A woman, in her mid-30’s, pulled out an elaborate set of keys out of her purse as she chatted playfully on her cellular phone, standing with her back to a heavy brown painted steel door.
“Honey,” she said. “Don’t worry. The prep for this won’t take that long.” She paused for a moment, listening to her husband on the other end of the line while tossing the keys lightly in the air. “I know, I know. It’s late. But I need to do this.”
Squinting her eyes at the setting late-summer/early autumn sun, she sighed. “It is…” checking her watch, “six thirty now. If I don’t call you, pick me up by ten, okay?” Nodding to herself, she fingered out an over large key with “front door” engraved on it, slipped it into the dead-bolt lock with a quick “Bye I love you”, and snapped the phone shut.
She hummed while climbing a ratty set of anciently carpeted stairs. Steep as they are, in her gleeful freedom from both her children and husband, skipped up two steps at a time into the empty building known as the town’s only hall.
Built in the 1920’s, it has seen its fair share of union rallies, wedding receptions, and evacuees when the forest fire situation got exceptionally bad. The woman, Marissa, was known to be the only decent cook in the small town of Glory, Montana, population 400 and volunteered her time and services to cook for the hall, which couldn’t afford to employ her full-time. Not that Marissa minded.
With a quick flip of a switch, a loud buzz swooped through the building as lights slowly flickered on. Marissa strode briskly into the kitchen, tossing her purse onto a counter idly next to a stereo that began to belch out music on its own. Within a quick moment, she was chopping vegetables, dancing, and signing- not a care in the world. Alone in her own little universe is where she wanted to be…
…and then she heard the sounds of giggling children, or was it just one child, coming from the hall.
Putting down the knife and straightening her posture, she lent her ear to the sounds beyond the hum of the kitchen’s lights and stereo. Nothing.
“Oh for…” she said with a sigh.
Peeking out the kitchen’s door, she shouted a loud “HELLO?”
Her lips narrowed with her brow. “Now is not a good time for this… don’t people know I have work to do?” she mumbled under her breath.
“If I have to NEVER visit Seattle again, it will be too soon” Sam moaned hunched over, nursing a bruised shoulder (Dean would say it was the ego that was bruised), watching the horizon disappear through the passenger mirror, and feeling around his back pack blindly.
Fists clenched around the worn steering wheel, Dean grinned with mock frustration. “I hear ya. If I see one more busker wearing plaid- I’m shooting them, and then myself.”
Sam let out a slight “tcha”.
“Okay… just them.”
The Impala flexed its way through yet another 90 degree turn leaving the peppering of white crosses that lined the highway far, far behind.
“I just never thought Wiccans could be so, I dunno, violent.” Sam flipped open a dollar store worthy notebook and jotted down a few notes.
Keeping his eyes on the road and darkening skies, Dean surmised “Yeah well, these weren’t what I’d call normal tree-hugging, happy Wiccans who’re all ‘merry meet’ and ‘blessed be’…” he shivered at the thought and cast a quick glance over to Sam, hoping to see his younger brother still wussing out about his shoulder, “what’re you doin’?”
“Huh?” Sam focused his eyes in concentration at the severe lack of light in the car.
“I said, ‘What’re you doin’?’ ‘cause it looks like you’re writing something down.”
“Thank you Captain Obvious. But” he straightened, putting down his pen, “I’ve decided to take a page out of dad’s book. It wasn’t exactly stupid of him to start writing down everything that is going on, ya know?”
“So I’m just saying that it might be helpful in case we start noticing patterns and…”
“… I don’t care but I’m not going back to Seattle.”
Sam chuckled. “Look, its getting really late. I mean, we don’t really know where we’re headed so we might as well crash somewhere soon and, ya know, maybe get a bite to eat.”
“First smart thing I’ve heard you say all day. Man, I’m bushed.” Dean threw his head back with exhaustion. “What’s the next closest town?”
“Well,” said Sam sighing “according to the map, not for another 150 miles yet.”
“Yeah…” Sam leaned his head onto the window to watch the landscape zoom by. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a small row of lights sprinkled in the not-so distant distance. “Hey Dean, check it out!” And he pointed toward the lights as he slapped Dean’s arm. “What do you think that is?”
“I dunno.” Leaning forward, chin to the wheel, he squinted to make sense of the lights. “Didn’t you say there was nothing on the map?”
“Yeah but… HEYSTAYONTHEROAD!!”
The Impala’s wheels bit the gravelly shoulder angrily.
“Christ, Dean!!” Sam slammed back into his seat as the vintage muscle car came to a halt not a second too soon. Looking to his left, a hydro pole was less than a foot from his door. “That was close.”
Dean cursed under his breath. “Sorry, baby.” Getting out of the car to survey the damage, he spotted a dirt road to the right off the highway less than 50 feet away. “Hey Sam!” he turned and motioned for his brother to join him.
Sam raised his hands in futility and jerked with his heads to bring attention to the foot thick and 15 foot high pole that was blocking his door.
“Heh.” Dean chuckled. “You’re still alive, aren’t ya?”
Sam rolled his eyes.
“Looks like we found our yellow brick road!” Dean surmised as he climbed back into the car, after, of course, spending at least ten minutes assuring that no damage was done to the Impala.
“Yeah, great.” Said Sam curtly.
“Oh, cheer up McMoody. Lets check this place out. I’m sure they have at least one room to lend us for the night.”
“Yes, sir. I’m afraid I don’t have any details, but I can’t accept your card.” A middle-aged man leaned toward Dean, one hand threateningly splayed out on the counter in front of him, the other with Dean’s latest credit card pinched between his thumb and index finger. His worn eyes looked firm, yet kind.
“That’s great. Just great.” Dean tightened a fist and looked to Sam who shrugged helplessly.
“I spent the last of our cash filling up at that gas station.”
“Listen, Mister, ah,” the man took a look at the card, “Meeford, I can’t help you out for tonight, but if you’re looking to make some cash…”
Dean nodded with a smile to Sam. “It’s okay. Just point me to the pub here in town.”
“Young man, we do not condone gambling here in Glory, so I suggest you take my advice or leave.” He tossed the card onto the counter and stiffened as he tapped the sheriff badge, which was conveniently next to his still splayed hand.
“Heh, yeah. Small town, eh chief?”
“Don’t call me chief.”
“We won’t.” Sam muttered quickly as he pushed Dean aside. “Look. We’re running out of gas, supplies, and we’d appreciate” he shot a quick irritated look at his delinquent brother “any help we can get.”
“Very well.” The sheriff/motelier echoed Sam in shooting an irritated look toward Dean.
“There’s a man who lives in the brown house just over there,” he pointed through the window, “who owns a small farm just a mile behind the house. His name’s Legion, Paul Legion. His wife disappeared a couple of weeks ago and hasn’t had the time to tend to his business. Go talk to him tomorrow morning and tell him that Bob sent you two to help. The pay won’t be that great, but it is better than nothing, right?”
“That’s great!” Sam smiled genuinely and shook Bob’s aged and worn hand. “Thank you very much. We’ll” again shooting another dagger-like look to Dean, “be good.”
“Scout’s honour!” shouted Dean from the door.
Leaving the splintered door behind, Dean grabbed Sam roughly by the sleeve. “Now where the hell are we supposed to sleep tonight? No poker?!”
Sam nodded toward the Impala.
“No, the two of us can’t sleep in there.”
“Dean, it’s cold,” he said with a slight shiver, “and I’m not about to sleep in a cardboard box.”
“Aw, come on, Sam! Where’s your sense of adventure?”
Sam slapped Dean in the arm, “right” he opened the car door, “here”.
The early morning sun swam through the foggy mist coating the inside of the windshield and reached Sam’s contorted body lying along the front bench seat. He shivered slightly, grasping his jacket to pull it tighter around his shoulders but it only exposed his back, pulling up his shirt in the process. Sam whined as the cold dawn’s air kissed his exposed skin. Sniffing the around to clear his nose, he awoke with a jolt, sat upright, and banged his head on the steering wheel.
“What the hell?! Dean!!! What’d’joo eat?!”
Rubbing his forehead, Sam pulled the collar of his shirt up and over his nose, looking around for something to throw at Dean.
“Jesus Christ, we’re hot boxed in here!!” he unlatched the door and tumbled out backward.
“Sam! Close the door! It’s cold!” Dean’s voice floated from the depths of the Impala.
With his eyes still crusted shut, Dean felt himself being ripped from the backseat and tossed onto the chilled and dewy earth.
“DUDE! What’s with you?!” he shouted from the ground, scrambling to find his jacket.
“Dean, have you any idea how badly you stink?” Sam shuddered at the thought and waved his hands around to fan out the car.
For a moment, Dean sat there ponderous. “Was it that bad?”
From over his shoulder, Sam belted an emphatic “YES!”
“Coooool” Dean chuckled. “Ya know, you should have lit something. Blue angels like that don’t come along too often.”
Sam rolled his eyes. “We should go find that Paul guy…”
Dean stood up and wiped the dirt from the seat of his jeans. “…Or a shower.”
A simple brown bungalow stood similarly like all the other simple houses along Main St in Glory. A short row of hedges lined the front lawn, hiding, poorly, a dated poplar tree with a tire swing dangling off a tired branch. Kittens scurried through the over-grown grass chasing goodness knows what. The Impala pulled into the drive with a hungry rumble.
“I don’t see why we couldn’t just walk.” Sam rationalized, looking back to the motel across the street.
Patting the Impala’s dash affectionately, he drawled, “I didn’t want to leave her there! Besides, you didn’t need to hop in.”
Sam’s patience was running a little low, probably due to the incessant grumble of his stomach and the whiff of fried bacon and eggs he got on the wind. “Whatever, lets…” he lost his words and motioned with his hands that they should get out.
“Go? Yeah.” Dean paused for a second. “Hey Sammy, do you get any strange vibe from this place?”
“No. The only vibe I’m getting is from my stomach. It wants food.”
“Yeah.” Dean’s eyes quickly absorbed the old house, and how eerily it looks just like the other houses on the street. “Hey Sam,” continued Dean, climbing out of the car as Sam shut his door behind him. He leaned absently on the hood. “This doesn’t look a little, oh I dunno, familiar to you?”
Sam’s lumbering gait toward the house paused, he turned his ear to Dean. “Look, I know what you’re thinking, and no, I don’t think there’s anything odd going around here. Small towns are all like this. The houses are similar and every thing is, well, happy-ish.”
Dean gave him an “I’m not so sure” look.
Sam returned the look with an “I don’t have time for this” look with a heaping helping of “Dean lets just forget our job and earn some honest money for a change.” And carried on his way to the screen door.
Dean galloped his way up to join his brother, shifting from foot to foot when Sam gave the door a good few, clangy knocks.
“Hello?!” called a female voice from the inside.
“Yeah, hi! I’m Sam, this is my brother Dean. Bob sent us to help.” Sam sweetly spoke, trying to get a good view of the person who was inside.
“Oh, okay. I’ll get my dad.” The voice’s owner ran off.
Dean crossed his arms uncomfortably. “I don’t like small towns… or farms” he muttered.
“Dean, what do you want me to say?”
“I dunno, man. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth that this place wasn’t even on the map!”
“Okay, that is a little odd, but there a lot of small industry towns that don’t make it on the map for one reason or another. Besides, just because it wasn’t on my map, doesn’t mean that this place isn’t supposed to exist.”
The door creaked open, giving Sam a start, and there stood a rugged looking man in his 30’s. His face worn with weather and worry, hair disheveled, and clothing of plaid and denim, he raised his eyebrows quizzically at the brothers.
“Am I interrupting something?”
Sam squared his shoulders, setting a friendly and sympathetic smile. “No, no. It’s just my brother,” he pointed his thumb over his shoulder to Dean, “is a bit of a city guy and isn’t used to all the fresh air.”
Dean flexed his jaw and nodded in agreement.
“I’m Sam, this is my brother Dean. You must be Paul Legion.” Sam held out his hand, which Paul clasped roughly.
“Yeah. So Bob sent you two boys over?”
The brothers nodded in unison.
“Well that’s good. Bob’s a good judge of character and I don’t want any slackers working for me. Come on in!”
Paul opened the door, ushering Sam and Dean inside the cottage-like bungalow. Lace curtains adorned each window, walls painted in white wash over oak paneling and beams, and avocado coloured appliances littered the kitchen just beyond the house’s foyer. A demure photograph hung crookedly to the left. It portrayed a cookie-cutter family pose of the Legions, Paul, assumingly Marissa, and their three daughters.
“Nice place you got here, Paul” Dean commented, allowing his eyes to drink in every detail of every room they passed. To the right, a large family room, although simple in appearance, caught his attention. The walls of were coated liberally with filled bookshelves, which made him wonder if it was the public library, however a smattering of toys laying about the floor like a child’s mine field told him otherwise.
“Thanks,” he replied. “But it hasn’t been the same since Marissa’s disappearance.”
Sam put on a face of false-shock and concern. Paul waved him off.
“Don’t look so surprised. Please. It would insult my intelligence to pretend that no one would have mentioned it. In fact it was probably the biggest news to happen in Glory since the forest fire in ’97!” Paul chuckled, however it was an empty and pained chuckle that couldn’t even begin to reach his cheeks.
“I’m sorry for your loss.” It was absolutely amazing how often Sam could say that string of words and make it sound so genuine.
“Thank you.” Paul sighed deeply. “I just wish I knew what happened.”
Dean took his cue with perfect timing, as usual. “So what do you think happened?”, which earned that look of “stop it you’re being insensitive” from Sam, and of course Dean rebutted the look with the “come on, I’m just askin’”.
“I, ah. I really don’t know, and um,” he broke off with another uncomfortable chuckle, “I don’t want to talk about it. You’re here to talk shop. So what’s the story? What brings you two to Glory?”
“We’re general labourers”, Dean offered, “just passing through from Spokane. The contract ended and we’re heading out to Sioux Falls, but ya know, didn’t quite make it to Columbus before our stomachs started rumbling.” Dean pasted on his Boy Scout face, which got an impressed look from Sam.
“Where are my manners?! You boys must be hungry!” Paul waved Sam and Dean into the kitchen, offered them a seat at the table, and rustled together some of the left-over bacon, hash browns, and toast.
“It might be a bit cold, but at least there is some food left! The girls don’t eat as much as they used to and I haven’t gotten the hang of cooking for only four instead of five people. Marissa could…” Paul’s train of thought hopped its tracks and he nearly dropped the plate of bacon onto the floor, but quickly recovered muttering apologies.