Okay, new story from me! Expected to be a shortish multichapter… around 5 sections, but I don't know for sure! Hope you enjoy…
Claire let out a long breath, and met her own eyes in the mirror. They were cloaked in carefully applied eyeliner and eye shadow, and were so heavily masked that they barely looked like her eyes at all. Similarly, her face was coated in thick powder. She looked like a doll, or an airbrushed magazine picture. Not like a human being: her human features were carefully obscured. Usually, she didn't wear much make-up. But today, she had felt the need for a mask. For armour.
She told herself that this job was the only chance she'd had in ages – possibly even her last chance, as she was pushing forty and could no longer exude the modern-ness and enthusiasm which was so crucial at interviews. If she wanted a career in journalism, at this stage in her life, this was the only way in. It would look good on her references, even if it was only a tiny local magazine whose offices dominated a single tumbledown building of maybe twenty storeys. Even if the employer had creeped her out at interview, and the whole place made her tense and shaky. It was a necessary evil.
She took a bus to the end of the street and walked from there to her new workplace, taking steadying breaths as she went. The butterflies in her stomach were getting more excited with every step she took, and no amount of deep, calm breathing would relax them. She told herself sternly that she was being ridiculous, and forced herself to step on faster, swallowing paving stones quickly under the confident clicking of her heels. She wished she had worn trousers. She felt vulnerable in a skirt.
The building loomed in front of her, too narrow for its height and towering precariously over the squat, frightened little buildings on either side of it. Grey and forbidding and shabby, drawing itself up further and further with every step she took towards it. Every step she took was smaller than the last, as though her feet were resisting the direction they were walking in.
She told herself, again, that she had no reason to be afraid, that she was being stupid. She took a few long, determined steps, and was at the door, which she pushed open with some effort. It creaked.
The hallway was dimly lit, dirty, and quiet. She walked up to the reception desk where a mousy, hunched up woman in her thirties was typing into a computer. The receptionist didn't look up when Claire approached.
'Excuse me?' she asked. Her voice came out high pitched and shaky, and she cursed herself. Way to make an impression…
The receptionist jerked in surprise and seemed to curl in on herself even further as she raised her head to look at Claire. 'Yes?' she said, and her voice was even weaker, barely a whisper.
'I'm here to see Mr Deces. I'm his new PA…'
'Oh…' the woman replied, softly. 'His office is on the top floor…'
Claire waited. There was a pause, and then she asked, hesitantly, 'Should I just go up, then?'
The woman nodded. 'Ok,' she mumbled. Clare headed for the elevator at the end of the hallway, and rode it up to the top floor of the dismal tower block. In the office labelled 'Richard Deces', she found nobody, but a thin, moustachioed man who was manning the photocopier outside the door told her he was on the floor below, 'in human resources, looking for you.'
She headed back to the elevator, but he called out to her as the door opened and she turned back.
'Are you sure you want to work here?' he asked, in a strangled sort of voice. There was something tense and uncomfortable in his face.
Uncertain, she decided to act as if he was joking. She smiled politely, stepped into the elevator, and disappeared.
Dean Winchester stared blankly down at the open textbook on the table, his eyes glazed over so fully and opaquely that he was no longer seeing the words he was looking at. Why on Earth did they have to learn French in High School? He's never met anyone who spoke it, and if they did, they ought to speak English, too, if they were in America. He couldn't see himself ever travelling as far as Europe – there were enough evil things on this continent to occupy the Winchesters for a good long while. So, why French?
Usually, he made a point of ignoring his homework, but the teacher had threatened to contact John, and he reckoned that would hardly be beneficial to anyone involved, and figured that if he did an assignment for a change it would keep her off his back for another few weeks.
According to the teacher, it wasn't that he lacked ability, he just didn't apply himself. Dean thought that sounded like bullshit reeled out from the Education Authorities' handbook, and had been close to saying so when she had made the threat about speaking to John. Still, the idea of actually doing an assignment for a change was all very well in theory, but in practice depended on his ability to apply himself when it was really necessary.
The textbook showed a short article from a French magazine: 'Le ministère de la santé chinois a confirmé lundi 13 août un nouveau décès dû à la grippe aviaire en Chine,' he read, barely understanding a word. He picked a random word from the sentence, and looked it up in the shabby dictionary he had borrowed from the school: at least if he knew what one of the words meant, it showed that he had made some effort with his homework.
Décès, he looked up. 'Death.' He quirked an eyebrow. Maybe, if the article had been written in a language people could understand, it would be interesting.
But, as it was, it wasn't remotely interesting, and he was glad when his father burst unceremoniously into the motel room and gave him an excuse to push the textbook away.
'What's up, Dad?'
Sammy, absorbed in his own homework, looked up almost reluctantly from the chunky biology book he was holding. Dean grimaced at his little brother, although he would have to agree that biology was more worthwhile in their way of life than French was ever likely to be.
John shivered, wriggling out of his jacket and throwing it down randomly on one of the beds which were the main furnishings of the room. 'Hunt, maybe…' he answered gruffly, with a critical look at his sons. Dean, doing his homework…never thought I'd see the day…he reflected, with a sort of wry amusement, mixed with pride. He wasn't sure whether his pride was for the son who defied teachers by putting hunting and family above anything school related, or for the son who was for once sitting down with a textbook. Perhaps a bit of both.
'Hunt?' Dean prompted, eager for a distraction which might lead him yet further from the hated textbook.
'Maybe,' John repeated, unhelpfully. The boys waited, not patiently, but at least quietly, for him to elaborate. 'I read about it. A girl committed suicide; jumped down a lift shaft.'
'Suicide…' Sam echoed, sceptically.
'That's what they're saying. But some guy saw her getting in to the elevator. He would swear blind that the elevator was there, and she fell right through the floor.
'Where's this guy?'
'Where d'you think? Psych ward. Disagrees with the cops, so he's crazy…' John replied dryly. 'Well,' he added, 'I guess you can see why they'd think he was a little screwed up…'
'They sent him to a psych ward, just 'cause he said he thought he saw that? Wouldn't it be easier to say that he just didn't see what he thought, or was… I don't know, drinking, or something?' Sam asked.
'Apparently he didn't seem too worried about the psych ward. Positively pleased to be admitted. Guess he had some other issues,' John shrugged, dismissing the witness as beside the point. 'Anyway, I was thinking about the girl… definitely something supernatural about her. Nobody at the office had seen her before that day…'
Dean nodded immediately. 'Worth checking out,' he said, pushing the book another inch away from him, across the table. Sam glanced at him sideways, evidently not fooled about the source of his brother's enthusiasm.
'You up for a visit to the offices of the…' John referred to a newspaper article in his hand. 'The Enquirer magazine, tonight?'
'Hell yeah,' Dean grinned, subtly giving the book another prod so that it toppled off the other side of the table.
'It sure looks like it ought to be haunted,' Dean commented, coming face to face with the office block.
Sam had to agree, but never missed an opportunity to tell his brother he was being irrational, so he replied, 'Exactly what sort of building looks haunted, Dean?'
Dean glanced sideways at his little brother. Too smart for his own good… 'That sort,' he answered simply, and followed his father towards the door.
Considering that it was an office block, and it was night time, the Winchesters were expecting to have to combat some form of security system, but this one proved to be child's play. The doors were locked, but not even alarmed. John found the lack of resistance disconcerting: either the owners wanted people to break in, or they thought nobody would be stupid enough to try for some reason that the Winchesters had yet to discover.
'Ok, Dean, can you have a look around on the lower levels? I'm going up to the floor she fell from. I'll meet you in an hour. Don't get into any trouble, and-,'
'Take care of Sammy,' Dean completed the sentence for his father. Sam scowled at the pair of them.
'It's Sam,' he growled, loud enough for Dean to hear, but not John. Dean smirked at him sideways.
'You might as well ask us to call you Daisy. You've always been Sammy, and you'll always be Sammy.'
'I'm fourteen, Dean!'
'I know that, Daisy.'
'Dean!' Sam whined.
'Are you sure your fourteen, Sammy? You sound about eight…'
Dean grinned, and ghosted away across the grimy synthetic flooring of the hallway.
'She fell down the elevator shaft, right? So maybe we should look in the elevator…'
Sam shrugged. It sounded logical. He stumped across the room after his brother, his boots clacking loudly on the hard floor. Dean shot a look back over his shoulder at the racket. Sam had never really mastered being quiet.
Dean pressed the call button, and the doors opened immediately.
'If there's any security guards here, they'll have noticed the lift moving,' Sam pointed out.
'If there's any here, they'll have heard you doing Riverdance on the floorboards, so I'm guessing there aren't any.'
Sam scowled at him, again. Dean grinned, turned away, and stepped into the waiting lift. And disappeared.
I love reviews! And I won't post another chapter until I've got some. (sulks) ; )