Dean nudged the salon door open with his gun, shining a flashlight inside and cursing when he saw that the floor was littered in broken glass and scented body oils.
"Man, zombies take over a mall and they couldn't have raided the Victoria's Secret first?" he muttered.
"Dean, keep your voice down." Sam hissed, stepping over a corpse that, at this point, had more henna tattoos than brains.
"I can't even hardly breathe in this place, there's so much petrol oil."
"It's patchouli, not-."
"Thank you, Martha Stewart, now do me a favor and find the stereo system before I shoot Enya in the speakers."
"Actually, with all this glass underfoot, the music's about the only thing concealing our movement."
"...I knew that."
A woman "urghed" in the next room, and the boys nodded to each other, each checking that there was a round in the chamber. Trying not to crunch too much, they made their way down the hall, the music doing such a good job that it was impossible to tell what the woman was trying to say.
Kicking their way in, the edge of the door struck a hanging lamp, so that the light swung back and forth across the massage room. Lying face-down on the massage table, a blonde with an expensive up-do moaned as a zombie kneaded little circles into her back.
"Ah," she said into the carpet, not bothering to turn her head from the padded headrest, "I was wondering when you boys would show up."
Sam and Dean blinked, and then looked at each other as if to ask if either of them knew her from a previous encounter.
"Your masseuse has a hole punched thru her chest." Sam hazarded.
"Oh yeah she's been dead for hours, doesn't effect her manual skills." she said, grunting as a pair of thumbs got underneath her left shoulder blade.
"Did you do this?" asked Dean, gesturing to the shopping mall at large.
"Mister Roman needed some supplies for tonight, I figured I could take advantage of the available resources while I waited," she said. The lamp swung back and forth, the dead eyes in the masseuse's face lighting up and off, up and off, like a toddler with a light switch.
"There were hundreds of people here," Dean spat angrily, wishing he'd thought to pack a machete, "You just turned them undead so you could dump them in the lake like Monster Fish Flakes?"
"Yeah, well, you can't kill me, and even if you did, you're not going to change anything planned for tonight," she said, shifting as hands worked her lower back, "You should try the water, they soak almonds in it overnight, gives it a nice cherry flavor."
"Maybe I can't kill you," he said, lifting a large piece of glass from the floor, "But I can have fun trying."
The blonde turned to look at him finally, and she seemed both young and ancient, a prom queen with a jurassic smile. With a nod of assent to her masseuse, the zombie dug the heels of her hands into her back, and with an expert tug, shoved all of the skin off of her back, gleefully peeling her like an orange from hip to neck, black ooze leaking onto the carpet as she buried her rotting face into a kidney.
"You do that honey." said the blonde to Dean.
Sam and Dean covered their faces with their arms, trying not to be sick from the stench.
"Gotta say," she said, folding her arms under her chin as she watched the boys leave, "Nothing like deep tissue massage."
"I think I know what they're planning," said Sam as they headed back toward an empty department store, "I was doing research on the Great Lakes, and in Native American lore there's a creation myth about the lakes being prisons for ancient, powerful, and deadly beings who had threatened to wipe out the Dakota tribe."
"Ancient, powerful, and deadly? Wow that narrows it down," Dean replied tartly, "Did these beings also wear horned helmets and eat lutefisk?"
"Dean, these legends are far older than the Viking invasions, they've permeated most of the tribes from here to the Pacific," Sam insisted, "They say the creatures would only rise again if certain pledges were made."
"Such as human sacrifices."
"But they have to be a certain type of sacrifice."
"What, no one with SAT scores below 1599?"
Sam stopped talking long enough to glower at him. "Are you ever going to let that go?"
Dean grinned, his tongue between his teeth as he scored a hit. "What was the word you got wrong? The one that sounds dirty?"
"Probity, and it means virtue, AND I would have gotten it right if you hadn't left your alien porn out on the kitchen table the day of the test."
"You shut your mouth, THE SEX-FILES is art."
"Anyway, the creation myth says that each evil god needs a certain type of sacrifice in relation to their ability. The god of violence-
"-needed killers, thus all the dead convicts in Cleveland."
"The god of despair-"
"-needed suicides, thus all the homeless drug addicts in Chicago."
"Right," Sam said, "Now based on the Leviathans' use of zombies, I'm guessing tonight's sacrifices are for the god of atrophy. The wording was something like 'men who walked from light to black and back to the light'."
"You sure it wasn't 'Back in Black'?" Dean said, as he thumbed thru a second-hand AC/DC album.
"If we're going to stop the ritual," Sam continued, ignoring his brother's last comment, "We're going to have to destroy the zombies. Now there's a hardware store by the escalator, if we get enough kerosene-"
"Sammy, Sammy," Dean said, as he admired the album art from White Snake's Lovehunter, "You're working too hard."
"What are you doing?" Sam asked, as Dean walked away toward the kitchen department and grabbed a meat cleaver.
"You saw that masseuse, the way she chowed down on the Leviathan."
"It didn't seem to hurt her." Sam said uncertainly.
"But the zombie certainly didn't slow down," Dean said, as he stopped to add a few more items to a plastic shopping bag, "Most of the shoppers still in the food court?"
"Meet me there in five minutes, I gotta bag me a prom queen."
Five minutes later, Dean came out again with a wriggling sack and black ooze smeared across his shirt, the meat cleaver clanging to the floor. Grabbing a megaphone from an electronics store, he stood on the railing overlooking the food court, smiled at Sam over one shoulder, and said, "Watch this."
He gave a shrill whistle, and, waiting for the chewing to subside until all eyes were on him, he reached into the bag. An arm twisted in his grip, the perfectly manicured nails now a claw that strained for purchase on his face. He gave it a practice flip in the air, and then flung it into the undead mob like the world's ugliest wedding bouquet.
Hands shot out, and the zombie women trampled each other for the morsel, tearing hair and crushing bones in their wake. The crowd would move one way, and then sidestep when they saw him throw a foot or a rib in the opposite direction. Dean hadn't gotten this kind of crowd reaction since that drunken pole-dancing contest in Toledo.
"Dean," said Sam, "Tick tock."
"Almost done," Dean said, "Do me a favor, take the car and go straight out on the ice, but not so far as I can't see you. Bring a chain-saw."
"Yeah," said Dean, as he leaned over to retrieve the last piece from the bag, "To cut the hole in the ice."
Sam nodded understanding, and ran toward the hardware store to get the supplies.
"Lllllllllllllllladies," he said into the megaphone, balancing one pissed off blonde head on a tin foil dish in the other hand, "Who wants pie?"
The crowd whooped in delight, and as the head spun thru the air, it turned flashing red eyes toward him and shouted, "CURSE YOU WINCHESTER. CURSE Y-" but was cut off with a squelch when someone called dibs on the mandible.
Waiting for silence again, he raised the megaphone. "You ladies enjoy that?"
"You want some more?"
"I can't heeeeeeear you." he said, one finger behind his ear.
"You want some food with some real star power?"
"With some intestinal fortitude?"
"A meal that will stand the test...of time...ITSELF?"
"Then follow me!" he said, and walking ten yards to the Harley Davidson store next door, he hopped on the back of a chopper and roared off down the escalator, the zombies parting before him like the Red Sea.
"Come on Sammy, be there." he muttered under his breath as the horde sped up to keep pace with him. Bursting thru the exit doors, the winter wind bit as his face, and he suddenly wished he'd thought to grab a helmet. In all the whiteness, he spied the crappy little Camaro out on the lake, a lone figure bent over carving into the surface.
He chanced a look over his shoulder, and saw that some of the zombies had nearly overtaken him. Not wanting to anger them, he wove in and out of the runners, taking sudden turns so that they ran into each other instead of the motorcycle, and overall taking far more time to escape than he would have liked, considering how dark it was getting.
"Sam!" he shouted when he was on the lake, "Tell me it's ready!"
"You're welcome!" Sam shouted back, straightening with the chainsaw in both hands as the horde neared them.
Dean braked, the tires squealing across as such a wide angle that his right knee grazed the ice, ripping his pant leg and leaving a mark he'd feel in the morning. When he was slow enough to jump off, he ran to the crowd with both hands in the air raised in supplication.
The women stopped, the slower ones in back slamming into their neighbors.
Dean pointed a finger at the hole in the ice.
"Pie?" they asked in unison.
"Yes," Dean assured them, "Enough for everyone."
The zombies gave a final whoop, and began to dive into the freezing black water. The brothers took a few steps back, Sam still weilding the chainsaw in case any of them should change their minds about who was on the menu.
"Wow, I didn't think that would work," Sam remarked when the last zombie had remained underwater for more than a few minutes, "You think they actually ate whatever is sleeping down there?"
"If they did, great," Dean said, as he inspected his bruised leg, "If not, I got enough buckshot in the car to serve everybody Brain Soup."
"Should we head back or wait around a bit more?" Sam asked, balancing the chainsaw on one shoulder as he eyes the setting sun.
"Let's head back," Dean decided, turning away, "I wait any longer and this leg won't be any use for walking."
"That's good to know." Sam said, swinging the chainsaw in a wide arc and clocking Dean in the back of the head.
Dean came to in the dark, his hands tied in front and his right leg so swollen that he couldn't have straightened it even if he weren't in an enclosed space.
"Sam?" he croaked.
"Dean! I thought they'd killed you!"
"Wait, didn't you hit me?"
"They had lookouts on the water, they pistol-whipped me and tied me to the steering wheel when I went out to cut the ice. They must have copied me to get to you." Sam said.
"...are we in the car?"
A finger tapped on the trunk lid above him. "Ah good, I was afraid we'd snapped your neck," said a male voice, "If it's any comfort, you'll be eaten before you run out of air."
"Wait, can't we talk about this?" Dean asked, as he felt hands give the car a good heave.
"Sorry, running out of daylight," the voice replied, "By the way Sam, the Sioux translation you found earlier was pretty crappy, it should have read, 'men who walked from the black and men who walked from the white'. Humans revived by black magic, and humans revived by white magic."
"You set us up?" Sam asked incredulously.
"We knew you were tracking the Elder rituals," the voice continued, as the car began to tip downwards, nails and spare change rolling around the trunk as it did so, "We also knew you'd drop everything to avert a zombie plague, though the door-to-door delivery idea was all you guys."
"And we've both been brought back to life thru white magic. By the angels." Dean finished, as a penny smacked into his face.
"Yep, you got your dark meat and your white meat." the voice said.
"When I get out of this I'm making a pie crust just for you buddy."
"I'll tell Mister Roman you said hi." the voice said, before the water closed in over the car.
"Dean, I still have a knife in my boot," Sam shouted, "And I know you have a spare key sewn into your jacket, but my hands are tied to the steering wheel. You need to find some way of getting out of the trunk."
Dean let his head drop to the floor, huffing out in the darkness as he tried to focus. No gun, so he couldn't shoot the lock. Even if he had a crowbar he couldn't wedge anything open with his hands tied.
Feeling in the corner, he found the panel for the brake light and tore it off. He could feel his ears pop as the car sank further, and reached inside the compartment to rip out the wiring.
"Hurry Dean!" Sam shouted, as freezing water poured in.
Dean used a piece of broken plastic to cut his restraints, and reaching inside his jacket seam, he tore out the key, clenched it between his teeth, and punched out the brakelight. He would only have a few seconds to reach his arm out, stick the key in the lock, assuming the current didn't snatch it from his numb fingers, and open the trunk, but he hoped it would be enough.
"Dean, knife in the left boot, remember!"
The water blanketed him, seeping into his bones so fast that he was gasping for breath. But he felt the key go in, and with his face pressed to the ceiling for a final lungful of air, he turned the lock and felt the trunk pop.
Swimming was actually easier at this depth, but he was moving blind with a bad leg, and he clutched at the driver-side window, smashing it open with his elbow. Feeling over Sam's legs for the knife, his hands so numb he nearly cut himself finding it, he slashed at the ropes and felt Sam push his way out of the car.
The opening in the ice was a lighter shade of black against the gloom, but they swam toward it, kicking off their shoes as they went, their lungs burning as they clambered out onto the surface.
"Never...again..." Dean gasped, rolling into a ball as he shivered horribly.
"Dean, we need to move," Sam said, also huddled in a wet heap and not taking his own advice.
Dean rolled his eyes heavenwards, waiting for another bad guy to bring a boot down on his face. When none did, he turned a few more degrees and saw that the motorcycle was still lying on it's side.
"Sammy," he croaked, "You strong enough to lift that thing upright?"
"Depends," Sammy croaked back, "What was my SAT score?"
Dean was silent for a moment. "Ya know, I can't recall."