Here is part eight
Sam and Dean finally get on the road to find Rowena, only the trip turns deadly the moment they clear consecrated ground. The Darkness is everywhere and it is chasing them down the highway and every back road in Kansas.
It was on a street so evil
So bad that even hell disowned it
Every single step was trouble
For the fool who stumbled on it
Eyes within the dark were watchin’
I felt the sudden chill of danger
Something told me keep on walkin’
Told me I should not have gone there…
It was a tense 35-minute drive with Sam scouting through the binoculars and Dean driving way faster than he should. Signs of pursuit didn’t exist but didn’t make them feel at all at ease. The patchwork of fields stretched on. The roads were empty, at least for now.
Dean slowed to a near silent crawl about a mile out, letting the dust settle and maybe make anyone watching think they’d stopped when they hadn’t. Sam got the salt guns out and extra ammo. At the last minute, he replaced the bullets in each of their handguns with the last of the special rounds – he didn’t know what else to call them except holy bullets, which was wrong on a couple different levels. Sanctified bullets?
With those, just four per clip, if someone started shooting at them and they couldn’t stop them with salt rounds, these bullets, aimed very carefully might mean the difference between saving someone or having to kill them. He knew in all likelihood, getting out of an all-out gun battle without someone dying was probably not in the cards. They never got dealt that kind of hand. As a side thought and to stack the deck, he said another prayer, aware he was resorting to it quite a lot lately. The responsibility of all the death and destruction around them was already on his shoulders and he wanted more than anything to tilt that scale back the other way.
A modest house stood at the corner of H and W6, angled kitty corner to face a wide swath of farmland gently rolling unbroken to the horizon. A solid field of still green wheat undulated in a steady breeze through three of the four corner fields. The lawn was green and dappled in shade from a couple giant red maples and a smattering of oaks and junipers hedging the property. A thicket of weed trees fronted the road and a short dirt drive cut into the yard and ran right up to the two gas tanks they’d seen from the satellite. There were a number of other buildings, shacks, tool sheds, and an equipment barn. There was also a silo that would help protect them from any attack from the house. It would also partially blind them to any on-comers, but that was a risk they had to take.
Dean pulled in and drove straight to the two pumps. It was quiet, almost too quiet, without sign that anyone was aware of their presence. Sam wondered if maybe they’d get lucky, get in and get out without so much trouble.
Dean angled the car to take the brunt of any attack and they got out, leaving the doors open and set to work. The gas was good as near as Dean could tell. Just as he thought, it was a hand crank and Sam got right to it. Dean took care of gathering up the holy water, a gallon jug of it that they always kept on hand. He had both salt guns, setting one down in the trunk and stood watch while Sam pumped the gas as fast as he could without it spilling out of the Impala’s tank.
There was nothing but the breeze rustling the trees, until off by the house, they both heard it; the squeak of old hinges and a rusty spring on a screen door opening and closing.
Dean eased over to the passenger side, stepping over the gas hose and peering around the open trunk while Sam did the same thing on the other side, leaning out as far as he could and keep cranking the pump. The silo was in the way, from both angles because Dean shook his head that he couldn’t see anyone. He hesitated a second, then eased out a little further, still behind Sam’s open door, which doesn’t actually protect any vital organ, or well, maybe one in Dean’s mind, but then he crouched down, glancing around the edge of the frame.
And then they came. Six of them. Only they weren’t a gang of angry, infected men, or even adults. They were children.
Two were older teens, two were between 10 and 14 maybe, the four of them carrying shotguns. One was about six and wielded a machete half his size and the youngest couldn’t have been more than four but Sam thought three, and she had a baseball bat in hand. They were definitely infected. Even the three year old had a terrible bloodlust smoldering in her pretty blue eyes.
For an instant, Sam and Dean stared at each other through the gaps of the car, but then the kids started shooting at them and that made it real, and what they had to do even worse. They were going to have to shoot these kids, and possibly end up killing one or more of them.
With six of them racing toward them, Sam decided to quit cranking. Dean hadn’t taken a single shot yet, but there were bullets flying at them. Slugs, Sam realized when a tree limb overhanging the tank exploded. Not great aims. Good. And then a bullet hit the driver’s side door and went right through it.
More bullets from a lighter gauge rifle, maybe a 22, started winging by, a couple of them plinking against and ricocheting off the Impala.
“Stop shooting at my car!” Dean bellowed. Having seen the slug blast through the driver side door, he abandoned his position on the passenger side and raced for the silo.
Sam decided that was a better idea too, since these kids had some serious firepower and knew how to use them. Stormtrooper aim aside, Sam didn’t want to risk getting shot through the trunk, which wouldn’t stop a 20-gauge slug. He grabbed up the extra salt gun, and ran after Dean, a couple more rounds whizzing by too close for comfort, crashing into the silo beside his brother.
They heard the kids scramble to the other side, the metal sides reverberating. Dean didn’t wait, not wanting to give them the chance to organize more than they already were, and nodded once to Sam. He stepped around Dean, moving out from the curve of the silo to just see around it. The 18 year old came into sight first, trying to get the other five kids to move, without his weapon raised. Sam didn’t hesitate and emptied both barrels of rock salt into him.
Dean came right behind him, taking down the next kid, the 14 year old – the one with the 20-gauge loaded with slugs, and the 16 year old with a double barrel, frantically trying to bring the weapon up in time to shoot. Sam reloaded and almost made it around Dean, but not before the 10 year old got off a shot with the 22, shooting in the same motion as raising the gun. Dean screamed, yelling and swearing in the same breath, and grabbed his right calf. Sam managed to shoot the kid, but when he went down the six year old with the machete came raging at him, forcing Sam to use the gun to fend off the blade.
After that, he disarmed the child easily enough, but that didn’t slow the kid down at all. For a moment, Sam was at a loss as to how to stop him without hurting him. He didn’t want to shoot him, but he kept throwing himself at him like a little Tasmanian devil, until finally Sam spun him around and popped him on the back of his head with the butt of his gun, but as gently as he could so he wouldn’t bash the kid’s brains in.
“How bad is it?” Sam turned to Dean, who was already straightening.
“Not bad. It went right through. Go get the water, and bring some rope. We don’t have much time before they’re up again.” He hobbled to the 20-gauge and picked it up, moving from one gun to the next until he had them all and could set them out of reach, which was about the time the three year old came at him with a baseball bat.
Sam glanced back as he rushed to the car and watched half-amused and half-horrified as the little girl cracked the bat into Dean’s leg. It surprised him more than hurt, and he didn’t know what to do about it for long enough to get hit again. He tried dodging back, but the bleeding hole in his leg made him stumble. He didn’t get the bat away from her until Sam was on his way back with the holy water, rope, and the first aid kit. All the older kids were pretty torn up from the salt rounds. He arrived in time to get the kids locked down, tying them hand to foot so they couldn’t run or even get up.
“We doing this out here?” Dean asked, the three year old stuffed under his arm, thrashing and screaming like a demon.
Sam looked around. There wasn’t any sign of anyone else. “Yeah. I think. The sooner the better.”
“You want me to?” Dean asked, adjusting the child to better keep her still. “This is gonna be pretty bad, Sam.”
He nodded to that, having experienced it before. “I got it. You got her?”
Dean rolled his eyes and wrapped both arms around the little girl. “Why don’t you get out of her now, without all the trouble. Either way, you’re going.”
She stopped squirming, turning on him. “It won’t matter. Whatever you do, we’ll always find you,” she said in a voice that was still that of a three year old, but at the same time that of an ancient, remorseless being. “You can’t hide. We’re going to tear you apart.”
“I’m so not scared of you,” Dean said, holding on tighter when she started thrashing. “Especially not in the body of a child, you coward. Go get someone your own size and then we’ll talk. Or no, we won’t, because I’m going to put you filthy bastards back where you came from. Come on, Sam. Get on with it.”
Sam, however, was looking from the holy water to the ground, an idea forming. He started for the car, this time to get the duffle, which had everything he would need, plus a jug of holy oil.
He only held up a finger and explained when he got back, digging Dad’s journal out and flipping to the section on consecrations. He poured a big circle of holy oil, saying the words in Latin as he went as detailed by his father. The holy water was next, which he splashed on the ground, reciting a litany that he hoped would work. He wasn’t exactly a Bishop of any church, or consecrated himself by any means.
The little girl started thrashing more violently than before almost the moment he started. Judging by her reaction, it seemed she was afraid, and aware of what they intended. When he finished, he nodded.
“Bring her over.”
Dean was having a hard time keeping hold of her. Applying enough pressure to keep her from getting away without crushing the body of a baby wasn’t in his wheelhouse of experience. He almost lost his grip on her just as he stepped into the circle, her convulsions more violent than any normal child could manage, but he held on, wincing against her piercing screams. As an added benefit Sam used a dab of holy oil to mark her forehead with the pi symbol, which he learned from his father, was remarkably similar to the Jewish symbol chai, for the living God.
For a moment, Sam didn’t think it was going to work, and almost stopped it, meaning to push Dean back out of the consecrated circle, thoughts of having to waterboard this infant turning his stomach. It was a soul-crushing thing to do to a baby, even if they meant to save her.
Sam gulped in a breath at that. “Dean, give her to me,” he said, seeing that his brother was pretty close to tears. “Give her to me right now.”
Just when he meant to take her from him, the little girl threw her head back. Her eyes rolled up in her head and a roiling black cloud shot out of her – without the bullet effect thankfully – spun itself into oblivion, and the same instant, she was just a little kid, crying in a normal, little baby kind of way that was music to their ears, but heartbreaking because she wanted her mother. Dean was crying right along with her, dropping to his knees while he cradled her in his arms.
“That was damn smart, Sam,” he said after a moment, glancing up at him. He ran a hand down his face to dash away the tears, and he nodded that he was okay, looking to the boys. They were all awake and trying to get away. “Let’s get this done.”
It took an hour. It was horrible to watch the suffering of children, but it worked, and the end result was six kids who’d make it through the holocaust their lives had become. Of course, it wasn’t really over, over. The lives of these kids wouldn’t ever be the same.
They found their parents and an uncle dead in the house. The oldest boy, Chad, said they’d killed each other and then he didn’t remember anything else too clearly until coming out of it with Sam and Dean standing over him.
After tending to all their wounds, they stayed to help put the parents, Eugenia and Ross Frazier, to rest, along with Uncle Philip. Turned out that they weren’t farmers after all, but mechanics. The silo didn’t hold grain, but rainwater that they used during the long, hot summers to water the lawn and the patch of garden they kept. They had two acres left out of a thousand that over the generations was sold off to the big corporate farms. Both the older boys, Chad and David, already had jobs fixing other people’s equipment. Michael, the 14 year old, was the family nerd and recognized a kindred spirit in Sam, who showed him a few things about how to hack into their parents’ bank accounts. They had to get on with the business of living, a brutal necessity now that they were on their own.
It took them the whole rest of the day to dig three graves in the family plot out in the middle of a field they no longer owned but the farm corp. had to plant around. It was hot work and hard on everyone. Sam watched over Dean, trying not to look like it. After it was over, and they’d sent the kids back to the house before the bodies were shoveled over, Sam paused, dreading the next thought.
“Shouldn’t we … salt and burn them?” he asked, knowing the answer was yes, but he didn’t want to do it.
Dean shook his head in weary resignation. He grabbed the gas can.
It was a different experience burning corpses rather than bones. They did the job but didn’t stay around beyond lighting the match. They’d come back in the morning before they left and finish the job of covering the graves. Sam silently thanked God that the wind was blowing away from the house.
When they got back, the kids were cooking hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill. Dean shot Sam a look and shook his head. It’d be a few days before they could stomach cooked meat. It smelled the same.
“Where the hell is my car?” Dean asked abruptly and Sam noticed it wasn’t where they’d left her by the gas tanks.
“I pulled her into the garage,” Chad said, flipping the burgers and nodded to the long, steel frame shed that stood on the back edge of the lawn. “David’s replacing your window. Mikey shot it all to hell and we have a replacement, so I figured that’s the least we can do.”
“Uh, that’s really not…” Sam started before Dean could have a fit. “…You don’t have to do anything. Really.”
“We work on old cars all the time,” Chad said, smiling because he saw that Dean was about to stroke out. “I have a 68 Ford Galaxy almost finished. Go take a look. We’ll ring the bell when the grub is ready. It’ll be soon.”
“We’re good,” Sam said, walking backward for a second, shaking his head before he turned and caught up to Dean. “They mean well.”
Dean didn’t say a word, limp-stalking to the wide arch of the garage. Baby was right there with David sitting in the driver’s seat, door open, inside panel popped off, a pile of broken glass swept neatly aside and a new window already installed. David rolled the window up and down, carefully testing that it was properly seated.
“Oh hey.” The smile he wore vanished the second he saw Dean. He hopped up, got around the other side of the door and started backing away. “Oh. Uh. Hey. Sorry, man. I didn’t … I mean, I thought—”
But just that fast, the glowering frown on Dean’s face eased to astonished surprise. It was obvious the kid knew what he was doing. He also realized he’d just scared this boy pretty badly and held up a hand. He went over without speaking though and inspected the work. “Okay.”
Sam breathed and David almost sagged against the hood. Dean scowled at them both. Sam smirked. “Better than a piece of plastic.”
Dean stooped down, frowning at something else on the door and then went around to the other side, looking at David for the explanation. “It’s just Bondo. Temporary. Something to keep the wind from blowing through that hole. I checked the engine out too. The whole car, really. Make sure it wasn’t hit anywhere else. The trunk took a few pings. You’re gonna need a paint job, but you know,” he went on quickly, “we can do that right here. Not tonight, but when you get a chance, if you stop back by here…”
“I might just do that,” Dean said, nodded at the work and finally chilled down.
Sam gave David an encouraging smile and rolled his eyes at the same time. “We’re pulling out first thing in the morning,” Sam said.
“I’ll have this all wrapped up by then, no problem. There’s no way I’m sleeping tonight.” A shadow crossed his face and he shook his head, but then decided to go back to work.
The dinner bell rang just as David finished re-installing the door panel under Dean’s watchful eye. While the kids ate, Sam and Dean sat on the front porch steps, wondering how they would manage by themselves.
“Can you do that consecration thing around the whole house?” Dean asked. “Give them a little more of a buffer.”
“We’ll have to make a lot more holy water.”
“You have enough oil?”
“Yes, but that’ll be the end of it.”
“We can get more,” Dean said. “Let’s do it.”
So they methodically walked a line around the yard, including as many of the sheds as they could within the circuit. While Sam did the ritual, Dean cracked open the well-head and blessed the water, dropping in one of the many crucifixes they had on hand. Having the holy water pumping through a hose made it easier and faster to water the yard down. The little girl, her name was Katie, thought it was a fine time to come out and play in the water. Before too long, the next two younger one, Seth and Kevin, came out, playing chase, getting thoroughly soaked, and making them laugh.
They slept in shifts though the night, and then after finishing with the burial, got cleaned up and ready to leave. David stayed up the night to finish the car, even putting some touchup paint on the Bondo seal so that it hardly looked like there’d ever been a hole. He also came up with something to help protect his family, showing Sam and Dean the branding iron he’d made of the warding symbol.
While they were both hesitant to see these kids brand themselves, in truth, it was far safer than hoping they’d remember to re-ink the ward with a sharpie every time it faded. Except that it was a 3 year old, a 6 year old and a 10 year old who’d have to get this mark seared into their skin without really understanding the reasons for it. Chad, David, and Michael, presenting a united front, told them all that this would make them safer, and then went ahead with branding each other on the back right shoulder so the littler kids knew what it was like. Katie surprised them all by volunteering to go next, her little face scrunching up as the pain of the brand touching her skin hit her. She didn’t cry though, so the other two boys followed suit with the same unbelievable bravery.
“You know,” Dean said, in the car on their way out after giving them one of their cards with the assurance that they could call them any time they needed. “I think they’re gonna be all right.”
“I do too,” Sam said, glancing back as the farm dwindled in the distance. For a change, it felt great.
Dean smiled over at him. “So, no main roads all the way to Denver, right?”
“No main roads.”
“Well this ought to be fun.” He rolled down his brand new window and cranked up the tunes, once again using his phone.