The livery doors banged open but stayed on their hinges when the car crashed through. Why the hell Dean couldn't have waited the one minute it would have taken Sam to get out and open those doors was beyond Sam. It was the vehicular version of kicking them open he supposed.
Skating across the dirt flooring, the Impala slid to a stop in the center of the large building. As soon as Dean hit the brakes, Sam flung open his door and was out, running for the livery doors to close them. The blowing blankets of white and frigid winds were shut out, drenching them in eerie quiet when Dean cut the car engine.
Sam was more than a little relieved to see the doors were intact and sporting heavy latches and brackets to push four by fours through as extra locks. Wondering why a livery would need such a locking system, Sam dropped the latches into place and shoved the four by fours through their brackets. He decided he didn't need to know why, and to simply be happy they were there to use.
"You get it secured up there," Dean was looking up at a second level, "I'll fix us up down here." He dug a shotgun and two more handguns from the trunk, passing one of the handguns off to Sam as he sprinted by.
The space was large, open and drafty. Ladders were built along the walls, tucked between two stalls, on either side of the building. Sam shoved the gun into his waistband and jumped onto the closest one, climbing as fast as possible. The second his feet were planted firmly on the upper level flooring his handgun was out and ready.
One entire long side of the building was storage. Sam saw remains of hay and straw bales. Some smaller equipment was scattered about. At the far end was a door nearly as wide as the end of the building. Sprinting to it he unlatched it and looked out. At once his hair was caught and whipped around in the winds, ice and snow stuck to his eyelashes and bangs.
A ladder went from the door to the ground; hanging onto the edge of the door way tightly, Sam swung one leg out and kicked at it, pummeling it with his foot until it dropped away from the building. Re-closing the door he latched it securely and turned to scout the rest of the loft. There were smaller windows spaced every few feet, but unless their pursuers had some small children with them, Sam highly doubted anyone could use those to gain access to the building.
He heard the heavy clump of Dean's boots moving up the ladder. "Everything is locked tight and secure. Whatcha find up here?"
"Take a look." Sam motioned to one of the small windows.
"Huh, interesting." Dean stood and looked around the area. "They're pretty evenly spaced."
"Yeah, like they're for security of some kind."
Leaning down, Dean looked through one of the tiny openings. "You can see a good bit of the town from up here. Makes you wonder what they kept in their livery, doesn't it?"
"Sure does," Sam chuckled and knelt at the next window over from Dean's and peered out. "Here come our friends. Think they saw where we went?"
"No." Dean shook his head. "They're driving too slowly; like they're looking for us. If they knew where we were I think they'd be in here with us by now."
"Hmm," Sam sighed. "Good point. This is a really good vantage point. Maybe we can do something to cripple them, or their truck?"
"How about we just take them out?" Dean straightened and looked at Sam. "They'll kill us if they get the chance, don't give me any of your we can't hurt them crap."
Sam stepped over Dean's legs and hunkered down in front of another of the windows. "I'm not. They're not leaving us much choice. I can draw them out, bait them and you can shoot them from up here."
"Sam, no way you're going down there to be bait. I'll do that, you stay here. Besides, I'm faster."
"You're also the better shot." Sam sat back and steadily met Dean's gaze.
"Yes, Dean, you are."
Dean huffed, clearly annoyed. He returned to staring out the small window. "You know, we have another weapon they don't." His head swiveled around so he could look at Sam, tapping his arm lightly. "Ghosts."
"What? Dean, that's nuts, we destroyed the bones, burned them when the mine went up. There are no ghosts, at least not those ghosts."
"And what do you suppose the odds are those guys out there know that? They know about the spirits, saw them, or the things they did. Hell, they even used the spirits to keep other people away. But, I'm betting they have no idea how a ghost operates."
"Okaaay. How? One of us still has to go outside."
"Let's scout around in here and see if there is anything we can use." Dean tapped one finger on Sam's shoulder as he stood up and headed back to the ladder.
Sam stayed in the loft, scouring it thoroughly. He found rolls of wire thin enough that when he held it up to the light and turned it at the right angle it was nearly invisible. There were hooks with wooden handles on them Sam figured were for snagging the hay or straw bales. Gathering the wire and hooks, he held them in the crook of his arm as he climbed down to the lower level and Dean. "I found this stuff. Don't know if we can use them or not."
Dean was at the back of the car, trunk door open. He stood and eyed Sam's finds, nodding. "Think it's windy enough out there to interfere with a crossbow?"
"I don't think so." Sam shrugged. "I really don't know though, why?" Stepping closer, Sam looked into the trunk. "What's all this?"
A crossbow and some strips of cloth were lying on top of everything else. Next to them was one of their flare guns and extra flares. Dean also had a folded up, lightweight blanket, the kind made from reflective material.
Grinning, Dean took the hooks and wire from Sam, adding them to his existing pile in the trunk. "I think we can make ourselves some 'ghosts' and set these guys up. There are only three of them left. Those are pretty decent odds."
Sam nodded. The sound of an engine drew their attention to the front of the livery. They sprinted to the main door. On either side were small windows just like the ones in the loft. These had solid wooden shutters that slid side to side. Sam eased one to the side far enough to see the street. Dean watched from the window on the other side of the door. A truck drove slowly down the street. Inside were clearly two men, a third was in the truck bed, hunched down far enough he was mostly protected by the truck sides while still able to look around.
The brothers stayed frozen in place until the truck drove by even though they where fairly sure they couldn't be seen. When the truck reached the end of the street and swung to the left, Sam let out a long, low breath.
Dean stood still for a few seconds more before stepping back and looking down at his feet. "We've probably got a few minutes at least. Across the street," Dean waved Sam over to his side of the door. Sam side-stepped until he was beside his brother, shoulders pressed together as they both leaned down to look out the small window. Dean pointed to a building opposite them and down a few farther on the right. "See, there?" He paused, gaze shifting to Sam, obviously waiting for a response.
"It's the store I was in when we came here the first time. Mostly old, moldy canned goods, but there are some coats, maybe a few other things we can use. We use this wire, and rig them up outside. If we cover them with some of this space blanket stuff and fill the pockets with rags soaked in gas or kerosene…"
Sam grinned then laughed. "Shoot it with the flares, and it'll light up and look like a pretty spectacular spirit."
"Right out of Hollywood." Dean clapped Sam's shoulder before heading back to the car. "One of us has to go over there, string the wire and get the coats." He pulled out a rifle and held it out to Sam. "You keep watch."
Stuffing both hands in his pockets, Sam shook his head. "No. I've got a better chance with you covering me. Besides, you're hurt. If you drip blood, you'll leave a trail. They'll be expecting you, they'll recognize you, maybe not me."
Dean nodded. Sam could see by the look on his brother's face, Dean didn't like it one bit, but he did see the truth and logic in Sam's words. "You're not back here in fifteen minutes and I'm coming after you."
"I'd hope so." Pulling his jacket closer, Sam took one of the spools of wire and went back to the door, Dean on his heels. After a nod from his brother that all was clear, Sam ducked out, closing the door softly behind him. He didn't have to look, or be able to see Dean at one of the windows in the upper loft, rifle trained on Sam the entire time.
He flattened himself to the outer livery wall for a few seconds, carefully looking up and down the street. He tied one end of wire to the livery and unraveled it behind him while sprinting across and into the building Dean had pointed out. He wound the wire around the door hinge and tucked it behind a wooden box. Easing through the door, Sam made sure it was shut before he started moving up and down the isles. As Dean said, there were mostly rows of rusted cans, stacks of moth eaten material and other various odds and ends useful more decades ago than Sam cared to think about.
Hanging at the end of one row of shelves were some coats. One large one was on the floor. Sam leaned over, fingers winding in the material, he straightened. Mice dropped out and scurried in all directions. Grinning, Sam dropped the coat, letting it flutter back to the ground. "Okay, you guys keep that one, I'll try these."
Two of the smaller coats hanging up, though peppered with holes were free of wildlife. Slinging them over his arm, Sam headed back to the door, stopping mid-step when he heard the distinctive sound of a door banging. Ducking back into the shadows, Sam listened, sure he heard footsteps. A floorboard squeaked and the footsteps faltered.
Holding his breath, Sam tipped his head toward the squeak. Taking a second for a fast check behind him, Sam slipped farther back into the store and around the line of shelves until he was near the front end. Leaning around, Sam took a look, swearing softly under his breath. He'd gotten close enough to the store front that he could see out the window lining the front.
No truck. No other people in sight.
Sam could do two things, he could run for it and know that Dean would shoot anyone following him or he could take the guy out, tie him up and leave him. Either way he had to get out, get the wire spool and get back to the livery without this man alerting the other two.
A gunshot would draw attention.
A tied man could get loose.
It was likely, however, that a tied man wouldn't get loose before he and Dean were safely away from the ghost town, the real town and the entire flipping state. Moving silently, Sam set the coats next to the door and followed the path the man was taking through the store, careful to avoid loose floorboards. Scanning the rows of shelves—there had to be rope here somewhere, it was a mining town after all—Sam's gaze finally fell on coils of yarn.
That would work.
Sam stuffed some skeins into his jacket. Picking one of the cans off the closest shelf, Sam stood on tiptoe and tossed it over the shelves. He heard the thunk, followed by the sound of someone running. Darting along the shelves so he'd intercept, Sam rounded the end and swung. His fist connected solidly with the man's face. A second blow had the guy down and out, hitting the floor with a meaty thud, before he had a chance to recover and use his handgun on Sam.
Rolling the man over, Sam pressed one foot heavily against his neck while he used the yarn to wrap the man's wrists, tying his hands behind his back. Sam repeated the process with the man's legs, binding his legs together. He grabbed the guy by the collar and dragged him to the back of the store and out of sight. He stuffed some material into his mouth before sprinting toward the door. Gathering the coats he'd left, Sam ducked outside.
Once on the sidewalk, he retrieved the spool of wire. Checking up and down the street, making sure there was no one else, Sam sprinted across the street, letting the wire unwind behind him.
When he reached the livery door, it opened and Dean was outside, taking the coats and spool from Sam's hands, ushering him inside in the next instant. Sam turned and watched as Dean tied off the wire and cut it, tossing the spool inside the livery before closing and relocking the door.
Leaning over, bracing his hands on his knees and catching his breath, Sam nodded. "One man. He's tied up in the back. We should be long gone before he's found or gets loose."
Dean snorted. "I would have run out so you could shoot the bastard."
Sam grinned and shrugged. "The thought crossed my mind." He reached out and pulled Dean's clothes away from his shoulder.
"It's fine. Quit." Dean slapped Sam's hand away.
"Yeah, well I want to see that for myself if I'm going to be running around out there with you in here covering my six. You can't shoot at anything if you pass out from blood loss."
Dean squinted at him but relented and let Sam check the dressing on Dean's wound. "Cover your six?" Dean asked shaking his head. "This is what happens when you watch that Stargate show."
"What, you liked it too." Sam took one of the coats. "We need to get out of here."
Nodding, Dean went back to the car, Sam right behind him. Handing Sam a knife and one of the space blankets, he grinned. "Cut this into strips and cover as much of the coat as you can. We'll use these hooks you found to run them along the wire. When our friends are watching," Dean used his hand to mimic a gun, "And POW! Light them up with the flares. They'll make spectacular ghosts."
Sam smiled, "Dude, that's brilliant. They'll be freaked as hell."
They worked as quickly as possible, knowing eventually the two remaining men would either find the one Sam tied up or simply start searching building to building. It was likely that's exactly what that man had been doing when Sam ran into him, and exactly what the others were doing now.
Finally completed, Sam held the covered coats up for inspection. He grinned then laughed. Dean ducked his head and wiped one hand over his nose, chuckling.
"You know, Sammy, this might be one of the silliest things we've ever done."
Sam shrugged. "Who cares, as long as it works." He heaved a sigh and gave the coat a shake, smiling again at how it shimmered and sparkled in the light. "Let's do this."
A curt dip of his chin and Dean gathered a high powered rifle with a scope, flares and a flare gun and headed for the nearest ladder. As he started climbing he turned back to Sam. "Stay away from them, keep your head down and don't get shot."
"Yeah. You too. Okay?"
"That's the plan, Sammy."
Giving his brother one last look, Sam gathered up the coats and headed toward the livery door.
It didn't take him more than a few minutes to get the coats secured to the hooks and placed one on each of the wires running between the buildings. Giving them a shove, they slid along until they dangled over the middle of the street, separated by a few yards.
Keeping close to the buildings, Sam slipped along the sidewalk, glancing back every few feet to the spot he knew Dean was watching from. He could barely make out the glint of Dean's rifle nozzle. If he didn't know where to look, he'd never see it.
The low rumble of an engine drew Sam's attention farther down the street, near where it intersected another. Cautiously peering around the corner, he got a good enough look at the truck to know both men were inside. Swallowing hard, Sam drew in a deep breath and sprinted across the intersection, assuring he'd be seen by the truck's occupants.
The driver gunned the truck's engine and the squeal of tires told Sam the vehicle was bearing down on him. A soft whistle and the coat farthest from the livery lit up. The force of impact from the flare shoved the flaming garment along the wire and straight into the path of the truck. Veering off, Sam sprinted down the sidewalk on the far side of the street as the truck smashed straight through one of the buildings.
Two shots and both back tires of the truck blew out.
Whether or not the two men inside the truck thought the flaming, shining coat was some sort of spirit or not Sam had no clue. He did see the air bag go off, but the passenger wasn't as lucky as the driver. The man was thrown through the windshield. He slid over the hood of the truck and rolled to the ground as pieces of the building clattered down.
The driver shoved open the truck door and was out, stumbling over the debris, shotgun in one hand, he stopped long enough to catch sight of Sam, before climbing over the wreckage and bolting after Sam.
Running away from the truck and out to the street Sam veered back toward the livery and cut across the street when he reached the center, ducking under the wires. He slowed down, listening for the sound of footsteps behind him. As they closed in on Sam he ducked to the sidewalk and into a doorway when the second coat flashed and ignited.
Shouting, the man looked more than a little bit freaked. He backpedaled, pulling his shotgun up and firing at it. The coat kept right on moving along the wire, oblivious to the fact it'd been shot. Backing away, firing again the man's heel caught on the rough wood of the sidewalk and he pitched backwards.
"No!" Sam shouted, holding out both arms when the man pulled to a sitting position and leveled the shotgun at him.
The man ignored him and it was the last thing he ever did. One shot from Dean, straight and true, and the man fell backwards, dead.
Grinding his teeth, but not really able to feel very sorry for the guy, Sam ran back to the crashed truck. Throwing the boards and planks scattered over and around it to one side, Sam searched out the other man.
Bits of blood were on the ground, but the trail ended a few feet into the building. Sam stopped, and squinted into the interior of the building. It was difficult to see in the dim, murky lighting. Ears straining, Sam knew the injured man couldn't have gotten too far. Stepping away from the truck, Sam listened intently, but heard nothing.
Farther into the building it got darker, harder to see and still he heard no movement. Drawing in a deep breath and letting it out very slowly, Sam backed away, getting closer to the truck again. Maybe the guy had gone outside the building, not farther inside. It was doubtful, since the man would most likely be dead right now if he'd gotten to the street, but he supposed anything was possible.
Moving cautiously, Sam kept his back pressed to the side of the truck as he crept along its length. He was about to lean around the back end for a better view of the front of the building and the street when the third man spoke.
"Don't move, kid." A nasal voice accompanied the sound of a shotgun pump.
Sam slowly put both hands in the air, shifting his eyes to the street. Dean was nowhere in sight, and he couldn't see the upper windows of the livery, which meant Dean couldn't see him.
"I don't know what you and your buddy were doing snooping around, or how you did all that crap back at the mine, but you're done now."
"Listen, we didn't do anything. You probably won't believe me but—"
"Shut it!" The man balanced most of his weight on one foot, his other leg oozing blood from somewhere around his mid-thigh and a variety of cuts across his face and hands. "In the truck, you're driving."
Sighing, Sam pointed to the back tires. "We're not going anywhere, they're flat."
"We'll get far enough." He shoved at Sam with the shotgun muzzle.
Sam shrugged and made his way to the driver's side door, opened it and climbed in, brushing glass out of the way as he did so. The man hobbled to the other side, keeping his gun trained on Sam the entire time. Climbing in he nodded at Sam to start the truck.
It took a few tries but the engine finally kicked over. Sam put the truck into reverse and pressed his foot on the gas pedal. The tires spun and ground, but it didn't help much other than cause the truck to lurch backwards a few feet.
"We can't drive in the snowstorm this way."
"I said shut it!" This time the man's fist connected hard with Sam's jaw.
His head whipped around and cracked the side window making his head spin and ears ring. One word got through to his brain. "Down!" Sam immediately slouched farther down in his seat and brought his arms up over his head, ducking down and to the side.
The glass of the door window shattered and exploded over Sam's back. The man in the seat beside him grunted and collapsed forward. Fingers curled in Sam's coat and shook him.
"Sam? Sammy, you okay?" Dean was already opening the truck door and hauling Sam out, wrapping one arm around his shoulders to steady him until he got his feet securely under him.
Blinking at his brother, Sam shook bits of glass out of his hair and nodded, holding one hand against Dean's arm until the world stopped seesawing up and down and his balance returned. He didn't have to look back at the man in the truck to know he was dead. Dean simply never missed, at any distance.
They loaded the two bodies into the truck and dowsed the entire thing with gasoline. Silently they set it on fire and made sure it was burning before heading back to the Impala.
Once settled in their car, Dean handed Sam a rag and bottle of water. "You know they killed people for some stolen cars. What happened with the ghosts was a coincidence, but that was just as wrong. Those men got what they deserved. We did our job, released the ghosts, and stopped the killings."
"I know." Sam dabbed at his jaw with the cool water then leaned back and let his head drop to the seatback. "Still they were people."
"They were monsters, Sam, simply a different kind than we normally deal with." Dean started the car, and guided it out of the livery.
Dean's words were spoken with such conviction, Sam had no choice but to agree and that gave him more comfort than anything else ever could. He let his eyelids drift shut and smiled softly when Dean reached over and patted his shoulder.
Wrapping his knuckles softly on the bathroom door, Dean cracked it open just far enough to talk through. "Hey, you didn't drown in there, did you?" He couldn't help grinning when he heard water sloshing in the deep tub. "Pizza is here."
Dean heard the distinct sound of wet feet hitting the tile floor and shuffling across. The door creaked open farther and Sam shuffled out, wearing sweats and a t-shirt, towel draped over his shoulders. Tossing it aside, Sam pulled on the heavy hoodie Dean had left sitting on his bed and offered him a grateful smile. "Thanks."
"Feel better?" Dean asked between bites of his pizza.
"Yeah, I do." Sam settled on the other bed, pulling one of the pizza boxes onto his lap. "You were right about those guys."
Dean nodded. "It still sucks though. Nothing else we could do, they didn't leave us any choice. It was them or us, Sammy. Them or innocent people who would have died if they weren't shut down."
Sam nodded, but was too busy concentrating on his pizza to speak actual words, which was fine with Dean. "Finally warm." Sam mumbled and leaned forward to set the pizza box on the table between the beds.
Dean reached over and turned off the light, leaving nothing but the television on. "We're snowed in for a few days, I think."
The soft rumble from the other bed and the rustle of blankets and sheets was what answered Dean. He didn't have to look to know Sam was nestling down and more asleep than awake. He lowered the sound on the television and glanced over at his mostly asleep brother.
Killing those men wasn't Dean's first choice, not by a long shot, but it had become their only choice. The option of keeping his brother alive and well was really the only option Dean ever considered. In a day or two they'd put this town and it's problems in their rear view mirror, which couldn't happen fast enough for him.
Sliding down under the blankets, Dean listened to the television and the sound of Sam's soft breathing a few feet away and knew they'd gotten out of this with what was important. Each other.