Written by Chris Sizemore (Nightshadeisis)
“And this is the address?”
Father Corbin nodded in agreement to the priest that was joining him. They stood in front of the home, a very quaint two story Victorian. It was picture perfect with blue shudders, a big red door and green flower garden window pots lining the front porch and its windowsills. The site of the beautiful setting normally would have made Father Corbin relaxed and right at home, if not for the reason they were called there.
The church tended to stay out of the supernatural realm in modern days. For reasons Father Corbin simply couldn’t understand, the church had decided years ago to abstain from assisting parishioners in matters of the “other world.” He couldn’t stand by that decision morally; were they not here to minister to the Lord’s flock and help them in their journey? Did that not entail protecting them from the very things that the Lord wanted them protected from? At least that was his consensus, as well as that of other priests that Father Corbin had made contact with over the years, such as the man working with him today, Father Cornelius.
The home they stood in front of was owned by a family that, when he spoke to them on the phone, sounded as if they were at the end of their rope. Calling in priests was their last ditch effort to fix their “problem.” He was more than willing to help them in any way he could, as was Father Cornelius when Father Corbin explained the situation to him. Which was what brought the two of them to the front door of this home, standing and staring for a moment, wondering who or what hid inside the walls of this home that demanded attention and required the owner to reach out in help.
The two stood for a moment longer. Then with a sigh, Father Corbin pulled his bag of supplies up against his shoulder breaking the silence. “So…now is the time I see.”
Father Cornelius nodded. “Yes. I do believe so.”
The two made their way up the walkway, climbing the three small steps of the front porch. Father Corbin reached up to ring the doorbell, but did not succeed before the front door swung open wildly. The two priests jumped, staring through the open doorway to find no one there. Had the owner opened the door and ran scared? Or was it something else…
He had no time to ponder this before an object came at them from the back of the house. As it got closer, Father Corbin was able to make it out, his eyes going wide in terror before Father Cornelius jumped on him, knocking him to the ground just as the large set of very heavy kitchen knives soared over their head. When they missed they turned in midair, embedding themselves into the wooden porch on either side of the priests. The two men sat up, looking around in horrified shock.
Yes… apparently this was the right house.
I’m not sure if we can handle this alone,” Father Cornelius said. “This is way above our experience or our knowledge.”
“We owe it to them to try,” Father Corbin replied. “We can’t leave the owners of the house in such danger.”
“And if we can’t succeed?” The men stood up, staring at the knives drove deep into the porch before looking back at the home.
“Then God help us,” Father Corbin whispered. “And God help the people inside.”
“Geez,” Ruby grumbled from the backseat. “This place is cowboy central.”
Sam smirked in response, looking out the window of the Impala at the scenery as they passed. San Miguel, New Mexico wasn’t at all what he pictured. He envisioned dusty trails and nearly abandoned ghost towns of the old west. Instead he found a thriving town that was a mixture of old school Mexican structures and heritage, and modern homes mixing with American ways. He was suddenly reminded of what they always say about assuming something, and suddenly felt very ridiculous.
“So what’s the story so far on the house?” Sam asked.
Adrian was sitting in the backseat, crammed between Ruby and Travis, while Grace, who was holding Danny protectively in her arms, sat up front with Sam. Sam noticed Grace staring silently out the window and cast a sideways glance at her as he drove, concern etched across his face. Grace seemed to do a lot of that since Danny was born. She would just go off into thought and get lost there for hours. The instinct for a mother to protect her son often caused her to wonder if she was doing the right thing. Sam knew she felt that raising him on the road was wrong. And thinking back to how he was raised, he couldn't blame her. Adrian opened the file that he and Ruby had prepared upon Sam‘s question, sifting through the various notes, clippings, and official reports.
“Cops aren’t really taking it seriously, needless to say,” Adrian said. “They hear “poltergeist” and they automatically think the house is just old and rickety. They fail to realize this house was just rebuilt about five years ago after a fire took it down.”
“Anything about what caused the fire?” Grace asked as she looked up from the innocent eyes of the little boy in her arms, to which Adrian shrugged.
“Not in the initial report. We might be able to dig more up at the library or City Hall once we get settled.” Sam nodded in agreement. “From what we see, the owners stated that they had people in to try and clean the house numerous times. Psychics, those reality show hunter wanna-bes, even priests. And obviously nothing has taken so far.”
Bobby had been the one to toss this case in their laps. He went ahead and took the liberty of letting the owners know that Sam and his crew were on the way, which struck Sam as odd. Why Bobby would take that kind of initiative over a case that he was handing out, Sam didn’t know. He had tried to ask, but that didn’t go over well with his surrogate dad:
“You got something personal in this that I need to know about, Bobby?”
“You still got a hide that ain’t been turned over a knee in a few years?”
Yeah…Sam just cleared his throat and walked away after that.
“Well,” he chimed in. “Let’s just get to the motel, get settled, and then we’ll head over there tonight. They’re expecting us this evening.” The crew nodded, but said nothing. Probably thinking the same thing that he was. It was so out of place for them to actually be “expected” by someone they were helping. This was a new experience all the way around.
It took little time for the group to get settled in at the motel. They had all been through the routine so many times that it was habit. Sam paid with cash this time; they had been able to get more cash lately with more of them traveling and able to run their swindles at the pool and poker tables a bit more easily. Plus Ruby had her drinking contests. No one could drink her under the table. They unloaded their gear, placed salt lines along door frames and window frames, placed protective charms under pillows and over the beds, memorized the first hotel listed in the phonebook so they would know where to meet if they were separated, and then headed out the door. Sam had to hand it to them. They were all talented in their own way, each bringing their own unique talents to the table. Separately, they were seasoned hunters. As a group, however, they had all gotten used to each other so that they were a well oiled machine. They knew how each other operated, knew how to work with and around each other. If only the situation was different, it would be something to make him smile. He had trouble smiling these days. He just didn’t see as much to smile about as he once did.
But after looking over at Grace and Danny, he let a small smile crease his lips. At least, he used to have trouble smiling he thought to himself.
Sam made his way over to Grace as she tossed the last of her clothing into one of the dresser drawers. With their crew expanding, they now had two rooms to manage; one for Sam, Grace and Danny, and a second for Travis, Ruby, and Adrian to split. So with the other half of the crew settled in with their room prepped, he had time to sit with Grace and check on her. It seemed as if they had little time to talk or relax, except when they were in their room. It was the only private time they ever got.
“I don’t know why I still pack my maternity clothes around,” she sighed, shutting a drawer full of maternity tops. “These huge things are the only ones that I can fit in. I’m still huge.” Sam chuckled, taking hold of her hand.
“You’re not huge...”
“Please, Sam. Look at me! I mean yeah, the weight is slowly coming off, but any slower and it‘ll be growing instead of shrinking. I still look like a penguin!” Sam laughed, slowly guiding her over to sit on the bed. He smiled, gently rubbing her stomach as he looked at her.
“You’re not a house, you’re not a penguin. You’re a mom. Big difference.” Grace winced at his words.
“Ugh. You said big.”
Sam couldn’t help but grin. She was by far and away the toughest, most strong willed woman he had ever met. She wasn’t the type that was ever good at sitting around and doing nothing, so the process of waiting and researching in the room while she was pregnant had nearly driven Grace crazy. Sam had found that out from the first moment that he had met her. Nothing like falling for someone that blew you off one moment, and had a gun at your head the next.
She would have been just the type that Dean would have gone ga-ga over. But yet she was with Sam. He would never understand that. He was far from complaining, but he would never understand.
“Do you need me to get you anything?” Sam asked, to which Grace sighed and leaned back to lie on the bed, taking advantage of the down time while the others were getting situated. Down time and relaxation were luxuries she didn’t seem to have much of these days. Being a parent was a hell of a lot harder than television shows made it seem. Sam wished the worst trouble they could get into as a family was a playground bully. During the downtime he wondered if they would ever be able to settle into a little house with a white picket fence. He wanted Danny to grow up like a normal kid should and he saw that same longing in Grace's eyes.
“The only thing I needed, you just did. So we’re good.” Grace lay against the pillows for a moment just staring at Sam. The silence was deafening, and uncomfortable. Was she upset? Curious? Angry? Sometimes it was impossible to read her. But Sam loved that about her. She was one of the most unpredictable and unusual women he’d ever met.
“What?” he asked with a nervous laugh.
“I never meant to be such a burden on you, Sam. I’m not used to being a burden on anyone. I just thought that you deserved to know. I wasn’t expecting all of this. I wasn’t expecting…” Grace paused, as if the words got caught inside her throat. So she was upset, but with herself. What was it about that integrity that Sam found so endearing? So adorable? Reaching out, Sam took one of her hands in his, squeezing gently as he sat down beside her.
“Grace, do you want to know how I feel when I open my eyes each morning? Seeing you holding that sweet boy in your arms?” He looked at her confused face. “It had been a very long time since I had felt that whole. Very long.” He sighed, looking away as his thoughts drifted. “In my life, I’ve never really had much that I could hold on to. At least not for long. Every person that I have truly cared about in my life, I lost. And I do mean every one of them. I keep thinking that you and him won't be here when I next open my eyes. That this is all too good of a dream that I'll have to wake up from. Deal with another loss.” Sam gave a quiet and ironic laugh, shaking his head. “It’s what I’m best at to be honest.”
He paused, looking up into Grace’s confused expression. He seemed to find the courage to keep speaking in those eyes, which made a warm smile creep across his face. “But you didn’t,” he said. “You're both still here.”
He could see the nervousness in her expression. On one hand he found it adorable, but yet on the other he wondered if he should stop now. He should be quiet and let her rest, let her take comfort in the soft cooing sounds coming from a content Danny. Yet, if he didn’t get this out now he never would. “I avoid getting close to people, and for good reason. We can’t risk attachments. Not in our world. But I got close to you, whether I wanted to or not.” Sam smiled, rubbing a hand across her stomach gently. “Baby or no
baby, you not being here with him is my biggest fear. And this isn‘t the end of it. I don't know why we're here. I don't know why we don't just run off and hide sometimes. Live peacefully on a farm or something away from the death and pain. I guess I have more of my father and brother in me than I expected. But I promise you I'll get us off the road. We'll have a normal life. I don‘t care what I have to do to make that happen.”
The smile that crossed her face did so much for Sam as well as to him. The two of them had yet to express how they felt about being parents, how they felt about raising the child, or even Sam’s concerns about his blood-tinged “Talents” and how they would affect the child, let alone how they felt about each other. This was the closest Sam had came to admitting to her how he felt, what he thought about the two of them and their situation. And he knew why.
He didn’t want to live without her, worried about admitting how much he loved being a father, even for the short time Danny had been with them. But he was worried that the second she knew how he truly felt about her and their son, that the two of them wouldn’t be living at all.
They sat in silence for a moment, just staring at each other while their two intertwined hands rested on her stomach. Finally Grace laughed gently, punching him lightly in the arm. “Okay, Romeo, you better round up the rest of the crew. They are taking way too long.” Sam smiled and nodded in agreement before grabbing his gun and tucking into his waistband. Shrugging on his jacket, he turned to wave before heading out the door. It felt so weird…almost like a husband waving goodbye to his family as he headed off to work. Even as he knocked on the door next to theirs and waited for one of the group to open it for him, he couldn’t resist looking back at the door to his room. His family's room.
Could he actually expect something to go right for him for a change?
“So this has been going on for how long, exactly?”
The crew, minus Grace, sat in the living room of the victim’s house, trying to get more of the story. While the police reports had been detailed, they were written in that “these people are crazies” kind of way. They were obviously taking it as a joke. Not that Sam could blame them. Most people either didn’t believe that anything else was out there, or they didn’t admit it so that those that didn’t believe wouldn’t heckle them for the rest of their lives. It took quite a bit on the part of the house owners to do as much as they did to try and solve the problem. They were risking public scrutiny and religious ostracizing just to get rid of whatever was making their lives hell.
That made Sam smile inwardly. You never knew what you would do for your family until you were pushed to the breaking point. Sam had already found that out in losing Dean. What would he find over time when it came to being a father?
The wife leaned forward, sighing as she wrung her hands. Sam wasn’t sure whether it was the stress of the creature causing the problem, or the aggravation of having to repeat the problem yet again. “Since about a week after we moved in,” she muttered. “It started simple. Scratching noises, things banging in the night, floorboards squeaking. But it didn’t stay that way. I’d walk into the kitchen and every cabinet was open. TV’s and radios would turn on in the middle of the night, and keep turning on time after time of us turning them off.” She paused, tears welling up in her eyes as she added, “Or even after
we unplugged them.”
Her husband pulled her in close, and Sam watched her stern and steady posture melt as she held tight to him. He rubbed her arm reassuringly, continuing the conversation for her.
“It only got worse from there,” he said to Sam and the others. “We’d be pushed down the stairs, feeling something punch us in the face or throw us against things. Furniture would scoot out in our way and trip us. Knives flying out of kitchen drawers at us…you name it.”
“Did this happen only at certain times of day, or only on certain days of the week?” Ruby asked, to which both of them shook their heads. As the husband, Mr. Gilliard, continued the conversation, his wife Anna stood up, moving to the dining room table.
“No. They happen at all hours, on any given day. There’s never a pattern to any of it.” Sam nodded in agreement as he listened, looking up for any reaction from Anna. It was always important to see what each side of the story was, from everyone involved. She had been a nervous wreck throughout the entire discussion. She was petrified. A young woman that looked beyond her years due to the fear and worry that had seeped its way into her face.
Something was definitely going on here. Despite the police reports of a “rickety house,” people didn’t get this scared when a floorboard creaked.
Grace walked into the hotel room where everyone was pouring over books and computers, waiving a file organizer in her hands. She unceremoniously tossed it on to the bed, sitting down and groaning. “And by “got em,” I’m not sure if I meant the files, or that I got carpel tunnel from carrying that crap.” Sam grinned, stood up and grabbed the files from the bed. He leaned over, took one hand to grasp Grace’s wrist, massaged out the pain, to which she groaned in relief, and smiled in thanks.
“Ugh, can you two stop the cute stuff so that we can work?” Sam and Grace both looked up to see Ruby scowling from the table. “Some of us want to keep our lunch.” Sam looked back at Grace, forcing a fake pout that brought a small giggle from Grace. He moved over to the table and placed the stack of files there for them to go through. Opening it, he sifted through for a moment. While Travis and Adrian were at the library and City Hall to get as much research material for the past years they could gather, Ruby did her best hacking work by breaking into the police departments online files. Grace, had gone back to the Gilliards to obtain all of the personal records they had gathered, of which included copies of the evidentiary findings of the various paranormal investigators, religious orders, psychics, and hunters that had crossed paths with the house. Grabbing folders out of the file organizer one by one, he passed them out to everyone in the room as he read aloud what the file labels stated of their contents.
And with hours of work ahead of them, the crew sat down to the more uneventful end of being hunters.
Hours passed. Theories were tossed around. Information was shared. And many orders of Chinese take-out were placed and practically inhaled. In the middle of chomping on an egg roll, Adrian leaned forward, whistling as best he could with a full mouth. “Look at these readings that paranormal group gathered,“ he said. “You get a reading between 1.0 and 2.0 for EMF, and that’s normal for any house that has electrical equipment or is near a power line. You get higher than that, that’s obviously not right. The house was anywhere from 5.0- minimum- up to 16. That isn’t just strange. That’s hotter than hell.” Ruby snorted, to which Adrian frowned. “Oops. Sorry. Maybe not, huh.”
“Gee, you think?”
Ignoring Ruby’s retort, Sam stepped in. “Before we left from the meet and greet with the Gilliards, Ruby and I were running the meter and Adrian was outside checking the house. We weren’t anywhere near any power lines or transformers that could have affected the readings. What’d you turn up from the library research on the house’s blueprints?” Travis sighed, leaning back in the chair.
“No iron piping or copper wiring that could have attributed to the high readings either. And unless their home is a mini Vegas with a one million dollar light bill, there’s not enough appliances in that house to even equal half that kind of juice.” Adrian whistled, sitting down on the edge of the bed.
“This is intense. Sam, I gotta tell ya, I’ve been doing this as long as you have...” Sam fought the urge to snicker. As long as he had? Sam doubted it. But he stayed quiet and let Adrian continued. “…And I have never seen readings like this in a house. If there’s a situation where things are this intense and readings this high, it’s usually something much more malevolent then a garden variety poltergeist.” Sam nodded in agreement. It would have manifested in such a different way if that were the case. Most poltergeists only caused trouble around the house to get a fearful reaction out of people. They fed their energy off of human fear, so the more mischievous they were, the more they threw things around and stacked things up, the more food they had to suck on. Occasionally you found one that would attack people; knock them down stairs, paper their skin with demography, throw things at them, etc. It was rare, however; a far between occurrence. That plus the fact that there were no signs of demonic activity in the home suggested that it wasn‘t serious.
Yet, they all looked over the many files that lay in front of them and the incidences in the house suggested the contrary. Some of the investigators that were inside the house was getting attacked. Priests that had came to assist had gotten slammed and quite literally thrown back out of the front door. There was too much evidence to dispute, especially when so many reports corroborated. This house had caused a lot of trouble, especially for more experienced hunters. There were just too many things to go through, too many people to interview and too much evidence to sift through. So it looked as if they were going to have to do the one thing that Sam never really wanted them to do. Split up.
Sighing, he put down the file he was going through, looking at the group. “Okay, time to do the second most boring part of the process.” Everyone groaned, knowing what was coming next. They didn’t like splitting up for safety’s sake either, and Ruby just didn’t like doing interviews with people. She was far from what you called a “People person.” Sam grinned, shaking his head.
“Alright, alright. When you guys are ready to act like grown-ups, I’ll go over the plan. Me and Ruby will go back and do a more in-depth investigation of the house. Adrian, you tackle the priests that tried to clean the house.” Adrian chuckled as he took the police report that had the church address.
“Can I just shake his hand instead of tackling?” Sam rolled his eyes, moving on.
“Travis, you and Grace go to the local paranormal group that checked out the house and review the footage that reality show group gathered. And while you’re on the road to them, Grace, get on the horn to Bobby and see if he can help with digging up what hunters over the years have tried to help with this house. I’d really like to know exactly why so many hunters have checked this place out and not been able to fix it.” The group all nodded in agreement, everyone standing and packing up to take care of gathering their materials to hit the road. This group was nothing if not well oiled and well honed; it made Sam proud to ride with a group such as this. But it was looking at Grace, watching as she bent down to gather her shoes, that Sam began to worry.
He couldn’t be happier. He never thought that he, of all people, would have something like this. Would be lucky enough to be blessed with a child. But so many questions came into his mind on a regular basis, and as he stared at his beautiful lady, those questions came back again:
Boy or girl, the child is a Winchester. What does that mean for their future?
How can I raise them in a world like this? I have to get out.
But I can’t. What about Dean…?
But they’re cursed. Just being born a Winchester, this child- MY child- is cursed…
And what about me? My blood in a child’s system… What will happen to my son?
‘Shake it off, Sam,’ he thought to himself. Now wasn’t the time for this. There was too much to concentrate on. There was no way for him to know the answers to those questions anyway, no correct way to handle any of it. He could only do the best that he could do. It was all that anyone could ask.
And in that moment, he realized exactly what his father went through all of his life. And the guilt and regret began to gnaw at him more than he ever had felt before.
Opening the trunk, Sam pulled out the dusty duffle bag that he and Dean always used to pack all necessary gear. EMF meters, thermal scanners, and a couple of pump action Remingtons. Regardless of what the situation inside of the house was, regardless of what they may or may not be facing, Sam was always taught to never go in unprepared. He could still hear his father’s voice in his head after all these years:
“Could be a ghost that just wants to talk. Could be a demon looking to destroy the world. Could even be just a damn cat. But the point is, son, you don’t know that. Two things that you never do, Sammy. Never go in unarmed, and never go off alone. When it comes to weapons, and when it comes to partners, two is one, and one is none.”
Turns out that he was right.
As Sam and Ruby packed the bag, Sam raised his eyebrow in curiosity as he watched Ruby putting a bottle of baby powder into the duffle. How would that even be useful? Ruby looked up, seeing the confusion in his eyes. She gave him a very thick “DUH” stare, pointing down at the bag. “Poltergeists stack and throw things, mischievous ghosts misplace your things for fun. If we’re dealing with something dangerous, it’ll do the first one, or just shuffle things around to scare people. Put baby powder in a circle around objects in the house known to be moved, wait, and then see if the powder circle has been disturbed when whatever is in there moves them. The degree of distortion can help us better gauge what we’re dealing with.”
Sam nodded, saying “Huh. Good idea.”
“You’re not the only one that thinks around here, you know.” Sam had gotten used to Ruby’s “Rosy personality,” so he said nothing. Only shut the truck and walked with her towards the front door, ringing the bell. A few moments later, Mr. Gilliard opened it, ushering them inside.
“Good to see you,” he said to Sam and Ruby. “Welcome.”
“Thank you,” Sam said cordially. “The rest of the group have split up to go over the information that we got from you earlier, try to do a bit more research, see if there’s anything that was missed before.” Mr. Gilliard nodded in agreement, as he led them inside.
“Please, make yourself at home. Do whatever you have to for setting up.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Please, Sam, call me Bray. Mr. Gilliard is my father.” Sam smiled, nodding in agreement. “I’ll go grab Anna and we’ll head out, give you guys the space that you need.” Sam nodded in agreement, and as Bray left the room, Sam and Ruby began opening their gear bags, unloading everything they needed to get things started. Moments later the couple arrived, coats in hand. Anna said nothing; only smiled weakly and nodded a quiet and obviously tired hello as Bray ushered her out the door. Sam was used to the long hours and worry that came with hunting, but this woman was going to die from the stress before anything else.
A short time later the couple had left, leaving Sam and Ruby to square off with whatever was in the house. While Ruby picked a few items that had previously been moved around, surrounding them in a baby powder circle, Sam turned on one of their meters. With the soft whirring HUM of the machine, two green beams of light popped out. Similar to a standard EMF meter, these would sweep the area. If something unseen passed through them, the beams would wobble and shift, the machine dinging. Moving around the room with the device, he sidestepped to make room for Ruby as she dusted her hands off on her leather pants, reaching down to grab the EMF meter. “I’ll take the upstairs,” she said. “See if we can get any readings.” Sam nodded in agreement, looking up at Ruby when she suddenly sighed as she turned on the machine and moved towards the stairs.
“We should start doing those EVP things a bit more.” Sam laughed at her comment, continuing his circuit through the living room.
“Yeah, right. Like those ever pan out? I figured being a demon you wouldn’t believe in using that crap; you’d know it barely ever works.”
“Depends on what you USE, you know. We don’t like tape recorders, we don’t like ovules’, and we don’t like Frank Box’s. But at least they are useable, considering that we demons don‘t like them.”
“Tape recorders are not dependable even with audio filters,” Sam replied. “Ovules are completely untested so you don’t know if the waves being translated are language based or not. And Frank Box’s pick up everything from police ban radios to McDonalds’ drive- thru. So if you want to do this on a sub-standard level, then be my guest. You might have had the luck of getting dinged by those things before, but I’m not wasting my breath.”
“Wow, didn’t somebody wake up bitchy.” Ruby moved up the stairs silently, leaving Sam to smirk. Yeah, so he might be a little bitchy. But this groups was his responsibility, and even though they worked together as a team, there were some things that they would just have to accept as being done his way. Nothing in the paranormal was an exact science as far as places like Oxford and The Smithsonian were concerned. But there were some things that, even for hunters, was pretty much unused due to their un reliability. And anything involving EVP’s was normally out of the question, except in very- and he did stress the word “very“- special circumstances. That was just how it was.
Repeated scanning turned up nothing. Sam had struck out in the downstairs area. Putting down the scanner, he got down on his hands and knees, he grabbed the camcorder from the couch, switching it to night vision and flipping open the viewing window. Moving along the floor in a crouch he scanned the walls, knick-knacks…anything that could have any sign of spirit activity, ectoplasm, anything that the night vision could pick up. He slowly inched his way around the room, holding the camera as steadily as he could, getting no result.
And not noticing the knife on the kitchen counter slowly rising up from the cutting board it rested on.
Still distracted as he scanned, Sam barely heard the scrap of the metal blade on the counter before turning in time to see the knife hurtling towards him. He quickly dodged to the side, nearly escaping the blade piercing his chest. Not so fortunate, however, to avoid it slashing his right arm before embedding itself into the wall behind him. Sam growled as the white hot pain sliced through his bicep, grabbing his arm, he stood and discarded the camera. Out of instinct he pulled his gun from his waistband. He knew it was probably useless, but it made him feel a bit more prepared. “Ruby!” he shouted. “We got company!”
Sam slowly inched his way into the kitchen, aiming his weapon at anything and everything that might come his way. It was times like this that he realized carrying a baseball bat wouldn’t be such a bad idea as well. Now wasn’t the time to worry about that, however. Moving further into the kitchen, Sam examined everything that had been laid out by Ruby on the counters, the dining room table… and while all were still on the surfaces where she had placed them, the powder circles around them were distorted. Fine white dust littering countertops and table, circles half broken as the objects had been slightly shifted. If the knife barreling at his head hadn’t been enough of an indication, this definitely would have been.
And so would the fact that in that same instant, Sam found himself being lifted off the ground. He managed only a grunt of wide-eyed shock before he found himself being hurtled across the expanse of the dining room. The force propelling him sent him sailing into the kitchen cabinets, where he crashed and fell to the floor with a thud. Disoriented, he tried to shake off the haze, not succeeding before the cord from the kitchen window blinds unwound itself, crawling across the floor towards him like a striking snake, and launched itself upward, wrapping around him and pulling him to the ground. Sam struggled with the cord, amazed at whatever force could hold him down with such a flimsy piece of cord. “Ruby!” he shouted. “Dammit where are you?!” He heard the footsteps tromping down the stairs, hoping that she made it in time. He was suddenly worried, however, that she wouldn’t, when he saw the very large and very heavy metal counter grill lifting from beside the kitchen sink, and angling itself straight at Sam’s head…
“Hey!” Sam turned to see Ruby, eyeing the machine as it wheeled around, ready to throw itself at her instead. She snorted in amusement, waving a hand almost dismissively, her powers sending the machine sailing out of the kitchen window with the shatter and crash of glass. Reaching into the holster at her waist, she yanked out her knife, crossing the room in quick and lethal strides as she reached for the blind cord and sliced through it, freeing Sam. He stood, shaking the loose bits of cord from his body, nodding to Ruby in thanks, who replied in the same.
It was definitely time to pack up and get out.
“So then what are we dealing with? It’s obviously some kind of haunting.” Ruby sighed, leaning against the dresser in the room. “We can’t fight something if we don’t know what the problem is.” The group had reassembled in Sam and Grace’s hotel room a short time later, Sam explaining everything that had happened and the others going over the details they had uncovered. Or more to the point, what they didn’t uncover. The previous owners of the home had all moved out; none of them had passed away. There were no police or real estate reports that showed why the previous owners had left.
“Then we keep digging,” Sam said. “We don’t go back into that house until we know more about what is going on. If that means staying up all night to go over all of this, then we do.” And Sam held to that promise too. The group poured over every bit of information they were given, borrowed, or stole, during the day. Travis pulled as many coffee runs as was necessary to keep the group alive and kicking, while they went over police reports, city hall records, real estate documents, and everything else in
Somewhere near dawn, Sam sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose and attempted to shake the sleep from his eyes and mind. “Maybe we’re looking at this the wrong way,” he said. “All of the evidence gathered was on the house itself; these wanna be reality show groups did nothing to investigate further than the history of the property. The priests just came in to bless the house. And the police reports are only focusing on the disturbances themselves too. Maybe we should be focusing on the current owners.”
“If they are alive, then where does that make sense?” Grace asked as she looked down worriedly at a fitfully sleeping Danny. The babe had not been sleeping peacefully for the last few nights and she worried he might be coming down with a cold.
“Hauntings are like nouns,” Sam said. “They attach to a person, place, or thing. Remember the auction house in Louisiana?” Ruby grinned.
“Ohhhh…the one where you met Grace, Sam?” His confidence vanished to a nervous clearing of the throat before he continued, not failing to catch Grace’s mischievous grin.
“Um, yeah. Yeah, that one. But it was the object that caused the problem. Same principal. Not a spirit possession or psychic replacement, but along the same lines.” Adrian raised a curious eyebrow.
“So you’re saying that the house itself is haunted?” Sam nodded.
“Or something inside of it, in its foundation, something like that. So we need to find out everything we can on the Gilliard’s. Their history, where they shop, what family heirlooms they own, everything. Something in that house is causing this and we can’t solve this problem until we narrow it down.”
Going back into a house that had just thrown things at him wasn’t Sam’s idea of a good time. Quite frankly, Sam wasn’t sure what his idea of a good time was. He rarely ever had them. When he was a kid and ran away for a couple of weeks, he had fun. That was him on his own. Just Sam, a trailer, boxes of pizza, and one loyal dog. Wasn’t all that fun when Dean tracked him down though. Man, did he get it when they got him back home. There was no “Sam” time to be had after that until Stanford. Then he met Jessica. They had so much fun together. The one person that seemed to get him, take him as he was. She knew how to help him loosen up when he truly didn’t want or know how to. He just wasn’t sure if she would have been so accepting of him if she knew what his family was like, and what he had been like for most of his life before she’d met him.
Sam and Adrian walked up to the porch. Sam sighed inwardly as he realized that this kind of thing was a close to a good time as he knew how to have.
Yay for “fun.”
“I’m used to having to sneak around to get into places like this,” Adrian said, chuckling. “Fake ID’s, a little light B&E…that sort of thing. Helps that Bobby was a friend of the family I guess.”
“Yeah,” Sam said, knocking on the door. “I’m a little uncomfortable walking into the house with all our gear. I’m not used to greeting a person with a bag full of guns, meters, and salt.” Adrian smiled at the quip, completely understanding. It was strange having unrestricted access to the site of a job. One of those rare occasions where they were able to talk to the clients from the get-go, not have to sneak around and solve it behind their backs for their own protection. It helped having it work this way. Sam could seriously get used to it. But he could hear Dean now if he had been there:
“Yeah, well, don’t get too comfy. Get used to little treats like this and you’ll go soft, Sammy.”
Good old cynical Dean.
The door opened a few seconds after, the smiling yet obviously still rattled face of Anna Gilliard greeting them. She was only a few years older than Sam, but the fear and anxiety of living in this house had put many more years on her face. With luck, they could help give her back the peace that she wanted, and obviously needed. “Sam, hello,” she said, her voice cheery, yet tired. “Is everything ok? How is your arm?”
The genuine concern in her voice touched Sam. He just didn‘t hear that very often. “Yeah, it’s fine,” Sam assured with a warm smile. “Nothing that couldn‘t be patched up. We’re still digging a few things up, but Adrian and I just thought we’d come over and go over a few things with you.” Anna nodded in agreement, standing out of the way and gesturing inside. Sam and Adrian made their way through, standing in the foyer of the grand home as Denise shut the door. “We’ve looked into the background of the property, the previous owners, but we’ve came up with nothing. And normally in an atypical house haunting, there is some kind of clue that can tie us in to what has happened to cause this kind of activity.”
Anna nodded, obviously crestfallen. “So, you can’t figure out why it’s happening then.”
“Not necessarily,” Adrian chimed in. “We’ve ruled out what Sam listed as possibilities, but there are still options. Which is why we wanted to talk to you.”
“We need to know more details about you and your family, Anna,” Sam added. “Background, history, your typical habits, things like that.” Denise looked from Sam to Adrian, confused. “Ok,” Sam offered, seeing she wasn’t following along, “Let me give some examples. Do you have history of psychics or sensitive’s in the family, do you come from a gypsy line, things like that. Do you tend to shop at antique auctions or estate sales, et cetera. These are just details to help us narrow the search down.” As Sam spoke, the hallway mirror yanked from the wall, swooping past him and grazing the side of his head as it smashed into the other wall, shattering into dozens of pieces on the floor. Sam and Adrian looked at each other in shock, then back to Anna.
“Um,” Adrian said softly, “Maybe we should go out somewhere and meet about this.” The entire group nodded in simultaneous agreement before heading out the door. They went down the foot of the driveway to the Impala, standing beside the car to continue their conversation.
“To answer your questions, no,” Anna said. “I’m a Wal-Mart and Costco kind of girl. Target if I get froggy to shop somewhere else. Same with Bray. And we haven’t any rich relatives, so there’s been no one leaving us anything in their wills or things we got from estate sales.” As Travis blew in a huff of frustration, Sam continued the conversation.
“So no one in your house has any outside objects inside. All the furniture and belongings that you own in the home you brought with you?” Anna nodded in agreement. This time it was Sam’s turn to huff. He looked away in thought. They were hitting dead ends in every direction they went. Ruby’s idea of using those useless EVP’s was looking better and better by the minute.
“What about the house itself?” Travis asked. “Was there anything of family value that the previous owners left behind?” Anna shook her head.
“No. When we bought it, the house had been rebuilt after a fire.”
“The cause of the fire?” Sam asked, to which Anna shrugged.
“They could never find a determination. Wiring was fine, heating system didn’t malfunction, no suspicion of arson. They local 94 Lumber company volunteered to rebuild their house to scale. They even went as far as the raise money to get as many originally dated materials for the home as possible.” Sam turned curious at the mention of the lumber company. Original materials?
Oh, the ideas that brought about. They just might have a new lead.
“This blows.” And yet again, Ruby stated the obvious. Neither of them liked being on the research end; Travis just wasn’t that good with computers and Ruby…well, she didn’t really like anything except French fries and kicking ass. Grace was probably one of the most kick ass hunters Travis had ever came across; she could toss a man twice Sam’s size across a crowded room and not break a sweat. And here they all were, stuck in the basement of this stodgy old library up to their necks in Xerox machines and microfiche readers. Yeah…this was a barrel of laughs. Travis could only pray that Ruby would just shut her mouth long enough to be of help to him. As he flipped through the microfiche in the lower level of the library, Ruby sat at a computer behind him, typing away and sighing during every link she clicked on. “I could be of more use in that house right now.”
Grace just laughed in response, then laughed again when she saw Danny smile up at her slightly frazzled visage.
“What would you do? Blow up the coo-coo clock when the house threw it at your head?”
“I’m serious! Dammit, this is so boring.”
“Then maybe if you shut up and do more helping instead of bitching, we’d be done quicker and out of here,” Travis snapped. He knew she had turned around, her eyes boring daggers into his back. But he didn’t care. He was so used to it, that it was almost comforting to him now. To have her not bitching and freaking out just didn’t seem like the Ruby he’d come to know. It was almost one of her most dependable qualities. The urge to see if she was still staring finally dissipated and the trio went back to their research. Nothing was coming out of it; the home was rebuilt after a fire from when the previous owners were running things, and nothing had really changed in regard to the overall structure; they had rebuilt it to the letter with the old blueprints. And as far as the couple that lived there now, there was nothing that stuck out as a red flag. Their charge accounts were a-typical, their spending habits were that of any regular suburban family, and they didn’t seem to be into anything that would invite something that nasty into a home.
Travis was beginning to see nothing to this.
“Ohhhh…wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute.” Ruby’s excited voice got Travis attention, pulling him away from the machine. He turned, getting ready to ask her what was going on before she waved him off, hopping up and going over to the microfiche file cabinets. Sifting through a specific drawer, she found the reel she was looking for and made her way back over to Travis, shoving him out of the way and pulling up the reel. She pulled up a chair, scrolling past articles so fast that Travis couldn’t see anything other than black and white blurs.
“What is going on?” he asked impatiently. “What you shoving me out the damn way for?” The speedy sifting slowed, Ruby easing up on a specific article. She pointed to the screen, grinning.
“Look. This is the article from ten years ago when the house burned down.”
“And that helps us how?” Travis asked. Ruby enlarged the article, zeroing in on the photo.
“Look there,” she said. “That man in the corner.” It didn’t take long for Travis to make out the figure. Standing off to the side, patting a distraught and crying woman on the back as her husband stood to the side holding her, was a thickly bearded man in a truckers cap. Travis grinned.
“I’ll be damned,” Grace muttered as she adjusted Danny in her arms. “There was something wrong with the house even then. That’s why it burned down. A hunter was called in then, and something went wrong.”
“Yeah,” Travis muttered, staring at the photo. “Not just any hunter either…”
“We found something out!”
Travis and Adrian chimed in at the same time, their matching looks of excitement melted into looks of confusion at each other’s words. Well, Sam could at least be happy that either way he looked at it, he had a crack team backing him up. “Okay,” Adrian said, “You first.”
“The house we’re investigating isn’t the original, which we already know. But...” Travis held out a hand to Ruby, who unfolded a piece of paper from her pocket and passed it to him. He held it out to Adrian, who took it, Sam looking over Adrian’s shoulder at what appeared to be a copied newspaper article, as Travis continued speaking. “The house was being investigated before by the previous owners, before it had burned down and been rebuilt. Obviously something that wouldn’t come up in our research. Check out the picture.”
Sam zeroed in on the enlarged photo, taking no time at all to make out Bobby’s face. “Well, it looks like we have a phone call to make then,” he said.
“So, what’d you two dig up?” Ruby asked. Adrian folded the paper, pocketing it before speaking.
“Well, as the photo shows, the house wasn’t completely destroyed; mostly it was only gutted. Nothing that they owned survived, but they used the same lumber company that had originally built the house. With one-hundred year old timber to authenticate the structure of the home, from the exact same wood store that they lumber company had for the original home build a few years before.“
“Any idea where they got the wood?“ Travis asked. Sam shook his head.
“Not yet. We went down there about that, checked that out. They said they would go through the back records and give us a call. Speaking of which…“ Sam reached into his pocket, pulling out his cell phone . Pressing down on one speed dial button, he put the phone to his ear, waiting on the answer. They more than likely had all that they needed, but he would make sure that there weren’t any gaps that needed to be filled. As it was, the case just got a little more complicated. Not knowing which object it was they were looking to destroy was bad enough. But it could be as easy as a piece of furniture or something on the wall, to more complicated, being something built INTO the wall or a plank of wood from the old house.
“Sam?” Bobby’s voice sounded out loudly over the cell phone. Sam tended to pull the phone away from his ear when talking to Bobby; he had a naturally deep and naturally loud voice.
“Heya, Bobby,” Sam replied. “We’re still working the case that you sent us on.”
“Anything turn up?”
“You mean other than the picture of you standing beside the burnt wreckage of the house? Not much.”
“I don’t think I really like yer tone, son.”
“I’m just confused is all, Bobby. You referred this case to us but you didn’t tell us that out of all the hunters that have worked this case, you were the last one to check it out.” A cell phone began ringing behind Sam, so he excused himself from the room to continue the conversation.
“Well, I didn’t think it necessary,” Bobby replied. “Every bit of info that’s been gathered up was every bit of what you have and every bit of what I had. Weren’t nothing’ new that I could find, which is why I sent you kids in to poke around.”
“Well it seems to be poking around at us instead,” Sam said with a huff. “Whatever was in there before is still there and still extremely active.”
“And that’s the problem,” Bobby said. “All the readings in that place were always extremely high, even before the place was rebuilt. Doesn’t seem like much has changed since then either. And if nothing survived that fire to be put in the house again, then it sure ain‘t the stuff in the house. It‘s gotta be something else.”
“Sam!” Adrian was shouting at him from inside of the room, and he definitely sounded urgent. Asking Bobby to hold on for a moment, Sam rushed back inside, finding Adrian holding up his cell phone. “That was the lumber yard. They used the same lumber from the rebuild that they had when the house was initially built; it was supplied from a defunct lumber supplier that went out of business last year. But it’s where they got their lumber that makes this interesting. They were supplied lumber from old defunct business, specifically old ghost towns and prisons in the Nevada area.”
Sam knew where this was going, and went wide eyed. From prisons and ghost towns…places that handled old style executions one-hundred years ago. And those were typically hangings.
The wood that had built the house twice now, was all from hangman‘s trees.
“Looks like we aren’t just dealing with a haunted house,” Sam said into the phone to Bobby.