows, he gave Sam a manic grin.
Putting the last of the cans of soup in the cabinet, Dean closed it with his foot. It snicked shut with a metallic thump. Making sure he hadn't knocked it out of place, Dean smiled. He had set the wheel locks in place perfectly. What had once been a mobile tool chest had been repurposed for a more practical use.
As he stepped back, he ran his fingers over the cabinet next to it. In it was a selection of shot guns he had plans for. They were entirely too long for his purposes.
"I hit the radio shack at the other end of the mall." Sam's voice rose up from the center of their little camp. "The place was like a fortress. I had to get a sledge hammer to bust open most of the cases."
"Find anything useful?" Pulling his hand back from the cabinet, Dean gave it one last longing look.
"Lots. Come check it out." A grinding sound came from the same place Sam's voice had.
Frowning, Dean walked out of their maze of metal cabinets and back in to the camp proper. What he saw made him feel a little better about the noise.
Sam was sitting on the edge of a love-seat. In his hands, he was twisting the handle of something that looked like a radio. When he caught sight of Dean, he looked up and smiled. "It's a hand crank powered radio. One minute of steady cranking will power it for twenty minutes."
"That's actually a good idea." Dean was truly impressed. "May be that college education came in handy after all." He knew he stepped in it from the sour look Sam gave him. "Sorry."
After twisting the handle back in to the body of the radio, Sam glanced up at Dean. With a deep breath, he turned it on.
The buzz of static filled the quiet store.
Dean found himself holding his breath as he listened. His eyes were glued to radio as Sam scrolled through the stations.
All through the F.M. dial, Sam found nothing. He scanned it three times, slower each pass through, just to make sure. After a shared look with his brother, he switched it to the A.M. band. For the first half, Sam found nothing. Then at eleven-hundred kilohertz, the radio suddenly sparked in to life.
"'pears to have covered most of the North East; spreading out at a steady rate of approximately five miles per hour. The president has urged all people in the path of this fog not to panic. He asks that you stay in your homes and leave the streets clear for emergency vehicles. Despite their assurances, we are a bit weary as no word from our affiliates already in the clouded zone has been received."
A snort off to his right startled Dean so badly that he nearly fell out of his chair. He frowned when he found that it was Castiel.
The angel was at the entrance of their tent. He was pale and barely holding himself up enough to sit.
"What are you doing out of bed?" Standing up, Dean started towards Castiel. The crackle of the radio made him whip his head around to focus on it again.
"We are talking live with our correspondent in the field, Julia Ransom. She is on the edge of this great fog with our mobile WXKP news van, about to enter. Julia, can you describe the conditions for our listeners?"
Wide eyed, Sam unconsciously scooted to the edge of his seat.
"Thank you, Nancy. Julia Ransom here, reporting live from the Okeli-Chunlin overpass. I am about half a mile from the cloud front. The sky is a little overcast. A slight wind has picked up since we arrived, just enough to tassel my hair. And, despite government pleads, the streets heading away from the cloud front are packed with cars filled with fleeing families."
"Sounds like we have a panic on our hands."
"Not exactly. Traffic is moving at a steady pace. The people seem more concerned than afraid, not that I can blame them. Up close, the fog is quite intimidating."
Dean wanted to comment, but the tense atmosphere made him keep his mouth shut.
"About how far is the cloud now, Julia?"
"Not far. No more than a thousand feet. I can smell a bit of ozone, almost like a coming storm. There's also the hint of something unusual, not all together unpleasant, though. It smells a bit like an old growth forest."
"What about the cloud itself? Any way you can see inside it? Describe it for us?"
"No, Nancy, I can't see inside it. The edges appear to be made up of a thick white mist. It's definitely impenetrable to the naked eye from this distance."
"It should be getting close by now."
"Oh, it is. I must admit, I'm feeling a little nervous excitement. Like there are butterflies in my stomach. Not much farther now, only about the length of a football field."
"Run." Sam was almost as surprised as the other men as he spoke to the radio. "Run, damn it!"
"It's real close now. I can feel moisture on my face." Julia giggled. "A hundred feet. Fifty. I think I hear something coming from the clouds. It's almost like the sound of wings, large wings. Ten feet, now."
"Brace yourself, Julia. You might find yourself surprised by what..."
"Hold on, Nancy, the mist is here. I feel it on me, around me. It's cool to the touch, definitely like a thick fog." Julia's voice sounded distant as the transmission crackled. "I think I can see some..."
There was silence: both from the radio and in the store as the men held their breath.
"Julia? Are you there? Can you hear me?"
A blood curdling scream ripped from the radio's speakers.
Startled by the sound, Sam dropped it. Another scream rang out as he jumped back in his seat.
More agonized cries filled the silent store. They grew louder and louder until, suddenly, they stopped.
Shaking, Sam stared at the radio. His eyes were so wide the whites were plainly visible in the dim light from the lamps.
A new sound came over the speakers. It was a wet, almost sucking sound. It was punctuated with a wet tear, followed by squishing.
Licking his lips, Sam swallowed. He had to know. "Dean."
"Don't ask, Sammy." Dean took a shuddering breath.
"What's that sound, Dean?" Pulling his shirt closer against his chest, Sam couldn't peel his eyes away from the radio. "What's that sound?"
"The creature is eating what is left of her." The hoarse voiced reply came not from Dean, but from the tent. Leaning against one of the support poles, Castiel had gathered enough strength to pull himself up. "The wild is not some curiosity to be explored. It is deadly; it is spreading."
"Can't we do anything to stop it?" Sam already knew the answer, even as he looked to Castiel for a response.
The angel just stared back at him. There were dark circles under his eyes. "We are trapped. Our only hope of survival is to remain here."
"Will it ever return to normal?" After a while, Sam couldn't bear to meet the Angel's gaze any longer. He looked to the massive storm-shutters, the only thing protecting them from the outside. Dropping his eyes, he turned back to staring at the radio.
The chewing sounds continued to emit from the speakers.
With a shaking hand, Dean reached out and turned it off.
Shifting in the covers, Dean turned over to face the far wall of their tent. The large, softly snoring presence was now placed at his back. It wasn't much more comfortable from this angle as a pair of startling blue eyes stared back at him in the dim light. For several minutes, all they did was stare at one another.
Dean saw reflected in those eyes things he thought only he should be feeling. Whatever had happened that morning had changed the other. He wasn't the same being that had saved their lives any more.
Almost of its own volition, Dean's hand came up to lay against the stubble covered cheek. It lay there until Castiel closed his eyes. It stayed there long after the angel's breathing had evened out in to sleep.
Unable to follow, Dean's mind continued to race over everything that had happened that day. He now knew things that would haunt him. His nightmares, he dreaded, would be filled with other hellish scenes than the usual fare.
It was a special knowledge that tainted.
They could exist. This was no longer a matter of debate. Monsters were very real and now the whole world knew. It was hard to deny a fact when proof of them eating people had been broadcast on live radio.
Dean didn't know if the real world out there still existed. That thought above all else kept him up through the rest of the night.