Disclaimer: Sadly, the wonderful characters from Supernatural do not belong to me. ((sigh)) More's the pity.
By: Vanessa Sgroi
Sam Winchester looked up from his computer when he heard someone move to stand next to him. He smiled when he saw the petite, gray-haired librarian, Mrs. Higbee, standing next to him with an armful of books.
"Hi, Mrs. Higbee," he whispered. For the last two days, he and Dean had been at the Black Earth Memorial Library, in the small town of Black Earth, Wisconsin, researching the unexplained disappearance of three elderly women on three separate occasions over the last month. In those two days, Mrs. Higbee had become an invaluable font of information.
"I brought you boys some more books on local legends. I don't know if there's anything you haven't seen in the others, but it's worth a try. How's your project coming anyway?"
Sam smiled at the woman and nodded his head, "It's coming along just fine." The Winchesters had told the librarian that they were independent filmmakers putting together an idea for a new movie. Sam felt bad for lying to the sweet elderly lady, but it couldn't be helped, of course. "You've been a peach, Mrs. Higbee, for helping us so much." Hearing Dean's soft snort from across the table, Sam kicked his brother's shin under the table.
"Good. Okay, boys, if you need anything else, you know where to find me." The elderly librarian shuffled away.
"You've been a peach, Mrs. Higbee," Dean mimicked Sam's words in a falsetto voice, earning him another jab in the shin.
Sam leaned over the table. "Shut up, jerk. You know, it wouldn't kill you to be nicer to the locals. More flies with honey and all that."
"What're you talking about," hissed Dean, "I'm nice."
"Yeah, like you were nice to Jervis Mason, that mechanic we questioned yesterday?"
"Hey, he was touching my car, man. My car!"
"Oh, you were just mad 'cause he pointed out a scratch and said you better take care of it before it rusts."
"Still . . ." Dean huffed out an annoyed breath.
Sam continued on, "And what about the waitress, Mabel Taylor, at the diner? You practically yelled at her."
"She refused to bring me extra onions! Said they caused bad breath and were bad for my digestion. And when she DID bring me my cheeseburger, there was a MINT on the plate with it."
The corner of Sam's mouth tilted up in a half smile at the memory. "Dean, she's somebody's grandma. You coulda cut her some slack, dude."
"Yeah, well, she ain't my grandma," the elder Winchester grumbled.
Deciding it was time to change the subject and get back to their hunt, Sam said, "Whatever. Listen, I think we need to go back out to Sunny Acre Beach."
"What? Why? We were there yesterday afternoon and there's nothing there. Nothing!"
"I think we were there at the wrong time of day. I think we're dealing with a water demon. Maybe a Kappas. But I think it only strikes at dawn."
Dean stared at Sam, a frown settling between his eyes. "That makes no sense. Why only at dawn?"
"I dunno. It's not like demons have to have a reason to do what they do."
Sighing, Dean sat back in his chair. "You're right. So we go back to Sunny Acre Beach tomorrow at dawn."
"At this point, that's our best option."
Glancing at his watch, the older man muttered, "Fine. Let's get outta here then and go get some dinner. It's almost 5 o'clock."
(SN) (SN) (SN)
At 4:00 a.m. the next day, Sam, freshly showered and fully dressed, reached out and attempted to shake his brother awake.
"Dean. Dean, c'mon, man—we've got to get going."
The man in the bed merely grunted.
"Dean! Wake up!"
"Wha? Huh? Oh, God, is it time already?"
"Yeah. Come on."
Dean sat up and rubbed his hands over his face. Dropping his feet to the floor, he muttered, "Have time for a shower?"
"If you hurry."
"On the nightstand."
"Thank God. I take back every bad thing I ever said about you, Sammy."
Sam laughed. "Give you a little caffeine and you're a pushover."
Dean grabbed the coffee and, not caring at its bitter taste or sludgy texture, drank half of it down in one gulp. The fact that it was lukewarm saved him from a burned tongue. Carrying the cup with him, he stumbled to the bathroom to take care of business.
Twenty minutes later, the brothers were on their way to back to Sunny Acre Beach. It took them twenty-five minutes to reach the secluded location. The gated entrance was marked with a hand-lettered sign designating "Sunny Acre Beach – Private". The road leading back from the gate was barely a dirt track and was choked by brush. They'd have to walk like they'd done the other day.
Dean pulled off the side of the road, shifted the car into "Park", and turned the key, silencing the Impala's powerful rumble.
"Yep, let's go."
Grabbing their weapons and bags from the trunk, the Winchesters started their hike toward the beach. Pale pink fingers of dawn were just tickling the horizon when they finally reached their destination. At this time of the morning, the hunters expected the area to be deserted and, therefore, were stunned to see a half a dozen people knotted on a little grassy knoll at the far end of the beach.
Dean slowed and said, "Shit. What do we do now?"
"Umm, well," Sam shrugged, "I guess we can go talk to them. Ask if they've seen anything strange."
They strolled across the sand toward the grassy knoll. Sam's mouth dropped when they neared the group. He felt heat climbing his cheeks and tinting them red. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Dean's jaw drop. A strangled squeak rushed past his brother's lips. Almost simultaneously, the brothers stopped in their tracks and spun around, their backs now to the group.
"Dean! They're . . . they're . . . they're naked!" Sam choked out.
The elder hunter, whose own cheeks were also bright red, muttered back, "I see that!"
"What do we do?"
"Get the hell out of here. Maybe we can just sneak away."
Luck wasn't with them. The members of the group overheard their conversation and one of them broke away and approached the boys. It was Jervis Mason, the mechanic Dean had talked to a couple days earlier. "Surprised to see you young whippersnappers here. Sunny Acre Beach is a private beach—a private nude beach. Our members are all required to be 60 and over," he paused and then continued proudly, "We have over a hundred members. So what brings you by?"
Sam and Dean turned back around, careful to keep their eyes focused only on Jervis's face,
"Well," Sam started, "we . . . uh . . .we . . ."
"Oh, Jervis, I know why they're here. It's for your movie research, isn't it, boys?"
Both Winchesters started at the sound of the familiar voice. Nanette Higbee, the town librarian, hurried over. She was wearing a red hat; and nothing else but a pair of white tennis shoes. The color of Sam's face rapidly approached crimson. Dean's wasn't far behind.
"Uh . . . uh . . . uh . . ."
Dean elbowed his brother in the ribs.
"Uh . . . yes, ma'am."
Seeing his brother's mouth continue to work but hearing no words, Dean jumped in, "We . . . uh . . . heard some things about . . . this place. Thought we'd check . . ." His own voice died away as another woman sauntered up to stand next to Mrs. Higbee.
It was the elderly waitress from the diner, Mabel Taylor. Like the others, she, too, was nude; a purple hat, silver necklace, and purple tennis shoes her only accoutrements. Dean squinched his eyes shut and he swallowed.
"Well, if it isn't Mr. Extra Onions." She looked down her nose at the man in front of her.
"Now, Mabel, leave the poor boy alone. You were saying, young man?"
Dean opened his eyes, mistakenly looked down, gasped, and jerked his eyes back up to Nanette Higbee's face.
"Have . . . have any . . . have any of you seen anything strange out here this morning?"
"Strange how?" Both Nanette and Jervis spoke at the same time.
Dean sent a beseeching look at his brother, who stood motionless, his face still crimson and his eyes locked straight ahead. He was tall enough that the tactic more or less worked.
"Sam? They wanna know what we mean by strange."
The younger man bit his lower lip as he tried to figure out what to say. Finally giving up, he said, "You know what—nevermind. We . . . uh . . . we can just come back some other time."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm . . . I mean we're . . . sure."
"Well, all right. If you say so. Would you boys like to join us for our weekly Tuesday morning brunch? Some more of our members should be arriving soon. It's usually a good turnout for brunch."
"NO!" The brothers answered in unison.
"No," repeated Dean, "we . . . ate. And we should be going, right Sam?"
Sam was quiet for a second. "Yeah, I . . . uh . . . guess."
Dean reached for his brother's arm and yanked his upper body down. "Whaddya mean you guess?" he whispered through clenched teeth.
"Think about it. Are we sure they'll be safe if we leave?" Sam whispered back.
"Ah, crap," Dean took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "So we have to . . ."
"Yeah, we have to stay. Just until the sun's fully up."
Dean dropped his chin to his chest in defeat. "On second thought, yeah, we'll stay."
"Wonderful!" Mrs. Higbee tittered, "Jervis, show these boys to a table and get them some coffee."
The next hour was nothing less than torture for the Winchester men. They sat at one of the back picnic tables sipping coffee and studiously avoiding looking at any of the people milling around the beach. It didn't stop the various older citizens of Black Earth from stopping by their table and striking up conversations. Dean's head throbbed from holding his body so stiffly.
"Can we go yet?"
Sam, who looked similarly miserable, glanced at his watch. "Let's give it another 15 minutes."
Dean twirled the empty coffee cup between his hands. He ticked the minutes off in his head.
"Can we go yet?"
Sam sighed. "Yeah, I think we're safely past the dawn. Let's go."
They stood and absently waved goodbye to the crowd, gazes safely averted. As they made their way down the beach, they heard Nanette Higbee call out, "Goodbye, boys, feel free to join us here tomorrow for Wednesday night pot luck!"
Picking up speed, they all but ran back to the Impala. Safely inside, they both dropped their heads into their hands and moaned.
"There's a couple of hours I'd like to erase from my mind," muttered Dean.
Clearing his throat, Sam said, "Yeah, well, guess what, dude?"
"We still have to come back tomorrow at dawn to take care of that water demon."
To his surprise, Dean laughed. "Damn, Sammy, that ain't nothin'. Compared to today, that'll be a piece of cake."
"Yeah. Except for one thing, Dean, remember?"
"One of us has to be the bait."
"Yeah, so? We done that a hundred times before."
"Apparently this water demon likes elderly women—possibly naked elderly women. So one of us has to be a . . ."
The smile ran away from Dean Winchester's face. "Don't say it, Sammy. Just don't say it."
There was a heartbeat of silence.
"Rock, paper, scissors?" queried the younger hunter.
"Yeah, rock, paper, scissors," the older agreed. Then he groaned a long and heartfelt groan, "Ah, man . . ."
I always lose at rock, paper, scissors.