The Mudhouse Mansion
By Mary, the Contrary One
Wow, thanks for clicking on my story!
Longtime reader, first time writer (well, it's been awhile). I was on a huge Supernatural high and horribly craving some fic, so I just cranked this baby out. Man, writing is harder than you think!
Before you begin reading, I have to warn you about a couple of things:
1) This was a bit of an indulgence for me. No, there's no Mary Sue, but I did set it in my home town (maybe that's a Mary-Sueville?). I loved the Winchester boys so much, I decided to send them to a local, popular haunt, just so I could feel cool. If you already know about the Mudhouse Mansion, wow, awesome! Where do you live? If not, you can research it - but please wait until after you read my fanfic if you want to be surprised. Also, I've been on the grounds of the place, but never inside - and it's been awhile, so details are shaky anyway.
2) My story is loosely based on local folklore, which itself is almost definitely false. I am not implying anything about the house, and I completely made up every event in this fic.
3) This story has not been beta'ed! And I'm a sloppy writer. I do hope to revise it…but just that sounds like something I would say.
4) Don't read if you know anything about building structures, because you will be annoyed with my ignorance. In many cases, I took things that have perfectly logical explanations and made them sound stranger than they are.
Please check out my homepage link in my profile to see photos of the Mudhouse Mansion. If you'd like, open it in a new window so you can switch back and forth between the story and the pictures to set the mood.
Disclaimer: Supernatural does not belong to me. The folks at the WB own it.
Rating: Teen, for language and disturbing imagery
To enhance your reading experience, please turn off all lights.
The Chevy Impala rumbled down the barely-paved country road, bouncing its two occupants whenever it hit one of the ruts or potholes that pocketed the ground. They had never been on this route, had never even been closer than 45 miles away, but the road was all too familiar. In their twenty years of hunting, they'd traveled down many others that were just like it. Two lanes twisting through hills or plains, fields or wilderness, but almost always remote, almost always lonely. This one was of the hilly field variety, lined on either side with bushes and run-down fences that bordered wide expanses of land. Just another country road.
As soon as Dean had turned onto it, though, he knew instantly that this road would be one of the few that will actually lead to something. He'd never really believed in that "sensitive to the spirits" crap, but deep in his gut, he felt that familiar, uneasy stirring. No, this one would not disappoint.
"Want another burger?" Sam asked him, staring into the white bag as his face twisted in disgusted.
All right, so maybe that feeling in his stomach came from those six White Castles.
"Nah, man, I'm fine," he told his brother. He gripped the wheel as his eyes shifted from side to side.
On the left side of the road were scattered homes, modest places built within the past thirty years. They sat back from the road, half-hidden by bare trees and deadened bushes. To his right lay empty fields, gently rising and falling without pattern. At one time they were probably filled with crops, but now they lay barren under a straggly layer of brown grass covered with a fine dusting of snow.
And even though the road was called Mudhouse, Dean was disappointed he didn't see a single house made from mud, or even clay.
Beside him, Sam stared out the passenger window, a look of disinterest on his face. "Aw, come on now," Dean drawled. "Don't pout."
Sam's head did a slow roll from the window as he looked at his brother through the corner of his narrowed eye. "Yeah, well I'm sorry that a big waste of our time makes me feel less than giddy." His head rolled back to the window, his face now more tense.
Dean gritted his teeth. So their last three stops turned out to be nothing more than overactive imaginations - or in the last case, a group of college students who had too little to do and too much to drink. But in their line of work, wild goose chases and false leads were all too common. Last year, for example, Dean had gone five months before he found a legitimate case of paranormal activity. And Sam was getting pissy over a lousy two and a half weeks?
"Look. One of these cases will lead us to Dad," Dean explained as he had countless times before. "We gotta check out each one until we find the right one, and until…" But he trailed off, knowing Sam wasn't listening, knowing that he himself wasn't paying attention to what he was saying.
Suddenly Sam straightened up, his eyes fixed on something outside the passenger window. Surprised, Dean swept his gaze towards the fields on the right. Almost immediately he saw it, and he felt an irrational bolt of irritation that Sam spotted it first.
The house sat at the top of a low, wide hill, overlooking the expanse of fields they were passing. Instead of facing the road like most houses, this one boldly stared at Dean and Sam head on as their car rambled towards it.
The house itself was a ghost, just a shell left over from past glory. Even from the distance, Dean could tell it was abandoned. Its tall, gaping windows were black and lifeless, its red brick gray with dirt and years.
Sam let out a low whistle. "Damn. If that house isn't haunted already, it should hunt down its own ghost just so all that spookiness doesn't go to waste."
Dean nodded wordlessly, switching his gaze back and forth from the road to the house. Just as they were about even with the structure, he found an overgrown lane that had served as a driveway of sorts at one time. He pulled the car into the mouth, unable to go any farther because of a rusted metal gate that barred the way. The house, with its side now facing the them, could barely be seen from their vantage point. It sat far back from the road and was partially hidden by a clump of trees that stood midway beside the barely-there driveway.
"All right, let's tear this bitch up," Dean announced, grabbing his pack from the backseat before hopping out of the Chevy. Sam followed suit, coming around to meet Dean at the back of the car. "We should keep it light for now," Dean said, rifling through the stuff hidden inside the trunk. "It's still daylight, and I don't want to explain the katana to the local police." He straightened up, holding a hammer and a short dagger. Sam didn't look surprised when Dean handed him the hammer, keeping the blade for himself.
Dean slammed the trunk lid shut and the two of them headed for the house. The gate, which consisted of two metal poles stretched across the width of driveway with a faded "No Trespassing" sign hanging from the top one, provided no real challenge, and the two boys were quickly on the other side, trudging through the overgrown grass.
It was a short hike as they stomped past rocks, thorny branches, and the occasional animal-dug hole. The cold, early December air stung Dean's nose and snaked its way into his lungs with each breath, yet his armpits grew sticky under his coat and shirt as they continued their way up the slow incline. The distance was longer than it looked.
The driveway suddenly faded into an open yard, and the two boys paused to gaze up at the three-story brick house, now in full view. All of the glass was missing from the windows, giving the place the feel of an empty, hungry void. The woodwork, especially the front porch, looked rotted. Though the websites dubbed it the "Mudhouse Mansion", it wasn't overly huge - but even so, it held the promise of many rooms and dark corners to explore.
The house did not stand alone. Dean took a quick survey of the property, his heart pounding at the possibilities. They were walking on the grounds of an estate, complete with several old outbuildings, all which beckoned them. In fact, the building they stood closest to wasn't even the mansion, but another large brick structure a mere couple of steps to their left. At two stories tall, it was the size of a small house, though as far as Dean could tell, it looked more like a workshop or storage building.
Behind the house stood another, smaller building, one that made Dean think of a tiny, one-room schoolhouse. There was also yet another brick structure - storeroom maybe - also in the back. Way off at the far side of the house was an old wooden barn. One wall and some of the roof looked partially collapsed. Dean also saw the edge of another building the house blocked from view.
"So, this is where Bloody Mary originated," Sam remarked, frowning thoughtfully. His tone faked interest, but Dean knew him well enough to recognize his sarcasm.
"Of course not," Dean replied easily. "But that doesn't mean she's not here."
"Yeah, well I wish we had more to go on than a couple of websites," Sam threw back. "I trust them less than those drunk college kids."
"Aw, you miss your friends, Sammy?" Dean knew he probably shouldn't have said that. Sam was still touchy when it came to his happy life as a happy little college student, and Dean really didn't want to remind him how he had come along and ripped him away - perhaps even getting his girlfriend killed in the process.
So Dean accepted the glare Sam shot his way, knowing he deserved it. He shook his shoulders and sighed. "All right, let's see what's here," he said, stepping towards the house.
Sam hung back, so Dean decided to relent a little. "If we don't find anything right away, we'll go on our merry way, okay?" he said as a peace offering. "Be outta here by tomorrow." Normally, he'd spend up to a week investigating a place - his father had always insisted - just to make sure it wasn't haunted/possessed/cursed. But now he had his less-than-patient brother with him.
And frankly, Dean was anxious to find his father too.
"And then what? We'll travel through another three states just to get to the next Bloody Mary legend?"
Dean shrugged, slowing in his tracks. "Unless Dad gives us another hint," he said over his shoulder.
Though he didn't show it - after all, getting anything done would be hard if they were both bitching - he was frustrated too. Their father had only left a two-word phrase scribbled on a napkin, the only thing they had to go on. Dean had found it sticking out of Miller Genuine Draft sign - a hiding spot their dad had used before - at a rundown bar after their last successful hunt. All he had written was "Bloody Mary" and nothing more, least of all an actual location.
Hell, he was probably drunk when he wrote it.
Sam groaned as he eyed the mansion. "Something might be here," he admitted. "But I doubt it's Bloody Mary. I bet there isn't a single mirror left inside that thing."
"Won't know until we look." Sam nodded reluctantly, pulling out the hammer as he caught up with Dean.
As the two brothers walked towards the house, Dean raked his eyes over the windows, looking for a way in. The ones on ground level were boarded up; even the doorway, missing its door, was blocked by a large piece of wood. The hammer would definitely come in handy.
Dean suddenly stumbled over something small and hard on the ground. Fortunately he caught his balance before he could make an ass of himself by falling. Frowning, he looked at his feet and kicked at the thing he tripped on. When it moved, he reached down and picked it up.
"Damn, that place is falling apart," Sam remarked as he looked at the thing in Dean's hand.
It was a broken piece of metal twisted into a delicate design. Dean looked up and saw that it matched the metalwork that crowned the porch roofs in patches. He frowned. They were still a good hundred feet from the house. Even though the piece fit in his hand, it still had a heavy weight to it. It was small, only a fraction the size of the length missing from the roofs. Could a strong wind knock down a iron molding piece by piece? Dean ran his fingers along the sides, feeling the rough spots where the metal broke off.
Sam searched through the grass with his feet, and he pulled up another small fragment about ten feet away. He held it up so Dean could see before he tossed it back on the ground. Dean dropped his down in front of him, where it landed with a thud against the frozen ground.
Once they reached the house, they found a window around the back that had a loose board hammered to the frame. Unlike the other windows, this one was boarded from the outside, which probably meant it was the entrance most thrill-seekers and ghost hunters used. Sam took the flat end of the hammer head and with a few strong jerks, managed to pry the board from the window. Behind the board, the glass was gone, just like the others.
Dean crawled through first, stepping aside to let Sam in behind him. Inside, the room was trashed, and he had to be careful where he stepped. The lighting was dim, coming only from the cracks and holes in the floorboards above, and the sunlight that seeped around the edges of the window boards, much like a solar eclipse. Fortunately, it was just enough light to see.
This place definitely had its share of visitors, and at least some of those decided to vandalize the walls and furniture. The floor was covered with debris, and any furniture that had been left behind - and by the looks of it, most of it was - was torn to shreds.
"Okay, we've got a nice place-" When Sam snorted at that, Dean shrugged in agreement and went on, "-with lots of land, and an abandoned house filled with personal belongings."
"These people didn't move," Sam concluded for him. "And whoever this place was left to wanted nothing to do with it."
"And why didn't they sell it?" Dean mused, already thinking of possible answers. Sam spoke two of those possibilities out loud.
"Because the family had something to hide," he said. "Or they tried to sell, but no one was willing to buy."
"And we gotta figure why," Dean added.
"I still don't think it's Bloody Mary," Sam said stubbornly.
Dean ignored him as he started to pick his way through the junk. Sam searched beside him, and together they explored the entire first floor. It wasn't a comfortable search - even though the boards in the windows blocked the wind, the temperature inside was just as low as it was outside. But each room was filled with enough things to distract Dean from the cold. Every room was filled with debris, and the two brothers searched through it for clues or signs.
Dean wondered briefly if looters had left anything valuable behind in the junk that littered the rooms. But of course he didn't have enough time to look.
In one room, someone had spray-painted an inverted pentagram on the wall, but there wasn't any real evidence of Satanists or any other group using the room as a meeting place. However, there were several beer bottles and cans littering the floor - obviously this was a popular hangout. But there wasn't anything to tell them what - if anything - lurked inside the home.
After they made a sweep of the first floor, they came to a wooden staircase, the kind that went up halfway, and then turned to go up the rest of the way. "Well, this must be the spot where Greg Johnston died," Sam murmured, gazing up the stairs.
"Doesn't look like a fall that would usually kill, but all it takes is headfirst landing." Sam shot a look at his brother. "It's not exactly a death that screams paranormal."
"Nope. But there's also the coed with a mysterious aneurysm, that boy who disappeared, and those two suicides."
"Anything could have happened to Stevie McDougal, and that was thirty years ago. Just because he lived on the same street, there's no proof he wandered over here. And, you know, if I kill myself a week from now, I somehow doubt this house will have anything to do with it."
Dean thought about saying something but didn't, feeling too uncomfortable. Sam continued. "If anything, this place is cursed, and we don't have time to figure out how to reverse it." Cocking his head, Dean shot him a dark look, and Sam threw up his arms. "Hey, it's not my fault they decided to trespass onto a haunted property."
"And I thought you were the sensitive one," Dean remarked dryly. He turned to the staircase and tested the first step. When it proved to hold his weight, he started making his way up. He could hear Sam following behind him, the stairs creaking with each step.
The second floor was much like the first, only with bedrooms. However, the air was much easier to breathe than it had been the enclosed level below. A fresh breeze blew in from the open windows, so Dean didn't have to inhale a noseful of old, stale dust with each breath. Not only that, but the windows also allowed the late afternoon sun in, so seeing was easier as well.
Despite these luxuries, Dean and Sam didn't find much to hold their interest on the second floor. More trashed furniture, more litter, and no signs of any horrible past that may or may not have happened.
Dean rubbed his temples. He remembered the articles and online rumors they found concerning the modern-day deaths connected to the Mudhouse Mansion, but his mind drew blanks whenever he tried to remember the story of the original family - or even if there were more than one. Details from previous cases - from previous horrors and evil deeds - blended together so that Dean couldn't remember which story this house held. "Okay," he said, giving up. "Now what do we know for certain about the history here?"
"Nothing," Sam replied, effectively explaining why Dean couldn't remember. "No one seems to know anything. In fact, no one can even remember how long it's been abandoned. They certainly don't have any basis for a haunting claim, except that it looks haunted."
Dean swept his gaze over the walls of the last bedroom on the floor. "Great. So even if this place is haunted, no one knows why."
"Exactly. Then somebody starts a Bloody Mary rumor, just to have something scary to say. The next thing you know, teens are trampling around this rundown hole, and one of them trips down the stairs, just fueling the rumors."
Dean sighed. Sam did have a point, and as he mentioned earlier, they had yet to find any mirrors in the house. Even if the place were haunted, right now they were looking for a Bloody Mary.
Sam must have seen Dean's torn expression. "Look, we can always come back," he bargained, "After we track down Dad."
Dean looked around the room, staring at the lifeless furniture that had at one time held warm bodies, and he couldn't help but wonder what they had witnessed. He thought he could feel it in the air, the energy, the desolation, from something long ago. The place just didn't feel right.
But they hadn't actually found anything.
"All right," he finally agreed. "Let's just check the third floor, and then we can-"
Something thumped on the floor above them.
"What the hell?" Dean muttered, looking up at the ceiling. It shook as another thump sounded above.
Dean and Sam barely glanced at each other as they immediately raced for the stairs.
Sam, with his longer legs, reached the stairs first, but Dean was right behind him as they pounded up the steps. As soon as they reached the third floor, they both stopped in their tracks as a thick stench hit their noses.
"Oh, God," Sam choked, covering his nose and mouth with his hand. "What is that?"
The windows were open, but Dean felt none of that fresh air they enjoyed on the second floor. Instead, the air up there lay thick and heavy, clinging to their faces. The air even seemed darker, but he couldn't tell if it was the result of a setting sun or something else. But that wasn't the reason he wanted to sink to his knees and throw up.
It smelled like death.
"Ugh," Dean ground out. He's never gotten used to that smell, and judging by Sam's reaction, he hadn't either.
"You think there's a physical source?" Sam asked.
Dean shook his head in answer. "But we'll find out while we catch whatever's up here."
They quickly searched the rooms - most of them bedrooms - but no matter where they were, the smell didn't grow stronger, and to their chagrin, it certainly didn't get any weaker. They could not find anything to explain the smell - though they did find plenty of animal droppings, which only added to the sickening stench.
Nor could they find any sign of whatever had made the thumps they heard. Dean thrummed with irritated adrenalin, spinning around in the last room. "C'mon, show yourself, you son of a-"
A loud bang shook the house.
"The second floor," Sam remarked, and instantly they were at the stairs again, this time racing down to the floor below.
Once again they were greeted with the same decaying smell, a stench that definitely hadn't been there moments before. The two brothers split as they ran through the rooms again, but other than the smell, Dean found nothing had changed since their last search. As they came together again, they shook their heads negative. Neither had seen anything.
Right then, another bang sounded, this time from the other side of the house. Just as they were about to run to check it out, another bang from somewhere else stopped them in their tracks. They paused, stilling their breath as they trained their ears for other noises. Another bang, two rooms down.
And then another bang, this time from the bedroom right next to them. "It's coming closer-" Sam hissed
His last word was clipped when the door to the room they stood in slammed shut.
When nothing else happened, the two brothers lunged for the door. Just as Sam's hand wrapped around the handle, a scream ripped through the air.
"That sounded like a young girl," Sam gasped as the house settled back into a still silence. Dean bounced impatiently as Sam struggled with the doorknob. Finally it gave in, and Sam yanked the door open. They poured into the hallway.
But throughout the entire house, they found no sign of a young girl.