Summary: Boyd County, Nebraska wasn't a town that often made the twelve o'clock news. Now, people who pass through the town turn up missing so Sam and Dean investigate.
by: Seriously Sam
"Admit it, Jason, we're lost."
A young couple sat stewing in their 2005 Honda Civic. They'd been driving for hours and seemed to be getting nowhere in rural Nebraska. They were on their way to Minnesota and somehow took a wrong on the highway. It was typical. Jason never could read a map correctly, and he always refused to stop for directions. It must be a guy thing.
"Look, we just left Naper," he said with a small bout of triumph as his finger pointed at the road sign.
"Oh, yeah, because we know exactly where Naper is!" False enthusiasm filled her words. "Asshole."
"Hey, you wanna drive, Liz? Go at it!"
Liz crossed her arms over her chest and stared blankly out at the scenery. Something struck a cord in the couple as they glanced at the occupants of the town. It was rundown with buildings that looked like they would collapse with the smallest breeze. The windows were broken and covered in duct tape just to keep them from shattering completely. The Honda's wheels stirred up large clouds of dirt as they drove through the small town.
"Where are all the adults?" asked Liz.
Children were everywhere from the smallest ages of two to the oldest ages of about sixteen. They looked at the car with hollowed eyes and sunken cheeks. Pitchforks, buckets, and other farming equipment were clenched in their hands. They looked small and dirty as thirst shone in their dead-looking faces.
"You think they need help?" questioned Jason.
"Let's just keep going, all right?"
"Yeah, you would say that wouldn't you?" he challenged in disgust as she scoffed. "You're such a selfish bitch, and it's not a huge secret."
Pulling the Honda over to the side of the road, Jason cut the engine. Liz glared at her husband as he hauled his frame out of the car and took in the mass of children that slowly surrounded him. Muttering under her breath, she got out of the car as well and walked towards the front to stand beside him. The children swarmed them. Their huge eyes stared at them with rapid fascination.
"Hey you little dudes, where are your parents?" Jason asked warmly.
They didn't say anything back. They just kept staring at the couple with hunger and excitement shining in their eyes. A few children in the front reached out and stroked their arms, chest, legs. Liz tried to squirm away from them. All she wanted to do was get back in the car and drive away. Except the children had trapped them and it was all Jason's fault.
Liz's voice quivered as she reached out frantically to grab her husband's arm. The children kept touching them as the smirks on their young faces grew with every passing moment. Then screams filled the air as Liz and Jason fell to the ground. Their insides felt like they were being ripped out by invisible hands and the tangy coppery taste of blood landed on their taste buds. Over their sobs and pleas, the children laughed and danced around the dying couple.
Leaning back in the leather bench seat of the Impala, Dean cracked his back as the long drive to Nebraska continued. He didn't really see a case in the news clippings like Sam did. Dean saw a serial murder, some sick bastard, but nothing supernatural in the small towns in the northern region of the state. Except, his little brother persisted almost viciously. Something just wasn't right.
"So, Geek boy, go over this again with me."
Sam sighed as he shifted through the articles situated in his lap. They'd talked about the case for nearly two states now. The information was the same as it was several hours ago. Biting back a groan, Sam retold the case nearly from memory.
"People are missing in a string of small towns in northern Nebraska. All the victims weren't native to Nebraska and their bodies were never recovered. Police have found their cars ditched on the side of the road. Everything looks normal with the vehicles. Police are stumped."
"How many victims again?"
"Nine sets of cars were found in various locations. The latest was a young couple. Jason and Elizabeth Forester were driving to Minnesota to attend a wedding. They never showed. Their car was found in Naper, Nebraska which has a population of just over one hundred."
The brothers lapsed into silence as the Impala crossed into Boyd County. They found the area where the latest car was found. Yellow police taped marked the region. Getting out of the car, the brothers walked looked around for any sort of evidence.
"So they weren't driven off the road," commented Dean. "No skid marks on the road, no tire tracks in the ground."
"Even if they pulled over, wouldn't there be tire tracks?"
Bending down, Dean touched the soft soil. There would have been tracks - there was no doubt. Standing up, he surveyed the area. Nothing was out of the ordinary. Naper looked like a typical small town, one that the boys had stayed in growing up more than once.
"Anything off about the area? Any history we should know about? Any violent deaths, weirdo activity?"
"In 1989, the government wanted to make Boyd County into a nuclear waste dump. The residents refused the couple million they were offered and continued with their lives. They went from a small group of farmers to a defiant group of environmentalists in the next two decades," explained Sam.
"So, in other words, no."
"There has to be something. People just don't disappear like this."
"People disappear like this everyday, Sammy."
"I just… I have this feeling that something very wrong is happening here."
Glancing at his brother, Dean raised his eyebrows. Feeling, in Dean's mind, often jumped to the conclusion that Sam's freaky psychic abilities were at play. Except, since Yellow-Eyes died, Sam adamantly denied having the powers any longer. Dean worried that they weren't gone but in hibernation or something like that. There was a nagging suspicion in the back of his mind that said this drama wasn't over by a long shot.
"A vision feeling?"
"No, I haven't had any visions since Yellow-Eyes," snapped Sam in an exasperated tone. "How many times do I have to tell you that?"
"Take a chill pill, Dude, I'm just asking."
Walking away from Sam, Dean tried to clear his mind from the fears that were slowly starting to erupt in the pit of his stomach. He couldn't help but think that he didn't bring Sammy back as his normal self. There were small changes in his personality, small shifts that only Dean would be able to take notice of. Nobody else knew Sam like Dean knew him. That's when the eerie silence of the small town was disrupted by shrieking sirens. Turning around, Dean caught Sam's eye. Another car had been found.
They followed the sirens through a town filled with concerned looking citizens peering out of their windows or gossiping quietly with neighbors. It wasn't long before they found a small herd of police cruisers pulled off to the side of the road. It seemed as though every town's police within a twenty-mile radius had shown up. Dean pulled the Impala behind the last police car and cut the engine.
Reaching forward before Dean had the chance, Sam sifted through the fake identification badges before pulling out two detective badges. Tossing one at Dean, Sam was out of the car and marching towards the police huddled in a small circle talking about the newest abandoned car.
"I'm Detective Garner and this is my partner Detective Kelly, what can you tell us about the missing people reports?"
Dean flashed his badge as he took his spot next to his brother who was doing the same motion. The police officers glanced at the brothers with uncertainty residing in their expressions. They had dealt with small towns before. They really weren't that forthcoming with newcomers invading their space. An elderly cop stepped forward and motioned for Sam and Dean to follow him away from the crowd.
"When people go disappearin' like this, it looks real bad on the small town, you see?" he explained. "When big city detectives come investigatin', it shines a bad light on us. So, you see, detectives, we're a little weary having you here askin' questions like this."
"All we want is to find the culprit," reasoned Sam.
"Yeah, well, that's all fine and dandy, but no one in Boyd County is doin' this. I'm tellin' you boys that right now. We got law abiding citizens livin' their keep here. We don't bother nobody."
"We never suggested that…"
Dean nodded his head unaware of Sam's full response. His eyes trailed to the right to see two children, both girls, standing at the end of a dirt road watching the scene unfold before them. They were young, not more than ten or eleven at most. Their hands were clenched together. Their dresses were brown from dirt and raggedy. Pale and sick looking, they smiled at the crime scene in front of them. They glanced at Dean, their dead looking eyes boring into him before turning to skip away down the road.
"Thank you for your time," Sam said, jolting Dean out of his reverie. "We'll let you know if we turn anything up."
With that, Sam started to stroll back to the Impala. Dean, on the other hand, stood there dumbfounded. His eyes darted from the dirt road where the two girls were to Sammy retreating towards the car. He felt like he missed something, felt as though something had caused him to space out and lose time.
"What's up that way?" questioned Dean as he nodded towards the dirt road where the girls disappeared.
"Uh, its just a ghost town. Cornish, real sad history."
"A little over two years ago, the whole town was just wiped off the map. People were runnin' away with their families, a lot of others died, a lot just disappeared. Nobody really knew what happened, couldn't even begin to explain it. It's been abandoned ever since."
"Thank you for your time, Officer."
Nodding once more, Dean followed his brother back to the car. He could have sworn he only watched those kids for a couple seconds. There was no way he missed a whole conversation. Not to mention those girls skipped off into the sunset of a ghost town. There was something strange going on in Boyd County that was for sure. Hauling his frame into the Impala, Dean looked expectantly at his brother.
"What? Are you freakin' kiddin' me? Did you see those two creepy girls that looked like somethin' out of The Shining?"
"Dean, what the hell are you talking about?"
"Nothing," he replied with a shake of the head.
Focusing his attention onto the road, he twisted the key in the ignition and drove off looking for the motel. They drove pass farms, windmills, and what seemed like miles of cornfields until they came by a small motel right off the highway. After checking in, the boys situated themselves into their room. Per usual, Dean took the bed closest to the door and threw his duffle bag on top of the comforter. Sam whipped out his laptop and settled himself on his own bed, quickly booting the machine up.
"That cop, Horton, seriously looked freaked out about something," commented Sam. "There's something here, Dean, something that's just… not normal."
"I think you're right. I wanna check something out."
"Check what out?"
Dean sighed and thought of the best way to explain what he saw without sounding paranoid. There was just something about those children with the sunken cheeks and dull eyes that seemed terribly wrong. They stood overseeing the crime scene as though they were proud of what happened.
"Up the road there were these kids who were just watching the cops with… I don't know, they seemed proud or something." Clearing his throat, Dean glanced over at his brother briefly. "Officer What's-It said there was a ghost town up that way. Whole place was massacred over two years ago. Some people escaped, others were never heard from again."
"Dude, don't tell me you're thinking we're stuck in Children of the Corn or something like that." Sam laughed. "Those two little girls started a revolution by slaughtering all the adults, right?"
"I spy with my little eye something that starts with a 'C'."
Plopping down onto the bed, Dean leaned back against the headboard and closed his eyes. Something was definitely off with the children. Not to mention, any job that involved creepy kids was never a good sign.
"You know, it's weird that so many people are passing through Boyd County and end up missing in such a short amount of time," Sam said with a frown.
"What are you thinking?"
"What if these people were drawn here?"
"What? The massacred spirits are drawing people unconsciously to be sacrificed to He Who Walks Behind the Rows?"
When Sam didn't respond, Dean quirked an eye open to glance to his little brother. Sam was hunched over with his head in his hands. His face was contorted in pain as he rubbed the palms of his hands into his eye sockets.
"I'm fine. Headache, that's all."
"You haven't gotten a headache in a long time."
Dean swung his legs over the edge of the bed to watch his brother closely. His breathing was heavy as his palms started to literally dig into his eyes.
"I'm fine. Let's go find those children, all right?"
The words trailed off in Dean's throat. The whole incident seemed off. Over two years ago, a whole small town was practically massacred and it didn't make any sort of newspaper or news report?
"Nothing. Let's go."
The drive towards the dirt road where Dean saw the little girls was long and a quiet one at that. Each brother brewed in their own mind about one thing or another. Dean felt concerned for his brother, worried that something supernatural was going on with him. Sam, on the other hand, couldn't shake the feeling that he was being drawn somewhere, to some people. He wanted to see these children Dean saw, had to meet them.
The Impala rumbled into a worn down town. The streets and sidewalks were littered with children. Their faces were covered in grime with torn, dirty clothes hanging loosely on their emaciated frames. Upon hearing the car invading their town, all eyes were on the Impala. The children looked at the car with hollowed cheeks and dull, dead eyes. They stared at the newcomers with looks that should never be seen on kids' faces.
Easing his foot off the gas, Dean surveyed the town and its occupants with interest. There was no sign of any adults. No, there were just children everywhere working, guarding. They looked just about ready to attack the car with clenched fists and well placed kicks.
"Why do I feel like we've stumbled into Stephen King family hour?" joked Dean as his mouth opened wide with a chuckle. "I'm not going near any cornfields to be sacrificed. I'll tell you that right now. And, if there's a kid named Isaac, we're gettin' the hell out of dodge."
Sam didn't respond to his brother's comment. He was too busy looking at the children that sneered and snarled at them. His gut tightened as he watched them. It felt as though he had a connection with them, some weirdo connection that he couldn't even begin to explain.
The Impala halted and the engine was cut. The children lined up in front of the car as though forming a barricade. The brothers glanced wearily at one another before silently agreeing to exit the vehicle and investigate since this was so not what they were expecting to find in this so-called abandoned town.
Both car doors opened and slammed shut in perfect unison. Sam and Dean walked around the car to stand in front of the small mass of children. Their guns were situated between the flesh of their backs and the waistband of their jeans. Just in case. They never really had that much luck with creepy-ass children in the past.
Several of the children, at this point, scampered away from the brothers and ran down the street. Others gasped in shock and the rest bowed down to the ground in the brothers' direction. Sam and Dean glanced at each other again, but this time with raised eyebrows and confused looks. Turning back to the children, they were still baffled.
"Where, uh, are your parents?" questioned Sam.
The children didn't respond. Not a single one. Instead, they all bowed down onto their knees. The ones who were already on their knees tried to sink lower to the ground. It was then that Sam realized that the kids were bowing only to him. Their bodies were tilted just slightly enough to give off that impression. He could tell Dean noticed as well. His older brother's gaze burned into him with questions that Sam didn't know how to answer.
"Uh," Sam collected his thoughts, "can we talk to your, uh, mayor or someone?"
"She's on her way, your Majesty."
A little boy who couldn't have been more than five or six glanced up at Sam with wide eyes. Immediately as the words left his mouth, his head snapped down and he attempted to bow even farther down with his torso parallel with the dirty ground. Dean scoffed loudly as he gaped at his baby brother. The silent what the freakin' hell is going on was deafening in Sam's ear. The whole situation was becoming clear. How was he going to continue to lie to Dean after this?
"Sammy, dude, what the…?"
For the life of him, Sam couldn't open his mouth to say anything. The muscles in his jaw were set in disbelief. He'd denied it for months. He'd denied the snide demon comments about being a 'boy king', the 'chosen one', and all that other bullshit that was being thrown at him. Sam had the sickening feeling that the shit was about to hit the fan at full force.
That's when they came. A whole array of children from various ages walked towards the Impala and the brothers. In the front, as though leading the throng of children, was a teenage girl who couldn't have been more than eighteen. Her eyes bore into Sam's while the children behind her refused to meet his gaze. Her brown hair flowed almost angelically in the wind. A smirk danced on her face. As though sensing her presence, the bowed kids shifted to make a pathway for her to walk as though she were parting the Red Sea like freakin' Moses.
"Samuel Winchester," she greeted, "we've waited so long for you to come."
"E-excuse me?" questioned Sam in disbelief.
"Pardon my rudeness, your highness, I'm Abigail Bailey and I run this humble town."
Sam tried to swallow the lump forming in his throat but failed. Dean's eyes kept staring at him, boring into him. He could imagine his brother's green eyes bulging out of his head, mouth open, and simply gawking at the scene unraveling in front of them. Next, a picture of Dean looking aghast at Sam getting all the attention and not him filled his mind. It would be just like his attention hog of a brother.
"Y-you've waited for me?"
"Yes, your highness, Azazel said you'd bring us salvation."
"Azazel?" Dean bit out bitterly. "You gotta be shittin' me."
For the first time since the children started to openly worship Sam, all eyes were glowering on Dean. Quickly, Sam stole a glance at his brother completely lost. How the hell did Dean know who this Azazel was but Sam didn't?
"Oh, I see we have some unexpected company," Abigail spoke gravely as two teenage boys stepped forward. "We can get rid of him, your highness."
The two boys inched forward, reaching out to grab Dean by the arms and haul him off to who knows where. A look was shot in Sam's direction, a look that clearly read do something but Sam had been frozen in disbelief for several seconds and unable to move. What the hell was going on? That was the only question that could formulate in his mind.
"N-no, he's all right. He's my brother," he spoke quickly as he snapped back into reality.
The hands stopped short of grabbing Dean. Glancing back at Abigail, she shook her head. Immediately, the two boys retreated to their spot on either side of her. They carefully watched Dean as though they half expected him to start shooting up the town. Their stance would enable them to tackle him at the first sign of disobedience.
"We have much to discuss, your highness, so please come to dinner at the manor."
Dean, not so subtly, coughed up a lung. Sam tried to ignore his brother out of both shame and embarrassment. For so long, Sam had vehemently denied having any psychic connections since Yellow Eyes death. Now, that short-lived reality was no more. His old life seemed to be crashing into him at full force. He knew deep down in his gut that there was a connection. It was a feeling, the same feeling he got when he was around Andy or Ava. It was faint, the acknowledgement of the connection, but it was there.
"Uh, sure," responded Sam without really thinking about it, "but, uh, call me Sam, okay?"
"What? Are you freakin' kiddin' me?
Snapping his head to the left, Sam gave what he hoped was a very clear message to his brother. Most of the time the boys didn't need words to communicate. They always seemed to know what the other was thinking, what the other needed. Now, however, in this ghost town filled with kids corrupted by demons, or quite possibly the other generations of psychics Yellow Eyes talked of, Sam needed his intent to be made clear. Save the children before their innocence was completely lost.
They marched down the street as though in a parade. Children, dirty and literally shining with glee, watched the two brothers pass. Some shouted, others bowed as they walked by, and there were some who just sneered. Both brothers were thinking the same thing: the sneers and jeers were directed towards Dean.
At the end of the dirt road, they reached a house that looked out of place. It was not rundown like the rest of the buildings. The windows weren't cracked, the paint wasn't chipping away, and it wasn't covered in a cloud of dust. The manor looked in perfect condition with its new paint job and well-trimmed shrubbery.
The brothers were led to a small bedroom on the third story and told they would be summoned when dinner was ready. Dean glanced at his brother, and Sam knew exactly what was coming. An argument would be an understatement. Explanations did seem the likely route to go at the moment, but Sam feared he wouldn't know how to explain any of it. There were things that he still wanted to keep secret, things he wasn't ready to go blurting out to Dean when there were more pressing matters to be addressed.
"You answerin' by Isaac now?" snapped Dean, "or are you still Sam, your highness?"
"Or what? You gonna send some minion kids after me? What the hell, Dude?"
Sam didn't answer, didn't know how to answer. He sank down onto the nearest bed feeling drained. Somehow, these kids thought he was their messiah or whatever. The words that Ruby spoke to him, calling him the "anti-Christ" never seemed to ring truer than in that town.
"I don't know."
"Sammy, we don't know what's going on here. You just agreed to have dinner with them? This place could be crawling with demons! Does that not register in that brain of yours?"
"They're not… meaning to hurt anyone," protested Sam. "They don't know any better."
"Oh, so you're their spokesperson now, is that it?"
A forced chuckle filled the room as Sam shook his head in disbelief. Dean knew how to push harder than anyone Sam met in his life.
"This is all connected to Yellow Eyes, Sam, and you seem perfectly calm about them calling you God."
"You don't know that."
"I know that this town was massacred over two years ago. You know what was two years ago? Lemme think, uh, oh yeah! You started getting your freaky psychic visions and Yellow Eyes appeared on the radar again. You remember Dad ditching us to go hunt the damn thing?"
"It could be a coincidence," protested Sam even though he knew it wasn't the case.
"They were tainted by Yellow Eyes, Sammy! They massacred a whole town!"
"How do you know that?"
"Uh, how do I know that? Well, the looks these little punks have been giving me the whole time we've been here! They look about ready to carve me open!"
"Not that! How do you know Yellow Eyes was the one who did this to them?"
Sam watched the hesitation in Dean's eyes. Sighing, as though in defeat, Dean sank down onto the bed next to his brother.
"Yellow Eyes… his name is Azazel."
"No," croaked Dean as he glanced at Sam, "Casey, that hot demon bartender chick from the basement where we were trapped together, mentioned it. You wasted her, remember?"
Nodding, Sam turned away from his brother. They sat in silence as they looked around the bedroom. It wasn't uncommon for the boys to keep secrets from one another. Their dad, was in fact, the master of secrets. Little bits of information could simply be forgotten about when retelling a series of events. Hell, Sam had left out plenty of details concerning different things. He didn't dare tarnish the pedestal that Dean held Mary Winchester upon with the fact that she had known Yellow Eyes in some capacity. He didn't dare tell Dean about the demon blood inside of him because the older Winchester already hated the whole psychic business. Sam could deal with Dean not telling him everything, but he should have known the name of the demon they spent their whole lives hunting for, the demon that had ruined their lives time and time again.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"Tell you what?"
"That Yellow Eyes had a name?"
Dean sighed heavily. Out of the corner of his eye, Sam looked just in time to see his brother force a smile onto his face.
"Does it really matter what the bastard's name was?"
"I don't see what the big deal about it is. Our lives were ruined because of it and you… that demon killed Mom, killed Jess, killed Dad! So, yeah, Dean, it would have been nice to have a real name to put with the bastard!"
"Yellow Eyes didn't get the best of Dad, Sam. Dad made a deal. Yellow Eyes didn't kill him, because Dad was better than that," countered Dean.
"What else haven't you told me? What else did Casey say to you?"
"You wanna talk about mine and Casey's chat? Okay, Sammy, let's talk about all the stuff you chat about with Ruby in your secret meetings. I'm sure we'd have a field day with that. And then, if we have the time, I can go in depth with my Casey chat."
Before Sam could retort, there was a knock on the door and a young voice saying dinner was served. Both brothers glanced at the door before turning back to each other. They were stewing, pissed off at each other for childish reasons.
Without saying a word, Sam hauled his frame from the bed and ambled towards the bedroom door. Two children stood outside as though guarding the room. They nodded their heads before leading him towards the dining room. Dean wasn't far behind them.
The dining was decked out as though an important dinner party was taking place with expensive china and fine linens. Abigail did not sit at the head of the table but rather to the right of the head. Sam took that to mean he was the head of the table. The whole situation was just too bizarre. Taking a quick look behind him, Sam noted Dean seemed to be half amused and half concerned by the set-up.
"We're having roasted chicken. I hope you enjoy it, your highness," Abigail spoke in a smooth voice as she nodded towards the head of the table.
"Sam," he corrected, "call me Sam."
The tension during the meal was palpable. It was as though the children didn't want to talk freely around Dean. It unnerved Sam slightly. These people, these kids, could very well have killed all of the people who strolled through the town. Hell, these kids could be possessed by demons for all they knew. Although, the latter seemed unlikely. Tainted by demons seemed more like it.
"I gotta hit the head," announced Dean through a mouthful of chicken. "Where's your can?"
Abigail cleared her throat and pointed towards the door to the hallway. She told him there were guards who would show him the way. The chair squeaked loudly across the hardwood floor. The door closed behind him with a loud thud.
Dean noted the children guards standing outside the door. They were erect with stern faces that would have made the guards of Buckingham Palace quiver. They looked older than they actually were, and that freaked Dean out more than he was willing to admit.
"Where's the can?" he asked to either one of them. "Bathroom? Restroom? Place where you relieve yourself? Nothing?"
The kids just stood there with stone faces. Then, suddenly, something from behind caught Dean off guard. Pain exploded in his head as he stumbled forward. His vision clouded as everything turned into spotty blurs. Everything then went back.
Meanwhile, back in the dinning room, Sam continued to pick at his food. Abigail sat down her knife and fork. Her hands folded together, resting on top of the table. Leaning forward slightly, she turned her full attention on the man.
"You do know that we're psychics, Sam, right?"
Sam pushed the peas around on his plate and nodded slowly. He expected as much. It was either younger generations of psychics like Yellow Eyes said or they were possessed by demons. He preferred psychics any day over possessed children on any given day.
"You came into your powers early. Mine didn't arrive until I was twenty-two."
"Azazel said your generation was special. Your generation had to be tended to carefully, built up slowly. Sam, I'm sure your psychic abilities were at play when you were a child without you even knowing it. We simply started to hone our powers at a younger age."
No comment escaped his lips. All kids had experiences with the paranormal. The younger the kid, the more likely they would see something others couldn't. It was textbook. Sam couldn't recall any specific events where he'd known he had been psychic. The dreams hadn't started until he was twenty-two when he saw Jessica burning on the ceiling of their apartment. He couldn't be sure about the rest.
"I heard about what happened to this town. People were massacred two years ago, Abigail. What happened?"
"We didn't massacre the town. Azazel's disciples came and purified the town. In the following year, his disciples would drop off other special children. We take them in, give them shelter, food, a job. We have education available to those who seek it. We work hard to keep our town under the radar."
"How do you do that?"
Sam feared he knew the answer but refused to believe it until he heard it with his own ears.
"We have a select few who can manipulate memories, convince people to do or think certain things. Our neighbors learned of the town murders two years ago, but we have told them not to report it to higher authority. The murders then went under the radar; the town is supposedly abandoned and haunted. We keep our privacy."
"Except people are passing through the town, and they're ending up as missing persons. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that would you?"
A dark shadow crossed Abigail's pale face as her lips twisted up in annoyance. It was then that Sam understood. These missing persons were somewhere in the town either dead or alive. For what purpose, Sam didn't fully know but intended to find out.
Down in the basement of the house, Dean woke up with a pounding headache. He felt as though he went ten rounds with Mike Tyson. He was lying down. The surface below him was cold and hard. His cheek felt like an icicle. His eyes were heavy, but he forced them open to take in his surroundings.
There were at least five disturbing children standing in front of him. They were whispering to one another in excited tones until one noticed Dean was awake. Grins simultaneously twisted upon their faces as all hollow eyes turned to face the hunter.
Breathing heavily, Dean tried to stand up but failed. It felt like invisible cords were holding him down to the ground, keeping him in place. The oxygen seemed to have been sucked out of the room, and Dean struggled to catch his breath.
"We don't like ordinaries in our town," spoke one girl viciously.
"We don't like strangers," another boy commented.
The children stepped forward, crowding around Dean. He suddenly felt like one of those animals that sadistic kids liked to torture with sticks. No one could say Dean didn't try to fight back. He grunted as he tried to lift his arms, legs, anything off the icy floor. The children laughed at the futile attempts, enjoying the show.
One of the girls, couldn't have been more then twelve, knelt down and pulled off Dean's boots. With her index finger, she pointed at his pinky toe and said, "This little piggy went to the market." Her finger then went to the next toe and the next, continuing the children's rhyme until she pointed at his big toe and finished, "And this little piggy screamed in pain." Dean felt his toe twist and bend. A sickening crack resonated in the small room as a cry of pain escaped his lips.
"You bitch!" hollered Dean as his toe throbbed.
"You really shouldn't swear like that," one of the young boys commented, "or else you'll be sorry."
The boy was around fourteen who stepped forward. A sadistic glint flickered in his dull eyes as his hand rose. With a flick of the wrist, Dean felt his insides being twirled and pulled around inside of him. White-hot pain flooded through his whole body as he struggled to gain control. The irony tang of blood filled his mouth as a low gurgled screech filled the air.
In the dining room, Sam waited impatiently for an answer from Abigail. The missing persons had to be connected to the small town, and he had the feeling that the psychic children were running amuck with no such concepts of law and order.
"We're protective of the abode we've made here in Cornish. The children don't like outsiders invading us. I've tried to stop them, but they think invading the town allows us to lynch them in a sense."
"Lynch them?" questioned Sam in confusion.
"They build their psychic abilities, let's say. They don't think they're in the wrong."
"They can't kill innocent people!"
Abigail didn't make any movement at the words, didn't show any emotion. She sat there with a cold glare etched onto her features. That's when the thought of Dean sprung to mind. How long ago did he leave? Ten minutes? Shouldn't he have been back?
Jerking up, the chair fell to the ground with a loud thump. Sam made a beeline for the door, worry set on his face. He had to find his brother before it was too late - why hadn't he thought of it before? The looks of pure hatred Dean received when they entered the town, the glares and the snarls. Sam should have known better. Hell, Dean should have known better. Abigail wasn't far behind him as she followed him through the corridors of the manor.
He dashed through the house peeking into every room while screaming his brother's name. Abigail followed him throughout the manor like a trained dog would follow its master. It sickened Sam to no end. Once he looked in every room on all three floors, he snapped his attention to the girl.
"Where do they kill their victims?"
"Usually in the street. It's a huge affair. Everyone shows up to partake."
Stomach churning, Sam tried to push the thought of Dean being tortured to death psychically out of his mind. Not to mention, he tried to push out the fact that small children were doing the torturing, murdering, and enjoying the whole damn thing.
"But we'd hear them in the streets! They're not there! They're in the house! Where could they be?"
"The basement perhaps."
Sam didn't need any more information. Charging through the house, his eyes darted around the first floor for some door he missed to the basement. Abigail gripped his arm and pulled him towards the kitchen. In the small pantry closet, there was a trapdoor in the floor. Wrenching it open, Sam climbed down and screamed his brother's name once more. This time, he heard a strangled cry somewhere to the left in response.
Darting towards the voice he knew was Dean's, Sam came in contact with a locked door. He could feel the psychics that stood beyond the door, feel that his brother was there was well. There was laughter coming from the room and more stomach-turning cries from Dean.
His fist pounded against the heavy door, but it didn't move. Stepping back to give himself the momentum to kick the door in, Sam felt a rush of energy flow through every being of his body. The door flew off the hinges, breaking into two midair, without so much as a tap from Sam. Standing there shell-shocked for several seconds, Sam shook the feeling away upon seeing Dean.
He was a bloody mess on the floor. His face was pasty and sweaty. His breathing labored and eyes glossy. Marching forward, the children were blown off their feet. Their bodies smacked into the walls with revolting cracks, and Sam could have cared less.
Rushing forward, Sam skidded down to the floor on his knees. He reached forward and touched his brother's freezing neck. There was a pulse, it was extremely weak, but it was there. Letting out a sigh of relief, Sam's hand cupped Dean's face. Everything was going to be okay. He needed a hospital was all.
"I need a stretcher or something!" barked Sam.
"I wouldn't move him if I were you," advised Abigail. "It'll only do him more harm than good."
Whipping around on the balls of his feet, Sam glared at the young girl who tried to keep her attention off the unconscious children on the floor. Instead, she stepped forward and crouched down next to Sam. Her hand reached out and gently rubbed down Dean's spine.
"He'll be fine. I can fix him up."
Her eyes closed. She sucked in a deep breath as her hand made circular motions up his back. The hand then ran up his neck, his cheek, before resting on his forehead. Another gasp echoed in the room. Abigail's hand withdrew quickly as Dean began to cough. It was music to Sam's ears.
"Dean? Hey, man, you okay?"
Green eyes darted around the room in uncertainty before landing on Sam. His Adam's apple bobbed with a hard swallow before his head jerked up and down. Shakily, Dean pushed himself up into a sitting position. He sagged against the wall and took in a shuddering breath.
"Little bastards jumped me," Dean rasped out. "Freakin' psychics, too."
Sam swallowed hard at the word, psychics. His mind immediately flashed to the bolt of energy that washed through him. The door flew off the hinges all by itself, and Sam knew he telepathically did that. Even after two years, he could remember the feeling that washed through him the last time he telepathically moved something - a cabinet in Max Miller's house in order to save his brother from a bullet to the brain. It was the same feeling, the same energy.
His psychic powers had been gone for months, ever since Dean pulled the trigger to the Colt and killed that Yellow Eyed bastard. No visions, no funky feelings, no telepathy. There was nothing but normal Sam hunting in the normal way. Except this town changed that all. He suspected it had something to do with being surrounded by younger generations of psychics, but he couldn't be certain. He sure as hell didn't want to mention it to Dean. His brother, though always seemingly supportive, hated the whole psychic business. He didn't understand it, didn't believe that it could be good. Moreover, Sam didn't want to give his brother any reason to believe he was going dark side. He didn't need Dean to fret about him. Dean needed to worry about himself, worry about the deal.
"Are you okay?" pressed Sam again as he pushed away the psychic thoughts from his mind.
"Peachy. Now, get off me and stop acting like a girl. I'm fine."
It was then that Sam realized his hands had been resting on Dean's knees. Jerking his hands away, he wiped them on his torn jeans before folding them up in his lap.
"Abigail, I want to talk to you but I can't leave Dean alone."
Dean scoffed loudly. Abigail ignored him as she walked to each of the unconscious children. With one touch, they jerked awake and took in their surroundings. She commanded they leave the room and then stared pointedly at Sam.
"Sam, they will listen to you," she commented gently.
"Leave my brother alone. Don't hurt him, okay?"
Low growls rumbled in their throats, but they nodded with sharp jerks. With clenched fists, they stormed out of the basement room. Sam and Abigail nodded towards each other before following suit. Sam ignored his brother's huffs and puffs of being excluded. The door snapped shut behind Sam as he searched the young psychic for… hell, he didn't know what he was trying to find within her.
"Tell me about the town. Tell me about Azazel and what he said to you guys to be so devoted to him… to me."
"Azazel got us together, made us one - a whole. He promised you wouldn't be long. There were a couple things that needed to be tended to, but you would come for us," she spoke softly. "Sam, Azazel said you'd take care of us."
"You do know that he's a liar and a demon. He's dead now too, Abigail."
"We know all about demons, Sam, and we heard of his passing."
"Then you know they're evil?" challenged Sam. "You know that they're just using you, using these kids. This town, you were nothing but disposable soldiers to him - Azazel."
Abigail looked thoughtful for several seconds before jerking her attention away from Sam. It was almost as though the statement were a slap in the face to everything they had established in the small town.
"We have faith," she said quietly. "Azazel made you out to be grand, a savior, a god. You, Sam, your presences, are making these children positively glow. They think you're here to help them, bring them salvation. They won't listen to me anymore, but they will listen to you - our king."
Sam literally shuddered over the word king. There was some huge master plan that Yellow Eyes orchestrated, and Sam felt like he was just beginning to understand exactly what it entailed. Nothing about what he's learned gave him any sort of comfort. The whole thing made him queasy.
"I don't know… I'm not who they think I am."
"You're Samuel Winchester. You're the chosen one."
"I don't know what that means! Abigail, I have no idea what the 'chosen one' is! This is news to me!"
"We will serve you, Sam. We are ready."
"I don't need you to serve me. There's no point to it." Sam sighed. "They deserve to be kids. They deserve to have a chance at a normal life."
"Then give them that mission."
Twenty minutes later, with Dean hobbling slightly at his side, Sam stood in the middle of the town surrounded by hundreds of children. They glanced up at him with hopeful faces. Swallowing hard, Sam formulated the words in his mind. It was now or never.
"I know what you've been told," he started as he glanced over at Dean who gave him a smile and a thumbs up. "I'm not here to send you off to war. I'm not here to be your leader. I'm here to tell you that you have gifts. These gifts, they can be used to help people. They should never be used for hurting people, for killing them. You shouldn't be here waiting to be shipped off to the demon war. You should be kids, go to school, live your lives. So my mission for you? Go about your life peacefully. Grow up like you're supposed to. Never hurt anyone. Only use your powers for good, to help people, to save people. Most of all though, just be kids. Do normal kid stuff like play soccer and complain about school. All right?"
The children glanced at each other obviously confused by the new orders. Then, throughout the crowd, staggered applause filled the air. Slowly, all of the children started to clap at the speech. Sam smiled softly as he turned towards Dean. With a jerk of the head, the brothers set off down the road towards the Impala.
"You know we're talking about this, right?" questioned Dean. "I mean, you got a posse of psychic kids who nearly killed me. That deserves to be talked about."
"Whatever you want, Dean."
Digging into his pocket, Dean produced the keys to the Impala and tossed them to Sam. He pointed at his broken toe before clambering into the passenger's side. They drove in silence back to the motel room, preparing themselves for the talk that was a long time coming.
"You suck," Dean spoke first when they arrived in the motel. "Your freaks suck too."
"I gotta tell you something."
Concern clouded Dean's face instantly as he limped over to his bed. Sitting down, he looked up at his brother with raised eyebrows.
"Look, you can't worry about this when I tell you. It's my problem, and you've got your own problems."
"Spit it out, Jesus."
"I… I think my psychic powers are back and kicking."
A blank look crossed Dean's face, void of any emotion. Leaning back, he turned his gaze from his brother. That was the last thing he wanted to hear especially after their excursion.
"I telepathically blew a door apart and flung those psychic kids across the room into unconsciousness," Sam tried to say lightly.
"What does this mean?"
Sam pulled a face and shrugged his shoulders. He wished he knew what it all meant. Everything over the past couple of years didn't really make sense. Sitting down beside his brother, Sam leaned forward with his elbows on his knees.
"I guess this is what Yellow Eyes had planned for me," Sam said with a sigh as he craned his neck to look at Dean. "I was supposed to lead an army of little kids who were given psychic powers."
"Sammy, Man, you gotta tell me the truth. You gotta tell me what you knew about this because, Dude, watching six year olds bow down to you like you're freakin' Jesus was weird." Dean mimicked Sam's position so that they could look at each other easily while talking. "You know what happens when we keep things from each other. One of us almost ends up dead every time."
"When we were in Cold Oakes, Yellow Eyes visited all of us in our dreams. He said he didn't need an army. He already had one… I guess more than one. He said he needed a leader. It was survival of the fittest, you know that."
"Ever since… demons have been calling me names, saying stuff to me. It all started with Pride. He called me the 'boy king'. Then Ruby called me the 'anti-Christ'. Then the Collector in Sharpsburg said something about them choosing me because I'm clever. I mean, it's just one after another. These snide remarks like I'm supposed to be someone I'm not."
That's when Dean thought back when he was trapped in the basement with the demon Casey. He could recall their chat. Sam was the backup plan, the commander-in-chief if anything ever happened to Azazel. Sammy, his kid brother who looked so defeated sitting next to him, was supposed to bring Hell on earth. Demons were willing to follow him. Dean couldn't comprehend the scariest part of the whole situation.
"You did a good thing today, Sammy. You commanded those kids to have a life, not to use their powers for evil. If not for you, people would still be dyin'. And these kids? Well, they'd grow up in that environment for years. Every year they would live like that, it would get harder for them to stop. You saved them."
"They were my responsibility, and they killed innocent people."
"Hey, Dude, you didn't know they existed. This was not your fault."
"Maybe it's not my fault, but it's my problem. Who knows how many other colonies of psychic kids there are biding time until I bring them some sort of twisted salvation?"
"It's not your problem, Sammy. It's our problem, and we'll deal with it."
Sam just nodded numbly, his eyes focused on something across the room. He couldn't look Dean straight in the face any longer. There were moments like this that Dean wished his brother was five again because a simple hug could cure anything back then.
"This isn't your destiny, Sammy. This demon crap, it means nothing. You're just nothing but a hunter and m'brother. Nothing else, Sammy, especially nothing dark."
"That's King Sammy to you."
The joke was forced as Sam dared to glance over at his brother. The meaning behind the words was clear to Dean: this king business is just a bunch of bullshit and they shouldn't let it consume them. The point rang loud and clear. Dean's laughter filled the crummy motel room.
"King Sammy my ass. You should be bowing down to me."
"Dean… look, I don't want you to worry about me, okay? I know we've talked about this before but… you're more important than this psychic crap right now. I'm gonna get you outta this deal."
"You were broken after Dad died, Dean. You didn't think he should have given up his life you for. He did though, and I'm glad he did."
"You shouldn't say shit like that, Sam," he snapped.
"Dad was gone, Dean. You were always there though. You were there for me when Dad wasn't. I can't imagine my life without my big brother."
Dean cleared his throat and shifted his neck from side to side to crack it. Anytime the subject of the deal was brought up, the brothers usually fought about it viciously. This time, neither one had the strength to fight the other one.
"You'll be fine. You don't need me. You're a big boy now."
"You're still my brother, Dean. You've saved my ass time and time again. You've given everything you have ever had to me. What have I done for you?"
"It's my job, Sammy. It's been my job ever since Dad handed you to me when Mom…"
No farther words were needed. Dean took pride in the fact that he protected his younger brother, and Sam knew there were no words to change that feeling. So, he just nodded in agreement for lack of anything else to do. He vowed he wouldn't let Dean die. He just couldn't. Somehow he would find a way to get him out of the deal without dropping dead himself. He had to keep up the faith or else they would both drown.
I'm terribly sorry that the episode is late. There were some tech difficulties that were at play. They always seem to arise at the most unfortunate times. Anyways, I hope you enjoy the new episode and leave a little review.
Special thanks to the SNSIE team - Kim, AJ, Rae, and Kelly. You girls are fantastic. Special thanks to Steph, my stand-in edito. Great job.
Tune in next week for a fantastic episode by Kim.