The moment John walked into the house he felt a heavy sense of dread. It was the smell, he would realise later, whilst pouring gasoline over the bodies. It should have been fairly routine, a poltergeist he'd been told. All signs pointed to a haunting.
If he'd known it was a demon he would never have bought the kids.
That metallic sickly smell of fresh blood. It assaulted them as they approached the front door. He stalked slowly into the darkened room. Putting a hand up, signalling the boys to hang back. He swept his flashlight around.
A smashed coffee table. Signs of a struggle, a stain on the carpet, bloody footprints leading into the next room, the door was half closed, a light was on inside.
There was a noise coming from that room… A soft, barely perceptible sound. Like a whistle? A whimper maybe?
He moved forward beckoning the boys to follow. He could hear Dean's heavy boots as his oldest bought up the rear. His well trained boy would have their backs he was sure of that. He heard Sam's shaky breathing close behind him. That was to be expected, he supposed, the kid was only just fourteen. It wasn't the first time his youngest had come along on a hunt. But they had all been fairly standard, except for the werewolf in Portland.
This, however, was something different. John didn't scare easily, not any more, but the last time he'd felt this level of fear he'd been soaked in sweat and jungle swamp water in Vietnam walking into a small village.
"There's something off about this Sarge, I can feel it"
" No fucking kidding Private. We've been lead into a trap"
"The houses up ahead are quiet...There should be noise, There should be kids playing."
There was something off about this one too. John could tell. It was too obvious, almost as though...
John sniffed... Sulphur.
Almost as though the hunt had been handed to him on a plate.
He'd regret it later, kick himself for it for years. He should have turned around and rushed the boys out the house right then, but he didn't. It was almost as though he was compelled to slowly push that door open. A bedroom.
A child's bedroom, a mobile hung from the ceiling, a wallpaper border of ducks. She was lying on the floor, the woman, the mother, staring sightlessly at the ceiling. Her blood staining nearly the whole carpet, almost up to where he was standing. Eviscerated, her face frozen in agony, her arms reaching out to the crib.
He suddenly realised what the noise was.
Almost before he could fully take in the scene in front of him he was pushing the boys back into the living room. It was too late. He turned and bumped right into Sam, who had been standing right against his father's back, shaking, pale as a sheet. Sam’s mouth moved, but no sound came out. John was gripped with the sudden desire to cover the boy's eyes, as though they were watching a scary movie…If only.
"Dean!'" He choked out. Dean had his hands on Sam's shoulders, looking passed John at the wreckage of the room, his eyes on one thing only, frozen to the spot.
“Dean!" he barked again, reaching over Sam's head and tapping the older boy's cheek. "Get him out of here!"
Dean snapped out of his daze immediately and gasped as though the wind had been knocked out of him. He looked like he was going to vomit.
"Sammy!" He said quietly, his eyes widening. He pulled his unresponsive younger brother away from the door and back through the living room.
John waited until the boys had run back outside before he crossed himself and walked into the bedroom. Knowing what he had to do.
Sam felt himself being pulled, Dragged really. He stumbled, but Dean kept going until they were outside on the front porch.
He dropped then, landing on his knees by a potted tomato plant. Dean leaned on the door frame beside him and breathed heavily, trying to calm himself down. Then pitched forward and threw up into the plant.
Sam couldn't bring himself to look back through the door. He turned his head and looked out at the yard instead at the Impala in the red, dusty driveway. He felt as though he were floating a couple of inches above the ground, like he was dreaming.
Wouldn't it be great if this was a nightmare and I could wake up now? I'd cry like a little baby and beg Dean to let me sleep in his bed with him.
"Oh God!" Dean groaned, spitting. Then he hooked an arm around Sam, pulled him to his feet and dragged him down the porch steps and across the dirt. If he could get them into the car they'd be half way gone from this place, If he could get Sammy into the car he could put the radio up loud and they wouldn't have to hear it.
They were halfway there when they heard the gunshot. Dean cringed, desperately wanting to put his hands over his ears. A lump rose in his throat and tears blinded him as he gripped Sam tighter, which was just as well because at the sound the boy began to struggle and try to break free.
"Dad!" he screamed as he tried to run back to the house. "DAD!" He was hysterical. Dean pinioned his brother's arms.
"No Sam! It's ok, It's ok! Come with me ok?"
"But... Dean He's... He's hurt!"
Dean swallowed hard. Sam was in shock, wasn't thinking straight. Well he sure as hell didn't have it in him right now to explain the situation so he redoubled his grip and collapsed onto his ass, pulling his brother down with him.
'He'll be out in a minute" he said quietly, setting his jaw to stop the tremors. "We'll wait for him ok?"
Sam said nothing just half sat, half lay in his brothers lap in the red dirt and stared at the open door, willing his father to walk out.
When he finally did neither boy moved. Just watched as he staggered out into the sun, blinking his red eyes. Sam thought he really must be dreaming. Dad didn't cry. Ever.
He didn't look at them, just walked passed them and got something out of the trunk, then went back up the porch steps. He was inside for what felt like forever. When he reappeared and Sam saw John pour the the can of gasoline over the front steps he began to struggle again, kicking at Dean's legs in an attempt to get out of his paralysing grip.
"Dad!" he cried "No!"
John turned his head.
"Dad!' he squeaked painfully as Deans arms crushed his ribs. "Don't burn the house! You have to get her!"
John stared incredulously at his youngest, taking in the pale face and dilated pupils.
"Who?" he croaked.
"What?" John whispered barely moving his lips.
Sam was looking at him with total sincerity, big brown eyes pleading.
"She's still alive Dad!"
Dean had been staring at his brother, his eyes wide and horrified. He knew the kid was shocky and out of it but he was really starting to worry now. Sam's last statement crushed him like a ton of bricks. The memory of the room suddenly overwhelming him. The look of terror on the woman's dead face. The... Noises coming from the crib…Dying sounds.
Despite his best efforts he started to cry. Oh Jesus! Not in front of Dad. Not now. He dropped his head, trying to muffle his sobs in Sam's hair.
Sam shut his eyes. Hoping that when he opened them he'd be back at the motel, in bed. This couldn't have happened. This isn't real.
John couldn't look at his children like that. He turned and lit a match, dropping it on the bottom step. Then he watched the house burn.