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SUPERNATURAL LIES MY FATHER TOLD ME: PART TWO ELIZABETH SHAWNESSEY 1

Lies My Father Told Me [Part Two] by Elizabeth Shawnessey

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SUPERNATURAL  LIES MY FATHER TOLD ME: PART TWO

ELIZABETH SHAWNESSEY 1

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HISTORIAN‘S NOTE: 

This novel takes place between the season one episodes of ―Shadow‖ and ―Hell House‖. 

AUTHOR‘S NOTE: 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of theauthor‘s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be considered real. Any

resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely

coincidental. Additionally, the characters of Sam, Dean, and John Winchester belong wholly

to creator Eric Kripke, his writing staff, the actors who portray them, and the CW Network.

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SUPERNATURAL  LIES MY FATHER TOLD ME: PART TWO

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Copyright Elizabeth Shawnessey, 2012

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PROLOGUE ONE

Bayview Memorial ParkBayview, Maine

Thursday, August 3, 20064:35 AM

Tyler Durden and Jaime Karnes loved to race each other in the early mornings. As they ranthrough Bayview Memorial Park, the smell of dawn on the horizon and a light darkness inthe sky, Tyler could feel the cool wind whipping past him as he headed toward thecommemorative statue at the peninsula poking out over the ocean. It was the spot whereTyler usually took a heavy-breathing Jaime into his arms and the two looked out at theAtlantic until the sun rose high in the sky.

But they were at least a hundred yards from that point. Picking up his pace, Tylerdodged the bench blocking his path and made his way onto the grass, loving the softnessunder his sneakers. Jaime was still on the sidewalk, near the center to avoid anything jumping out in front of her, with her ponytail bouncing abruptly behind her. For a minute,Tyler‘s eyes absorbed his girlfriend‘s slender, muscular body. The way she moved underthat skin-tight track suit was something enchanting, causing him to want to stop rightthere and pull her into a claiming kiss. But he knew she did that on purpose. He had oncemade a comment about the way the spandex contoured her body, and now she wore it asoften as possible to distract him from his goal.

Turning his attention toward the stature at the point, he could make out a fewsleeping birds in the moon overhead. The closer they approached, the more birds scattereduntil the iron sculpture was free of living creatures. Eventually, Tyler reached out andtouched the cold metal first, letting out a victorious sigh.

―Got you this time!‖ Tyler laughed as Jaime slowed to a stop behind him. ―First time in a long time,‖ Jaime breathed, smirking. In the silver moonlight, Tyler could make out the shining blonde of Jaime‘s hair as

she pulled it from its ponytail and allowed the wind to push it off her sweaty forehead. Asthe flaxen locks tumbled over her shoulders, framing her triangular face, Tyler smiled ather. She looked gorgeous with her dewy complexion and watery blue eyes, the color of which matched the ocean on a sunny day. Her body was thin and limber from years of working out and playing tennis, with nice sized breasts that Tyler loved to grab when theywere alone in her bedroom. In his mind, Jaime Karnes was the perfect girlfriend — one thatwas so unbelievable that it made Tyler wonder why she was with him in the first place.

At twenty-two, when they had first met, he had been awkward, nerdy, andunderweight. He had spent the majority of his time in his parents‘ basement, rebuildingcomputers and forgetting to eat most meals in fear of slowing down; causing him to appeargaunt and ghost-like. His two friends, Lester and Oliver, had been by his side while he triedto install an amount of RAM on an old Dell that wouldn‘t be able to handle it, upgrade

graphics cards that were long-obsolete, or find a way to convert his screen resolution fromstandard to HDMI. They fed into his interests, bringing snacks and movies with themwhenever they came over, and watched him work endlessly — sometimes giving input onwhether or not adding a 250 gigabyte hard drive to a 1994 Gateway was a good idea. Theynever left the bottom of his parents‘ house, not even for a food run, instead wai ting forTyler‘s mom to take a trip to the store to save them from having to uproot themselves fromtheir stations.

It wasn‘t, or hadn‘t seemed like at the time, a boring existence. He had enjoyed andhad a passion for working with technology, but with no money for college, he had to do the

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best he could. After awhile, however, his father had started to become outwardly vocal overhis disapproval of Tyler spending days ―below deck‖— his father worked on boats for aliving and used the terminology far too much  —and thought he could change his son‘sdemeanor if he could find Tyler a girlfriend. Night after night, Dad called him upstairs totalk to a new girl he had invited for dinner; but as soon as he saw them, Tyler often turnedaround to return to his basement dwelling. Finally giving up on the idea, Dad had stopped

asking his friends‘ daughters over, and allowed Tyler to stay where he was.One night near Christmas, at a mandatory party his mother‘s work was throwing,

Tyler sat near the door, sending text message after text message to Oliver about the newslim computer his friend had bought over the weekend. As the two discussed the featuresand the pain it was having to uninstall pre-installed software, Jaime had entered with herfather. From there, the phone conversation ended and Tyler began to turn his attention tothe girl who looked like the perfect mix of Alicia Silverstone and Princess Leia. She hadbeen the most gorgeous girl he had ever seen, and he was interested in her far more than hethought he could be interested in any PC part out there.

Heading for her, Tyler‘s mother had stopped him, suddenly intrigued with her son‘s pursuit, and quickly explained that Jaime had just returned home from graduating Stanfordin the fall — a full semester early. Enticed by the idea that she was not only smart enough to

get into one of the top colleges in the country, but to have graduated sooner than herclassmates, Tyler had crossed the room and began talking to her. After awhile, he had seenpast the outward beauty and intelligence to notice that Jaime was what his father would call―the total package‖. She understood what he meant when he started rambling on aboutNVIDIA, even adding her own opinion to the conversation, and listened patiently as hebegan weighing the options when it came to the difference between Windows andMacintosh — shocked when she said that she would always choose Windows for theirprocessor speed.

―It was love at first geek,‖ Jaime later said after they had been going out for awhile. The months passed after that, with Tyler becoming less and less reclusive and more

and more outgoing. By the time spring rolled around, the two of them had made a regularthing out of racing each other through the park in the early mornings. Not only was the

change good for him, but it also helped him come out of his shell a bit, allowing him tosocialize more than just sitting in his basement with his two friends, eating Pringles andwatching Star Wars for the thousandth time.

Now that summer was beginning to fade, however, Tyler had a feeling theirmorning routine was about to become a thing of the past.

A few mornings ago, he had heard Jaime on the phone with her father, discussingher options for graduate school. She had told him multiple times that she had put off heading for Brown University in the spring to go for her Masters because she had wanted abreak from college, but now that the fall semester was just around the bend, she had alimited amount of time to get everything together and sorted out. Due to the look on hisgirlfriend‘s face when he had picked her up earlier that morning, he had a feeling she hadgotten word from the school in Rhode Island and that their days together were numbered.

Not wanting to think about it, Tyler placed his foot on the metal railing barringanyone from falling into the ocean below to stretch beside Jaime. While he worked on hishamstrings, letting the cold breeze dry the sweat at his temples, he watched as Jaime liftedher arms over her head and bent forward, displaying the straightness of her back. Unable toresist her defenseless stance, Tyler dropped his foot onto the ground and grabbed Jaimearound the middle, burying his face into her damp neck as he held her from behind. As shelaughed at the surprise, Tyler soaked in the sound, wondering if he would only be hearingthe delicate noise on weekends and during holidays.

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―You know,‖ Jaime began, a laugh still in her tone, ―I just don‘t know what to dowith you, Tyler Durden.‖ 

―I can think of a few things,‖ Tyler winked. Smacking him from behind, Jaime shook her head, the feather-like tickle of her hair

on his chest. ―That‘s not what I mean. I mean  you . You‘re so different than that scrawnylittle kid I met eight months ago. I like it.‖ 

Grinning, Tyler rubbed her arms with his hands against the chilly air. ―Well, I‘mglad at least someone does.‖ 

Standing there in silence, Tyler continued the motion with his palms, hoping thatthe warmth would radiate throughout her body into his. It was unusually cold for an earlymorning, reminding him of the winters he had spent in Ohio when he was younger. It hadsnowed and frosted overnight, often with the frigidness wafting into the house and causinganyone inside to pull the blankets tighter. Thought it wasn‘t cold enough to freeze, it wasdefinitely chilly enough to where he could see his breath.

Ignoring it to follow through with their morning ritual, Tyler rolled his shouldersback and stared out at the ocean. The blackness of the waves crashed against the shore,swallowing everything beneath it like a giant tongue. When the water retracted back intothe bay, it collided again moments later in a monotony that was comforting. No matter how

often the waves hit the sandy stretch of beach below the peninsula, nothing about itchanged except the size of the swells. The noise was calming as they stood there, every nowand then seeing their breath in puffs of white against the indigo sky. After awhile, the blueof the horizon changed, becoming lighter, but not bright enough to be considered daybreak.Waiting for it, Tyler pulled Jaime tighter and sniffed the strawberry perfume of her hair,surprised that he could still pick up on it over the scent of sweat and sea.

Suddenly, something that didn‘t sound or smell familiar came from the foliage off totheir right. Moving his head to see if anything was there, Tyler strained his eyes andbreathed in the cold air, half expecting to see something pop out of the bushes. Whennothing did, he shrugged to himself before turning his attention back to their tealsurroundings.

Good to know I’m imagining things , Tyler smirked.A moment later and the sound of rustling leaves came from his right, causing him to

whip his head in the direction of the same plants. By now, the sky was light enough to makeout the shapes of branches moving in the thicket of trees in the distance. In the wind camethe smell of an overheated computer, along with the hint of exhaust. Furrowing his brow,Tyler let his arms fall from around Jaime as he headed toward the moving undergrowth.

―Where are you going?‖ Jaime asked, sounding slightly disappointed at his release. ―I‘ll be right back,‖ he whispered. Walking slowly, Tyler placed his sneakers lightly on the ground as he made his way

over to the brush. The closer he got to the shuffling greenery, the stronger the odor of burning electronics became, causing him to throw the back of his wrist toward his nose tostifle the scent. He had read about smells like that before, that it was the byproduct of o-zone, but had never actually experienced the sensation firsthand. His science classes in highschool had always said sniffing it would be as dangerous as sniffing sharpies, trying to deterany of the students from trying it. Unfortunately, it was a cover-up for laziness seeing asthe pollutant was already in the air to begin with.

Shaking his head to get rid of the thought of scientific facts to focus on the task athand, Tyler stepped off the path winding around the trees and into the dried leaves on theground. As soon as he did, the wind around him picked up, blowing his short brown hairback and causing his loose clothes to whip behind him. Over the loudness of the hurricane-like currents, Tyler could hear Jaime calling him. Turning around to make sure she was

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SUPERNATURAL  LIES MY FATHER TOLD ME: PART TWO

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alright, he could see a panicked look on her face as her ocean blue eyes darted somewherebehind him.

―Tyler, look out!‖ All of a sudden, Tyler could feel his feet being lifted off the ground as he was

propelled toward a sapling further into the small forest. The sound of the tree snapping inhalf cracked throughout the night air, resounding over the crash of waves behind him.

Getting up, he could see a dark shape at the mouth of the thicket. It was tall and burley,with long, scraggly hair and tight, striped shirt that hugged its bulky, masculine form. AsTyler backed up, the man, or what he thought was a man, headed toward him a glacial pace,measuring each step and keeping his eyes locked on Tyler. The two continued their slowmovements until a twig snapped beneath Tyler‘s feet, momentarily taking his attentionaway from the man.

When he looked up, he was gone.―Tyler?‖ ―I‘m ri —‖ But he didn‘t get to finish his sentence. A moment later and the man was there,

blinking into existence, his hand raised to smack Tyler into another tree. Doing so, Tyler‘sback hit the trunk with a loud whack, his shoulder blades aching from the impact. As he

sank to the ground, the seat of his sweatpants dropping into mud, he looked around for theman. It was darker this deep into the woods, but with the sun rising, the blacknessgradually lessened until he spotted the man‘s dark shape and was able to see enough of hisattacker.

What he saw, however, wasn‘t pretty. The man‘s face was cut open from the corners of his mouth to the apples of his

cheeks with a surgically-modified smile, while the area surrounding his nose was bruisedand broken from beatings similar to the ones he was dishing out on Tyler. His eyes weredark and savage, as if he only had one sinister thing in mind, and as he grasped his victimaround the collar of his shirt, he let out a feral laugh that chilled Tyler to the bone.

―What do you say we play a little game?‖ the man asked, the slashes in his cheeksreddening as he spoke.

Pulling Tyler to his feet, the man shoved his back into the tree trunk with one handand held out an empty palm with his other. A moment later and a scalpel appeared betweenhis outstretched fingers, faded gray underneath the muted blue leaking in through thethicket around them. At the sight of it, Tyler struggled against the man‘s hold, but hisstrength surpassed Tyler‘s own meager muscles.

As he stood pinned there, the sound of leaves crunching under a slight weight camefrom behind his attacker. A glance over the man‘s shoulder told Tyler that Jaime had comeinto the brush looking for him.

―Oh, my God.‖ A laugh escaped the man as he turned his head toward Jaime, the steel of the

instrument glinting off the faraway sun.―Run! Jaime! Get help!‖ Gasping, Jaime turned and sprinted back the way she had come, disappearing behind

the thicket of trees she had just emerged into. When she was gone, Tyler looked at hisattacker, a feeling of deep dread coming over him at the sight of the man‘s determined glare.His gray eyes were alight with ferocity. ―You robbed me!‖ 

―I didn‘t!‖ Tyler protested, hoping the man would understand that he had the wrongguy. ―I don‘t even know you!‖ 

―Liar!‖ the man growled. Suddenly, anger began to radiate off of his attacker as Tyler stared him in the eye to

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keep from looking at the weapon in the man‘s hand. He knew he was done for with everyfiber of his being, but couldn‘t will himself to look at the thing that would do it. Glaring atthe man would make it easier. It seemed like something Han Solo would do in his finalmoments against a terrible foe.

Seeming to pick up on his false bravery, the man smiled, the scars deepening withthe gesture. A moment later and Tyler could see the scalpel being raised in the man‘s hand

as he moved it toward his victim‘s face. ―Open wide!‖ Refusing to do so, Tyler moved away, but he wasn‘t quick enough. A cold hand

gripped his cheeks and slammed the back of his head into the tree. Stars came with thebang, followed by everything tilting. In his slanted vision, Tyler could see that the man wasabout to jam the sharp instrument into his mouth to give him an identical fake smile.Flailing his arms in an attempt to fight him off, Tyler felt his hands go through his attackerlike jell-o. A second later and cold metal found its way onto his tongue before somethingsharp stung the inside of his cheek.

In an instant, everything in Tyler‘s body went numb as the scalpel began to slice athis mouth. He could feel the blood on his tongue as the blade cut, even the dull pain of thething jabbing at his mouth, but couldn‘t sense anything else. The tree behind him felt likenothing and the cold air seemed warm. A moment later and his vision became starkly

contrast as the fear enveloping him caused him to pass out.

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PROLOGUE TWO

Bayview Super 8Bayview, Maine

Thursday, August 3, 200610:13 AM

Sam Winchester had a hard time seeing beyond the mess as he looked around at his father‘sdisheveled motel room. As he stood in the doorway, staring out at the piles of clothes on thefloor, fast food containers spilling out of the bins, and crumpled up pieces of paper heapedbeside the television, he was oddly reminded of the first time he had stumbled upon JohnWinchester‘s temporary home.

Ten months ago, Sam had been living a solitary life in California, having decided toleave home to attend Stanford four years prior instead of carrying on with ―the familybusiness‖. It had been a decision that had broken everything he knew in two parts, with Dadand Sam‘s older brother, Dean, continuing to hunt down ghosts, demons, and any otherkind of supernatural creature while Sam headed into a routine of studying, classes, andfinals. At the time, he had been convinced that the university had been the place for him,that he was safe and away from the scarring existence he had grown up knowing, and hadeven been certain enough to bury that part of his life under a heaping pile of denialsomewhere in his chest. In the time he was away from Dean and Dad, Sam had becomeattached to the school, to a small group of friends, and even to someone he had loved morethan anything else in the world: his girlfriend, Jessica.

However, the blissful existence had only lasted so long. Part-way into his senioryear, Sam had heard a noise in the middle of the night, jerking him awake. Letting histraining from his childhood kick in, the incessant Marine boot camp his father had single-handedly run between hunts, Sam had crept his way through the house, his senses on highalert as everything he had grown up knowing came flooding back to him. As possibledifferent species of abnormalities ran through his mind, Sam had paused in the doorway to

see a shadow pass by the frame — that of a tall, lean man with spiky, light-brown hair and astrong profile. Jumping into attack-mode, Sam had fought with whoever was in his housebefore pinning the intruder to the floor, only to reaffirm what Sam had instinctivelyknown — Dean was there, looking for him.

After explaining the situation to him, that he was there because Dad had gonemissing in the middle of a hunt, Dean had begun to persuade Sam to help him search fortheir father. Not really wanting to go but knowing it was the right thing to do, especiallyafter Dean had made him aware of just how severe the circumstances were based on a static-filled voicemail on his brother‘s phone, Sam had packed his bags and left, promising Jessicathat he would be back before Monday morning for the ever-important law school interview.

Unfortunately, that was the last time he would ever see her alive.Heading to Jericho, California, Sam and Dean searched the city high and low for

their father, only stumbling upon his deserted motel room, the journal Dad would never inhis life leave behind, and an abandoned case of a Woman in White haunting a stretch of highway leading in and out of town. Recognizing the harshness of the situation, Sam hadhelped his brother in putting the spirit to rest , but hadn‘t agreed to follow a set of coordinates Dad had left for them on one of the last pages in his journal. There wassomething in the back of his mind that told him to head home to Jessica, something he atfirst thought of as a nagging reminder of the promise he made that he would return homesometime Monday morning.

However, that wasn‘t what had been pulling him back to the apartment he and his

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girlfriend had shared for the past year and a half.Moments after walking through the front door, Sam had seen something he had had

nightmares about for days beforehand. Upon the ceiling above the bed he had been restingon was Jessica, a look of frozen terror and helplessness on her face that Sam had only seenin his dreams. Her midsection was cut open and bleeding in large, cold drops onto Sam‘sforehead while her wide, green eyes shot him a silent, fearful warning. Getting up, Sam‘s

first instinct had been to help her, but the sudden erumpent of fire behind her had deterredhim from an attempt — instead causing him to flail weakly at the flames eating theapartment alive. A heartbeat later and Dean was there, though Sam had no idea why hisbrother had returned, pulling him free of the blaze and out into the street.

In the minutes that followed while the two of them watched the place billow withsmoke, Sam felt a mixture of emotions he hadn‘t been able to suppress. Anger, revenge, andsadness all fought to take control before a sudden understanding won out. For twenty-twoyears prior to that night, Dad had been hunting the creature that had done the exact samething to his wife, and Sam and Dean‘s mother, Mary. In all that time, Sam hadn‘t been ableto comprehend the desire for vengeance, but with the death of Jessica, he finally knew andwas bent on the same type of retribution. He wanted, more than anything, to find the thingthat had killed his girlfriend, the thing that had interrupted his life so badly, and to throttle

it until he couldn‘t take it anymore. In his last bout of energy for the night, Sam hadpledged to Dean that he would stay by his side until that moment came, until they hadclosed in on the thing that had ruined their lives, and had finally rejoined the familybusiness.

However, his anger and resentment for the creature only lasted so long before itwas replaced with exhaustion. After a few days of searching through the wreckage of thefire and finding nothing before leaving town for good, Sam had begun to have nightmaresabout the blaze, reviewing everything that had happened that night down to the momentDean had pulled him from the flames. For the months following, he had barely slept,deciding that it was better that way instead of seeing the one person he had loved more thanlife itself die once again, before his brother began to become worried. In an attempt toappease him, Sam had tried to sleep the whole night through, only to be rewarded with the

same nightmare with a different outcome — this time with Sam and Dean dying in the fire aswell. Giving up on sleep entirely, Sam had begun to bury himself in his work before thenightmare came true once again… last night. 

For the past two months, the brothers had been on ordered lockdown by their fatherafter the hunt for the thing that killed Mom — which Dad believed to be a demon — nearlykilled them in Chicago, Illinois. Heading to an out-of-the-way motel in Fort Wayne,Indiana, the two had stayed inside for weeks, only leaving for food and the occasional late-night drive, before becoming antsy for something to do. At the time, Sam had beenconvinced that he was either going to hunt or return to Stanford — figuring it would be theproductive thing to do. Dean, on the other hand, had been convinced otherwise, telling Samthat they needed to stay put and follow Dad‘s orders. Ultimately, though, his older brotherbegan to wear himself thin trying to keep Sam stationary, and had eventually agreed towork a job four hours from where they were staying, a case in Louisville, Kentucky.

After putting the spirit killing descendants of its murderers to rest, the brothers hadheaded to two more jobs: one in Green River, Arkansas and the other in Bayview, Maine.However, the latter, which they believed to be a poltergeist haunting a batty old lady intown, had proved to be a null lead, with nothing pointing to ghostly activity except for theflickering lights  —which Dean discovered was due to the neighbor‘s kids taunting theelderly woman. Giving the kids an ear-full, the pair had headed farther inland to Brewer,lying in wait for something to pop up, before they were pointed in the direction of a cursed

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movie replaying its viewer‘s worst nightmare.Unfortunately, after an investigation of the victims‘ backgrounds, places of work,

and houses, they had come up with nothing that would lead them toward the person behindthe circulation of the film, pointing the brothers to the local police station before viewingthe movie themselves. While at the Penobscot County precinct, the two had gotten morethan they bargained for as they argued outside, the brothers stopping dead in their tracks

when they saw their father, who had made it sound as if he was going into hiding himself,heading to his truck in the parking lot across the way with a tall, busty brunette in tow.Angry, Sam had been set on abandoning the case they were working to figure out what wasgoing on, convinced that Dad had left his hiding station to follow a lead on the demon hewas hunting. Ultimately, though, he had come to the conclusion that he could find out whatwas going on once they were done, calming down enough to try to solve the case of thehaunted DVD.

However, watching the video had been more unsettling for Sam than he couldadmit. After popping it into his laptop and seeing his nightmare played out on the computerscreen, a fire had erupted much like the night of Jessica‘s death, trapping him and hisbrother inside. Biting back the fear that came with the situation, the two of them hadescaped the blaze a second time, leading them right to the perpetrator of the attacks.

Following her to the docks in the next town over, the brothers put an end to the witch,Emily Munroe, before Sam narrowed in on Dad‘s motel room in Bayview the next morning.Knowing that he had a small window of time to search through the contents inside, he hadconvinced his brother to wait on the corner of the lot while they watched their father drivetoward the highway, his new partner in the passenger‘s seat. When the brothers were surethe other two were gone, Dean pulled into the lot and took watch while Sam went inside.

Now Sam stood at the head of the mess, able to discern, if nothing else, which sidebelonged to Dad and which side was clearly the girl‘s by the fact that the bed closest to thewindow was barely slept in. Sam knew his father well enough to know that Dad hardlyclosed his eyes when he was in the middle of something, preferring to save his rest for whenhe was done rather than lose momentum on his research.

Letting his eyes pass over the disheveled mattresses, Sam zeroed in on the back of 

the room and crossed over to it, careful not to disturb the semi-circle of salt encompassingthe door. Deciding that the bathroom portion was the best place to start, he bent downbeside the sink and opened the cabinets, immediately setting to work.

In all honesty, he didn‘t know what he was looking for or what had caused him tofeel so strongly about searching the place. At first, he assumed it to be the fact that he wasunder the impression Dad was closing in on the demon without any regard to his sons,deciding to hunt it alone rather than allow them to help. Now that he thought about it,however, he realized that that was only half true. His father had been tracking the thing forthe past ten months that Sam and Dean had been following behind, and hadn‘t called exceptfor a couple of times to fill them in on his progress. The first time it had happened, Sam hadbeen as angry as he had been the night before, wanting to ditch the case to track down hisfather and force him into letting him help. However, that strategy had almost cost Dean hislife, making Sam rethink his plan of action.

His second thought had been about the girl, Dad‘s new partner, and how she was astranger to him and his brother, but Sam quickly realized that there were probably ahandful of Hunters out there that Dad knew and he didn‘t, causing him to focus less on herand more on the fact that she was there. His father was the independent type, meaning thathe almost always worked alone unless he needed help. The presence of a partner meant thatDad was struggling with something, though hadn‘t asked either of his sons for assistance.Instead, he had reached out to someone who wasn‘t family, leading Sam to temporarily

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wonder if the reason he was searching through his father‘s room was in partial spite andcuriosity. What was it that Dad was working on that he couldn‘t ask Sam or Dean for helpwith?

Clearing his throat and focusing back on the task at hand, Sam reached into thecabinets beneath the sink to pull out the contents, only finding a bag of toiletries, a packageof unopened razors, and a crumpled piece of paper underneath. Remaining crouched, he

leaned his arm over the side of the basin to steady himself as he unwrapped the slip of whathe recognized to be a receipt, letting the name he had known Dad to use become smoothedout as he continued pulling at the folded edges.

Wrinkling it buck up, Sam tossed it further into the depths of the cupboard beforesifting through the toiletries, letting his mind wonder once again. He had searched all of Dad‘s known aliases online through cracks in the local motels‘ registries, eventuallystumbling upon the one his father hadn‘t used all that often  on the ―active guest‖ list of theBayview Super 8. Edgar Cayce, the famous psychic and his two sons, had been a name Dadpicked up while working a rawhead case in the man‘s hometown of Hopkinsville, Kentucky,only using it every so often due to the notoriety that came with the pseudonym. It seemed,though, that Dad figured the residents of the small, seaside town wouldn‘t connect the dotsand hadn‘t batted an eye, accidentally leading Sam straight to his location.

However, Sam had a feeling his father had used the nom de guerre for a reason otherthan unsuspecting check-in clerks. In the back of his mind, Sam couldn‘t help but think thatDad knew his sons were in town and was partly sticking nearby to keep an eye on them.Ultimately, though, that made him wonder why Dad hadn‘t busted into their motel room togive them an ear-full of incensed words. He and his brother were supposed to be in Indiana,not Maine, and if their father knew that, he should have lectured them incessantly until theyreturned back to where they had been ordered to stay.

Tapping his fingers absently against the countertop for a moment, Sam pushed thethought away and placed the toiletries bag back under the sink. Shutting the cabinet doors,he stood up and took in his reflection in the mirror. His eyes were encircled with shadowedpurple bags of tiredness, with scratches on his cheeks and neck from where he had fallenagainst the glass on the pavement right after jumping from the window of the burningmotel room. His lips were paled, chapped, and cracked, and his chestnut hair was tousledand falling into his deep emerald eyes. His dark clothes seemed to be hanging off of his thin,muscular frame as though two sizes too big, picked out of the bottom of his duffle bag rightafter waking up.

If his brother hadn‘t been feeling strangely unvocal that morning, he would havetold Sam he looked like crap. But neither of them had said much on the way over to Dad‘smotel, both of them knowing that Dean was against the idea of breaking and entering,thinking it to be a betrayal of their father‘s trust. Though Sam knew it to be true, he stillcouldn‘t fight against the feeling that told him he should be doing this, that there wassomething there, underneath the mess, that he needed to see for himself.

Holding onto that feeling, Sam continued on. Heading over to the dresser sittingbetween the bathroom portion of the room and the television, his eyes fell onto the variouselectronic devices sitting on top — a tape recorder, night vision camera, and an infraredthermal scanner amongst them — before pulling open the topmost drawer. Inside were twostacks of men‘s clothes, folded neatly in a military fashion, with weapons jammed in between the gaps. Lifting up a few of the shirts to check for anything hidden underneath, Sam bit hislip and shut the drawer. Moving onto the next, he saw rolls of brightly-colored tops linedup along the bottom, with the graphic printed across them staring toward the ceiling.Grabbing the red one falling loose at the end, Sam held it between his fingers to read thewhite text splattered across the feminine v-neck: University of Louisville .

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Frowning, he rolled it back up and replaced it.After searching the rest of the dresser and finding nothing, Sam crossed over to the

television, pulling at the drawers on the cabinet underneath to see if any of them opened.When none of them did, he let his eyes roll up to the newspaper clippings tacked to the wallbehind the TV set. They seemed to be arranged in a strange order, as if separated by arearather than content. Closer to the dresser was a cluster of articles placed in Oregon, some of 

the titles reading Unseasonable Weather Hits Portland  and Lightning Storms in Eugene .Beneath that group was another set, these in California with similar titles. Farther to theright, things seemed to become less about weather and more about cattle mutilations, withcities like Cabery, Illinois, Buckner, Kentucky, Bradford, Arkansas, and Bayview, Mainebeing hit with sparse slaughters.

Reading the article about Bayview, Sam remembered seeing it in the paper beforefinding the case in Brewer, thinking nothing of it at the time. It seemed, however,something about it had struck Dad, something that might have been enough to get him todrive all the way to Maine. Unfortunately, nothing about it seemed to spark an interest inSam, nor explain what his father was doing following a trail of livestock deaths.

Sighing, Sam‘s eyes wandered over to the door before falling on the bistro setbeneath the window. The table and chairs were smashed between the wall and the nearest

bed, as if too big for the space, and were covered with books, papers, and a candy-apple redlaptop with the screen popped open. Nearing the arrangement, Sam glanced at a few of thebook titles —  Acting A to Z: A Young Person’s Guide to a Stage or Screen Career, Getting the Part,and Smart Actors, Foolish Choices  — before tilting back the lid of the computer to read thesticky notes tacked to the surface. In bubbly purple handwriting were dates and timesscribbled down with names underneath each. Grabbing the one in the topmost cornerreading ―June 19  –  Kelly Taylor‖, he stared at it for a moment before shoving it in hispocket. Something about the name seemed familiar to him, but he couldn‘t place his fingeron why.

Squeezing around the table, Sam pushed a few buttons on the keyboard and waitedfor the laptop to spring to life. When it did, a picture of the Yale University mascot staredback at him from behind a gray dialogue box prompting a password. Deciding that he didn‘thave enough time to try to hack into the computer, Sam shut it down again and tapped hisfingers against the base out of habit.

He had been sure he would find something here, something that would tell himwhat Dad was doing or why he needed outside help, but had instead found nothing but aninnocuous motel room. Disappointed, he let out a deep sigh and headed for the door, millingover the possibility that maybe Dean could make sense of it all — even though his brotherwas against the idea of snooping in the first place.

Twisting open the knob, Sam stared out at the overcast day and crossed the lot towhere his brother stood perched against the trunk of his black, 1967 Chevrolet Impala.Glancing up, Sam noticed the gray sky seemed to fit his brother‘s mood, who had all butrefused to help him search their father‘s room and instead stood idle with a sour expression.

As Sam headed to the car, he noticed that the clouds overhead were swirlingthreateningly, looking ready to crack open and pour rain at any moment. Stopping andresting against the low bumper of the Impala, Sam took a minute to gaze upward beforeturning to look at Dean. The sour expression was now gone, mixed with one of silentcuriosity.

After a long moment of pensive silence while they stood there taking in the weatherand milling over their own thoughts, Dean finally opened his mouth to speak, appearing asthough he would do anything to not have to say the next couple of words.

―Find anything?‖ 

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ONE

Bayview LodgeBayview, Maine

Thursday, August 3, 2006

12:37 PM

The air surrounding the Bayview Lodge felt heavy as Dean pulled the Impala into the stalloutside of room seven. The sky overhead was darkened with deeper gray clouds that seemedto congregate around the small square of land the motel took up, the gloominess of thecolor matching the mood and telling Sam that rain was still threatening to break through.

As he climbed out of the car, shooting his older brother a look to make sure that hewasn‘t the only one experiencing the strange sensation, Sam reached behind him to checkfor the aluminum-plated 9mm he usually carried in the back waistband of his jeans — something that, along with Dean‘s .45, managed to be spared as the two fell overboard fromEmily Munroe‘s yacht into the ocean. When cold metal touched his fingertips, heexchanged a frown with Dean before heading for the door.

Sam hated that his first reaction to anything suspicious was to reach for a gun, butgrowing up the child of a Hunter did that to him. Since he was six months old, he had beenraised in a lifestyle that‘s motto was ―shoot first, ask questions later‖, meaning that the onlything to do when things seemed odd was to find a weapon of choice to use against whatevermight be threatening survival. For the past twenty-three years, Sam had learned that anynumber of things could be lurking in the shadows, waiting for their cue to jump out andattack, and that being unprepared could mean the last moments of his life were only secondsaway. However, something about this  seemed different, as if Sam knew exactly what washiding behind the door because he had been waiting for it ever since the encounter at thepolice station.

Keeping a step behind Dean, Sam waited for his brother to insert the key into thelock and twist the knob, noticing that Dean also had his hand poised over a gun concealedat the base of his spine. As the door drifted open with a slight push, Sam crowded closer tohis brother, squaring his shoulders protectively as if to edge himself in front of Dean in casesomething hurled itself forward. After a moment, his breath caught in his chest as Sam tookin the profile of a man similar in build to his older brother but with the thoughtfulexpression he often recognized on his own face.

Dad… Scooting closer into the doorway, Sam watched while Dad got to his feet and turned

toward his sons, a small grin hidden beneath the tangle of whiskers crowding his oval face.Appraising them with his large, hazel eyes, their father took in the scratches and bruisesfrom the hunt the night before, then nodded toward Sam and Dean.

―Hey, boys.‖ 

Sam swallowed hard at the greeting, not knowing how to react. Part of him wantedto be angry, since he was still hurt over the fact that Dad had chosen to hunt alongside anew partner rather than with his own sons; while another part of him was worried. Not justover the fact that Dad was about to unload a lecture about protocol and following ordersdue to the fact that neither of them had — Sam had heard that speech more times than hecould count —but because of the pained look on his father‘s face, as if something was eatinghim from the inside out. Dark bags encircled Dad‘s eyes that rivaled the ones beneath Sam‘sown, while his face appeared more lined than before. His black peacoat seemed looser thannormal, as did his torn and frayed jeans beneath, while his hands looked dirty and worn, as

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though he had been digging for something in raw earth.Something was wrong. To see his tough-as-nails father standing there, appearing as

though a small gust of wind would knock him over, proved as much.―Dad,‖ Sam whispered, bunching his jaw and stepping into the room slowly. ―Wh-

what are you doing here? Are you okay?‖ Dean followed behind, his hard stare softening as he looked his father up and down

before shutting the door and turning on the lights. Sam did the same, noting that Dadseemed okay otherwise, though his skin looked paler than normal.

―I‘m okay,‖ Dad said finally, smiling despite his heavy tone of voice.It was clear he was relieved that his sons were alright, though the gladness was

wearing off slowly and becoming replaced with steady determination. As his hazel eyesflicked between Sam and Dean before eventually resting on Sam, he could see that his fatherknew what he had been doing prior to returning to the motel room. A small fire ragedbeneath the hardened stare, causing Sam to frown.

―What are you doing here?‖ Dean interrupted, pursing his lips together andshooting his brother a warning glance, obviously trying to deter an argument fromstarting. However, Sam knew his brother knew better. Their father was going to get out hislecture one way or another; all Dean was doing was stalling the process. ―Dad?‖ 

Pausing a moment, Dad kept his eyes on Sam, as if debating whether or not to stowthe sermon. After a long minute, he cleared his throat and took a step toward his sons,reaching out his hands to squeeze their shoulders gently. Giving his father a small smile atthe gesture, Sam swallowed hard and slumped slightly under the touch, feeling a temporarycomfort in the grasp. Unfortunately, the ease didn‘t last long. A second later and Dad hadreleased them, now digging his hands into the lining of his jacket to retrieve a folded pieceof paper from one of the pockets.

―There‘s something I need you to do. A job,‖ Dad answered slowly, the grin that hadreappeared on his face fading into a frown as he spoke.

Suddenly, Sam was overtaken with confusion and bubbling anger. As much as hedidn‘t want to be scolded by Dad, Sam was tempted to urge his father into a long-windedreprimand about blatant disobeyal and the importance of staying safe and out of the way. Atleast then the visit would seem normal. With Dad‘s complete silence on the subject of not  only Sam and Dean leaving lockdown in Fort Wayne but Sam‘s breaking and entering stint,something was wrong. His father would never keep his mouth shut on issues like that,especially when it came to following orders — and the ignoring of such was unsettling.

Ultimately, that, in combination with his appearance, caused Sam to become moreworried than anything, pushing everything else away for a moment to look his father in theeyes. Hardness and resolve stared back at him, along with an emotion Sam couldn‘t quiteplace, something almost like a soft apology hidden underneath it all.

Though he wanted to spark Dad‘s fury just for a semblance of Winchester normalcy,Sam bit it back and instead glanced at Dean, seeing that his brother was picking up on theoddness of the conversation as well. Finally, Sam let his eyes drift back over to his father ashe waited for a reply, a frown on his face. ―A job?‖ 

Nodding in response, Dad unfolded the page in his hands and offered it to Sam.Grabbing it from him, Sam let his eyes scan the smeared black ink sprawled across thecrinkled white paper, seeming as if the article he was holding had been printed out andstowed in Dad‘s pocket right after it had been ejected from the machine.

MURDER IN MEMORIAL PARKBayview, ME -- It‘s been a long while since the tiny town of Bayview, Maine has made headlines, but it appears as if it‘s

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been almost too long.This morning, the sleepy settlement on the coast of 

one of the nation‘s smallest states was disrupted by agruesome murder in Jasper Collins Memorial Park. TylerDurden, 23, had been found dead by authorities afterlongtime girlfriend Jaime Karnes, 22, alerted them of a

situation in the wooded part of the recreational area.Upon arrival, the man was found beaten and bloody,

his face carved in a way reminiscent of the last time Bayviewwas mentioned in one of the more popular publications:during the 1978 Ronald Mercer serial murders.

However, it seems the gruesome tale doesn ‘t endthere. According to Karnes and a few sheriffs‘ deputies, TylerDurden‘s attacker blinked in and out of sight beforedisappearing entirely.

―He was there, and then he wasn‘t!‖ says a hystericalKarnes. ―It wasn‘t right!‖ 

Baffled, the cops are asking for any information that

might lead to the arrest of the person responsible.

Looking up, Sam handed the page to his brother before glancing at Dad. His faceseemed warred with exhaustion and slight irritation, as though he had been anticipating anargument with his youngest son. Bunching his jaw, Sam tried to hold back the questionsthat were building in his mind, the questions that would  cause an argument about Sam‘sdisobedience: Why was Dad giving them a job? Why wasn‘t he scolding Sam for goingthrough his motel room? And, most importantly, what was Dad doing in town?

Seeming to apprehend at least part of Sam‘s inquisitions, his father sighed heavilyand shook his head. ―I know what you‘re thinking, Sammy. I know I told you to lay low forawhile, but you‘re going to have to trust me on this. I can‘t tell you why, but I need thistaken care of and out of the way.‖ 

Suddenly, despite Dad‘s haggard appearance and Dean‘s warning glare, Sam wasunable to quell the swell of questions. As every thought he had had since stumbling uponDad and his partner at the police station crossed his mind, Sam frowned. ―But I don‘tunderstand. Dad, what are you doing here? What‘s going on? Are you in trouble?‖ 

―Sam,‖ Dean said in a low voice, shooting his brother a green-eyed glower.―Is it the demon?‖ Sam continued. ―Is it here? I know you‘re following something.‖ ―Sam!‖ Dean shouted, his eyes flickering between his brother and father. Slumping his shoulders slightly, Dad looked down at the ground, a heavy apology

coming with the gesture. At the motion, Sam suddenly felt guilty for bothering his fatherwith questions. Something was after Dad, or at least something was wrong. Under normalcircumstances, John Winchester would be roaring with rage, criticizing his youngest sonfor his selfish actions and lack of respect. Instead, Dad appeared contrite and fatigued, as if he hadn‘t slept since the phone call in Indiana over two months ago.

Biting back the teeming inquiries, Sam took a deep breath before nodding to himself,suddenly flooded with empathy rather than anything else. ―Okay. We‘ll do it.‖ 

A sense of relief overcame the room as Dad smiled graciously and Dean sighed,thankful that an argument hadn‘t raged between the two.

―That‘s my boys.‖ Clapping his hands on both of their shoulders again, Dad pulled his sons into a hug

before releasing them. For a moment, the Winchester family stared at one another before

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they broke apart, Dad immediately heading toward the door. As he walked, Sam noticed adifference in Dad‘s gait, as though his leg had recently been broken and was still on themend. Furrowing his brow, he watched while Dad pulled open the handle and glanced backat his sons, a wry smile on his face as he nodded toward them one last time.

When he was gone, Sam turned to ask his brother whether or not he had noticedtheir father‘s odd appearance, only to see that Dean already had his mind focused elsewhere.

Across the room, his brother was bent beneath Sam‘s bed, reaching underneath for thelaptop Sam had stashed there earlier after searching for Dad‘s room. Retrieving it, Deanplaced the computer on the bed and sat beside it, his expressive eyes turned upward andsearching Sam‘s face. Swallowing hard, Sam nodded and reached for their father‘s journal,  noticing that it seemed different than normal… thinner.

As he was about to open his mouth and ask his brother whether or not he hadremoved a page or ten from inside, he realized that Dean wasn‘t the one who had been aloneinside the room with the book. Flipping it open just as Dean flipped on the old, silver DellSam had acquired at Stanford, Sam noticed that a section of dates had been removed.

That’s suspicious .Looking up from the journal, Sam bit his lip and threw it aside. The noise of the

leather cover slamming loudly against the wooden table beneath the window caused Dean

to glance up cautiously before he returned to his work, seeming to want to stay out of whatever was going on between his brother and father.

It had always been that way with Dean whenever a feud was brewing between Samand John Winchester —he always attempted to remain clear of the crossfire until he couldn‘tanymore. It appeared as though this time wasn‘t any different than the million other spatsbetween them as far as Dean was concerned, though the one between father and son when itcame to Sam leaving for Stanford could have left both of them with a heavyweight title.

However, this time, Sam felt differently about the argument, or lack thereof.Something was up, and Sam was intent on finding out exactly what was going on.

Unfortunately, they had a case to solve first. Though he hated to sideline the issueof his father‘s secrets, Sam knew he had a responsibility to the job. He had learned from thelast time something similar had happened — back in Burkittsville, Indiana where Dad hadcalled and Sam had disobeyed his order to follow a lead on a hunt, almost resulting inDean‘s demise had Sam not changed his mind at the last minute — that he had to take care of the case before everything else. He had a feeling Dad would be there when they were done.He also had a feeling he would discover whatever his father was hiding or whatever he wasup to before their next meeting.

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TWO

Bayview LodgeBayview, Maine

Thursday, August 3, 20062:13 PM

T  his isn’t a case , Dean thought as he gazed out the crack in the thick curtains blacking outthe windows, it’s a distraction. Dad wants us off his scent .

Frowning, Dean turned to Sam as his brother opened another page on his Internetbrowser, fully engulfed in the fact-finding part of the case. Sam had been reading websiteafter website for the past hour, trying to put pieces together about the murder in the parkand what might be behind it. As he searched vigorously, making a list of possiblesupernatural killers on the yellow legal pad near his right hand, Dean watched his brotherwork, waiting for the moment that Sam abandoned the job to head off to Dad‘s motel room.

In the past ten months that the brothers had been hunting together, Dean had seenSam happy, tired, and understandably furious, but he had never seen him so placid — especially when it came to dealing with Dad. After their father had walked away from theirmotel room and driven off down the road, Dean had crossed the room to retrieve hisbrother‘s laptop from underneath his bed, half -expecting to get into an argument about howDean so dutifully followed Dad‘s orders. Instead, Sam had remained silent, as if containinghis thoughts, and had instead chosen at first to sift through their father‘s journal beforetaking over the web search.

It seemed as if, had Dean not known his brother ‘s head as well as he did, Sam hadsimply forgotten about what had happened outside of the police station, choosing to focusintently on the job rather than dwell on the event. However, Dean knew his brother wassimply pushing through with the case to get it done and out of the way, just like Dad hadasked. Unfortunately, that meant that Sammy had something up his sleeve for after the fact,something that would probably involve trailing their father to find out what he was up to,

possibly even another breaking-and-entering stint.Shaking his head, Dean pulled on his earlobe and opened his mouth to ask. In amoment of thought, he snapped it shut. If his brother had something planned, he didn‘twant to know what it was just yet. Arguing over what might happen once they were donewith the case wasn‘t going to solve it any faster; it was only going to prolong the first stepsof the job. And, like it or not, Dean wanted this hunt in their rearview mirror. Though heknew he shouldn‘t be as curious as his brother when it came to invading Dad‘s privacy, hecouldn‘t help but wonder what was going on. Their father, who had called them over twomonths ago from a pay phone somewhere outside of Minneapolis to tell his sons to go intohiding and stay there, had just handed them a case as if the order had been revoked and thedanger had subsided. Judging by Dad‘s appearance, the latter wasn‘t true in the slightest.However, what was clear was the fact that their father wanted them distracted. The why

was what seemed to bother Dean more than anything else.Suddenly, the sound of a printer knocked Dean out of his thoughts. Furrowing hisbrows, he shot a look at Sam as his brother reached forward to remove a sheet of paper fromthe out tray, trying to read the title of the reamed article over his shoulder. When hecouldn‘t see it, Dean got to his feet to stare at the computer screen, pushing the heel of hispalm into the back of his brother‘s chair as he leaned over to look. Various newspaperwebsites were up, minimized in small squares across the monitor for quicker viewing. In thetop corner was the one matching the page in Sam‘s hand, one titled Bayview Bashing of Local Man’s Brain .

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―Catchy title,‖ Dean commented, scanning the rest of the visible text. The articleread just like the one Dad had handed them, outlining the brutal beating that had beendished out on Tyler Durden‘s melon before someone or something had taken a sharp objectto his face. Unfortunately, something about the newsprint didn‘t sit well with Dean, whoprided himself on having an eye for detail. The original article mentioned a mandisappearing from sight as soon as the cops arrived. Though he knew most spirits, and

sometimes projections, did the same thing and was perfectly plausible, what he didn‘tunderstand was why the thing had waited for the police to arrive instead of vanishing afterit was through with its victim. Most ghosts didn‘t wait for the authorities before becomingthin air.

―Yeah,‖ Sam smirked, shutting the computer down and pushing his chair back to getto his feet, stretching when he was fully standing . ―The papers are full of them. Every oneacross the state seems to be reporting the story. It‘s like mass hysteria.‖ 

Frowning, Dean reached over the table for the discarded paper Sam had left besidehis laptop, picking it up to read the rest of what he had missed onscreen. When he was done,he folded it into a small slip of paper to place in his coat pocket for future reference beforeturning to his brother —who was now crossing the room to grab a sweatshirt. ―Any of themsay anything different?‖ 

―Not as far as I can tell,‖ Sam admitted, tugging on the brown hoodie he had thrownover the dresser the night before. ―From what I‘ve seen, it‘s just everyone reporting thesame story in different words. They all use the same quote, though, which leads me to thinkthe girl who was there, Jaime, only talked to one paper.‖

―So you‘re thinking we should talk to her?‖ ―If she‘ll talk,‖ Sam sighed. ―Seeing your…‖ He trailed off for a moment to swallow

hard, his eyes falling to the floor from where they met Dean‘s across the room. ―It‘s notsomething you get over. It‘s not something you want to talk about first thing, either.‖ 

Dean nodded slowly, shooting his brother a reassuring smile as the two locked eyesagain. ―Well, it‘s worth a shot. It can‘t hurt, right?‖ 

The drive on the way to Jaime Karnes‘ house was silent underneath the sounds of Zeppelin II . As ―Heartbreaker‖ played quietly over the road noise that broke up the inverted quiet,Dean stared out at the street leading them toward Hampden, watching as the faded lines onthe two-lane blacktop passed beneath the tires.

It wasn‘t unusual for neither Sam nor Dean to feel particularly chatty, especiallyafter having just finished up a case the night before and now taking another. The two weretired and sore from having to fight against Emily Munroe‘s invisible tethers, chase herbelow deck on her expansive yacht, and swim their way back toward shore after beingbucked overboard. They both hadn‘t slept well, either, with Dean only grabbing a few hoursafter watching a handful of reruns on television, and Sam having tossed and turned in hissleep during the evenings prior.

However, Dean knew the lack of conversation couldn‘t solely be attributed toexhaustion. Neither brother was wholly focused on the case at hand, and both of them knewit. While Dean knew Sam would rather be following up on Dad‘s weird behavior, not thatDean could blame his brother after what had gone down at the motel, their father had giventhem a job to do, and they only had the option of taking it. Ignoring people dying in townto track John Winchester through his daily motions was selfish and not something Deancould willfully allow — and, it seemed, neither could Sam.

As he directed the Impala past a convenience store on the corner, Dean glanced athis brother out of the corner of his eye just as the car made its way down a residentialstreet. Sam‘s eyes were staring out at the houses as they passed, taking in the split-second

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view of the monotonous white Colonial homes that sat on both sides of the street. Theemerald green scanned over each building‘s façade as they gleamed against the windshield,turning slightly as the structure was left behind. Something in that gaze was distant,reminding Dean of the expression he had often seen on his brother‘s face once he had beganproposing the idea that he return to Stanford instead of continuing on the hunt. However,this seemed different, as if Sam was simply pondering options rather than wanting to act on

them. Truthfully, it looked as though something had changed.If Dean was honest with himself, he would attribute the difference in his brother‘s

attitude to the fire the night before. In the past, Sam would have been the first to drop thecase rather than stick by it, choosing to ignore Dad‘s orders for what Sam thought wasright. But it seemed the flames licking the walls, threatening to engulf not only Sam but hisolder brother, had sparked something in him that caused Sam to act more protective of Dean, as if he had suddenly become the eldest. Though Sam had always been one to throwhimself in front of a bullet if it meant saving someone else, it had always been Dean whowould take the heat for Sam, not the other way around. He had noticed it earlier, when theyhad a feeling someone or something was inside their motel room, when Sam had edgedhimself in front of Dean in order to be the one in the first line of fire, and he was noticing itnow as he watched Sam stick with the job instead of leave his brother high and dry to follow

behind their father.However, Dean couldn‘t help feeling as though the difference was foreboding, as

though something terrible was threatening to pop up in front of them that it took bothbrothers to take down. He had felt it before, during the silence in cases over the past month,but had shrugged it off. Now that Dad was there, looking as horribly run-down as he did,Dean had begun to think differently. Maybe there was  a reason behind the stillness,something they had missed while searching for a job to work.

Pushing the thought away, Dean pulled into the driveway of the Karnes residence.The house was exactly like all the others on the stretch of street, though a little cleaner,looking as if the clapboard siding had been painted recently. Pushing the door open, Deanwaited for his brother to appear on the other side, his mop of hair blowing in the chilly windthat whipped around them. Sticking his hands in his pocket, the two nodded beforerounding the grill of the car and heading for the front porch, with Dean silently hoping itwouldn‘t take long for anyone to let them inside.

―So, what‘s our cover?‖ Dean muttered as they neared the steps leading to the door,realizing that they hadn‘t established that on the drive in. In fact, his brother hadn‘t reallygiven him a hint of anything, even whether or not he had called the girl ahead of time.

―Newspaper,‖ Sam said finally, rolling his eyes at Dean‘s surprised look. ―What?‖ ―I thought you said every paper around did a story on this.‖ Rolling his eyes again, Sam pushed his hands deeper into his pockets and glared

pointedly at Dean. ―They did. But I also said it looks like only one of them actually talked toher. I figured we could ask her a few questions and tell her it‘s for a follow-up story. I doubtshe‘ll be looking for it in the morning.‖ 

Furrowing his brow, Dean ignored the blatant irritation. ―What makes you saythat?‖ 

Instead of answering, Sam reached forward to press the doorbell with his coveredhands, pulling his arms tighter toward himself to shield his thin body against the cold.Dropping the subject for now, especially if Sam was going to snap at him for forgetting afew meaningless facts, Dean instead looked up at the sky and around. The clouds were stilldark and heavy with precipitation, the air biting at their skin. If he hadn‘t known better, hewould have thought winter had snuck up on them without either of them knowing.

Fortunately, the sound of muffled feet came from the other side of the door, turning

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Dean‘s attention elsewhere just as the expanse of white before them opened up. In thedarkened gap stood the limber body of a tall blonde with deep blue eyes rimmed in red. Herlean frame was wrapped with a matted green robe that looked like it had seen better days,and her hair was lying untamed around her shoulders, caught in the terrycloth‘s collar. Hernose was also red, and as she stood there, her eyes scanning the brothers searchingly, shereached a hand absently upward to rub the tip for what Dean was sure to be the thousandth

time.―Who are you?‖ ―Are you Jaime Karnes?‖ Sam asked with a small smile, his tone quiet and reassuring

as opposed to Jaime‘s cracked, tense pitch. ―I‘m Sam Benson and this is Dean Hedges. We‘refrom the Portland Press Herald . We were wondering if we could ask you a few questions fora story we‘re writing on Tyler Durden.‖ 

Returning Sam‘s grin half-heartedly, Jaime stared at the brothers a minute beforestepping aside to let them pass. As the two entered the foyer of the boxy home, Deannoticed that the blinds were shut and the house was silent, as if Jaime had been sitting in thedark in the moments leading up to their arrival. Glimpsing into the living room off to theright, the TV was visible, its screen darkened and couch untouched. To the left was a denthat held an oversized desk and an office chair, a laptop sitting closed on top of a stack of 

thick books.―Are you home alone?‖ Dean asked suddenly, his eyes falling back on Jaime as she

shut the front door behind her and leaned against it.Nodding Jaime let out a slow breath. ―My dad went to the store to pick up some

supplies. We ran out of milk a few days ago and I guess he thought today would be a goodday to fix that problem.‖ 

Smirking despite the hardened look on Jamie‘s face, Dean glanced at his shoes for aminute to subdue the smile. Turning his attention to Sam, he waited for his brother to takethe floor, watching as he removed a small, palm-sized notebook from the inside of hissweatshirt pocket. Flipping it open, he poised a pen over the lined paper, lookingexpectantly at Jaime in his best impersonation of a reporter. Again, Dean was tempted tosmirk at the expression on his brother‘s face, but this time held it back.

―You had questions?‖ Jaime asked, noticing Sam‘s motions. ―Yes,‖ Dean answered after a long moment of Sam staring at Jaime, a confused look

on his face.―Did you go to Stanford?‖ Sam asked suddenly, causing Dean to gaze up at him. Of 

all the things he had expected to escape his brother‘s mouth, that  hadn‘t been one of them. Itseemed as though Jaime shared Dean‘s sentiment, furrowing her eyebrows together andappearing slightly blind-sided by the question. As if to clear up the confusion, Sam clearedhis throat. ―I mean, it‘s just that you look really familiar.‖ 

―Yeah, I did,‖ Jaime nodded slowly. ―I graduated last semester.‖ Picking up on her obvious hesitance to discuss the subject, Sam glanced down at the

notepad in his hand, sending a furtive glance to Dean out of the corner of his eye. Shiftinghis weight, Dean pursed his lips and looked at Jaime.

―What happened, exactly, down at the park?‖ Taking a deep breath, Jaime rolled her head back and peered up at the ceiling for a

moment. Dean could tell that the event was still fresh in her mind, only happening ahandful of hours beforehand, and that asking about it was doing nothing to alleviate theemotions Tyler Durden‘s death had caused. However, he and Sam needed to know in orderto prevent the ordeal from happening to anyone else, meaning that they were going to haveto wait for Jaime to divulge the story.

Thankfully, after what felt like an eternity, Jaime relaxed her shoulders and turned

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to Dean, exhaling through her nose as if doing so would hold back the tears that werethreatening to form in her exhausted, watery eyes.

―We were running through the park,‖ she began slowly, ―running just like we doevery day. It was just a stupid little thing we decided to do when we first dated. I was on thetrack team in college and he wasn‘t much more than ninety -eight pounds of nothing whenwe met, so I thought it would be a good thing for both of us.‖ She stopped a moment to

swallow hard. ―We always ran to the same point, this statue that st ands out over the ocean.Whoever got there first got the bragging rights. Most days, I would win, but this morning,he got there before me. I guess he had a little extra energy or something.‖ 

Stopping a moment to let out another deep breath, Jaime rubbed the back of herneck and glanced at the ground before looking up again. ―Every morning, we stand thereand cool off. Maine‘s always been windy and cold, but this morning it was… colder . Wecould see our breath in the breeze. Part of me wanted to leave and get back to the car towarm up, but before I could say anything, Tyler had spotted something in the trees.‖ 

―Did you see what it was?‖ Dean interrupted, noticing that Sam was scribblingnotes quickly into the pad in his palm.

―I didn‘t see anything,‖ Jaime frowned. ―Whatever it was, it was enough to get himto leave me. Tyler‘s never been really outgoing or extroverted, so for him to head off was

new. I guess whatever was there was interesting to him.‖ Clearing her throat, she wipedaway the trickle of tears that fell from her swelling eyes. ―I wanted him to come backbecause I was getting cold, so I called for him. I guess he didn‘t hear me over all the wind. Itwas like everything picked up once he stepped into the trees. He heard me the second time,though. Right before he, um…‖ 

―Was attacked?‖ Sam supplied. Nodding gratefully, Jaime turned her eyes back to Dean. ―This thing, this  person ,

 just appeared out of nowhere like a flickering light bulb and hit him straight across the face.Whoever it was was strong enough to knock him all the way into the woods. I wasconcerned so I followed. What I saw was… weird, to say the least.‖ 

Bunching his jaw, Dean asked. ―What‘d you see?‖―This guy, his face all cut up, holding a knife, or scalpel or something, over Tyler

like his next move was to do the same to my boyfriend,‖ Jaime answered, wiping away theheavy tears that were now flowing steadily. ―I didn‘t see much after that. Tyler told me toget help. I wish I hadn‘t. Maybe if I had stayed…‖ 

Silence fell while Dean glanced up at Sam. On his brother‘s face was an expressionof knowing. Offering Jaime a small smile as she looked at him, Sam slumped his shouldersslightly. ―You‘re lucky you got out of there when you did.‖ 

Furrowing his brow in surprise, Dean narrowed his eyes at Sam dubiously beforeturning back to Jaime. ―You didn‘t recognize the guy? It wasn‘t anyone you knew?‖ 

―No,‖ Jaime answered with a shake of her head. ―Nobody that I knew.‖ ―Can you think of anybody who would want to hurt Tyler? Or you, for that matter?‖ Biting her lip, Jaime shook her head again before rubbing her cheeks against the

collar of her robe. As she cried silently, Dean frowned up at Sam while his brother lockedeyes with the girl. ―We‘re sorry for your loss.‖ 

―Thank you,‖ Jaime swallowed. ―I-Is that it? I mean, I don‘t—‖ ―Yeah, I think so,‖ Dean nodded gently after she trailed off, shooting Jaime a grim

smile. ―We‘ll get out of your hair now.‖ Nodding absently, Jaime moved out of the way to free the threshold, holding onto

the side of the door for support as she pulled it open. As Sam and Dean made their way out,she waited a moment for the two to pass before shutting herself off from the rest of theworld. Frowning, Dean paused to think of the poor girl sitting alone in the dark and

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glanced at Sam, wondering if this would be how he took Jessica‘s death had he been left byhimself the day after the fact. Remembering that Sam had acted that way, shutting off all thelights and closing all the curtains after the two of them searched the blackened remains of Sam‘s former apartment, Dean‘s heart dropped in his chest.

No one should have to go through that alone .Pushing the thought away, he reached for the handle on the Impala and slipped

behind the wheel, waiting a moment for his brother to do the same. When they were safelyinside, he started the engine, feeling the pensive quiet swelling once again as the two satstaring straight ahead with the end of ―Bring it on Home‖ providing a murmuringsoundtrack.

Fortunately, the silence didn‘t last long, breaking as Sam flipped pages in hisnotebook then opened his mouth to speak.

―It sounds like a spirit,‖ Sam said softly, causing Dean to turn off the music that hadstarted with the car. ―The way she describes the appearing out of nowhere and his strength,it sounds like the guy‘s been long-dead.‖ 

―Yeah, but what started up his vengeance routine?‖ Dean asked after a moment,pausing to back out of the driveway and direct them back toward Bayview. ―I mean, spiritsdon‘t just pop up randomly to start unleashing fury. Something had to have triggered it.‖ 

―I don‘t know,‖ Sam admitted, frowning.Stillness fell again, this time without the tinny tunes to interrupt the occasional

sighing and guttural road noise. There was something Dean wanted to ask, but wasn‘t sureof, especially since it was a subject that had been silently marked out-of-bounds. However,curiosity was getting the best of Dean, causing him to blurt of the words sharply.

―And what was with the whole Stanford bit? You seen her before?‖ Slumping in his seat, Sam let his knees hit the dashboard before replying, looking as

though he were a six-year-old caught in a lie and trying to ease his way out of it. ―I thinkshe was in my English class.‖ 

Pursing his lips, Dean shot a glance at his brother out of the corner of his eye,debating whether or not to say more. After a long moment, he bit it back and directed hisattention onto the faded road, making a turn past the gas station he had passed on his wayinto Hampden. It wasn‘t often that Sam talked about his time away at college, mainlybecause he knew Dean often became irritated with the subject and the conversation seemedto stir up painful memories for both brothers, but Dean couldn‘t help but wonder if therewas something more to the fact that somehow, in Maine of all places, Sam had run intosomeone he had gone to school with all the way out in California. Honestly, the chancemeeting reminded him of what his brother had told him about running into Meg at the sideof the road, then again at some bar in Chicago.

Of course, that bitch turned out to be a demon , Dean reminded himself.Rolling his shoulders back, Dean relaxed into the seat and tried to quell the

questions bubbling in his mind about whether or not they could trust Jaime‘s story. If sheturned out to be anything like Meg, they could be leading themselves into a situationsimilar to the one that had put them on lockdown in the first place. Of course, if that were tobe the problem, that would explain Dad‘s haggard appearance.

However, Dean had a feeling that wasn‘t the case. Jaime attending Stanford wasprobably nothing but a coincidence. The school was big enough to house more studentsthan just Sam, and it was likely that at least some of them had traveled from the east coastto attend the precocious university. All this girl was was an innocent bystander, nothingmore.

Shaking his head free of the idea, Dean reached forward to switch the tape over toside two, turning up the volume to let the music swallow the thoughtful silence.

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THREE

Bayview Public LibraryBayview, Maine

Thursday, August 3, 20065:47 PM

During the last hunt, Dean had sworn two things to himself: One, that he wouldn‘t beputting on one of those stupid monkey suits for whatever was next thrown their way; andtwo, that they were staying as far away as possible from any type of library — no matterwhat. However, it seemed as though Sam was intent on breaking Dean‘s inward promise. 

On the drive back from Jaime Karnes‘ house, Sam had been in his own world again,staring out the window as if something fascinating was passing by the glass. After a longmoment of silence, which had only been broken by the music Dean was playing and the humof the Impala‘s engine, Sam had finally opened his mouth as soon as they reached Bayviewcity limits. Unfortunately, what he said caused Dean to wish his brother had remained mute.

―We need to go to a library. See if anything‘s been written about any kind of murderin the park,‖ Sam had said, not bothering to turn his attention toward Dean. ―I doubt we‘llbe able to dig up much online.‖ 

Groaning to himself, Dean tried to refrain from arguing against his brother‘ssuggestion, instead keeping in mind the fact that Sam was actually working the job with himrather than breaking off on his own to follow Dad. The thought alone was enough to holdback Dean‘s tongue, but the idea of stepping foot inside another library was making thatfeat harder than he initially imagined.

Following his brother inside, the two had immediately set up shop in an out-of-the-way corner just like they had every other time, a spot that allowed Dean to see and hear all,before Sam left to talk with one of the librarians clustered behind the front desk. To theplace‘s credit, they didn‘t stock the shelves, so to speak, with the gray-haired grandmasDean was used to seeing in establishments like this. Rather, a voluptuous blonde college

girl dressed in a University of Maine t-shirt stood beside a leggy brunette, both sortingthrough thick volumes that sat on metal carts. While Sam talked to the older, but still asattractive, brunette beside them, Dean kept his eyes trained on the girls, watching as theypassed books between them, laughing quietly at some unheard joke.

By the time Sam returned, Dean had almost forgotten that he was somewhere hewished he weren‘t before his brother reminded him of it by throwing a stack of old ledgersdown on the feeble table situated between them. Rolling his eyes, Dean reached forward topick up one of the thickly-bound tomes, brushing dust off the cover to read the handwrittentitle taped down with aged adhesive. Coughing twice as the fumes met the back of histhroat, he shot his younger brother a glare.

―What‘s this?‖ ―A journal,‖ Sam sighed, grabbing one of his own and flipping it open, ―of 

everything that happened during the construction of the park. If anything weird and spirit-inducing went down during the time it was being built, it would be in here somewhere.‖ ―And it took all of  this ,‖ Dean said pointedly, nodding toward the five or six books

laid out in front of them, ―for them to write down anything interesting?‖ ―Looks like.‖ ―Great.‖ Smirking, Sam turned back the first page of the ledger and began reading. Waiting a

moment to watch his brother‘s eyes skim the book with the absorption of a sponge, Deanpursed his lips before doing the same. On the first few yellowed sheets were indiscernible

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numbers that looked like an accounting log, and the pages following were nothing but smallanecdotes about things found in the ground while the landscaping crew was laying sod. Thehandwriting was a tight scrawl that‘s gibberish would match the contents of Dad‘s book— though the one in front of him contained less about separate species of demons and moreabout the different variations of dirt.

Rubbing at the back of his neck, Dean looked up in silent wonder over whether or

not his brother was serious about reading this boring piece of micro-journalism. Therecouldn‘t possibly be anything there that wouldn‘t be mentioned in the local newspaper atthe time; unless of course Sam was looking for something innocuous and inconspicuous bynormal standards, though Dean couldn‘t imagine what that could be. When he saw thatSam was still staring intently at the pages as he sifted through them, Dean let out a silentsigh before reemerging himself in the barely-legible writing on the faded lines.

March 15, 1956 - Found discarded fire sprinkler in soil today.Mark Willis made a joke that it was planted there by Smokey the Bear.

March 16, 1956 - Dug space for walkway. Cement should be installed by tomorrow. Cost ~$165.

March 17, 1956 - Jeff Thomas approved of the concrete installation. Crew went home early in honor of St. Patrick’s. 

Looking up, Dean glanced across the way at the girls behind the front desk.Through there was only one of them now, the blonde, she was more entertaining to watchthan whatever was written in the book glaring up at him from the table. Unfortunately,Dean knew that his brother would notice his distraction and begin to become insistent thathe work, which might lead to Sam bailing on him for bigger fish, causing Dean to roll hisshoulders back and return his eyes to the scribbled words.

Thankfully, it wasn‘t much longer after he turned to the next page that Sam  slammed his own book shut and leaned forward. Though he could tell by the way hisbrother‘s shoulders were slumped that he hadn‘t gotten much more than Dean had, itseemed as though something inside the ledger had sparked an idea in Sam. Getting up fromhis chair without another word, Sam crossed the room to speak to one of the women Deanhad been watching. The older brunette was back, leaning over a cardboard box sitting ontop of the desk and displaying her impressive rack. Admiring it for a moment, Deanwatched as she pushed the file crate toward his brother with a large smile.

―I thought this might be more up your alley,‖ he heard her say. ―I dug it out of theback when I heard you were looking into the park. It‘s not much, but it should be enoughfor your article.‖ 

Smiling shyly, Sam nodded in thanks before returning to their table, dropping the

box at their feet and kneeling down.―What‘s that?‖ Dean asked. ―I‘m not sure.‖ Lifting the lid, Sam looked inside before moving to give Dean a view of the contents.

Sitting at the bottom were stacks of newspapers, various hardcover books, pamphlets onlocal establishments and recreation areas, wilderness guides, and so on, each organized bytype in neat piles that ran up the sides of the crate. Reaching down, Dean removed one of the novels, flipping it over to read the title aloud to his younger brother, raising an eyebrowas he did.

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―Murder in Maine: from Stephen King to Serial Killers ,‖ Dean smirked. ―Wonder whatmade her give you this.‖ 

―I gave her the same cover story we gave Jaime; that we‘re working on a follow-upabout the Tyler Durden murder,‖ Sam answered with a shrug. ―Guess she figured we coulduse it for whatever we‘re writing.‖ 

―Probably thought you were the next Mike Noonan with all of this.‖ 

Grinning, Sam hefted the box onto the table, reaching inside to remove the fadednewspapers that were folded at the bottom. Sitting back in his chair, this time with the cratebetween them to block each other from view, Dean could hear his brother unfurling thecrinkling pages.

In the back of his mind, Dean knew they didn‘t have enough information to go onwhen it came to figuring out what was happening, even without the added box of intel. Oneattack hardly pointed to a pattern, and without a complete description of the ghostlyslasher, they didn‘t have much that would lead them to the culprit. However, they wereworking. After a month of nothing following two cases and nearly two months before thatof laying low in a motel room on the outskirts of Fort Wayne, anything they could get wasworth looking into — not to mention the fact that Dad had personally delivered the hunt tothem, despite Dean having a feeling he had done so to keep his sons distracted.

Unfortunately, he knew they had two options when it came to the job: search untilthey found even the smallest speck of something, or wait for someone else to be carved up inthe park. While he knew the latter wasn‘t something to consider, Dean couldn‘t help butthink that at least then they could begin to figure out some sort of tendency. With just oneattack and one unclear depiction, all they knew was that they were looking for some sort of ghost with some kind of trigger related to the park. Ultimately, though, that narrowed theplaying field down to looking for a needle in a stack of needles.

Across the way, Dean heard Sam sigh in irritation. He knew his brother was just asfrustrated with the job, especially since he had other things on his mind — first and foremostbeing Dad. Fortunately for both of them, though, Sam was keeping a level head about it sofar, seemingly ignoring what was most likely eating at the back of his brain to figure outwhat was going on with the case. Part of Dean wanted to comfort his brother and tell himthat they could figure out what was up with their father after they were done, while anotherpart of him knew that would be a lie. Though he was intrigued when it came to his father‘shunts and secrets, it wasn‘t enough to get him to break the honor code— though the morehe thought about it, the more he was tempted. Thankfully, it seemed as if Sam had alreadyrecognized that fact and was intent on keeping the peace until he absolutely had to break itup… whenever that would be. 

Suddenly, the box partitioning the brothers off from one another was moved aside just as Sam got to his feet. Stuffing the refolded paper back inside, he shot a weary look athis brother before reaching for the book Dean had removed earlier. Glancing around, Samshoved the small volume into the waistband of his jeans, then replaced the cardboard lid.

―We through here?‖ Dean asked hopefully, also standing up.―Yeah, there‘s not much else here,‖ Sam answered with a frown. ―I might be able to

find something online now that I have a possible starting point, maybe something that hasto do with this Ronald Mercer guy.‖ 

Furrowing his brows, Dean pulled at his earlobe. ―Who?‖ ―I‘ll explain later.‖ Nodding in response, Dean followed behind his brother as he headed toward the

check-out desk, returning the box with a small smile before leading the way out of thelibrary. Once they were back in the parking lot, Sam leaned against the roof of the Impala,pulling out the Murder in Maine book to make sure he hadn‘t damaged it after stuffing it

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behind him to steal from inside.―I don‘t know if I want to ask what you need that for,‖ Dean commented with a grin. ―The article Dad gave us earlier mentioned a man named Ronald Mercer,‖ Sam

explained, opening the door to the passenger‘s side and slipping in, on ly continuing onceDean had taken his place behind the wheel. ―It might be nothing, but the guy might beconnected to this thing somehow. The papers said Bayview hadn‘t been mentioned in the

major trades except for once before, when that guy was at large.‖ ―So what is he? Some kind of serial killer?‖ Shrugging his shoulders, Sam bit his lip. ―The papers I was reading inside were

from August of 1978. They said that the man was caught after fifteen murders. Apparentlythe police had put it together after the man had slashed himself up to make it look like hewas one of the victims. And get this, the cuts on his face were something called a ChelseaSmile.‖ 

―Am I supposed to know what that is?‖ Dean asked, cranking the engine. ―No, I guess not,‖ Sam frowned. ―The Chelsea Smile was something street gangs in

Chelsea, London used as an intimidation tactic. They cut their victim‘s faces from thecorners of the mouth to the apples of their cheeks before kicking them in the stomach towiden the wound. When it healed, it left a permanent scar like a smile. It‘s been used in

previous murder cases in the States, like the Black Dahlia and a few others.‖ ―Man, you sure know a lot of weird-o stuff,‖ Dean grinned slightly, pointing them

back toward their motel. ―So what‘re you thinking? That this Ronald Mercer guy might bethe one behind the attacks? Might be our spirit?‖

―Might be,‖ Sam agreed. ―The only way to know is to dig up info on the guy.‖ Nodding, Dean turned his attention onto the road, silently wondering if maybe they

had a simple open-and-shut case on their hands for once — though that was far from likely.

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FOUR

Bayview LodgeBayview, Maine

Thursday, August 3, 20067:18 PM

Sam let out a deep breath as he massaged his temples, looking down at the keyboard infront of him as he did so. A headache had been forming there for the greater part of an hour,only a little after he and Dean had come back from the library, and staring at the brightcomputer screen for just as long wasn‘t helping any.

Ever since returning to their motel room, Sam had been clicking feverishly away atwebsites, online journals, and databases he had hacked into, looking for anything he couldon Ronald Mercer. In that time, Dean had been reading through Dad‘s journal, looking foranything he could on the man or the park the first victim had died at. When that turned upfruitless, Sam watched out of the corner of his eye as his brother paced the room beforefinally announcing he was going out to get them dinner.

As soon as Dean had shut the door behind him, an unwelcome silence had cloudedthe room, one that allowed Sam‘s mind to shift from the case he was working over to hisfather and what he could be doing now. Ever since watching Dad walk out the door, Samhad been curious, lost in his own thoughts about the millions of possibilities behind JohnWinchester‘s emaciated appearance and reason behind handing his sons a job. However,nothing he came up with seemed plausible, causing Sam to berate himself for not being ableto think of the right answer, and instead turning his thoughts elsewhere.

While a website loaded in a new tab, Sam waited absently, barely seeing the monitorin his blurred vision as he stared beyond it at the wallpaper covering the room. The colorwasn‘t as violent red as he had first thought, though the brightness of it was still distractingregardless of how toned-down it now appeared. The rest of the furniture inside was thesame unfinished wood grain as every other motel he and Dean had stayed in, with the

exception that it seemed everything still functioned as it should. Even the TV, which wason but muted, was working properly, flickering every now and again whenever thereception on the rabbit ears faded. The screen displayed whatever Dean had been watchingbefore leaving, some movie involving Clint Eastwood chasing a guy on a motorcycle.

Out of his peripheral vision, Sam‘s gaze moved as he could see that the page he hadbeen waiting for had loaded, refreshing whatever images it hadn‘t been able to display thefirst time around. Turning his attention to it, he saw that most of the site containedpassword-protected material, with a government-issued login prompt sitting in the corner.He had been staring at the page belonging to the county coroner‘s office for the past tenminutes, tapping his fingers impatiently as he waited for it to pop up. In the meantime, Samsilently reminded himself to tell Dean that they need to buy a new computer wheneverDean next won a poker game, especially if they were going to spend time trying to hack

into various, highly-guarded websites. Those pages were often thick with security that tooktime to bypass, and spending most of that time waiting for the site to load was morecounterproductive than anything else.

Thankfully, Sam had learned a few ways around having to go through firewall afterfirewall and password after password from a friend at Stanford. As soon as he found thelogin box located in the top right corner, he immediately set to work putting thatknowledge to good use, hopefully cutting his wait time for illicit information in half.

So far, Sam knew the basics about Ronald Mercer — where he had lived, where hehad died, and so on  —but hadn‘t learned much about the previous night‘s victim. After

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discovering that Mercer had been gunned down in the exact place Tyler Durden had beenmurdered, after the police had tried to talk the man into putting down the knife he wasusing to carve up his prey, Sam had become interested in the reason behind the way thespirit was choosing its victims and why it had suddenly started again. Hopefully, somethingon Tyler Durden‘s corpse would point to some kind of explanation. 

As he typed in variations of possible passcodes and memorized defaults, Sam let his

mind reiterate the facts he had learned on Mercer. At first, he hadn‘t been sold on what hehad told his brother outside the library, that the man was the one behind the attacks, butwas slowly becoming more adamant about the idea the more he discovered about the guy. Itappeared Ronald Mercer had grown up in Bayview, but hadn‘t spent much time in town.According to various stories, one coming from the Murder in Maine book, Mercer had beenkicked out of every school in the three cities surrounding the area, finally finding one inBrewer that took him in for good  —one that tended to the needs of ―special cases‖.Intrigued, Sam had discovered that Ronald had been diagnosed with almost every type of schizophrenia known to man, and had been placed on as many drugs as humanly possible.

After awhile, however, Ronald‘s body began to adapt to the medication, rendering itsomewhat useless. Becoming addicted to it, the man had been placed in rehab before beingcommitted to an asylum in Portland, where he had stayed until he mysteriously disappeared

one night in 1978. The day after he was reported missing, a corpse had been found carvedup ten miles away in Back Cove Park. Not seeing the two as coincidence, especially sinceRonald had been kicked out of school so many times for threatening to do the same to hisclassmates, the police had immediately set out an APB on the guy. Unfortunately for them,they hadn‘t found him until fifteen bodies had been dropped between Portland and Bayview.

Ultimately, though, no matter how many times Sam reviewed the story, none of itsounded like something that would render an angry spirit coming back for revenge. In fact,nothing about anything that happened in the park in the past fifty years since itsconstruction sounded like something that would cause a ghost to start slaying patrons — well, except for the shooting, but even that could be considered humane compared to someof the things Sam had dug up on other angry spirits.

Finally, the site refreshed to replace the login page with a new layout, this one withlinks long the side leading to other parts of the Penobscot County sheriff‘s network. AsSam‘s eyes passed over the various titles, he finally found the one listing the pathologydepartment and clicked on it. To the right, a menu appeared, one displaying names writtenwith numbers beside it. Selecting Durden, T - 08.03.06 , Sam waited for the site to refreshagain, rolling his eyes in impatience, before taking in the image in front of him.

On the screen was a written-in coroner‘s report scanned into the site, complete withthe colored drawing of a human body filled with markings from the murder. On the sketch‘sface were red lines depicting the cuts etched in Tyler‘s cheeks and blue where the bruiseshad formed. To the side of the drawing was a write-up of the injuries, along with anestimated time of death of five-thirty in the morning.

―Lacerations on face approximately twelve centimeters long and two centimeters wide ,‖ Samread. ―Contusions are consistent with reported beating. Parietal lobe hemorrhaging and cranial 

 fractures noted. Numerous bone fragments from fractures have penetrated brain tissue.‖ Biting his lip, Sam continued to read the report, finally landing on the notes section:―Benzole found in facial wounds .‖Frowning just as the door to the motel swung wide to reveal Dean holding a heavy

sack of food, Sam let out a deep breath and clicked open a new browser window. As Deanentered the room, the smell of onions following in his wake, Sam began to search for oddphenomenon involving the chemical, ignoring his brother as Dean shot him a concernedglare from where he now sat in front of the television.

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After a long moment, Sam scoffed at the screen, shutting down his computer as hegot up to retrieve a burger from his brother, the smell of them seeming more intense thanbefore. Sitting down across from Dean, Sam grinned to himself prior to peeling back thewrapper and taking a bite, noticing his brother‘s curiously-raised eyebrow.

―What?‖ Sam asked, swallowing. ―You just look like you hit the jackpot is all,‖ Dean shrugged. ―Care to share or are

you just going to keep all that to yourself?‖ Scratching the back of his neck with his free hand, Sam nodded before taking

another bite, not realizing until now how hungry he had been. The last time he had eatenhad been before the fire, and it seemed he had forgotten to do so in lieu of digging upinformation on the case. Either that or it had simply slipped his mind after the run-in withDad and his new partner outside of the police station.

Shaking his head free of the thought, Sam cleared his throat. ―I think I figured outwhat‘s going on.‖ 

Smiling, Dean straightened up and took another bite of his burger, not bothering tofinish eating before opening his mouth to speak. ―Thatta boy! What‘d you find out?‖ 

―Well,‖ Sam sighed, taking a deep breath. ―Looks like Ronald Mercer was diagnosedwith schizophrenia and on all kinds of drugs, from Thorazine to Stelazine. After awhile, the

dude was placed in an asylum in Portland before he broke out. After that, the murdersstarted the next day.‖ Sam paused, recounting what he had read to make sure he didn‘t skipanything. ―The cops couldn‘t stop him because they couldn‘t find him. It looks like he keptmoving north until he got to Bayview. According to a handful of websites, the guy was shotand killed after they chased him down.‖ 

―Crack police work,‖ Dean commented, rolling his eyes. ―Why‘d they kill him?‖ ―I guess they didn‘t really know what to do with him,‖ Sam shrugged. ―Apparently

they had ordered him to put down the knife in his hand, but he didn‘t do it and kept talkingto someone who wasn‘t there. Plus, schizophrenia wasn‘t really talked about back in 1978.The cops probably didn‘t know what was wrong with him.‖ 

―Just the voices in his head telling him what to do,‖ Dean frowned. ―So what makesyou so sure it was this guy? You see some neon sign?‖

―The markings on the face for one. There aren‘t any other reports of anyone beingkilled that way. And two, Mercer was killed in Bayview Memorial Park.‖ Sam paused aminute to take another bite of his burger and soak in Dean‘s surprised expression. When itfaded, Sam concluded, ―I mean, based on everything we‘ve seen, spirits usually haunt a placethey have a connection to, which usually means the place they died.‖

―Yeah, I know,‖ Dean nodded.As the two continued eating, Sam let the silence grow over the room while both he

and Dean sat in thought. It looked like all the brothers had to do was take care of the bodyand they would be free of their obligation to Dad and his case. Maybe then they could focuselsewhere, possibly on finding out what the man was up to and who he was with.

However, that was a thought for later. They still had an obstacle to overcome, and afew things to take care of before they could start tailing their father — and that wasassuming Dean would be interested in doing so. So far, Dean didn‘t seem to want toabandon what he and Dad called ―the honor code‖, the unspoken rule that JohnWinchester‘s sons didn‘t do anything underhanded when it came to their father. It was arule that Sam had broken the night he decided to abandon the commanded job inBurkittsville to track down where Dad had called from in Sacramento, one that he seemedto have more respect for after nearly getting Dean killed by a reanimated scarecrow.

―There‘s one more thing,‖ Sam said after a long minute, trying to kick away thememory of being chased down by not only the Pagan god that had been killing people but

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the townies that had been doing its bidding. ―There was something found on TylerDurden‘s body. A chemical. It might be nothing, but it‘s definitely interesting.‖

―A chemical?‖ Dean grinned. ―What, like skin-eating acid?‖ ―No,‖ Sam smirked. ―It‘s something called benzole, typically found in tar, coal, and

other normal stuff.‖ Frowning, Dean let sarcasm drip in his tone. ―Yeah, that‘s real  interesting, Sam.‖ 

Rolling his eyes, Sam cleared his throat. ―Benzole is also found in one other, onevery not-normal thing: ectoplasm. And that stuff just leaks out of pissed-off spirits if they‘remad enough.‖ 

―Depends on your definition of the word mad,‖ Dean smirked, shaking his headbefore finishing the last of his burger and standing up to shrug on the jacket he hadabandoned only minutes ago. Doing the same, Sam got to his feet and reached for thedirections to the cemetery Ronald Mercer had been buried in, folding them into a smallsquare to fit into his pants pocket.

As he pulled on his sweatshirt, he noticed that a look had appeared on his brother‘sface as he watched him, one that seemed burdened with something. Frowning, Sam eyedhim for a moment, silently wondering what could be bothering Dean. It was possible thathis brother had come to the same conclusion about the case as he had — that they were

coming to a close and that they would soon be able to follow Dad without otherobligations —but that didn‘t seem likely. If Dean didn‘t want to accompany Sam in the taskof tailing their father, he would openly say so. Dean wasn‘t one to say quiet aboutsomething so important.

This was something else, something Sam couldn‘t put his finger on. Clearing his throat, Dean pulled at his earlobe before glancing up, the expression

now gone and replaced with the usual anticipation held there before the climax of a hunt. Itwas a mesh of excitement and anxiety, both for the thrill of putting the ghost in the groundfor good and the expectation that things might go awry. Sam was experiencing thesensation as well, though dulled a bit by the idea that he could feel his thoughts wonderingtoward the Bayview Super 8 across town.

Running his fingers through his hair, Sam shook his head to let his bangs fall in hisface again before turning toward the door and heading out.

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FIVE

Restfield CemeteryBayview, Maine

Thursday, August 3, 20069:12 PM

It was pouring rain by the time Dean pulled the Impala up to the closed gates of RestfieldCemetery. Large drops were hitting the windshield at a rapid pace, making it impossible tosee, even with the wipers going as fast as they could across the foggy glass. Inside the car,the heater was on, warming the biting cold that was wafting its way in through the thincracks in the doors and windows.

Dean had known it was going to rain, but not like this. He had seen the cloudschurning overhead earlier in the day, and had even experienced a few stay sprinkles in thedrive back from the fast food joint he had just been at, but hadn‘t expected the showers to beas heavy as they were. Through the dense curtain of water, he could barely make out pastthe headlights, seeing only the large, imposing iron arch that towered over them like a darkshadow, covering the start of the driveway like a solid door. Beyond that, everything wasblack, giving Dean an ominous feeling and causing a shiver to run down his spine.

In the passenger‘s seat, Sam was staring out at the rain as well, pulling his thinsweatshirt tighter as though wishing it were warmer. As the two of them sat in the idlingcar, they were both silent, most likely debating who would be the one to get out and swingthe gates wide enough for the broad Impala to pass through.

―Rock, paper, scissors?‖ Dean asked, heading off the unspoken argument.Shaking his head, Sam reached for the door handle. ―Nah. We‘re both going to get

soaked anyway. What‘s the point?‖ As Sam hopped out of the car, Dean watched while his brother jogged in front of the

headlights gleaming on the muted metal and gave the doors a hard shove. The entranceseparated easily, a shrill whine sounding over the pounding of the rain against the hood of 

the Impala. Racing back to the warmth of inside, Sam fell into the passenger‘s seat beforeDean eased the car up the sloping pathway, his brother shaking out his long hair like a wetdog and flicking water all over Dean and the leather interior.

―Sam,‖ Dean groaned, ―I don‘t need a shower, okay?‖ ―You‘re about to get one,‖ Sam commented flatly, keeping his eyes on the sheets of 

water falling from above as the pace picked up to a level comparable to a tropical storm.By the time Dean pulled the car into a circular lot devoid of stalls, the rain had

become a waterfall, automatically drenching them as soon as the brothers stepped out in it.Rounding to the trunk, Dean popped up the false bottom to grab the essentials — salt,lighter fluid, collapsible shovels, and a few Zippos, in case the first got lost — before stuffingthem into a threadbare duffle sitting deeper inside. When he was done, he tossed the bag toSam, who then threw the thing over his shoulder to carry.

Rubbing water out of his eyes, Dean grabbed a pair of sawed-off shotguns and madesure they were full of ghost repellant before shutting the trunk. As the old metals of the carcollided with one another, the sound could barely be heard over the roar of the rain, causingDean to wonder if it was wise that they were doing this now. The last time they had workeda case involving water, Dean had suffered a heart attack — although last time they had beenusing taser guns instead of ones containing salt rounds.

However, they had to get this thing before it got anyone else, and if that meantdealing with trying to kindle a fire in stormy weather, then so be it.

Nodding, Dean began the trek inward, glancing back at Sam every few seconds to

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make sure his brother was following behind. As he stepped onto the grass, the feel of soakedearth surrounded his boots, causing his heels to sink into the ground with every step.Pausing a moment, Dean waited for Sam to catch up, noticing that his brother was readingthe nearby headstones as they passed.

On the way to the cemetery, Sam had told his brother that Ronald Mercer‘s gravewas most likely shoved in the back somewhere, hidden from view due to his psychotic

infamy. Apparently, according to several websites and the book Sam had stolen, peoplearound town didn‘t take too kindly to the man, even after he was shot and killed,denouncing him and sticking his coffin in a barely-marked spot concealed in a corner of thelot. However, which  corner of the lot was still unknown, as was how far the graveyardstretched out before them.

In the darkness, Dean could make out the dense shapes of tombstones as they camenearer, though he had missed a few of the flat markers lying in the grass, accidentallystepping on their faceplates. Had they been farther from the main road, since Restfield sat inthe center of a major intersection, he would have pulled out a flashlight. However, the beammight attract unwanted attention, especially if the residents were on alert over the attack inBayview Memorial Park, and some hysteric passerby calling the cops on them wasn‘tsomething Dean wanted to deal with at the moment.

Instead, they wove their way through the cemetery, guessing where to place theirfeet in the small stream light coming in from the streetlamps and businesses across the way.

By the time they reached the back corner of the cemetery, Dean steadied himself against an iron post and ran his fingers through his dripping hair, narrowing his eyes to seehis brother through the thick blackness surrounding them. The rain had subsidedconsiderably, becoming nothing more than a light trickle, and making it easier for them tohear one another as Sam stepped between headstones to read the engraving in each. After along moment, Dean could make out his brother‘s shape, his shoulders slumped indisappointment.

―I don‘t see it,‖ Sam‘s voice said, cutting through the patter of drops.―Well, maybe it‘s on the other side,‖ Dean suggested. ―Yeah, maybe.‖ Taking a deep breath, Dean pushed himself away from the fence and rounded to his

brother, matching his pace as the two strode to the opposite side of the boneyard. Whilethey walked, Dean helped Sam read the names written in the slabs of marble as they passedby, looking for Ronald Mercer or a date similar to the one on which he had died. Taking thenext row over, Dean could see that they were somewhere in the 1950s and going up,seemingly heading in the right directions.

Suddenly, Dean saw his brother stop beside a meager headstone, one barely raisedoff the ground and engraved shallowly. Crossing over to him, Dean smiled before clappingSam on the shoulder in accomplishment as he read the name on the rock:

RONALD M. MERCERAugust 15, 1939 to August 3, 1978

―Man devises, but God‘s counsel stands‖ 

―Wonder what that means,‖ Dean smirked, nodding at the verse.―Probably couldn‘t think of anything nice to say,‖ Sam scoffed, removing a

collapsible shovel from inside the duffle bag and handing it to Dean before taking the otherfor himself. ―I mean, it‘s not like you can write ‗he killed a lot of people‘ on a grave marker.‖ 

Laughing, Dean laid the shotguns he had been holding against a nearby tombstoneand struck at the muddy earth with the point of the shovel. As soon as he tossed away the

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first mound of dirt, Sam joined in, pushing his mop of dripping hair out of his face beforegrasping the handle firmly. While the two dug in silence, Dean let the tapping of the rainagainst the soil soothe him.

Ever since leaving the motel room in search of a burger joint, Dean had felt tense.Before that, while Sam had been researching online all the facts they needed to proceed withthe hunt, Dean had been sitting across the way, sifting through Dad‘s journal in an attempt

to find something useful. When he discovered nothing but a dozen missing pages, his mindhad begun to wonder, giving Dean the odd feeling that he needed to get out of there beforehe drove himself mad trying to figure out what had been ripped from the book. On the driveto the nearest Burger King, Dean had been tempted to stop by Dad‘s motel room to sit andwait for signs of movement inside, possibly catching a glimpse as to what the man was up toand what had him looking so fragile. However, the thought alone made him feel guilty,causing him to head in the other direction in search of food.

Unfortunately, the thought hadn‘t faded the farther away he got from the BayviewSuper 8, instead intensifying the more he dwelled on it. As he waited for his order to finish,secretly hoping Sam wouldn‘t bitch at the idea of having to eat something that wasn‘t chickfood, Dean had stared out the window at the light rain, wondering what it was that Dad hadremoved from the journal and why. Though he and Sam had nearly memorized the book

since acquiring it, the thought of missing pages seemed to draw a blank in his mind, asthough the removal of them had also resulted in a deletion in Dean‘s memory.

Frowning, Dean stabbed roughly at the ground and kicked away the thought,focusing on the task at hand while the rain began to pick up once again. They were nearly atthe bottom of the grave, the walls they had built towering over them as they continued todig deeper. After a long moment of silence, the sound of the tip of Sam‘s shovel hittingsomething hard rang out, causing Dean to let out a breath of relief. He hadn‘t realized howtired his muscles were becoming, and as he placed the tool over the side to help lift up thelid of the coffin beneath their feet, it felt as if his arms would give way if he had to do anymore manual labor.

Standing at the edge of the dirt, Dean bent down to help Sam prop open the casket,using the rest of his strength to do so. When the cover was fully removed, the two peered

down to see the shadow of a skeleton inside, not fully able to make out the details due tohow far into the earth they were. Reaching deep into his pocket, Dean pulled out one of themany lighters he had grabbed, flicking it on to take a look.

The body appeared to be just like every other one they had seen, with spiderscrawling in and out of the crevices in the skull and skittering for cover as soon as the lightfell on them. The bones were covered with a paper-thin layer of leathery skin, as well asmoldy clothes that had been mostly eaten by the insects that had found their way inside.

Grimacing, Dean turned and pushed himself up over the side, grabbing for the dufflebag Sam had dropped before joining his older brother in digging. Ripping it open, heremoved the lighter fluid and salt to toss to Sam below, leaving the Zippo in his hand to usefor the final step.

While Sam covered the remains, Dean glanced around for movement. Somethingabout this was too easy. By now, the two of them would have been attacked and thrownaside by the spirit in an attempt to protect its body from being put to rest. So far, though,nothing had happened, not even the closer they got to lighting up the skeleton. Instead,everything was still as they worked, giving Dean the odd feeling that something wasn‘tquite right.

―Okay,‖ Sam said, crawling over the side of the grave they had dug and getting tohis feet, the mud that soaked his clothes shining in the moonlight breaking through thetrees. For a moment, Dean wondered if he looked just as bad, knowing what the sludge

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would do to the Impala‘s leather interior. Before he could dwell on it, however, Sam‘s voicecut through his thoughts, causing him to tear his eyes away from the muck under their feet.―Light her up.‖ 

Nodding in response, Dean flicked the lighter and watched the small flame dancebefore him. After a long minute, he tossed the Zippo into the hole, smiling as the fireerupted almost instantly. While they stood there, taking in the flickering red and orange as

they twined together, Dean let his mind wonder once again — this time over the case ratherthan worrying about how his car was going to deal with its dirty occupants.

This was too easy , Dean thought, sighing.It was possible that he and Sam had, for once, encountered an open-and-shut case

that didn‘t require any hard work, but that happened almost never. However, things withthe supernatural community had been on a rise of oddities, with some of the Hunters goingalong with the sudden change — Dad included. It was possible that the brothers had beenhanded the case by their father due to the fact that John Winchester knew of its simplicityand ease, thinking that the two couldn‘t get in trouble dealing with something sostraightforward. Unfortunately, something about that didn‘t sit right with Dean, either.Dad was good at his job, a master, and didn‘t give his son cases because they were easy ; hegave it to them because it needed to be done. The effortlessness of it had nothing to do with

it… if it was effortless at all.―I need it done and out of the way ,‖ Dad had said. But why? Was there a reason he needed a spirit put to rest? Was it because he was

preoccupied elsewhere and couldn‘t do it himself? Or did it have something to do with theBig Picture? Dad hadn‘t really given them a reason, just an order, and Dean hadn‘tquestioned it until now — now that they were possibly finished with the task they had beenpersonally delivered.

Groaning to himself, Dean rubbed at the back of his wet hair before watching theflames subside due to the growing rain. Bending down, he picked up the damp shotguns,making a note to clean them as soon as they were back at the motel, and exchanged a nodwith Sam. As he watched him, Dean could see a similar curiosity forming in his brother‘seyes. It appeared as if Dean wasn‘t the only one who had noticed something strange, and italso appeared as though Sam was set on finding out what that strangeness was.

Sighing, Dean bit his lip, wondering just how curious his brother would get beforethey were back to where they had been earlier that morning. However, this time around,Dean didn‘t know if he would be able to restrain himself if Sam proposed another B&E. Themore he thought about Dad‘s abnormal activities, the more interested he became in findingout what exactly their father was up to.

Kicking the thought away, Dean rested the barrels of the shotguns against hisshoulder and followed behind Sam as his brother lead the way back to the car.

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SIX

Bayview Memorial ParkBayview, Maine

Friday, August 4, 20064:35 AM

The wind blew Jason Wright‘s blonde hair off of his face as he walked quickly throughBayview Memorial Park, his dog lagging behind as they tried to fight against the strongcurrents knocking both of them backward. It was unusual for this part of Maine to be thisgusty in August, especially since this was the time of year where things got particularlybalmy, but it seemed as if the small, seaside town wasn‘t following along with the others inthe state and instead reverting back to its winter conditions.

Rubbing his nose, Jason sniffed quickly before hurrying his pace, wanting to get hismorning-slash-late night walk over with as soon as possible. He had gotten off work onlyhalf an hour ago, figuring the stroll would help him fall asleep, but hadn‘t thought it wouldbe so frigid out. Having worked inside of Putnam, Powell, and Lowe until the wee hours of the morning, he hadn‘t had to brave the cold weather, or the rain that had left the pavementin front of him dewy, even as he strolled to his car parked in the garage below the law firm.Unfortunately, it seemed this had been one of the downsides of working inside such a warmbuilding — one of the only downsides.

Jason‘s life revolved around clients and busy schedules, meaning that he sometimesburned the midnight oil until well after four in the morning as he tried to get everything setup for the next day. The job was high-strung and thought-provoking, as well as set at hisown pace and rewarding — especially when the paycheck came at the end of the week. Forhours upon hours, he dealt with anything from small business squabbles to corporateinfidelities; sometimes both at the same time. He had a lot on his plate and managed it well,even allowing time during his day to rub elbows with the partners at lunch.

Prior to leaving earlier, Jason had received an e-mail from one of the higher-ups

alerting him of Lowe stepping down by the end of the year, meaning that it was a perfecttime to submit himself forward as a representative of the job he could do. By the time fourrolled around, Jason had planned out his next months in advance, laying out the cases hewould be taking as proof that he could handle the title of partner. There was the espionagegoing on between Harper Shipping and Portland Docking, both of whom had filed acomplaint about unfair business practices, that Jason was hoping to tackle with a settlementon both parts, while also managing the quarrel between the two most prominent smallbusiness owners in Bayview, who both claimed to know for a fact the other was price-fixing.It would show that he could take on anything, from tiny to tall, with ease.

That was, of course, if his ―friend‖ Clinton Hopkins didn‘t jump in to take it all fromhim at the last minute. The guy had the knack for doing so, first with the title of MVPduring their senior year football season in high school, then again for summa cum lade during

their college graduation. After the disgrace of only being titled magna cum lade , as opposedto the rest of his family before him, Jason had thought he would be rid of the guy.Ultimately, Clinton had shown up not only at the same law school as Jason, but also at thesame firm later on.

Though he hated the guy, Jason still tried to make friends with him, if only to findout what Clinton‘s next move was.

However, if he timed it correctly and pulled out all the stops, Clinton Hopkinswouldn‘t even be a threat to Jason taking partner. He just had to get a slight edge over thebastard and he‘d be a shoe-in, and that should be easy enough.

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Smiling to himself, Jason continued walking, slowing down a little despite the blastof air stinging his nose and cheeks. He didn‘t care anymore. In fact, he didn‘t even care thathe was now awake due to the cold weather. If he stayed up and took care of a few phonecalls when he got home, maybe asking around for tips to get ahead from his buddies atCornwall and Stone in London, then maybe he could survive the rest of the day on coffeeand adrenaline. He had a plan now. All he had to do was put it in action and he would be

raking in the dough.Passing the statue situated at the lookout point over the ocean, Jason rounded the

corner and headed past the small strip of forestry that extended onto a cliff. When he wasyounger, he had played in the thick foliage, almost toppling over the side when he hadchased his remote-control airplane too far, causing that one  time to be the last time. Sincethen, he had seen kids messing around in the shrubbery when he had worked earlier hours,but none that seemed to go far enough out to meet their doom like he nearly had.

Of course, back then, children had been more reckless, testing their limits instead of staying safe near the sidewalk — or even inside their homes, shying away from daylight.Computers hadn‘t been as big as they were now, keeping kids glued to the monitor at allhours of the day, nestled in chairs or in bed. Back in his day, children were working towardsomething like life experience rather than experience points, and had goals. But that was

then, and this was, unfortunately, now.Listen to me, thinking like an old man , Jason smirked to himself.At twenty-five, Jason certainly felt like an old man with the hours he worked and

the way he lived, spending most of his life in his office except for when he came home to anempty house and his dog, Spunky, in the early morning. But that was the way he liked to be:career-oriented with no intention of settling down anytime soon. He had his whole life toget married. Right now was for work and getting ahead. No sense in putting it off for therest of the American Dream, nor in worrying about that any time before thirty.

Straightening up, Jason stopped for a moment beside the water fountain, catchinghis breath as it suddenly came out in puffs of white. Up until then, he hadn‘t been able to seehis deep inhales, causing him to wonder whether or not it was getting colder. Standing still,he waited for a gust of wind to whip past him to give him some sort of sign that it was timeto pack it up and go home. Glancing down at his dog, he saw that Spunky was shakingunder the frigid temperature despite the fact that she was encased in a blanket of thick fur.

―You wanna go home, Spunk?‖Spunky shook again, this time almost nervously, in response. Nodding to himself,

Jason turned on heel and headed back the way he had come, half-jogging toward the statuehe had passed a few minutes ago.

By the time he had returned to the thicket of trees, Jason stopped in mid-step,something inside the small forest catching his attention. He knew there had been a murderthere the night before and that the police had advised residents to stay clear of the area forawhile, but due to some of the cases Jason had worked in the past, one involving the assetsof a serial killer being bequeathed to his last living relative, he had learned that an offensenever took place in the same spot two nights in a row. Usually, due to the attacker‘s warpedmind, they waited before pouncing again, usually doing so on a ritualistic night of the week.

As he peered through the darkness at the leaves bouncing in the breeze, he could seethe tatters of yellow crime scene tape whipping in the wind. Behind it was the tree Jasonhad heard the younger man had been thrown into, a dark stain on the trunk and drippingdown toward the leafy ground.

Suddenly, the air became, if possible, colder than before, causing Spunky to shakeviolently before taking off in the other direction. As the leash pulled on Jason‘s arm, causinghis elbow to crack painfully, he tried to tug against Spunky‘s slight weight before the leash

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snapped in half and his dog began making its way toward home.―Stop!‖ Jason yelled involuntarily as the currents picked up to a hurricane-like speed,

pushing his blonde hair off his face. Taking a step forward, he made to jog after Spunky, butinstead placed his foot back on the ground lightly as a shape blinked in and out in front of him. ―What the—‖ 

Before he could get his sentence out, the figure solidified into that of a man with

long, scraggly hair and feral gray eyes, a gleaming scalpel in his hand that he played with ashe stared feverishly at Jason‘s face.

Taking a step backward, Jason watched the man move slowly forward, his eyestracing the scars embedded in his cheeks. As he absorbed the guy‘s appearance, noting thatnothing about him seemed remotely human, Jason recalled a story he had been told at worknot long ago, a story involving a murder spree that stretched from Portland to Bayview. Atthe time, he had taken the tale with a grain of salt, especially since the man who told it,Hector Robbins, had been as much of a fabler as he was a lawyer — though Hector claimedthe two often went hand-in-hand.

However, the gory details in Hector‘s story, from the scars on the man‘s face to thedeep bruises clouding his eyes, seemed to match the account to a T. As Jason steppedbackwards, hoping to stay out of the guy‘s grasp should he suddenly lunge forward, he kept

his gaze trained on the man. Red lines ran from the corner of his mouth to the apples of hischeeks, the color deepening in the cold breeze that was picking up. As he walked throughthe damp grass, his feet made no noise whatsoever, not even displacing the water that hadsettled there in puddles from the storm a handful of hours before.

Recognizing this as truly abnormal, Jason tried to remember the tail end of Hector‘sstory, the part that amounted to the guy‘s demise. Ultimately, he couldn‘t remember,though he did know the simple fact that the man had  died. How he was standing there,looking like some kind of specter, was beyond Jason‘s depth of understanding— and hereally didn‘t care to, either. All he wanted at the moment was to track down Spunky andtake her home to the safety that was their apartment. This guy could terrorize someone elsefor all Jason cared, just as long as the cut-up man left him and his dog alone.

Gathering as much courage as he could, Jason turned to run in the oppositedirection.

Unfortunately, before he got more than a step, the man‘s figure blinked into sightdirectly in front of him, close enough for their arms to rub against one another. Takingadvantage of  Jason‘s momentary surprise, the man grasped for Jason‘s t-shirt, his gripstronger than expected and pulling all the fabric into one fist-full. Feeling constricted, Jasontried to fight against the hold, but instead found it useless. No matter how much he pulled,wiggled, or tried to jump free, nothing worked. The only thing the motions seemed to dowas cause Jason to become drained of energy.

―Let me go!‖ Jason breathed, making a fist to throw feebly toward the man‘s face.However, his punch went unconnected as his balled-up hand sailed directly through theother guy‘s head. Swallowing hard, Jason let out a sharp breath. ―Holy—‖ 

Suddenly, Jason found himself flying through the air, landing unceremoniously onthe grass twenty yards from where he had been. Without a moment‘s thought, he attemptedto jump onto his feet and take off before the other man could catch up. Unluckily, Jason waspinned down in the wet lawn by an invisible force before he could even try.

―You robbed me! ‖ a bodiless voice echoed throughout the night. Looking around,Jason attempted to find the source of the sound, only to see nothing but the park aroundhim. ―You robbed me! You robbed me! You robbed me! ‖

―I-I didn‘t!‖ Jason pleaded, his own voice coming out low compared to the shrillnessof the screaming, shrieking noise as it continued to escalate, repeating the same phrase over

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and over again. ―I don‘t even know you!‖ ―Liar! ‖As soon as the words had vanished in the air, the figure of the man appeared again, a

deep scowl wound into his expression as he hunched over Jason lying flat on his back.Crawling on his knees, the man neared Jason, the red of the permanent smile deepening andturning slightly downwards in his darkened glower. Rising up to tower over his victim, the

man clasped the scalpel between his lips, his eyes searching Jason‘s face to take in the terrorthat was undoubtedly there. Smiling in satisfaction, the man lowered himself back down toall fours and removed the weapon, coming close to Jason‘s chest before straddling him. Asthe man sat on Jason‘s ribs, he could barely feel the other guy‘s weight, though he assumedhis attacker to be twice as heavy as himself based on the sheer size of him. Instead, therewas nothing, making Jason wonder whether or not he was experiencing some sort of hallucination.

Seeming to understand Jason‘s dubiousness, the man‘s smile broadened. Graspingthe instrument tighter in his hand, he lowered the point toward Jason‘s mouth, his smileturning into a mischievous grin.

Suddenly, cold metal poked at the inside of Jason‘s cheek at the same time the rest of his body went numb. As the deadening sensation passed down his body, finally reaching his

toes, true panic began to set in. He felt paralyzed, as though he had been given anesthesia inevery limb, and as he tried to move his fingers and toes, he found that he couldn‘t feel them.

I’m going to die. I’m really going to die, Jason thought, his eyes widening as he feltblood begin to drip onto his tongue.

In one unexpected bout of adrenaline, Jason attempted to fight back, clamping histeeth over the blade to keep it from continuing its work. As he did so, he noticed that theman hunched over him had scowled again, his brow furrowing as his gray hair fell into hisface, darkening his already-ominous expression.

Grasping Jason‘s cheeks, the man closed his fist around the scalpel firmly beforeremoving it from Jason‘s mouth. Wagging a bloody finger— my blood!  — in front of Jason‘sface, the man shook his head before resuming his activities with renewed gusto. Again,another wave of numbness fell over Jason, rendering him completely useless.

Grinning in absolute happiness, the man cackled. ―Open wide!‖ 

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SEVEN

Penobscot County PrecinctBangor, Maine

Friday, August 4, 20067:18 AM

For some reason, Sam had known they had burned the wrong bones the night before, but itwas only until the televised news report earlier that morning that his feelings wereconfirmed. Directly after stirring awake, and directly after discovering that Dean wasalready up and watching TV, Sam had heard the story of another murder in the park, thisone exactly like the first, though in an area a few yards from the initial victim.

Glancing over at his brother, Sam had noticed that Dean was already on top of it,his back propped up against the worn headboard of his bed and Sam‘s computer in his lap.Beside him were piles of papers that had been printed out across the room, crinkled in themiddle from where they had obviously slid off the bed and been caught at the last minute.Resting on the nightstand between them was Dad‘s journal, flipped open to the middle todisplay the break in the missing pages, though clearly discarded from Dean‘s current search.It seemed as if his brother hadn‘t found anything in there and had thrown it aside, the bookfalling open wherever it pleased — which just happened to be there.

After kicking his way out of the tangled covers he had awoken in, Sam had headedstraight for the bathroom, not bothering to ask Dean if he had stumbled upon anythinguseful. If he had, Dean wouldn‘t have waited for his brother to wake up on his own to tel lhim. Instead, Sam let Dean continue working uninterrupted, opting for a shower to get himready for whatever was about to be laid out for him while he got dressed. Unfortunately,when he emerged from the bathroom, the only thing that greeted him was an irritated look,one that told Sam that he and Dean would be making a trip down to the sheriff‘s stationfirst thing.

―According to all the news websites, some guy claims to have seen what happened,‖

Dean filled him in while he drove them into Bangor. ―The cops found it suspicious, so theyhauled him in for questioning. Three hours later and they still haven‘t let him go.Apparently they want to make it look like they‘re doing their jobs.‖ 

Smirking to himself, Sam remained silent while his brother pulled the Impala intothe lot he had parked in the last time they had been there, the same lot from which they hadseen Dad and his new partner getting into the black GMC their father had bought backwhen Dean had turned eighteen. Biting his lip, Sam looked over at the building across thestreet, remembering the homicide detective they had met inside and how she had mentioneda pair of federal agents taking her desk and relegating her to the front entrance. At the time,he hadn‘t put the pieces together, but now that he thought about it, it was perfectlyplausible that his father had been one part of that pair.

Clearing his throat, Sam kicked the idea away as Dean pulled the folded-up papers

that had been lying on his bed from his pocket. Handing them over to Sam, the two readthrough the various articles and snippets of information about the attack, noting that theonly difference between this one and the last was the fact that the guy hadn‘t retainedbruises around his eyes like the first. It seemed as though, or so the article from the Portland Press Herald  claimed, the second victim hadn‘t put up as much of a fight as the first, leavinghardly any blood behind after the fact. Also according to the article, a man riding his bike towork had caught most of the fight from the street, not hurrying to help but insteadwatching everything from the curb until the attacker disappeared ―in the blink of an eye‖.

As he and Dean traded papers, with Sam only seeing more of the same, Sam could

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feel his mind begin to wonder — not about the case, but about the last time he and Dean hadbeen in this very spot. It had been dark, even with the one streetlamp overhead providingenough light to make out the road between them and the building across the way, but it wassufficient in catching Dad and that girl — or woman, or whatever she was — in the act of leaving the precinct. At the time, Sam had wanted to abandon the case to follow them, butDean had fought against that tooth and nail to keep him focused on the job they were

working. Now it seemed as if his brother was doing the same thing, this time giving himthings to read to keep his mind from abandoning ship.

In all honesty, despite the swallowing feeling that they had been wrong the nightbefore, Sam had been hoping the hunt had been finished without a hitch. Before going tobed, he had pecked around on his computer, hoping to find something that would lead himin the direction of what Dad was doing, ready to become fully involved in finding out.Unfortunately, it seemed as if this case didn‘t want to stay closed, meaning that Sam wasgoing to have to sideline the Dad issue for now to seal shut what they were currentlyworking on — which was, frankly, disappointing.

―Sam? Earth to Sam,‖ Dean said, raising an eyebrow as he reached for the crinkledpages in his brother‘s hand. ―Your head in the game here?‖ 

―Yeah. I‘m fine,‖ Sam lied, nodding and popping open the door to the car. Climbing

out, he shot a look at Dean as his brother shoved an FBI badge into the inside lining of hissuit jacket, pulling on the collar of his dress shirt as though the tie was too tight. Grinningto himself, Sam did the same absently before rounding the grill of the Impala. ―So, what‘sthe plan here, exactly? Go in and talk to the witness?‖ 

―Among other things,‖ Dean frowned. Bunching his jaw, Sam made to ask his brother more questions, but was denied the

opportunity as Dean lead the way to the front of the precinct. Pulling open the glass frontdoors, Sam followed his brother inside, taking in the awkward state of the lobby. The smallarea surrounding the receptionist‘s desk was crowded with people sitting in chairs, lookingnervous as they sat unaccompanied. Near one of the two doors on either side of the wallbehind a short, blonde woman was a group of officers, each with a file folder folded back intheir hands as they ticked off a list inside. The other door opposite it was swung open to

allow the sounds of phones ringing off the hook to break into the pensive silence of thelobby. Behind the cluster of seated people was one more door swung open, this onerevealing the morgue Sam and Dean had been in with Detective Rachelle Williams, anAfrican-American officer who seemed to take kindly to Dean.

However, the woman didn‘t seem to be around anywhere, meaning that the two hadto reintroduce themselves to the blonde behind the receptionist‘s desk. As they neared herstation, Sam noticed that she had been watching them, her eyes wide with recognizableinterest, the soft brown taking in their suits and soon the badges the brothers were flashing.

―Can I help you?‖ she asked quietly, folding her hands nervously over the keyboardon the tabletop in front of her.

―You might,‖ Dean smiled, turning on the charm that often caused Sam to roll hiseyes. ―I‘m Special Agent Hammond and this is my partner, Agent Cates. We were hoping totalk to Eddie Waitkus. We heard you brought him in last night on suspicion of murder.‖ 

―Word travels fast,‖ the blonde said, buying into Dean‘s smile and returning one of her own. ―I‘ll page Sheriff Harris, see if he‘s in. You mind waiting?‖

―Not at all,‖ Dean smirked, backing up from the desk. As he and Sam took a fewsteps away from the blonde, Dean shot a look around the room, eyeing the people who werewaiting and the officers watching them. Sam did the same, noticing that each of the civiliansappeared to be at least forty or fifty years old, and each seemed extremely anxious. Thecops, on the other hand, seemed smug as they continued ticking off whatever was on the

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pages hidden in the folders in front of them.Turning back to his brother, Dean leaned forward to speak quietly. ―Great.

Working with Harris again. That guy‘s a peach.‖ ―Yeah, I know,‖ Sam scoffed. The last time the brothers had worked with Sheriff William Harris, the man had

seemed dubious of Sam and Dean‘s credentials. Thankfully, the two had ducked out from

beneath his radar before he could begin to ask questions, and were lucky enough to notencounter him again during their last case. However, it seemed as though this time thebrothers had walked straight into the lion‘s den, and if Harris began inquiring about theirauthorization, they wouldn‘t be able to slip away as easily, especially with the number to thereal FBI posted on every wall of the building, along with the Most Wanted list.

Here’s hoping he doesn’t ask , Sam thought as the door to the left side of thereceptionist‘s desk swung open to reveal the sheriff. The man was short, paunchy, andbalding, with a permanent glare on his face that made him appear constantly annoyed. As helooked out at Sam and Dean, recognizing them instantly, his irritated expression deepenedinto a scowl. Beckoning for them to come forward, Harris held the door open for them topass through, not saying a word until they cleared the threshold.

―Gentlemen,‖ Harris muttered, ―I thought you‘d be long gone by now.‖ 

―No such luck,‖ Dean smirked. ―We were in town closing up a few loose ends whenwe stumbled onto this. Thought it might be worth looking into before heading back.‖ 

Rolling his eyes, Harris let the door fall shut behind him before pushing past Deanand leading down the stark white hallway in front of them. As they walked, they passedopen doors to small offices, most of them containing a pair of desks facing one another onopposite walls. Every now and again, an officer or a suited detective would be sitting inside,focused intently on something before them or on the phone heatedly discussing a case.

―No, Johnson, that‘s not what I said. What I said is that I need the blood work backfrom the lab today ,‖ a voice from one of  the rooms yelled, following the Winchesters andHarris down the corridor as it echoed behind them.

Exchanging a grin with Dean, Sam let his eyes wonder around the hall, noticingthat the floor was a flecked, tan linoleum that seemed to be curling at the point in which itmet with the whitewashed baseboards. The walls were devoid of posters except for theoccasional directional arrow leading to different areas of the precinct. On the doors werename plates with handwritten notes clipped to a magnet board beneath them, each probablydetailing whatever the officers and detectives inside were working on.

―So, you‘re interested in talking to that scum Waitkus, huh?‖ Harris said finally,turning a corner that curved to the right. ―Can‘t imagine what you‘re going to get out of him, if anything. The guy hasn‘t talked to anyone after we brought him in. He spilled all hisguts out at the park. Probably regrets it now that we‘ve got him cornered.‖ 

Clearing his throat to keep from laughing at the sheriff‘s absolute confidence, Deanrolled his eyes behind Harris‘s back as they stopped beside a closed-off threshold. Throughthe small window inside the door, Sam could see a blonde, wiry man inside, his hands cuffedtogether as he sat patiently at a table positioned in the center of the room. Frowning, Samwatched as Harris turned to face them, his annoyed expression now one of intense curiosity.

―How long‘s he been in there?‖ Dean asked, peeking in.―Since about five this morning. Hasn‘t said anything since then, either.‖ ―Why isn‘t he in a holding cell?‖ Sam piped up, furrowing his brow. Raising an eyebrow, Harris scratched at the back of his neck, his irritated

appearance flooding his features once again. Ignoring the question, he reached for the doorhandle, unlocked it with a key from around his belt, and walked away, leaving a cloud of agitation in his wake. Before he turned the corner, he stopped to about-face, pointing a

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finger harshly at Sam and Dean. ―You have one hour.‖ Grinning mischievously, Dean bit back a laugh as Harris disappeared. ―Guy should

probably get his blood pressure checked.‖Smirking, Sam pushed the door open and headed into the dark interrogation room,

letting Dean follow behind before shutting them off from the rest of the station. As soon asthe door snapped closed on its own, the man inside, Eddie Waitkus, looked up, his curious

expression matching that of the one Harris had shot them in the hallway . ―You mylawyers?‖ 

―No,‖ Sam said, shooting Eddie a small, reassuring smile. ―We‘re Agents Cates andHammond. We‘re from the FBI. We‘d like to ask you a few questions if you don‘t mind.‖ 

―This again,‖ Eddie scoffed, rolling his eyes. ―I told the detectives everything beforegetting stuck in here. Why don‘t you just ask one of them? I‘m sure they‘ll be overjoyed toshare a laugh with you both. You seem like you could use one.‖ 

―Actually,‖ Dean said, sitting down across from Waitkus and narrowing his eyes,―we‘d like to hear everything straight from you.‖ 

Pausing a moment, Eddie‘s eyes flickered between Dean in his chair and where Samstood near the door. In the silence, Sam reached inside his coat pocket, removing the palm-sized notebook he had been using a Jaime Karnes‘s house and uncapped the pen with his

teeth. After a long minute, Eddie finally cleared his throat, seeming to deem the two agentsas trustworthy.

―I was riding my bike on my way to work,‖ he began, his voice slow and steady. ―It‘ssomething I do every day since they repo‘d my car. I always ride past the park, so I guess itslipped my mind that there had been a murder there yesterday while I was off since I wasrunning on routine and coffee.‖ Clearing his throat again, Eddie pursed his lip s beforecontinuing. ―Anyway, I reached the park at about 4:45 or so. I had looked at my watcharound that time to make sure I wasn‘t late— my boss would have had my ass if I was.When I was looking down, I saw something out of the corner of my eye, this guy just lyingthere. I heard something, too, a voice, but I couldn‘t place it. It seemed to be coming out of nowhere, if that‘s even possible.‖ 

Shooting Sam a curious look, Dean took his eyes off of Eddie during the guy‘s pause

in his story. Scribbling down the tidbit of information, Sam exchanged a nod with hisbrother before turning back to Waitkus.

―I stopped to see what was going on, but didn‘t get off my bike. Before I could, thisguy appeared over the other guy, bending over him in this kind of…  gay way. I thoughtmaybe they were playing rough in the park, thinking no one would see them, but that‘swhen I noticed the knife. Actually, it was a scalpel, I think,‖ Eddie said, biting his lip.―Whatever it was, the guy wasn‘t no surgeon. The next thing I know, dude‘s got the otherone on top of him and the guy‘s slicing into him. I wanted to help, but I just couldn’t . I wastoo afraid to.‖ 

―So instead you called the cops?‖ Sam guessed.―Yeah, man, I did,‖ Eddie scoffed. ―Worst decision of my life, too. By the time I

finished talking to the 911 operator, the other guy was gone, just disappeared in the blink of an eye. When the cops arrived, I told them everything and they arrested me .‖ 

―Did you get a good look at the guy?‖ Dean asked, pursing his lips in thought. ―I did,‖ Eddie nodded, the steadiness in his voice faltering as he began to speak

quickly, seeming as though divulging this part for the first time . ―I saw everything. He wasdressed in these old clothes, maybe a bowling shirt and some polyester pants. His hair waslong and scraggly like he hasn‘t taken a shower in a few decades, y‘know? His face was allcarved up and beat up, like he went twelve rounds with a block of cement. And he had this-this nose, this hook nose. But everything about him was gray, like a weird gray. Like he was

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tinted somehow.‖ ―Have you ever seen him before?‖ Sam asked. Shaking his head, Eddie Waitkus swallowed hard before messing absently with his

handcuffs. Letting out a deep breath, Sam watched while Dean eyed the man, as thoughmentally scanning him for clues as to whether or not he was lying to them. Passing theinspection, Dean got to his feet and crossed the room to pull open the door.

―We‘re done here,‖ he muttered as he passed Sam, turning the knob.Before they could leave, Eddie called after them, causing both brothers to turn

around. ―Wait! What about these? You believe me, right?‖ Nodding, Sam smiled sadly at Eddie. ―We‘ll see what we can do.‖ Letting the door fall shut behind them, Dean turned to Sam in the hallway, crossing

his arms over his chest and backing away from the small window to keep them out of Waitkus‘s line of sight. ―So, what d‘you think?‖

―Well, we don‘t really have a lot to go on,‖ Sam admitted with a sigh. ―All we knowis that both victims were reportedly men in their early twenties and were both attacked bythe same guy. I thought we had it with Ronald Mercer, but —‖ 

―We were wrong. Yeah, I know,‖ Dean finished for him, pulling at his earlobe. ―Butmaybe we weren‘t that far off.‖ 

―What do you mean?‖―You heard the description of the dude, right? Polyester pants, bowling shirt? Those

are clothes straight out of the seventies. Unless the guy‘s waiting for that fashion statementto come back around, we probably hit the right era, just not the right guy,‖ Dean explained.

Biting his lip, Sam furrowed his brow as he thought, looking behind his brother tothe hallway that stretched out before them. It was possible — actually, probable — that Deanwas right, but there was no way to narrow down the suspect list based solely on what theguy was wearing. There was also the fact that, out of every search Sam had conductedonline when looking for facts on Ronald Mercer, the guy had been the only one who turnedup that had killed his victims in the way the two men at the park had died. Unless he hadbeen framed —  

All of a sudden, Sam straightened, grinning to himself. Raising an eyebrow, Deanlooked up at his brother, clearly confused as to what it was that had the youngerWinchester suddenly so giddy. ―What? What is it?‖ 

Smiling wider, Sam started down the hallway. ―I have an idea.‖

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EIGHT

Penobscot County PrecinctBangor, Maine

Friday, August 4, 20069:42 AM

Dean stared at his brother from across the filing room the blonde receptionist had leadthem to. The space was small and as stark white as the hallway outside, with steel cabinetsof an equally bright gray shining from every wall possible. Most of the drawers, thanks toSam and his hurried search to find some unspoken piece of information, were wide open,forming a tiny, dangerous walkway leading to the back of the room. At the end of the thinpath stood Sam, his back to his brother as he flipped through the folder in his hand, turningback pages that had been clipped or stapled to the manila.

Rolling his eyes, Dean kept his stare trained on Sam, trying to figure out just whathis brother was looking for. He hadn‘t said much since revealing the fact that he had anidea, only speaking to the receptionist about needing access to the police reports from 1978.After that, Sam had clammed up, refusing to say anything as he set to work diggingthrough the mess that now stretched out between them.

The blonde hadn‘t been able to tell either brother exactly where they would be ableto find the documents they were looking for, giving them a guesstimate of their location.However, before she could help them search, Sheriff Harris had stolen her away to fill out afew things he needed to be processed ―on the spot‖. In Dean‘s opinion, it was Harris‘s way of getting back at them for talking their way into the filing room in the first place.

Thankfully, though, neither Harris nor the receptionist had asked what they neededthe records from 1978 for, leaving the brothers to their own devices as they searched.Shutting the door behind him after taking the blonde, who he called Lizzie, Harris hadclosed them off from the rest of the precinct, giving Sam and Dean free reign over whateverwas in the room. And Sam seemed to be intent on maximizing their time inside.

Immediately after starting, Sam hadn‘t ordered Dean to help him and had insteadleft him alone by the door. Sliding open every drawer he came across, Sam searchedfeverishly through every one, reading the dates on the file folders as he pulled them out and,when he deemed them not what he was looking for, pushed them back in haphazardly. Bythe time he was done with the first cabinet, he left the drawers out to trip over as he movedonto the next, repeating his actions and leaving the room a mess in his wake.

Watching him go, Dean could feel his mind begin to wonder just what his brotherwas up to. While they had been in the room with Eddie Waitkus, nothing the man had saidhad sparked some kind of idea in his head, instead leaving Dean confused. A spirit dressedlike he belonged in the era of Zeppelin didn‘t tell them anything that they hadn‘t alreadyknown — that the ghost, when it had been alive, had been at large back in the seventies. Itseemed, though, that something that had been said had caused Sam to kick into a mode

Dean had seen his brother fall into many times before, the mode that told him his youngerbrother was onto something. Knowing full well that that meant Sam was best left todiscover whatever he needed to on his own, Dean kept quiet, instead trying to solve themystery in his head before Sam could say it out loud.

However, Dean was drawing nothing but blanks and becoming irritated.Turning his thoughts away, Dean tapped his fingers against his thighs as he noticed

Sam‘s stamina begin to slow. His brother was definitely losing the vigor he had begun with,and, judging by the hunch of his shoulders, was becoming slowly disappointed. Biting hislip, Dean watched as Sam read the documents in his hands over twice before shutting the

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folder and replacing it, grabbing the one behind it as soon as the other was back in its spot.Flipping back the cover, Sam slumped as he read the first few sentences, the

apparent realization that whatever he was looking for wasn‘t there breaking through hisfeatures. Though Dean could only see half of his brother‘s expression due the way he wasturned, he could tell that Sam‘s brow was furrowed in concentration, his bottom lip clampedbetween his teeth in thought. As he watched him, Dean took in his brother‘s profile of deep-

set eyes and an upturned nose, the slow curve of it reminding him of a ski jump.Smirking to himself, Dean looked down at the ground, noticing that some of the

papers from the files Sam had looked through had found themselves on the linoleum.Bending down to pick one up, Dean scanned its contents before placing it on the shortcabinet beside him. Thankfully, before he could reach for the next, the sound of a relievedsigh came from across the room, taking Dean‘s attention away from the tan flooringbeneath both of their feet.

―I think I got it,‖ Sam said, shutting the folder over his thumb and absently pushingthe open drawers shut as he crossed over to his brother. ―I wasn‘t sure at first, but now thatI‘m looking at it, it should have been obvious.‖ 

―What should have been obvious?‖ Dean frowned. Grinning, Sam thrust the fileforward, attempting to get Dean to see for himself rather than share with the rest of the

class. Pushing it back toward his brother, Dean rolled his eyes, then narrowed them. ―I‘mnot reading that. Just tell me what it says.‖ 

―It‘s an old police report,‖ Sam scowled, shaking his head in disappointment, ―filedthe day after Ronald Mercer was shot and killed in the park. According to what it says inhere, police found no evidence that the guy had actually been the one behind it. He just tookthe heat for the murders since they stopped the same day the guy was killed.‖ 

―So, what? He was framed?‖ ―Essentially, yeah,‖ Sam nodded. ―Someone else must have been executing the

homicides and made it look like Mercer was the one doing it. I mean, they wouldn‘t have towork very hard. The guy already had a history of violence. All they would‘ve had to do wasplace a smoking gun in his hand.‖ 

―Good job,‖ Dean groaned, pulling on his earlobe. ―And this guy got the axe for it?‖ Nodding again, Sam flipped open the folder and pointed to the middle of the first

page. ―It says here that the cops followed Mercer back from Wilmington‘s Drug Store thatnight and found him in the park. Apparently one of them got trigger-happy and shot himwithout probable cause. There was a court case and everything.‖ 

―You didn‘t find that while you were looking this dude up online?‖ Dean frowned. ―Well, I—‖ Sam stammered, his eyes softening into a puppy-dog stare.―Save it,‖ Dean interrupted, holding up a hand. ―Just get to the good parts, will ya?‖ Clearing his throat, Sam took a deep breath before continuing, his gaze hardening

back into one of concentration. ―According to this, the police initially suspected Mercerwhen he was brought to the hospital due to blood loss from being attacked like the othervictims. The EMTs claimed to have found a scalpel on his body with residue on it thatmatched the tar that had been found in some of  the previous victims‘ wounds. After that,they locked him up, but was released the next day when they couldn‘t pin anything on him.The day after that was the day he was shot.‖

―And what happened after he was dead? Did anyone else die after that?‖ ―Actually,‖ Sam grinned, obviously trying to hold back his excitement, ―there was

one more death after Ronald Mercer was killed, but this one was a suicide. Apparently aman named Alan Gregory was found dead in the park, slashed up the same way as the othervictims, though obviously self-inflicted judging by the way he was cut and beaten.  And ,there was a note found along with the body.‖ 

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―A note?‖ Dean asked, furrowing his brow. ―Saying what?‖ ―‗You stole from me .‘‖ ―What the hell does that mean?‖ ―Best guess?‖ Sam shrugged. ―Ronald Mercer stole his glory. When the news went

public that Mercer was shot and killed, it kind of became a phenomenon. I guess Gregorydecided he wanted that all to himself after all, but didn‘t know how to get it without being

thrown in jail. Probably saw this as the only way to get people‘s attention. Explains whythe guy‘s spirit sticks around until someone witnesses the murder.‖ 

―Yeah, but it didn‘t catch on,‖ Dean smirked. ―Even now.‖ ―No, it didn‘t. The guy wasn‘t mentioned anywhere that I could find, not even that

Murder in Maine book I took from the library. I had to dig through all this to even find thepolice report from both incidents. Thankfully, they were filed in chronological order, andsince the incidents happened within a day of each other…‖ 

―They were easy to find,‖ Dean finished for him, rubbing at the back of his neck.―Okay, so, say you‘re right about this, how can we be sure? I mea n, we were wrong the firsttime and you were pretty positive then, too.‖ 

Nodding, Sam cleared his throat and grinned. ―Remember what I said about benzolebeing found in the victim‘s wounds, both now and then? Alan Gregory worked for the city,repairing the road, and sometimes got the chemicals on his hands when he wasn‘t careful.‖ 

―That crap will burn you,‖ Dean grimaced. ―Yeah, I know,‖ Sam nodded. ―But according to the medical examiner‘s report in

here, the guy was on a heavy dose of valium at the time and probably couldn‘t even feel it. Itprobably made him numb to everything.‖ Stopping to take in his brother‘s dubious look,Sam rolled his eyes and flipped back a few pages in the folder before shoving it toward hisolder brother, adding flatly, ―And there‘s a picture.‖ 

―Why didn‘t you just say that?‖ Dean groaned.Sighing at Sam‘s glare, Dean finally accepted the file and peered down at the black-

and-white photograph in his hand. Staring up at him was the top half of a man withunwashed hair and a hook nose, his clothes the unmistakable stripes matching that of abowling shirt. Shaking his head in disbelief , Dean let out a contented sigh. ―I‘ll be damned.‖ 

Smiling now, probably in relief of not having to ramble off any more details, Samsnatched the folder from Dean and held it under his arm. Grinning in response, Deanwatched as his brother reached for the door handle and strode out into the hallway, makinghis way back to where they had abandoned Eddie Waitkus. Following, Dean let the filingroom door slam loudly shut behind him as he trailed Sam, allowing his brother to enter theinterrogation room first. As soon as they were inside, Dean noticed that Waitkus wasstaring absently at the wall, seemingly unaware of the brothers‘ presence.

―Let me guess: more questions,‖ Waitkus muttered, not taking his eyes off theinvisible spot he was eyeing. ―You said you were going to get me out of here.‖ 

―And we will,‖ Sam lied, giving Waitkus a reassuring smile. ―We just need you toconfirm a few things beforehand, alright?‖ Slapping the file folder down on the table withdetermination, Sam pushed it toward Eddie, watching as the man‘s eyes turned from behindSam to what was in front of him. Blanching at the picture, he pushed it back with his cuffedhands. Noticing the reaction, Sam bunched his jaw and shot a furtive glance at Dean.―That‘s the guy, isn‘t it?‖ 

―Yeah, that‘s him, alright,‖ Waitkus said, his skin becoming paler as he glared at thephotograph across the table. ―He‘s missing the scars, but that‘s him.‖ 

Nodding in thanks, Sam collected the folder and tucked it back under his arm,turning on heel to leave the room. As they exited, Dean shot a glance back at EddieWaitkus, taking in the fact that the guy looked like he was about to be sick.

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Letting the door shut behind him, Dean lead the way back down the hallway intothe lobby, peering around at the now-empty space for the blonde receptionist that had lefther station. Seeing that no one was there, Dean let out a sigh before exchanging a nod withSam and pushing open the doors to outside.

As soon as they were back in the morning sun, Dean pulled at his tie, loosening it ashe walked toward the car. Beside him, Sam had the file folder open again, the pages blowing

in the slight breeze wafting through the street between the police precinct and the emptylot containing nothing but the Impala. By the time they were beside the car, their feetcrunching on the gravel covering the space, both brothers stopped in mid-step, turning tolook at the front of the building.

Only a two nights ago, during an argument over Dean‘s reckless ideas and Sam‘sworsening nightmares, both brothers had seen their father climb into the cab of his truckwith someone else, someone they didn‘t know. As he stared at it now, Dean could see thefaint shadow of Dad‘s truck sitting in one of the few s talls beside the front door, anoverhead streetlamp casting an orange shine on the roof as Dad got into the driver‘s seat.On the passenger‘s side had been a tall, thin girl with a sizable bust and shapely legs, bothof which had been hugged by the jean skirt and t-shirt she wore. Unfortunately, he hadn‘tbeen able to get much of a glance at her aside from that. His attention had immediately been

turned elsewhere as soon as his eyes fell on the license plate of the car, recognizing thecombination of letters and numbers as the ones matching Dad‘s.

However, Dean knew that he and his brother weren‘t staring absently at the front of the police station just for memories‘ sake. Now that they were almost done with the job Dadhad handed them — or hopefully almost done, anyway — there was still the idea of confronting their father over his suspicious behavior. Though yesterday Dean would havebeen against the thought of breaking the unspoken honor code between father and son, therespect for boundaries and secrets, he couldn‘t help but begin to side with Sam and hiscuriosity. There was something going on with Dad that needed to be unearthed, and themore Dean thought about it, the more he couldn‘t help but think that girl Dad was with waspart of the reason Dean felt that way.

Letting out a deep sigh, Dean turned his attention away from the Penobscot Countyprecinct and unlocked the driver‘s side door. He could think about what to do with Sam andDad after they got rid of Alan Gregory‘s remains. For now, they had a spirit to put to rest.

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NINE

Woodland CemeteryBrewer, Maine

Friday, August 4, 20069:18 PM

Darkness cascaded over most of the Impala as Sam and Dean made their way up thesloping drive of the Woodland Cemetery. The place hadn‘t been hard to find, just followingthe road in and out of town that they had taken during their previous case, but had beenhardly noticeable from the street, hidden behind overgrown trees and shrubs. The only signthat indicated they had stumbled upon what they were looking for was a small section of white picket fence that stood alone on an expansive stretch of grass, a board tacked to itadvertising the name of the graveyard.

Turning onto the unguarded path leading uphill, Dean had switched the high beamson, shining light on the blackness that swallowed both sides of the driveway. Beyond theheadlights seemed to be nothing but trees and asphalt, causing Sam to wonder just how farfrom the road this place really was.

While they climbed, Sam reminded himself of the information he had stumbled uponwhile waiting for night to fall. After returning to the motel, neither he nor Dean had beenparticularly talkative, choosing to go their separate ways in the room while both of themsorted through what they had been thinking outside the police station. Though Sam knewhis brother‘s thoughts weren‘t much different from his own— that now that they wereclosing in on the end of the case, Sam and Dean were now free to meddle in Dad‘sbusiness — it seemed as if neither of them wanted to vocalize it just yet. Instead, Sam hadhopped behind his computer, looking to confirm the information about Alan Gregory‘s finalresting place that had been handwritten into the man‘s police report.

However, after shutting down his laptop, Sam had run out of things to do and wasfaced with the idea of sitting idle while they waited for sunset. Dean had already settled

himself down behind the TV, tuned into some Lifetime Original Movie — which, at Sam‘sraise of an eyebrow, Dean had immediately change the channel. Finally stopping onDeadwood , the two sat in silence with Sam engrossing himself in his own thoughts whileDean became consumed with whatever was going on onscreen . However, it wasn‘t longbefore Sam had become restless, his mind re-running over the possibilities of what Dadcould be doing, and driving him to find something to keep him occupied.

Deciding to go out for food, Sam had returned to find Dean on his computer,looking something up with a scowl deepening into his face. Without being prompted, Deanhad announced that he had a theory about something, but had proved himself wrong. Notbothering to ask, Sam shrugged it off and handed him his burger, the two of themimmediately falling silent as they ate.

By the time dusk came, Sam had been ready to head out, waiting for his brother to

finish cleaning the weapons before making a move for it. As Dean polished the inside of theshotgun barrel, something he had done twice ever since using it in the rain, Sam had begunto gather the things they need, hoping that they wouldn‘t have to waste any time searchingfor the large container of rock salt that seemed to find its way deeper into the trunk witheach case. When they were done and collected, the two had headed toward the Impala,tearing out of the lot and leaving behind a trail of dust in their wake.

The drive into Brewer had been quiet underneath the thumping bass of  Back in Black , the music Dean usually turned up in anticipation of a fight. Sam, on the other hand,braced himself in other ways, staring out the window and steeling himself for the action

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that was undoubtedly going to take place. If Alan Gregory was anything like the policereport described, they were about to go head-to-head with the spirit of a man that wastricky and inventive, and that was something Sam wasn‘t all-too excited about.

Looking ahead, Sam could see the end of the driveway, which curved to the rightinto a small parking lot beside a slab of unmarked stone. Pulling the car into one of thespots, Sam and Dean immediately popped open the doors, rounding to the trunk to remove

the packed duffle bags they had put together back in Bayview. Throwing one over hisshoulder, Sam grabbed a flashlight from inside the Impala‘s false bottom, figuring it safe touse since they were well hidden from the street. Clicking it on, he pointed the beam outtoward the tombstones that punctuated the muted green around them, reaching into hiscoat pocket with his free hand to remove the map of plots he had printed out earlier.

―What do we got?‖ Dean asked, slamming the lid of the trunk.Holding the crinkled paper out in front of him, Sam waited for Dean to shine his

light on the page and move closer. When he did, the two scanned the diagram, hoping tomemorize it to keep from having to stop and look every few minutes to make sure they wereheaded in the right direction. Exchanging a nod, Dean hitched his bag closer to his collarbone and lead the way into the labyrinth of headstones.

Darkness swallowed them again as they walked, with Sam occasionally pointing his

flashlight beam onto Dean‘s back to make sure his brother was still with him. The grassbeneath their feet squished silently, damp from the rainstorm the night before, causingSam‘s sneakers to become wet the deeper they trailed into the graveyard. By the time theyreached their destination toward the middle of the cemetery, a slight breeze had picked up.Looking toward the sky, Sam could see the clouds churning threateningly in the brightmoonlight that sometimes broke through the thick foliage overhead, more rain threateningto fall.

Keeping his fingers crossed that they were done dealing with Alan Gregory beforeit poured, Sam rolled his shoulders back and pointed his beam toward the slabs of marble infront of him. Washed-away names reflected back at him, some of the lettering faded due tothe years of precipitation and salty sea air. Splitting from his brother, Sam continued downthe line until he reached the end. Sitting last in a long stretch was the grave of Alan

Gregory, the numbers on the shining marble glaring up at him as though brand new.Whistling for Dean, Sam furrowed his brow as he read the dates on the headstone, hisbrother jogging over and doing the same:

ALAN J. GREGORYApril 12, 1926 - August 4, 1978

―A man amongst men‖ 

―Guess they couldn‘t think of anything nice to say for him, either,‖ Dean smirked,pulling at his earlobe.

Frowning, Sam dropped his bag on the ground, bending down to remove the shovelfrom inside. Just as the night before, Dean begun to dig first, with Sam joining in after thefirst mound of dirt was tossed aside. Soon, the two became locked in concentration, both of them pushing aside heaps of mud and soil on autopilot as they wondered what might bethrown their way once they reached the bottom.

As they dug deeper, the wind began to pick up more violently, churning the cloudseven quicker in the sky. Stopping a moment, Sam skewered the dirt with the point of hisshovel, gazing around for anything abnormal. When he saw nothing, he continued.However, he couldn‘t help but notice the more earth they shoved aside, the harder thebreeze began to blow, eventually becoming dangerous by the time they reached the lid of 

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the casket.Pushing himself up over the side of the freshly-dug grave, Sam got to his feet,

nearing the duffle bag he had tossed aside to exchange the shovel for a sawed-off shotgun.Inside the hole, Dean removed the top of the coffin, standing on the edges of the wood tomake sure his feet didn‘t accidentally cement down the cover. 

Unfortunately, as soon as Dean bent down, two things happened at once: First, the

gusts intensified, turning the weather into hurricane-like conditions and nearly knockingSam into the headstone behind him. And second, a figure appeared at the foot of the grave,one of a man blinking in and out of sight. Narrowing his eyes against the wind, Sam went toaim the shotgun in his hand, only to have it knocked free by an invisible force.

―DEAN!‖ Sam shouted over the roar of the growing storm. Solidifying, the figuregrinned. Immediately, Sam recognized the man, matching him with the picture he hadfound at the police station, though without the additional scars and bruises. Taking a stepforward, Alan Gregory advanced slowly on Sam, his Chelsea Smile contorting into one of malicious intent. Swallowing hard, Sam carefully moved away from the spirit. ―DEAN!‖ 

Behind Gregory, Dean jumped out of the plot, rolling onto his side and grabbing hisshotgun out of his unzipped bag in one motion. Pointing it at the spirit, he fired off a shot.Ultimately, the boom was swallowed by the gusts, as was the blast, instead pelting Dean

with the rock salt rather than his target. Jumping onto his feet, Dean rounded the head of the grave and stood before his brother, turning his back on both Sam and the wind as itthreatened to push him forward. Firing another round, the shot hit Gregory square in thechest, causing him to dissolve with the dissipating breeze.

Letting out a deep breath at the temporary relief, Sam jogged over to where hisshotgun had landed, cracking it open to make sure it was alright before rejoining hisbrother.

―Let‘s fry this guy before he comes back, huh?‖ Dean said, his voice louder than thewind, making it clear that his hearing hadn‘t adjusted with the change in atmosphere.

Hopping back down, Dean continued lifting the lid from where it had fallen shut,pushing it father into the wide hole to keep it from closing on him a second time. Above,Sam uncapped the canister of salt, waiting for his brother to move out of the way before

upending the cylinder.As it poured, Sam noticed that the wind was rising again, this time more subtly than

the first round. Hurrying over to the duffle, he found the lighter fluid and doused theskeleton from above, hoping that at least some of the liquid had reached the bottom of thegrave due to the howling swells. However, before he could find out, the gusts began to pushSam backwards — right into a form that was blinking in and out of visibility.

―Sam!‖ Dean yelled, dropping the unlit lighter that was in his hands onto the wetgrass and immediately exchanging it for the shotgun.

Unfortunately, Dean‘s movements were too late. Before he could aim the weapon,Gregory had already grasped Sam around the shoulders, pushing him into his jello-likechest and pointing a gleaming scalpel threateningly toward Sam‘s face. Gripping theshotgun tighter, Sam noticed that Dean‘s knuckles were whitening with the firmness of hishold, as though trying to restrain himself from firing. Though Sam knew the rock saltwouldn‘t do anything to him but sting like hell, it seemed as though Dean anticipated hisblast would cause the spirit to begin slicing at his brother.

Laughing maniacally, Gregory pulled Sam closer, pressing the tip of the scalpel intothe corner of his mouth. Swallowing hard, Sam attempted to break free, accidentally cuttinghis lip on the blade. As the blood trickled down his chin, Sam straightened, suddenlyrealizing that there was no way out from underneath Gregory‘s thumb.

―Let him go, Crazy Eight,‖ Dean threatened, steadying the shotgun again. 

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Backing up, Gregory dragged Sam with him, laughing as he did so. Bunching his jaw, Sam attempted to look around, feeling the weapon bite into his mouth once again. Onthe ground, he could see the container of salt he had tossed away prior to grabbing thelighter fluid, its spout still turned up. Pursing his lips in an attempt to save himself fromgetting cut again, Sam kicked the cylinder backwards. A moment later and he heard anirritated growl come from behind him as the canister ricocheted off a tree and sprayed

granules everywhere. Falling forward, Sam felt his body become freed of Gregory‘s hold. Hurrying to his side, Dean bent down to help his brother up, placing his hand on the

side of Sam‘s face as he wiped away the trickling blood. ―You okay? Sammy?‖ ―Fine,‖ Sam nodded, shrugging off his brother‘s grasp.Smirking, Dean rolled his eyes. ―Let‘s torch this sucker.‖ Suddenly a scream deeper into the cemetery caught both brothers‘ attention.

Glancing around, Sam tried to locate the source of the noise. However, it seemed as thoughDean had already done so, his eyes trained on a black spot toward a group of trees.Gripping his shotgun, Dean started toward the sound, turning to speak to his brotherbefore fully taking off. ―Burn him!‖ 

Bunching his jaw in acceptance, Sam eyed the ground, attempting to find the ZippoDean had dropped prior to picking up the shotgun. Finding it by the foot of the grave, Sam

dove for it, flicking it on and dropping it into the hole. However, instead of being greeted bythe roar of flames, he was instead confronted by another upstart of roaring wind.

Rolling onto his back, Sam saw Gregory standing near his knees, his twisted smile abright red as though his wounds had become fresh again. ―You robbed me!‖ Bending down,the spirit straddled Sam over the chest, running the tip of the scalpel over Sam‘s cheek as hespoke angrily. ―You robbed me! You robbed me !‖ Grinning, the spirit placed the blade intoSam‘s mouth, the cold metal tasting like dirt. ―Open wide!‖ 

―Don‘t think so,‖ Sam muttered, his voice coming out muffled.Reaching his hand into his pockets, he attempted to dig out the pack of matches he

had taken from the nightstand of the motel. Unfortunately, at the angle in which the spiritwas sitting on him, Sam wasn‘t able to strike them against the back. Damn it!  

Grinning wider, Gregory retracted the scalpel and held the instrument over Sam‘sface, placing the point uncomfortably close to his victim‘s eye. Stretching himself away, Samattempted to wiggle his way out from underneath the spirit, only to be cloaked with astrange numbing sensation. After what felt like an eternity of staring down the blade of thescalpel, Sam could no longer feel anything, even as Gregory moved the weapon to beginslicing patterns into Sam‘s cheek.

In a moment of resistance, Sam moved away and turned his head in the direction hisbrother had run. ―DEAN!‖ 

All of a sudden, flames roared to life behind him. Glancing up, Sam noticed thatAlan Gregory was disappearing, becoming swallowed in embers that engulfed the grayform sitting heaped on Sam‘s stomach. A second later and the spirit shrieked at an ear-splitting level, one that matched the exact scream that lead Dean away. Leaning his bodyback toward the sky, Gregory reached his fading arms forward as he slowly disappeared.Before he was gone, Sam felt the scalpel in Gregory‘s hand nick his face again, causing yetmore blood to fall down his cheek. As the man vanished, cinders falling onto Sam‘s shirtbefore snuffing themselves out, Sam pushed himself up, pawing at the cuts on his face.Wincing at the sting and narrowing his eyes in the darkness, he could see blood on hishand, though not enough to be concerning.

From across the cemetery, Sam could hear his brother‘s heavy footfalls in the dampgrass as he raced toward the glowing grave. Holding out a hand, Dean helped Sam to hisfeet, giving him a once-over when he was fully upright.

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Glancing down at the flames inside the plot, Sam grinned wryly. ―Looks like yourlighter‘s a little slow to the punch.‖ 

―Yeah, or you are,‖ Dean commented, clapping his hand on his brother‘s shoulder and smirking. ―You alright?‖

―Yeah, I‘ll live,‖ Sam replied, wiping absently at the blood on his face again.―Come on. Let‘s go get you cleaned up.‖ 

Nodding, Sam headed toward his discarded duffle, collecting the strewn-outcontents from where they lay across the grass. As he worked, occasionally rubbing off thedripping blood from his cheek with the sleeve of his sweater to keep it from gettinganywhere else on his clothes, Sam let his mind wonder. No longer did he and Dean have acase to solve or a distraction to deal with. Now that Alan Gregory was put to rest,permanently, the both of them could turn their attention elsewhere — onto finding out whatDad was truly up to.

Glancing over at Dean as he hitched the bag over his shoulder, Sam stood up andfurrowed his brow. Dean had a look on his face that seemed to show that his mind waswarring with itself. His eyes were narrowed, his lips pursed, and his gaze steady as helooked out toward an invisible something behind his younger brother. After a long moment,he tore his stare away and turned toward the direction they had come, not saying anything

except for a muttered, ―You comin‘ or what?‖ Smirking, Sam followed behind his brother, wondering how Dean was going to

react to what the younger Winchester was going to propose they do now that the case wasover. Some small part of him knew that Dean was becoming increasingly curious over Dad‘sactivities —which may or may not be influenced by the fact that there‘s a girl involved— while another part of him knew his brother to be too loyal and trustworthy to want to gobehind their father‘s back. However, the only way to know was to ask.

Opening his mouth, Sam cleared his throat.―You hungry?‖ Dean interrupted, cutting his brother off and turning around.―No,‖ Sam frowned. ―Dean, I—‖ Holding up his hand to stop him, Dean shook his head. ―Don‘t wanna talk about it.‖ ―What do you—‖ ―Sam…‖ Dean warned, pulling on his earlobe and furrowing his brow. ―What Dad

does is his business. We‘re not about to go trample all over it just because you think  hemight be up to something, alright?‖ 

Scoffing, Sam shook his head. ―Fine.‖ Roughly throwing his bag into the trunk, Sam pulled open the door to his side of 

the Impala and sank into the passenger‘s seat, slamming it shut behind him in anger. Forsome reason, Sam had been hoping that Dean would side with him on this, deciding to helpalongside his brother when it came to figuring out what their father was up to. Instead,Dean had taken Dad‘s side again , just like he had every other time there was a feud betweenthe oldest and youngest Winchester.

Shouldn’t have expected any different .On the other side of the car, Dean got behind the wheel, cranking the engine

without saying a word. Backing out of the space, Dean directed the Impala down thesloping drive, glancing out the corner of his eye every few minutes before sneering at Sam‘sapparently irritated expression. ―Sulk all you want, Sammy. I ain‘t helping you.‖ 

―Whatever,‖ Sam muttered, fully aware of how immature the words sounded. Seeming to pick up on it, Dean shook his head and grinned slyly, reaching forward

to let Back in Black break the aggravated silence that was beginning to fill the car.

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TEN

Perko‘s Café Brewer, Maine

Friday, August 4, 200611:05 PM

Dean poked at the discarded French fries on his plate with a fork, watching as the thicklayer of salt he had coated them with fell onto the ceramic dish and bounced away. He knewcoming to the Perko‘s that shared the lot of the Brewer Motor Inn hadn‘t been a good i dea,especially since he knew the owner of the motel they had burned down was still looking outfor any sign of them, but he hadn‘t wanted Sam to tell him as much over and over again.

As soon as Dean had pulled the Impala into one of the few empty stalls outside thefront door of the restaurant, Sam had demanded that they try somewhere else — somewherethat wouldn‘t include them having to pay thousands in damages as soon as Lester Cobbcaught up with his two favorite pyromaniacs. Brushing him off, Dean had headed inside,certain that Sam would remain in the car to continue wiping the last remnants of bloodfrom his face, and found a seat at a table hidden from windows, taking his brother‘sprecaution to heart. Instead of staying outside, however, Sam had followed him in, repeatinghis warning like a broken record three times before a blonde waitress interrupted him at themost opportune time.

Falling silent, Dean had ordered a burger and fries while Sam asked for a Cobbsalad — a joke that was too easy to make and too hard to hold back. After rolling his eyesand sighing, Sam had remained silent for most of the dinner, keeping his nose buried inDad‘s ripped-up journal rather than saying anything. In all honesty, Dean had welcomed hisbrother‘s silence, taking it as a sign that Sam wouldn‘t try to persuade his older brother tobreak into their father‘s motel room for another poke around or whatever he had up hissleeve. Instead, Sam sat across from him, his eyes racing over the pages in front of him asthough looking for some sort of written-down clue inside the lines of scrawl that littered

the book. When he found nothing, he shut it and placed it back inside his coat pocket, takinghis sweet time trying to get it to fit.All the while, Dean had been eating — for something to do, if nothing else.

Truthfully, he hadn‘t been that hungry when he suggested they grab some dinner, stillcoming down from the high he had felt during the battle with Alan Gregory‘s ghost.However, the suggestion he had proposed had been meant as a distraction, just like Dad andthe case he had handed his sons. Unfortunately, now that they were finished with the job, itseemed as though nothing would sidetrack Sam from the goal he was now set on — that of finding out exactly what their father was doing.

Kicking the mashed fry away with the prongs of the fork, Dean began stabbing atanother, letting his thoughts wonder. In all the time that they had been figuring out whatwas going on with the deaths in the park, Dean had played with the idea of siding with Sam,

wondering if his brother truly was onto something when it came to whatever was up withDad. Ultimately, though, the more Dean thought about it, the more he decided thatwhatever their father was doing, he was doing it for the greater good, and part of thatgreater good was keeping Sam and Dean out of it. Whatever it was, it was probablyhazardous, and involving his sons would do nothing but add to the danger of the equation.

Back in Chicago, after the daevas had torn all three Winchesters to shreds, Deanhad learned a valuable lesson about the way Dad hunted — that he was better off alone thanwith his sons.

―Sam! Listen to me! We almost got Dad killed in there. Don‘t you understand?

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They‘re not gonna stop;  they‘re gonna try again. They‘re gonna use us  to get to him ! Imean, Meg was right. Dad‘s vulnerable when he‘s with us. He‘s stronger without usaround,‖ Dean had said, much to Sam‘s disappointment and Dad‘s surprise.

Thinking about it now, Dean remembered how hard it had been to let Dad go, towatch him drive away alone, off to some location that neither of his kids would know. As hewatched the taillights disappear down the alley, Dean had promised himself that he

wouldn‘t allow himself or his brother to be used as bait for anything or anyone to get to hisfather again. And if that meant Sam getting pissed at him or storming off because hiscuriosity had to go unsustained, then so be it. Dad had to be left alone to work. All theywere now were bothersome hurdles when it came to the bigger picture, the grand scheme of things that Dad had to figure out on his own. When that was all said and done, that was themoment they could be a family again. Until then, the brothers had to deal with being bythemselves.

However, it seemed as though Sam hadn‘t arrived at the same conclusion, insteadthinking of what he could do to help as soon as he found out what was going on. Though heknew his brother had good intentions, he also knew good intentions paved the road toHell — and if demons were involved, that wasn‘t the road they wanted to be on.Unfortunately, no matter how heavy the silence or dark the disapproving stares, it appeared

Sam was set in his ways, not budging until he got what he wanted. It was the samementality Dad had, the one thing, aside from a few facial features, that his brother hadinherited from the man. John Winchester‘s stubbornness was legendary, second only toSam‘s.

Suddenly, the tinkling of a bell kicked Dean out of his thoughts. Looking up fromwhere he had been staring at his plate, Dean let the fork drop, clattering against the tableloudly. Ultimately, Dean was now too distracted to care. Walking out the glass door of therestaurant toward the small parking lot was a tall, brunette girl dressed in a red Universityof Louisville t-shirt and jean skirt, her sneakers shuffling against the pavement outside.

Seeming to catch Dean‘s stare, Sam turned around in his seat to match his olderbrother‘s gaze, attempting to find whatever had him sitting so tight-jawed. As soon as Samcaught up to what was going on, a voice from behind the counter called toward the shuttingdoor, solidifying what Dean had already known.

―Kelly! Kelly Taylor!‖Catching the door before it closed all the way, Kelly wrenched it back open to look

at the blonde that raced after her , Sam and Dean‘s waitress from before. As the two grinnedat one another, the blonde handed over a while envelope. ―Don‘t want to forget yourpaycheck.‖ 

―Seriously,‖ Kelly laughed, tapping the thing against her thumb in thought andletting her large, green eyes take in the writing on the front. After a long moment, shenodded at the shorter blonde before turning and heading out. ―Anyway, see you.‖

Smirking to the shutting door, the blonde pivoted and headed back in the directionshe had appeared from, vanishing behind the counter as she went to help someone on theother side of the diner. Looking away from her, Dean let his gaze fall back on the brunetteas she walked down the stretch of sidewalk outside, stopping at the end to pull out a cellphone.

All of a sudden, a series of images flashed before Dean‘s eyes, memories from the lastfew hunts he and Sam had been on behind Dad‘s back. There had been a brunette waitressin Louisville, Kentucky who had used the same name, and had even written her phonenumber down on the back of their receipt. Unfortunately, Dean had forgotten to call andeventually lost it, forgetting all about the girl. Then there had been a blonde in GreenRiver, Arkansas who looked familiar, but had been under the guise of a police officer — or an

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Australian bar patron, he couldn‘t be sure. Or maybe both .Now that he thought about it, Dean remembered thinking he had seen the brunette

before when he and Sam had been in the same restaurant a few days ago, though Sam hadplayed it off like he hadn‘t known who Dean was talking about, probably hoping to preventhis older brother from speaking to her. However, now that he was staring at the girl from adistance, he realized that he had seen her before, in three different cities in three different

states. She was following them.Again, more images flashed in front of Dean, these from outside the Penobscot

County precinct. Same height, same build, same bustline — even wearing the same jean skirt.She was working with Dad. This girl, whoever she was, was Dad‘s new partner. And if thatwere true, that meant their father had been tailing them as well.

Suddenly, everything Dean had been against when it came to sticking his nose inDad‘s business was gone. If Dad had been trailing them from state-to-state, there wasdefinitely something up, and it wasn‘t because he thought the daevas were coming back likehe claimed in the phone call Dean had received two months ago. This was something else,something suspicious, something that required someone unknown to both brothers to berecruited in as a spy.

Jumping to his feet, Dean dropped a twenty on the table before heading out, Sam

right behind him. Pulling open the door, Dean heard the tinkle again, rolling his eyes at andsilently thanking the sound at the same time. At the end of the walkway near the edge of the diner, the brunette glanced up, her eyes widening as she realized the brothers wereheading hurriedly for her. Shoving the phone into her pocket, she pushed her back againstthe stucco of the building, and offered them a small, frightened, half-smile.

―We need to talk to you,‖ Dean said, not bothering with formalities as he stoppeddirectly in front of her, Sam halting at his side and blocking th e girl‘s path back toward therestaurant. Glancing around, Dean noticed a few stragglers outside the front entrance,standing between cars as they talked. ―Maybe somewhere more private.‖ 

Eyes diverting everywhere but up at Dean and Sam, the girl swallowed hard, herhands visibly shaking as she pointed toward the unlit gravel lot a few yards from the side of the building. Steering her away from where she stood, Dean held onto her elbow while Samfollowed behind, his brother‘s raised eyebrow showing his surprise with the way Dean wasgrasping onto the stranger. Letting her go, Dean pulled on his earlobe in thought,wondering if he was being too rough on someone who looked just as surprised to see themas they were to see her.

Something about this isn’t right .―Who are you?‖ Dean asked before his thoughts could flood over him and cause him

to lose focus on the task at hand. This girl had obviously been tailing them, and if he wasforceful with her, it was because he had to be. Someone who was following behind andworking with Dad obviously wasn‘t someone who couldn‘t handle brusqueness, especiallywith the way their father dealt with people to begin with.

At the pause in conversation, the girl swallowed hard, her stare finally falling onSam and Dean as she locked eyes with them. Furrowing his brows, Dean saw somethingfamiliar in that stare, something beyond just seeing the girl in a handful of different places.There was a recognizable hardness behind the sage green gaze that matched almostidentically with is.

―My name is Amy—Amelia,‖ she said finally. ―Amelia Mae.‖In the back of his mind, Dean knew that name, but he didn‘t know why. Clearing his throat, he shook his head of trying to search out the reason for it,

instead turning his glare back down at the girl. She was only a couple of inches shorter thanhim, with long, shapely legs that lead up to a lean, supple body that reminded him of a

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dancer. Her face was thin and oval-shaped, punctuated with large eyes, an upturned nose,and full lips. She was pretty, but not overly so, reminding him of someone he had seen onTV a long time ago. However, something about her was off, something far too memorablefor Dean to find her attractive. It was as if she reminded him of someone he knew, someonehe was close to.

Beside him, Sam fidgeted awkwardly, shoving his hands in his coat pockets as

though doing so would make him invisible to the conversation. Glancing up at his brother,Dean furrowed his brow, checking to make sure Sam was alright, before turning back to thegirl —Amy. ―What are you doing here?‖ 

―I don‘t—‖ ―What are you doing in Maine ?‖ Dean cut her off, keeping his voice even to keep her

talking. ―We‘ve seen you all over the place; Kentucky, Arkansas, and now here. Why? Whyare you following us? And what are you doing working with our dad?‖ 

―Dean…‖ Sam warned. ―Your dad ?‖ Amy asked, biting her lip and swallowing hard. Letting silence fall,

Amy reached up to play with a lock of her hair, twisting the thick set of strands around herfinger as she thought. After a long moment, she finally let out a deep breath, seeming tocome to the realization that the two men standing in front of her weren‘t there to hurt her.

―He told me you were dangerous, that he needed me to watch you and keep tabs, orsurveillance or whatever he said. He said it was part of his mission.‖ 

―Mission?‖ Sam piped up, suddenly jumping into the conversation. ―Did he tell youwhat kind of mission?‖ 

―Some FBI thing, I guess. I saw his badge lying around,‖ Amy answered, bunchingher jaw and clearing her throat nervously. ―He wouldn‘t give me any details. Just told me totell him if I saw you do anything weird —which I haven‘t, by the way. I started to ask himabout it, but he just kind of… got mad.‖ 

―Yeah, that sounds like him,‖ Dean muttered, rolling his eyes. ―But why you? Imean, no offense, but you don‘t exactly look like the type of girl to get into this. And Idoubt you signed up for the gig.‖ 

Sighing, Amy bit her lip again. ―I… I don‘t know.‖ Shaking his head, Dean scrubbed his face with his hands and peered into the

darkness that surrounded the lot. In the distance, the rumble of a truck was audible downthe road, cutting through the quiet that was swelling in the thoughtful stillness.Recognizing the noise as the growl of Dad‘s truck, Dean looked up at Sam and the twoexchanged a nod.

Without a second glance, the brothers turned away from Amy and headed backtoward the diner, climbing into the Impala outside the entrance and waiting for the blackGMC to arrive. When it did, Sam and Dean watched as Amy climbed into the passenger‘sside and slammed the door, the truck immediately turning and heading back toward thestreet without pause.

Starting the engine, Dean backed out and followed. Whatever Dad was up to,whatever was going on with this girl, he suddenly had to know. At that moment, Deancould understand Sam‘s unrequited curiosity, finally able to reciprocate the feeling.Unfortunately, Dean had the sense that whatever they were going to find was somethingneither brother was going to like, something that possibly had to do with the demon andthe reason behind Dean recognizing the name of Amelia Mae.

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ELEVEN

Bayview Super 8Bayview, Maine

Saturday, August 5, 200612:17 AM

Sam stared out at the lot of the Bayview Super 8 from inside the Impala parked across thestreet. The gravel stretch that Dad and his partner, Amy, had pulled into five minutesbeforehand had been quiet, though slightly illuminated with a thin, yellow triangle due tothe door to their room being propped open. Every now and again, Sam could catch glimpsesof a shoulder or long, brown hair passing the threshold, but no one had yet to come out — and he doubted it would be awhile before anyone ever would.

Ever since their meeting outside the Perko‘s with the girl, both Dean and Sam hadbeen silent, both of them running over theories and possibilities in their mind during thestillness. So far, Sam only knew two things that pertained to a reason behind Dad being intown: one, that their father had asked a stranger to keep an eye on them, not telling her thetruth about his job and instead pretending to be FBI; and two, that both of them had beenfollowing the brothers from town to town. However, none of that shed light on why , and theunanswered question was bothering Sam more than he cared to address.

Unfortunately, Sam knew that Dad never did anything without reason, meaningthat there had been something up his father‘s sleeve from the get-go. If he had to guess, itprobably started the day Dad had called his sons from that payphone in Minneapolis, tellingSam and Dean to stay put in Fort Wayne until he gave word to let them return to businessas usual. And if he was right in thinking that, then why drag a stranger into it? And whyleave her under the impression that Dad wasn‘t a Hunter, but a Fed? None of it made anysense.

Then again, that was the way Dad worked — never explaining anything andexpecting everyone to follow his lead without question. It was possible that this girl,

whoever she was, was qualified in some way Sam couldn‘t comprehend at the moment,making her the first choice on Dad‘s short roster of sidelined people for a surveillance job.Ultimately, just judging by the way she had been acting outside of the diner, Sam had afeeling that wasn‘t the reason she was there. The girl had been nervous and uncomfortable,looking as though she expected Sam or Dean to throw her into the back of some shady vanat a moment‘s notice. Whether or not that was due to the fact that Dad had told her hissons were dangerous, that was still unsaid. The fact of the matter was, though, that thisgirl, this Amy, wasn‘t a Hunter— that much was clear.

―Dude, twelve o‘clock,‖ Dean muttered suddenly, snapping Sam out of his thoughts. Glancing up, Sam‘s gaze met Dean‘s as they both stared across the street. Pulling

into the lot was a yellow taxicab, its overhead light off as it rolled to a stop behind Dad‘sblack truck. From inside the open threshold strode Amy, an oversized duffle bag and laptop

case swung over her shoulder. As she yanked open one of the doors to the backseat,throwing her belongings angrily into the free space, it was clear that something hadhappened. A moment later and she was in the cab, the door slamming shut behind her as thetaxi reversed back onto the street.

By the time the taillights were nothing but a faded glow down the road, Dean wastapping his fingers on the steering wheel, his face showing the debate that was battlinginside his head. Sam knew that his brother was still fighting the drilled-in obedience thatDad had instilled in him after years of commands, but he also knew Dean was just ascurious as Sam when it came to finding out what was going on.

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Finally, after a long minute, Dean popped open the driver‘s side door and climbedout into the cold night. Frowning, Sam waited a minute, wondering what his brother wasplanning on doing. Glancing across the street, he could see that the door to Dad‘s motelroom was now closed, and he doubted the man would open it again, no matter how manytimes Dean knocked or yelled through the thin slab of wood.

―You coming or what?‖ Dean snapped. 

Nodding, Sam got out of the car and quietly shut the door behind him. Exchanginga glance, Dean started across the street, looking back every few minutes to make sure Samwas still trailing behind him. Something about this felt wrong, like the two of them wereabout to about to either be reprimanded or given an earful of information they wouldn‘t like.As they walked, Sam felt as though everything had been slowed, as though his legs weremoving through stirring water. He had experienced this before, the night he had walkedinto his apartment right before Jessica‘s fire, and hadn‘t felt the sensation since. The feelingusually signaled bad news, and Sam had reason to believe this wasn‘t about to be anydifferent.

Reaching the other side of the road, Sam took a deep breath and paused beforefollowing his brother to the closed door of room three. The last time he had been there, Samhadn‘t felt anything but bubbling anger and a need to discover why Dad was in town. Now

he felt as though he‘d rather find out what was going on by himself rather than have to dealwith hearing it through Dad‘s lips. However, Sam knew that feeling was due mostly to thefact that in order to find out what was happening, he would have to endure an hour or moreof berating, and, in all honesty, that was something that he‘d rather skip. He had heard thesame lecture from his father most of his life —―follow my lead; don‘t ask questions; don‘tmove until I say it‘s okay‖— and had practically memorized every word of the sermon.Hearing it again would do nothing but unleash a heated argument between father and son.

Unfortunately, before Sam could suggest they try a different route, Dean had his fistraised to pound on the door. Doing so, the two waited in silence for the archway to open upand reveal Dad in his thinned, exhausted glory. Ultimately, nothing happened. Instead, thelights inside dimmed, flickering every now and again from what was undoubtedly atelevision inside.

Furrowing his brow, Sam sighed. ―Maybe we should—‖ Before he could get the rest of the sentence out, however, the sound of splintering

wood cracked through the night. Letting out a sharp breath of surprise, Sam‘s eyes widenedand fell on Dean just as his brother lowered his leg to stand firmly on the ground. Rightbelow the handle, the door was now bowed in, its knob leaning toward the ground fromwhere Dean had just kicked it. As it swung back to hit the wall, embedding itself in thesheetrock behind it, Dean crossed the threshold. Swallowing hard, Sam followed him insideto find Dad sitting calmly at the edge of his bed, not moving upon his sons‘ entrance. 

Glancing over at Dean, Sam saw that his brother‘s angered look from outside hadvanished, now replaced with one of empathy. Dad looked worse than he had the day before,even more paled and tired, now with an added sadness in his slumped shoulders. Tilting hishead, Sam attempted to see whether or not his father had noticed his kids behind him,instead seeing that his Dad‘s eyes were closed and his head was bowed forward against hispressed hands. If he hadn‘t known better, Sam would have assumed his father was in prayer,but John Winchester had never been a particularly religious man. Instead, he seemed overlytired and completely unaware —which wasn‘t like Dad at all. 

―Dad?‖ Dean asked, bending forward to place his hand on the man‘s shoulder andshake him. ―Dad, are you alright?‖ 

―I‘m fine,‖ Dad muttered after a long moment.―We, uh,‖ Dean started, swallowing hard as though daring himself to say the next

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few words — though in comparison to the break-in, Sam doubted whatever his brother saidwould be considered outrageous. ―We need to talk to you about something.‖ 

Finally opening his eyes, Dad looked up to peer into Dean‘s sage green stare, thehazel looking bleak and rimmed with red. It was clear that Dad hadn‘t slept for at least amonth, and probably hadn‘t eaten in just as long. As he got to his feet, Sam could see thathis father‘s frame was dwindled beneath the black wool coat he wore, balancing on his

shoulders like a coat hanger rather than a person. Sam knew he, himself, had looked thatway during the months following Jessica‘s death, refusing to eat or sleep because of thenightmares and the fact that his stomach wouldn‘t hold down food. But Dad, as far as Samknew, hadn‘t lost anyone close to him— if Dad was even remotely close to anybody.

―What are you doing here, boys? Didn‘t I give you a case to work?‖ Dad asked. ―We finished it already,‖ Sam answered, nodding.Seeming unimpressed, Dad frowned. ―Then what?‖ Looking over at his brother, Sam exchanged a grimace before taking the floor. It

appeared as though Dean had returned to his normal self, the part of him that wasn‘t angryenough to break down doors, but instead the ever-obedient son of a tough-as-nails Marine.He knew Dean would add into the conversation eventually, but for now needed time to gethimself together before opening his mouth.

Sighing, Sam slumped his shoulders. ―Dad… what‘s going on?‖―I…‖ Turning his gaze to look at the newspaper-tacked wall behind his sons, Dad‘s

tired eyes scanned the clippings. All three of them knew Sam had already been inside toinvestigate, and they also knew that, thanks to the way they had entered the room, neitherSam nor Dean would be satisfied with a short answer. For some reason, probably due toDad‘s weakened state, it seemed as though the time to get everything out in the open wasnow, and even their father‘s mentality of keeping everything a secret wasn‘t holding up tothe way the night was progressing —first with the discovery of Dad‘s partner‘s name, thenwith the unearthing of the fact that their father had ordered them to be watched.

Slumping back down on the bed, Dad nodded toward the disheveled one across fromhim. ―Take a seat, boys.‖ 

Doing as asked, Sam perched on the edge of the mattress while Dean remained

standing, his arms crossed over his chest as his eyes stayed focused on Dad‘s. In hisexpression, concern and respect were clear, as were curiosity and a childlike fascination. Itwas the same look Dean often had whenever their father was about to tell them somethingparticularly important. Sam had seen it on his brother‘s face when they were younger, backwhen Dad would give an asking Dean snippets of details about the case he was working.Even now, at twenty-seven, it appeared as though Dean still had that youthful adoration of his father, one that wouldn‘t disappear no matter how angry he was at the moment.

Letting out a deep breath, Dad leaned forward to place his elbows on his knees, hisgaze flickering between both of his sons before finally landing on Sam. For a long moment,the two stared at each other before Dad opened his mouth to speak.

―I was following a trail,‖ he began, ―started up north before moving west. At first, Ithought it might be nothing but coincidence, but then I realized it was more than that. Itwas the demon.‖ 

Glancing over at Dean, Sam noticed that his brother hadn‘t looked away.―Started in Washington, heading south,‖ Dad continued slowly, his eyes turning

onto Dean as well, ―where it started lighting up around where I was in Oregon andCalifornia before it suddenly went dark. I thought it was going after me, maybe figured outI was onto it and trying to put a stop to it. But then it reappeared when the girl took theswan dive in Illinois, then Minnesota at the tail end of May. After that, the pattern movedsouth again, like it had picked a new target.‖ 

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―That‘s why you called us in Fort Wayne to put us on lockdown,‖ Sam said withoutquestion, earning a nod from Dad. ―You wanted us to stay out of its way.‖ 

―I did. And I was right to do so,‖ Dad replied. ―As soon as you two w entunderground, everything stopped. It didn‘t start again until you left for Kentucky. I thoughtit was following you — and I was right. Every city you boys worked cases in, the demonwasn‘t far behind. I seemed to get there before that, but it didn‘t stay long enough for me to

catch up to it. It just moved onto wherever you two might be headed next.‖ Furrowing his brow, Sam shot a look at the newsprint on the wall. Getting to his

feet, he crossed over to it while Dad continued speaking, noticing that his father was tellingthe truth. Every city near where Sam and Dean had worked jobs instead of following theirfather‘s commanded hiding had been marked with an article about cattle mutilations andlightning storms. Apparently, these two things signaled a trail of demons. What it didn‘tpoint out, however, was why the thing was following the brothers in the first place.

―I don‘t know why it‘s after you,‖ Dad answered, seeming to read Sam‘s mind. ―Ididn‘t notice the pattern until after you had already left.‖ 

Pausing, Dad pinched the bridge of his nose in a way similar to Sam whenever hefelt a headache coming on. Frowning, Sam returned to the bed, leaning forward slightly incase his father collapsed in front of him, which looked plausible considering his appearance.

When he seemed secure in his perch, Sam relaxed, sitting farther back on the mattress andtapping his fingers against the knee of his jeans.

―Dad, maybe you should get some sleep,‖ Sam suggested calmly, knowing what hisfather‘s answer was going to be before he finished his sentence.

Shaking his head, Dad smiled wryly, a sadness coming with the gesture. ―I haven‘tslept since it started. I haven‘t had time. Keeping up with the demon is a full -time job. Itnever sleeps and it never stops.‖ 

―Maybe eat —‖ Sam started. ―Sammy, please,‖ Dad said, his tone gruffer than before as he held up a hand to halt

his son‘s suggestions. ―I can take care of myself. I don‘t need you or your brother watchingout for me.‖ 

―What about that girl?‖ Dean asked quietly, finally speaking up. ―Amy, or Amelia, or

whatever he name is. How long‘s she been around? She been taking care of you?‖ Letting out a deep sigh, Dad furrowed his brows and rubbed his hands together

absently. Sam knew that gesture well, one that usually signaled a piece of information theirfather didn‘t want to give. However, since the ball was already rolling, Sam couldn‘t see areason to stop, especially when it came to divulging the final piece of the puzzle.

―I picked Amelia up from her family in Illinois before the run-in with the demon‘strap in Chicago and after I realized what it was doing ,‖ Dad said slowly. ―You boys werewalking right into the lion‘s den, and I needed someone to watch you, to make sure youwere okay and making smart decisions, someone you didn‘t know. I also thought she mightbe in trouble; the type her adoptive parents couldn‘t protect her from.‖

―Trouble?‖ Dean frowned. ―Why? The demon‘s gunning for me and Sam, not her.‖ ―I thought it might be going after the whole family,‖ Dad said heavily, his eyes

dropping to the ground as he spoke. ―After running into the thing in Peoria, I didn‘t know if it might go after her next, but it was more than likely given the circumstances. If it wasn‘tyou, it had to be her. She was the only other option; the only one left with the Winchestername.‖ 

―But that still doesn‘t explain—‖ Dean began harshly, stopping abruptly andturning his attention over to Sam as his brother gasped in revelation. ―Sammy?‖ 

Suddenly, everything clicked, everything Sam had been too blind to notice. Dadhadn't shown up late to the demon's trap in Chicago because he was lying in wait, trying to

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survey the situation before barging in like Sam had originally thought, their father had beenelsewhere, retrieving the girl, Amy, from somewhere within the state. It explained why hehadn't been there the majority of the time the brothers were in town then, too, and also whyhe took off so quickly after the second run-in with the daevas. Dad had had his mindelsewhere, on a younger girl who needed protection just as much as his sons.

It also explained two more things, now that Sam thought about it. First was the

reason why Dad had removed pages from his journal. Somewhere inside, it probably laid outenough information for the brothers to piece together the truth, enough for them to figureout exactly what Dad was doing with this girl rather than leaving them in the dark like heobviously preferred. And second, where Sam had heard the name Amelia Mae before.

―I thought it might be going after the whole family. She was the only other option; the only one left with the Winchester...‖ 

The sentences rang out in Sam‘s head as he pinched the bridge of his nose, aheadache forming as he considered what had been so obvious from the start. Why hadn‘t heseen it sooner? Why hadn‘t he realized it sooner? The girl wasn‘t just some stranger Dadhappened to be hunting with, some unknown contact to Sam and Dean. She was somethingto him that Sam hadn‘t even thought, something that hadn‘t even crossed his mind untilnow; until the gears finally clicked in his head over where he had heard that name before,where he had seen those curious green eyes before, and where he recognized that color of brown hair before. That name belonged to someone Sam had never met, someone on Dad‘sside of the family that had died before Sam had been born, though mentioned once or twicein passing sometime during his childhood. He knew he recognized it from somewhere, buthadn‘t been able to place it until now. 

 Amelia Mae was grandma’s name . Opening his mouth, Sam let out a sharp breath. There was no other option. Dad

didn‘t have any other living relatives aside from his kids, no brothers or sisters that wouldhave spawned cousins, and neither had Mom. It was the only thing left. The only truth thatwas in any way plausible, no matter how much he didn‘t want to believe it.

Swallowing hard, Sam glanced over at his brother before looking back at Dad,noticing that his father knew the comprehension that had dawned on his youngest son, thebetrayal that Sam had unearthed in the last few minutes.

Suddenly his heart felt heavy and his lungs felt constrained. Despite all that, despitethe fact that Sam wanted to scream rather than talk, he somehow managed to open hismouth and speak the words he didn‘t want to say: ―She‘s our sister ?!‖ 

Slumping his shoulders, Dad shuddered with shame. ―Yes.‖ 

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TWELVE

Bayview Super 8Bayview, Maine

Saturday, August 5, 20061:28 AM

Dean‘s head was swimming as anger rippled through him. How his brother had deducedthat fact so quickly and seamlessly, he didn‘t want to know nor cared to know. Instead, allDean cared about was the rage bubbling inside, the lies his father had told him and Sam, andthe reason behind his father keeping this harrowing secret for so long.

As soon as Dad reaffirmed what Sam had figured out on his own, Dean had to fightback the urge to scream, to throw things, to kick open another door. He thought he hadbeen angry outside, angry enough to bust into his father‘s motel room against his betterinstincts, but that was incomparable to how Dean felt now. Suddenly, everything madesense. Everything that happened from Chicago on, after the demon had attacked the three of them in the brothers‘ motel room and Dad had left town. He had been late, not because hehad just arrived in town like Dean had originally thought, but because he had gone to findtheir —  

He couldn‘t say it. She wasn‘t part of their family. She was a stranger, nothing more,and that was all she would ever be. Sam, Dean, and John Winchester. That was it. They were a family; not this girl.

Not ever.Grinding his teeth together in fury, Dean tried to contain himself for Sam, who

seemed to be sitting at the edge of the second mattress in shock and disbelief. His brother‘seyes were hardened in a way Dean hadn‘t seen before, holding an expression Dean doubtedwas dissimilar to the one on his own face. Sam‘s jaw was bunched together in anger, his lipsmaking a thin line every so often whenever he swallowed hard. Across from him, Dad‘storso was bent forward with indignity, his hands pressed beneath his face just like the way

he had them positioned when Sam and Dean had first entered.It was funny, in an ironic way, how the tables had turned, how John Winchester‘ssons had suddenly become the ones with a legitimate grievance instead of their father, whohad always been the angry one of the family —aside from Sam‘s small bouts. Now they werethe ones allowed to be roaring with rage, to give Dad an ear-full, rather than the other wayaround. However, that wasn‘t a power that Dean wanted to use, no matter how much hisinsides were teeming with fury — and it seemed, neither did Sam.

On the bed, Sam still hadn‘t moved, his fingers still poised over the knee of his jeansas though getting ready to continue tapping absently. Ultimately, it was becoming clearthat the shock was wearing off and that unwanted curiosity was beginning to ensue. Deanknew his brother had questions — hell, he  had questions — and that the only way he wasgoing to use the turned tables was to get the answers from their father. Sam had always

been the curious one, and it seemed that even in this situation that still held true — despitethe fact that the inquisitions probably had answers neither brother honestly wanted touncover.

―Does she know?‖ Sam asked slowly. ―About anything?‖ ―No,‖ Dad sighed, rubbing his face with his hands in a way that Dean often did

whenever he was nervous or thinking. ―She doesn‘t know anything. She didn‘t ask.‖ ―Not that you‘d have told her, right?‖ Dean scoffed. ―No, I wouldn‘t,‖ Dad said, a hint of anger in his tone. ―She doesn‘t know who we are? Who you are? She just got in the car with you and  

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took off? Smart girl,‖ Dean commented, rolling his eyes.―She knows I‘m her father,‖ Dad explained slowly, rubbing his hands together

absently. ―And she is smart. She‘s a lot like you, Sammy.‖ ―Don‘t,‖ Sam snapped, narrowing his eyes. ―Don‘t.‖ Silence fell over the room as Sam and Dean glared at their father, occasionally

exchanging glances with one another. It was clear that neither of them knew how to handle

the news, nor knew what to say. It was as if Dad had laid down an even heavier truth onthem than before, one that beat out the reality that monsters, demons, and whatever elsewas hiding under the bed was really there. Back then, back when Dean had discovered whathis father really did for a living instead of the cover that Dad was a traveling salesman, hehad fought back the urge to cry. Even at five years old, he hadn‘t been able to shed tearsover something so earth-shattering. But now, something about his father‘s deep betrayal,the fact that the man he had looked up to his entire life would father another child andwould hurt Mom and her memory in that way, he was having a hard time containing hisemotions. A glance over at his brother told him that Sam was experiencing the samebattle — though losing judging by the redness of his eyes.

For some reason, Dean wanted to leave, to take Sam back to the motel and figureout what their next move was. It was the method they used whenever dealing with a

particularly distressing case, and it had been the first thing Dean had done for Sam directlyafter Jessica had died. They had grown up in motel rooms, it had been their home, their safeplace, and there was no reason why they wouldn‘t be able to center themselves there now.

However, Dean had a feeling that, like with Jessica‘s death, a trip back to their dankrent-a-room wasn‘t going to solve the problem, nor make either of them feel better. All itwould do would leave both brothers in a pensive silence until both of them decided to leaveto sort this out in their own way.

Suddenly, Dad got to his feet and crossed the room. Raising an eyebrow in surprise,Dean watched as his father began to throw things into his duffle bag, letting shirts andpapers fall sloppily into the bottom as he stuffed them into his threadbare luggage.

Unbelievable .―Just like that, huh?‖ Dean scoffed, shaking his head in disbelief. ―You‘re just gonna

drop this on us and leave?‖ ―Yes,‖ Dad muttered, stopping what he was doing to look up. For a long moment,

Dean stared into his father‘s hazel eyes, noticing that there was a f orlornness hidden behindthem. After the minute passed, Dad continued his packing, glancing up every now and thento look between Sam and Dean. ―I suggest you do the same. You boys aren‘t safe here. Noneof us are.‖ 

Pursing his lips, Dean shot a look at his brother. On the bed, Sam was bent forward,his head tilted down as his thumb and forefinger pinched the bridge of his nose. It was clearthat Sam was trying to make sense of everything on his own but struggling, especially withall the commotion Dad was making. Finally, Sam got to his feet and crossed over to the wallof newspapers again, staring at the mark-up Dad had put together. As he watched, Deantried to figure out how that girl couldn‘t have seen the strangeness of the prints tacked tothe sheetrock  —unless she had and hadn‘t said anything. Lightning storms and cattlemutilations weren‘t exactly things the FBI was interested in, and the cats‘ eye shells aroundthe door wasn‘t exactly something the Feds would use for protection.

Rolling his eyes, Dean glanced away from Sam to look at their father. Over at thetable squeezed between the bed and the wall, Dad was removing the salt line he had made inthe windowsill, reminding Dean of all the times his father had ordered him to do the samebefore they got ready to check out.

In all honesty, Dean didn‘t care one way or another if Dad left him and Sam alone to

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stew in their juices, but the fact that the man was bailing directly after dropping one bombafter another on them bothered him more than he would admit. But that was the way hisfather worked: leave a vital piece of information hanging in the air without any explanationand ditch out before giving any details. Growing up, Dean hadn‘t minded, thinkingwhatever was not said to be a hint that he needed to figure it out himself. However, Deanwas getting tired of solving Dad‘s puzzles. He had been doing it for the past ten months— 

and the past two decades before that — and now all he wanted were some straight answers.At first, when his father had begun to explain things, Dean thought he was finally going toget the full scoop, both when it came to why Dad was trailing behind his sons and withwhat was going on with the demon his father had been hunting for the past twenty years.Unfortunately, he had only gotten half that, plus another piece of gut-wrenchinginformation to go along with it.

Beside him, Sam sighed loudly, rolling his head back to look at the ceiling as thoughsome other revelation had broken through in his mind. When he was done, Sam returnedhis gaze to the set of articles lining where the east coast would be on a map, his eyesscanning two snippets Dean remembered seeing while working the job the two of them had  just finished. The first detailed the murder of Tyler Durden, while the other was a smallobituary on Jason Wright. Furrowing his brow, Dean waited for Sam to say something.

Ultimately, all his brother did was keep his mouth shut.―What?‖ Dean muttered after a minute, frowning.―It‘s just…‖ Sam trailed off a moment before taking a deep breath. ―The people that

died; one had a girlfriend that went to Stanford and another was a lawyer. Then there‘s allthis information about the demon being in town, and it kind of makes me think…‖ 

―That it‘s not a coincidence?‖ Dean grimaced. ―Yeah.‖ ―But that guy was a spirit.‖ Shrugging, Sam sighed and turned around, his eyes falling on Dad as he zipped up

the rest of his belongings and threw the bag over his shoulder. Dean could tell that hisbrother was disappointed, both in the news they had received and in the way their fatherwas dealing with it. Truthfully, Dean couldn‘t blame Sammy for being so disheartened. In

the old days, back before Sam left for Stanford and Dad abandoned his eldest son to followsome lead, their father would have stuck beside them and rode out whatever problem cametheir way. Now Dad was nothing but flighty and reclusive, choosing to hide rather thanfight and ditching town whenever things got too heavy. It was as if their father had becomea shell of his former self, or like something had happened or been said that had changed hisoutlook on hunting altogether.

But that was their father: secretive, selective, and otherwise capricious. Whateverwas going on, whatever Big Bad was trailing behind Sam and Dean, Dean doubted Dadwould share that information. Hell, telling them that something was following them in thefirst place had been more than Dad had shared in a long while. The man did what he wantedwhen he wanted and was careless of the consequences, and it seemed that, now that Sam andDean were a team again and hunting on their own, becoming reckless for their sake was outof the question. In the past, Dad would have walked through hot lava to get to his sons if they were in trouble, now it appeared as though they were on their own. In fact, Deanthought, it was  that way. When Sam had called their father when Dean was dying fromheart failure after being electrocuted by his own taser, there hadn‘t been any sort of answer.When Sam and Dean had headed back to Lawrence to check out a vision Sam had had thenight before, Dean had called for help and received nothing in return. But still, despite allthat, Dean had kept faith in his father, stood up for him whenever Sam was intent on bad-mouthing him, and had nearly convinced himself that the man hadn‘t changed—   just gone

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AWOL. Unfortunately, now that Dad was planning to leave them in the middle of anemotional time, in the middle of an unveiling of a secret that had been under wraps for thepast twenty years the three of them had been hunting together, Dean couldn‘t stand up forhim any longer. Their father had left them, and was leaving them again, and there wasnothing Dean could say or do that could defend that action — not that he wanted to in thefirst place.

However, Dean had a feeling his mind was going to change on the subject as soon ashis father‘s taillights were nothing but a memory down the road. After years of obedientlytaking orders and rationalizing the man‘s decisions, Dean knew that his mind wasimmediately going to gloss over everything that had happened to make it seem as though ithadn‘t been as bad as it was. It was a type of denial that Dean had patented, something thatwas probably eating away the lining of his stomach just like the alcohol he drank to bury itwas eating at his liver. But that was the job, and that was the way Dad was, and nothingeither of them did was going to change that.

Clearing his throat, Dean raised his eyebrows as he watched his father head for thedoor. To his left, Sam stepped forward, holding out a hand as though wishing to stop JohnWinchester and appeal to his softer side. Instead, Dad ignored it and headed to his truck,tossing his duffle bags into the passenger‘s seat and climbing in. Through the windshield,

Dean could see Dad in the glass, his hard eyes filled with sadness as he started the engine.Suddenly, Dean was reminded of a younger Sam as his brother raced to the

threshold and stopped just as Dad began to pull out of his space. When the truck wasrolling out of the lot, Dean followed his brother onto the sidewalk, watching as thetaillights disappeared around the corner, heading toward the freeway. Biting his lip, Deanclapped his hand comfortingly on his brother‘s shoulder and squeezed hard as the two stoodthere a moment, staring at the spot the glowing red had been a second before.

After a long minute, the two finally broke apart, crossing the gravel lot and slowlymaking their way toward the Impala across the street.

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EPILOGUE

Bayview LodgeBayview, Maine

Saturday, August 5, 20067:34 AM

Sam now understood how Dad could look so tired and wasted away. In the mirror in frontof him, Sam could see his own reflection staring back at him as he continued to pack thetoiletries that had found themselves in various places in and around the sink. His chestnuthair was matted in front, shading the darkened green eyes underneath, and causing his paleface to look even more pallid than it had a few days before. Again, his clothes hung off hisframe, but that could be attributed solely to the fact that they didn‘t belong to him.

Before leaving Dad‘s motel room to be picked over by the maid service, Sam andDean had recrossed the parking lot and returned inside to search through the few-and-far-between things his father had left behind. In the cleared-out space, he had only found twoitems that seemed worth saving: his father‘s black t-shirt and a sterling silver cross with asmall diamond inlay. For some reason, despite the fact that Dean told him to leave bothbehind, Sam couldn‘t. Mainly, he wanted the t-shirt for the obvious reason that all of hiswere in the to-be-washed pile, but as for the cross… something about him told him to spareit, as though the piece of delicate jewelry had some kind of meaning hidden inside.

After returning to the Bayview Lodge, Sam had spent half the night turning thecrucifix over his fingers, wrapping and rewrapping the chain around his thumb absently ashe searched the web for anything he could on this girl. In his hours of searching, and hoursof having to hear Dean try to convince him to give it a rest, Sam had only uncovered ahandful of things about her. According to a hack in Yale University‘s admissions records,Amelia Mae Winchester was a twenty-year-old drama major who had been adopted by Joeland Jennifer Forester back in November of 1985. Though that didn‘t explain much asidefrom the acting books Sam had found inside Dad‘s room during his initial search of the

place, it was enough to quell his curiosity for now.However, the satisfaction hadn‘t been enough to allow Sam more than an hour of sleep. During the middle of the night, he had awoken several times to stare up at the ceiling,wondering what Dad was doing now or where he was planning on going. If the demon hadchanged directions after discovering Dad was onto it and instead choosing to trail Sam andDean, was it still after them? Or had it given up there, too? And what was with the selectivekillings behind the spirit of Alan Gregory? Were those two victims murdered as a messageto Sam, or was it coincidence that the men had ties to him — albeit distant ones?

Unfortunately, the only person who would truly know was now somewhere milesfrom Maine, probably on a freeway headed west toward Colorado or California. It had beena mistake to let Dad go, to let him walk away as though the conversation was finished orthat everything Sam and Dean needed to discover was easy enough to unearth. There had

been so much more the man could have told his sons; but once again, he had decided toleave it hanging in the air, another mystery unsolved.The thought alone was enough to make Sam angry. In fact, whatever Dad had left

unsaid was enough to cause Dean to begin to act erratic. Twice after returning to theirmotel room, Dean had left to head to some bar, only to return minutes later and decideagainst it. Following that, he had suddenly determined that he was hungry, beforeremembering the incident at the Perko‘s and swearing aloud. After awhile, he had donenothing but strip off his jacket and perch himself against the headboard of his bed, changingchannels with the remote as he continually asked Sam what he was doing and why — 

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seemingly never satisfied with the answer. Finally landing on I Dream of Jeannie after theremote batteries had been worn to the ground, Dean had taken to a sullen silence, staring atthe screen and cursing at Major Nelson whenever he tried to keep Jeannie trapped in herbottle.

In all honesty, Sam was surprised his brother hadn‘t gone out to buy a cheap case of beer to settle down with. In the past, that seemed to be Dean‘s solution to every problem,

bury it with alcohol and let Sam figure it out, but it appeared as if this time he wanted tosort through the issue on his own — which Sam was undoubtedly grateful for. The indecisiveway in which his brother was acting mixed with liquor would have proved dangerous, andthat, on top of everything else that had been laid on them, was not something Sam wantedto deal with. And it seemed as though Dean was fully aware of that fact.

By morning, thankfully, everything appeared normal again, with Dean‘s bout of inconsistent behavior gone and replaced with a silent calm, while Sam was tired and readyto move onto greener pastures. It had begun to rain again, though not as heavy as theevening the brothers had been at Restfield Cemetery, but enough for Sam to be tired of thedownpour already. As soon as he had ―woken up‖, making sure to prepare a pot of coffee forDean to keep his brother from remaining the surly way he had been the night before, Samhad searched the Internet for jobs in the southwest, hoping to find something in the sunnier

parts of the States. Unfortunately, no results had turned up, leaving Sam with nothing to dobut gather his things while Dean continued sleeping.

After awhile, Dean had risen from the way he had been tossing and turning,immediately kicking his way out of the covers in favor of his early-morning java. When hewas done, after taking a quick walk outside in the rain, he had begun to work alongside hisbrother in collecting their belongings, making sure to check every nook and cranny forsomething that might have fallen hidden. It was something Dad had taught them growingup, to never leave anything behind —though the man didn‘t seem to live by his own words judging by what Sam had found in his room.

In fact , Sam thought spitefully, rolling his eyes while Dean checked under the bed,there are a lot of hypocritical things Dad says to do but doesn’t himself. 

Kicking the bubbling anger away just as Dean got to his feet, Sam looked at hisbrother in the mirror before zipping up the last of their things and tossing it into the dufflehanging from the crook of his arm. When he was finished, he flung the bag by its strapsover to Dean‘s waiting hands and turned to give his side of the room a once-over. The areawas covered with towels piled in the corner, fast-food containers overflowing in the bins,and used shampoo bottles in the sink, but otherwise free of any trace that a Winchester hadbeen there. Checking beneath the towels to make sure nothing was hiding underneath, Samnodded to himself before digging his hands in his jeans‘ pockets, feeling the necklace he haddropped in there prior to getting ready for bed the night before.

Through the doorway, Sam could see his brother pushing aside their dirty laundrybag in the trunk of the Impala to make room for their other equipment. When he was done,he slammed the lid shut and spun the car‘s key ring over his index finger, shooting hisbrother a curious glance through the open archway as though silently asking what he wasstill doing inside. Nodding toward him, Sam made his way out, sealing the room off behindhim.

―We already checked out?‖ Sam asked as he stopped beside his brother, noticing thathis hands were free of motel keys.

―Did it while you were staring at yourself in the mirror,‖ Dean commented. ―That was fast.‖ ―That‘s what she said,‖ Dean grinned. ―Dude,‖ Sam smirked, ―even I  know that was bad.‖ 

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Laughing, Dean shook his head and rounded to the driver‘s side of the Impala,opening the door and climbing in. Doing the same, Sam stopped a moment to stare at the L-shaped stretch of motel rooms before slipping into the passenger‘s seat. Water blotted thewindshield of the car as drizzling rain began to patter against the glass. For a moment, bothSam and Dean sat in silence to appreciate the sound, letting the cold from outside waft inthrough the cracks between the doors and the body of the Impala.

After a minute, Dean started the engine, the gravelly roar engulfing themonotonous rhythm like a monster waking from a deep sleep. Soon following, the quietstrains of  Back in Black  started over again, the heavy bass beating in between growls of horsepower as Dean pulled out of the stall outside of room seven and headed towardKubrick Road.

“Flight 1727 from Bangor International to Chicago O’Hare is now boarding. Please take all carry - on luggage and boarding passes to Gate 3 for assistance.”  

Hitching her purse farther up her shoulder, Amy Winchester stared at the snakingline in front of her. Businessmen, vacationing families, and solo travelers stretched outbefore her, each of them conversing with one another about how long the wait time was orhow long they thought it was going to take for the flight to get off the ground.

From where she stood near the back, Amy sorted through the hundreds of slips of paper the attendant at the front desk had given her, trying to find the small foldercontaining the tickets she had bought with her mom‘s credit card. Jennifer Forester wasgoing to be pissed that Amy had used her card instead of her own, just like she had been thenight John Winchester had whisked Amy away from the charity gala her parents werethrowing, but that card was the only one she could find in her distracted state of mind — andshe was certain Jennifer would understand, especially since flying half-way across thecountry after what she had just experienced in Bayview was harrowing enough.

In all honesty, Amy should have known not to allow herself to be stolen away fromNorthbrook to join a stranger on some wild goose chase, but when Joel insisted that shehead off with the man, her real father, requesting her help, she couldn‘t find a proper way tosay no. Instead, she had agreed and packed as lightly as possible, bidding her brothersThomas and Tristan goodnight before heading out, promising that she would be backbefore school started to make sure they got sent off properly.

As the line moved forward a little, Amy finally retrieved her boarding pass andbreathed a sigh of relief. Everything, for at least the past two months, had been going awry,starting with the moment she had climbed into the truck belonging to a man claiming to beher father. Since then, the guy had been surly and silent, making Amy feel awkward andslightly afraid. John hadn‘t explained anything, only that they were headed to Minneapolisto follow a lead, leaving Amy to sort the rest out herself. When they had gotten a pair of motel rooms in some out-of-the-way place far from the Interstate, she had been certain shehad made a mistake, locking herself inside her own room and closing the curtains.

After awhile, she had begun to loosen up, even sometimes heading through theadjoining door when she was certain John wasn‘t there. Gingerly picking through histhings, she found an FBI badge and a few, disassembled handguns that looked like theywere getting prepped to be cleaned. The only worrying thing she had stumbled upon wasthe writing on the wall and the articles tacked in some sort of pattern. However, afterreading them, she saw that they were nothing but innocuous write-ups about local farmslaughters, finding no meaning in them except for the fact that it seemed the governmentwas interested in it.

As weeks passed with barely any appearance from John, Amy had quietly wonderedwhat she was doing there. He had said he needed her help with something, but hadn‘t said

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what, and leaving her alone in a motel room certainly wasn‘t it. Deciding that she neededsomething to do, she had taken a job at the diner perched at the edge of the motel‘s lot,before John suddenly decided that they had somewhere else to be. Packing up, she hadallowed him to take her to Kentucky, where she had done more of the same — getting a jobat a diner and staying in her own room — before he had finally cracked in giving herinformation. There was someone that needed to be watched, two men who were dangerous,

and they needed to have eyes kept on them at all times. All she had to do was continueworking and find a name no one would know, then give him details at the end of the night.It had seemed easy enough — or, well, easy until they had arrived in Maine.

According to John, their supply of money was dwindling, meaning that the two of them were going to have to stop splitting rooms. When Amy suggested that she could payfor her own accommodations, since she had enough money for the both of them, John hadbecome silent and surly again, giving her the feeling that there was a reason behind theirsharing —a reason she didn‘t find out until she threatened to leave.

Outside of the Perko‘s in Brewer, two men had approached her, the ones she hadbeen ordered to watch, but not to hunt down the spy like she had originally thought. Shehad known upon following John‘s orders that the two of them were going to recognize her,and probably the name she used, but hadn‘t expected the reason why. Those two men hadn‘t

been convicted criminals on the run from the FBI, or whatever her mind had come up withwhile she wiped down tables and took orders, they had been her… family.

Only not , Amy reminded herself. She had a family already; two parents and twobrothers whom she had grown up with in the suburbs of Illinois. All these people were toher were strangers, John included, and nothing else. And that was all they were going toremain.

After returning to the shared motel room, Amy had confronted John about what hissons had said, bringing up the fact that the ―targets‖ has used the words ―our dad‖ whenthey had been questioning her in the parking lot. When he said nothing, only telling herthat if she didn‘t stay with him, she would be in trouble, Amy had begun to leave, suddenlyunable to trust John Winchester any more than he seemed to trust her with information. Atthe final moment, he had spilled the beans, telling her that there was something dangerousafter them, after all of them, before slamming the door shut behind her.

Unfortunately, her moment of rash decision-making, which didn‘t happen often, hadresulted in the fact that she had to spend the night in the airport before a flight to Chicagoopened up. In all honesty, it hadn‘t been bad, especially since half the stores were opentwenty-four hours, but all she wanted was to go home and get a few weeks of sleep beforeheading back to Yale for her final year of college. If someone, or ―something‖, truly wasafter her, she doubted whatever it was could find her in the secluded, gated-off area of Northbrook, Illinois anyway. The nightly security alone kept anyone they didn‘t recognizeout of the complex in the first place.

Running her hands through her hair, Amy let the tangled, brunette trusses fall overher shoulders as she finally reached the gate. Handing her ticket to the lady standingsmiling behind the podium, she waited for the slip of paper to be scanned and passed back.Hitching her purse farther up her shoulder, Amy rubbed the lack of sleep from her eyesbefore stuffing her ticket into her bag and heading toward the plane.

God, I just want to be home .

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

To Eric Kripke, Sara Gamble, Robert Singer, Raelle Tucker, Ben Edlund, and Phil Sgricciafor writing and creating such a beautiful, tantalizing show.

To Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles for being the faces and voices of Sam and Dean

Winchester. You have created such realistic characters with your words and actions that Ifound it hard to transcribe such things into text form.

To my mom, my sister, and my cat for always believing in me.

To A.E. Paige for sticking by me, creating the covers, and editing these ramblings intosomething sensible. You possess the words of Dean and awkwardness of Sam in yourfingertips. Also thank you for Americanizing my work. Without you, I doubt even half of this would have made sense to anyone on the other side of the pond.

To Erica Weaver for being a friend.

Lastly, to the people of the Supernatural fandom. Without you, I wouldn‘t have spent nearlyas much time researching minute details to make sure everything was as right as possible.Your nit-pickiness is the reason I re-watched season one multiple times just to ensureeverything seemed realistic to the show.

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POP-CULTURE REFERENCE NOTES FOR READERS

In the first prologue, one of the characters--and the initial victim--is named Tyler Durden. Thisis a reference to the 1999 movie Fight Club .

Also in the first prologue, the movie saga Star Wars  is mentioned, along with two of its most

prominent characters, Han Solo and Princess Leia. Han Solo, played by Harrison Ford, isarguably a love interest for Princess Leia, played by Carrie Fisher.

In prologue two, the famous psychic Edgar Cayce is mentioned. Cayce, born in Hopkinsville,Kentucky, was alleged to have the ability to heal or disclose hidden locations such as Atlantiswhile in a hypnotic trance. However, many were skeptic over the man‘s claims, causingcontroversy and uproar in later years.

During most of the story, though initially mentioned in chapter one, a case in Burkittsville,Indiana is mentioned. This is a direct reference to the season one episode ―Scarecrow‖.

In chapter two, Dean is seen listening to Zeppelin II. The record, which was released October 22,1969, has been cited as a blueprint for the heavy metal albums that followed it, as well asmentioned as being one of the most influential rock albums of all time.

In many chapters, though first stated in chapter two, Sam and Dean claim to work and pick upclues from The Portland Press Herald . The newspaper, based in Portland, Maine, serves as thechief source of information for both the Winchesters and the state.

Throughout the story, the incident involving Meg and the city of Chicago, Illinois is mentioned.This is taken directly from the season one episode ―Shadow‖.

In chapter three, Smokey the Bear is referenced in the ledger Dean is reading at the library.Smokey the Bear was created in 1947 as the mascot for the United States Forest Service.

During most of their time in Maine, including Lies My Father Told Me; Part One , the brothersheavily mention Stephen King. King, born September 21, 1947 in Portland, Maine, often writesabout his home state in works such as Carrie , Pet Sematary , and The Tommyknockers .

In an additional reference to Stephen King, Dean makes a comment that Sam might be the nextMike Noonan. This is a straight allusion to King‘s work, Bag of Bones , in which the maincharacter loses his wife in a terrible accident and begins to experience visions following herdeath--much like Sam.

In chapter three, the Black Dahlia murder is mentioned. The homicide, still unsolved, took placeon January 15, 1947 in Los Angeles, California. The Black Dahlia, whose real name is ElizabethShort, was found mutilated and sliced in half in the middle of a vacant lot, her face cut open from

her mouth to her ears in a Chelsea Smile.

In chapter four, a movie involving Clint Eastwood chasing someone on a motorcycle is cited inpassing. This film is Coogan’s Bluff  , which was released October 2, 1968.

The cemetery listed as Ronald Mercer‘s final resting place, Restfield Cemetery, is a nod to theTV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which featured the graveyard in a season three episode called―The Zeppo.‖ 

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In chapter six, the law firm in which victim Jason Wright works for is called Putnam, Powell &Lowe. This is an allusion to the television show Mad Men , which lists the place as an Englishadvertising agency.

In chapter seven, as well as in Lies My Father Told Me; Part One , Sam and Dean use thepseudonyms of Dean Hammond and Sam Cates. This is a reference to the 1982 movie 48 Hrs.

starring Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte. Additionally, there is an English football player forSouthampton named Dean Hammond.

During chapters seven and eight, the witness to the Jason Wright murder, Eddie Waitkus isspoken with. The name is taken from an American first baseman in the National BaseballLeague who played for the Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Oriels, and Philadelphia Phillies.

In chapter nine, Dean is noted as watching both a Lifetime Original Movie and Deadwood . Theformer is a series of made-for-TV movies, often involving female drama or family ailments,while the later is a television show based in 1800‘s South Dakota. Deadwood  also starred JimBeaver as Whitney Ellsworth, who later starred as Bobby Singer.

From chapter nine until the end, Dean is cited as listening to the AC/DC album Back in Black .The record, released July 25, 1980, is noted as being the third-highest selling record of all time,following only Michael Jackson‘s Thriller and Pink Floyd‘s Dark Side of the Moon .

In chapter nine, Dean makes a remark to Alan Gregory, calling him Crazy Eight. This is areference to the card game of the same name. However, the comment and the game itself haveno correlation.

In chapter ten, as well as in Skeleton Witch and Lies My Father Told Me; Part One , the name KellyTaylor is used as a pseudonym for Amy. The name comes directly from the teen drama Beverly Hills, 90210 in which Jennie Garth starred as the aforementioned character.

During chapter eleven, as in previous chapters, John mentions the demon, Meg, ―taking the

swan dive‖ out of a seventh-story window. This comes directly from the season one episode―Shadow‖. 

In chapter twelve, as well as mentioned lightly in previous chapters, Dean cites two past cases--that of him nearly dying of heart failure and another from the trip he and Sam took back toLawrence, Kansas. This are two incidents directly from the season one episodes ―Faith‖ and―Home‖. 

In the epilogue, Sam makes note of the fact that his older brother spent the night cursing at I Dream of Jeannie . The television show, which ran from 1965 to 1970, starred Barbara Eden asJeannie and Larry Hagman as Major Anthony Nelson.

Finally, the title of the novel is taken from a 1975 movie of the same name and from the seasonseven episode of the television show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer , though changed from ―Lies MyParents Told Me.‖ 

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