As I Lay Dying
Author: "Solus Nemo"
Summary:"It's funny, how you wish for death so many times and when it finally comes ... you've changed your mind." Oneshot, obvious time line placement.
Author's Note: 01.) This takes place during "Faith", but since I've only read a spoiler and seen a commercial tease this will only revolve around one scene. I would have written this after the episode airing, but – come on – I'm not going to wait that long. 02.) Title? The book, not the band. Give me a little more credit than that.
isn't the greatest and I apologize for that.
Disclaimer: This story never happened in real life, is completely fictional from first word to last, blah blah blah. If I did own this series or anything affiliated with it, I think I'd find more exciting things to do than cater to my fantasies.
"I could just remember how my father used to say that the reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time."
I don't believe in God, it's as simple as that. I've never been one of those sniveling lost souls just looking for some kind of explanation to things, for some kind of control over the events that happen in our lives. Maybe it's because my mother had to die the way she did that I think this way, maybe it's because I had to see the look in my father's eyes that night I'm so fucking sore to the whole idea of a higher being.
My mother was killed so violently, my father decided to up and vanish one day without telling his sons where he was going, my brother had to lose the only woman he'll ever love… and I'm suppose to look up to the sky and say, "Thank you, God, for all You've ever given me"? Look, I know I'm dumb but, I'd like the think I have one too many braincells to be in the race of that kind of stupidity. I don't want to have to stand in front of a circle group of addicts, depressionists, all around ne'er-do-wells and confess that I was pathetic enough to put my life in some fable's hands. That's all it is really, the whole concept of God and faith, a fable that's grown far too big for its pages.
We're running around like blind rats, desperate to pin the tail on anything other than ourselves because – when you come right down to it – we don't want to be the parading donkey. It's too much to flip back a few pages in the book of our life and see just where we went wrong (just which one of the small, everyday choices we make changed our life so drastically), it's too degrading to admit to the world that we're the one's who fucked up. That rolling snowball of choices, the one that will forever keep growing as long as it has the never ending powder covered mountain it's speeding down, that is what screws with our lives so much. But we just don't want to see that. For some reason it's a hell of a lot easier blaming our lost job, our destroyed home, our dead relative, our razed marriage on some guy cowering up there in the clouds. It's too painful to come to the conclusion that this strange disease, the one that's slowly eating you alive, is your own fault and that is why most turn the other cheek.
"I will die, and you can't stop it."
Short, sweet and to the point. It's not cloaked in a plead to a badly written story, not laced with tears to a long deceased character (because even if there was a God, and clearly I'm not saying there is, He'd be long since dead by now – the dude ages in the Bible, don't you know), but wrapped up neatly in a horrible good-bye. It's the truth, a terrifying truth that makes you think how it'd be running face first into all of those fuzzy lies, but you know for the kid's sake you probably shouldn't.
He's standing there at the foot of the bed, a history of pain in his wide innocent eyes, listening to the high-pitched, rusty notes of your composing death serenade. Just like you it's evident he'd much rather listen to The Bravery's "Swollen Summer" or maybe, just maybe Life of Agony's "Desire" (because after so long you really are comfortable feeling miserable and you never want to change) but that won't ever happen. The Waltz of Death will never be that smooth and light and easy, so it's going to be an instrumental that'll make your ears bleed, Bucko, and you can't talk your way out of it. But, Christ, for the kid's sake you just want to try. For the kid's sake you'll even refrain from saying that C word so snidely, you'll put every ounce of sincerity and love into it as you can.
And this disease that you have in you doesn't hold a candle to how little Sammy looks, grimacing from the death march tune steadily growing louder and stronger. Or maybe the pain's on his face because of what I told him, how when I told him I was dying it was as if I was a kid again, eating the last cookie disgustingly loud right in front of his face. Ha. Ha. He's about to cry, let it all out right in the middle of a public place, because I couldn't help but be a rude little shit and eat the last cookie in front of him – the cookie he wanted, the cookie he was suppose to get because he had been such a good little boy, but I stole the damned thing from him anyway.
"Dean," he says, gently like if he doesn't I'll fall to pieces in front of him, "you're not… you won't."
I almost pity him, how he just stands there and hopes, how he's throwing everything he has onto the alter of some painted God when he knows it won't do any good. Sammy's lost in the department store again, praying that he won't have to die on the shiny tile floor by the Vans shoes all alone. Oh! how I remember that day like it only happened an hour ago instead of fourteen years.
That K-Mart store has since closed its doors, become nothing more than an empty building filled with ghosts and dust and scraps of sales receipts, but back when I was thirteen it had been thriving. It was sometime in July, one of the hottest on record, and Dad had taken us to the store because, apart from Sammy growing out of his clothes at a rate matched only by a mutant, we needed a new hunting knife. The old weapon had been Dad's favorite, but during a hunt it somehow… disintegrated while Daddy-O was holding onto it. So, heartbroken, he had carted us off to K-Mart, the land of the blue light specials, on a day when they were literally choking on costumers. I swear, the whole of Kansas must have been there to buy ice and fans and cooling systems.
Sammy had wanted to try his luck at the little toy vending machines, thinking that that day had to have been the day he'd get what he really wanted: one of those goo lizards. It didn't matter that every other time he put a quarter into the get-a-random-crappy-prize machine and turned the knob he'd get a troll – an ugly, naked troll no bigger than the top section of my thumb which only helped along its creep-out factor by leaps and bounds. Sammy has always been determined and when he was a kid, fucking hell he was a nightmare.
Dad, knowing that all too well, had put Sammy's care in my hands and went off to get his new hunting knife (what little remnants still remaining of Lucille, that's what he had called it, still in the breast pocket of his shirt). He had told me, while I was trying to put a quarter in Sammy's all too excited sticky kid hand, that we should meet him in the clothing department since it was halfway between the vending machines and sporting goods. I was thirteen, I hadn't been paying attention. I believe my response was something like, "Yeah, okaay, Dad. God, Sammy, calm down!"
So off Dad went to buy a new Lucille (but I swear, to this day he still carries around the little nub of black plastic handle that demon didn't destroy), leaving me all alone with a highly disappointed Sammy. "Piece of pie," he had said loudly, like it was the baddest swear word the world had ever heard of, "another one?" Yeah, it had been another one all right. Another naked little troll, staring death at me through its sheer plastic dome with its tuft of hair like evil purple flame.
"I told you," I had quipped, looking warily at the prize my brother was shoving in my face to inventory into the Hall of Crap. "Jeez-us, Sammy, get it away from me."
"But I don't want it," he had whined.
I had waved my hand frantically at my brother, any efforts of trying to suavely make him take the plastic dome of hell with the lime green cap away from my face completely forgotten. "Well, what makes you think I do?"
"It was your quarter." Sammy never lost the smart aleck responses, either, and I had told him that… in my own special way.
"Smart ass." I took the prize from my brother and threw it into the nearest trash receptacle, which actually was a large hunter green trash can used to hold contributions to the homeless and/or low income families. Oh well, as long as I didn't have to deal with another troll from the underworld. I didn't want to have to hang around it either, so I took Sammy's tiny hand and led him to wherever it was Dad had told us to meet him at. I was pretty sure it had had something to do with clothes, but that pretty sure I knew hadn't been a good sign.
Confused, but not wanting to show it, I had led Sammy over to the jewelry isle (I still don't know why I did that, but maybe my full bladder had something to do with it). I had told Sammy to stay there, to just stare at the shiny rings or something, while I went to use to little boy's room. I had figured he'd be fine there, that he'd stay put until I came back and then we'd wait around for Dad. At the time I had thought it pretty stupid to go to the sporting goods store, you know, just in case Dad had left and was wandering around the store looking for a few final birthday presents for Sammy, so naturally when my brother started protesting I told him to shut it.
Well, by the time I went the long way to the bathrooms (I wanted to avoid the troll's new trash can home for as long as I possibly could), did my business, and came back to the warm-to-the-touch glass jewelry cases… Sammy had been beamed up, Scotty.
The woman who had been working at the jewelry station that day had been busy helping some dope try to find the perfect engagement ring for his girlfriend since the wheel had been invented, she couldn't have been any help. I remember how the nausea ball in my throat seemed like a cancerous tumor, suddenly burst and growing larger with ravenous speed. I wasn't panicking, not really, just kind of in that "oh, fuck" stage right before I lost my marbles and went racing down the halls screaming. Speed walking over to the little boy's clothing department, the next logical place for Sammy to be since it was to the immediate right of the shiny-but-not-so-attention-grabbing rings, I had found not a sign of my kid brother. That's when I might have started panicking, thinking about all of the nasty and torturous things my father would have done to me when he found out I had lost Sammy.
I had been absolutely convinced that I'd be put on the rack, stretched until my joints separated and my organs ripped in half. I felt my knees and elbows ache just thinking about it, had gotten the silly notion that my spine was stiffening up and popping already, getting ready for the moment Dean Winchester would become a jiggling pile of thirteen-year-old boy jell-o – mmm, mmm good!
For two minutes (it had seemed like two hundred years) I wandered around the eye strainingly bright kid's clothing area, trying to calm myself by thinking that maybe Sammy had seen a Scooby Doo sweatshirt or pair of slippers and ran off to goggle at them. Back then he had been obsessed with that show, positively obsessed, and if someone even mentioned a Great Dane or something that could be twisted about to a mystery… God help you. Obviously, since I don't believe in God, you were doomed. But unfortunately, that day Scooby Doo and the gang weren't on my side and I didn't find Sammy anywhere in anyplace he should have been. Turns out, another two minutes later when I stumbled into the shoe department completely on accident, that's where Sammy had gone off to. Actually, he had started off by the Scooby Doo attire after all, then somehow wandered off in widening circles to the scary Shoe Forest.
When I saw Sammy there, standing like a lost puppy dog on the glossy black-and-white tile runway cutting between the shoes and the bath towels, he looked just like he does now – only older, of course. He had been shaking from head to toe, small tremors easily missed unless you were looking for them, and his eyes had grown far too big for his head. Biting down on his lip, inane efforts to stop his chin from quivering, he had looked broken. Worse than broken, what broken wanted to be when it grows up. And there he is now, my poor little Sammy, trying desperately not to bawl in front of his big brother.
His blue-green eyes, if they get any more watered down, are going to start leaking tears all down his cheeks. If they didn't shed tears, then they're surely going to spill all of the prayers he's molding in his heart, his mind. I want to tell him to just stop it, to just come sit down on the edge of my bed and hold my hand – talk about all the good times so maybe I won't feel so fucking scared – but I know he needs to do this. If putting everything he has into something that doesn't exist will get him through this, then I'll let him be. If I don't, I'd have to tell him that there was a time in my life when I wanted this to happen: my death.
For years I had wanted to die, to stop hanging around here like some kind of empty soda can and go to the great recycling plant in the sky. I had begged for it, every single day I had gotten down on my knees and begged for it, but I had always been shunned. But now I've gotten my dream and it's funny, how you wish for death so many times and when it finally comes… you've changed your mind.
I was a bitter man back then, in more ways than one I still am, but since I've been crammed in the Impala with my brother, forced but not really forced to share dank motel rooms with Sir Who Has Screaming Night Terrors, I've finally been able to see what I have. Take it how you want it, but since Dad's run away and I've been with Sammy – searching through the obituaries, fighting bad spirits, helping others, having an empty gun waved at my face – I've found that I really do have a soul. Sure, it's a little bruised and broken and there's a few giant chunks missing from it, but I wouldn't exchange it for anything. Well, that's a lie because I would use it as payment for something very important.
Sammy, the twenty-two-year-old kid going through heartbreak all over again, means the world to me – is my world – and I can't let another piece of him rot away again. I may have hated my life not so long ago, might have thought I had no purpose, no direction in which to walk, but now I realize I've had that all along in Sam. And I'll be damned before I have to let that go.
I don't believe in God, but if there really is someone somewhere then I'll give them my soul whether they want it or not. All I ask for in return is more time, a chance to pots around here a little while longer so I don't have to leave Sammy alone. He's a good kid, such a good kid, and he doesn't deserve to have all of this shit lopped onto his plate.
So please, whoever the hell can hear this, don't take me away from him. Don't rip my hand from his because if you do you'll be making the biggest mistake of any of your lives. I love my brother, at times not enough and others too much, but the point is I love him. I'll sell my soul to you, as fractured and ugly as it may be, if you'll just give me a little more time with him.
("I'm gonna die, Sammy, and you can't stop it.")
I can feel it in my bones, the pressure and the coldness of what is to come. It's kind of like standing in front of a firing squad, blindfolded, but you know it's coming. Any second now, it's coming, and though you're living a dream in your head that something will come along and stop the nightmare from playing out… you know it won't. Anything, that's what you'll do. You'll do anything just to have a while longer in which to live, but the icy shard in your stomach keeps telling you that you're wish, unlike the last one, won't ever be granted.
So as I lay dying, I look back at my little Sammy and envy how he can have so much blind faith. He can stand there and pray for me to miraculously pull through, and what can I do? Well, I can throw my hands out to that firing squad, say "fire at will" and wait. That's all I can really believe in, really, waiting. Waiting for the inevitable.