HOW TO SURVIVE
By: Dean Winchester
Transcribed by: Karen B.
Summary: Dean recalls how he survived hell -- but still won't fess up to Sam that he remembers every word, every pain.
Author's note: Non-profit dreaming.
** Chase your dreams -- to the ends of the earth and beyond the horizon!
Thank you for your time! Your thoughts are very important to me!
I was whipped. Physically and emotionally -- whipped. Who'd have thought being dragged into the pit could be such an exhausting ordeal? That wasn't the only side effect hell's bells left me with. I was ravenous -- hungry as a wolf.
Reaching for the last Oreo in the package sitting on the bed next to me, I twisted the cookie pulling the two halves apart. Scraping the side that had the cream off with my teeth, I pressed the two chocolate halves together, and shoved the last of the cookie into my mouth. Swallowing hard, I lay back on yet another roadside America motel bed wishing for a glass of milk.
Eating my way through half a vending machine, made me too beat to even try slipping a quarter into the magic finger machine. I didn't have any change left anyway, and staring at the water stained ceiling was work enough.
Spreading my arms out, I closed my eyes. I was free from hell. How and why, was a big, black, fat zero. I only wished the images and pain would dull and fade into zip and zilch as well.
Sam had been riding me hard, little brothers can be such pains in the ass. He wasn't buying my 'I don't remember a thing', act. Wanting to know what hell was like. What I went through down under. I couldn't bring myself to tell him I remembered every word, every pain. I didn't want to share one shred of that inferno with him. Not because I didn't think he'd understand -- but because sharing hell with Sam would be like sharing a bite of the poison apple.
No way I was telling him how hatred infected everything down there. How the sky, grass, wind, rain, and towering walls of the prison were nothing short of flames of driving vengeance and violence. How my throat was torn open, and I could barely breathe in the sulfuric air. How I couldn't think through the thick haze of blood, and burning flesh, only hearing the tortured screams of countless souls. Souls being gruesomely twisted, mangled, and feasted upon, over, and over, and over again. After awhile, my voice was dry and cracked as I'd joined in the tormented screams.
The firestorm that continuously blew through the pit sent embers scattering all around. Now I knew where the expression 'hotter than hell' came from. The blaze was like bits of dry-ice, setting tiny fires just under your skin. What was worse was the way those hot coal-like bits would get sucked up into your flaring nostrils with every single breath.
What really was weird with a big scoop of crazy on top was every sixth day, like magic everything in Hades would stop. Hell's flames would grow completely dark and silent.
Through the dark hours all I could do was wait and listen. My whole body a soupy lump, like every limb and body part had been run through a blender -- on high speed.
I tried to pin down when hell would unleash its furry again. I'd listen closely for any sound that might clue me in that the sons-of-bitches were back for me. I never could pin the bastards down. I had even tried counting off the seconds, but time in the pit was as liquefied as my body. Hell's hourglass changed constantly. Minutes were days. Days were minutes. Seconds were years. Years were hours. It was a sick cruel tick-tock labyrinth cloaked in gloom and doom, where chaos and mayhem reigned supreme.
I lay in a heap of nothingness. Eyes wide, muscles jerking to be set free, and gulping mouthful after mouthful of stale air, day after day. Thoughts chased each other around in my head like some stupid half-blind dog trying to catch his tail. How could I survive? How could I keep fighting?
Dead or alive. Dead or alive. Dead or alive.
I couldn't get that song out of my head. Couldn't get Sam out of my head. I needed my brother. At the time. I didn't even know if he had survived Lilith.
What I did know came only a heartbeat in advance, when the demon attacks would start up again. In a blast of fire and wind, with no more warning then a fleck of blood dripping to my cheek, I'd be pieced back together and bound once more to the rack. Tied by writs and ankles. Spread eagle. Suspended over a giant campfire like a barbequed pig.
The ropes would tighten and pull until every ligament and muscle tore under the strain. Then a sound similar to thunder would bring the demons. Like gangbusters they'd spring up out of nowhere, circling me, gasping, howling, and gnashing. Tearing through flesh and cracking white bone. Thrusting and striking out with talons sharper than any knife I'd ever owned.
I bit through my lip repeatedly, trying not to wail and cry out. But wailing and crying out was all I could do -- until my voice was dry and cracked. Until my body was torn open and my spine snapped. Until there was nothing left of me. Until I'd been run once again on high-speed through hell's blender and lay in a runny, sloppy heap of flesh and bone.
Hell was a real honest to goodness bloodbath. The demons taking their bloody-pulp of a trophy, me, and dumping me back into darkness. There, I'd wait for the ordeal to start up all over again.
Sam wanted to know what hell was like?
Hell was a death battle -- without an end.
I continued to stare at the motel ceiling, forcing my tired eyes to stay open. I hated closing them. Every time I did -- all I saw was blood red. All I could dream of was of how hell had called out its hounds, drug me down, and executed my soul time and time again.
When I first got into hell, panic overruled everything, and all I could do was scream for my brother, Sam. I don't know how long I carried on like that until I remembered one of the first things my father taught me about survival. When panic and fear take over, mistakes are made. I forced myself to calm and think, let my training kick in.
I began to assess the situation. The freaks were trying to turn me into one of them.
I was no longer living among human beings. Alistair wanted to squelch any humanness left in me. Turn me into an animal. Force me to let down my guard, send my love for my brother running like a renegade into the fire. I told myself I would never quit. In life and death situations, attitude was everything.
Know when to stay put -- another well taught survival technique. I stayed on that rack. Resisted the attacks. Resisted Alistair's deal. But everyday my strength grew weaker, no human could resist forever, no matter how good a soldier
I was a good solider for years.
Hell was a hostile neighborhood, worse than any combat zone. Pure determination was the only weapon I had going for me. Holy water would have been nice, salt too. But there was non of that in the pit. Shelter, also ranked high on the survival list. But my only source of shelter was in my love and memories of my family. Of Sam. But my best and most trusted option was left topside. In the end, I betrayed my brother's memory. Betrayed my own soul. Betrayed man kind.
What really sucked, was every time I thought of my brother. The moment I conjured up a pleasant memory of Sam, his hazel eyes, smile, and shaggy-dog hair, hell's bastards would conjure up images of him being tortured and ripped to shreds right in front of my eyes. For that matter anyone who I'd dare to love or think about, hell would be sure that I saw them damned. It was what I came to call an 'old Jedi-mind trick', that always left my gut tight, and dying screams lingering in the hot sulfuric air.
I couldn't bare to tell my kid brother what happened down there. How little by little my determination bit the yellow dust. I told Alistair everyday to shove it where the sun shines.
Kept telling him and myself I'd never give in. Never become one of them.
In hell -- never proved to be too long.
Helpless, and broken, I finally took Alistair up on his offer -- gotten off that rack, and joined in Hell's bloody bar brawl.
"God, help me." I shivered from the memory.
The things I'd done. The souls I'd tortured. Shredded like taco lettuce until there was nothing left of them. My finger's gnarled in the bedspread. Wishing I couldn't feel this thing, this parasite I called a conscience eating away at my insides.
Since I've been out, Sam has stuck to me like glue, pushing for days to get me to talk. Talking might help ease some of my pain, but I wasn't about to tell my brother what I let those bastards do to me. I had to bury that unholy secret, telling Sam I couldn't remember, but my little brother could sense I wasn't coming clean.
"What happens in hell, stays in hell, Sammy," I muttered to the water stained ceiling. "Where are you anyway?"
My stomach growled, food was the one thing that didn't happen in hell. I reached over to the nightstand for my cell, flipped the phone open and speed dialed Sam.
"Yeah, man?" Sam answered.
"Feed me," I demanded.
"Dean!" Sam sounded annoyed. "It's coming. I've only been gone thirty minutes."
"I'm starving." I closed my cell not giving Sam a chance to say another word.
There was nothing to do but eat in this skive motel room. I'd have thought the sick jaundice color of the walls, carpet, curtains and bedspread would have quelled my appetite, but it didn't. Besides that, I had a plan of action that needed to be put into play.
While waiting on Sam, I reached for the remote and tried to watch the television, but only got three channels. I wanted to shower, but there was no shower. Just a rusted out cast-iron tub that ran cold water. Besides that, only chicks took baths. Earlier, I'd found an old deck of cards along side the bible in the bottom drawer of a moldy dresser. I started to play solitaire, but soon found out I was three aces shy of a deck. Story of my life. Even the Holy Bible found in every room we ever stayed in, was missing over half its pages. The normally thick book jumped from Genesis, to the burning bush, to the beginning and the end with nothing much in-between. I wouldn't have been able to read the book anyway. The single lamp in the small room made out of deer hooves didn't give off much light. There was a radio, but the 1950's relic only tuned into some classical jazz channel.
I smiled, my gaze coming to rest on the only other source of entertainment in the room. A plastic fish mounted on a wooden plaque. Every time you pushed the red button the fish would flap his tail and sing, Take Me to the River" or "Don't Worry Be Happy. Pushing that little red button ten times was enough to push Sam's buttons. That fish was the exact weapon I needed to get Sam to leave me alone for and make a Taco Bell run.
I needed some space. Needed to figure out how to deal with this worthless, gut-wrenching pain deep inside. I only wished I could believe my own lie about not remembering -- but just like I couldn't stay on that rack forever, I couldn't, wouldn't ever forget.
I was just about to go over and play with the friggin' singing fish again, when the jiggling of the doorknob brought me halfway off the bed. Before I could reach for my gun tucked under the pillow the door opened. A burst of cold air blew sasquatch inside. The pain in the ass, wild haired beast, with the size thirteen and a half shoe, juggled an arm full of paper sacks. I frowned just now noticing how my string bean brother's shoulder muscles had turned to stone. When had Sam outgrown the tall, gangly stage?
"Dean." Our gazes locked. "Stop ogling, you're making me uncomfortable." Sam dumped the bags onto the table.
"Can't help myself, Sammy." I grinned ear to ear, pushing up off the bed. "The sight of you with a Taco Bell bag in your hot little hands, makes me all warm and fuzzy inside."
My little brother rolled his eyes.
Crossing the room, I landed my ass in a chair.
"Taquitos?" I asked hopefully.
"Yes, Mr. Warm and Fuzzy, four taquitos, two tacos, one burrito supreme…"
"Yes, Dean, sour cream, a side of nachos and cheese loaded with jalapenos, and an order of cinnamon twists."
"You're awesome." I snatched one of the bags with excitement.
"Lately, I'm only awesome when I feed you," Sasquatch growled, sitting in the chair opposite me.
"True," I replied unwrapping the paper.
"I don't know how you can still want to eat." Sam waved a hand toward the bed. "I think you ate your way through an entire row of vending machines."
"What'd you mean?" I shrugged, sparing a brief glance at the wrappers scattered across the ailing yellow bedspread.
"Dean, in the past four hours you've consumed three bags of barbeque chips, four cans of Cream Soda, two Clark bars, and a dozen Oreos."
"Twenty - two." I smiled, happily scarfing down taco number one.
"Twenty - two what?"
"Bro." Sam frowned. You're going to puke."
"Sam, you're just jealous because you can't keep up with me."
"I take it there was no food in hell?" Sam baited me yet again to talk about what I didn't want to talk about.
I didn't answer, already diving into the bag for taco number two.
"You suck, man." The kid pouted.
"Does this mean I'm not getting any tonight, Samantha?"
"You think that's funny, Dean?"
"Yes." I grabbed a napkin. "Yes, I do," I said wiping a dribble of hot sauce from the corner of my mouth.
"Uncool, Dean." Sam raised his hand.
"Don't you dare stick your middle finger up at me." I gave my little brother, big brother's evil eye.
"You know you can joke all you want to, Dean." Sam let his hand fall wayside. "You're not batman. I know you're scared. I know you're having nightmares. You need to talk….
"One word for you, Sam."
I took a bite of my taco, looking out the window at my shiny baby sitting in the parking lot. Sam sure did take extra good care of her. I smiled at that.
"What's the word, Dean?" Sam asked in annoyance.
" I don't want to talk about it."
"You're a dickhead!"
"What?" I turned back to Sam.
"You're a dickhead," my brother repeated, sounding like a pissed off eleven-year-old.
I decided to sound like a pissed off fifteen-year old.
"Take it back, Sam," I muttered around a mouthful of crunchy shell.
"I don't want it back, Dean!"
"Sam." I swallowed. "Knock it off."
"Dean, come on, man. What happen…"
"Sam!" I bolted up out of the chair and started pacing. "Don't ask me questions."
I stopped my pacing and stared long and hard at my 'need to know all things' brother.
"Remember when you were nine, Sam, and you wanted to know if monsters were real?" I folded my arms over my chest, still holding tight to my half-eaten taco.
"Yeah, so, Sammy, don't go asking questions you really don't want to know the answers to."
"I'm here for you," Sam said softly. "You're not alone on planet superhero, Dean," he sighed. "Come on, even batman had a sidekick"
"How'd you get to be such a smart ass?" I unfolded my arms, stuffing the last of taco number two into my mouth.
"Where else." Sam snorted.. "From watching you. Dean, I'm not buying into your 'I don't remember'…"
"Dude!" I shook my head, stepping back to the table going for the burrito. "If you keep pressing my buttons..." I unwrapped the paper. "I'm going to…" taking a huge bite, and pointing a finger at the plastic fish on the wall. "…go stand by Billy Bass over there…" I grumbled around a mouthful. "And push that red button all damn…" A rush of heat suddenly made my face feel hot, and the room spun.
"You're going to throw up aren't you?" Sam scowled, quirking a brow.
"Stop doing that." I choked down my mouthful of burrito, watching the shade of Sam's eyes change color.
"Doing what?" Sam questioned.
"Looking at me with that freaky-eye thing you do when you know what I'm about to… son-of-a…" Something snake-like crawled up my throat. "I'm going to be sick."
I dropped what was left of the burrito into the bag and shot across the room, not stopping until my knees hit the tile in front of the porcelain. Gasping for breath, my hands gripped the rim of the bowl bracing myself for what was to come.
"Dean, what can I do?"
"Not a damn thing," I gritted between clenched teeth.
"Sam, get out." I hung over the toilet. "Ughhhhhh." My shoulders hunched up to my ears. Dry heaves were the worst.
"Noooooooo." The word drug out on another dry heave.
"Dean, that's just gross." Sam gagged. "I know how you can feel better."
"How…ahhhhh." I leaned forward, spitting yellow saliva, that strangely matched the color of the room.
"Puke your guts up."
"Dean, let it out."
"Sam!" Still waiting to actually vomit, I glanced over my shoulder. The room and everything in it went round in blurring circles. Yet, I could just make out my baby brother's nose wrinkling with disgust. "Look, dude, if you're only advice is to push me into puking…" I panted. "You're not helping. Get out"
I noticed how white Sam's face was, and knew he was worried about me, and not because I was yakking, either.
The word yakking brought forth the Clark bar, Oreos, Cream Soda, barbeque chips, tacos, and one bite of burrito in a warm liquid rush. All mixed together and splashing out….and out….and out, until nothing more came up. The goop I stared at strangely reminding me of me -- in hell.
"Seriously, man." A concerned hand gripped my shoulder. "That looked like something I grew in biology."
"Sam, you're not help…bleeeegggghhhhhh!" I spewed up my intestinal track, liver, heart, and lungs.
After what felt like Niagara Falls had gushed out my mouth, I leaned my forehead against the cold lip of the toilet bowl.
"This friggin' sucks," I groaned, my hands visibly shaking as I fumbled for the handle to flush.
"I never saw anyone blow chunks like that before." Sam stifled a laugh, shoving my hand away. "Must be a world's record," he said, pulling the handle and flushing.
I watched as my insides swirled around the bowl then disappeared into hell, just like I had.
"It's a gift." I grabbed for anything to help get me up off my knees, but a wave of weakness brought me to my ass instead.
"Let's put you to bed." Nursemaid personified wrapped an arm around my waist, bringing me to my feet.
"I'm not a baby, Sam." I wobbled to and fro, my head feeling like a nuclear explosion had gone off. "I can walk by myself." I pulled away.
"Whatever," Sam said, letting go.
"Oh, damn." I tilted, one-handedly grasping the sink.
"C'mon." Sam tugged me back to his side. "What a waste of a Taco Bell run."
I sent him a glare that could freeze hel…freeze the Sahara, but let the kid help me slowly across the room.
"Feel any better?" Sam asked.
"No," I said defensively as nurse feel good eased me down on my bed.
"Going to puke anymore?"
A sympathetic hand brushed across my forehead, and I shivered.
"No." My teeth chattered.
Three seconds later a blanket was thrown over me.
"No." I licked my lips.
Two seconds later a cold bottle of water was pressed into my hand. I took a small sip, handing the bottle back, and staring up at Sam through half-closed eyes. He looked sad, guilty even.
"Still want me to get out?" Sam asked quietly.
"No." I took a deep breath feeling my own pang of guilt.
Plan A. sucked. Both for me and for my brother, but I think it worked. Eating until I puked got Sam to stop grilling me about hell…hopefully for good.
"Don't go, Sammy,' I muttered.
"Relax, Dean." Sam gave a small smile, plopping down on his bed, crossing his feet at the ankles, and switching on one of the three lousy television channels.
"Sam." I rolled onto my side, watching him, watching me. "Shut that thing off, the porn channels are disabled."
"Dude, you're disabled." Sam smirked, going back to watching some documentary on Wild Mustang.
I let out a breath and closed my eyes, my aching body sinking deeper into the mattress.
How do you survive hell?
By having something here on earth worth being pulled out for.