Flashes of images.
Shouts of pain and terror.
Of destroyed buildings, overturned vehicles and debris scattered across the road.
A familiar face, twisted and turned into a grimace; a mask of pure terror and malice.
He woke up; sitting up straight on his bed. His white t-shirt soaking with sweat and his heart pounding hard against his chest. He sat staring at nothing, wondering what he had dreamed about. Yet, even as the seconds passed, he could not recollect anything.
He felt confused and afraid.
He remembered a time when he had a similar experience and it didn’t end up too well for him or for the world.
He continued, seated on the bed, trying hard to think, frozen in that position. Until the view before his eyes suddenly registered in his head and he broke out of his daze. He looked around the room he was in and suddenly felt a strange pang of familiarity. It was not that he had stayed there before; like yesterday or last week or a few years ago. But it was a familiarity that came from the furthest corners of his mind.
It felt strange.
It felt wrong.
He kept looking around, not believing his own eyes, and then he sprung out of his bed and ran out into the corridor.
Outside the room, he felt that same strange sense of familiarity. He knew that every inch of the place was known to him: every ornament, every picture and every item neatly arranged. The strange thing was, he also knew that there was no way he should be this familiar with the place; he felt a sense of dread fill him.
The fear with which he woke returned as he rushed towards the stairway and then down the stairs.
He knew where he was going but not why.
He moved through the house, giving nothing around him a look or even a glance.
Everything was neat and orderly, and the bright rays that flowed in through the open windows gave the house a chirpy and sunny feel. But he didn’t care. His eyes were focused on the path ahead.
So far he had been alone. Not a sound or shadow was found to indicate that anyone else was there. But now standing in the kitchen he had found an occupant and the sight of the long blonde haired woman in the flowery dress made him freeze.
Her back was turned to him when he first stepped into the kitchen, as she continued with her cooking. So he couldn’t see who she was, but he could feel the beat of his heart rising as he stood silently. Then she turned around and his jaw almost dropped. A single solitary word jumped out from his mouth before he even had the chance to stop it:
“Oh Sammy you’re finally awake,” she said, a bowl held firmly in her dainty hands.
Though he couldn’t see what was in it he knew exactly what she had made, even before the sweet aroma of the dish hit his nose and sparked his senses. “I was afraid you were going to sleep the day away.”
“Mom, it’s you?”
“Of course it’s me. Who else would I be?” she asked with a smile which disappeared as suddenly as it came. She stared at him with an expression of confusion and concern.
“Are you all right?” she asked.
She put down the bowl and started towards him.
It felt strange having her standing so close to him; so close that he could reach out and touch her. He wanted to but he found himself unable to.
He opened his mouth to say something but he found no words would come out.
And then she reached out and touched his forehead. It was quite the reach for her but she somehow managed it. When her delicate hands touched his own skin he closed his eyes. Her touch was soft and cold. It was soothing. It felt so wrong but at the same time so good. He wanted to forget all his fears and concerns but they refused to die down.
“You’re warming up, maybe you should go back to bed,” she said her voice changing as she spoke and bringing him back to the present.
“No…no…I” he started but couldn’t finish. What could he really say he was ‘Ok’?
“I’m fine. I just…feel a bit tired, but I’ll be Ok” he said.
“Alright,” she said but continued to watch him with that same expression on her face.
She then walked back to pick up the bowl and then walked again towards him.
“Here, you can take it to Jessica and help her set the table,” she said and he just managed to catch himself before he went through the same process all over again.
He took one last long look at his mom, just in case, before turning around and walked back the way he had come.
He had passed the dining table before on his way to the kitchen. But it had been empty then, and there had been no one around. Yet, when he reached it this time it was already arranged somewhat and there, a few chairs away, and placing plates was Jess. She looked exactly as he remembered her last. He almost dropped the bowl in his hand when Jess looked up at him and smiled. Without missing a beat she asked him to place the bowl anywhere. He hesitated for a second before doing as she asked.
It was hot, but his preoccupied mind barely registered it.
There was so much else he wanted to ask her, he wanted to do, but he restrained himself.
“Where else,” Jess replied after staring at him for a while, with the same expression as the one his mom had just a few seconds ago. “Outside with dad working on that car” she finished and smiled.
He thanked her, without returning the smile, and rushed out of the house before she could say anything more or notice anything that might raise any further concerns.
He felt like he was losing his mind. His head was spinning.
Sam stepped out of the house and instinctively headed towards the garage.
What he saw was nothing he hadn’t seen before. Especially when considering everything else that he had seen. But then, it was not something he had seen in a long time or expected to see. Still, the surprise he felt was dampened by everything else that had happened.
Then he slowly edged his way towards the Impala and towards Dean and their father.
“Dean” he called out. Afraid not only for what would happen to him when his father turned around as well but also what would happen with Dean.
So far he had worked on the assumption that Dean was in the same situation as he was, that he would not be part of all this. From the moment he woke up and realized where he was, he had sought Dean out hoping that together they could resolve things. However, now that he was here he was having second thoughts.
‘What if he was wrong?’
‘What if Dean was also a part of this scenario?’
And then Dean turned towards him and his doubts faded as he saw the look on Dean’s face. He felt a sense of relief as he saw his expression reflected on his brother’s face.
“Dean I need to talk to you?”
“Sam, I am glad to see that you’re up,” said his dad as he looked up with Dean. “How are you feeling?”
“I am good, thanks,” said Sam and then turned to Dean “Dean,” he said and Dean nodded his head.
“What are you two up to?” asked John and the both of them turned towards him.
“Nothing dad, we just…” said Dean and turned towards him but he had nothing either.
John didn’t turn his gaze away from them; the hunter was still inside of him somewhere. And then a shadow crept over his face and the curious expression changed.
“I see what you two are up to and there is no way I am going to let you do it,” he said. Sam felt a sense of panic grip him as he waited. “You two are planning something for your mom’s birthday,” he said to their relief. “And there is no way I’m going to let the two of you ruin my own surprise. I’ve been planning this for a very long time.”
“Sorry dad, we promise we won’t ruin your plans,” said Sam as the two of them walked away.
“You better not,” he said. “I worked too hard on it” he continued before turning his attention back to the car.
He and Dean gave their father one last look to make sure that he had returned back to work on the Impala. Before they continued to walk away.
The two of them walked as far as they could away from the house. Until they were certain that they were alone and there were no stray ears around. But even when they were certain that it was safe to talk they couldn’t find the words to say. For a few seconds, they just stood staring at each other.
“Dean!” Sam finally said
“I know Sammy”. Dean said without waiting for Sam to finish.
“This is wrong!”
“Yes, it is and you know it?” but Dean didn’t reply he just looked away.
“After everything we went through, isn’t this what we wanted?”
“Yes, but Dean this is not possible.”
“You don’t think I know that. But…we finally have it all Sam: our mom, our dad…and…Sam. You remember Lisa?”
“Lisa, who you had Castiel erase any memory of you?”
“Yes, well she is…well she and Ben…the three of us. We are a family again” said Dean.
“Dean Winchester settled down. Now we know this is not natural” Dean just gave him a cold stare.
“So what do you think this is?” Dean finally said after another long silence.
“Maybe a Djinn?”
“Do you remember what you did last time you were caught by one?” Sam continued. Dean just nodded his head. He turned towards the house in the distance and Sam followed his gaze. They were both caught in the moment.
“We need to do this Dean?”
“Why? Why do we need to do this? Don’t we deserve this life?”
“It’s an illusion?”
“Dean if we don’t stop this thing then someone else will be caught by it, and another and another, innocent life is going to be lost.”
“But why has it got to be us. There are other hunters out there?”
“Are there?” asked Sam.
He hated having to argue with Dean, but it wasn’t just for the innocents that he was fighting for, but for Dean as well. He had to remember that.
“Dean, how many hunters have we come across over the last few years. How many had survived? For all we know, we could be the last and even if that is not true” he continued as Dean opened his mouth “we are here and now, and we can do something to stop this. We need to do it.”
Dean didn’t say anything.
Sam could see there was turmoil inside Dean’s head. He wished he could do something about it but he knew Dean would come to the right decision eventually.
“All right, fine. But if we are going to do this at least give me one night”
“Dean,” Sam said with a grin.
“Fine!” he said, “Let’s go get this son of a….” But Dean didn’t get to finish what he was saying before they realized that they were not alone.
“Good to see you boys,”
“You’re dead,” Sam said getting over the shock of seeing Castiel there.
“Yes,” Castiel said.
“This is beginning to become a habit with you,” Dean said and Castiel gave him a puzzled look.
“You’re the one to speak” he replied
“What are you doing here?” Sam asked
“I came to see how you two are adjusting to your new life?”
“You did this?” asked Sam
“In a way!”
“Why? Not that we are grateful but why?” asked Dean
“Because you earned it, after everything you did for us?”
“Care to elaborate exactly which ‘everything’ you’re referring to?” asked Dean “Because there is so many I’m starting to lose count.”
“You two ended the war, defeated the demons finally. What you two did will save all humanity?”
“I am sorry what exactly did we do?” asked Sam and as he said it he thought he saw a look of confusion appearing in Castiel’s eyes.
“You defeated the Antichrist!”