Prologue

Catskill Mountains, New York…

"What are we still doing out here?" Dean asked not for the hundredth time since Sam had 'lured' his ass out to the middle of nowhere with the promise of 'maybe' another Wendigo.

Sam let out a frustrated breath but kept hiking up the leaf littered path, the same one they'd been on for the last two days.

"Wendigo. Maybe. Five missing hikers. No trace." Short answers, that's what he had been reduced to and Dean hated it.

"Freaking nature yuppies." Dean grumbled under his breath. "Dude, I hate camping."

Still, Sam managed to keep his mouth shut.

Two weeks.

That's how long it had been since Dean made that deal.

Two weeks…

That only left…

Eleven months, one week and four days.

'Three, Sammy. Sun's going down already.'

Yep, they'd have to stop again, set up their campsite, take turns on watch…

"Hate camping…" Sam muttered, his scowl darkening.

Devils Kitchen Campsite, past Devil's Kill…

"You realize my time is valuable." Dean snarked. He sat on his sleeping bag, the large bag of peanut M&M's at his side, it was still half full.

"Dean." Sam didn't bother looking up from the fire and their meager ration of canned beans and Spam.

'Spam…' Sam made a face and pushed the food around his plate.

"Whatsa matter Sammy. Dontcha like Spam?" Dean chuckled knowing how much Sam actually hated the fake meat. "Here." He tossed the yellow bag of candy. "Have a peanut."

Sam let out another sigh. He grabbed the bag and set it aside, he got up to toss his dinner into a bush as Dean looked on.

The green eyes followed him, surveyed the leafy canopy over their heads wondering when the damn Wendigo would make an appearance. The last time it had come up in broad daylight…

"Get some rest." Sam said dropping his spoon into the plastic bag as he took his seat again, this time facing away from the fire. "I'll take first watch."

Catskills, Indian Head Wilderness…

Silence.

Dean hated the creepy silence. At first, when they'd been hiking he hadn't noticed it, the quiet. He'd been grumbling in his mind about the woods, nature, camping, hiking, anything to do with him being out in the middle of nowhere wasting time he couldn't afford to toss aside like there was more than a year-.

Silence.

Over an hour ago, that's when Dean first noticed the eerie silence. No birds, no animals, not even the wind rustling through leaves. The only sound was the crunching of their boots on the leaf covered ground. It started to sound like there was someone whispering to them.

"We're so lost." Dean said yet again shrugging off the eerie thoughts.

"…Not lost…" Sam grumbled keeping his attention on the trail ahead. It didn't help that he really had no clue as to where they were going except that they were in the right area. All the victims families, their friends, they all were consistent in one thing; there was no contact after the third day on the trail. No cell phone, no sat phone, nothing.

"Dean…" Sam frowned at his phone. "Check your cell."

"Why? You need to know the time?" Dean snapped but dutifully took out his own phone. He pressed the button to power on and pressed it again, harder. Still nothing happened. The screen stayed black, no beep or sound from the damn thing.

"Nothing?" Sam questioned looking over his brother's shoulder.

"No." Dean slipped the phone into his pocket again turning in a circle to look at the forest, all green and brown, bits of rust and bright yellow in some places. "Tell me this place isn't slightly creeping you out?"

"No…" Sam turned away, brown eyes intent on finding…something- anything that would get them closer to the thing that was taking the hikers.

"No." Dean repeated with a frustrated huff of breath. "Dude, you're full of it. These woods are creepy. Too damn quiet. You haven't noticed the lack of chirping birds or scurrying fuzzy little animals?"

Sam turned to his brother about to say he hadn't noticed shit. He hadn't noticed anything other than his constant complaining this hunt was a bust. That Dean hadn't said anything other than how valuable his time was-.

Sam just couldn't – he couldn't.

"I noticed." Was all he said.

Catskills, Indian Head Wilderness…4hours later…

"Dude." Dean panted as he climbed up the rocky incline. "Are we there yet?"

Sam gritted his teeth and pulled himself up over the slab of stone in his way. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and looked… the heavy sigh the only indication of the climb ahead of them.

Dean gripped the ledge, his feet digging for purchase as he pulled himself up.

"Little help?" Dean grunted just as his foot slipped and the ledge he was gripping broke off. "Sam!"

It wasn't a dangerous climb, not by anyone's opinion. From the bottom of the 'hill' it looked like nothing more than an 85 degree obtuse angle covered in dirt, rocks, patches of grass and various leaves from the nearby trees. It wasn't as if they'd been climbing Mt. Everest or the Himalayas.

Still, Dean didn't want to go all the way down… start his climb all over, waste more time…

"Pull me up, man!"

"Dean," Sam grabbed is brother's jacket collar and hauled him half onto the ledge with a grunt. "It's not a dangerous fa-slide." He quickly corrected.

"Then you sled down this freaking excuse for a 'hill'." Dean snapped getting to his knees. "Why are we going up in the first place?" he could see they didn't have much further to go but still… "Why couldn't we just go back? There's no Wendigo, Sam. I'm almost positive there never was." He grumbled now on his feet hoping, longing to go back the way they'd come, back to civilization and his car. Dean hated having left the Impala in that excuse of a parking lot. But Sam had been adamant this hunt was important. All the hikers they'd had files on, none had come back, not a single one as far back as the 20's.

"Emeric Rine, Nilo Boudre and Bran Felix. All disappeared in the same year- no trace was ever found." And then Sam had tossed the manila folder onto the hotel table daring him not to bother and take a look. "Devi and Kali Sujith, on vacation took a hike." Their picture slid on the table to stare at Dean. "Both women disappeared along with their trail guide, Azim Ferr." Another picture, black and white clearly just as old as the twins and not related. "Then in June of 1984 Rae Crow got separated from her group- never heard from again or seen. Couple of years later, Bayden Hernan and Iliana Vega both go missing along the same trail." More pictures slid out of the file, each one much more up to date than the first. "I'm telling you Dean, this one is important. Whatever is taking these people isn't going to stop unless we make it." And the last picture, the most recent victim taken just a couple of months ago.

"Let's go." Only this time it was Sam who said it. This time it was Dean who bit his tongue and just yanked himself up to the cave opening.

W


AN: I posted just like I promised but I'm still working on finishing Slayer and one of the other started fics. Postings for this will be sporadic at best. Unless I get some ... encouragement...?