Summary: The Winchester brothers get stuck at a haunted mountain hotel during a storm. Will they be able to solve the mysterious murders before they become victims themselves?

Author's note: I was scrolling through my list of stories when it hit me; I haven't really written any stories containing a good old mystery case for Sam and Dean to solve. So I figured I would try writing one. Enjoy reading! –Elisa.

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"So tell me about this hotel again." Dean said, turned the radio down a notch and glanced momentarily at his little brother before looking back at the road in front of them.

Sam was sitting in the passenger seat of the Impala, busy flipping through some pieces of papers. In front of him, on the dashboard of the car, a map was spread out and Sam had circled what was their destination for this time being; Blue River, Colorado.

"The Blue River Mountain hotel, built in 1902." Sam started. "Has been abandoned for a decade of years ever since the last owner died and it has recently been restored by the new owner, Harvey Cramer and his wife Dorothy. A few days ago, however, the couple found one of their guests strangled to death in one of the hotel rooms."

"And why do you think this is a case for us and not something for the police to deal with?" Dean asked.

"The victim was the only guest at the hotel at the time." Sam said. "Besides, the hotel door was locked from the inside and there were no signs of forced entry – which isn't so odd considering the room is located on the third floor."

"What about Mr. and Mrs. Cramer?" Dean asked. "They have keys to every room in the hotel, right? Couldn't they have locked themselves inside and choked the poor sucker to death before locking the door again on their way out?"

"Yeah but here's the kicker; the victim had no marks on his neck or anything else that could explain how he was murdered. Nothing out of the ordinary other than the fact that he'd choked to death somehow." Sam said. "And get this; he had this engraved on his stomach."

Sam held up a picture of some sort of symbol and Dean frowned. The symbol was two circles with a horizontal line cut across them.

"Alright, I'm convinced." Dean said and shook his head a bit at the eagerness Sam showed. "Dude, you're way too excited about doing research. Sometimes I fear that you're actually enjoying being geeky."

Sam shot Dean a scowl while putting the picture away.

"I just like being thoroughly prepared for what we're getting ourselves into." Sam said. "And it wouldn't kill you to help a little with the research every now and then, Dean."

"Hey I do take my share of the research, thank you very much. Gathering information by interviewing people is also an important part of researching." Dean protested.

"I really don't think hitting on the waitress in a bar is very productive." Sam huffed.

"That depends on what your end goal is." Dean grinned. "Besides, it wouldn't kill you to get laid every now and then. It might help on that bitchy attitude of yours!"

Sam ignored his older brother and turned his attention back to the article he'd been reading.

"I wonder why the hotel was abandoned for ten years before anyone decided to buy it." Sam said after a while.

"Well, maybe it just wasn't worth buying." Dean said and then hummed along on the chorus of the song that was currently playing in the radio.

"Yeah, maybe." Sam mumbled before putting the article away.

By the time the brothers reached Blue River, the rain was drumming heavily down on the windshield of the Impala and, even though Dean had the wipers on full power, it was quite difficult to see the road ahead of them. The wind had also picked up significantly, shaking the car a bit by each puff. By some sort of miracle though, Dean found the road leading to the remote mountain hotel and crossed a small bridge – a bridge with a raging river underneath that separated the road back to town with the road leading to the hotel. Sam swallowed hard when they drove across the old bridge. The water level was pretty high and Sam feared the bridge would end up giving in to the heavy pressure, so he let out the breath he didn't know he'd been holding by the time they'd finally passed the bridge.

"Blue River Mountain Hotel." Dean read aloud as they passed the sign and a few moments later, the hotel appeared in front of them.

It was a three story hotel with a grey stone- and dark wood-patterned façade. The backside of the hotel was situated very close to the mountainside while the front of the hotel was turned towards the road, and the entire hotel was surrounded by large trees. In the darkness and bad weather, the hotel looked like something taken straight out of a horror movie. Dean was relieved when he noticed the hotel had a garage placed in the right side of the large driveway and he steered the Impala in that direction.

"Consider yourself lucky." Dean told his younger brother. "If the bad weather had made any dents in my baby, I would have kicked your ass."

"Yeah, cause the bad weather is my fault." Sam said with sarcasm.

"No, but you're the one who wanted to check out the hotel." Dean commented as he parked the car in safety inside the garage and turned the engine off.

It was still pouring down and the wind was blowing strongly as the brothers stepped out of the car, picked up their gear from the trunk and made their way towards the entrance doors of the hotel. The cold wind blew straight through their jackets and by the time they'd fought their way to the entrance, they were both shivering and soaked to the skin. A flash of lightning illuminated the sky as the Winchesters entered the hotel lobby and were met by a blond-haired woman in a brown sweater who was situated behind the counter.

"Good evening gentlemen." She greeted them with a smile. "I'm Dorothy. Can I get you guys a room?"

"Yeah, my brother here could use a shower, right Sam?" Dean smiled and nudged Sam in the side with an elbow. "Turns out he isn't rocking the wet puppy dog look after all."

Sam turned an annoyed glare in Dean's direction before sending Dorothy a forced smile while brushing his wet bangs away from his eyes.

"I'll get you a room right away." Dorothy smiled but looked a bit nervous as a big boom of thunder sounded outside. "It couldn't have been a very pleasant ride up here with the bad weather. They announced in the radio that it will be even worse during the night."

"Awesome." Dean said, crossed his arms in front of his chest and gave Sam a look.

"You gonna blame that on me as well?" Sam asked, bitch-face firmly in place.

"I haven't decided yet." Dean answered which made the younger brother roll his eyes.

Sam then noticed a picture hanging on the wall of Dorothy and a man whom he presumed was her husband, Mr. Cramer, standing in front of the restored hotel. The hotel looked so much nicer bathed in sunshine as it was on the picture.

"Here's your key - Room 242." Dorothy said and handed Dean a key. "It's on the second floor."

She then jumped a little as another boom of thunder could be heard.

"I'm sorry." She said and accepted Dean's credit card. "I really admire your courage for driving up here but I'm not sure I would wish to stay here of my own free will - especially not after.."

Dorothy stopped herself and looked a little embarrassed.

"After someone was found dead in your hotel?" Sam suggested.

"Yeah, you heard about that?" Dorothy asked.

"We read the article." Dean said.

"Right." Dorothy nodded. "You would think people would stay away after such news but it's actually just the opposite. What is the saying? Bad publicity is better than no publicity?"

"I guess that's true." Sam said. "We're actually writers, gathering material for a book about mysterious deaths and we hoped to get to know a little more about the death in this hotel."

"For inspiration." Dean added with a smile.

"Right." Sam agreed with a nod of his head.

"Well, you could talk to the local sheriff." Dorothy suggested. "He's staying at the hotel for this time being while investigating the case. I don't know if he wants to talk to you, but it's worth a shot."

"Thank you M'am." Dean said before the brothers started walking up the big stairs of the entrance hall.

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As Dorothy had said, the storm continued. After showering and getting into some clean – and more importantly – dry clothes, Sam and Dean decided to check out the third floor of the hotel where the body had been found.

"You know, someday it would be nice to stay at a hotel that wasn't creepy for once." Dean said as they walked down the long hallway with doors on each side. "I mean come on, why do they always have to have those kinda paintings for instance, huh?"

He moved the beam of his flashlight across a painting of what he could read was the old owner of the house – a little grey-haired man with a hawk-nose and small piercing eyes. Dean shook himself involuntarily.

"A lot of old hotels like to cherish their history." Sam said while keeping his eyes on the EMF meter he was carrying in front of him. "It's a part of the charm."

"Charm, my ass." Dean mumbled. "Creepy is what it is!"

It wasn't difficult to locate the room where the body had been found since the door to the room had been sealed off by black and yellow police tape. Dean scouted the hallway to both sides and then took out a pocket-knife from inside his jacket, before he cut through the police tape. He then took the EMF meter away from Sam so his little brother could pick the lock while Dean made sure the coast was clear.

"Show off." Dean said as the door way too quickly unlocked with a click, and Sam smiled wryly before pushing the door open.

The room was almost an exact copy of their own hotel room and nothing looked out of the ordinary. However, as soon as they entered the room, the EMF meter went nuts.

"Sam." Dean said and shot his brother a knowing look.

"Ghost?" Sam suggested and Dean nodded.

"Seems like it. And probably a vengeful one too, considering the murder." The older brother said and put the EMF meter away. "I knew we should have brought a shotgun up here."

"Well, we don't yet know if the spirit is connected to this room in particular or to the hotel in general." Sam said but scouted the room carefully nonetheless.

Nothing caught his attention though – no movements, no sounds, no drops in the temperature, no flickering lights.

"What on earth!" A voice suddenly exclaimed from the doorway which made the brothers spin around immediately, and they then found themselves face to face with an unknown man. "What are you doing in here? This is a sealed off crime scene!"

"Ehm.." Dean started and looked at Sam for help.

"We're.. just.." Sam started and looked back at Dean again.

".. just gathering some inspiration for our book." Dean continued and Sam nodded in confirmation.

"Inspiration for a book?" The man repeated in disbelief. "I should have you both arrested for contaminating a crime scene! And get that light out of my face!"

"Sorry." Dean said with a trying smile and turned the flashlight off.

"We didn't mean to contaminate anything." Sam said and raised his hands in defense as he and Dean left the room. "Are you the sheriff?"

"Damn right I am!" The sheriff said and closed the door to the room before looking strictly at the two Winchester brothers.

"I swear, we didn't mean to cause any trouble." Sam said. "We're writers and we wanted to research for a book we have coming up about mysterious deaths."

"Is that so?" The sheriff asked and narrowed his eyes in suspicion.

"Yeah, it's gonna be the new best-seller." Dean said and put on a charming smile. "Maybe we could interview you? It would be awesome to have a statement from a real sheriff."

"Oh, I don't know." The sheriff said, anger suddenly forgotten.

"Come on. We would of course credit you in the book." Dean pushed and the sheriff gave in to oldest brother.

"Alright, you can interview me." The sheriff said with a smile. "How about downstairs in the bar? I could use a whiskey."

"Sounds about right to me." Dean said and slapped Sam's shoulder, as the sheriff lead the way to the stairway.

Sam just shook his head and smiled a little. It was beyond him why people – women and men – always fell for his big brother's charm. But it sure as hell could be pretty convenient, especially in times like this.

After ordering two glasses of whiskey (and a beer for Sam), the sheriff sat down by a round table in the corner of the bar and motioned for Dean and Sam to join him.

"So, how can I help you lads?" The sheriff asked and lighted a cigarette before taking a sip of his whiskey.

"Can you tell us something about the murder?" Dean asked after taking a sip of his own glass of whiskey.

"Not much to say." The sheriff said, took a drag of his cigarette and blew out smoke while talking. "You read the article, so you know the basics."

The sheriff took another drag of his cigarette and then looked carefully around as if trying to determine whether or not anyone was listening to the conversation, before he leaned a bit forward.

"There was this symbol engraved on the victim's stomach." The sheriff said in a low voice. "And.. Wait, you should probably write this down."

Dean nodded and glanced at his brother. Sam had already dug the picture out of the police files, but to humor the sheriff, Dean found a notepad in his pocket and a pen before scribbling something useless down.

"Does anyone know what the symbol means?" Dean asked and the sheriff shook his head.

"No, not yet. But I know something else about it." The sheriff said and held a pause to build up tension before continuing. "It was engraved.. by a fingernail."

"Really?" Dean asked and raised his eyebrows.

"Uh-huh, and a sharp one that is. So whoever murdered the fellow was probably a woman." The sheriff revealed. "But how did she get in without a key? The only woman who was present at this hotel by the time the victim was murdered was Mrs. Cramer, so you would naturally think of her as a suspect, right?"

"Right." Dean said, though he knew better than that.

"But Mrs. Cramer couldn't have done it." The sheriff said with smug smile. "And you wanna know why?"

"Sure." Dean said.

"Because Mrs. Cramer bites her nails which means her fingernails aren't long enough to do such damage." The sheriff said. "So who did it?"

"Beats me." Dean said and was now even more convinced than before by the fact that they were dealing with a ghost.

Sam, on the other hand, wasn't paying any attention to the sheriff's story. He was busy studying the other people in the bar. There was an elderly couple leaving the bar, a man in the mid-forties sitting on a bar stool, and behind the bar; a bartender. In the opposite corner from where Sam, Dean and the sheriff were sitting, a woman in a red dress was in what appeared to be a heated argument with a man. Sam recognized the man from the picture in the lobby which meant that he had to be Harvey Cramer – the owner of the hotel. Sam strained to hear what they were saying but it was impossible to hear anything from the distance and above the soft music playing in the bar. The argument came to an end as the woman stomped out of the bar in anger, leaving Mr. Cramer behind with a bitter look on his face. Sam narrowed his eyes in deep thought. He would have loved to know what that had been all about.

"Sam?" Dean said and kicked at Sam's boot, causing the youngest Winchester brother to snap out of his thoughts.

From the look on Dean's face, it was obviously not the first time he'd tried to get Sam's attention.

"Yeah?" Sam said and looked from Dean to the sheriff and back at Dean again.

"I was saying that I think we've got enough stuff for our book now, thanks to the sheriff." Dean said and shot Sam a look that said 'What the hell, dude?'

Sam shook his head slightly and sent Dean a look in return saying 'I'll explain later.'

The brothers were torn out of their silent exchange of words when a loud female scream pierced through the air. Dean and Sam were quickly on their feet and running towards the sound - with the sheriff right at their heels – and as they reached the lobby, they found the woman in the red dress with her hands before her mouth and eyes wide as she was looking at something at the bottom of the stairway.

"Oh no." Sam said as his eyes fell upon what had started the commotion.

It was the elderly couple, he had seen leave the bar; now both in a heap on the bottom of the stairs from where they'd seemingly stumbled down. From the odd angles their limps were in, it was obvious that neither of them had made it.

"Stand back!" The sheriff ordered as he squashed his way through the crowd of hotel guests that had showed up to see what was going on. "This is now a crime scene!"

Sam let his eyes scan the stairway for anything out of the ordinary, and he was suddenly startled when he saw a shape of a woman on the landing of the first floor. As fast as she'd been there, she was gone again, and Sam blinked his eyes a few times before turning to his brother.

"I think I just saw the spirit." He told his big brother.

"Where?" Dean asked and turned his gaze in the direction Sam pointed.

"Landing of the first floor." Sam said while Dean's eyes searched for someone who wasn't there.

"What did it look like?" Dean wanted to know as he turned his eyes back at Sam. "Little grey-haired man with a hawk-nose and piercing eyes?"

"Eh, no. It was a woman." Sam said and shot his brother a weird look. "Why would you think.."

"Never mind." Dean said, cutting Sam off. "If it's a woman then it fits well with the Sheriff's fingernail theory."

"What fingernail theory?" Sam asked with a frown.

"Dude." Dean sighed. "Didn't you listen to a word the sheriff said? I thought you said you were the one who wanted to research everything thoroughly?"

"True, but you were the one who said you helped with the research by interviewing people." Sam said with a wry smile.

"Anyway, the symbol was scratched into the strangled victim's stomach by a fingernail, which means the killer is most likely a woman." Dean said, ignoring Sam's smart-ass comment.

"Fits with the female ghost." Sam said.

"Yeah, thank you Captain Obvious." Dean said and looked towards the two bodies on the floor. "You think they've got a symbol engraved in their skin as well?"

"I don't know." Sam said. "But it's definitely worth checking out."

The Winchester brothers moved closer to the bodies while the sheriff was busy calling for back-up. They tried to get a look at the elderly couple's stomachs but it wasn't possible without moving some clothing.

"Whoa, step back." The sheriff ordered them when he was done talking on the phone.

"Sorry." Dean said and took a step back. "We just wondered if these victims had also got a symbol engraved in their skin like the last victim had."

"What? That's silly. Why would they have that?" The sheriff asked.

"Well, we could be dealing with some sort of serial killer." Dean suggested.

"I highly doubt it." The sheriff said, but looked thoughtful for a moment before grabbing a pen from his pocket and carefully lifting up in the dead man's shirt with it. "Now I'll be damned."

The sheriff did the same with the woman and got the same result; both victims had been engraved with the identical symbol that the first victim had had.

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"Thanks Bobby. Bye." Sam said and hung up his phone. "So, Bobby doesn't know the symbol."

"Dammit." Dean muttered and started walking back and forth in their hotel room. "Maybe we're looking at this whole thing wrong."

"What do you mean?" Sam wanted to know and looked up at his big brother from behind his laptop screen.

"We've assumed the symbol is supernatural, right?" Dean said.

"Right." Sam agreed. "And?"

"And what if it isn't?" Dean asked. "What if it's connected to the spirit in some other kind of way? Or has something to do with the hotel?"

"Well, it's possible." Sam said while slowly nodding his head. "Maybe the spirit is trying to tell us something."

"Or maybe she just doesn't like strangers on her territory." Dean said and looked through the window at the storm that was still ravaging outside. "The question is why she suddenly started killing people. I mean, I know the hotel has been abandoned for ten years so no one's probably been around for her to kill, but still. And why the man who was strangled? Why the couple? And why the different methods?"

"Beats me." Sam sighed. "I'm also very curious to find out why Mr. Cramer was arguing with one of the guests and what it was about."

"Yeah, something's not right about that." Dean agreed and tore his eyes away from the rain before heading towards the door. "You should see what you can dig up about the Cramers."

"And where are you going?" Sam asked.

"I'm gonna have a little chat with the woman in the red dress." Dean said and wiggled his eyebrows before leaving the room.

"Figures." Sam huffed and started typing on his laptop.

When Dean got down to the lobby, he was surprised to see that the bodies were still lying at the bottom of the stairs. They had been covered up with some sheets and the area had been sealed off as much as possible but aside from that, nothing else had changed. Dean had been positive that the lobby would have been full of police by now, but no officers could be found. The lobby was far from empty though because a small crowd of agitated guests were discussion something with Mrs. Cramer, and the poor woman looked like she was on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

"Dorothy." Dean said as he reached the counter. "What is all the fuss about?"

"People want their money back and wish to be out of here straight away, and I can't blame them." Dorothy said and bit her lower lip nervously. "But the bridge has been flooded over by the river. No one is able to leave tonight."

"I see." Dean said which explained why there weren't any police officers present. They simply couldn't get through to the hotel as long as the bridge was flooded.

"Excuse me." Dorothy said and returned to the guests.

Dean couldn't see the red-dressed woman among the guests by the counter, so he started searching the adjoining rooms in hope of catching a glimpse of her. Dean was in luck as he peeked into the bar and saw her sitting on a bar stool with a drink in her hand. She was pretty, Dean noticed right away, and he put on a self-confident smile before sitting down on the bar stool next to her.

"Awful with the stairway-accident, huh?" Dean said to the woman after ordering himself a beer. "It must have been horrible to be the one to find them."

The woman turned her head to look at Dean before nodding.

"It was." She admitted.

"I'm Dean." The oldest Winchester brother said and lifted his beer in an inviting gesture.

"Catherine." The woman said and smiled a little as they touched glasses.

"So Catherine.." Dean started but what cut off by a loud crash nearby, and once again someone was screaming.

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Sam hadn't been able to dig up anything about Harvey Cramer and his wife Dorothy. Or that was actually a lie because he had indeed found some stuff about them, but nothing seemed fishy at least. Harvey had married Dorothy a year earlier and the couple had then bought the hotel six months after their marriage and had restored it. Harvey Cramer had been a real estate agent in Denver before he'd become a hotel-owner while Dorothy had been a cashier, but what had made the couple decide to buy an old hotel was unknown.

Sam closed his laptop, put his hands behind his neck and let out a deep sigh. He couldn't get rid of the feeling that the argument he'd witnessed between Harvey Cramer and the woman in the bar had somehow had something to do with the case they were working on, but whatever it was, it probably wasn't something he would be able to find on his computer. Sam just hoped that Dean had been luckier with his research.

He decided that he could as well try to interview a few people himself, so Sam left the hotel room behind and started making his way towards the stairway leading downstairs. He'd just made it to the landing of the first floor when his eyes caught sight of the hotel-owner himself, passing by on the landing above him.

"Mr. Cramer.." Sam started and wanted to return to the second store but was stopped dead in his tracks when a pale woman flickered into sight in front of him.

Before Sam could as much as think of what to do, the ghost shot forward with her hands stretched out in front of her and connected with Sam's chest with a hard shove. Sam's eyes widened as he crashed through the railing of the first floor landing and flew backwards through the air, before his body connected with something solid that made his world blacken.

Dean left Catherine behind as he hurried back to the lobby to find out what had started yet another commotion, but he was far from prepared for the sight that met him. Because there – on the floor of the lobby, on top of the remains of a broken table – was Sam; bleeding, bruised and completely still.

"Sammy!" Dean exclaimed and ran as fast as he could towards his fallen brother.

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TBC..

Thanks for reading! ;)

-Elisa.