What's Dead Should Stay Dead
Disclaimer: It's true, they belong to someone else. Sigh.
Thank You: To Charlie Girl 79 and Wysawyg for beta'ing.
Timeline: Set sometime between "Hunted" and "Heart."
Warning: May contain minor season 2 spoilers. I'll try to warn you at the beginning of the chapter if it contains spoilers. I may miss minor events, but if one of the big spoilers pops up, I'll let you know.
02:34:59 Sunday, Flatt Plains Community Cemetery
Dean was taking his turn at digging. Great mounds of mud surrounded him as he dug deeper, and sank lower into the grave. This was his third round of digging this time out. The grave was old, and apparently six feet under was only an estimate nearly one hundred years ago. Chink! The shovel made contact with the coffin.
"Yahtzee!" Dean called up to his brother. He wedged his boot between the edge of the coffin and the grave wall. The remaining mud on top of the coffin made it heavy, and Dean had to scrunch down in the narrow confines to get both hands on the wooden lid and lift. The old wood creaked in disapproval, and nearly a century old gust of stale, necrotic air blasted Dean in the face. He coughed several times, and wiped a dirty sleeve back and forth under his nose in a vain attempt to rid it of the smell.
Sam's face appeared at the top of the mud-slick pit. "Can you get out, or do you need some help?"
"I got it," Dean assured him, balancing precariously along the coffin's edge. He handed Sam his shovel.
"If you're sure, I'm going back to the car for the amulet. I think it is tied to Harrigan, and I want to compare the engraving on the amulet with the grave marker," Sam explained.
"Go," Dean said waving his arm at Sam. "I got it."
Sam's head disappeared once more, and Dean tried to gain purchase on the slippery mud-covered edge. He could see Harrigan's corpse resting in eternal repose as he narrowly avoided falling back into the coffin. After the initial blast of air, the grave was relatively odorless. It still stank of death, but the distinctive scent of decay was missing from a grave so old. All these years of hunting, and the smell still bothered him.
Dean gripped the top of one mound, and was about to heave himself out of the grave, when the cloud covered sky chose that precise moment to release a deluge of water on the inhabitants below. "You've got to be kidding me," Dean grumbled, repositioning his hands. In a graceless scramble, Dean managed to pull himself out of the freshly dug grave.
Rain pelted him from above with a vengeance. He wiped rain water out of his eyes, and searched for the salt. Spying it quickly, he sprinkled it generously on Harrigan's body, and reached for the kerosene. Despite the darkness, he could see Sam in the distance, returning from the Impala with what Dean assumed was the amulet dangling from his fingers.
That's when he saw it, the lightning fast shadow that morphed into a flesh-eating, ghoulish creature the moment before it hit Sam. Teeth gnashing, and claws ripping, it had Sam on the ground before Dean could offer a warning shout.
08:45:23 the Previous Thursday, Defiance, OH
"I think I found something," Sam stated over the top of the laptop screen.
"Yeah?" Dean replied setting down his copy of Weekly World News.
"Yeah," Sam replied. "There've been reports of grave-robbing over in Flatt Plains, Iowa."
"That sounds like a police sort of problem, not ours," Dean disagreed.
"It does," Sam agreed. "Until you get to what is missing from the graves."
Dean raised an eyebrow. "The bodies?" he guessed.
"The bodies," Sam affirmed. "You think it is some kind of Necromancer?"
"Either that or some seriously messed up freak," Dean replied taking a gulp of his coffee. Dean did the reverse blow with his mouth hanging open. The coffee was extremely hot.
Sam wrinkled his face at Dean's antics. "You ever think of checking the temperature before you take a huge swig?" he asked.
"Duh up," Dean replied, his mouth still full of coffee. He swallowed and added, "Anything else?"
"Hmm…" Sam hummed his eyes scanning the article. "Only that the grave-robbing started two weeks ago. The local paper is hinting strongly that it is connected to the recent influx of new comers to the area."
"They're easy to blame," Dean replied knowingly. "Not that we should count them out." He popped an entire biscuit into his mouth.
"Iowa is a strange place for this to start, you have to admit," Sam said.
Dean swallowed the biscuit and chased it with another swig of too hot coffee. "How far are we from Flatt Plains?" he asked.
Keys taps followed Dean's question. "Five hundred and seventy-two miles so, we are only four hours away," Sam quipped cutting the time in half.
"Funny," Dean replied with a grin. "I can make it in two."
The Impala sped down the highway at nearly seventy-five miles per hour. One of the things Dean appreciated about the rural Midwest was its absolute flatness. And, since it was mid spring rather than summer, the fields were empty, muddy acres of barren land. No corn as high as an elephant's eye, to block his view of the road, or possible law enforcement officials hoping to catch an errant speeder on an otherwise boring strip of highway.
Dean cranked the radio as, "Highway to Hell," blasted out the speakers. Sam looked over at Dean, turned back to the side window, and grinned. A new hunt, a road trip and some classic rock always seemed to work wonders on Dean's disposition. "How far are we from Flatt Plains?" Sam asked as the dying refrains thumped to a close.
"About five more hours," Dean replied turning down the radio to hear Sam. "Do you need to stop?"
"I wouldn't mind stretching my legs," Sam replied stretching his long legs as best as he could in the seat. "And another coffee, and a snack."
Dean looked over at Sam in surprise. In his opinion Sam still ate like a teenager at times. Eating nothing for days at a time, and then suddenly remembering he needed to eat, and eating every two hours. Today was apparently one of those days. "Sure thing," Dean replied. "We could use some gas anyway."
The green highway sign several minutes later showed the mileage to Peru as ten miles. Dean racked his memory for the reason the name sounded familiar. When it hit him, Dean smiled. "Next stop, Peru," Dean announced.
Dean sounded entirely too enthusiastic about a delay, and it raised the red flag for Sam. "Dean, what's so special about Peru?" he asked.
"Nothing, why?" Dean replied quickly, not averting his gaze from the road.
"You sound a little chipper about a stop," Sam replied. "You never like to stop."
"Dude, first of all, chipper? I don't think I've ever been what could be labeled as chipper," Dean stated. "Secondly, I don't mind stops. It beats running out of gas in the middle of nowhere any day."
"We're not exactly in the middle of nowhere," Sam defended weakly. "The next town is less than ten miles away."
"Would you like to walk?" Dean asked with mock confusion, baiting Sam.
"No," Sam replied giving Dean a dirty look.
"Then we fill her up," Dean replied.
"Dean, that argument doesn't even make sense, and…." Sam trailed off as they neared Peru. Even from this distance, the flags and balloons could easily be seen. Sam knitted his brow in confusion, and turned the radio off. He rolled down the window and listened for a moment. The distinctive melody of band music drifted across the desolate landscape. The melody sounded familiar, but Sam could not quite place it. Realization dawned on Sam's features. "No," he said simply.
"No what?" Dean asked with a smirk.
"No, we aren't stopping here..." Sam started. The view in front of him caused him to lose his concentration. The road was filled with band members as a parade marched in front of the car. "The road is blocked off," Sam remarked, stating the obvious.
"Looks like we'll have to hoof it from here," Dean observed pulling the Impala to a stop along a side street. "We'll get some supplies, find out where the closest, accessible gas station is, and be on our way."
"Look, I'll just wait here-uh!" Sam shouted, jumping in his seat. Outside the passenger window was a man in a bright yellow jumpsuit, with curly red hair and makeup. Sam glared at Dean. "Is there something about Peru you may have forgotten to tell me?" he asked through gritted teeth.
"You know," Dean replied opening the door. "Now that you mention it, I do seem to remember something about a circus festival."
"Dean," Sam protested as Dean shut the door cutting off any further commentary. "Dean!" Sam called to his brother's retreating form.
Dean did not stop, but instead counted slowly in his head. Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, and now, he thought, and pointed his finger at Sam as he materialized on his right side.
"Dean," Sam snapped. "Let's just go."
"Live a little, Sam," Dean replied. "We're just staying long enough to pick up some food, and get gas. Ah, smell that? That's the scent of carnival food, elephant ears, corn dogs, caramel corn, and cotton candy. What better place to get a snack?"
"Dean, if I ate half that stuff, I'd be sick all the way to Iowa," Sam complained. "You're the only one around here with a cast iron stomach."
The music reached a crescendo and Dean's response was lost to the noise of the crowd and the band. Dean slipped easily between the people in the thick crowd, his ability to anticipate the movement of others an automatic response. Normally, Sam would have kept steady pace with Dean, equally adept in the fine art of hunting and stalking. Today, however, he was distracted by the ever-present threat of the grease-painted ones.
Sam spotted Dean at a concession stand. By the time Sam reached him, Dean was already munching on a corn dog, and drinking lemonade. "Come on, Dean," Sam stated firmly. "Let's go."
"I thought you were hungry," Dean countered, whirling around to face Sam.
"Changed my mind," Sam replied simply. He was annoyed by the suspicion that Dean had only agreed to stop in Peru to torment him. Truth be told, he had been a little secretly amused by Dean's discomfort on the airplane last year, but at least he had not dragged him into the air for nothing. They had been hunting a demon then, and besides, Dean seemed to be getting a little too much enjoyment out of this.
"Okay," Dean acquiesced. "I already found out where we can fill up the car, and you can buy a coffee and something to eat there."
Sam squinted in disbelief. "That was too easy," he remarked. "What's up?"
"I don't know what you are talking about," Dean assured him. "Are you ready?"
"Yeah," Sam replied. He whirled around to head back to the Impala, and came face to face with a blue-haired, white-faced, clown in red suspenders. Sam stood stock still his mouth popping open and closed like a suffocating fish.
"You'll have to excuse him," Dean replied after a beat, grabbing Sam's arm. "He's a little shy."
Sam did not even have the sense to glare at Dean, until Dean had hustled him nearly an entire block away. "A little shy?" he asked.
"Would you rather I said, coulrophobic?" Dean asked with a smirk.
Sam shot Dean a look a surprise. "Big word," he quipped. "Are you sure it means what you think it does?"
"Hey, it concerns my little brother," Dean replied sincerely. "Of course I know."
It was the times like this, when Dean followed up being a jerk with genuine concern or caring that made it difficult for Sam to stay angry with him. He slugged Dean on the arm, and continued walking away from the noisy circus parade taking place on Main Street.
Sam was striding fast, concentrating only on getting back to the car as quickly as possible. He was blocking the sights and sounds around him, and did not notice the thinning of the crowd as he approached the street where the Impala was parked.
"Sam, pay attention!" Dean snapped, yanking hard on Sam's arm.
Sam was pulled from his reverie with a jerk. "What?" he asked.
Dean simply pointed at the street, and seconds later a car shot past them from a side street. "You get yourself killed, Sam," Dean stated sternly. "And I swear, I'll dig up your body and salt and burn your ass myself."
"Sorry," Sam replied contritely. "I guess I wasn't paying attention."
"You guess?" Dean replied sarcastically. He slapped Sam on the chest. "It's clear, let's go."
Sam followed Dean to the Impala. "How far is the gas station?" Sam asked climbing into the car.
"Right there," Dean replied nodding his head.
Sam looked down the road, and saw the gas station three blocks away. They had traipsed through the circus festival for no reason. Sam sighed loudly. "Figures," he muttered.
Dean only smiled, and pulled out into the traffic. Three short blocks later, he pulled into the gas station. He swiped his credit card, and started to fill the Impala. "Hey, pick me up something while you're in there, okay?" he shouted to Sam.
Sam waved a hand at Dean without turning around and entered the small food mart. Sam filled a Styrofoam cup, relishing the delightful aroma of nearly fresh coffee. He added five creamers and six sugars into the small cup, and stirred until the coffee was a light brown color. Sam picked up the voices of the cashier and one of the customers, and instantly wished he had not. He turned his head slightly to look at the men at the counter.
"Cops say it's just a bunch of kids playing a joke. You know how crazy it gets around here during the circus festival," the customer with the case of Heineken beer stated. "I don't buy it. We've never had anything that crazy happen around here before."
Sam popped a lid on his cup, and wandered over to the cold beverages for a couple of bottled waters, and a cola for Dean. He kept on eye on the men, and an ear tuned to their conversation. He toyed briefly with grabbing Dean a turkey sandwich from the cold case, but the watery texture of the meat was a strong deterrent.
"Don't you think you're blowing this a little out of proportion, Jake?" the cashier asked. "It's only a couple of frightened old ladies. They probably stayed up too late watching reruns of the X-Files or MSTK3."
"You really believe that, Matt?" Jake asked. "And I doubt either of those old ladies has even heard of the X-Files, more or less MSTK3."
Sam grabbed a bag of chips, and a package smoked jerky. He slowly worked his way to the front while maintaining the pretense of shopping. He made a mental note of Googling MSTK3.
"All I know is there isn't any such thing as ghosts," Matt replied. "That'll be nine dollars and ninety-eight cents."
"I don't know about that," Jake replied. "My grandma said she saw my grandpa after he died. He was in the basement pointing inside the crawlspace of his workshop. When she sent my dad in there, he found almost ten thousand dollars worth of rolled quarters duct-taped to the ceiling."
"That's because your grandpa lived through the Great Depression, and your grandma is a nutcase," Matt replied placing the beer in a paper bag, and taking Jake's money. "Doesn't mean anything."
Jake laughed. "Well, you got me there, Matthew, but I still say there's something strange going on."
Sam decided now was the time to interject. "Sorry to interrupt, but what are you guys talking about?" Sam asked setting down his purchases.
Jake turned to face Sam, his weathered face lit up in a smile. "At last, someone who is willing to listen to reason," he said.
"You call that reason?" Matt asked sarcastically.
Jake dismissed Matt with a wave, and turned his attention back to Sam. "There have been two sightings in the last five days of a ghost at the Mark Antony Hotel. Two women have seen the ghost of a young woman walking down the stairs, and out into the garden. They say her throat was cut."
Sam wrinkled his nose in faux disgust. "Her throat was cut? So, uh, the Mark Antony huh? I guess I know where we won't be staying tonight."
"I sure as hell wouldn't," Jake agreed.
"That everything for you?" Matt asked.
"Yeah," Sam replied. "My brother paid for the gas at the pump."
"Yep, yep, I see," Matt replied nodding his head. "That'll be eight eighty-seven."
Sam handed Matt ten dollars and asked, "Were the women who saw the ghost hurt?"
"Nope, just scared," Jake replied. "Can't really blame them either."
"No, I guess not," Sam agreed accepting his change from the clerk. "Thanks for the tip."
"Sure thing," Jake replied. "Have fun at the festival."
"Uh, sure," Sam replied hesitantly. He joined Dean, who was already in the Impala ready to hit the road. "I picked you up some jerky," he stated tossing the bag to Dean.
"Great, let's go," Dean replied throwing the Impala into Drive.
"I hate to say this," Sam replied. "But, I don't think we can leave town yet."
Dean cracked a lop-sided grin. "Change your mind about the corn dogs?" he asked.
"No," Sam replied, opening one bottle of water and taking a long swig before continuing. "There've been a couple of ghost sightings at the Mark Antony Hotel. Do you think we should check it out before we leave?"
"Anyone hurt?" Dean asked suddenly all business.
"No," Sam replied. "And it doesn't sound like it is escalating, but the witnesses said it appeared her throat was cut."
"That means she could go from Casper to Constance Welch without warning," Dean theorized. "We should spend the night there, and see if we can figure it out easily. If not, we head to Iowa where the really nasty stuff is happening and come back later."
"Sounds like a plan to me," Sam agreed. "Let's go check in."
It turned out the name was more prestigious than the hotel itself. The two story old mansion was in a mild state of disrepair. White peeling paint, broken shutters, and the sidewalk was cracked in several places with weeds poking through. Dean pulled the Impala to a stop outside the main entrance. "It certainly looks like prime haunted real estate," Dean remarked.
Sam gave Dean a look of disbelief. For a seasoned hunter, Dean seemed to make snap judgments about the appearance of places rather easily. "You should feel right at home," Sam replied earning him a huge grin from Dean.
Without a further word, Dean exited the Impala and retrieved their duffle bags. Sam emerged moments later with the laptop, and the snacks from the food mart in tow. The boys entered through the main door, and stepped into the foyer.
The carved wooden ceiling loomed two stories above them. The staircase to the second floor was open to the foyer. A dusty, crystal chandelier dangled from the ceiling, clinking in the breeze from the open door and scattering rainbows around the room.
Looking around, Dean raised an eyebrow and cocked his head in a clear question of, was I wrong? Sam shook his head in response. This hotel was prime haunted real estate.
"May I help you gentlemen?" the motel clerk asked.
The brothers turned as one, and faced the clerk. He was a short, thin, wisp of a man with dark hair, and a handlebar mustache. He was sporting not only wire-rimmed glasses, but a black bow tie with his white shirt and black trousers. Dean did not know if the man was attempting to dress in period clothing, or this was the way he normally dressed. Frankly, it did not seem to matter. It was as funny as hell.
"Looking for a room," Dean responded, swallowing back any one of ten different sarcastic or rude, albeit funny, replies.
"Well, I assumed as much," snapped the slender, little man. "You certainly aren't here to purchase sundries. It appears you arrived with provisions."
"What?" Dean asked.
"Uh, we would like to rent a room with two beds for the night, please," Sam interjected, rescuing Dean from the vitriolic clerk.
"Certainly," the clerk snipped, wrinkling his nose several times causing the handlebar mustache to quiver. This time Dean could not quite suppress his laughter, and it came out as a strangled, choking noise. The clerk narrowed his eyes at Dean in a tacit expression of disapproval.
"Here is your key to room 212," the clerk said handing the key to Sam. "My name is William. If you have any concerns or questions, please direct them to me at the front desk. How will you be paying for the room?"
Dean handed William a credit card and asked, "What time is check out?"
"Eleven a.m.," William responded, handing Dean back his card. "Will that be all?"
Dean nodded at Sam who jutted his chin in return and headed up the stairs to their room. Dean leaned on the front desk and said, "We heard there've been ghost sightings this week. I'm kind of a fan of ghost stories. Is there any truth to it?"
Dean honestly expected the sour little man in front of him to wrinkle his nose in disgust, or snap at him with a sharp comment. What he did not expect was for William's face to brighten and a small, somewhat forced smile to grace his features.
"You aren't here for the circus festival?" William asked his smile waning.
"Ah, no," Dean replied. "In fact, my brother hates that sort of thing."
"Thank goodness," William sighed. "I understand the festival is good for the town, but it is not good for my floors." He swept his arm towards the scratches on the hardwood floor.
"Yeah, that's gotta be a pain," Dean replied. "About that ghost?"
"Certainly," William replied straightening the pens on the desk. "The apparition two of our women guests have seen is our missing housekeeper Maureen. She's been missing for nearly a week."
Dean was momentarily dumbfounded by the sudden about face from the previously cantankerous clerk. "What makes you think Maureen is dead?" he asked finally.
"Oh, I don't know that she is," William said dismissively. He leaned in and whispered. "But her boyfriend was an aggressive thug. She hasn't been back to work in a week, and the descriptions of the spirit match those of Maureen."
"Sounds pretty convincing to me," Dean agreed. "Do you know where she lived?"
"Absolutely not," William replied with a frown. "That would be inappropriate."
Dean shook his head at William's double standard. Knowing where a co-worker lived, bad; gossiping about said co-worker, good to go. "Thanks," Dean replied with a smirk and a head jerk.
"You are welcome," William replied moving the bell on the desk an infinitesimal distance on the desk.
Dean grabbed the duffel bags, and headed up the stairs to see how Sam was coming along with the research. He tried the door, and was pleased to discover Sam had left the door unlocked.
"Hey, Sam, how's the research going?" Dean asked walking into the room.
Sam jumped and turned away from the computer, obscuring most of the monitor screen with his shoulders. "Fine. What were you able to find out?"
Dean eyed the computer, but made no move to discover what Sam was hiding. "William thinks the ghost is Maureen the housekeeper. Said it looks like Maureen and that she wasn't dating the boyfriend of the year," he said moving closer to Sam.
"Yeah?" Sam replied twisting slightly to keep his shoulders between Dean and the computer. "Mrs. St. John in room 214 said she thought it looked like Maureen too. Except she went so far as to say she heard Maureen and William getting into a row about a week ago."
"A row?" Dean asked amusement lacing his tone.
"Her words, not mine," Sam replied, mirroring Dean's movement in an apparent attempt to keep Dean from seeing what was on the screen.
"With William?" Dean asked as he feigned a lunge to the left, but sprang up on Sam's right. Sam spun around trying block the monitor, but nearly fell out of the small chair in his haste. "MST3K? They putting out another movie or something?"
"Uh," Sam paused. "Something like that."
"You don't even know what it is, do you?" Dean asked, the look on Sam's face affirming his belief. "Sam, sometimes I have to question your Geek Master level."
"Dean, Geek Masters wouldn't have levels, because they're Masters," Sam replied emphasizing the last word.
"Never mind," Dean replied dismissing the notion with a head shake. "I don't question it." He walked away from Sam and over to a bed, sitting down on the edge. He sank backwards into the dip in the center of the bed, and wriggled quickly to right himself.
"The housekeeper's name is Maureen Sanderson, and she has not been reported missing by her family," Sam stated several minutes later. "Her father is Maurice Sanderson, of Sanderson's Construction Company. Her mother died in '98."
"Maybe she doesn't talk to daddy dearest," Dean replied. "It doesn't mean she's not missing."
"Agreed, but her last listed address is 674 Filmont Avenue," Sam replied looking over at Dean. "The same as Maurice Sanderson."
Dean stopped playing with the tassels on the gold thread, crocheted duvet, and returned Sam's gaze. "Sounds like the place to start," he remarked. He saw the pained look on Sam's face and in a moment of generosity offered his brother a pity out. "I'll go talk to Maurice, and you can stay here and dig up more information on Maureen."
"You sure?" Sam asked. Sam knew he should go with Dean, but he was going to stay here.
"Someone has to stay here, interview the old ladies and lay down the lines of salt," Dean replied. "That definitely sounds like a job for you."
"Funny," Sam replied. "If you find out the boyfriend's name, give me a call."
"Will do," Dean replied heading for the door. "And Sam?"
"Yeah?" Sam replied looking up from the computer once again.
"Don't get so caught up in research that you forget to lay the salt lines," Dean cautioned.
"That only happened one time," Sam protested.
"It only takes once," Dean replied knowingly.
"I was twelve," Sam defended. "And I did remember the salt lines…eventually."
"After Dad and I got back," Dean reminded him.
"Dad really gave me hell for that," Sam said, remembering. He ran his fingers through his hair trying unsuccessfully to push away the memory of the dressing down his father had given him that night.
"You deserved it," Dean stated lightly thumping his hand on the doorjamb.
"Yeah," Sam replied, "Especially, because I wasn't really caught up in research."
"Alright, Sam," Dean replied enthusiastically with a smirk.
"Not that," Sam said correctly reading the look on Dean's face. "I was reading, 'Lord of the Flies,' for Mrs. Denelli's lit class. I had a report due in the morning."
"Sam, Sam, Sam," Dean responded in a pitying tone, and a corresponding shake of the head.
"Dean, just go," Sam replied. "I promise. I'll lay the salt lines, brush my teeth, and be in bed before eleven."
"Ha ha," Dean replied. "I'll call you if I find out anything interesting."
"You do that," Sam replied his head already buried back in the computer. He barely registered the sound of the door closing with a quiet click.
AN: Feedback welcome!
Yes, there really is a Circus Festival in Peru, Indiana. When I saw the circus festival information, I couldn't resist having the boys on a small layover! However, it takes place during the first two weeks of July, not mid spring if any of you are overcome by a sudden urge to attend.