Title - They Came at Night

Summary - There was a rustle, a bang, a crunch of leaves. They were noises that made John go outside with a gun. What he didn't think about was what was outside was trying to get in to his two sleeping boys.

Part of 'The Dark Horse' series

"They Came at Night"

"Chapter One: Brass Tacks"

After years of listening, John grew attuned to the softest of noises. A pin could drop at the other end of the backwoods cabin at which they were staying; and John would jerk awake, grab a gun, and find the noise within ten seconds flat. He couldn't afford a mistake when it came to noises. He couldn't just brush it off as the wind or the house settling. Sure 98% of the noises he heard at night were nothing to take notice of, but there was that slim change that something caused those noises.

This time the noise started out as rustling. Anybody else would have assumed it was merely leaves blowing about - it was the heart of autumn. Except John refused to take that risk when his boys were just in the other room sleeping peacefully. His gun always lay beneath his pillow at night. He needed to have it close for easy access. The hunk of metal was his security blanket - a screwed up sort of security blanket. Checking the clip to make sure it was full, he settled the bullets efficiently. He then eased off the bed.

Check the perimeter.

The salt lines were still in place. The windows were closed and latched. The doors were locked. It was secure. Cautiously, John peered out the window in the living area, the musty curtain clenched in his hand. It was pitch black outside. John scanned the yard looking for shadows or glowing eyes. There were none.

That's when John walked towards the boys' room. Peeking inside, the boys were sound asleep in the queen-sized bed. Sam was buried underneath the covers. The top of his messy head and a lone foot was all that could be seen of the seven-year-old. Dean, on the other hand, was clearly seen. The kid's chest and shoulders were uncovered. His limbs were sprawled across the bed, one arm draped lazily over his little brother's stomach. John strained his ears to hear his sons' small puffs of air.

That's when the bang sounded. It sounded as though a shutter collided with the house. It was close, and it had stirred Dean awake. The kid looked at him with blurry eyes, a hand rising to his face to wipe the sleep away from his eyes.

"Go back to bed, Dude," whispered John. "I'm going outside to check it out."

Closing the door with a soft snap, John made his way to the small kitchenette. Rummaging through the cabinets, he searched quickly for the salt. He snatched up the container and laid a thick line outside the boys' bedroom. Just in case there was something lurking out in the dark.

Then, he pulled on his old boots and shrugged on his leather jacket. Grabbing the keys off the coffee table, John shoved them into the pocket of his sweatpants. He grabbed a flashlight, a bottle of holy water, and an extra clip of iron bullets. Better to be prepared even if there was nothing there - better safe than sorry was the motto of his life.

The brisk autumn air woke him completely as he stepped out the front door, avoiding the salt line. His gun was drawn out in front of him. He waited on the porch for a minute just surveying to give his eyes time to adjust to the darkness. The only sounds that could be heard were the chirps of crickets and hoots of owls. Taking a small step forward, John slowly descended the couple porch steps.

That's when it happened. Crunching could be heard from the right. It was the sound of boots smashing leaves. He jerked towards the right, flicking the safety off in one fluid movement. Shoulders squared, gun clenched in both hands, John frantically searched the area with his eyes. No movement was detected.

Then, the wind picked up. Large gusts of wind that made the leaves whirl and dance in midair. The porch lights flickered on and off. The Impala roared to life, the radio blasting an old Johnny Cash song: Their brands were still on fire and their hooves were made of steel.The combination of bright lights from the car and the leaves literally making a sandstorm blinded John temporarily. The porch lights died instantly as the trees swayed dangerously. They bent and twisted, and John was convinced that they would snap in half. The radio started to crackle, Cash's words filled with static: For he saw the Riders coming hard and he heard their mournful cry. That's when the static overtook completely and the words were no longer pulsating through the night air.

A gust of wind shoved John backwards into the side of the house. The gun fell from his grasp, making a loud clunk! as it smashed onto the wooden boards. John fought against the invisible binds that kept him pinned against the house but to no avail. He grunted as he strained his muscles to break free.

Then John saw the culprits. There were three of them - two men and a woman. The flying leaves parted as they walked through the bits of nature as though they owned the very earth they walked upon. They paid no attention to John as they climbed the stairs and made their way towards the front door. The woman twisted the knob and opened it as if it had never been locked.

The taller of the two men raised his hand and the wind howled louder than John thought possible. He let out a strangled cry as he watched the salt line waste away into the storm of leaves. The three disappeared into the cabin as John's screams filled the night air. He only hoped it was enough of a warning to get Dean's attention, to warn his son of the impending danger.

As the door slammed shut, John fell onto the porch in a heap. The lights of the Impala ceased to shine, the static no longer vibrated through the air, and the leaves lay on the ground as though they had always been there. Scrambling up, he made his way to the front door and twisted the doorknob. It was locked. John forced all of his weight into the wood, but it wouldn't budge. His shoulder rammed into the door again but the frame wouldn't give. Stepping back, he tried to kick the door down but was unable to even make a dent.

John stopped cold when he heard his eldest screaming. The words were incoherent, but he could tell Dean's voice from a mile away. Then, he heard the sobbing cries of Sammy. The bastards had his children. They had his boys.

A lump formed in John's throat as his insides twisted together. He could hear his ragged breathing, could feel his heart pounding wildly in his ears. His boys - his babies - were going to die. His knees felt weak, his hands shaking. The bitter taste of bile coated his throat as his mouth watered. He had to do something. He had to save his sons.

"No!"

He was only vaguely aware of the tears pouring down his face. His fists unsteadily pounded on the wood with fervor. He ignored the pain in his hands, ignored the blood pouring from his split knuckles. All that mattered was getting inside the cabin to his sons, to save them from certain death.

Something flashed across the window. John abandoned the door to look through the glass. The taller of the two men was tying his oldest to a chair with an old piece of rope. John hadn't seen Dean look so scared and small for years - not since the days after Mary had perished in their home. His face was stark white, eyes wide with fear. His normally brave eleven-year-old was reduced to tears as his body shook with emotion and his arms weakly tried to break the bonds that were keeping him still.

John pounded on the window in an attempt to calm Dean down in order to get his head back in the game. With two sharp raps, Dean's head snapped to the window. John didn't need to hear the muffled scream to know what his son was trying to communicate. Dad. A word that was not acknowledging his presence or a cry for help. No, the name was Dean acknowledging he trusted his father to help them, to save them.

Then, with a wave of the hand from the captor, the musty curtains snapped shut. Fear and anger nearly suffocated him as he marched to the trunk of the Impala. He was a man on a mission, and he was determined to get his boys out of that cabin alive. Out of all the weapons and survival kits, John was pissed that he didn't have one axe or some large weapon that could tear through a wooden door. His father was big on survival and always made sure John had adequate supplies for all situations. Except, his father never supplied him with hacking weapons. After this was over, John vowed he'd always carry an axe in the trunk.

A demon - demons. That was what John thought they were dealing with. What other kind of monster could display such abilities? A shotgun filled with rock salt, holy water, and an iron blade were his weapons of choice. He didn't know exactly how he was going to break through the barriers into the house, but that didn't matter. He'd get in one way or another - of that much he was sure.

What he couldn't figure out was why Dean and Sammy? Why would the demons separate the three of them? Surely, if the demons wanted anybody, it would be John. He'd sent a few demons packing down to the pit in his time as a hunter of all things supernatural. But Dean and Sammy? They knew next to nothing on the topic. John wanted to keep them in the dark about demons as much as possible, didn't want them involved with exorcisms or their twisted ways. He feared that a demon was behind Mary's death and that meant there was no way in holy hell that John was letting his boys near demons if he could help it.

So the fact that demons - if they were indeed demons - had taken his sons hostage was more than a little unsettling. They went straight for the boys, immediately separated them into different rooms. They were after something that they thought only the boys knew or would be willing to tell.

The cabin belonged to Jefferson Kerr, a hunting associate that Daniel Elkins introduced John to years ago. Jefferson was a big paramilitary type guy who owned hunting cabins all across the country. A blue blood turned hunter for reasons no one seemed to understand. John didn't question it, rarely questioned anything having to do with fellow hunters' pasts. It really didn't matter as long as they were fighting on the same side.

John wanted nothing more than to contact Jefferson and find another way into the house - perhaps there was some underground tunnel that led to the basement. If there was one, John wouldn't be the least surprised. Not only was Jefferson big on hunting, he was big on secret passages. Paranoia was the culprit. Jim Murphy told John that Jefferson never wanted to be ambushed and trapped inside one of his cabins. So, he hid at least two tunnels or passageways in every cabin and house he owned. If John could find one, he could save his boys and send those sonsofbitches back to where they belong.

John was all for escape routes. In the hunting business, there was a more than a likely chance of shit hitting the fan. He would always stake out a place, find ways to get out. He rarely ever went in blind. Except, John didn't know where to even start to look for a secret passageway. He would kill to have a phone.

As John walked around the house looking for anything that might be fake or misleading, he couldn't decide if it was a good thing or a bad thing that the house was so quiet. The silence was unbearable as flashes of his sons dead on the floor burned his eyelids. If anything happened to either one of the boys, John knew he'd never make it. Losing Mary was painful enough, but to lose Dean or Sammy would just be unbearable. They were so young, so sweet, and so innocent.

His heart felt like it was going to burst out of his chest as he thoroughly searched for a hidden passage into the hunting cabin. He would leave no stone unturned until he got into the damn place. That's when he saw it, a gleam of metal shining behind two bushes in the moonlight. Pushing the branches aside, John saw a small wooden door in the earth. He grabbed the metal handle and yanked it upwards to reveal a ladder leading into the soil.

John flipped his flashlight on as he descended the ladder. There was a long hallway that went on for about five minutes before a bomb shelter-esque room appeared. It looked like it was built during the Cold War with shelves of canned food, a tiny cot, and some other essentials of living. He'd been in one of these shelters before in his old high school. He remembered skipping out of a prep rally with Patty Davidson, sneaking off to the basement, and finding the shelter. He was seventeen at the time.

Moving on, John walked through another small passageway until there was an abrupt stop. There was just a wall with nothing to the right or the left. Shining the flashlight upwards, John spotted a small trapdoor directly above him. There was no way he could reach the door unless there was a ladder or stairs. John swore under his breath. The light danced on the three walls looking for a lever, something that would allow him a way to get to the freakin' door. The wall to the left had some stones protruding out like a rock wall. Placing the flashlight between his teeth, John carefully climbed the wall. He hadn't done anything like this since basic training for the Marines.

Once he was close enough to the ceiling, his jaw throbbing, he grabbed the metal handle and pushed up. Hauling himself out of the passageway, John was in a small room. He could only assume it was the basement. With the flashlight in hand, he glided the light through the room to look for the stairs. He spotted them almost instantly. Taking off in a sprint, John took the stairs two at a time as quietly as he possibly could.

Pushing the door open, gun out, John spotted his eldest immediately. Dean was gagged and tied to a chair from the dining room. Red tear tracks ran down his pale face. His wrists looked red under the twisted cords. His chest was heaving rapidly, resignation written clearly across his face. John took a step forward, the floorboard creaking beneath his boot. Dean's head snapped up, green eyes panicked. With one look at his father, relief washed over the kid's face.

Author's Notes - Here's the next story in the series. I hope you enjoyed the first chapter. The last chapter of The Dark Horse will be out soon. Big thanks to Shannon for editing this piece. I wrote it in about two sittings, because I got so excited about this story. Thanks for reading and please leave a little something.