Chapter One

The Impala's tires quickly spun across the slick moonlit road. Dean and Sam had just finished a hunt in Michigan. They had just saved a family that had apparently attracted a nasty spirit in the form of a black dog – a death omen. The night had worn the boys thin; their nerves rattled with the adrenaline of a fresh hunt. Both men were tired and heading for a town to rest, but in a few hours from now. Dean wanted to cover some roadway.

They had crossed the Indiana border a few hours ago. Sam looked through the rain splattered passengers window; the side road was covered with trees upon trees, no population, and no civilization whatsoever. He looked up ahead as they passed a small blue sign in the center of the road median. It read: Now entering North Salem, IN. Population: 636. Sam, still drained from their previous hunt, looked over at Dean. Dean was barely keeping it together himself. He was obviously exhausted.

"Dean," Sam said quietly, "Can we stop here and sleep? I am tired, man. I don't know about you, but that last hunt kicked my ass." Sam smiled and then sat up straight. "But not as much as it kicked yours."

Dean looked at Sam incredulously, obviously finding Sam's remark absurd, "Kicked my ass more? No way."

Sam chuckled and cocked his head to the side, lifting a brow curiously, "Dude, if I recall, you threw your flashlight at the dog, like it was some chew toy. What the hell where you thinking? Wait, I take that back, you weren't."

"Real funny, boy wonder. I was thinking. I thought if I distracted it long enough, then it would give you ample time to recite the incantation. It worked, didn't it?" Dean said defensively.

"Yes, it worked. You almost got mauled to death by that black dog. I can hear you now. 'Here pooch.' Real smooth, Dean," Sam said sarcastically.

"Whatever, dude. You are just mad that you didn't think of the distraction first. You can never admit to my superiority on the hunt," Dean said seriously, but his lips were curled into a thin smile that said otherwise. He was finding this conversation rather amusing.

Sam, annoyed at his brother's smart-ass comment, sighed and looked out the passenger's side window again. He watched as the wind carried the beads of water across the glass, each one reaching the rim of the window and then falling off freely, just to end up splattered somewhere on the side of the road. He had noticed the droplets had slowed down, instead of racing across the window. They were now descending downward, slowly, which could only have meant the car was slowing down.

Sam continued to stare at the water beads. He noticed the clear, translucent droplets were now glowing orange. Sam looked up and noticed the source of the waters sudden colorful illumination was coming from a neon orange motel vacancy sign. Dean had taken his advice. They were stopping for the night.

Dean parked the Impala in an open parking spot and twisted the keys out of the ignition. Sam got out and stretched his legs. He looked over at Dean, but Dean was gone. He wearily started walking towards his brother. Dean was inside; paying for the room, but Sam wanted to find a place that was open this late. He needed some coffee. He was tired, but like every night, he doubted he would get much sleep. No, all Sam needed was a fresh cup of coffee and a bed to lie down on, so he could relax.

Sam walked through the motel door and a little bell dinged. Dean was talking to the woman at the front counter. Sam noticed his brother's smile – Dean was flirting, again. Sam looked around the room, trying to ignore Dean's pathetic attempt to pick up this girl. She was cute, Sam would give Dean that. She was maybe in her mid-twenties, with blond hair, blue eyes, and a small frame.

Sam lifted up a free magazine and idly flipped through the pages. There was definitely nothing to do in North Salem, IN. The book was bare; no tourist sites, no landmarks, nothing. Sam set the magazine back down and walked over to Dean. Dean placed a hand on Sam's shoulder and squeezed it firmly.

"This is my little brother, Sammy," Dean said to the young lady, "Sammy this is Tabitha, but her friends call her Tabby."

Sam smiled cordially at her and then turned his attention towards his brother, "It's Sam, though. I go by Sam."

Tabby outstretched her hand across the wooden counter and shook Sam's hand. She held onto Sam's hand a lot longer than a normal handshake required. Sam ripped his hand back, and stared at the women bewildered.

Tabitha stared at Sam, eyes wide, as if she was looking right through him. Sam shivered unintentionally, but her gaze was starting to freak him out.

Dean could feel the tension rising. He cleared his throat and then spoke, "Okay. This is awkward. What room did you say we were in?" Dean said, trying to do anything to change the eerie atmosphere that hovered in the air.

"Oh," Tabby said, flustered, as she searched for their room key. She turned around and grabbed a key off the rack. Her thick British accent filled the air again as soon as she turned around, "Room sixty-six. All of our room doors are outside, and connected to this one building. Your room is the last door on the front."

Dean grabbed the key from her, and then turned to Sam. Dean started to walk out the door when Tabby stopped him. "Why are you boys here? If you don't mind me asking?"

Dean turned around, his hand pressed firmly on the glass pane of the front door, and lied, "Just passing through really. We have business in uh… Chicago. We just stopped here for the night. Thanks again."

She smiled sweetly, and then turned her attention back to Sam. He turned away, getting ready to follow Dean. He couldn't shake the uneasiness that was swelling up in is stomach.

Tabby spoke once more before the boys left, her accent filling the air crisply, "If you boys are hungry, my mum owns the diner up the street. It is just a block from here, open all night. Best coffee and sweets in North Salem."

"Thanks, Tabby," Dean replied, and both boys excited the check-in room.

Outside Dean stared at Sam, puzzled. "What was that all about?"

Sam stepped onto the parking lot, his eyes never leaving his brothers, as his feet sloshed in the half frozen slush on the side of the curb. "I don't know. It was weird, though."

Dean opened the front door of the Impala and sat down, "I know. Go figure. She's probably the only hot girl in this town that is into freaky college boys, and not hot studs like me."

Sam shook his head, "No. It wasn't like she was into me or anything. I just can't shake this vibe… like she wanted something from me."

Dean smirked playfully, and then turned the keys in the ignition. The Impala roared to life. "I'll say. She did want something from you, and we both know what that was."

"Jerk. Not like that. Whatever, lets just go to our room," Sam said, appalled by his brother's mordant comment.

Dean parked at the far end of the end of the brick motel. He stepped out into the cool brisk air and then proceeded to the trunk. He gathered his bags, and Sam gathered his as well.

Dean put the key into the door handle and turned it. As soon as the door swung open, a wind blew past Dean and Sam's face. Both boys turned away in disgust. The motel smelled like stale moth balls, mixed with bleach. It was stomach curdling.

Dean stepped in first and threw his bag in the first bed. Sam did the same, but he had the bed closest to the wall, the second one. He unzipped his duffle bag, and pulled out a clean pair of pajama pants. Dean didn't bother; he just kicked his bag off the side of the bed and stretched out on the plaid comforter. Sam looked down at the maroon shag carpet, and then his gaze moved up to the off white cracked walls. This place was definitely old and was in serious need of redecoration, but it would have to do. It was only for a night, and they had stayed in worse.

Dean settled in a little bit more and looked at the clock on the nightstand. It was almost five in the morning; they had driven all night. Dean couldn't keep his eyes open much longer, but he had to make sure Sam was settled in too, otherwise he couldn't sleep properly. He propped himself up, leaning back on his elbows, and looked over at his baby brother.

"What are you doing? I thought you said you were tired," Dean questioned Sam, who was pulling his laptop out of his backpack.

Sam set down his computer and looked up at Dean. "I am tired, but I think I am going to go down to that diner and grab some coffee first."

Dean took off his jacket and threw it in the corner, next to the radiator, "You need to sleep—"

Sam cut him off, "And I will. I just need some coffee first. Late night jitters, you know?"

"Want me to come? Protect you from the big bad in the middle of the night," Dean offered jokingly.

Sam pulled out a hunter-green sweatshirt and pulled it over his head. He then grabbed his khaki colored jacket and put it on over it, "Funny, Dean. I think I can handle a walk to the diner."

"Alright," Dean said as he plopped back down on the pillows, "I offered."

"Thanks. I can manage. I'll be back soon. Want anything?" Sam asked as he set his pajama pants down on the table next to the front window.

"Nah, I am going to get some sleep before your ass wakes me up at the crack of dawn," Dean turned over, his back facing Sam, as he pulled the covers over his body.

Sam didn't respond, he just laughed and left the room. It was cold out. Sam could smell the snow in the air, it had a distinct smell. It was crisp and clean, and although it wasn't snowing now, he could tell it would soon. He walked through the parking lot briskly. Tabby had said the diner was only down the street a block, so there was no need to take the Impala, plus this was good exercise.

Unbeknownst to Sam, a set of blue eyes watched his every step. She watched as the young hunter left the parking lot and headed down the sidewalk. Tabby picked up the motel phone and quickly punched the keys. She waited a few seconds for the ringing in her ear to cease and then spoke quickly into the speaker.

"I found one. His name is Sam, he is headed to my Mum's diner," she listened as the man on the other end questioned her, "Of course I am sure. Hurry, he is alone now, but he has a brother." The man spoke briefly, instructing her, and then disconnected.

She set the phone down and looked back out the glass door. Sam was already out of eyesight. Her lips curled into a twisted, ominous smile. "He should work out nicely."