Dedication: Dedicated to the wonderful, warm and generous PADavis, who purchased me at auction and allowed me to write this story for her. Her prompts will appear at the end of the story, well except for the one you can all guess—a little teeny tiny itsy bitsy bit of hurt Dean. Just a little… Okay, you know I'm lying… Let me just say, it's not death fic.
A/N: This was written for the K Hanna Korossy fic auction. Overall she raised more than 1600, which I think proves once again that this is the most fabulously caring fandom on Earth.
A/N II: I collect paranormal stories, lore, etc. The haunting in this story is based on an actual haunting.
Book of the Dead
The town was incongruous to say the least. Lodge pole pine surrounded it, large white-capped mountains stood in the distance. A river with white-water rapids roaring under a two-lane bridge bordered one side of the town. A house with a waterwheel sat at the edge of the river, looking for all the world like it had been picked up in rural England and dropped into the heart of the American West. Sam glanced out the window as they passed a pasture occupied by fuzzy Highland cattle grazing with small horses.
"I might die from overexposure to cute, Sam," Dean grumbled. "It could be fatal."
"I doubt it." Sam sighed. He'd been hearing similar complaints from his brother for the last fifty seven miles. Every since he'd mentioned the name of the town they were headed towards, it had been nothing but complaints.
"It's getting worse…" Dean shuddered. "My eyes are watering, I might be getting hives."
"Nausea, my teeth hurt, too. The sweetness of this place. I'm getting cavities."
"Just shut up."
"This town will be the end of me. Oh god, what's that?" Dean said, mock horror in his voice. "My eyes, Sammy, my eyes."
"That's the Roseshire Village Inn. It's where we're staying." Sam grinned at his brother.
"Please tell me the whole freaking town isn't like this?" Dean pulled into the parking lot at the vine-covered building. Flower gardens lined the fence and artfully pruned boxwood flanked the staircase to the broad porch.
"It's kind of the town theme. After the coal ran out, the town was dying. Then, twenty years ago, they decided to turn it into an 'English Country Village.' Since then it's become a very popular tourist area."
"Tourist trap," Dean corrected, stalking up the stairs to he Inn. "I bet people just drop dead from the cute. Place is probably full of bodies."
"Just the two mentioned in the paper." Sam pushed open the door. Dean stepped into the entry and stopped. He looked back at Sam with his "oh, hell no, no way, nuh uh, Sammy" look. Sam sighed looking at the rose-themed room, complete with cabbage rose wallpaper. "We're meeting Phoebe here in an hour."
"How did you get her to talk to us?"
"Richards, we had a reservation," Sam said, stopping at the desk. The clerk looked up with a smile. "I told her we were paranormal investigators."
"You told her what?" The last word came out as a horrified whisper.
"Well, it's the truth." Sam signed the paperwork the clerk pushed at him.
"Dude, since when do we tell the truth?" Dean took the room key from the clerk. He looked from the key to Sam and back again. "You take it, it burns."
"Would you just stop?" Sam smiled at the clerk and led the way down the hall.
"It burns, Sammy, take it away."
Sam ignored his brother and walked down the pink and green hallway to the last room on the first floor. He ignored Dean's groan of pain when he saw the door, ignored Dean's continued groaning as they went into the room, and ignored Dean's horrified shout when he discovered pink towels and rose-scented soap in the bathroom.
"I'm going to die here," Dean said, eyeing the table and chairs with distaste. "It's going to kill me."
"Dean…" Sam said warningly.
"Oh, god, all the coffee is flavored and chamomile tea?" Dean raised his eyebrows. "Chamomile?" Dean let out a huge sigh. "Even the view… Can't we stay someplace else?"
"Just stop, okay?" Sam snapped.
"Sam? It's the room. The room's gotten to you, too. Pink and green and too many freaking flowers. You need a beer. I know I do." Dean stopped and looked at Sam with wide eyes. "Do you suppose they have beer in this town? Oh god, do you think they serve it warm?"
Sam couldn't help smiling at the tone of his brother's voice. "I don't know. There's a pub on the brochure."
"Okay, good." Dean dropped into one of the wing-back chairs at the table. "Tell me why we're trapped in this cuteness."
"Two people were killed in the bookstore last week, the third person…"
"When the police finally got into the building the next morning, the third person was completely insane."
"And we're here because?"
"The store is supposed to be haunted." Sam said, opening his laptop.
"I thought you said all this cutesy English crap was only twenty years old."
"It is, with the exception of the bookstore. It was originally built in London and was reported to be haunted. The owner of the bookstore, Virgil Frampton, purchased it and had it brought over from England. According to a newspaper article, he said he was hoping to import the ghost."
"When will people learn?"
"Yeah. Nothing happened for years and Virgil died thinking the ghost stayed in England."
"But it didn't?"
"Well, the reports of the latest deaths match the ones from England starting in the 1800s. The building was vacant when he bought it because people died or went insane after spending a night in it."
"One woman survived with periods of lucidity, but she never could describe what she'd seen, just called it the brown horror. Everyone else either killed themselves, died of fright or went insane."
"Usually by jumping out the third-storey window and landing on the wrought iron fence outside."
"The sharp, pointy fence?" Dean asked with a smirk. Sam nodded. "And he bought it wanting the ghost to come? A ghost that drives people insane?"
"You're freaking kidding me." Dean was shaking his head. "And so who's this Phoebe?" Dean suddenly smiled. "Do you remember Aunt Feebs?"
"Yeah, we stayed with her that whole summer. She raised rabbits," Sam said with an answering smile.
"Rabbits she dyed blue and pink. I'll never forget the day she busted me for signing her name on that work slip. 'Now, Dean, dear," Dean spoke in a high falsetto. " 'If you're going to forge my name, please learn to spell it correctly. It's Phoebe like the goddess. P-H-O-E-B-E, not the other way around. Now just sit down and write it out a hundred times, and watch your penmanship, young man.' I think she might have smacked me a little, too. Hmm, you suppose all Phoebe's look like Aunt Feebs?"
"I doubt it. Dean?"
"What? Oh, right. So, who's this Phoebe again?"
"She's the niece of Virgil and current owner of the store. I called her and told her we'd like to investigate."
"And she said yes?"
"She said she'd be willing to talk to us." Sam glanced at his watch. "We'd better get to the café, she'll be there any minute." He stood and walked to the door. "Are you coming?"
"Phoebe the bookstore owner? I bet it's much worse than Aunt Feebs. Dude, this is going to be painful."
By the time they reached the Inn's small café, Sam was ready to murder Dean. His brother had groaned his way down the hallway, sighed in disgust through the small lobby, shuddered in horror as the crossed the garden to the café and made gagging noises as they entered.
"Dean, stop!" Sam finally turned on Dean with a snarl.
Dean looked surprised and shrugged. "Chill."
"That must be her," Sam said, pointing to a fortyish woman sitting at a window booth. He walked over towards her. "Phoebe?"
"Yes?" she said, looking up.
"I'm Sam, this is my brother Dean," he said, sliding into the booth. Sam noticed his brother's eyes were glued on Phoebe. He nudged Dean with his elbow.
"I'm still not sure about this," Phoebe said. "But the police have no idea and I have to know what happened."
"Do you believe in the ghost?" Dean asked smoothly, smiling the smile. The one Sam recognized as Dean's self-described "when you want them to do your bidding" smile.
"No… Yes… I don't know," she said, looking distressed. Dean reached across the table and patted her hand. "I know Uncle Virgil bought it because it was supposedly haunted. And I found a book in his things, a record of the building from the time it was built, that tells all the deaths in the building."
"Yes?" Sam said quietly.
"More than a hundred people died over the years. I know Uncle Virgil loved the idea of a haunted bookstore…"
"But, this doesn't really sound like the fun crumpets and tea kind of haunting he had in mind," Dean said, smiling at her.
"No. Can you help?"
"Can I see the book with the history of the building?" Sam asked.
"Of course, it's at the store. I have to go back there now. I can't leave Audrey alone for long. She gets bored and ends up at the espresso stand outside."
"It's still open?" Sam asked, his raising his eyebrows.
"No, of course not. But I still have orders coming in that need to be processed and put on the shelves." She slid out of the booth and stood. "Do you want to look at the book today?"
"The sooner he can start the research, the better. Maybe you can give me a tour of the store?" Dean asked.
"Sure. Do you want to walk? It's only three blocks. I can show you some of the town, too."
"That would be great. It's such a nice little town," Dean said, the smile plastered on his face. Sam shook his head.
The smell Dean always associated with bookstores filled his lungs as they walked into the old building. It was a mixture of dust and paper, the tang of ink and something that couldn't be described. He heard Sam sigh happily. Nothing like a bookstore or library, once Sam finds one he's happy for hours. Nice I discovered that when he was eight. Made things a lot easier sometimes.
"The book is over here," Phoebe said, leading them towards a glass case. She pulled out a heavy ring of keys and opened the cabinet. Sam reached in and picked up the book with a rapturous expression on his face. Dean watched as his brother walked to a small table and sat down, the book open even before it hit the table.
"He'll be quiet now," Dean said, smiling at Phoebe. "So, what about that tour?"
"Sure, what do you want to see?"
Dean shrugged. "Well… Let's start where they found the bodies?"
"Oh, of course! This way." Phoebe smiled led the way through the store. She stopped when she reached a staircase at the back of the building. The stairs wound their way up to the second storey, turning once at a large landing. "This is where the first one was," she said, pointing at the base of the stairs. Dean could see a dark splash against the wall. She climbed the stairs and stopped on the landing. "The second one was here." She pointed at a large wrought iron spike.
"Nice banister," Dean said, looking at the row of spikes. "Kind of makes it hard to slide down."
"It's the original fence from the building."
"And they found a body here?"
"On here," Phoebe said with a grimace.
"Impaled. The other died of closed head trauma from hitting the wall at the base of the stairs. The third was still upstairs."
"In my rare book room." Phoebe walked up the stairs and down a short hallway, pulling out her keys, she opened the door. "I keep it locked, only the cleaning crew has keys."
"The cleaning crew were the victims?" Dean asked, walking into the room. "Man, it's cold in here."
"Yeah, it always is, always has been. I remember five years ago we had a heat wave and the air conditioning gave out. This room was still cold."
"Huh." Dean wandered around the room, looking at the books in glass cases, at the small reading desk tucked under a window. "Has anyone ever mentioned anything about this room? Something out of the ordinary?"
"Once or twice people have told me they thought they saw smoke in here."
"Smoke? Huh. Black smoke?" Demon, I bet.
"Brown?" Okay, not demon.
"Yes, Professor Smith said it looked almost like an oil slick floating through the room. The second time he was up here, he said it stopped and floated behind him. He decided to come downstairs."
"Just this room?"
"No, I've had someone mention the smoke at the other end of floor, where it's open to the store below."
"Has anyone mentioned seeing it downstairs?" Dean said, walking along the balcony edge, peering over the railing.
"No, just upstairs." She sighed. "Do you think you can figure this out, Dean?"
"Sam's on the research. If anyone can figure it out, he can." He smiled at her. "Can we spend the night?"
"What?" Phoebe asked, a blush spreading up her neck.
"At the store." Dean winked. We'll talk about the other later.
"Oh, yes, of course."
"Do you want coffee?"
"Sure, thanks. Maybe we can chase Audrey in for a few more minutes of work."
"Sounds like a plan."
Five hours later, Dean carried a the weapons bag and sack of sandwiches to his brother and dropped them on the table. Sam looked up with a frown, then glanced around the shop. "Where's Phoebe?" Sam said.
"I took her to dinner and walked her home. I think I mentioned that a couple of hours ago."
"You were in research mode. You muttered something, so I left."
"How long have you been gone?" Sam asked, reaching for the bag of food.
"Two and a half hours." Dean dropped into the chair across from Sam. "Have you found anything?" Sam took a bite of the sandwich and looked at Dean. "What, Sammy?"
"One hundred ten people, including the two last week, have died in this building."
"Fun times. Anyone mention brown smoke?"
"Yeah. One man in 1897 mentioned staying in an upstairs room and said he was—get this—followed by a 'puff of brown smoke'."
"He was probably in the rare book room. It's cold. Phoebe says it's always cold."
"The attacks, or whatever they are, always happen at night and one witness said they could hear people pounding on the doors trying to get out. The only way out was through a second storey window."
"Onto the wrought iron fence? The fence is now the banister."
"Yeah, I noticed." Sam sighed. "I think whatever it is locks the place down somehow. Now that the fence is inside, it blocks the windows too."
"Phoebe said the one that lived keeps chanting 'break the glass'. I made arrangements to spend the night."
"With Phoebe? Dean, we're working."
"In the bookstore, Sammy. What are you thinking?"
"She is fun. Reminds me of…"
"If you say the hot Heather in Tucumcari I'm leaving," Sam said with a frown. A loud crashing noise sounded through the building.
"What the hell was that?" Dean got up and moved towards the sound. "I'm going to check out the basement," he called over his shoulder.
"Not without me," Sam said from right behind him.
"Don't do that." Dean gave his brother a shove. He opened the door and flipped on the light. A steep set of stairs ran down into the dark. Dean stepped cautiously down the stairs, carefully avoiding the tools workmen had left on the stairs. "Phoebe is having the basement remodeled to put in a café, the workmen had to stop when they found the bodies. She said they left everything so they could come back to it later."
"When the ghost is gone?" Sam asked with a grin.
"Yep. They won't come back, even to retrieve their tools."
When they reached the bottom of the stairs, Dean found the light and turned it on. The basement was a large open area, the beginnings of track lighting hanging from the ceiling. A ladder was on its side, fresh pain flowing from a spilled can. Dean walked over to it.
"I have the EMF," Sam said, turning it on. It lit up like a Christmas tree. "Hmm."
"Hmm? What's hmm?" Dean stood and walked to the far wall, there was a strong scent of ozone lingering in the air.
"All of the sightings of the brown smoke were on the upper floors. I wonder…" Sam trailed off and walked around the room, his eyes glues to the meter in his hands.
"Wonder what?" Dean asked. Sam continued to move around the room. "Sam?" Nothing. "Sammy?" Nothing. "HEY!"
"What?" Sam looked at him. "Sorry. There was an account of the ghost of a former maid haunting the house. I wonder if that was the ghost Virgil was hoping to import."
"Two ghosts?" Dean said incredulously.
"I'm not sure the brown smoke is a ghost, Dean. But yeah, two spirits. 'Little Annie' was a maid in the late 1830s. She supposedly died from fright in her room. One year to the day of her death she started appearing. Crying, begging whoever saw her to save her from the brown horror."
"So we're hunting something that spirits are afraid of?" Dean grinned. "This is getting better. Cute town, fun spirits." Dean walked back up the stairs and carefully closed the door. Before heading back into the store, he tried the back door. The knob wouldn't budge. "Great."
"What?" Sam followed him as he walked through the store. He tried the front door. The knob didn't turn. The three windows with screens wouldn't open either. Dean picked up a chair. "What are you doing?"
"Breaking the glass." He swung the chair. It bounced off the plate glass window like a ball off the pavement. He turned to Sam. "Okay, what's the game plan?"
"Check out the upstairs?"
"You're suggesting we go up where people go stark staring nuts and fling themselves onto pointy things?"
"Works for me."
Dean led the way up the stairs and back to the rare book room. Sam wandered through the room, eyes glued to the EMF. "It's cold in here."
"Yeah. This is the room where they found the crazy one."
"I think it might be the room below the maid's quarters," Sam said, looking out into the hallway. "What's that?" Sam was out the door before Dean could react.
"Did you see that?"
"See what?" Dean said, looking around the empty store.
"I saw it out of the corner of my eye. Movement, but nothing else." Sam was frowning at the EMF.
"What's up?" Dean walked to his brother.
"The EMF, it's dead." Sam shook it, pulled the batteries, put them back in, switched it on and off. "Completely dead."
"Let me see." Dean grabbed the meter and did everything Sam had just done and added smack for good measure.
"Violence and technology, Dean, not good bedfellows."
"Don't even start that."
"Start what?" Sam asked innocently, a smile on his face.
"Quoting movies at me. It's a game you can't win." In his peripheral vision Dean thought he saw something. He turned his head in time to see the small cloud of brown smoke drift into the hallway. Dean walked towards it. "Sam?"
"I see it. Be careful."
"Careful? It looks like a bad special effect from the original 'Star Trek'. Dude, Kirk wouldn't even have been scared of this."
"Right." Dean stopped and looked at the puff hanging in the air. It does look more like an oil slick than smoke. There was a fetid smell in the hallways now. Dean couldn't place it, just that is smelled bad, really bad. His heart was starting to pound. What the hell? The smoke drifted towards him. "Puffy's trying to freak me." Oh, yeah, and it's working. "Maybe we should head back downstairs, Sam."
"Let's go." Sam hesitated. "Go. Now. You first, Sammy." Dean waited until he saw his brother reach the landing before he took a step back. It moved forward. Dean took another step. It moved the same distance towards him. Dean took another step and turned to walk down the steps. He saw it move.
"DEAN!" Sam shouted.
The next moment he was enveloped in the smell, icy cold stabbing painfully through his limbs, sucking the air out of his lungs as he gasped for breath. His heart was pounding, every muscles screaming to move, run, get away. The cloud tightened it's grip. Dean had a moment of vertigo, the world dimmed, turned on its axis and then righted itself in a flash of pain. Dean groaned and tried to push himself up, his arm barely responded. How did I get down? Pain stabbed through his head and his arm went out from under him.
"Dean?" Sam's voice was completely panicked. He sounds completely freaked. Completely. Takes a lot to freak Sammy, I wonder what's wrong?
"Dean? Dean, can you hear me?"
"You okay?" Dean tried to get his arm under him, it was still reluctant to move. Something warm was running over his face, making it hard to see, the world was washed with red. He heard Sam's horrified gasp. "Sam?"
"Oh my god."
"Don't move," Sam said in the calm voice that usually indicated some kind of disaster. "Please, Dean, please don't move." Sam hands were shaking as they gently prodded his neck and head. Dean let his head drop back down.
The world went dark.
To Be Continued