It was a nauseous rattle that woke Dean. The pitching, rumbling disorienation felt a little like a hangover, except that his hangovers didn't usually come complete with the faint odour of horseshit.
He was lying awkwardly; partly on his side, partly on his belly, in a damp, dark space which was rocking and rattling relentlessly and stunk of dust, grass, leather, horses, mud and other organic substances that Dean really didn't want to dwell on.
The damp wooden floor beneath him was juddering and rolling; vibrating through his skull, rattlling his teeth with a deafening rumble and cultivating a rising queasiness.
Blinking through the darkness, he swallowed hard against the urge to hurl as he tried to make sense of where he was.
His first awareness was of a tender, swollen lump at the back of his head which wasn't being helped one tiny little bit by the bouncing, rocking misery that he found himself in.
The second, infinitely more alarming factor that he became aware of was that his hands were tied behind his back, tight and unyielding. He cautiously flexed his aching shoulders to test the integrity of whatever was binding him and grimaced; whatever it was was painfully tight and wasn't going anyplace anytime soon.
Wrinkling and twitching his nose, rabbit-fashion, he tried to dislodge an infuriatingly persistent tickle but failed, sucking in a deep breath as a heavy sneeze borne of floating dust and horsehair began to brew within him.
Ahhhhh ...CCHHOoooooooooAAAHH … !
He let out a choking gasp as his aching head bounced giddily off the wooden floor at the force of the sneeze, sending bolts of pain through his strained shoulders.
As he lay panting and sniffling lavishly through the gloom, he barely heard the voice beside him over the rumbling and rattling of the small world around him.
Dean groaned again as the nausea threatened briefly.
His head swam. The few thoughts that he was able to process swirled chaotically around him, and it seemed like an age before he was able to voice the word he wanted to say.
When it came out, it was nothing more than a hoarse rasp choked out between shallow panting breaths and a long wet snuffle.
"Sam?" He wriggled grub-like on the floor to try to move in the direction of the voice; "Sam, s'at you?"
His eyes were beginning to grow accustomed to the darkness, and he could begin to make out the silhouette of a hulking pair of shoulders lying on the floor only inches away from his line of vision.
"Yeah, it's me" Sam muttered, lying on his side, facing away from Dean, his voice muffled by dizziness and dust; "you okay man?"
"Awesome," croaked Dean, "what 'bout you?" he added, spitting out a mouthful of dust, and letting out a pained grunt as a particularly rough jolt jostled him hard into Sam's back.
"Arms are goin' to sleep – tied behind my back," Sam replied, gasping as Dean's head cannoned into his back "of course, not helped by someone headbutting me in the back;" he observed dryly. "Your nose is way too pointy."
"Dot any more," Dean groaned, his poor pounded nose throbbing violently as twinkling stars wheeled in front of his watering eyes.
"I think we're in that cart," Sam hissed through clenched teeth, almost dislocating his shoulders in an unsuccessful effort to roll over and face Dean; "this is …"
"Don't even think about sayin' 'weird'," snapped Dean; "we've gone way beyond freakin' weird," he growled; "we've long since passed weird and entered the realms of downright freakin' stupid. How the hell did we let those freaks get the drop on us?"
"Think the question is more like 'why have they kidnapped us?'" Sam reflected quietly, "and who are 'they'?" he added.
The brothers fell silent briefly and listened to the sounds around them. The heavy rumbling of the cart, a squeaking wheel, the creaking and grinding of the wooden struts which held the thick canvas awning covering the cart and it's bewildered occupants, blocking out virtually every trace of light.
Outside, they could hear the rhythmic, hollow crunch of hooves; the horses moving at a slow laboured plod, clearly in no hurry to reach their destination much to the chagrin of the Winchesters who were both horribly cramped and uncomfortable in their makeshift prison. Outside the cart voices, muffled by the thick canvas, sounded; a muted babble of conversation here, a brief burst of laughter there. Sounds which should have been so very ordinary, and instead managed to sound grimly threatening instead.
The cart gave another jolt and Dean lurched forward again, his forehead once again making heavy contact with the rock-hard prominences of Sam's spine.
"Sam," Dean began hesitantly, somewhat alarmed that his face had planted against damp, cool skin and not threadbare cotton; "where's your shirt?"
He saw the shadowy mass of the broad shoulders next to him shrug.
"Don't know," Sam responded; "they must have taken it off me after they took us out," he paused; "took my jeans and boots too, probably to stop me trying to escape." He tried to crane his head round trying and failing to snatch a look at Dean lying behind him; "what about you?"
Dean suddenly realised that like his brother, he had been stripped of his shirt, jeans and boots. No wonder the damn floor felt so cold and damp; he had been so preoccupied with trying to work out where he was and what had happened, not to mention concentrating hard on trying not to throw up as his stomach rocked and roiled along with the rumbling cart, he hadn't even realised that he was prostrate on the floor, a vision of elegnce in just boxers and socks.
This situation was looking worse and worse with each passing moment.
Refreshed and determined after a decent night's sleep – well, as decent as it gets across a kitchen table, Bobby made himself ready for one of the most important days' work in his life.
He needed to get another look at that exhibition. There had to be something there; a sigil, an incantation, an amulet; anything that would link what he spent the night reading about to what had happened to the brothers.
He had decided to go during opening hours to see if he could find the museum's resident 'expert'. Someone he could grill; someone who could add an extra layer to his research. Thus it was that Bob Chanteur, newly retired gentleman with lots of time for indulging his passion for ancient roman history was born, and therefore smartly respectable was the order of the day.
He straightened his best jacket and favourite blue tie as he stepped outside of the house.
Sam wasn't sure how long the brothers had been lying trussed up like a pair of thanksgiving turkeys in that damn cart. In an effort to distract himself, he had been working hard; his hands and fingers squirming and gyrating furiously, picking ineffectively at the tightly knotted straps around his wrists until they had gone numb and he could no longer feel the bonds he was trying to undo.
Dean was busy doing the same if the muffled oaths emanating from his direction were anything to go by.
They had both managed at various times to shuffle themselves up into sitting positions, only to faceplant inelegantly back down at equally various intervals as the cart continued it's seemingly interminable and very bumpy journey.
By the time it eventually rolled to a stop, both brothers' sterling efforts had achieved precisely nothing besides the fact that they were now lying on the floor facing each other. Whoever had tied those knots had meant business.
Relishing the stillness, Sam lay and stared through the shadows at Dean. He could see his brother's face clearly now. Dean's eyes, inpenetrably black with pupils blown massive in the gloom, latched onto Sam, wide with a mixture of deep apprehension, anger and burning frustration.
A melee of voices sounded as heavy footsteps made their way around to the back of the cart. The Winchesters both gasped in shock as the canopy was swiftly unlaced and swept apart. They burrowed toward the back wall of the vehicle, painfully blinded by the brilliant sunlight that suddenly flooded the cart's interior, as a heavy and resplendently ugly face peered up at them.
Watery, pig-like eyes looked them up and down appraisingly then nodded, barking something they didn't understand to someone they couldn't see. A snort of approval sounded from the vast, carbuncular nose that adorned the face.
With their assaulted vision gradually returning to their stinging eyes, the Winchesters peered tearily through the open canopy to scan the scene outside.
Sam turned hesitantly to Dean. "This looks bad dude," he muttered nervously.
"We are so screwed," Dean whispered in agreement.