Prompt: One morning, a serial killer and a lost boy create a monster using a strange VHS tape, strange bones, and a computer possessed by the spirit of a ghoul hunter.
The battered, pieced together laptop was clutched in his sweaty hands as the boy made his way down the dark, winding road. It was cold. Much too cold for him to be without a jacket, but his dad hadn’t gotten around to buying him one yet before… And well, it wasn’t like he could get one for himself now. So he’d just have to get used to the cold.
He adjusted the pack on his back, trying not to whine as his shoulders ached with the effort. His entire small body was sore and tired. But he had to ignore it and keep going. He had a job to do. No. Not just a job. A mission. And it was far too important for the boy to put it off.
As he trudged down the road, he heard a car coming up behind him. The boy scrambled to get away from the blacktop and then threw himself to the ground. The vehicle passed without incident. Good. He didn’t want to be seen. His dad had warned him about all the dangers in the world. The boy didn’t know who or what could have been driving that car.
He got to his feet and brushed off his wet, dirty, grass-stained jeans. The boy was about to pull the hood of his sweatshirt back over his head when he noticed the small tear in his pants, right above the knee. As he looked, he saw a small amount of blood leaking from a tiny wound.
It wasn’t bad. Barely worth noting, really. He’d seen so much worse. But, after everything he’d been through recently, and now being all alone and lost out on a dark road in the middle of the night, even a small scratch was too much for the boy to take.
He collapsed to his knees and burst out in tears. Hugging the laptop to his chest, he rocked back and forth and cried for what seemed like forever. When he finally got a hold of himself, the boy knew that he couldn’t continue on. Not like he had been.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out his dad’s cell phone.
The boy scrolled through the contacts, dismissing them as soon as he saw them. They were all good at their jobs, sure, but none would help him. He knew exactly what they’d do if he went to them. And he couldn’t bear that.
Finally he saw the one that he wanted. His dad had told him that Uncle Mikey (who wasn’t his real uncle, but just a guy who had the same kind of job as the boy’s dad) was dangerous now. That he’d crossed the line. Gone from killing monsters to killing people. And the boy’s dad had told him that they couldn’t ever see Uncle Mikey again. He was too dangerous.
But Uncle Mikey would help. The boy knew that he would. Besides, just because the news had called him a ‘serial killer’ didn’t mean that it was true. After all, the cops had been after the boy’s father last year when they thought that he was responsible for the deaths caused by the ghoul that he’d been hunting.
He hit the ‘send’ button to make the call.
Even at such a late hour, it was picked up after only one ring.
“Craig? What the hell do you want?”
“My dad’s dead.”
“Matt? Oh man, jeez kid. That’s one helluva bad break. Crap. Oh, crap, man.”
“Yeah.” The boy agreed.
“Ya need anything?”
“Yeah, I need you to help me bring him back.”
Dean tapped out the beat of the music on the steering wheel of the Impala as he sped down the road. The windows were open, letting the cool October air rush in. He let both the sound and the sensation wash over him and drown out everything else. His father’s death, those final instructions that Dean was forced to carry around in secret, his worry over Sam’s growing abilities and what they could mean for his younger brother; all of that was pushed to the back of his mind. Driving his newly repaired baby and heading towards their next case was what mattered.
“When we get there, I think we should talk to the latest victim’s family.” Sam spoke up, turning the music down.
Dean contemplated cranking the volume back up, but since they’d be at their destination soon, he decided talking over the details might be a better idea.
“He left behind a sister, right?”
“Yeah, and she told the police that she was over his house that night. Heard the whole thing.”
“Didn’t see anything?”
“Huh. So, no eye witness accounts then.”
Sam shook his head. “Three victims so far. All of them have the cause of death listed as ‘blunt force trauma’ but then parts of the body were torn off and eaten.”
“Any organs in particular?”
“Not according to the coroner’s report that you got faxed to us. And they seem pretty thorough.”
Dean made a face. “Maybe. But they don’t always know what to look for.”
“So, interview first, then scene of the crime, followed by dead bodies afterwards.”
“Dinner in-between.” Dean amended. “Looking at chewed up corpses first might ruin my appetite.”
“I… I don’t know what happened, really. I was upstairs at the time, getting changed out of my work uniform. Mark, he said he’d get dinner out. Which meant that he’d unpack the take-out bags.” The young woman gave a shaky laugh. “I was still in my underwear when I heard the door break in. That’s why I didn’t run down, you know? I thought someone was breaking in or something and I didn’t want to go down there undressed. So I called the cops. But the whole time, I could hear what was going on.” Her voice broke and she took a moment to compose herself. “Mark was screaming, until his screams didn’t even sound like screams anymore. And there was this grunting, growling sound. I didn’t hear it until my brother’s screams were… until I think he was mostly dead. And then, I actually heard the sounds of it… of it eating him.” The woman broke down into sobs.
Dean nudged the box of tissues a bit closer to her. “Did you go downstairs before the police arrived?”
“No. No, I was too frightened.”
Sam sent the lady an overly sympathetic look. “That whole experience must have been horrific, Ms. Beckett. And I assure you that the FBI will find your brother’s killer and bring him to justice.”
The woman turned her attention to him. “So, do you agree with the police then? That it’s some murderer or something that has a dog with him?”
“We’re working on some theories of our own.” Dean assured her. “Do you know if there’s anyone that may have wanted to target your brother?”
“Anyone that would want to kill Mark? No. And before you ask, he didn’t know either of the two other victims. I mean, we’d heard about them, of course. Stuff like that doesn’t happen around here without people taking notice, but neither of us have ever come in contact with them.”
Sam nodded. “Alright, Ms. Beckett. We’ll be in touch.”
As Dean carefully lifted the window of the coroner’s office, he ran over all the possible suspects in his head. And came up blank once more. Maybe seeing the body would help because so far the interview and crime scene had been less than helpful. At the house, all they’d discovered were signs of a struggle and a lot of blood. No strange marks or scents. No EMF. No fangs, fur, or nails. No creepy-ass messages written in blood on the wall (Dean had commented that he was waiting for the day that they saw ‘REDRUM’ scrawled somewhere). Nothing. So yeah, all they knew so far was that they were looking for something that bludgeoned the victim to death and then ate parts of them.
After pulling himself through the window, Dean turned to face Sam. “You think it’s too early to put out an APB on Hannibal?”
Sam rolled his eyes but didn’t respond.
The brothers walked over to the wall where the small doors all lined up; each one potentially holding a corpse.
Dean heard the sound paper being moved. He looked to see Sam examining a printout.
“Okay, the one we need is right… here.”
The hunter followed his brother to the correct spot. They hesitated a moment before pulling open the drawer.
Dean figured by this point in his life that he should be used to dead bodies. And he was. Kind of. But seeing one always made him feel a bit inadequate, like he’d failed them somehow, even though he knew that he’d had no chance to get there and save the victims before he’d even known that there was a case. Also, seeing bodies that had most of the flesh ripped away and teeth marks embedded into the bone was gag inducing to just about anyone no matter how experienced.
“Oh man, that’s just…” Sam pulled a face.
“Nasty.” Dean finished.
“Yeah.” Sam agreed.
“So, we still thinking Hannibal?”
Sam gave him a look. “We never were. But…” He pulled over a lighted magnifying glass. “Look!”
“Do I have to?”
“Okay.” Dean sighed. “What am I… holy crap. Are those human teeth marks?”
“So, I mean, this isn’t just the work of some psycho, though.”
Sam shook his head. “The strength it had to have taken to have accomplished this…”
“Well, even if it’s not human, maybe it’s human-ish.”
“I’ll check through Dad’s journal when we get back to the motel. We need to try and identify this thing so we can kill it before it decides to have another snack.
“Princess! Come on girl! Hey!” Carl called out for the dog again. He groaned in frustration when the stupid thing didn’t come back. Part of him hoped the thing had been hit by a car, but his girlfriend would be devastated and would most likely blame him. So maybe a dead dog wasn’t the best ending to this whole scenario. “Come on, Princess! Come back!”
When she still didn’t trot her little tail up the front lawn, he slipped his shoes on and went outside. Damn. It was far too cold to be doing this. Why did they need a dog anyways? Fish were better pets. They didn’t pee on the carpet, chew up your stuff, lick you face after licking their own butts, or make you go out after dark in the freezing cold to find them when they decided to refuse to go back inside.
Carl looked all around the house. No dog. With a sign and a mumbled string of curses he set off walking down the street.
“Shut up!” His neighbor, Dan, yelled from the window. “Some of us are trying to get our kids to sleep!”
“Sorry, man.” Carl rolled his eyes. He continued on down the road.
When he got to the end, he crossed over to the extension road that had only two houses, a lot of trees, and ended way down further in a dead end. It would be just like that stupid mutt to lead him here on a cold, dark night just to screw with him. Carl passed the houses and went a bit further, whistling every few steps to try and get the damn dog’s attention if she was here.
Then he heard a rustling. Too loud and from something way too big to be Princess.
Carl wasn’t an idiot. He’d heard about the recent deaths in the town and was suddenly all too aware of how vulnerable he was. So he did what he figured any intelligent person in his position would do. He turned and ran.
At first he was almost certain that he heard something come out of the trees behind him, but as he left the extension street and crossed back into the better lit main one, it was clear that he had not been followed. Still, Carl didn’t slow down until he reached his front door. And there, sitting on his porch, was Princess, wagging her tail and waiting for him. Stupid mutt.
After getting back inside and locking the door, Carl was about to kick off his shoes and relax when suddenly the front door was slammed into by something that made it start to give way. Carl jumped back. Then it happened again. On the third time, the door burst open and something lunged through at Carl.
He never even got a good look at it. It was a blur and then it was on him. Carl tried to fight back but the thing was making growling, gurgling noises as it beat him over and over and Carl’s whole world narrowed down to those sounds and red pain. And then black nothingness.
Sam was startled awake by something hitting him in the head. He sat up and lashed out to fight off any attackers before realizing that the object had been a well-aimed newspaper. And his attacker was merely his now-smirking older brother.
“What the hell, Dean?”
“Rise and shine, Sammy.”
“What time is it?”
“Breakfast time. Eat up.” He gestured to the bag that sat on the small, round motel table. “Then we gotta get moving. There was another murder last night.”
“Yeah, check the paper I just gave you.”
“Threw at me.” Sam mumbled the correction.
“Poe-tay-toe, poe-tah-toe.” Dean grinned. “Anyway, I’ll give you the highlights. Dude found in his home, dead and partially eaten. Door busted in.”
“Who found him?”
“Girlfriend. She works for the paper, which is probably why it made the early edition. Anyway, I say we go check out the place soon as we can.”
Sam nodded and climbed out of bed. He wasted no time pulling on some clean clothes and his shoes.
“I’m all set. We can eat in the car. Let’s go.”
Dean snatched up the bag and tossed it to him. “Ok, Mr. Bossy. We’ll go.”
Sam rolled his eyes. He knew that despite the teasing, Dean didn’t mind. As a matter of fact, his brother seemed to want to do little more than hunt these days. Ever since their dad had died, Dean had thrown himself completely into the job. Sam had attempted to talk with him about it and get him to open up, but that just wasn’t Dean’s style. Not that Dean’s style was particularly healthy, but Sam didn’t seem to be able to change it. Maybe someday his brother would come around though. But until then, hunting seemed to be the only thing that gave Dean any semblance of peace.
When they reached the house, both of them got out and started toward the walkway. Dean flashed his fake badge at one of the cops and Sam followed his lead. They were waved through without any questions. Sam had to admit that he was a bit nervous every time they played this role that they’d be caught, but his brother walked with such confidence that most of the time no one ever looked at him twice.
The inside of the house was a mess. It wasn’t that there had been a huge struggle. Actually, it seemed that whatever attacked the man who had lived here had killed him rather quickly. But it had also done so very violently. Blood splattered the walls, couch, coffee table, and puddled on the floor. The body had been removed, but it was obvious where it had laid.
Dean crouched down and examined that area while Sam walked around. He checked for anything strange or out of place but, just like the place they’d checked the previous day, it was clean for the typical signs of the paranormal.
He walked back to his brother and gave a slight shake of his head. Dean nodded back to confirm that his findings were the same.
They didn’t stay much longer before excusing themselves with a (false) promise to keep in touch with the local police.
As they went to get into the car, Sam saw one of the neighbors out by their fence, watching the whole thing. He nudged Dean and nodded his head in the guy’s direction. Dean shrugged and led the way over.
“Excuse me, sir.” Dean spoke.
“Yeah, we’re with the FBI, and we were called in to help investigate the murder of your neighbor. Did you see or hear anything unusual last night?”
The guy looked nervous for a moment. “Look man, I had nothing to do with it, okay?”
“No one’s saying you did.” Sam reassured him.
He seemed to relax just a bit. “Okay… well, last night, it was late. Real late. Like after eleven o’clock. I know because my kids were sleeping and Carl woke my little boy up again with his shouting. He’s always shouting for one reason or another. Last night it was his dog. He was out looking for it and yelling his head off. I called out and told him to quiet down. He blew me off and continued down the road, still making too much noise. I stayed near the window, because I intended to warn him that I’d call the cops out on him if he kept disturbing the peace, but by the time he came back he wasn’t yelling.”
“Was he with anyone when he came back to his house?” Dean questioned.
“Nah,” The guy shook his head. “His girl still wasn’t home and the dog was already waiting for him at the door. But you know, Carl was acting weird.”
“How?” Sam wanted to know.
“He was moving fast, and he was looking over his shoulder like he was spooked. But there wasn’t anyone behind him. The road was deserted. Anyways, I had to go get my son to back to bed, so I left the living room then.”
“Did you hear anything after that?”
“I thought I had. Like there was some noises, but I thought it was just him screaming at the dog again or something. Look, I feel bad about what happened to him, no one deserves that, but he was a really obnoxious neighbor and hearing a loud commotion from his place wasn’t anything new. Sorry I couldn’t be a bigger help.”
Dean sent him a tight smile. “Well, any information is useful.”
“Thank you very much.” Sam added.
“What direction had Carl been walking?” Dean asked.
“Over that way. Probably down by the woods.”
They made their way back to the Impala.
“It looks like Carl might have encountered his killer before getting eaten.”
Sam nodded thoughtfully. “And it followed him back to his house. We should check with the family members of the other victims and see if they might have gone for walks right before they were attacked as well. Maybe they’re leading this thing right to them.”
Searching the woods turned out to be a bust, but talking to the family members wasn’t. Turned out that two of the three other victims had definitely been out walking right before their deaths, and the first victim no one really could confirm. The second guy was an avid power-walker (really, what the hell was power-walking all about? You didn’t walk any faster and you looked like a total douche doing it) and the third victim, Mark, had walked back to his house from the diner with his supper. And, as Dean studied his map, he noted that both would most likely have passed by areas of dense trees. Bingo.
“Sammy, I think I know where we go next.”
“We just ate, Dean. We’re not headed back to that diner already.” His brother teased.
“Ha, you’re hilarious. No, look. All the woods that the victims passed almost connect… right here. Now, if I was a creepy creature with a taste for human flesh and wanted a hideaway close to some nice hunting grounds, this would be it.”
“Worth checking out.” Sam confirmed.
“’Course it is, I thought of it.” Dean shot back, with a grin.
They reached the area in no time and Dean parked the Impala. He closed his door and walked around to the trunk. Without knowing exactly what they were up against (all of their research had turned up nothing but crap), the best they could do is load up for everything. They grabbed shotguns and handguns, both iron and silver ammo, machetes, holy water (not likely to be used, but whatever), salt, knives, and a small homemade flamethrower. So, once they were set, Sam slammed the trunk. Dean glared at him for the rough treatment of his baby and then they headed off into the woods.
They wandered around for over an hour before Dean found their first clue. But at least it was a good one. The ground had obviously been trampled and there were traces of long-since dried blood. And it left a trail that wasn’t too hard to follow.
He took a moment to consider the fact that it might be a trap, but without knowing how intelligent this thing was, that wasn’t a theory that could be confirmed or denied. So he decided to just follow it and keep very aware of his surroundings. Besides, this creature seemed to like to follow its prey back to their homes before attacking, and Dean had no intentions of running.
They heard it before they saw it. A low rumbling growl that came in the rhythm of breathing and only was interrupted by an occasional grunt drifted through the dense trees ahead of them, along with the sounds of breaking branches and what seemed to be a shuffling walk.
Dean motioned for Sam to continue on the same path and he broke off, jogging quickly, but quietly to try and go around to get ahead of the thing.
His first view of it was confusing. It looked like a guy. A really dead guy. Its face was bloated and rotting, pieces of flesh peeling away. One eye was sinking back into the socket to the point where it almost couldn’t be seen and the other was clouded over. Dried blood was smeared around its mouth. Its clothes fit all wrong; the pants too short, the shirt unbuttoned (revealing more gross, mottled skin), and no shoes on its feet.
Dean’s first thought was ‘zombie’ but it didn’t really fit. This thing wasn’t like the woman that had been raised just a few weeks before.
After a quick decision, the hunter decided to lead with silver bullets, and follow through with decapitation if plan A failed. He stepped out in front of the thing, knowing that his brother would be behind the creature and would back him up.
“Hey, ugly! Hope you got your fill, because you’ve had your last meal.” With that, Dean took aim and fired. He hit the monster once in the head and twice in the chest.
The creature wailed and rushed him. It was dragging one leg, but still moved with astounding speed. It would’ve been upon him before Dean had his machete in hand had Sam not chosen that moment to shoot it in the back with a shotgun. It let out a pained grunt and turned its head back and forth to look between them. The older Winchester took that moment to pull out his bladed weapon and charge.
He raised his machete and was about to bring it around and into the thing’s neck when suddenly a blur charged out of the bushes nearby and smacked right into him. Dean adjusted at the last second when he realized that there was a small child now clinging to him.
“Get back and out of the way!” Dean cried out. “I’ll take care of this thing, but you need to get to safety!” Images of what the monster could do to a little boy ran through the hunter’s head.
“No! Don’t hurt him!”
“He’s my dad!”
Dean heard Sam’s shotgun go off again. He didn’t have time for this. “Whatever this thing is, it’s not your dad anymore.”
He tried to push the kid back and step toward the monster but the boy ran around to step between them. The creature took a swipe at the kid. Dean snatched him around the middle and tried to get the boy out of the way, but then he felt what seemed to be a million tons of bricks collide with his head and he was sent sprawling to the ground.
Sam saw Dean go down and he fired twice more at the thing that was now stalking towards his big brother. He wasn’t going to let that creature kill and eat Dean. The monster turned and roared at him, only to get shot in the back of the head. Dean was still awake after that blow, and was now propped up on his elbow and had his gun back in hand. The thing looked between them, grunted, and then turned to flee into the woods.
Sam considered giving chase, but didn’t want to leave his brother (who was bleeding from a wound on his forehead) alone out here with that kid if the monster doubled back.
He walked over and helped the shorter man to his feet.
“Damn it.” Dean growled. “Almost had the son of a bitch.”
“I’m sorry.” The little kid spoke up from where he sat on the ground. He’d gone down when Dean had fallen, and the older Winchester had done his best to protect the boy. “But I couldn’t let you hurt him.”
“Kid, I told you…”
“I heard you! And I know. But maybe we can fix him.”
“There’s no fixing that.” Dean shook his head. “Do you know what happened to him? Was he bit by something or…”
“He died.” The boy admitted. “And I brought him back. But it didn’t go well.”
“You think.” Dean muttered.
Sam shot his brother a look. “Let’s get you somewhere safe and you can tell us the whole story.”
“Are you sure that this is gonna work?” Matt asked.
Uncle Mikey shrugged. “It worked on the video tape. Watched the whole damned thing. They painted this symbol, lit the candles, had earthly remains, the spirit of the dead, recited the correct words and bam! The guy they were trying to bring back was alive again. Totally okay.”
Matt grinned. “That’s great!”
“So, I got the candles and drew the correct symbol, you got the rest?”
The boy nodded. “Yeah. I mean, I don’t have his entire body, but I have some of his bones in my bag. It was all I had left. I was gonna bury them and all but I just couldn’t. Not if there was some chance…”
Uncle Mikey nodded. “And you said his spirit is still around.”
Matt nodded and held up the battered, old laptop. “Dad built this. You know he was always good with stuff like that. I mean, it was kind of his job before he hunted. And now he’s still with it and he’d been communicating with me using it. I don’t know if he’s stuck here bound to it, or he’s actually possessing it and I don’t care. I just know he’s still here. And if I told any other hunter they’d want to salt and burn it and I won’t let that happen. I want to bring him back, not lose him forever.”
The guy shrugged, as if he couldn’t care less. “Well, good thing you came here then. ‘Cause I’m not gonna lecture you on what you should be doing. And I will help you, but it’ll cost you and your daddy a favor in return.”
“I’m gonna need him to use his computer skills to make sure I’m gone from all systems. Having the law on my ass is a real pain.”
“I’m sure Dad can do that.” Matt nodded eagerly.
“He’s the only one I know that could and that I’d trust.”
“You mean, since everyone thinks you’re a serial killer now.”
Uncle Mikey snorted. “They don’t understand. No one does. People… they can be just as bad as creatures.”
“You mean… you have killed people?”
“Had to Matty. They were bad. Evil, really. That one lady… her voice, her face… the very way she moved.” He shook his head and turned to face the boy. Matt saw something in the man’s eyes and knew right then that the guy was in fact crazy. Years of hunting and the trauma he’d been through had messed him up bad. “She needed to die. So did the others.”
Matt bit his lip, but nodded. No use upsetting the crazy guy. And he still needed Mikey (in his mind, he’d already dropped the ‘uncle’ title since, after this, he never wanted to see the man again).
“Can we do this ritual now? Please?”
Mikey nodded. “Sure thing.” He started lighting all the candles. “Set the bones out around the inside perimeter of the large symbol, then place the laptop in the center.”
Matt got to work. He unzipped his pack and started pulling out the bones. He cringed at handling them. His father’s bones were discolored from dried blood and had teeth marks in them from where the ghouls had chewed on him. The boy fought back his tears. His dad had made it his life’s work to hunt down those creatures after they’d killed Matt’s mom, only to fall prey to them himself.
After gently putting the computer at the center of the symbol, the boy stepped away.
“Then let’s get started.” Mikey turned on his television and activated an old VCR. He fast forwarded the tape.
“What are you doing?”
“I don’t know the ritual by heart and my Latin is crap anyways. These guys pulled it off, so I figured I’d play their speech and that would work just as well.”
“Alright.” It made sense to Matt.
When Mikey hit ‘play’, there was a moment of silence and then static-y sounding Latin filled the room. Matt was practically shaking with anticipation. He had no clue what the words being spoken meant, but if this ritual had worked once before, then it just had to work again.
Then the words stopped. Matt looked over at the tv to make certain that the tape was still playing, and saw the screen filling with a brilliant light. As he was facing the television, he caught an even brighter glow emanating from the room that he was in. It was working!
The boy ended up shielding his eyes against the light. A high pitched whine filled the room along with a strong breeze. Then it all suddenly stopped.
“Dad?” Matt turned to look.
His father was lying on top of the laptop, probably breaking the old, rundown device. But Matt didn’t care. He had his dad back!
From the television, he could hear joyful conversation, and he ignored it all as he ran to his father’s side. He dropped to his knees.
“Dad! Dad, wake up! Are you okay? Please get up!”
His father’s eyes snapped open and turned towards him. There was no recognition in them. Actually, they looked colder and wilder than Mikey’s had earlier. If anything, they looked like the eyes of the things Matt’s dad used to hunt.
His dad reached up and smacked him away with one arm. Matt went flying across the room. He hit the ground hard and rolled a couple times. It hurt, but not as much as his heart was hurting. That wasn’t his dad. Not at all. And now Matt was scared.
He crawled behind the couch and tried very hard to not cry.
“Hey, Craig… easy there, man.” Mikey spoke up. “Just calm down, buddy.” There was a grunting, almost growling noise in response. “Whoa, back up there, pal. I helped you and your kid out. You don’t wanna…” The rest of his sentence was cut off by a cry of pain.
Matt slammed his hands over his ears as tears streamed down his face. He rocked back and forth trying to block out the sounds of flesh hitting flesh, Mikey’s dying screams, and then… ripping and chewing. And the smells became horrible as well.
Eventually, the boy curled up in a tiny ball and tried to pretend he was anywhere else. He lost all sense of time, but at some point he heard the front door burst open. The boy took a deep, shaky breath and crawled out of his hiding place.
When he saw what was left of Mikey, he immediately threw up. After wiping his mouth and then the tears from his eyes, Matt decided that he had to do something about his dad. This was all his fault and he had to fix it.
“How’d you get here?” Dean asked.
Matt shrugged. “Dad leaves a pretty easy trail to follow. And unless he’s chasing someone, he’s kind of slow, so it wasn’t that hard to track.”
Dean took a bite of his burger. “You know what we have to do, right?”
“No way! I went through all of this to…”
“And look how it turned out.”
“But on the video tape, the guy came back just fine! I don’t know what went wrong when we did it, but maybe I can still fix things.” He pushed his food around a bit, but had yet to actually eat anything on his plate.
“First off, maybe video tape guy freaked out and started eating people two minutes after the home movie ended. We just don’t know. Best not to play with this crap. And even if it went well that one time, your ritual was different.”
“Well, you used the recording that was all static-y. Could’ve screwed up some of the words. The spirit was bound to an item and might not have wanted to leave it, so you might have brought back the body with no soul. Or, the bones could’ve had ghoul saliva on them which infected the ritual and brought him back as a monster. There are three theories right there. I can keep listing them if you’d like.”
Matt looked startled. “Oh.”
“Look, Matt,” Sam started. “I know you were just trying to help your dad. But do you really think that this is what he’d want?”
“He hunted these things, Matt.” Dean added. “No one wants to become the things they hunt.”
“I guess. But I miss him.”
“I know.” Dean thought about his own father for a moment and then pushed all that into the back of his mind. “But we gotta do this.”
“You’ve been tracking him this whole time. Do you think he’ll stay in the woods now that we’ve discovered him?”
The boy nodded. “Yeah. I mean, he came all the way back here without stopping and hasn’t left since. I don’t think he’s planning to go now. Not for anything.”
“Back here?” Sam questioned.
“This was home. The town we lived in before my mom died.”
Dean ran a hand threw his hair. “Then he felt drawn to come back. Did he know any of the victims?”
Matt shook his head. “No. Not that I know of.”
“Okay, so he’s not really in control or anything. No planning behind his actions. He sees a random person pass by, follows them back to their home, and…” Dean trailed off. They all knew what came next.
“We should get Matt back to the motel, then head into the woods again.” Sam suggested. “It’ll be dark soon and that seems to be when he wanders around to find his victims.”
“But I should help.” The boy protested.
“No.” Dean put his foot down. “First off, way too dangerous. Second, do you really want to be there when we kill him? For good?”
Tears filled the kid’s eyes. “No.” He admitted in a whisper. “But I should. I did this. People are dead because I brought Dad back.”
Dean sighed. He wanted to agree and scold the hell out of the boy, but the kid was feeling bad enough and had already been put through hell. “Look kid, you made a bad call. And yeah, crap happened because of it. But you’re just a kid. The guy you went to, he should’ve known better. He should’ve stopped all this before it started. But he didn’t. And you wanted your dad back. And now there’s a mess. But you came here to help clean it up and you gave us some information we needed. So, at the end of the day, you did the best you could. And now you know better. Right?”
Sam stood up from their table. “We’ll make sure this all ends tonight.”
Dean could feel Sam’s gaze on him as he drove back towards the woods. He did his best to ignore it, hoping that by keeping his focus on the road (and on the case) that his brother would keep quiet. Yeah, like that would ever happen.
“We gonna talk about it?”
“What? The fact that we got very little time to hunt down this thing and take it out before it claims yet another victim?”
“We’ve done that before.”
“No, I talk. You get mad.”
Dean sighed, trying to reign in his frustration. “And yet, here you go; bringing up the topic again.”
“Because it’s relevant here, Dean. I know you gotta be thinking of him too.”
“I’m thinking of the case, Sam.”
“Which involves a father dying.” Sam shot back.
“Many cases involve people dying.”
“Not all of them are hunters and fathers.”
“The circumstances aren’t anywhere near the same, Sam.”
“But you can’t deny that it doesn’t get to you. I know you, Dean.”
“You know what gets to me? This! The fact that I’m dealing just fine, but… Sammy look!”
Dean pointed over to the side of the road, where a young woman was running alongside the dense trees. The Impala’s headlights illuminated the look of pure terror on her face as she sped past them and kept going.
Dean slammed on the breaks. The hunters looked around the area, but didn’t see anything. Dean rolled down the window and heard branches being broken in the woods behind their car.
“Damn it! It’s going after her.”
Dean spun the car around to follow. He drove down the road, keeping an eye out for the woman. At first, he didn’t see her. He turned down another street, then another. She must’ve been moving pretty damned fast, because he finally caught up with her a couple blocks away as she was ducking into her house. She probably felt safe there. Little did she know.
Dean and Sam got out of the Impala, grabbing the weapons they’d kept right in easy reach, just in time to see the creature ramming itself against the front door. Crap, that thing moved quickly. He hadn’t even noticed its approach.
The brothers ran across the front lawn as the monster broke through the door. Dean heard the woman let out a scream. Luckily, it was one of fear and not of pain. He flung himself through the broken door, raised his gun, and fired.
The rotted face that once belonged to a young boy’s father turned to face Dean. It let out a growl and swiped one of its arms at the hunter. Dean ducked the blow and rushed into the room, clearing a path for his brother. Sam took the opportunity to use the shotgun.
“Go upstairs!” Dean yelled to the woman. “Hide and don’t come out until it’s over!”
She didn’t need to be told twice. He watched until he knew that she’d be safe and then put his gun away. Dean held up his machete and got ready to charge. Sam was going to keep the creature distracted until his brother could get into position to decapitate the thing.
It roared and grunted as it tried to make its way to the younger Winchester. Sam kept firing. The monster lifted up a loveseat and threw it at him. Dean watched his brother leap out of the way. The heavy piece of furniture missed him by mere inches and broke on impact. The creature stomped over to where Sam lay sprawled on the ground and grabbed him by his shoulder, lifting him into the air. Dean heard his brother groan in pain.
He lunged forward to deliver the killing blow and save Sam, but the monster turned at the last second and back handed him across the face. Dean went down hard. His jaw was throbbing and he tasted blood. The thing then raised its hand to deliver a killing blow to Sam.
“No!” Dean scrambled forward and hacked into the monster’s leg with his machete.
It howled in pain and dropped Sam. The taller Winchester landed and rolled, holding onto his obviously sore shoulder. Dean got to his feet, prepared to end the fight. The creature growled and raised its hand to smack him again. But a shot rang out and it grunted in pain. Sam was still on the floor, but was now holding his handgun.
Dean used the moment of distraction to bring his machete around and decapitate the creature.
There was a moment after both the body and head hit the floor when they both just waited for something to happen. But it seemed like it was finally over for good.
“Do we have to?” Matt asked, looking like he might cry.
“We’re still not sure if that was just his body or not. And if your dad is still hanging around…”
Dean placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder, a look of sympathy directed right at the kid.
“I know. He deserves to rest.”
The boy handed the old, battered laptop over to Dean. The hunter figured that they could probably scan it for EMF and run other tests to see if in fact Craig was still stuck on this plane, but he didn’t want to take any chances. Besides, Matt needed this. He had to let go now, or he’d always be stuck in this moment.
The boy placed the computer in the fire pit. Dean covered it with salt and Sam poured on enough fuel to hopefully burn the damned thing. Dean lit a match.
“Bye, Dad.” Matt spoke up. “I should’ve done this before, but I just didn’t want to let you go. I’m sorry. But I love you.”
Dean dropped the match.
“So, you’re sure your aunt’s okay with you just showing up like this?” Dean asked.
Matt nodded. “Yeah. She thinks Dad went a bit nuts after Mom died and couldn’t handle it and that’s why he just didn’t have a job and traveled around all the time. When I told her that he died, she told me I could stay with her. I think she’s relieved that I won’t be on the road and living out of a car anymore.”
“Well, it’s good that you have her.” Sam mentioned.
“Yeah.” The boy agreed. “But I miss Dad.”
“And you will.” Dean admitted. “But sometimes life has a funny way of taking care of us even when we think nothing’s going to turn out alright.”
Matt looked over at the house that was waiting for him. “I guess you’re right. Thanks for everything.” He opened the door and climbed out.
“Take care.” Dean called to him.
The boy waved back at them as his aunt came out to greet him.
“That’s some good advice you gave him.” Sam mentioned.
“Shut up.” Dean rolled his eyes as Sam chuckled.
But Dean really wanted to be right. Because with everything that had happened and everything that might be coming their way, Dean certainly hoped that life would take care of them and that everything would turn out alright in the end.