AN: First, I would like to apologize to all of my wonderful readers because this is the last chapter of this fic and I haven't warned you in advance. But, don't worry, because secondly, I will start posting the sequel to this fic, Night Prowler, within the next week. I want to thank each every reader who took the time to review, it means the world to me! I hope you enjoy the conclusion and look for my reappearance soon.
Thx again, Uzi
Chapter 16: Ramble On
"How is she, doctor?" Sam asked of the relatively young man who stood beside him outside of room 108. "Any change?"
Dr. Willis frowned, his blonde mustache wilting as he nodded toward the woman who was seated on the room's single bed. "I hate to tell you this, kid, but we don't have a clue what's wrong with your sister."
Sam sighed, watching as Susan Elkins pulled the stiff, hospital blanket up around her shoulders and over head and rocked back and forth anxiously. "Damn," he muttered. "I was hoping you'd tell me she was back to normal."
"Normal?" Dr. Willis arched his brows in mild amusement. "I don't know how Susan acts normally, but I'm pretty sure this isn't it." He afforded Sam a sheepish smile. "Sorry, I don't mean to be callous, but when you work in a psych ward…"
"You get used to it," Sam finished with a small smile of his own. "I understand."
On the other side of the plate glass window Susan had begun to sing quietly, a slurred and unrecognizable melody.
Dr. Willis lifted his clipboard and flipped through the attached pages. "It truly is a medical mystery," he slipped into professional physician mode. "We've run every kind of test imaginable. Her CAT scan was clean, as were her X-rays. The tox-screen didn't turn up any drugs or foreign agents, her dopamine levels are normal. No tumors, clots, or aneurisms…basically, there's nothing physically wrong with Susan."
Sam chewed his lip thoughtfully, taking in the information. "So…any theories as to why she's…" he let the sentence hang, not wanting to use the word 'crazy'.
The young doctor shrugged. "Her state fluctuates. Most of the time she's like this; quiet but disturbed. Then, without warning, she goes into a fairly severe panic attack; screaming, thrashing, the works."
"Have you ever seen this sort of thing before?"
"Once, when I was still an intern here. There was a rape victim, a teenage girl, who watched the perp kill both her parents before he assaulted her. Her brain wasn't damaged, but she was mentally incapacitated. She hallucinated that the nurses were her rapist…it got ugly to say the least."
"Well, whatever happened at that house…," Sam shook his head, eyes going hard. "We still don't know where her husband is."
"I'm sorry, I'm sure it's been traumatic for the entire family."
"Yeah," Sam nodded, gave Susan one last pitying glance and turned to leave. "Thanks for everything, Dr. Willis. Let me know if she snaps out of it."
The other man smiled sadly. "Sure thing, kid. Just…don't get your hopes up."
"Don't worry, I won't."
"Come on, baby…work for Daddy," Dean tapped hopefully at the front of his homemade EMF meter.
The converted walkman's screen stared up at him blankly, its needle resting at zero.
"Aw, you're no fun," he sighed, letting the device drop along with his hand down to his side. He'd spent the better part of the morning poking around Charlie Elkins' villa; that was of course after the local authorities had completed their sweep of the place and taped off all entrances and exits. Apparently, police thought that yellow crime tape impenetrable.
But so far Dean had found nothing of any use. He'd learned that Charlie and his wife Susan paid all their bills on time, did well on their tax returns, spent an extra ten bucks each month on the deluxe DirecTV package, and hadn't had any significant contact with Daniel Elkins in the past four years. The deceased hunter's name didn't so much as appear in their address book. Other than an overly large carton of table salt in the pantry, the house didn't contain a single item that would prove useful in the event of a supernatural attack.
God, is this the way Sam would live if he settled down? He wondered idly as he flipped through a stack of blood-spattered mail on the counter. In total denial? He sure as hell hoped not, surely his brother could never forget the evil that lurked just beyond the reaches of his nightlight. He gave himself a mental shake and moved on.
A complete sweep of the downstairs turned up nothing. The crime scene unit had hauled off some of the larger, more suspicious pieces of furniture, leaving behind a scattering of broken glass and splintered wood. Without a way of testing the blood smears, Dean had no way of knowing whether it belonged to the still missing Charlie, his wife, or the attacker. Not to mention the EMF wasn't picking up anything abnormal that would indicate a ghost or demon.
Dean made one last scan, absently whistling the Rolling Stones' Satisfaction, and his eyes landed on the nook between the pantry and back door that led to the stairs. He gave a little shrug and maneuvered his way through the debris in that general direction. His foot had just settled on the first step when the EMF buzzed to life in his hand.
"Bingo," he muttered grimly, raising the device to find two of its red lights blazing. He ascended the stairs quickly, the EMF's growl building up to a steady whine, its needle flopping around like a windshield wiper.
Following Susan Elkins' bloody footprints, he entered the master bedroom. It was just as tidy as before, save for the open closet doors and the clothes that Susan had knocked to the ground in her hysterical fit. The EMF shrieked, its lights burning at their brightest.
Dean nodded and afforded the room one last glance. "Thanks, doll," he told the screaming EMF. "That's all I needed to know."
Dean was already in the reception area when Sam pushed his way through the double doors. The older man was sprawled casually across two of the armless plastic chairs, earning unseen dirty looks from the rest of the waiting populace. He wasn't even flirting with the twenty something blonde seated across from him, which seemed odd to Sam, and was instead staring intently at the TV mounted above the reception desk.
"Dude," Sam drew up next to his brother and buckled his legs so that his knees bumped the other man's legs. "Move over."
"Dude, don't push me!" Dean grumbled, giving Sam a well-measured thump as he slid over into a single chair.
"Whatever," Sam sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to dampen the headache that had reared its ugly head the moment he'd stepped through the automated glass doors. "I don't ever want to see the inside of a hospital again."
"Ditto. So, what'd the doc say?"
Sam shot a cautious glance around the room to ensure that no one was paying them any undue attention. "There's nothing physically wrong with her," he said in a hushed tone.
"So except for the fact that she's nutty as hell…"
"I'm telling ya, lights are on but nobody's home, Sammy."
"Fine," Dean sighed and gave an exaggerated eye roll. "She's mentally challenged at the moment. Is that all he said?"
Sam frowned, but decided that now was not the time for an argument about political correctness. "He said he'd seen this sort of thing before in a rape victim who was seriously traumatized. My guess," he dropped his voice even lower. "…Is that whoever took Charlie quite literally almost scared her to death."
"Not 'who', Sam, but 'what'."
"You found something at the house then?"
"Naw, nothing downstairs at the crime scene," Dean frowned. "But the EMF went bonkers in the master bedroom."
"Completely ape-shit. I'm talkin' Susan Elkins crazy. But the weird thing is no ozone or sulfur."
Sam checked for eavesdroppers again. "So that means no spirits or demons. What does that leave?"
Dean shrugged. "Something that likes screwing around with electro-magnetic fields. Whatever it is, it's not anything we've ever faced before." He rose, slipping on his leather jacket, hands automatically reaching to pop the collar up in the back. "C'mon, let's move this party outside."
Sam followed, relieved to escape the hospital. He squinted as they exited, the September sun still strong enough to make his eyes water, and he hurried to catch up to his brother. "Well…what's the plan?" he asked a bit hesitantly as he came up alongside Dean.
The older man arched a single brow amusedly. "Always with the plan stuff, Sam," he cracked a grin when his remark drew its desired puzzling effect. "Chill, dude, I've got it all worked out. It's up here," he tapped his temple with a knuckle. "Been using my upstairs brain for once."
"Okay, I'll bite," Sam resigned, stuffing his hands in his jeans pockets as they wound their way through the parking lot.
"Well," Dean began proudly. "While you were visiting our 'sister', I stumbled across an intriguing news report."
"You mean that girl wouldn't talk to you so you ended up watching TV instead."
Dean frowned, lower lip puffing into a pout. "You always ruin my fun," he muttered, but recovered quickly. "Anyway, this reporter chick was doing some story about Temple, Georgia and the strange things that have been going on for the past week or so," he paused to unlock the Silverado with its remote and watched the interior lights flicker to life in response. "Four teenage girls have awakened their parents screaming in the middle of the night. The next morning, they're all drooling, crying, complete zombies."
"Just like Susan Elkins," Sam said incredulously.
Dean nodded and smirked. "It gets better. All of the parents reported that their daughters were found by their open bedroom windows, screaming about eyes."
"Eyes?" Sam's own brown orbs widened in shock. "Holy shit! That's what Susan…holy shit!"
"I know," Dean folded his arms and leaned up against the cab of the truck. "So back to my amazing plan. I figure Elkins is gone, long gone, and whatever attacked him and his wife is somehow connected with what's going on in Temple."
Sam nodded. "Sounds like it."
"I also figure we won't hear from Dad for a while," he continued. "All we have to go on is a dead end, a half-ass lead, and instinct." He leaned his head back and regarded Sam, sizing the younger man up. "Wha'cha say, kiddo? You up for a hunt?"
Sam turned away, raking his teeth across his lip. After everything, all the hell his family had been put through, in the end it always came back to yet another hunt. It was a vicious circle. Fortunately, he was feeling just vicious enough himself to put it all to an end. When he turned back to Dean, he was smirking, his face twisted into an attempt at his brother's favorite expression. "So, you think Charlie Elkins is in Georgia?"
Dean's eyes glittered diabolically. "Honestly, man, does it matter?"
"Honestly…" Sam's smirk became even more Dean-like. "No."
"Hell yeah!" Dean chuckled, yanking open the driver's side door.
"Wait, you're driving?" Sam grinned in disbelief. "Whatever happened to you hating this thing?"
Dean was already settling himself in the cab. "Shut up, Sam. This is a man's truck, it's only fitting that I drive." He cranked the ignition and the black monster roared to life.
Sam grinned inwardly as he settled into the roomy passenger seat and watched his brother expertly navigate the large vehicle out of the narrow space. He had no idea what awaited them in Georgia, whether it be good or bad, and he most certainly had no idea where their father was. But, for the moment, it didn't really seem to matter. He had his brother, and they had their weapons, a decidedly un-crashed mode of transportation, and they had the Colt. For the moment, they didn't have a place of departure or a destination, they were simply floating in between and for once, the unknown was actually comforting.
Dean flipped on the radio and Creedence Clearwater Revival's Bad Moon Rising flooded the speakers with its unmistakable twang.
Sam gulped. "Uh, Dean? Do you mind if I change this?"
The older man frowned. "No, go ahead. For some reason, I kinda think I hate this song."
"Me too." With a little sigh of relief, Sam flipped the radio off and they rode in silence. Silent save for the rumble of the engine, Dean's absent humming, and his baby brother's occasional sigh of contentment. Somehow, they both knew it wouldn't last…