"Hey." Sam gave Dean a gentle shake.
Dean came straight up, eyes wild, head swinging to scan the dark room.
Sam caught his brother's wrist before Dean's hand could close around his pistol. "Nightmare?" he whispered.
Dean's body relaxed so suddenly Sam knew he was forcing it. He shrugged and laid back down as if he'd never come fully awake.
Yeah. Sam knew that reaction, first-hand. It's nothing. I'm ok. Drop the subject and leave me alone. So he did, for now.
Dean braked hard as they rounded the last curve in the long, overgrown drive and saw the house. Sam turned to look at him. Dean was staring out the windshield at the run-down house, and pressing himself back against the seat as if to retreat right through into the backseat.
"What the matter?" Sam asked
"That's it! That's the house!" Dean blurted.
"What house?" Sam asked.
Dean drew a deep breath and the tension fell out of his body as if he had dropped a weight. Forcing calm. "The one in my dreams.”
"I never told you, but I've had a recurring dream about different houses all my life. Moving in, finding something left behind… a hidden room, or a closet or a trunk, untouched like a time capsule. I never had it often, just once every year or two. A good dream, really. Kinda fun. But this month—I've had it three times, always about this house. And it's been a worse nightmare every time."
As he spoke, Dean eyed the house with suspicion. Sam kept his attention on his brother. "What's made it turn into a nightmare? What scares you?"
"I don't know. That's the scariest part. There's some--- force--- hidden, locked up inside that house, in these nightmares. Hugely powerful. Malevolent. And I can't see it or hear it. Only feel it."
"Were these dreams, or premonitions?"
"I don't know," Dean said as they got out and went around to the trunk. "That's the part that scares me the most. I'm not psychic. I can't be psychic.” He reached for the EMF reader.
“Why not? You got dealt from the same genetic deck I did,” Sam said.
“Yeah, but I didn't--” The squeal of Dean's EMF reader interrupted him. "Holy crap! It's maxed out!"
"And there's no power running to the house." Sam pointed. The weather-head up near the roof had frayed, ancient wires sticking out, their insulation rotted off.
"This place hasn’t seen an electric light since D-Day," Dean said, squinting at the weather-head and over to a disconnected, leaning power pole, swamped in honeysuckle. "Whatever's putting off that massive field isn't fueled by TVA's generators. If the field is this strong outside, going into that house means stepping into an enormous fear-cage."
"So we won't know what's real and what's our neurons shorting out. The objects left behind in your dreams," Sam said as he grabbed his own choice of weaponry. "What time period were they from?"
"Mid to late nineteenth century," Dean answered, not having to think about it. "Probably no later than 1910 or so."
“Any theme to them?"
Dean shook his head, dropped a bandolier of rock salt shells over his shoulder. "No. Sometimes it's a kid's room, sealed off. Sometimes it's a wardrobe or a trunk. Or a whole attic full of crap. Once it was a stable. The only theme is locked away, sealed off, and frozen in time."
He jacked a shell into a sawed-off. "But these last three times? It's been nothing but an almost empty room. I don't know what this thing is, but I know exactly where it is. Who knows, maybe it's gotten locked down and now it's pissed."
"The nightmare's always the same?" Sam pressed.
"Not the opening credits. But you're with me, always. And the scare chord's always on the same scene: A small room, not much bigger than a closet. A pantry, maybe, because it's off the kitchen. There's not even plaster on the walls. Nothing in it but one of those old fashioned light bulbs hanging from a cord in the middle of the ceiling, with a plain wooden straight chair directly under it. There's something pasted on the wall in front of the chair."
"What?" Sam knew that could be a key to the whole thing.
Until he saw an emotion come and go across Dean's tense face. Frustration.
"I don't know. I can never see it clearly. I only know it's old, and yellowed, and it's something printed, not an image."
“What's the form of attack?”
"Don't know that either. When that door is opened, I wake up with my heart about to jump out of my mouth."
Sam grimaced. So they were going in blind on all screens. "We need to shield ourselves from that field. If we go charging in there unprotected, we'll have the mother of all panic attacks or worse, start hallucinating."
"So what are you suggesting? Tin foil beanies?"
"Close," Sam grinned. "Lead foil. It'll block EMF just like it blocks x-rays."
"Question is, where are we gonna find lead foil in Outer B-F, Tennessee?" Dean asked.
"A hospital imaging department would be best, but a large dentist's office might have enough too."
"Last town that big was about twenty minutes down the road. Let's go, Inspector Gadget." Dean laid his shotgun back into the trunk and closed it after Sam stowed his gear.
Sam spared a glance back as they pulled away. There was nothing to see but a derelict house about five years away from rotting to the ground. Nothing more foreboding than the sun glinting off shards of broken window glass.
Ok, it was a serious situation. They were facing the Big Bad Unknown. And they couldn't stop grinning at each other.
“You look like Magneto's dorky grandson!” Dean chuckled.
“The the worst scifi convention costumes ever,” Sam agreed, giving his duct-tape and lead-apron helmet a shove as it tried to slide over his eyebrows again.
“Let's do this before somebody sees us.” Dean's smile slid off his face when he looked towards the house.
“Dude, if I bite it in there, please remove the helmet before you carry me out,” Sam said. His grin dissolved as he turned towards the shabby house, too. Where something waited for them, throwing off energy like a runaway reactor.
Dean's jaw clenched as they made their way through the over-grown grass and brambles to the precarious looking porch. Almost shoulder to shoulder, like they always were.
Sam stopped in his tracks. “Dean?” He pivoted. Dean had been not much more than an arm's length from his side, and his brother's trampled path through the weeds was clear. Right up to the point it ended. “DEAN!”
Sam went to his knees at the end of Dean's tracks. “DEAN!” He frantically parted the grass and blackberry canes, thinking maybe there was old well opening, or a storm cellar, but all he found was solid earth.
He even looked up into the overhanging mulberry. “DEAN!”
Sam went rigid, straining his ears.
“sam!” Dean's voice called again, distorted, faint, but unmistakable. “sam where are you?”
Sam turned his head from side to side. He couldn't get a fix on Dean's voice. It sounded as though he was in mid-air. “Dean! What do you see? Where are you?”
“i... i don't know! nothing makes sense. i can't get oriented!” Dean's voice, faint and distorted as it was, carried an edge of panic.
Anything that could panic Dean made Sam's blood frost over. “Did you fall in a hole?”
“no-- i was there, then i was here-- where ever here is. i don't know how.”
“Ok. Ok, listen. Don't move. Stay right where you are. We'll figure out some way to get you back.”
“i'll try. i don't know if i can stay in one spot. i can't tell if i'm moving or standing still.” Dean gave an unmistakable heave. “it's making me sick.”
“Close your eyes and crouch down. Hang onto something if you can. I'll get to you-- you sit tight and keep talking!”
“easy to for you to say. you're not the one inside a kaleidoscope in a blender!”
"I'm pretty sure we've found out what happened to little Amelia," Sam ventured. He moved towards the house again, feeling like he was walking through a mine-field.
Somehow, the heavy sarcasm in Dean's diminished, warped voice was reassuring. "Is there any sign of her?"
"she could be standing right beside me and i wouldn't know it. i couldn't recognize my own hand in front of my face if i didn't feel it attached to my arm. you have no idea, sam. there's... there's no words for this."
"I'm going into the house. Whatever's in there has got to be what's doing this."
"be careful. you do not want to wind up here, sammy. trust me on this. things get too hairy, you bail, you hear me?"
Sam stepped up on the porch.
"Hang on, Dean. I'm going in."
Dean was silent as Sam crossed the porch, then he could hear Dean calling for Amelia, coaxing her to come to his voice.
Sam pushed open the warped front door. Nothing jumped out at him. There was nothing at all in the room but a few shards of glass from the windows and drifts of dried leaves.
"Amelia?" he called softly. He wasn't surprised when only the faint echo of his own voice answered.
Sam moved through the house, cautious of more than the rotten flooring. A feeling of dread, fear and aversion settled on him, far heavier than the make-shift lead helmet he wore. He wasn't sure if it was an effect of the massive electromagnetic field, or his own anxiety.
He glanced in the rooms as he passed down the short hallway behind the front stairs, but didn't enter any of them. There was one room he had to check out first. Sam stepped into the ruins of the old house's kitchen and glanced around. One door obviously led to the back yard-- he could see through a missing panel.
The other closed door was narrower, and made of the same bead-board that covered the walls. Sam reached out to grasp the knob. It turned easily, though the damp-swollen door resisted his pull.
When it finally gave way with a screech of wood on wood, Sam got an instant's impression of bare wooden walls, a spartan straight chair, a dangling light bulb flaring impossibly bright. Then something passed over, under, around, through him, and his back slammed against the floor hard enough to knock the breath out of him.
He wheezed and rolled, scanning the room for whatever had done a damn good job of occupying the same space he had. The room looked exactly as it had before he opened the door. But...
Sam realized that there was one spot in the corner where his eyes refused to focus, an almost-blur he was unable to look at straight on. Instead, he turned his head slightly, to keep the unseeable spot in his peripheral vision.
"What have you done with my brother and that little girl? Bring them back-- NOW!"
The inexplicable area pulsated, elongating and shrinking almost too rapidly to follow.
Sam blinked and shook his head. When the thing swept towards him, he fired.
The unseeable spot vanished and in the same instant, his brain exploded with searing white nothing. He found himself gasping and staring up at the sagging ceiling again.
The uneasy spot, the thing, pulsated in front of him, close enough to touch if he'd dared to reach out. Sam had to close his eyes against it. "Ok. Ok, I get it. I hurt you, you can hurt me back."
Before the words died away, his brain was paralyzed, freeze-framed. Not on a thought, or even an image, but on a general concept. ::Harmless::
"Harmless, my ass! What have you done with my brother and that little girl?" Sam scrabbled to his feet and the thing retreated once more.
Sam's brain stuttered to a stop again, this time filled with another concept. ::Incomprehension::
"Dean," Sam told it, as soon as he could think again, and formed a strong image of his brother in his mind. "Amelia," he added, and visualized the photo they had been given by her parents. He tried to frame a wordless question then. 'Where?'
His brain didn't freeze. This time it seemed to spin, images and sensations flashing by too fast to recognize any of them. Sam couldn't grab enough volition to scream. When the unbearable, disorienting stream vanished, he realized he had dropped the shotgun and was clutching his head. He wouldn't have been surprised to feel blood leaking from his ears.
"What was that?" he managed to gasp.
The sensation was wordless, but strong. Instantly recognizable. ::Home::
*********Click here to go to Chapter 2.