"What are we supposed to do now?" Ava asks.
"No one's gonna be able to find us," she says. "There aren't any maps here; no one even knows this town exists. Are we just supposed to sit here until we die or something? I don't want to die—I'm only sixteen!" She's getting hysterical, voice climbing higher and higher, more and more shrill.
"We can't panic," Sam says. "We need to keep calm if we're gonna figure out what to do."
"But she's right," May says, speaking up. "We're just sitting ducks here, and what are we doing to save ourselves?"
"We're safe as long as we stay behind the salt lines, okay?" Sam tells them. "We'll figure something out."
"I don't know," Sam yells. He hasn't thought that far ahead; his main problem has been trying to keep everyone alive until they somehow get saved, but he doesn't think Mom and Dad will know to look here. He's pretty sure Miss Missouri never mentioned Cold Oak, and he knows neither the other him or Dean did.
"Everyone need to just calm down, okay," Andy says. "We're not gonna die. I mean, come on, as long as we stay together and no one has sex, the official scary movie rulebook says we'll all live."
Andy might be a little on the crazy side, but he has a point, in a way. He's also reminding Sam of Dean right now, and not only is it helping him to calm down, but it's making him less worried because Dean always finds Sam, always.
"Andy's right," Sam says. "Not about the rulebook, because there isn't one. But we're gonna be fine." He's not entirely sure that he believes it himself, but the best thing to do when you aren't sure about something is to lie though your fucking teeth and act like you know something. "Scott, you said you can do things with electricity, right?"
"I don't hurt people," he responds. It's more than a little creepy, but Sam's already figured there's something a little bit off about him. He's got this small tic that Sam remembers from one of the meds he used to take.
"That's good," Sam says. There isn't a whole lot else to say to that. "Can you do me a favor and try to zap my phone?"
"You have a phone?" Scott asks.
"Why didn't you tell us you had a phone?" Cory asks.
"Because it's dead," Sam tells them all. "It hasn't worked since we got here. I'm hoping that maybe Scott can give it some juice."
"That doesn't explain why you didn't tell us before," Cory complains again.
"What could we have done earlier?" Sam asks. "Call someone and say, 'hi, I don't know where we are, but please, come find us?' Yeah, that would've been helpful."
"Hey, hey, no need for sarcasm, guys," Andy says, pressing Sam back. Sam hadn't actually realized he had stalked over to Cory, but it's not like looming over a blind kid is gonna do anything anyway. "Come on," he says. "We're in this together. All for one and one for all, right?"
Sam doesn't answer; he just turns around and goes back to Scott, crouching down to get on a level with him where he's sitting on the floor. "Do you think you can try it, Scott?"
"I blow things up," Scott admits quietly. "I don't try to, but I touch things, and they get too much, and they explode, and sometimes there's fire."
Oh, goody. Fire. That's not a bad thing in a giant town made of kindling. Sam resists the urge to scrub his hands across his face, because telegraphing his frustration right now is the last thing they need. "How often is there fire?"
"A lot. They keep moving me because of them. I don't mean to do it, though. I don't want to listen to him, but I can't help it."
There's that creepy feeling again. "Okay. That's okay, Scott, you don't have to try. We'll figure out something else. Does anyone have any ideas?"
"Uh," Andy stutters. "I—I only did it once, and it took about a week, but I made this guy watch gay porn, like, twenty-four seven once."
"Oh, great," Ava says. "So we're trapped in a ghost town, being hunted and killed, and now we got a gay rapist with us. That's just great. Can I wake up yet?"
"No," Andy yells. "No! I'm not—in his head! I made him watch it in his head! I didn't actually—I'm not a rapist!"
Sam pinches the bridge of his nose. "How does this help?"
"It was in his head," Andy says again. "I thought real hard, and instead of making him do something, I made it so he got stuck watching gay porn every time he closed his eyes. The guy was an ass! He deserved it!"
Sam connects the dots and thinks maybe he's pieced it together. "You sent him a vision?" he asks. "Did it hurt?"
"I thought my head was gonna explode," Andy admits.
"No, not you," Sam clarifies. "Him. Did it hurt the guy you sent it to?"
"Oh. I don't know. I don't think it did. It took forever, though."
"Well, you're just gonna have to try really damn hard then, aren't you?
"Uh, okay," Andy says. "Who am I sending it to?"
"My brother," Sam says. There's no question on that one; it wouldn't be anyone else but Dean. "If we let Dean know, everything will be fine."
"What the hell is your brother going to do?" Lily asks.
"My family, we hunt these things. If he knows we're in Cold Oak, him and my parents will be here within a day—two days, tops."
"Your family hunts demons?" Max asks from his spot in the corner.
"Since before I was even born. I promise you guys, if we let my brother know, we'll get out of this alive." Sam knows he shouldn't be making promises he might not be able to keep, but he needs them to believe him on this.
"I need to know where I'm sending it. Do you have anything Dean touched?" Andy asks him.
Sam has to think for a moment because the first five things he thinks of are not really things he wants Andy touching, rapist or no rapist. He finally fishes out his wallet and hands over the condom Dean makes sure he always has with him.
"Dude," Andy says.
"What?" Sam asks. It's not that weird. It's not.
"I do not remember your brother being this cool when I knew him."
"We were twelve."
"Still," Andy says.
He's pacing around the table, bouncing ideas back and forth with Mom and Dad and Pastor Jim, and then all of a sudden, he gets this sharp, stabbing feeling right behind his eye and has just enough time to throw his weight to the left so he doesn't kiss the table.
It's a jumble of sounds—noises—some of them voices, sometimes screaming, sometimes talking. There are pictures, too—still shots, moving, stills that start to move and warble and shiver, twisting and turning, distorted.
Sam's voice, screaming something. A girl with blonde hair, a bell, a ghost, a short kid with sunken eyes, trees, forests and forests of trees, a ripped-up body that used to be a person, more words, distorted and slurred—a giant rush of things; swimming and swirling and rushing together, and then—
And then he's gasping, flat-out on the kitchen floor, his shirt wet with what he's sure is holy water and Mom holding his head still, like when Sam would come out of the seizures he didn't have. His head is pounding, and he has to close his eyes because the fucking light is so damned bright. Dean's pretty sure he might have pissed himself.
"Cold Oak," he croaks out, his voice scratchy as it makes its way out of his throat. "Sam's in Cold Oak. South Dakota. We need to go now."
There's nothing to do but wait now. They don't even know if the message got through, but Andy swooned like Dean always teases Sam about. His eye rolled back, and his whole body listed to the side like in really, really old movies.
They decide to wait a while before trying that again.
It gets kind of boring. Sam, for one, is glad for the boredom and will take that over running for his fucking life any day. But not everyone has had Sam's life, and he's pretty sure no one else here had parents who would make them do suicides or dig up the backyard if they claimed boredom.
"Hey, Sam, truth or dare?" Andy asks.
"What do you mean, no?" Andy asks. "That's not an option."
"I'm not a ten-year-old at a slumber party," Sam says. "I'm not playing truth or dare."
"Oh, come on, we're in high school. We're supposed to play stupid little kid games and ruin them forever," Andy says.
"I'm not in high school, and I don't want to," Sam says.
"No, I skipped grades."
"See? It's almost like you're playing now!" Andy tells him.
"What, exactly, is the point of truth or dare here?" Cory asks. He's been quiet lately and doesn't seem to be dealing as well as the others. "I mean, no one's fucking leaving this room now except to piss, so what kind of dares can you do?"
He's got a point. Sam's not sure if that means Cory is more well-adjusted to the real world or not, but he can't help but find it a little funny in a weird way that the kid who willfully mutilated his own face is the most normal one in the room.
"Well, we could always play spin the bottle," Andy suggests. "But I don't actually have a bottle, so that might be kind of difficult."
"Even if I weren't a lesbian," Lily says, "which I am, I think it might be a bad idea to play spin the bottle with someone who kills people when she touches them. Call me crazy or something, but I kind of thought the point was that we all wanted to actually make it through this shit-fest alive."
"It might not work on us," Andy says suddenly.
"What? God, are you really that horny that you're willing to die just to get some kind of action?"
"No!" Andy yells. "I'm not—why does everyone think I'm desperate? I've had sex before, you know."
"We could tell by how amazed you were at Sam's condom," Jake says dryly.
"I was amazed that he didn't have to hide it," Andy protests. "And I'm not kidding; it might not work! Ansem's didn't—" Andy stops himself, eyes wide and cutting to Sam.
"He's right," Sam says, saving him. "Our powers don't work on each other, so you might not kill us."
"Who's Ansem?" Ava asks.
"He's—uh. My brother?"
"You have a brother with powers, too, and he's not here?" Max asks. "Isn't that something that's kind of relevant?"
"Not really," Andy says. "He kind of, uh. Kind of." Andy stops.
"He went nuts and tried to kill me and all of Andy's other friends," Sam says.
"Yeah, I was gonna go with 'he died,'" Andy says. "But that works, too. I guess."
There's a long, powerful silence as everyone else processes that.
May finally breaks the silence. "As scary as that sounds, I don't exactly see how this is relevant to the topic at hand."
"Ansem couldn't make me kill myself," Sam clarifies. "He had to physically attack me because he couldn't talk me into doing it myself."
"Well, that's just great for you, but people's hearts stop beating when I touch them. I'm not going to possibly kill somebody on the off chance that—no, don't!" she yells, flailing away and shoving at Scott's chest, trying to stop him.
She freezes mid-shove when he lays his hand on her face. He doesn't cup her jaw, touch her gently, or anything a normal person might do while attempting to commit suicide-by-psychic. Scott just presses his hand to her face like it's a foggy window pane for him to balance against while looking out.
There's a beat. One second, two, three. Nothing happens.
"What is wrong with you?" Lily finally asks. Sam can't help but notice that she hasn't pulled away or leaned back.
"I'm a paranoid schizophrenic with delusions of grandeur and impulse control issues," Scott says. "That last one might be right."
They're halfway out of a gas station on the outskirts of Cheyenne that seems to be literally nameless when the third vision hits. Dean takes a step, and John's done this with Sam enough times to know what's coming before it happens.
John gets one of Dean's arms hauled up over his shoulders and his arm around Dean's waist, so it doesn't matter when Dean's foot hits the ground sideways and his entire body gives way. John just hitches him up a little higher and half drags, half carries Dean out to the truck.
Dean's almost back by the time John gets him buckled in—if another one hits, he doesn't want him falling out—so John makes sure to wait until Dean's fully conscious again before moving.
"'s'th' same," Dean slurs drunkenly. John doesn't know if this is worse for Dean than for Sam because Dean's not used to it or because they're hitting with such a close frequency.
"It's okay, Dean," John says, wiping at some of the sweat on Dean's forehead. "Don't worry about it. Relax, I just need to fill up the tank, okay?"
Dean nods and then nods off, head drooping.
John heads back into the store for water—the five Mountain Dews that Dean grabbed are not going to be good for the pounding headache Dean's going to have in about half an hour. After that, he finishes filling the tank and gets back on the road. Mary should be halfway to Manning by now, and with any luck, they'll be timed just right to hit Cold Oak at the same time.
John really hopes luck is on their side for once.
Even Sam is starting to get antsy.
Cory isn't back yet, and they've been standing there for almost five minutes, trapped in their "economically small" salt circle. Sam gets trying to save supplies, but they have six giant sacks of rock salt. If they run out before Mom and Dad get there, there probably won't be anyone alive to worry about it, and there hasn't been so much as a snapped twig.
"It's getting dark," Max starts. "What if he can't find his way back?"
"He didn't just go blind last night," Lily snaps. "I'm sure he's mastered all the tricky things like walking in a straight line and remembering when he turns."
"Come on, guys," Andy starts. "Can't we all just get along?"
"Oh, my God," Ava says. "If you quote another movie, I will kill you myself."
"Baby," Jake coaxes, "I think maybe you might wanna calm down a little."
"I'm sorry, I've been kidnapped. I'm having a bad week."
"I got kidnapped, too," May says. "But you don't see me being a raging bitch to everyone."
"Excuse me?" Ava asks shrilly.
"I'm gonna go find Cory," Sam cuts in, hefting up his poker and darting out of the circle.
"Don't leave me here!" Andy calls out. "Let me come with!"
"Can't chance it!" Sam hollers back. "Make sure no one punches anyone out of the circle." It's cheap, and it's cowardly, but so are the rest of the guys, apparently. Besides, he only knows how to break up fights by hitting people, and if he knocks out someone a foot and a half shorter than him, male or female, his mother will beat him stupid when she rescues them.
It doesn't take long to find Cory—a straight line, about forty yards out, and there he is. His neck is snapped, bent at an unnatural angle, and his sunglasses are knocked off, showing the thick, black stitching holding his eyelids shut. It looks like he tripped, like he just didn't notice the downed tree limb.
Sam doesn't buy it. Cory popped in without a stick to guide with and never once so much as stepped on someone's heels. He hasn't tripped or bumped into anything, and it just doesn't feel right.
Sam heads back to the circle. No one is dead, bleeding, or bruised, and the salt is undisturbed, so at least one thing is going right today. "Come on," he tells them. "It's almost dark; we want to be back inside before our level of visibility decreases."
"Wait," Ava asks. "Where's Cory?"
Sam ignores her. "We need to get back inside now. If it gets so dark we can't see, we're all dead. Let's go."
"I don't trust you," Ava tells him.
"I feel wounded deep down in my soul," Sam says back.
"Oh, you're hilarious," she says. "I don't think it's some demon killing everyone—"
"That's because it's ghosts," Sam interrupts.
"I think you're doing it," she says.
"Oh, don't beat around the bush, Ava. Tell me how you really feel."
"You wanna know how I really feel?" she asks him, laughing humorlessly. "I really feel like I don't know you from Adam except for, like, two weeks when we were eight. I mean, who knows how long you were here before you unlocked me from the shed, huh? Who knows what happened before that?"
"I can tell you exactly what happened before that," he says. "I was getting food with my brother, then I was waking up here, and then I walked around and found you."
"And we're just supposed to take your word for it?" she asks. "How do we know you didn't kill that guy on the barn?"
"The church," Sam corrects her. He doesn't mean to; he just can't help it.
"Wow, way to completely focus on the wrong part. I think that you killed everyone."
"Well, I think that you're not very smart," Sam says. "We're all entitled to our own opinions."
"This is serious," she insists.
"No, it isn't," he argues. "I didn't kill anybody, so there's no reason to take this seriously."
"Then why do you keep finding everyone, huh? You found the screaming girl, and Dinah, and now Cory? I am just super suspicious that you 'just happen' to know about 'demons' and 'ghosts' and just happen to have someone else out there who knows about it, too," Ava says. "I think it's you doing this, and I think you have someone on the outside who drugged us all and brought us here."
"So, what?" Sam asks. "That ghost that almost gutted you and your boyfriend was just Old Man Henry in a rubber mask?"
"This could just be some sick game," Ava spits out. "We put up the salt lines, and people keep dying."
"They're dying outside of the salt lines!" Sam yells.
"I'm not staying here with you," she tells him. "I want to live to see seventeen, okay? If you stay, I'm gone."
Sam pinches the bridge of his nose and sighs loudly. It's just not worth the fucking trouble to him. He really doesn't care if they think he's a bad guy or not; he just wants to keep them alive a little while longer. Then they can all never see each other again, and Sam's life will be awesome.
"Fine," Sam sighs. "Fine. You know what? You stay here, I'll leave. I'm taking a bag of salt and an iron bar. Just humor me and do me one favor, please? Don't fucking go outside of the salt lines, okay? Don't die just because you're all being paranoid."
"Paranoid? We're being paranoid? We keep dying."
"Fucking listen for once and stay inside the lines, and you won't die."
Sam sleeps in front of the door on the porch. He refuses to let them all die out of pettiness.
Mary's face feels like it's on fire. She can feel the red-hot sting from the cut near her eye and the throbbing of her jaw, where she caught an elbow and several punches.
His ribs hurt, her back is sore, and she thinks she broke a knuckle when she missed and hit the safe, but she got what she went for, and she's only twenty minutes behind her boys. It'd be shorter if the fucking Impala didn't guzzle gas like a frat boy during pledge week.
She stomps on the gas, eyes on the clock. She loves her husband and her son, but patience has never been something either of them has ever been fond of, and if they walk in there without her, they won't make it out alive.
She's only twenty minutes behind. She can do this.
Sam wakes to screaming. It's coming from the other side of the door, where everyone else is. Sam scrambles up, careful not to kick through his own salt circle, and then—
Fuck. Ava's dead. Inside the salt lines. And not just dead, but dead with an iron bar shoved in her mouth, through the top of her head—brain matter pushed out, bits of grey and red gore clinging to the metal.
There's panic. Screaming and yelling coming from all ends of the room, and Jake, bent over her and sobbing with wet, painful sounds. Sam's heart breaks a little bit for him.
Sam's being shoved suddenly—and surprisingly hard—by Max. Max is screaming at Sam, yelling that this is all Sam's fault and that he did this. His face is pale with red blotches, and he's shaking hard. He looks terrified and angry, but his eyes—his eyes are steady and clear, meeting Sam's dead-on. They aren't even red.
"He killed her!" Max is screaming. "He did it! She was right, and he killed her because of it!"
"I didn't!" Sam yells back. "I slept in front of the door! The salt's still out there—you can look!"
"You're a liar!" Max screams, faking rage better than Sam's seen in a long, long time.
"Why would I kill her now, huh?" he asks. "Why kill her after she accuses me of being a killer? How could that possibly benefit me in any way? And, besides, no one heard the door open, did they? That's right, you didn't."
"We don't know you really have visions, do we? Maybe you can, can, can cancel out noise or something! Or teleport! Maybe that's how you killed her without us hearing anything!"
"No, no, if he could do that, why would he let that girl scream and wake us all up?" Lily asks.
"You guys aren't listening!" Andy screams. There's a hysterical edge to his voice, and his eyes are wide, full of genuine panic. "Someone killed her, and Sam just said that no one came into the room!"
Max turns instantly on Scott. He whirls, pointing a finger at him, and every single alarm in Sam's head is going off. Nothing about any of Max's reactions are reading right. It's all drama and theatrics, like someone acting or mimicking a scene from a movie.
He's saying something about how Scott has been glued to Sam's side, and Sam just knows, he fucking knows deep in his gut, that it's Max, and he has to get Max out now before he kills the others.
Max has his back to Sam, and Sam takes the open; he charges Max and makes him stumble, then puts him in a headlock before he can right himself again. Sam's dragging him out the door, ignoring the punches and yelling as best as he can, and he knows he has to do this fast because the others are no doubt going to take this as proof that Ava and Max were right, and—
Sam stumbles, pain ringing through his head, doubling his vision. "You killed them!" he roars at Max. "You did it, you fucking murdered them!"
"It was you!" Max screams back.
Sam doubles over, the wind knocked out of him. He can't figure out why at first because Max is a good four feet away from him, but the poker Sam clung to in his sleep last night comes swinging at his face like a baseball bat with no one holding it, and he ducks, his arms going up to protect his head. There's more pain, and Sam can't hear anything past the wet thumps and cracks his body makes against the iron.
His mouth tastes like blood, and he can't see straight. He tries to grab the poker and misses, tries again and gets what he's sure is a broken hand for good measure. "You strung her up," he croaks out. "You did it, you killed her, and you killed the others!" he screams.
"Why are you still talking?" Max roars. "You're being beaten to death—the least you could do is fucking shut up!"
Sam's on his knees, trying with the last, smallest bit of his power to keep himself from going flat, because he knows once that happens there is no chance of recovery.
Max is staring down at him, sneering. Sam doesn't know when it happened, but the poker is in Max's hands now, clutched tight at the bottom like a kid who never got taught how to swing a bat. Sam pulls back. There's someone else there—a guy about Dean's age, standing right over Max's shoulder. He has dark, dark hair and eyes so blue that they almost look fake.
The man reaches a hand around in front of Max and snaps his neck with a sudden jerk, and Max falls limp to the ground.
Then he helps Sam up to his feet, keeps his hands on Sam's shoulders as Sam sways in place. Sam tries to talk and spits out a mouthful of blood first, not as much as the last one.
The guy cocks his head, and a wide grin breaks out on his face. "Long time, no see, Sammy. You sure have grown big and strong since the last time I saw you. How is that mother of yours?
Sam tries to talk, but he slurs, his tongue and mouth not listening to what his brain wants them to do. "Who th' hell 're you?"
The man's eyes flash yellow, and holy shit, it's him, it's him, it's him. "You don't remember me? How disappointing."
"Wh't—" Sam spits out more blood and wipes his mouth on his sleeve. Everything's still spinning, but he focuses all of his effort on talking. "What do you want?"
"You, Sammy. I thought that was clear. Aren't you supposed to be the smart one?"
"Sorry if I'm a little fuzzy," Sam rasps out. "Brain hemorrhages will do that to you."
The man—the demon—rolls his piss-yellow eyes and makes a face. "Don't be such a drama queen; it's just a skull fracture. Come on, do you really think I'd save you from Maxi the wonder dog just to let you die like that?"
"Yes," Sam answers honestly.
"Aw, come on, kiddo." He drops his hands—or the hands of the poor fuck he's possessing— and circles Sam. "You're my favorite. I could never let you die in such an undignified way."
"I'm not doing it," Sam says. "Whatever you want me to do, I'm not doing it."
The demon ignores him, nudging at Max's body with a pristine black dress shoe. "You know, he was really supposed to knock out all these other clowns before he got to you. It's a pity he doesn't have that cool head for strategy you do, Sammy. Maybe you can take care of that detail?"
"I told you, I'm not doing it."
The demon steps closer, invading Sam's personal space and leaning close enough that Sam can smell the mouthwash his meatsuit used. "But you're such a natural born leader, Sammy. What does it really matter who you're leading?"
"It matters to me," Sam grits out.
"Yeah, well, I've got a secret for you, junior." He leans in even closer, stubble brushing against Sam's cheek as he whispers, "You don't have a choice."
The next thing Sam hears is a deep voice he knows well saying, "Back away from my son."
The first thing John sees out of the clearing is Sam. He's standing—alive and whole—and there's a man standing too close to him. He knows what it is. He can't explain how; he just does.
"Back away from my son," he repeats.
It does, arms out and smarmy smile on his face. "Johnny-boy," it cheers. "My, look how you've grown. Why don't you come give us a little hug?"
He raises his gun and points it at the thing. "I'd rather cut out my own tongue."
"That can be arranged." It shakes its head. "John, John, John. Haven't you learned anything? You couldn't get rid of me that easily the first time, and you can't get rid of me that easily now. I don't see why you Winchesters have to fight everything every little step of the way. It's just annoying."
"Yeah, well, what can I say? I'm partial to my wife."
"And speaking of your scintillating wife, where is she?"
"I'm right here, you son of a bitch." Mary's standing behind it, gun cocked and aimed, and she pulls the Colt's trigger.
Lightning sparks through the demon's body when the bullet hits, and it jolts, once, twice, and falls in a heap, lifeless blue eyes staring up at the stars.
"Is it over?" Dean asks. "Did we get him?"
"Yeah," John says. "Yeah, Deano. I think it's over now."
"I wanna go home now," Sam says.
After an hour of walking, they finally make it back to the car.
The tall, skinny kid is pretty much catatonic. The two girls are clinging together like they'll die if they separate. The last two guys seem to be doing a little better, if not by much. The one in the dirty-ass bathrobe seems to have a hand superglued to Sam's shirt—at least, that's the best Dean can guess because he hasn't let go since they started on this trek.
Sam only manages to detangle him to get everyone into the Impala. It's a tight fit, but the five of them just manage to cram into the back seat.
Mom and Dad are checking out Sam's wounds; there are penlights and holy water and those icy-gel packs Sam hates so much.
"So what do we do now?" Dean asks. This has been his whole life, and honestly, he doesn't think he really wants to stop. Yeah, he's fucking happy as hell not to have to worry about the yellow-eyed bastard anymore, but he kinda likes getting to be the hero all the time.
Mom and Dad are doing that disgusting thing they do where they smile at each other all sappy and gooey and practically talk to each other in their heads.
"The same thing we do every night, Dean," Mom says. "Try to save the world."