Challenge issued by the evil genius: Platinum Rose Lady
Awesome Betas: Platinum Rose Lady and LivingForTV
Disclaimer: Me? Own them? You've got to be kidding.
A/N: Wow... I mean, holy shit. This challenge was hard. How am I supposed to make a horror story from "Tickle Monster is real?" I hope this worked out okay. It kind of spiraled out of control. Tell me if it's scary, cause I'm trying really hard.
Also, this is set durring Season One. Because back then, the angst was so much simpler.
Smile Like You Mean It
Chapter One: Once Upon a Midnight Dreary
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"The Raven," Edgar Allen Poe
o-o-o-o-o-o England, the 1870s o-o-o-o-o-o
He looked nervously up at his door and then back down at his work. Biting his quill, he thought about his next words carefully. The entire satire was a dangerous little political rabble on England's current state but he really wanted to put in one more warning.
He knew for a fact people in London weren't dying of heart attacks.
That was a perfectly sensible lie that most people of good upper class standing were happy to accept. He was not one of those people and he had to put out some warning in his finished story, even if other people wrote it off as nonsense. 'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves, he began to scrawl hastily. The sudden knocking on his door startled him. He looked up expecting the worst and he was right.
It was his unpleasant land lord, a loud and uncouth man. The author did not want to think about his rent being due when people were dying. Scowling, he resolved to write quickly and be done before morning. He had to go face the monster head on, and get some money for his bloody rent.
o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o Now o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o
At first glance, Alexandria Abbot died of a heart attack. As the autopsy report later clarified, her heart had given out at the same times her lungs couldn't keep up with her demand for oxygen. Her stomach was also painfully ruptured. In short, as the mystified Doctor reported, she died of laughter. He didn't bother explaining the splotchy bruises all along her arms; it was already too strange. They were in a line, three at time. Almost like they were suction cups on tentacles such as an octopus might have. But the Doctor didn't know what kind of land monster had tentacles that could wrap around a person's arms.
When Joseph Kerr was wheeled in on a metal slab, he had the same type of bruises dark and purple. His bruises were wrapped around his stomach. The Doctor did the report just to be sure, but he already knew. Joseph Kerr died laughing. It was all just a little weird for his taste, as he explained to the two FBI agents that had visited him.
Later that night, in his office the Doctor was writing his notes. He was humming an old rock and roll tune, when he realized that's why the FBI agents' names sound so familiar. He shrugged it off and continued to speculate on what the bruises meant, or what could have made them. He heard a knocking on his door. He finished his sentence and looked up, "Who's there?"
A deep growl voice playfully announced, "Boo."
The Doctor stood up to open the door and he called out, "Boo who?"
The door swung open as the voice boomed, "Don't cry; it's just a joke."
His jaw dropped as the horrifying truth faced him. His lips moved but he couldn't find a sound brave enough to escape his throat. In front of him he saw a monster; seven feet tall, with writhing and twisting skin that seemed to be alive and completely covered in foul sticky mucus. Dotting the skin was ugly purple sores that were rotting and burnt. The Doctor looked up at the one large yellow eye in disbelief.
The monster reached out his six tentacles and grabbed the Doctor around the middle. The Doctors' arms flailed, but with every movement more he made a tentacle wrapped tighter around his neck, chest, or stomach. He could feel the tentacles wriggling on him, moving in a macabre mockery of tickling.
The monster leaned closer as he neared hyperventilating.
"You can scream now." The thick voice said softly.
The Doctor's screams were drowned out by the monster's booming laughter. As the tentacles squeezed tighter, his screams turned in to a whimper.
Then that whimper turned into a chuckle. His face twisted into a grotesque grin as he began to laugh.
One yellow eye watched happily as the man in his arms began to twist and laugh in anything but pleasure. The Doctor's wracking laughter became quicker and frenzied as the monster wiggled his tentacles. Each tentacle was attached to him, creating physical contact with suction cup grip moving in its own panicked motions until, all the laughter ceased suddenly.
The Tickle Monster dropped him, savoring a good belly laugh of success. He feasted on the laughter and the life force he'd drained from the Doctor.
"Beware my son," an author had written long ago, "The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!"
"Well, the Doctor we visited yesterday is dead." Sam said glumly as he threw down the morning's paper. "His office was torn apart by burglars, they say."
Dean took another sip of his coffee as the effects slowly began kick in. He blinked sleepily as he started to accept that is was morning and the blurry shapes around him were people. Despite the general unpleasantness of waking up, he was enjoying the renewed tradition of sharing breakfast with his brother. "How'd he die?"
Sam looked down at his breakfast. The eggs were dry, the bacon was over cooked; typical diner food. It already seemed like years ago that Jess had cooked him delicious food. "They haven't released the official report." He gestured with his fork at the paper in between them. "But he had the same tentacle like bruises on his arm." He jammed a fork into his food and looked up at Dean. "Best guess? He died laughing like the others."
Dean looked around the diner, and checked no one was nearby. He leaned closer to Sam. "So what is it?"
Sam shrugged as he took a bite of his eggs. He chewed thoughtfully. Dean smiled to himself. "I mean, I've got an idea but… you wouldn't believe me."
Sam swallowed his mouthful. "What is it Dean? Any theory is better than none."
Dean raised his eyebrows and said seriously. "The tickle monster is real."
Sam rolled his eyes and threw down his fork. "Please. That's just some bull shit you made up to scare me as a kid."
Dean smirked as he remembered the terror in six-year-old Sam's eyes. "Yeah… that was fun."
Sam glared at him. One thing he hadn't missed at Stanford was being teased because he was a younger sibling. Dean shook his head to clear away the memories. "But seriously, Sam. They died laughing, tentacle grip on their arm—what else is there?"
Sam opened his mouth to retort but stopped as the waitress appeared. "More coffee, sugar?" She asked with a wink.
Dean pushed his coffee toward her. "Please."
As she poured the coffee, he winked at her. Sam kicked his foot under the table. Dean scowled. The anger on his face quickly deterred any illusions the waitress may have had. She pouted and turned to Sam, who smiled politely, "Thank you."
She left them. Dean watched her go before he turned back to Sam. "You were saying something about how I'm right?"
Sam huffed. "Okay, fine, let's assume that you could be right-"
"Am right." Dean muttered.
"-but how do we kill it?" Sam continued. "I haven't read a lot of lore on tickle monsters."
"Maybe you could make the tickling stop by using the safe word?" Dean said mischievously.
Sam rolled his eyes as he pulled out his wallet. He threw down some cash and stood up. "Alright, let's go see what he can find."
Dean didn't stand up. He pouted up at Sam. "But I haven't finished my coffee…"
Sam looked at the death grip Dean had on the white porcelain mug. He shook his head. "Just come on. Maybe the waitress will give you a to-go cup."
Dean picked up his cup of nectar and went to go talk to the waitress. Fumbling, he tossed Sam the car keys. Sam went out to the parking lot and started the car. The Impala idled for several minutes before Dean finally returned beaming. As Dean got into the driver's seat he set down an extra large to go cup of coffee in the cup holder.
"What took so long?" Sam asked, already knowing the answer.
Dean reached into his pocket and held up his prize. Sam rolled his eyes at the sight of a lipstick stained napkin complete with a phone number. "If I'm lucky I'll get my own tickle monster." Dean winked.
Sam didn't give him the satisfaction of a frown. He simply said, "Well can we get going already? I want to head back to our room and use my laptop."
Dean took long sip of his coffee and sighed happily. "Okay, okay, we're going."
Sam reached over into the backseat and pulled his duffle bag forward as Dean eased the car onto the main road. As they drove to the motel Sam rummaged through his duffle bag. Dean looked over at Sam. "What do you expect to find in there?"
Sam didn't look up as he shoved aside more dirty laundry. Grunting he pulled out an old beaten journal. "Maybe the answer."
Dean raised one eyebrow and turned on the radio. Enter the Sandman began to play. They drove in silence for the rest of the trip as Dean thought about the first time he'd heard of the horror of Tickle Monster.
Once upon a time he had thought it was just a story. Now, glancing over at Dad's journal resting in Sam's lap, he wondered if there was more truth to what parents told their kids.
John stumbled into the motel bone weary. He shrugged of his leather jacket but kept on his long flannel shirt to hide the bruises from the day's hunt. Dean poked his head out of the bedroom. He set down the abridged children's copy of Through the Looking Glass that he had been reading to Sammy earlier. He looked at his Dad worriedly. "Dad?" the six year old said timidly.
"Deanno." John sighed, bending down on one knee with his arms held out. "C'mere and give your old man a hug."
Dean smiled and ran into his arms. Despite his sore arms, John picked his son up. Dean wiggled and giggled in his grip, unable to break loose. "Not so fast squirt!" John laughed. "I've got you!"
Dean's eyes closed as body fell slack and John froze. "Dean?" He prompted. He relaxed his hold on Dean as he looked at the boy, listening for shallow breathing. "Dean?"
Dean's eyes sprung open as he yanked his arms free. "Attack of the tickle monster!" he shrieked playfully as he tickled his Dad.
John chuckled and set Dean down on the couch. "You got me! Enough!" As Dean stopped, John shook his head. "You wanna know about the real tickle monster?"
Dean froze and his eyes widened in childlike wonder. "He's real?"
"Real-er than Santa Clause." John winked.
Dean's eyebrows creased as he looked down puzzled.
"Never mind," John said quickly. "Just trust me, he's real."
"Wow." Dean gasped. "You seen him?"
"You bet. He's big and slimy and has six long tentacles. Guess what color he is?" John leaned close to Dean. John smiled playfully, suppressing the horrible image he'd seen earlier.
Dean crossed his arms over his chest as he thought intensely. "Um…purple?"
John ruffled the kid's blonde hair. "Close. He's black and got purple spots with one big yellow eye."
"That's silly!" Dean chirped as began giggling.
John reflected on what he'd seen earlier. "Yeah, it is."
Dean looked up at his Dad seriously. "Did you stop him Daddy?"
"Of course I did," John lied with a trustworthy smile.
Dean believed him as he asked one more question. "How?" he yawned.
"With a feather and a little help from Carroll," John said scooping him and taking him to bed. Dean fell asleep in his father's arms. John pulled the covers over his son and went to his own bed. After making sure the Feather was safely hidden away he got ready for bed. He'd been so damn close- John wondered where the miserable creature had crawled to after he'd chopped of three of its awful limbs.
No place good, he was sure.
In the other room, Dean hugged his feather pillow closer for protection as he dreamed of tickles and tentacles.
Dean snapped his fingers as he repeated, "With a feather."
Sam looked up from the passenger seat and yawned. His hand was resting on the cover of the unopened journal. "What was that?"
Dean slowed the car down and pulled over. He shut the engine off and turned to Sam. "Dad's faced this before." He shook his head. "I can't believe I didn't remember before, but it was in '86, you were only two."
"Dean," he said as jammed his finger down at the beaten leather journal, "Don't you think we would have noticed something like this in Dad's journal?" Sam's voice went deeper as he imitated John's deep timbre, "'Dear Diary, Today I fought a ticklish monster and tickled it to death with a feather.'"
Dean scowled. "Smartass, I'm serious. He came home with bruises all down his arms; I saw them when he was working on the Impala the next day."
Sam regarded Dean warily. "But with a feather? Was that the only clue?"
Dean wiggled the keys in front of Sam. "I can't be sure, but he said something about Carroll. And I know there's something in the trunk."
Sam undid his seatbelt and reached for the door. "Carroll? You think a girl helped him out?"
"Who knows?" Dean shrugged as he opened his door. "Let's check out the trunk."
Dean and Sam walked around to the back of the Impala. Sam shoved his hands into the pockets of his hooded sweatshirt and reflected on who Carroll was. "Maybe she's another psychic." Sam said helpfully. "Or a serious bad ass."
Dean rolled his eyes and stuck the keys into the trunk.
"I always wondered what this did," Dean said excitedly as he fumbled with the Impala's lock, "I remember seeing it back then. When he was working on the Impala he threw it way in the back. Dad said I wasn't supposed to touch it…"
Sam had to admit he was also excited to see what it was. Hearing the click, he lifted up the trunk. Next to him, Dean lifted up the false bottom to reveal their weapons display. Dean brushed aside three strings of ammunition, one magazine, and a stray gun for Sam to see it. Buried under the back, in a dirty black scabbard was a long an elegant sword. Sam pointed excitedly to the scabbard. On the very end in gold cursive it simply said, "For Carroll's Defense."
Sam and Dean exchanged a glance. "How curious," Dean muttered as he withdrew the blade. It was well balanced steel, a very ancient weapon that was still quite effective.
On the golden handle of the sword was a small printed name for the blade. "Feather," Sam read excitedly.
Dean smirked. "With a feather. Damnit Dad! Always with the freaking weapons."
Sam reached out and took the blade from Dean. He turned away from the car and swung it experimentally. "But that doesn't tell us who Carroll is."
Dean leaned against the trunk of the car as he watched Sam's sword play. "You know who I think of?" Dean mused. "Alice."
Sam stopped and lowered the blade. "Alice, who?"
"You know- those Wonderland books." Dean said with a shrug.
Sam snapped. "Lewis Carroll." His eyes grew brighter and he smiled, he opened his mouth to say something but Dean held up his hand.
"Don't even start geek boy, I can tell when you want to research something." Dean slammed the trunk. "Grab the Feather and get back in the car."
Sam sheathed the weapon and got into the Impala with Dean.
.:To Be Continued:.