A Very Supernatural Journey
A Birthday Story Written for Enkidu07, in appreciation for the work she and Onyx Moonbeam do and for the community they built
Co-Written by CFEditor, mainegirlwrites, The Ymp and Wynefred
This chapter written by CFEditor
Chapter 1: The Journey Begins
The first time Rachelle felt the pull of the vortex, she was sitting on the couch in the den next to her housemate and close friend, Meredith. She rubbed her hand against the soft blue velvet of the couch that they had chosen together, a find in a secondhand thrift shop, when Meredith and her husband had first invited her to move into the top floor of their Victorian house right near campus. The couch was so relaxing, Rachelle thought. She and Meredith had just had a "girl's day out," a break from their graduate studies (which Meredith's husband jokingly referred to as "Meredith's other husband"), topped off by catching up on the last few episodes of "Supernatural". They had just finished watching "In My Time of Dying" for the second time, and Rachelle and Meredith were commiserating over John's death.
"We should do something to commemorate John," said Rachelle, "We should write a drabble in his honor."
"I don't know," said Meredith. "The Word of the Week doesn't lend itself so well to the theme of character death." She took out a piece of paper and a pen and considered.
The E/O challenge was something the two of them had started, and it was picking up steam. They already had twenty authors contributing weekly drabbles, stories of exactly 100 words, with whatever word Meredith sent out that week.
"Iron... Hmmm... " Rachelle couldn't think of a connection between iron and John's death. "Maybe something about his iron will? You know, how he decides to sacrifice himself for Dean?"
She fingered her newest piece of jewelry, a beautiful amethyst ring hanging from a gold chain. She'd recently inherited the ring from her great-aunt, who'd always claimed it was an old pirate's ring that had been passed down in the family. The elaborate decorations of the ring were certainly an eye-catcher and recounting the pirate heirloom story made her feel special, like it set her apart from the average person.
Still playing distractedly with the ring and chain, she slipped the tip of her finger into the band. Suddenly she felt a tug on her legs. She looked down at the couch. A swirl of vapors rose from the floor, like a whirlpool of air, pulling her down. Her legs started slipping off the couch. She let go of the ring. The vapors dissipated, and she blinked her eyes. Had she imagined that? What on earth was going on?
She turned to Meredith, who was still looking at the paper and hadn't noticed a thing. "Meredith?" she asked. "Did you see..."
Meredith looked up and blinked her eyes, pen still poised to write. "What?"
Rachelle shook her head. "Nothing," she said. "I think I'm a little tired. Maybe we'll work on it tomorrow?"
"Sure, but don't forget to start on your term papers, Rachelle. You're not going to be much of a shrink if you don't pass these courses."
Rachelle laughed. "Yeah, and don't forget to study that dirt, Mer. Civil engineering wouldn't be the same without you."
X X X
The next time Rachelle saw the vortex, she was rollerblading on the trails behind University campus. There was a stiff wind that morning, blowing through the needle-like branches of the fir trees along the path. She stopped for a moment, resting her hand against a tree, and breathed in the fresh, pine-scented air. She had risen early that morning, still a little shaken by what she'd seen the night before. Maybe she'd been hitting the books too hard lately. Psychology demanded a lot of research and experimentation, and those term papers were killers. Unlike Meredith, who split her schedule between work and school, Rachelle was a full-time student with a heavy class load. This was the first time she'd ever hallucinated. But, she thought, why do I feel like I wasn't hallucinating?
Strands of her blond hair had come loose from her ponytail and were sticking to her sweat-soaked forehead. She brushed them back and straightened up. She was well aware that the mind was a powerful thing. It was possible to have physiological reactions based on psychological events. She laughed. What psychological event was she responding to? John Winchester's death? He was a fictional character, for God's sake!
No, it didn't make sense. Unless she was cracking up...
She started down the trail again, the ring swinging on its chain with each stride. Without thinking, she fingered the ring, slipping it onto the very tip of her finger. Suddenly, the pine needles on the ground started swirling around her and she felt a pull on her legs. She reached out for the nearest tree, a young pine, its smooth, thin green trunk bending in the wind as a new vortex appeared right under her, its pull growing stronger. She held on and prayed, her skates slipping and sliding. Oh God, please let this thing go away. Her prayers seemed to work, or maybe it was because her hands were now off the ring, but the vortex slowed down and finally stopped, like it was out of gas.
"What the Hell?" Rachelle said as she slid down the tree, weak in the knees.
For a while, Rachelle just sat there in shock. Twice in the space of twelve hours she had hallucinated. Or had she? Well, something weird had happened to her. Something that reminded her of the fantasy books she liked to read... or of "Supernatural". Something that just didn't happen in real life.
Was it all in her head?
She shook her head. Was there anything in common between both times? One was indoors, in the den, while the other was outdoors, in the woods behind Campus. But each time, right before... she had been fingering the ring.
Should she take off the ring? But damn it, she really liked wearing it. It made her feel connected to Great Great Great (who knows how many greats) Grandpa Hector, who'd captained a pirate ship in the 1700's and who had brought the ring into the family (or so Great Aunt Flo had always insisted). Besides which, if she touched it, she was afraid she would start hallucinating again.
She was going to need some help.
She stood up slowly, still a little dizzy from being pulled by the vortex. Meredith wasn't around today; she and her husband reserved Saturdays for "togetherness time". And she didn't want to interrupt that for something that was probably just in her mind.
So who could she go to?
Of course! Rachelle set off gingerly in the direction of the dorms, careful not to touch her ring.
X X X
"You were almost pulled in by what?" Amy, a short, petite brunette, bent over Rachelle to pour her a cup of tea, trying not to sound incredulous. Her fluffy pink angora sweater, the one she practically lived in, looked like it needed to go to the wash again. Rachelle sighed, wondering how she could notice these things when she was being pursued by hallucinations from another dimension. She sat back on the bright embroidered cushion, one of many scattered around the dorm room, looking up at Amy's soft, gamine face and tried not to think about how this must sound.
Shawna, Amy's roommate, sat on the beanbag chair opposite Amy and Rachelle, her tall, just under six foot frame stretched out, her legs folded under her. "A vortex as in... a tornado?" she asked, her voice curious but not judgemental. She ran her fingers through her short red hair.
"A tornado, a whirlpool, what you see in a washing machine... " Rachelle shrugged at the stares she was getting. "Yeah, I don't believe it either but it happened twice!"
"So..." Shawna said, looking thoughtful, "what were you doing before these vortexes showed up?"
"The first time, I was hanging out with Meredith in our house," said Rachelle. "And the vortex started, right under the couch. It was very light, though, and it stopped right away. Meredith... didn't even notice."
"And the second time?" Amy asked, putting down the teapot on the coffee table and pulling up another cushion across from Rachelle. She sat on it Indian-style and rubbed her hands on her soft, stone-washed jeans, bare feet and red, painted toes peeking out from the denim.
"The second time," Rachelle said, "I was on the trails behind campus, and I was touching my ring."
"Your ring? You mean you got it?" Shawna was excited.
"Well, yeah..." A little shyly, Rachelle pulled the chain from under her top, displaying the amethyst stone. Shawna rose from her seat on the beanbag chair and moved to a cushion next to Rachelle.
"Oh, it's fantastic!" Shawna pronounced it like it was three words, fan-tas-tic, a habit her friends occasionally teased her about. "A real pirate's ring, you said? Can I have a closer look?" She leaned over, but Rachelle pulled away.
"Be careful!" she said sharply.
"What's wrong, Rachelle?"
"Both times I was touching the ring when the vortex came." Rachelle admitted. "I just... don't want the vortex thing to happen again."
"Oh, poor baby..." Amy moved around the table to rub the kinks from Rachelle's shoulders. "You just got it, and already you're afraid of it," Amy teased. Rachelle felt some of the tension melt away under her friend's skillful fingers. How was someone so small able to exert such pressure? She released a breath she wasn't aware she'd been holding.
Shawna stood up, unfolding her long, lanky frame. It was like watching an accordion open up. She began pacing back and forth in the room's limited walkspace, her long, twill skirt swirling around her ankles. Shawna was in one of her "investigative modes", as she liked to call them, when something was particularly bothering her.
"So you think whatever this is started when you touched the ring."
"No offense, Rachelle, but it sounds like something out of one of those sci-fi books you like to read."
Shawna stopped pacing for a moment. "Did you try touching it since?"
"Well, do it now." She was standing, legs apart, hands on hips.
"What? No!" Rachelle shook her head vehemently. "No way."
"Rachelle, you can't let this fear rule your life. Maybe it was all in your mind, maybe it wasn't. But you were alone then." Shawna pinned Rachelle with her most earnest gaze.
"Okay," Rachelle said, "I'll try it. But the moment something weird happens, I'm taking the ring off my finger."
Reluctantly, she pulled the chain out again and slipped the ring on, the purple gem sparkling in the room's bright light. She waited...
No strange winds.
No swirling clouds.
Rachelle sat there feeling foolish, playing with her ring and wondering if she really was going crazy.
X X X
That night, Rachelle had just managed to convince herself that she was not losing it, that she'd had two freak hallucinations brought on by overwork. She desperately needed to do something physical; it always helped her relax. Luckily, this was Saturday night, when she had access to the university's olympic-sized swimming pool, the one with the built-in jacuzzi. Only one of the amenities of the university's state-of-the-art Recreation Center, built last year to bolster their image and increase the student body.
She smiled in anticipation of the warm water, the smell of chlorine, and the challenge of beating her best time. She picked up the phone to call Laura, her swimming buddy and a fellow lifeguard. She was surprised to find no dial tone. "Hello?" she said.
"Hello?" It was Laura's high-pitched voice. Apparently, she had called Rachelle at the very moment Rachelle picked up the phone.
"Hey, Laura, ready to meet me at the Rec Center?"
"I'm sorry, Rachelle, I just can't make it tonight," Laura said regretfully. "My brother's coming in for a visit, especially to see me."
"I understand," Rachelle said. "Don't worry, we'll do it next week. I'll keep the pool warm for you." Laura's chuckle made Rachelle smile as she hung up the phone.
Rachelle changed into her swimsuit and put her clothes over it. She paused, thought a minute, then went downstairs and knocked on Meredith's door. "Mer?" They might not even be back yet, she thought.
Meredith opened the door, took one look at her, and pulled her inside. "Rachelle, what's wrong?"
"Look... Something weird is going on. I don't know how to explain it."
"Try me." Meredith sat her down on the sofa. Rachelle explained again about the vortexes, and her confusion when nothing had happened in their friends' dorm room. When she finished her tale, Meredith said, "Wow! Sounds like something straight out of 'Supernatural'."
"I know, exactly what I was thinking," said Rachelle.
"So I take it you want company when you go swimming tonight."
"Do you mind? I know you have work to do..."
"No, that's okay, let me just tell hubby what's going on. Alex!" she called, "Just going out for a couple of hours with Rachelle."
"Okay, hon," came the call from the other end of the house.
When they got to the pool, Rachelle stripped to her bathing suit, the ring still hanging from its chain around her neck, and hesitated before diving in. The pool on Saturday nights, off hours, was so nice and quiet. Rachelle told herself that nothing would happen tonight. After all, she reasoned, nothing had happened this afternoon in Amy and Shawna's dorm. Whatever this thing was, it must be over.
At first, all was calm. She was on her tenth lap, head in the water, and was thinking of calling it a night and going home to finish the drabble with Meredith when the water started to swirl and churn around her. The growing whirlpool pulled her in with a force much greater than either of the times before.
She dragged her head out of the water and gasped, "Mer!"
"Rachelle! Hold on!" Meredith looked around for something to throw to Rachelle so that she wouldn't get pulled in herself. The life preservers! There in the corner. Meredith ran and threw one over to Rachelle, but she had been pulled under already. There was no visible sign of her, though the water was still churning, and the life preserver was pulled taut as if it would snap any minute.
"Rachelle! I'm coming!" Meredith dived into the water, holding on to the life preserver, as the vortex tried to suck her under. The waters calmed but there was no sign of Rachelle. Meredith dived down, over and over, growing more and more frantic with each dive. The whirlpool had subsided but Meredith continued her frenzied search, then pulled herself out of the pool and ran to call the campus police.
The whirlpool was getting stronger and it took all Rachel's strength to keep her head above water. She swam desperately, struggling against the current, and dimly heard Mer shouting, "Rachelle! Hold on!"
"I'm trying," she choked out, but was sure that Meredith couldn't hear her above the noise of the vortex. Water entered her mouth and she gagged, spitting it out. Just as she was sucked under, she remembered to close her mouth and hold her breath.
She found herself going down, down, down... Wasn't the pool shallower than this? she thought, but it was like being shot through rapids, the loud rush of the water and the force of the current pounding her. Finally the pressure slowed and she was able to swim upwards, fighting through the subsiding current. Her arm broke through the water, and then her head, and she hyperventilated, sucking in as much air as she could while treading water.
"Meredith?" Her voice was thin and weak. "Mer?"
She swam to the side of the pool, holding on to the edge, and looked around. There was no sign of Meredith.
"Meredith?" Suddenly she gasped. Not five feet away, bobbing by the side of the pool, was a body. A young woman. A woman she knew. Rachelle's scream was long and piercing.
And her next thought, as she looked at the body, was, Oh my God, it is just like Supernatural!