This chapter is just setting up the hunt for Sam and Dean, but don't worry—the Winchesters will be making their appearance in the next chapter. I plan on a lot of intense things happening in this story, including some much-loved angst! As always, I ask you to please let me know what you're thinking whether it's good or bad!
This fic takes place in the second season between Hollywood Babylon and Folsom Prison Blues.
Standard disclaimer applies meaning I own nothing except the computer I'm writing on and the television I watch Supernatural on…I really need to see if I can change that.
The rain beat a steady rhythm on the roof of the car and a boom of thunder sounded somewhere in the distance. The storm had been coming in a steady downpour for the last hour, which wasn't unusual for the mid-April night. They always got rain this time of year, so the citizens of Travers, Arkansas were used to it by now. Most of the occupants of the small town stayed in the shelter of their homes to wait out the storm. Tonight, these two were the exception.
Jason Stewart was glad for the rain. He didn't like driving when there were a lot of people on the road. Of course, he didn't like driving in the rain either, but at least he didn't have to deal with the traffic. It wasn't that he didn't like people, in fact he was a very outgoing person. The twenty-one year old brunette had been involved in one too many accidents in his short driving career, none of which was ever his fault—it was the idiots who drove these streets like they were trying out for Indy 500.
Normally, Jason wouldn't be out driving tonight especially since he had to be at work early tomorrow morning. Even though his dad owned Stewart Construction, Jason was still expected to be there by five-thirty every morning—even more so now because his dad was planning on leaving the company in his hands by the end of the year. But Jason's passenger had convinced him to drive him out to the old Eclipse Hotel and he'd paid the young man handsomely for it.
Glancing over at the man seated next to him, Jason wondered how it was he was so gullible. Why did he have to go out of this way to please everyone, even people who weren't form around here? He'd met Nick Douglas at One Shot's—the only bar in town—a few hours ago and somehow volunteered for the job when the reporter for the Arkansas Times told him he was interested in doing a story about the old hotel. Of course, the five hundred dollars Nick gave him helped seal the deal, too. Jason needed all the money he could get his hands on right now since he planned on asking Valerie Sealy, his girlfriend of three years, to marry him soon.
As another crack of lightening flashed across the sky, Jason could see the faint outline of the five-story hotel approaching. He still had no idea why Nick would be interested in the old structure—it was nothing more than a decrepit building that had been abandoned for almost forty years. There were talks around town it was haunted, but Nick didn't buy into that. He never believed in ghosts and he wasn't about to start now.
"So, why are you interested in the Eclipse, anyway?"
The balding, middle-aged reporter glanced over at him. "I heard this place was a hotspot for paranormal activity."
Jason scoffed. "You actually believe in that crap?"
Nick shrugged. "I don't know—I've never actually seen anything. But my editor wants to start a series on haunted places in Arkansas. So who am I to argue? Especially if I want to get paid."
Jason laughed. "I hear you there, man."
Five minutes later, Jason finally pulled up in front of the Eclipse. Glancing up at the structure, the young man had to appreciate the architecture. Built of slate, the stately structure had arched windows that seemed to surround the place. On either side was a tower that rose slightly above the tiled roof. Jason supposed back in its prime, the hotel was something to be admired, but now with the broken windows, graffiti all over the first level, and the debris that surrounded the perimeter, it was nothing but an eyesore.
"Well, here it is." Jason nodded towards the dilapidated structure.
Nick looked sharply at Jason. "Wait, you're not going in there with me?"
"No way, man. You asked me to bring you here so I did. You never mentioned anything about me going in there with you."
"I paid you five hundred dollars to drive me a couple of miles here—I, at least, expect a little bit of return for that kind of money."
Jason let out a heavy sigh. "Fine, let's just get this finished. I hope you brought your flashlight." He grabbed his own out of the glove compartment, and after making sure it worked, he pushed out of his Jeep into the slightly chilled rainy night. He heard the other door slam shut and soon Nick was matching his footsteps to the tall chain length fence that surrounded the old building. Jason shined his light on a chain holding the doors shut that was secured with a padlock. "Doesn't look like you're getting in tonight."
Nick grunted and Jason watched him walk a few yards away. "I wouldn't be so sure of that," Nick's triumphant voice said about a minute later.
Muttering under his breath, Jason walked over to where Nick was crouched on the ground. There was a damaged section of fence where a grown man could easily squeeze through. Doesn't look like I'm going home anytime soon at all. Pushing his small bag through first, Nick followed through the section behind it. Not seeing he had any other choice, Jason followed.
The two men quickly made their way across the yard and under the archway, finally receiving a reprieve from the constant pelting of the rain. Shining his flashlight, Jason saw the two French doors were standing slightly ajar, as if welcoming any wayward visitor who may wish to enter. Nick looked back at him as if telling him he could take the lead, but Jason nudged him on. No way in hell was he going into that creepy ass place first. He may not believe in ghosts, but he'd sure seen his fair share of horror movies and he knew what happened first—the one in the lead always died.
Not that he was wanting Nick to die. But if someone had to risk their neck, it wasn't going to be Jason.
The inside of the hotel was eerily quiet, every small noise echoing all around them. Jason could just make out the faint sounds of water dripping from somewhere to his right and scratching above his head. Probably rats…God, I hate rats…
Letting his flashlight play around the interior, he could make out the lobby. A large, rotting wooden desk was set against the far back wall and above the desk was a multitude of cubby holes where messages and mail for guests were kept. To either side of the lobby were large sofas and around them, several plush chairs placed in front of a long table. There was a bank of elevators along the left wall and a door that Jason figured probably led to a set of stairs.
"So, what do you think you're going to find in here?" Jason asked softly.
Nick shrugged. "Maybe nothing. Boss never said I had to prove there were ghosts in here, he just wanted me to check it out."
"I sure hope you're getting paid well for this."
Nick laughed. "It's not so bad."
"Yeah? Tell me that when we get out of here." He let out a deep breath. "So, where do you want to start first?"
Nick was pulling a small notebook from his bag. He flipped through a few pages before coming to the one he was looking for. "I'm wanting to go up to room 218."
"What's so damn special about room 218?"
"That's where a lot of sighting have been reported."
Jason rolled his eyes. "This is going to be a long night."
Seeing as how the elevators wouldn't be an option, the men slowly made their way up the metal staircase since they weren't entirely sure about the safety of the wooden made accesses. A few minutes later, they finally made it to the second level. They both had to push against the door since there was something blocking their way. After a few hard pushes, they nudged open the door enough for them to slip through.
The second floor didn't look any better that the lobby—fallen debris littered the floors, along with busted down doors and broken light fixtures. Nick walked ahead of Jason and it didn't take them long to find the room they were looking for.
"After you," Jason said with a wave of his hand.
Nick didn't say anything as he walked into the room, Jason right behind him.
"So, what's the story with this room anyway?"
"You live in this town and yet you know nothing about the Eclipse."
Jason shrugged. "Sorry."
Nick sighed. "There are stories around that say while the Eclipse was under construction back in the early 1900s, one of the construction workers fell to his death in this room. He was helping to tile the roof to one of the towers when it started to rain, and he slipped."
"So, what? Are you hoping to see ghost or something?"
Nick smiled. "I have a much bigger ghost in my sights."
"Of course you do." He followed as Nick led the way out of the room. "Which ghost are you hoping to find here?"
Nick turned back and smiled at him. "That would be the ghost of Eli Nelson."
"And he would be…?" They had entered the staircase and were climbing to the next floor.
"You live in a town of about 2,500 people, right?" Nick asked breathlessly as they continued to climb the stairs.
"I guess." Jason didn't understand where he was going with this.
"A town that small and you people never talk about this hotel?" The reporter pushed through another door, which opened easier than the last one. They were now standing in the third level hallway.
"What can I say? We have better things to do with our time than sit around and listen to a bunch of ghost stories."
"Maybe you should spend more time listening to them and cashing in. Do you know how much people will pay to stay in a place that's haunted?"
Jason arched a brow. "In case you haven't noticed, this place needs a major facelift."
"You're in the construction business—do something with it."
"Look, are you going to tell me who this Eli Nelson is or not?"
"Fine." Nick began moving down the hall. "Eli Nelson was one of the owners of this place back in the thirties. He had this wonderful idea to turn the hotel into some sort of health spa retreat, which included a hospital."
"Seems like a good idea."
"You're right. People came from all over to stay here, especially when they found out what he was offering."
"What's that?" Jason stepped over a fallen door.
Nick looked back at him. "He claimed to have a cure for cancer."
"And people believed him?"
The reporter shrugged. "Back then they did—cancer was something that was claiming so many people a year because they didn't have the technologies and medicines we have today to fight it. Nelson was offering a solution to their problem and everyone was so desperate at that point, they paid him money out of their asses for it."
"But he never had a cure, did he?"
Nick shook his head. "His miracle cure involved mixing crushed watermelon seeds, alcohol, brown corn silk, and carbolic acid together. He would open them up wherever the tumor happened to be and would pour the solution on it. The patients said it was torture, it only made their pain worse—everyone he treated ended up dying. Pretty soon after that, he was arrested and sentenced to life in prison, but he hung himself before he could serve out his full sentence." Nick turned his head to look at Jason once more. "The best part is Eli Nelson wasn't even a doctor."
"You've got to be kidding me."
"Do they know how many people he killed?"
"No one's really sure. Many people speculate it was at least a hundred."
Jason wasn't sure how that was supposed to make him feel. To know his town was once home to some psychopath freaked him out a bit, even if it was decades ago. How could a person do that to others? To promise them a treatment and then do nothing but cause their loved ones even more pain angered the young man. What kind of person does that, allows a family to suffer like that in order to make a profit?
Jason felt a chill go through his body, but it wasn't because he was freaked. He looked around, confused, as the temperature dipped down and he saw his breath cloud in front of his face. He knew there were drafts in the old hotel but nothing that would explain the sudden temperature change. "Do you feel that?"
Nick shivered. "Yeah, definitely." He reached into his bag and pulled out a small camcorder. Flicking it on, he began to move it slowly around the hallway.
Jason was about to comment on the camera when all of a sudden his flashlight began to flicker, then went out altogether. He banged it against his palm in hopes that it would come on again, but the light remained dead. "Great." He squinted through the darkness, seeing if he could see Nick but the reporter was nowhere to be seen.
"Nick!" Still no answer. What the hell is going on here? "Hey, Nick! Where are you?"
A terrified scream rang out and echoed all around him. A flash of lightening revealed the hallway to be empty.
A tiny voice in Jason's head was telling him that he needed to get out of there, but his annoying little conscience was telling him he needed to find out what happened to Nick. Jason could sit there and battle the voices all night, but he knew what he would do in the end. There was no way he could leave there without knowing what happened to the reporter. If Nick was hurt, then he would need help.
Another scream pierced the night and Jason's mind was made up. Moving cautiously in the dark, he made his way to the very end of the hallway. "Nick, can you hear me?" There was still no answer and Jason was becoming increasingly freaked.
Jason stood still for a minute, keeping his ears open for any minute noise and that's when he heard it—a faint gurgling coming from his right. Frowning, he pushed his way through the door closest to him. What he saw, he was sure would haunt him for the rest of his life.
There, in the middle of the room, was the opaque figure of a man dressed in a white suit with a lavender tie, but that wasn't the part that freaked Jason out the most. What did scare him was what the man was doing. He was leaning over Nick who was lying on a gurney, a scalpel held firmly in his right hand and though it was dark, Jason could just make out the dark stain of blood on the blade. Hearing a faint drip drip, Jason looked closer and saw Nick's throat was slit wide open and blood was dripping down into a large puddle beneath him. Oh, no way…no friggin' way…
Jason began backing up slowly out of the room. He spotted the small camcorder on the floor and as he bent to pick it up he lost his footing and tripped, falling to the ground. He got up just as quick and saw the man was looking at him, a sadistic smile on his face.
"Looks like we have our next patient," Eli Nelson said in a gravelly voice.
Jason didn't waste any more time. He quickly scooped up and the camera and ran out of the room. No way was he becoming that psycho's next victim. As he clamored down the stairs, he dug into his pocket and pulled out his keys. Jason never looked back as he raced out the door and jumped into his Jeep, grateful that for once, he didn't lock it.
He shoved the keys into the ignition and barreled out of the parking lot. As he raced down the road back towards town, Jason couldn't help but think his opinion on ghosts had seriously changed.