"You should have seen it," said Dean, as they climbed down the sewer ladder, "Dr. Piccolo from Dr. Sexy MD was on this talk show, taking a faceful of pepper spray from the audience members, and she didn't even blink."
"Demon?" Sam guessed.
"Maybe," said Dean uncertainly, "But Crowley's staying out of our way, why would a demon need to go on national television for extreme bukkake?"
Dean flushed. "Nothing." he said, turning to ghetto-fabulous Dracula, "So when's the train usually come?"
"Should be soon," he said, looking at his watch, "A lot of guys sleep down here, so they'll slow down to give us a ride."
Dean nodded and motioned to Sam. "So, sun goes down in a few hours, I figure this train heads toward the water where the Leviathans are planning the human sacrifices, we shoot anything that doesn't bleed red and take the hostages home?"
"Are you sure the train goes to Lake Michigan?"
"Well yeah, where else would it go?" he said, walking back to sit beside the rail tracks and enjoy the fashion magazine he'd stolen. "Man these new ads are...something else."
Sam gave his brother a sideways glance. "You've been flipping through that thing a lot."
"It just doesn't make sense," said Dean, "I mean, did you see the women during the riot? No screaming, no cries for help, no nothing. You'd think they were at a golf tournament."
"Since when did you watch golf?"
"Hey hey, it's a sport," Dean snapped, "I mean, I'm not gonna stop chicks from going all Fight Club, but this is just..."
He trailed as he turned the pages. A shoe ad portrayed a beautiful carcrash victim, her skirt hiked up to reveal road rash up and down one side of her body. Another page showed a housewife with a black eye, posing seductively with a bottle of BRUS cologne. An exultant prize-fighter. A bartender holding a broken bottle between her and the observer.
Dean stopped at the last one, thinking she looked like Jo. Sam thought she looked more like Meg, and noticed that Dean had not changed out of his bloody shirt.
"He misses his old job." said Lucifer, peering over Dean's shoulder to read the magazine.
"Go away." Sam whispered.
"I mean," Dean said, not noticing Sam's little comment, "I think I see where Dick Roman is going with the new drug laws. It's like Prohibition, if you make all the pain-killers illegal, you create a black market for the stuff. Which puts more people in jail for 'drug-dealing'..."
"...which makes more people eligable for Roman's Rehab services." Sam finished, looking up to find Lucifer gone.
"But why make drug addicts just to treat them?" Dean asked no one in particular, "He could've crashed a plane, or blown up a cruise ship..."
Dean turned to look at Sam, and his eyes were black, his hands still bloody. "I mean, gotta be an easier way to kill people."
A high whistle broke Sam's reverie, as the Black Line train approached. When he blinked, Dean's eyes were normal again.
Dean had entertained visions of mad scientist engineering, with gears and billowing smoke and a calliope playing in the front car, but the actual train was so sleek that he was hard-pressed to find a seam in the panels.
"I'd better come with you," said Dracula, "You'll end up in Indiana without a map down here."
"Where's your friend?" Sam asked.
Dracula raised his hand as if to wave away a fly. "He's somewhere."
Several dozen men had boarded today, most of them older, all of them in some kind of pain, and uninterested in the newcomers. The train was nearly full, so the brothers made do with seats on opposite sides of the car, though whether it was better to sit by the engine or between strangers groaning in agony, Sam couldn't tell.
"Wouldn't you rather be someplace quiet?" asked Lucifer, standing outside on the platform, though his voice was as clear as if they were having a phone conversation.
Sam remained still. The man sharing his bench was sweating and whispering about insects crawling into his mouth, and he didn't want to frighten him even more. "Go away." he whispered.
The angel smiled. "Here, is your neighbor bothering you?" And drawing a line in the air, the old drunk disappeared.
"Go away." Sam whispered again as the angel took the seat next to him.
"Come on man, all the other seats smell like cat pee."
Sam turned around in his seat, and found that Renfield had squeezed between two old hobos behind Sam.
"Sorry, I thought...wait, what are you doing on the train, I thought you were gonna stay in the city?"
Renfield ducked his head. With his permanently spooked expression, rings around his eyes, and acute hepatitis, he looked like a jack-o-lantern in a hoodie. "I thought I could help you guys."
Sam tried not to look to his right, knowing the kid had enough street experience to smell crazy a mile away. "Good idea, we can always use a native guide."
The kid smiled, as a courtesy at least.
"So what prescription were you on before the new law took effect?" Sam asked, eager to keep his head in one place.
Renfield looked away. "Anti-depressants."
"Something happen to you?" asked Sam.
Lucifer looked at Sam, and then around the train wearily, as if it were an old Christmas tree that needed to be taken down. The lights began to flicker, and suddenly the train smelled coppery, sharp, like blood in a frying pan.
"My dad died a coupla years back." Renfield began.
Lucifer lifted his hand, and all the noise and chatter ceased, save for Renfield's voice, which spindled and distorted until it seemed to be coming from another room.
"He was a drunk and hardly ever home, but he was the least screwed up person in the family."
Placing his hand on the window, the glass softened until it became a thin membrane under Lucifer's touch, black veins criss-crossing it like necrotic frost, sloughing off in sheets to reveal the yawning void on either side of the train tracks.
"He was the only one who loved me." said Renfield, his eyes watering.
One window pane, two, four, his hand a grey spider as it pressed to the glass. The train was only a shell now, the engine an underlying hum the Sam felt in his teeth as he watched the last light flicker and die.
"After the funeral, I stopped by my friend's apartment," he said, meaning Dracula, "He had just taken something, and he had this big smile on his face."
In that infernal darkness, it was very easy to believe that everyone in the world was dead, save for Sam and the Devil, and the kid's voice tying him to the real world like a telephone can on a string. He found it oddly comforting.
"And I said to him, 'Gimme whatever it is you're taking'," Renfield finished, tears spilling down his face, "'Cuz I don't wanna feel this'."
The train picked up speed, and the sudden lurch brought Sam back to the present- - -the impossible mission, the noise, the lights, the smell of the old man next him where Lucifer had been. As if he'd awakened into the bad dream.
Renfield's watery eyes peeped out at him from his hoodie, and Sam hesitated, not wanting to one-up the kid with his own daddy issues. "My dad died too," Sam managed, "It gets better. And at least you've still got your friend." he said, gesturing to Dracula.
"That's crap," Renfield said bittlerly, "He's not my friend, he's a user-dealer who enjoys watching his customers scratch off their own skin, you think I wanna stick around when he finally fries his brain with his own product?"
He thought about Dean, the look on his face when they left the warehouse, the blood on his hands, and wondered what kind of road his brother was walking down when he heard his name called.
"Sammy, the train's slowing," Dean said in his ear as they made their way down the hall, "Let's get to the door, no telling what kind of security they've hired for this operation."
Sam nodded, and felt for the 9mm tucked in his pants. Together, they made their way to the front, walking slowly to give themselves time to adjust to the dark. When the train came to a halt, several pairs of shoes clicked against tile, the voice nearest to the door giving a hushed command.
"On three..." said Dean, tightening his grip on his gun.
Sam nodded, breathing thru his mouth and not liking the odds one bit.
Hands slid the main bolt to one side.
A chink of light shone through a gap in the door.
"Thr-wait, put away the gun Sam." said Dean.
"What?" Sam asked, looking up as Dean's hand came down on his gun, hiding it behind his arm. The door opened and the boys had to shield their eyes against the blinding light of...a tastefully decorated waiting area.
"Welcome," said the small army of uniformed nurses, "to Roman Rehabilitation."