By: Karen B.

Summary: The boys are on another hunt. Place setting - a haunted taxidermy shop. Protective Dean. Some hurt Sam. Frustrated, teddy bear, Bobby. Mix with humor. Serve up on a stick. Time set - early season two.

Disclaimer: Not the owner.

Happy Birthday to my friends: Marianna and PHX…I hope you like. Wish well! Dream better.


The marble-gray clouds hung low in the early morning sky, leftovers of a late Fall downpour that had collected in lake-sized puddles all over the ground. Rainwater dripped off pale-yellow leaves, smelly garbage cans and overflowed out of the rusty, busted-up spouts of the gutters hanging off the rest station's bathroom facilities.

Sam walked across the parking lot, not bothering to avoid stomping into the rain puddles as he splashed his way toward the rundown structure. The john, looked more like a house made out of sticks that would fall over at the slightest huff or puff.

They'd stopped at a lot of crap rest areas in their day, but this had to be one of the worst. Probably built in the early 50's, never updated, and barely maintained. An old, stone water fountain was full of leaves and bone dry, the parking lot pitted with holes, the building too. Every inch of the building's outer walls was paint-blasted with colored graffiti. And not the innocent - for a good time call - kind of graffiti either.

Twenty-four years of intense training, made Sam observant. Always on alert. That was the first lesson his father pounded into his young head about the job. How dangerous it was. How on the ball one had to be.

Being a hunter made Sam view the world around him differently. Subtle movements were scrutinized. The slightest sound, caused him to deftly ease a hand behind his back, reaching up under his shirt to grip the firearm he almost always kept there.

Even now, just a simple light breeze blowing through the clumps of old growth birch trees brought his head up. Sam cast a suspicious eye upon the area. At any moment the trees could come to life, or some ghostly element, foe or fairy could leap down from a branch. Step out from its hiding place inside the trunk of the chalky-white, chipping bark. Or worse, rise up right out of the ground from hell.

As a hunter, Sam was trained not to ever be caught off guard. Being caught with your pants down around your ankles brought on more than red-faced embarrassment - it brought on deadly consequences.

The wind picked up and Sam shivered, even though the breeze wasn't that cold. Just a month ago their dad had died. Not because he'd let his guard down, but for much bigger reasons Sam or Dean had yet to understand. His father was a good hunter, the best. He was a good father, had done his best. Sam was heartbroken. All the years of bucking, fighting and rebelling against the life, and John Winchester's heavy hand, seemed so trivial now. There were so many things Sam wanted to tell his dad, makeup for - but now - he never could.

Hearing a muffled thunk, thunk, Sam froze in a trance-like state. Ready and rigid. Eyes only, searching the area. His gaze darted this way and that. Not a soul in sight. Just a few wet-tailed red squirrels chasing one another round the base of a paper-peeling birch.

Not far away, Sam spied the source of his concern. Through the large paned, dirty glass of a separate rundown structure a group of vending machines were under heavy attack.

Sam relaxed and smiled at a very frustrated, kicking, punching, swearing Dean. Nothing got between his brother and food.

Forgoing his trip to the pisser, Sam softly plodded through the overgrown, soggy grass and entered the small building. At the end of the lineup of vending machines stood Dean, nose nearly pressed to the glass and breathing heavy as he examined the contents.

"What you doing?" Sam asked, glancing sideways at the other machines as he past by, noting they were full of nothing but spiders, webs and dead flies.

"What's it look like?" Dean's stomach grumbled loudly. "Trying to get something to eat." He started to kick the crap out of the machine once more.

Sam stepped up behind Dean and peered over his shoulder through the glass and into the machine. One Twix bar, two packs of Big Red gum, three small bags of Frito Lays and a lone bag of Peanut M&M's - Dean's favorite - set amongst more spider webs full of dead insects. "Dean, this thing looks like it's been around since the turn of the century, man. You sure you want to eat any of that?"

Dean's only response was a lion-hearted growl, "Son of a bitch." He started kicking the crap out of the machine, again, with all the finesse of a crazy person.

The loss of their father was burning a pathway through both their souls. Both boys on edge. Misdirecting their anger and chomping at the bit to find answers.

Sam winced as the machine teetered one way then the other, threatening to tip over and take the whole row down like giant stack of dominions.

"Dude, try this." Sam dug into his pocket. Finding some change, he held out the coins nestled in his palm.

Dean didn't bother to look at what his brother was offering. "Negative. Friggin' machine stole two bucks in quarters from me already." Dean licked his lips and squatted down, cramming an arm up to his elbow inside the machine.

He grunted and groaned stretching as far as he could, fingers wiggling around, desperate to snatch anything he could.


"Shut up and go away if you don't want to watch this, Sam."

Sam bit his lip. Shoving the coins back in his pocket, he turned and left the building not looking back when he heard the shatter of glass. Sam quickened his steps, plunking himself down on a teetering picnic table. He rested his feet on the bench seat. Staring down at a set of initials carved into the rotting wood, he wondered if S.C. was still alive, and if he or she was, did they have a happy, normal life.

Sam wanted to talk about dad, but Dean wouldn't have that. His brother kept his fire-breathing pain silent. Locked every piece of himself inside a glass dome. Dean was like a broken gumball machine, but Sam could see right through his brother. All Dean's guilt and anger, fear, sorrow - right there - bright and colorful.

Sam wanted to grab Dean by the shoulders and shake the emotion right out of him - a few times he had. But Dean wouldn't shatter. All Sam could do was keep inserting his dime. Twisting Dean's knobs and trying to get to his older brother to talk. But the more Sam twisted, the more Dean resisted and lashed out at him. Sooner or later, Dean would bust. His thin glass would crack, and every colorful gumball would spill out - kerplunk and scatter - rolling every which way. Sam only hoped when that happened, he was there to gather them all up and put his brother back together again.

Dean dropped down next to Sam and tore open an M&M's bag with great satisfaction. He dumped out a handful of the hard-candy shelled peanuts, popping them - all at the same time - into his mouth.

"Wa' schum?" Dean mumbled around a gooey gob of rainbow colored, melted chocolate while offering what was left in the bag to Sam.

"No." Sam shook his head. "Thanks," he said, totally amused. Watching Dean shove food into his stomach was always entertaining - even in the worst of times. "Guess you won the war."

"Yep." Dean finished off the bag, stuffing the crinkled yellow wrapper into his jacket pocket.

Several fat raindrops splashed off the overhanging foliage, landing on Sam's face. He cleared his throat. A nervous tick, quickly swiping the rolling water away incase they might be the real deal. He'd shed enough tears in private having not taken the loss of his father well. Didn't need Dean teasing him or getting mad over his emotional self. Truth was, though, neither one of them was dealing well and Sam just needed to talk to someone.

No, not someone. Dean. He just needed to talk to Dean. Sam sighed, staring with watery eyes at his boots.

"What's with you?" Dean asked.

They looked at each other.

"Er…I -I'm just you know..."

"Sam," Dean warned.

Sam ducked his head hiding behind his bangs, trying to avoid looking at Dean's pissed-off face. Damn it, he was always slipping up, desperate to rip down the 'no little brother's allowed' sign blinking neon-red over Dean's head

"Just not into M&M's," Sam said, quick-save. "Think you could jack me a bag of Fritos?"

"Uh-huh," Dean muttered, disbelievingly. "So, you don't want to talk?" Dean challenged. "About anything."

Sure Sam wanted to talk. About a million different things that spun and spiraled, exploding in a trillion different directions. But the last time Sam tried to talk, Dean turned a crowbar into a wrecking ball and the Impala paid the price.

"Sammy," Dean pushed.

"No. Yes. No." Sam drew in a aggravated breath. "I don't know."

Dean reached into his jacket pocket. "Once upon a time in the land of make me crazy," he tossed Sam a bag of Fritos, "Princess Sam's awesomely, cool older brother came through for him….again. Right, Sammy?"

"Right, Dean," Sam whispered sadly, staring at the unopened bag.

"Look, pal," Dean said softly, "Maybe I've been too…" Whatever big brother was about to say was interrupted by his cell phone going off. Dean retrieved his flip-phone and opened it. "It's Bobby," he whispered and elbowed Sam in the ribs. "Bro watch this." Dean gave Sam his 'mischievous kid' look.

"Don't," Sam ordered firmly, knowing what his brother was about to do.

"City morgue," Dean answered, holding back a giggle and winking at Sam. "You kill'em we chill'em," he said in a rush, then quickly hung up.

"Messing with Bobby," Sam grouched. "Not cool, dude."

As expected, the cell rang back immediately.

Dean answered, "Your call did not go through. Please hang up and try again." He disconnected the line, choking on his own laughter.

Sam scooted a few inches away from his brother. There was such a thing as being guilty by association.

The phone rang again, sounding very angry, if that was possible.

"You are soooo going to geeeet it." Sam opened his bag of Fritos and started munching.

"Hello," Dean stifled a laugh, "Is Bobby there?" He smiled widely nodding at Sam, barely holding back his laughter. "I know you called me, and I want to know if Bobby's there?"

"Owe!" Dean winced, quickly withdrawing the phone away from his ear. "That hurt." He stared at the receiver as a sequence of swear words - he'd never heard before - spilled out.

"This is Bobby, you igit," Bobby yelled loud enough for the man in the moon to hear. "You hang up on me again, boy…I…errr…. I'll string you up in the tool shed for a week."

Dean swallowed hard at the image. Wouldn't be the first time he'd gotten strung up in the tool shed.

"Now let me talk to Sam," Bobby lowered his tone a notch.

"He wants you." Dean held the phone stiffly out to his brother.

Sam shook his head no, looking a little bit - a lot of bit scared. "No," Sam voiced out loud, shoving the phone back toward Dean.

"Talk to him," Dean insisted in all seriousness.

"You talk to him, Dean," Sam whined.

"He asked for you." Dean thrust the phone two inches from Sam's face.

"Man." Sam drew back. "You started it. Don't get me involved."

"Sam," Bobby's voice boomed threateningly.

"Here. Take it." Dean jammed the phone against Sam's ear.

Sam batted the phone away. "I don't want to take it, dude. You take it."

"Samuel Bartholomew Winchester," Bobby bellowed through the phone. "You answer me. Right now!"

Dean poked his tongue out at Sam.

Sam rolled his eyes, reluctantly taking the phone. "Hey, Bobby," he uttered sheepishly and listened for a few minutes. "Okay. Sounds good. Yes, sir. No, sir. Right away. I will. Hard, yes. You too. Bye," Sam said, flipping the phone shut.

"What'd…what'd he say?" Dean asked nervously.

"He has a job for us." Sam handed Dean back his phone. "Let's go."

Dean gave a sigh of relief, hopping down off the picnic table and dusting off his ass as he headed back toward the Impala. "So, what's the job?"

Sam came up behind Dean and whacked him across his head with his hand - extra hard.

"Ouch," Dean hissed. "Son of a bitch!" He whirled around, rubbing the back of his head.

Sam grinned wildly.

"Bitch," Dean growled. "What was that for?"

"Bobby says he still owes you, and I'll explain about the job on the way…after I take a leak…" Sam paused. "And I really wish you'd stop calling me the B-word." A beat. "Jeeerrrk," he chuckled, pitching his empty Frito bag in a trashcan and heading back toward the John.


It was after midnight by the time they reached their destination. Dean stood behind Sam on the back porch of Pickle Bill's log-cabin-styled taxidermist shop.

"Hurry up," Dean said, suspiciously shining his flashlight into the thick wooded area surrounding the building and seeing nothing; just the warm late August summer wind blowing through the tall, old trees. "You'd think you never picked a lock before." He turned back to Sam and gave him a shoulder nudge using the duffle bag that was slung over his shouler. "Come on, man."

"Stop it, Dean. I'm going as fast as I can." Sam tinkered a little faster. "Give me some light," he demanded irritably.

Dean shined the small white circle back onto the lock Sam was working.

There came a chattering noise and Dean whirled around. "Sam, natives are getting restless." Dean shined the light, flashing the beam out toward the forest.

"What's with you?" Sam asked, still working the lock.

Something was lurking in the shadows. Dean opened the weapons bag and dug around. Flashlight in one hand, sawed-off in the other, he drew a skillful bead on a fat, furry shadow. Quickly realizing the raccoon was of no threat, Dean huffed out a breath and lowered the weapon allowing the critter to scurry away into the darkness. Salt wouldn't have done it any harm anyway.

Dean turned back to Sam. "I don't like the neighborhood. Will you come on." Dean stepped closer, bending down low over Sam's shoulder. "What? They didn't offer lock picking 101 in college?"

"Tricky tumbler. Not one of your more common locks." Sam dropped an ear closer to the knob, concentrating as he picked.

"Use your hairpin, Frances."

Sam ignored Dean, staying on task.

Dean tapped an impatient foot, the flashlight beam dancing in time, swaying this way and that. "What's with you, Sam?"

Sam froze, staring at the lock he'd been meddling with. "For one thing, Dean… you dancing like a circus bear. Can you please hold the light steady," Sam said with false politeness. "What'd you see, anyway, that's got you all hyped-up?" Sam asked.

"Renegade raccoon," Dean deadpanned, shifting from foot-to-foot. "By the time you pick that lock, Sam, we'll both be retired or dea…"


Sam peered up at Dean.

Dean smiled. "Music to my ears."

"Happy now?"

"A treasure trove of delightfulness," Dean uttered.

Sam rolled his eyes and stood.

"That eye roll thing you do is getting old." Dean brushed past Sam, indignantly.

Sam tsked, drawing his weapon from behind his back, choosing real bullets since they weren't sure what they were dealing with.

Taking the lead, Dean poked the door open with the muzzle of his gun. Sam right behind as they both stepped inside.

They paused a moment.

The shop was quiet. Dimly lit by a few security lights and red-lettered exit signs. The air inside was thick and hot and they were not alone - real-to-life eyes staring straight at them.

"Huh." Dean shivered, allowing his flashlight to bebop around the room.

Heads and full-bodied animals were mounted on wooden plaques, hanging from every wall and posed on wooden stands throughout the cabin. It was a large, impressive collection. Beaver, turkey, waterfowl, fish, deer, bear, mountain lion, zebra, bobcat, buffalo. Even a tiny, white ferret whose eyes glowed hot-pink when Dean's flashlight beam passed over them.

"That's just creepy weird," Dean murmured.

"It's a taxidermist shop," Sam drawled. "Lions, tigers, bears. What'd you expect?"

"Oh, I don't know." Dean's gaze met Sam's and he waggled both brows seductively. "Panties, bras, panties," he chuckled.

Sam huffed a strand of hair out of his eyes.

"Just sayin'" Dean titled his head.


"Feel like a piece of meat on a plate." Dean shined his light on a very large grizzly bear standing eight-feet tall on its hind legs, teeth gleaming wet. "Stuffed teddy bears I get. Stuffed death? You ever watch Animal Planet, Sam? Lions, tigers and bears tearing open the poor little baby deer? Blood and guts and…" Dean shook his head. "You'll never look at a mound of spaghetti the same again."

"They're supposed to look real. It's an art form," Sam explained, raising his gun - at the ready.

"Don't let Betty White hear you say that," Dean said, stepping up to a shelf and peering long and hard at a large, hairy black spider. "Hey, Sammy, get a load of this." Dean reached out to pet the eight-legged creature.

"'Eh, Dean I don't think that's…"

"Shit!" Dean screeched like a girl when the spider jumped onto his arm.

"Fake," Sam finished, watching Dean wave his arm up and down until the spider flipped to the floor and scurried away.

Dean turned to see Sam with a big, sloppy grin on his face.

"You laugh one time." Dean raised a warning finger.

Sam strutted past Dean, keeping his head down and using long strides, biting the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing.

"So, tell me why we're here again?" Dean grouched in annoyance, following close behind and trying to get the hairs on the back of his neck to lay flat. He hated spiders about as much as he hated rats.

"Reports of odd noises that sound like a bunch of wild animals," Sam duly said. "Strange shadows scurrying up and down the aisles. Lights flickering, things being knocked over, chattering sounds."

"So," Dean mumbled. "Chip and Dale didn't cross over into the light."

"Come on, Dean." Sam passed a mongoose devouring a rattlesnake. The piece made his skin crawl and he quickly double checked that his gun was locked and loaded. "We've had this situation before. Bobby asked for our help. So we…"

"Suck it up and check it out." Dean cocked his sawed-off, following right behind Sam.

"Besides." Sam stopped and bent to stare suspiciously at a preserved body of a rabbit sporting antlers "Really." He titled his head inquiringly.

"Jackalope," Dean identified the animal. "Plenty of American folklore on the rascally wabbit," he lisped, doing his best Elmer Fudd impersonation. "Should burn it," he said in normal Dean speak, striding away abruptly.

"Dean." Sam quickly caught up and they walked side-by-side down another aisle. "No such thing. They're just rabbits infected with the shope papilloma virus. The disease causes horn and antler-like tumors to grow on the rabbit's head and body. Thus the Jackalope got its name."

Discovery channel much?" Dean shucked the weapon's bag higher up on his shoulder.

Sam huffed. "Bobby also said, over the last six months two neighborhood dogs and four cats were found mauled to death out back. And the manager, Bobby's friend Orville, quit a week ago. Swears one night when he was locking up the statue of that grizzly back there came to life and pinned him to the floor. Winnie tried to take a chunk out of his arm, but he got away. No one believed him, of course, and there was never any evidence of a break in, human, animal or otherwise."

"Yeah, well we'll burn the grizzly too."

"Dude, curb your pyromania. We can't burn everything in this place."

"Fine, Sammy, just be careful where you step. You know what they say about bears and shit," Dean chuckled rounding a glass display case and stopping to look inside. He shined the flashlight through the top of the glass down inside. "Huh."

"What? You find your panties, bras and panties?" Sam snickered.

"Unfortunately no, but I think this might be our problem."

"That was fast." Sam stepped up next to Dean and peered into the case.

"It's not Zales," Dean announced, dully.

"Or Tiffany's." Sam cocked his head curiously.

The case held an array of old lady memorabilia. Pearly stick pins, size six alligator heels and matching purse, a fur faux, black rhinestone beaded hand gloves and straw garden hat to name a few.

Sam bent down to examine the bottom shelf. A collection of newspaper clippings, pictures of a woman, standing next to a short, beer-bellied man. Below the picture were their names. Bill Pickle and his mother Martha. There were other Black and white and Polaroid photos all ranging in age from infancy to old and gray, but clearly the same woman. The last clipping was an obit. Martha had died just a month ago.

"According to these old clippings, Pickle Bill was her only son. Guy must of loved her so much he made a shrine in her honor."

Sam stared at the last picture that she appeared in. She wore a green flowered housecoat, straw garden hat and a pair of shiny, black penny loafers.

Sam straightened. "So, what? Grandma's spirit is haunting her son's shop? Animating the different animals. But why?"

"Don't know. Don't care." Dean shrugged. "I say, burn baby burn. Then we head out and find us a bar. One without animal heads and stuffed body parts."

Sam turned his mouth down and shrugged. Sammy speak for 'guess so.' He moved behind the counter and went to slide the case door open, rattling it a few times. "Locked," he announced drawing his picklock set once again and kneeling down to get to work.

"Sammy, Sammy, Sammy," Dean taunted. "Have I taught you nothing?" Dean fluently flipped his sawed-off around using the butt end to smash the top glass.

"Dean," Sam scolded. Huffing madly, Sam stood shoving his lock pick back into his pocket.

"Haste makes waste, bro." Dean winked. "Not turning gray waiting for you to pick another lock." Still using the gun, Dean cleared away the jagged edges. "Probably the braided hair the old gal's attached to, but we burn it all to be safe," he said gathering the granny items.

Sam agreed, finding an old, steel washtub at the back of the store. It didn't take them long. Like a couple of professional jewel thieves on a time clock, they emptied out the glass case.

"Smells like mothballs, man," Dean said, a cloud of cold fog suddenly spilling out his mouth. "Son of a bitch." Dean raised his sawed-off. "Sam. Hurry. Company's coming."

Sam picked up pace, tossing the rest of the old-lady items into the washtub.

The frosty fog continued to fill the room. Another low and devilish snarl was followed by the click, click of what sounded like nails crossing over the wooden floor.

"Bear?" Dean's voice quivered, eyes darting this way and that.

Through the haze, Sam spied the bear. Still petrified and glassy-eyed like the stuffed statue it was. "Not the bear," he breathed, whirling around when he heard more scratching noises from behind. "Mountain lion?"

Dean squinted, gesturing with his sawed-off to the left. "Not him, either."

"Then who?" Sam questioned, pulling a small bottle of lighter fluid from his pocket. Flipping the lid, he squirted a stream of liquid generously over the items in the tub.

"Doesn't matter." Dean thumbed the wheel of his Zippo, lit the old ladies braided hair and tossed it onto the pile of other items. "Grandma won't have time to possess the reindeer that ran her over," he said seriously.

Fire crackled. Streaks of black smoke rising upward, the smell of old lady and melting mothballs permeating the air.

The clicking stopped; only the sound of their own boots shifting and grinding chunks of glass into the cracks of the cabin's floorboards was heard.

A second ticked by. Two. Three. Didn't take long for the fire to turn everything in the washtub into ash.

"Grandma's fallen and she's not getting up this time," Dean cackled. Directly behind them came a deep, rumbling growl. Dean glanced over at Sam. "Bro, was that your stomach?"

Sam gave a small shake of his head. No.

"Normally the ghost goes bye-bye now," Dean said in a shocked tone.

"When is anything ever normal, Dean?"

"Well, there was that one time…"

Another low growl, closer.

Both men spun on their heels to see a show of teeth, horns and a fuzzy white cotton tail.

"Jackalope," they yelled simultaneously.

The Jackalope seemed to almost smile at them, then lunged.

"Dean watch out." Quick as lightning, Sam shoved Dean out of the way, sending his brother reeling to the floor.

The Jackalope came at him instead. Sam shot at the crazed animal, real bullets doing nothing to stop the creature. Before he could tuck and roll over to Dean and the weapons bag, something pointy and sharp caught him in the shoulder.

"Ah," Sam cried. His gun sailing one way - Sam the other. He hit the floor hard - eyeballs rolling in their sockets like snake eyes.


"Uh," Sam panted, face twisting in pain as he sat half-way up, trying to hold the agitated Jackalope at bay. The possessed animal only doubled its attack efforts, clawing at his chest. "Get it off me. Dean! Uuuggghhh!"

Dean was up and sliding across the uneven glass-covered floor. With one hand, he scuffed the neck of the fury intruder camped out on his brother's chest.

"Pull," Dean shouted flinging the critter up toward the cabin's beamed ceiling, taking aim and blasting its ass with salt rounds.

Direct hit.

He always was good at Skeet shooting.

The Jackalope flipped in mid-air, then promptly fell to the floor with a solid thunk - stiff as the day it was stuffed. Scrapes of fluffy Jackalope fur floated down to stick in Sam's.

"Holy crap." Sam flopped back, breathing heavily, arms spread wide on the floor.

"Dude." Dean knelt by his side, setting the sawed-off close by. "Don't ever push me like that again, you hear me?"

Stunned, Sam didn't answer.

"Hey. Come on." Dean patted Sam's cheek. "How you doing?"

Sam groaned.

"I'm not kidding. Sam. Talk to me."

"'Eh, ouch," Sam took in a few deep breaths, wincing.

Dean grimaced. "Why aren't we out of the woods? We burned Grandma's attic." Dean bent low over Sam trying to see better in the dim lighting. "You alive down there?"

"Alive. Barely," Sam huffed in annoyance. "Undamaged? No. Out of the woods. Not yet," Sam whimpered. "Ah, my shoulder."

"Hold still. Let me see what's up." Deft fingers gently pulled Sam's jacket back. His shirt was shredded, and Dean could see the scratch marks zigzagging across his brother's chest and his upper right shoulder was doing a slow bleed.

Sam breathed raggedly in and out through his nose.

Dean tenderly pressed around the hole, examining.

"Uhnnnnuh," Sam clenched his fists unconsciously.

"Easy," Dean muttered.

"How…how's it look?" Sam stuttered.

Like magic, Dean had a square white piece of gauze in his hand, pressing the material to Sam's shoulder. "Want it sugarcoated?"

"Straight up," Sam gritted out his teeth, squirming a little under the pressure.

Dean lifted the gauze pad to take a look. "Can't stitch it. Puncture wound. About the size of a quarter. Probably from the fugly bitches' horn." He pressed the padding back down hard, keeping pressure. "Bleeding pretty good. Going to have a nice shade of black and blue bruising all around." Dean slipped a hand underneath Sam's neck and brought him up to sitting.

"Hurts like hell." Sam winced at the rocket-hot burning that radiated through his shoulder and down his right arm.

Dean leaned over to peer at Sam's back. "Didn't go all the way through." He sat back on his heels. "But the area's swelling up already. You think it hurts bad now, man. Wait."

"Thought you were going to sugarcoat it," Sam drawled.

"That was." Dean pulled a longer piece of gauze wrap out of thin air. "If I wasn't going to sugarcoat it… I'd tell you how you could have an allergic reaction to that fur ball. Horns could have shot some kind of poisonous venom into your bloodstream. Your insides could boil over and burst out your ears." Dean tied the wrap firmly around the wound, holding the gauze pad in place. The action produced a small cry from Sam. "Or you could break out in hives. Stop breathing." Dean took Sam by his good arm and got him standing.

Sam tottered dizzily.

"Might even start spitting out little baby Sammy Jackalopes'." Dean shrugged, holding Sam upright. "Or you could shit Mothballs for the rest of your life."

"Okay, all right, all right, so it was a little sugarcoated," Sam deadpanned, closing his eyes a second to gain his equilibrium."'Er….thanks for that, Dean." Sam opened his eyes.

"Anytime, Sammy boy." Dean let go his hold of Sam's arm. "So, guess we can obviously scratch Whistler's Mother off the list."

"Guess so." Sam spied his gun butted up against the feet of a beaver. "What now?" He cautiously stepped over and bent down, keeping his eyes on the rodent's three-inch long teeth - quickly snagging his gun and backing away with a sigh of relief when the thing didn't come to life.

"You feeling okay?" Dean asked worriedly, handing Sam his salt gun.

"Um, no," Sam said, shoving his handgun into his waist band. "Got stabbed in the shoulder, Dean. Sore as hell."

"Long as you don't feel anything creepy itching under your skin."

"Nothing like that. Just your usual boring things. Hot, burning, poker-like pain, blood seeping down my chest."

Dean nodded, satisfied for the moment. "So, we're not setting this whole place on fire, and we didn't bring enough shock collars for all these animals. What next?" Dean asked sarcastically

Sam pointed toward an open door and a set of stairs leading downward. "Let's check out the basement."

"Right. Because evil shenanigans always happen in the creepy basement," Dean muttered, making sure he was the first to head down the cement staircase. "Good times," he drawled.


The basement was large, cold and damp. Lit by security lights that made everything glow electric blue adding to the damp cold feel. Sealed cardboard boxes lined the walls along with shelves and shelves of supplies. Tools of the taxidermist trade. Sharp knives. Hack saws. Brushes. Paint. Clay. Plaster. Bones. Glass eyes. Tanned skin. Wire. Cloth. Cotton. Cans and jars of curing agents. And an array of animal heads and bodies already stuffed and drying.

There was an open door to the right. Sam stepped over and peeked inside.

"Anything?" Dean asked, poking around the boxes.

"Doesn't look like much. Broom closet of an office." Sam went inside and started to rummage around.

Finding nothing among the boxes of interest, Dean stepped up to peer into the dead eyes of a life-like animal that looked to be part beaver, part duck. "Some jungle, man. They got everything in this joint, but Cookie Monster and Oscar." Dean poked his finger in the creepy looking beaver/duck's bill. "What the hell?"

"It's a platypus, Dean," Sam said standing in the office doorway. "They're mammals. The only mammal that lays eggs instead of giving live birth."

"Ew! Don't say live birth." Dean practically gagged, moving along. "And this." He stopped in front of a dog-like animal sporting stripes. "And this. This is a hoax for sure, like that damn Jackalope."

"Wow," Sam said, with awe in his voice, heading over to inspect the creature further.

"Wow?" Dean queried. "Don't tell me this thing's real?"

"Was real. Thylacine. Commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger. Native to Australia. They're extinct. The last known Thylacine died in 1936 - caged in a zoo." Sam shook his head sadly.

"You….are… amazing," Dean sneered. "Dude. Is there anything you don't know?"

Sam walked across the room and stopped in front of a large steel locker. "Don't know what's in here." He swiped a few drops of perspiration off his forehead.

Dean came to stand next to Sam and frowned. "You sure you're okay. You're looking feverish."

"I'm good."

A rattling sound came from the inside of the locker.

Both men took a large, slow step backward.

"Ten bucks says it's a rattlesnake," Dean guessed.

Sam cocked his head. "I'll take that bet." He raised his gun, drawing the hammer back.

"Here we go again." Dean raised his weapon as well. "Ready?" He lifted a leg.

"Set, go," Sam belted out.

With an extra hard boot-kick to the side of the cabinet, Dean sent the locker tipping over and crashing onto its side.

The locker door immediately jarred open and out fell…


AN: Marianna's Birthday is Friday, so I thought it best to split the story in half. The conclusion will post tomorrow.