Chapter Seven: Electric BOO-galoo
Author's Note: I apologize for the chapter title! It's horrible, I know. I couldn't help myself. I've been reading a lot of Pearls Before Swine comics, so I'm gonna just blame it on Stephan Pastis. Thanks, again, to everyone who's stuck with me on this one and I'm sorry the end was so long coming. Here we go!
Disclaimer: I am not in any way affiliated with the individuals in control of the actual television series "Supernatural". None of the stupid things they do are my fault!
Chapter Seven: Electric BOO-galoo
The small band of ghost hunters paused in the shelter of a temporarily closed game kiosk and peered out at the amusement park through the pouring rain.
"I can't believe they've got the Ferris Wheel running in this electrical storm," Sam said, shaking his head.
"Me either," Bobo agreed. The clown's voice had a strange quaver to it. "This park hasn't had a Ferris Wheel in decades."
"Must be the one that blew over and killed all those people back in 1914," Dean said.
They edged closer to the specter, staying under the kiosk's roof overhang as much as possible. The giant wheel turned slowly, bright with lights and old-fashioned music that seemed to come from much farther away than the distance between where they stood and where the ride had materialized. Looking at it closely, they could make out women in long dresses and big hats and men with handle-bar mustaches. It loomed over them, looking as solid and real as the roof they were sheltering under or the flagstones upon which they stood.
While they watched, it trembled suddenly, then rocked on its foundations as if it were caught in a strong wind. The passengers gasped and clung to their gondolas. A woman's beribboned hat blew away and her hair tossed free around her head. The wheel rocked once more, almost righted itself, then toppled directly towards where the Winchesters stood with Cas and Bobo.
Dean swore and turned away, getting Sam and Cas by their elbows and herding Bobo in front of them. "Run! Go! Go, go, go!"
As they sprinted away as fast as they could go, their ears were filled with cries of terror and the sound of metal tearing free and collapsing on itself. Nuts and bolts and personal effects rained down around them. A pair of wire-rimmed spectacles hit the ground ahead of Sam and crunched under his foot. Bobo was struggling to run in his oversized clown shoes, waddling like a duck and hiccuping in terror.
They barely made it clear before it struck the earth with an ear-shattering crash, a cacophony of screams and rending machinery that drowned out the fury of the storm. The violence of the ride's collision with the earth was such that the wind it created dashed the runners to the ground. They lay there, stunned, while the air filled with the moans and death wails of the victims, the snapping of broken electrical leads and the smells of ozone and spilled diesel fuel.
Dean was the first to drag himself up. He checked on Sam and Cas first, then Bobo, then turned to face whatever remained of the Ferris Wheel crash. He went very still, and when they others turned too they could see why.
The night behind them was dark and, save for the sounds of the storm, silent. Of the disaster they had just seen reenacted, not a trace remained.
"We gotta get some ammo," Dean said. "We need a way to stop the ghosts before they fall on us, if at all possible."
"You want me to run out to the car and get the guns?" Sam asked.
"Take too long and there are probably still people on the gate who wouldn't let you back in. Come with me, I got an idea."
He led them to a large building that housed an arcade and a variety of fast food shops. A utility closet yielded a supply of the bright yellow rain cloaks with "Skeleton Harbor Amusement Park Staff" printed on the back. Dean tossed them to Sam and Cas and pulled one over his own head, but Bobo recoiled in horror when offered one.
"I can't cover my clown costume! That would be a disgrace to the profession!"
Dean cocked his head at the other man. "But jumping off the roof and killing yourself in it wouldn't be?"
Bobo pouted at him. "You're not a very nice man, you know."
"Yeah. I know. Okay, so, you and Cas stay here and keep an eye on each other. Sam, with me." He led his brother back outside and around the building. "You doing okay?" Dean asked as soon as they were alone. "Clown not getting to you too badly?"
"No, it's fine," Sam said. "Honestly, having had a chance to get to know him, I'm not seeing him so much as a clown anymore as just a person. A person I'd kind of like to strangle, granted, but just a person. At least, if I push him off the roof before the day is over, it won't have been because he's wearing oversized shoes and a big red nose."
They re-entered the arcade building through the entrance closest to a bustling burger stand and went through the employee-only door into the kitchen like they owned the place. Dean grabbed a passing worker, a harried-looking teenager with a name tag that read "shift leader".
"Hey, you having any trouble with your electricity?"
"Lights have flickered a few times. Deep fryer tripped a breaker, but it's always doing that. I just reset it. Was that okay?"
"Probably, but we'd better have a look. Where's your breaker box?"
The kid nodded towards a storage area and turned back to his job as Sam and Dean disappeared among the shelves of condiments and paper goods.
Two minutes later they were back out in the rain and collecting Cas and Bobo at the other door. The Winchesters took industrial-sized bags of salt from under their rain capes and handed Cas and Bobo one each.
"What the hell is this for?" Bobo demanded. "You think we're going to get attacked by a giant french fry?"
"Salt repels ghosts," Sam explained.
"You know," Dean added, "like clowns repel children. We have to search this whole park, we'll never find the real skeleton. We need to find somebody who knows which one it is and then make them tell us. What about the owner, where is he?"
"Mr. Bigg?" the clown asked, horrified. "I'm not going to go see Mr. Bigg! He's scary!"
"So am I," Dean countered. "You call him Mr. Big?"
"Bigg, with two g's. That's his name."
"So where can we find him?"
"Well, his office is downtown, but with the roller coaster getting stalled he's probably here somewhere handling public relations."
"Huh. I might have already met him." Dean described Crossing Guard Penguin Guy, but Bobo was shaking his head before Dean even finished.
"No, that's not him. That's just Larry the Weasel."
"Larry the Weasel?"
"Corporate lawyer." The clown shuddered. "They call him Larry the Weasel 'cause," he paused to give Sam a smug glare, "everybody hates lawyers!"
Sam frowned at him, but didn't comment, instead turning his attention to the problem at hand. "If he's here to deal with the coaster incident, then he's probably somewhere in the vicinity of the stalled coaster."
They set off back the way Dean had come, skirting the entrance to the Flying Dutchman ship ride and hopping a low decorative wall to get into the narrow alley that led away from the Gravitron exit. Though wet, the alleyway was sheltered from the wind. They got to the end of it, steeled themselves against the renewed fury of the storm and stepped out into . . .
. . . a sunny meadow under a vivid blue sky. There were tables laden with food off to their left, softball equipment abandoned on a makeshift diamond and a sign to one side that read, "CHILDREN'S GAMES HERE!"
All around them people in old-fashioned clothes vomited and retched and writhed in torment.
Bobo gaped and sputtered. "What the -? What the -? What the -?"
"Church picnic," Dean said, glancing around casually. "Mass food poisoning."
"1876," Sam added. He caught his brother's eye and the two spoke in unison.
"It was . . . the salmon mousse!"
"I do not understand that reference," Cas said as they scattered salt. The scene disappeared and the storm reasserted itself with a flash of lightning and a deafening peal of thunder.
"Yeah, me either," Bobo agreed.
The Winchesters stopped in their tracks and stared at the clown.
"Dude!" Dean exclaimed. "It's from Monty Python!"
"Okay," the clown blinked. "I think I've heard of him, but I don't know who he is."
Sam and Dean gave each other a disbelieving stare, then turned and stomped away, shoulder to shoulder. Cas and Bobo hastened to keep up.
"I thought you said you spent four years in clown college," Sam said over his shoulder. "What the hell did they teach you there?"
Bobo slipped in a puddle and fell on his ass.
"How many years did that take?" Dean asked snidely.
Cas helped Bobo up and the clown stamped his giant shoe and waved his arms in a fit of pique. "You're not being very nice to me! I've had a hard day, you know! I was depressed and I almost jumped off the Fun House and my makeup is ruined and my clothes are all wet and my hair is frizzy and I'm out here in this awful storm and it's cold and I'm miserable and ghosts are real and I keep seeing them and you threw salt on me - I haven't forgotten that! - and I swear, the next time a dead guy falls on me, I'm gonna flip out!"
The rumble of thunder and the rain drumming on the flagstones and buildings drowned out most of his tirade and Dean and Sam, not realizing their companions had lagged behind, walked on. Cas, though, lingered, and Bobo turned to him, voice plaintive.
"How can they be so mean?"
Cas considered. "They are actually not, in point of fact, being mean to you. Mean would be much more deliberate and likely involve blunt instruments and possibly, also, sharp objects."
"They're not being nice, though."
"No. They're not. Although, in their defense, they've both had a hard day. Sam has been forced to face his fear of clowns in order to talk you out of jumping off the Fun House roof, and Dean has been trapped on top of a broken-down roller coaster in an electrical storm. Now they're both out here in this awful storm and it's cold and they're miserable and ghosts are real and they're the only ones who can keep them from hurting or even killing people. And they have to do that job with us tagging along behind them, needing to be protected at every turn. So, perhaps you could forgive them for not being very nice right now?"
Bobo huffed and pouted. "You seem like you're a lot different than them, though."
"More different than you could possibly imagine. Or, likely, believe."
"So why do you hang out with them, then?"
Cas smiled suddenly. "Because those two men, without a doubt, represent the very best that humanity has to offer." The former angel froze and tipped his head. "Do you hear something?"
Bobo froze as well and listened. Almost hidden under the noise of the storm, there was a high-pitched scream, growing ever louder, like the Doppler effect on an airplane engine.
Cas glanced up, then grabbed Bobo's arm and dragged him two steps to the side.
A body hit the pavement where the clown had been standing, spattered him with spectral gore and then melted away like it had never been there.
Bobo stood stock still while his face flushed bright red under the ragged remains of his makeup, then drained so pale that it looked like his white grease paint was still intact.
"Oh!" Cas said, "I recognize this! These are physiological symptoms that something unpleasant is going to happen to you, yes? Like fainting or vomiting or experiencing sudden-onset gastrointestinal difficulties?"
Bobo flung up his hands, let out a high-pitched squeal of his own and turned and ran off across the rain-soaked park. His hands and hair waved in the storm wind, his oversized shoes flapped awkwardly through puddles and his scream faded behind him in an oddly fitting Doppler effect counterpart to the falling spirit's dying wail.
Cas was left standing alone in the rain. "Hmm. Not exactly what I was expecting," he mused, "but," he sniffed the air, "I do believe I was right about the gastrointestinal difficulties."
"Excuse me, we're looking for Mr. Bigg?"
The Winchesters had located a group of men in business suits standing around in the shelter of a small gazebo, watching the storm. Sam had to raise his voice to be heard over the rain pouring off the roof.
They looked down and Dean groaned.
"A midget. I should have guessed."
"You got a problem with that?" Mr. Bigg's eyes narrowed. "I recognize you. You were one of the people stuck on the roller coaster. My lawyer already told you, you ain't getting nothing for it. You wanna whine, I'll punch you in the nuts and give you something to whine about. I will, too! And nobody'll even feel sorry for you. They'll just figure you got what was coming to you, couple of big bullies like you, picking on the poor, downtrodden minority."
"I assure you," Sam said, "we would never try to use our size to intimidate someone. We believe everyone, regardless of race, creed, color or physical condition should be treated with the respect they deserve."
"Which," Dean added, "in the case of someone willing to use human remains for an amusement park decoration, is very little."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Bigg said, voice grim and eyes angry. He gave a slight tilt of his head and the other men standing around them scattered into the storm and left them alone. "I meant what I said about punching you. I bite, too, you know."
"Yeah, I'll bet you do. I drop kick, and look! You're conveniently football-sized!"
"We know about the skeleton," Sam said.
Bigg scowled at them. "All right," he snarled, "which one of these clowns talked?"
"That's not important. What is important is that you tell us where it is. You do that and we'll take care of it. The authorities never need to know."
"Or you can continue to be a jackass and I'll let my brother try for a field goal."
Bigg's eyes shifted to the side while he thought about it. "Nah," he decided. "This is some kind of sting operation. I ain't admitting nothing and there's nothing you can do about it."
Dean and Sam glanced at one another, communicating silently.
"I think we should take Mr. Bigg for a little walk," Dean said.
"Down to the beach, maybe?" Sam asked. "See what the storm's washed in? What about Cas and, um, our other friend?"
Dean stepped to the side where he wouldn't be overheard and called Cas' cell. The former angel answered on the second ring.
"Dude, what happened to you guys?"
"We got separated from you after the picnic incident. Bobo is gone, Dean. He - I believe the term is 'flipped out'. Should I continue to search for him?"
"Nah, let him go. Maybe he'll find his way back to his own kind. You know, like when you rescue a concussed squirrel but then you have to release it back into the wild. Listen, we found Bigg but he's not cooperating. We're gonna take him down to the beach, give him the whole 'the truth is out there' speech with show-and-tell and all and explain to him just exactly what he's turned loose by digging up that body. You wanna meet us there or just wait and we'll call you again when we know where the skeleton is?"
"I believe I will have you call me when you know where the skeleton is. In the meantime, I've discovered a situation at the Merry-Go-Round that requires my attention."
"Oh, ok." Dean frowned into the phone. "You need any help with that?"
"No, thank you. I believe I can handle this myself."
The Merry-Go-Round sat dark and silent in the gloom of a stormy afternoon. Looking lost and bereft, a bedraggled little girl huddled on the ride's floor, hugging the legs of a plastic horse and staring out at the rain with big, dark eyes.
Cas approached her carefully. "Hello, my dear," he said, voice gentle. "What's your name?"
She watched him, suspicious. "Angela," she answered finally.
"Angela. An angel child! That's one of my favorite names. You look unhappy, Angela. Perhaps I can help you?"
"I can't find my mom," she said in a small voice. "This park isn't fun anymore. I want to go home now."
"You know, I think I can help you with that. Look around and tell me, do you see a light anywhere?"
Angela regarded him dubiously, but he nodded encouragement and after a moment she looked around at the park and then pointed off to his left. Castiel glanced in the direction she indicated, but all he saw was one of the lantern-like street lamps that had come on in the unnatural dusk. As an angel, he could see the light that beckoned to lost souls but as a human, of course, that glorious sight was lost to him.
Cas sat on the edge of the ride and spoke to her seriously, trying to bolster her courage with his calm and reassurance. "This is what you need to do, Angela. You need to walk into the light. If you do that, your mom will find you and everything will be more perfect than you can imagine."
Angela leaned back, distrustful of his advice, but he was so certain that she couldn't help but to believe. She frowned. "I'll have to go out in the rain and get all wet again."
"Yes, I know, but only for a few seconds and then you'll never have to be uncomfortable again."
She got up hesitantly and circled well away from him, watching him suspiciously the whole time, but she made her way to the steps and climbed carefully down to the ground.
"Good girl!" Cas said. "Now, walk into the light! Go home, my child!"
Angela squared her shoulders, took a deep breath and resolutely walked . . . right into the lamp post. She met it with a resounding clang!, fell on her butt in a puddle and started to cry.
"Angela! There you are!" A young woman who looked very much like an older version of Angela stormed up. "I've been looking everywhere for you! What are you doing sitting in a puddle? Don't you know to get in out of the rain?"
"I was," she wept, pointing at Cas. "I was sitting on the Merry-Go-Round like you said to do if I got lost, but that man told me to walk into the light pole and you'd come and find me."
Cas shifted uncomfortably as the two females turned to stare at him. "Well, it worked, didn't it?"
Angela's mother got her by the hand and dragged her away. "You see?" she demanded. "This is why I tell you never to talk to strange men!"
When their footsteps had faded, Cas turned and addressed the nearest carousel horse.
"The Winchesters don't need to know about this," he confided.
The electrical storm, supplemented by the energy of the pounding surf, had turned the Skeleton Cove swimming beach into a magnet for the walking spirits of long-drowned souls. Mr. Bigg, all bravado gone, cowered against the slick, black rocks that circled the cove and whimpered for salvation.
Dean stepped away from the shelter of the cliff face, walking through the macabre but basically harmless ghosts as if they were any normal crowd, until he reached a point where he had cell reception.
"Cas? The real skeleton is the one over the front gate. We're heading that way now. You wanna meet us there? All right. Hey! Everything go okay with your, uh, thing? A'right, then. See you in a little bit."
He turned and nodded to Sam and Sam hauled Bigg up and dragged him out onto the beach. Together, the brothers headed for the stairs that led back up to the amusement park proper.
The handful of park workers manning the front gate during the storm looked askance at them when they dragged a ladder out of a maintenance closet and pulled down the skeleton over the entryway. Sam gave them a weak smile.
"Storm damaged the mechanism that makes his eyebrows wiggle," he offered.
They shrugged and looked away.
Up close, it was easy to see the skeleton for the human remains it was.
"Look at this!" Dean said, as they lowered the bones into a pilfered trash bag. "That sick little bastard had the bones bleached first and drilled holes in them so they could be wired together. And these stupid eyebrows are glued right to the skull. No wonder this ghost is pissed!"
They headed for the nearest picnic area, stopping en route to liberate a can of accellerant from a closed barbecue kiosk.
"I wonder who he was," Cas said.
"I'll tell you later," Dean offered.
"You know who he is?" Sam asked.
"Bigg might have mentioned something. Keep an eye out. He's apt to show any minute. I'm surprised he hasn't turned up yet."
"But . . . wait! Bigg knew whose bones he was playing with? How?"
Dean dumped the bones out into a brick fire pit. Cas' eyes widened suddenly and he flung a handful of salt over Sam's shoulder.
"Dean! Was that . . . ?"
"Yup." He salted the skeleton and doused it with accellerant.
Sam glanced over his shoulder just in time to miss the ghost appearing in front of him. He staggered back with the force of a spectral push, but another fistful of salt from Cas dispelled the spirit before it could injure him and before he could get more than a brief glimpse of it.
And then Dean was dropping a lit book of matches into the fire pit. A shrill keening rent the air. The ghost appeared one last time, nothing but a fading column of flame, and then it was over.
"All right," Sam said, as they watched the flames consume the last of the skeleton, "whose ghost was it and how did Bigg know?"
"He knew because there was a name plate on the coffin."
"He was . . . wait! The skeleton was buried in a coffin?"
"Yeah. It wasn't just some random, clandestine grave. There used to be a burial ground to the north of the park and when they moved the bodies after the land sold to the park, they missed one."
"Well, why didn't they notify next-of-kin and let them claim the body then?"
"Probably, there was no one who wanted it." Dean smiled, enjoying this just a little too much. "See, the property to the north of here? It used to be one of the facilities in the state penal system."
"Yup. And the burial ground? Mostly executed criminals."
"Oh, no." Sam could see where this was going. "No. Just . . . no. It couldn't be. It would be too big a coincidence."
"Maybe it wasn't coincidence," Dean considered. "We know first-hand that Fate's a bitch. In any case, he's gone now. Don't worry, Sammy. The evil spirit of the killer clown can't get you any more!"
"Can we go home now?"
The rain was soaking the embers left in the fire pit, so the three Hunters turned away and headed for the exit.
"It's getting pretty late," Dean said. "Why don't we get some pizza and beer and go back to the motel. We can just chill out and watch movies tonight and then, first thing in the morning, we can head back to Kansas. Hey! I even know what movie we can watch!"
"What movie is that?" Cas asked as they passed through the exit and headed for the waiting Impala.
Dean grinned a huge grin. "Stephen King's It," he said.
"I hate you so much right now," Sam said matter-of-factly.
"I know," his big brother said complacently. "I know."
Final Author's Note: Thank you again, so much, for sticking with me through this long and drawn-out story. I'm sorry the end was so long in coming and I apologize if it seems a bit abrupt. My life has taken an unexpected left turn and it's very possible this is the last thing I'll be able to post on this site. I wanted to go ahead and put up some kind of an ending for this story before I say goodbye. I want to thank everyone, again, for all the kind words and support that you've offered for my writing. It's meant more to me than I can say and whatever happens I'll always have a special place in my heart for fandoms in general and for the Supernatural fandom in particular. You people seriously rock and I love you all!