Disclaimer: The TV show Supernatural and all characters therein are owned by assorted Americans, not me. This fiction is purely for the enjoyment of readers; no money is being made. All Original Characters remain the property of Catherine D. Stewart and may not be used without the express permission of the authoress.

Summary: Humans can survive 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water; because it's invisible, we take for granted the air without which we die in 3 minutes.

Rating: 'T'/17 because of the odd fruity phase, minor gore, and incidental semi-nudity but there is no graphic or gratuitous infliction of suffering, violence, sex, etc.

Credit: to Dean 5339 for the Inside the Legend 'Tulpa' explanation for the episode Hell House on www.Supernatural.tv's site. Full lyrics of The Whole of the Moon by The Waterboys can be found after the Epilogue. NB – Keedysville, Antietam and Sharpsburg are all real places.

You saw the whole of the moon
I was grounded
while you filled the skies
I was dumbfounded by truth
you cut through lies
I saw the lone empty valley
you saw Brigadoon
I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon
I spoke about wings
you just flew
I wondered I guessed and I tried
you just knew
you came like a comet
blazing your trail
too high, too far, too soon
You saw the whole of the moon


Chapter 1

Even though he knew it was useless, Dean was unable to prevent himself straining against the harsh, thick ropes that were cutting into his wrists; even though he had rubbed his wrists raw and bloody, there was no give in the ropes.

He gritted his teeth and bared them defiantly as Chuckles deliberately weighed the dagger in his hand so Dean could see. It was a huge curved thing, practically a scimitar, with a gold handle and a blade etched in an ancient language that Dean doubted very much said something as innocuous as Please note this knife may be sharp, always hold using the handle. The hilt was set with small round rubies, but there was insufficient light in the cavern for them to sparkle, so they were as black as the blood lapping at Chuckles's feet. Dean kept his eyes firmly on him, ignoring the gory corpse laying broken barely two feet away.

In retrospect, he should have known that Bad was loitering with intent, but the unexpected smoothness of the gig had thrown him off his stride, apparently. He and Sam had accepted the job at Keedysville, Maryland on behalf of Caleb only because the other Hunter was a long-time friend of John Winchester's and therefore they knew he wasn't guffing them – his inability to abandon his current case was genuine. They had approached the place with wariness and extreme caution; any place of violent death, and of course mass violent death, was a place that left gaping psychic wounds in the fabric of reality.

Like all Hunters, the Winchesters actually did their best to steer clear of the better known battlefields/massacre/mass-suicide sites, as did Hunters in whatever country of the world was their native land. When Dean had been 17 and Sam 12, John Winchester had flatly and without hesitation refused an offer – really a plea – of $1.2 million U.S. to go OUTCONUS – a cumbersome military acronym meaning to fly abroad OUT of the CONtinental United States - and take care of a Tulpa that was causing problems in a small village a half-mile away from the polish town of Brzezinka, known in English as Birkenau…the site of Auschwitz.

He and Sam had been braced for all sorts of horrors. In the United States, the Western and South Western States were littered with festering paranormal hotspots of Indian massacres by the invading white man's Army, whereas the same mystical energy that seeped from Civil War battlefields were especially raw in the Eastern to Midwest States, where most of the battles had taken place, particularly in areas along the famous 'Mason-Dixon' Line that separated the Northern and Southern States, and which had bisected the country in the Civil War. Never had that conflict been so anguished or so bitter along that invisible but profound dividing line. More than anywhere it was there that the same family could lose father and husband fighting for the Union and brother and son fighting for the Confederacy or vice versa…sometimes on opposite sides of the same battle.

Atrocities had been committed on both sides and after the assassination of Lincoln when the bigoted Liberal Radical elements had sought to seize power behind the Presidency, great suffering had been caused when the Liberal Radicals had implemented their cunning but tragically effective 'if he's black he's right' policy of Reconstruction in the Southern States, fomenting racial hatred and murder in their regrettably successful plan to steal the money and land of hard-working families who had owned it for generations.

For many years it had been a mess, and virtually every place had its own shameful history that made the locals unable to meet your eyes; in this area, as in others, many black men who had fought for the Confederacy had returned home only to find themselves pilloried and ostracised, even murdered, by their own families and communities as the carpetbaggers deliberately instigated black-on-black crimes and racial divisions so as to rape, murder and steal land, livestock and money with impunity.

And of course, the battlefield in such dangerously close proximity to Keedysville, Maryland just had to be none other than Antietam, the 1862 Battle of which had been the most devastating in the American Civil War, resulting in the deaths of 23,000 Americans, with a nearly 50-50 split between the Union and the Confederacy in death toll, with 12,000 Union soldiers and 11,000 Confederate soldiers who would never rise again.

On top of that, of course, it was Eastern Maryland…or as Dean sarcastically put it, there was an extreme danger of 'us being scalded by hot soup'…as in Alphabet Soup. Name the floating noodles of your choice: FBI, CIA, NSA, Homeland Security, ATF, FEMA, JAG, NCIS, U.S. Navy SEALs, U.S. Marines, Army Rangers, West Point, the Naval Academy…et cetera, et cetera.

For once, instead of arguing, Sam had understood Dean's multiple tangents of trepidation. As Sam had admitted, a) they were demon hunters, b) their usual financial foundation was credit card fraud followed by hustling pool and Dean participating in illegal, unlicensed (why they were illegal) high-stakes poker games, c) they routinely used fake identities, d) the Impala's trunk carried an arsenal of weaponry large enough to kit out an entire Marine division to their satisfaction and e) Law enforcement computers inconveniently declared that Dean Winchester was 1, dead, actually and 2, shot dead as the murder 'suspect' in a series of brutal attacks on young, pretty women. All of which led to f) that they were smack-bang in the middle of Spook Central in more ways than one and would have to operate with the care of a cleaner dusting a Ming Dynasty vase, lest one of the Men in Black were to cast an eye in their direction and wonder to him – or her – self, I wonder who those two are?

Incredibly, however, the poltergeist had been destroyed without attracting attention in the wrong quarters and instead of their usual battering, the only damage to Sam and Dean was a broken fingernail and the loss of a night's sleep. Still, the pair had breakfasted at the diner calmly but not leisurely, desiring to put a comfortable distance – say the entirety of West Virginia and maybe even the Allegheny Mountains - between them and Keedysville.

During their visit, Sam's 'Shining' had, understandably, been picking up signals from all over the place leading him to be able to see and hear like he was getting Digital Lord of the Rings while everyone else was stuck with a 1950s black-and-white Bakelite and Leave It To Beaver. During the first day in Keedysville Sam had embarrassed them both by doing stuff like holding doors open for women who weren't there, and nodding politely to elderly gentlemen only he could see and didn't know weren't real until they walked through an intervening wall or someone else.

They'd just walked out to the Impala when the woman had approached – not that a sultry brunette with a low cut top who was 'stacked' was something they were going to flee from. She had sidled up in clear nervousness and with tear-bright eyes identified them as the Winchesters brothers – the Hunters. Her name was Selena and her distressed tale had been short and simple – she and her little brother had moved to the area temporarily from St. Louis to stay with their grandparents while their father recuperated from a serious operation; she had dismissed warnings of a 'monster' in the forest until a huge thing that looked like a giant dog but which had been able to walk upright had snatched her brother as he played not five hours ago. Running back to try and get help even as she despaired of what she could tell the sheriff without being laughed at – or arrested on drugs charges - she had been met on the edge of town by the local crackpot – into tea-leaves and crystal balls and all that – who had told her was in luck because the "'Winchester sons are at the Antietam Diner right now.'"

Dean and Sam had tooled-up and followed her. Even now, with Chuckles tauntingly testing the tip of the dagger with his finger and mock-wincing at its sharpness, Dean knew there had been no lack on either his or Sam's part. Selena's agitation and nervousness had been entirely congruent with someone who has had one hell (no pun intended) of an emotional and visual shock – the snatching of a beloved sibling by a creature that she 'knew' didn't exist outside a movie theatre – and she had led them up the hiking trail fast and sure to get to the spot where her brother had been snatched, again entirely consistent with someone desperately aware that time was of the essence to save their loved one.

So, when she had stumbled and gone down on one knee, Dean had automatically stepped forward to give her a hand up, and had been unprepared when she smoothly surged up and smashed a tennis-ball sized lump of wood against his head, plunging him instantly into unconsciousness.

He had come around fairly quickly and with clear vision, which despite his splitting headache indicated he was fortunate enough not to have suffered a concussion or worse. Disturbingly he had been naked to the waist – but no further, thank you Lord – and even more disturbingly bound to some sort of pillar; his ankles were tied with ropes at the base and his hands, rather than simply being pulled behind his back, had been bound at the wrists high above his head, unhappily like when the Wendigou had hung him up like a side of beef in Blackwater Ridge. Although gloomy, there were holes in the 'roof' sufficient to let in a reasonable amount of light and he realised that he was in some sort of cavern that had formed in a crag in the woods. It was ancient, for the stalactites and stalagmites that protruded from roof and floor were as thick as a fence post and long; there were other 'pillars' formed by the two meeting nearby and the sharp roughness against his bare back indicated against what he was tied.

With a laugh, Selena had hove into view dangling the dagger like a trinket, and had launched into the sexy villainess routine, pressing her breasts to his chest, her hands roaming everywhere, violating where she had not been given permission to touch and greedily fondling him even as she mock-declared that it was a 'pity' to gut such a handsome hunk of man. Then she had hurt him, digging in her nails and scratching his balls in anger when his body did not respond to her lascivious groping; unsurprising, since he had hardly even noticed her or what she was doing.

His eyes had rapidly adjusted to the dimness of the cavern sufficiently to see that other than him and her it was empty. Her nymphomaniac routine had barely impinged as he had looked past her with intent peering. He merely hissed from her punishment as his hope fought a brief, desperate battle with his realism that maybe the absence of Sammy meant his brother had been able to get clear; inside, he knew better.

He had always demanded that his brother follow their Dad's training: that if it became clear that something was a trap or a battle against something which was, at that point, too powerful to kill, then get the hell out of Dodge and regroup to go back in harder, faster and literally more explosively - John Winchester had invented the Salt & Holy Water hand grenade. Unfortunately Dean's attitude had been the classic 'do as I say not as I do' stance of preaching the sermon rather than living it, since where Sam's safety was concerned, Dean had no compunction about throwing himself between his brother and whatever form the 'bullet' took.

Just like most of Dad's diktats, Sam had strenuously rebelled and despite his inner hope of Sammy being sensible and legging it like a jackrabbit from the obvious set-up, Dean knew that in reality, the instant he went down Sam would have attacked Selena like Cujo at the end of the book/movie in full-on rabidity.

At that point Chuckles had made his entrance. Dean had no idea what he was, other than that he wasn't really human. Shape-shifter Dean had been born human, the Wendigou had once been human, Meg Masters was, apparently, a possessed human; they and many similar entities like them shared that subtle facility of facial expression, that indescribable yet obvious manner of movement that showed they were or once had been a member of the human species; no matter how debased, you could still see tattered remnants of a Dolce & Gabbana suit, or to use another metaphor you could still see glimpses of the bright hues of the Sistine Chapel through the filth.

But this guy was human like a one-size-fits-all, off-the-rack suit with too-short arms and half-mast pants you bought as cheaply as possible for Aunt Betty's obnoxious son's wedding; his features had a certain harshly-angled woodenness and he moved with a slight stiffness of gait like he was an animated mannequin, a paint-by-numbers person done by someone who had only ever seen pictures of a human rather than how a live one moved.

Incongruously, he looked like a middle-aged tax accountant standing there in a conservative suit with only black pits of eyes revealing his true evil. He was a tall brunette and generically good looking, but in a bland way. He lacked that extra sparkle, that indefinable yet instantly recognisable something, which would have raised him above the crowd. He was a like catalogue fashion model who would never quite made it up to the level of catwalk king. If this were a scene from a James Bond movie, he would always be listed in the script as 'No.3 Henchman'.

He lacked that extra dash of an unquantifiable yet quintessential element people could only inadequately label chemistry, but which humans could all instantly spot a mile away in a pea-soup fog. It was that which made shorter, plumper men attract prettier women than their taller, plastic-perfection brothers, or which made plainer, plumper women keep a man's attention in a way that their prettier, more lissom sisters couldn't, or which enabled two people or a group of people who had met not five minutes before at an audition walk out onto a theatre stage or into a TV/movie studio and light up the camera where other combinations had been lifeless on the screen, or which meant that ordinary people met someone at work who they instantly became close friends with for the rest of their life while the person's to all intents and purposes identical twin at the next desk/cubicle/office left them cold and unmoved.

At that point Dean had remembered Adolf Hitler; a short, ugly man who by a fluke of genetics had possessed an intensely powerful charisma…the world would have been a much better place had he been as blandly pleasing to the eye as Chuckles...and extreme badness would have flowed had Chuckles possessed one tenth of the personal magnetism of Mr H.

Selena had presented the dagger to Chuckles like an acolyte presenting an offering to a priest, and with a pretty pout had declared it was such a shame there wasn't time for her to rape and torture Dean awhile until it was time to disembowel him. Chuckles had…well, chuckled…warmly, accepting the blade and smiling maliciously at Dean, as with no discernable change of expression he half-spun smoothly to the left and drove the dagger hilt-deep into the left side of Selena's torso just below her rib-cage, the audible snap of her lowest left rib breaking from the force of the blow brutally loud in the quiet cavern. Her eyes had only time to become enormous white orbs of shock as Chuckles sliced diagonally down to her right hip bone and pulled the dagger out with that schlurping-sucking sound you got hauling something out of wet mud or swamp.

She crumpled to the ground like Pinocchio when the strings had been cut, unmoving in a final, instinctive foetal curl as Chuckles vigorously wiped the blade clean on the arm of her blouse. As she died, the glamour around her had wavered like on analogue TVs when something had interfered with the signal, and faded altogether leaving…

Just a woman; a middle-aged, Caucasian woman in her early mid-fifties in a conservative jacket, blouse and skirt – even a matronly pearl choker around her neck - who looked like the arch-type Suburban Everywoman.

She hadn't been a hag with a hook nose or a hairy mole, or dishpan-faced plain, or dumpy of figure; indeed, in life she had been a handsome woman, and trim. But even in death the skin round her eyes was tight with dissatisfaction, her forehead bore lines of perpetual discontent and there was a petulant kink to her mouth. In life a selfish person, never appreciative of what she had, always envious and resentful of those who were taller, prettier, younger, wealthier, still married, possessing children and grandchildren, independently single, unencumbered by children, successful in their career, fulfilled in their marriage, and even just simply happy – every way in which they enjoyed the things and the life that "I" should have/be living.

So when the Devil offered her hot cherry pie and cream, she'd wolfed down the bowl, confidently believing she was too clever for Evil to be able pour in that bottle of strychnine without her noticing.

Of course that was her mistake…that was always the mistake.

Continued in Chapter 2…

© 2006, Catherine D Stewart