This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Genoa, Nevada [Late 2006]
The young man crouched behind the table, cursing under his breath. They’ll definitely see me, he thought, his eyes narrowing. It was dark in the kitchen, but not dark enough. Here and there were strips of light, shining in through the semi-closed shades in the window over the sink. Again his head ducked to avoid the flashlight beam of the owners of the house.
This is not good.
James Munroe and his wife Bridget knew there was someone in the house. They’d bought it three months ago, fixed it up, added an addition for their son (who is now off at college) and knew every nook and cranny there was. James had inspected the house himself and Bridget was an avid architect. They knew all there was to know about the house they were currently searching.
Connor watched as the yellow beam of James’s flashlight swept the parlor. He crept slowly forward, crawling on his knees until he was concealed beneath the table, surrounded by the four chairs. His breathing sped up when James stopped and stared in his direction.
Crap! Connor thought. Had he made a noise? Did the floor squeak?
“What?” Bridget asked, her voice high pitched and nasally. Her eyes followed her husband’s.
James’s face was concealed by the bright light pointed at Connor. “I don’t know,” he said, “I just thought I saw something.”
“Why aren’t you going to see what it is, then? It could be a robber, or an animal. James?”
James had ignored her and was walking back towards the garage door, turning right and climbing down the stairs that led to their son’s room. “Let’s check down here,” he suggested.
Bridget cast a wary glance in Connor’s direction once more and then followed James down the dark stairs.
Connor’s sweaty palms unclenched themselves. He climbed out from underneath their dining room table, taking care not to step on the floorboards he knew that groaned. Tiptoeing through the doorway and onto the rug, he retrieved his green army-styled backpack (“Thank god they didn’t find this,” he muttered with relief) and slung it over his shoulder.
He looked up just as a soft, barely audible knock sounded on the front door. His arms raised in defense, though he knew the homeowners hadn’t heard it. Slowly he walked to the door. His hand automatically reached behind him for his handgun, concealed by his jacket; it was strapped to his back. Peeking out the peephole, Connor’s tight stomach did a flip. Two men were standing outside in the lightly falling snow. They were tall, definitely related somehow, and both were carrying shotguns. Totally and shadily conspicuous.
Connor opened the door and slipped through it, wiggling in between the men. “Sam, Dean? What are you doing here?” he asked them after all three had backed up enough to see each other clearly.
Dean, the oldest Winchester brother, the one with the green eyes and short, light brown hair, raised an eyebrow. “We were coming to help,” he told Connor. “Bobby called a few hours ago and said these two might be a problem. Nosy sons-of-bitches,” he muttered.
The taller man with the darker, floppier hair and hazel eyes added, “He said the poltergeist would be tricky, too.”
“Bobby’s the older guy, right? The boozer.”
Dean’s eyes flashed. “Hey, don’t knock him. We—”
Connor held up his hands, palms forward. “I didn’t mean anything by it. But thanks, guys, really. I’m pretty sure I’ve got it covered.” He looked back into the parlor quickly. “We should probably go. I don’t know how long they’ll be down there.”
The Winchesters agreed and the three men, looking completely suspicious with their shotguns, Connor’s backpack, and the way their eyes were constantly shifting all over the place, made their way down the small snow-spotted hill and onto the sidewalk. Connor’s red car stood out like a sore thumb in the dark neighborhood, even without the benefit of a streetlamp near it. He walked over to it quickly and silently yanked open the door; he dropped his backpack onto the back seat and closed the door once more. He turned back to the brothers.
Dean was staring at his car. He leaned closer to Sam. “Do all hunters have bad-ass cars or is it just the ones we’ve met?” he asked him.
Sam laughed. “Just the one’s we’ve met, probably,” he replied.
Connor grinned. “Your car isn’t half bad, though,” he praised, and nodded in the ’67 Impala’s direction. “It’s a friggin’ legend,” he said.
“What’s yours?” Dean asked, leaning down and peering through the window.
“Dean, we should probably get going,” Sam suggested.
“1970 Chevy Chevelle SS.”
“Say that five times fast,” Dean laughed.
“Dean,” his brother pressed. “Let’s go.”
He looked up, almost like he was just remembering Sam. “Right. Well,” he turned to Connor and held out his hand, “you’ve got our numbers. If you need anything, give us a call.”
Connor smiled and shook it, then Sam’s. “Definitely.”
The brothers waved and walked back to their car, started it, and rumbled away.
Conner arrived in South Dakota only a few hours later. He was gunning his car as fast as he could, just like he had been for the past hour. Absently he looked in the rearview mirror, though he knew there were no cars following him. But he had to make sure—
“Damn!” Connor cursed loudly. A Statie had pulled out of a hidden driveway on the side of the narrow, one lane road and was flashing its red and blue lights. The siren hadn’t been turned on yet, but Connor pulled over to the side of the road, watching as the speedometer’s needle ticked slowly below 100 mph. He stomped on his breaks and put the car in park. But the officer raced past him, the siren on full and obnoxious now.
Connor’s eyebrows rose. What the hell was that all about? He’d been lucky many times before, but this had been a blatant act of disobedience and he’d obviously gotten caught. How had he slipped by without a ticket or handcuff session, then?
Oddly enough, Dean’s face popped into the back of his mind. “Dude, you’re a ninja,” his whispered, rough voice said, laughing. Connor shook his head to clear it.
Pushing it to the back of his racing mind, Connor began the sprint to his destination once more and once more pushed his car as fast as it could go. His toes pushed against the inside of his new, black Converse All Star Outsider boots, anxious. He couldn’t believe he’d stopped for a cop. Of all things. He shouldn’t have stopped.
Connor hissed tightly, thinking of those few minutes he’d lost. Well, now he’d just have to make them up.
There was a knock on Bobby’s door. Sam looked up from his beer and stood, sliding back the small kitchen chair with a groan, and walked over to the door. But it opened just before his hand reached for the handle. Connor stood in the doorway, his black hair wild from the wind.
“Connor?” Sam took a step back to let him in. “What are you doing here?”
“Sam, what are you doing in there?” Dean’s voice came from another room. He strolled around the corner. “Bobby needs—Oh, hey Connor,” he said, surprised. “What are you doing here?”
“I just asked him the same thing, Dean,” Sam muttered, closing the door.
Connor looked from Sam to Dean, and then back again. “I didn’t know who else to go to,” he told them. “There aren’t any other hunters near my town and the ones I tried to call just hung up on me.”
“Hey, idjits! We have a case here, remember? Stop gabbing and get in here,” called Bobby from the room Dean had appeared from.
Sam tugged Connor along behind him and Dean, as he tried to wrestle his way out of his jacket, walking back to where Bobby was seated behind a large writing desk. It was piled with at least ten very old, very dusty books in each corner. In the center, where Bobby’s gaze was fixed, was a map of Nevada. Bobby looked up when Sam cleared his throat.
“Ah,” he said to Connor, “figured you’d be here sooner or later.”
Sam frowned. “You knew he was coming?” he asked. He and Dean exchanged a glance.
“Yep.” Bobby stood and handed Connor the map. “He knew we’d be able to help him.”
“How?” Connor asked, tossing his jacket over a chair and gingerly holding the edges of the worn map. “I tried so many hunters and none of them wanted anything to do with me,” he told them.
“Why?” Sam asked Connor. He shook his head.
“So.” Dean leaned against the wall. “What’s with all these different cases?”
Bobby shrugged. “No idea. It is weird, though. Having almost a half dozen in one state at the same time.”
Sam agreed. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of something like this happening.” He looked to his brother.
“I don’t have a clue,” Dean replied, shrugging also.
Connor continued to stare at the highlighted cities, his eyes unfocused. Sam shook him. “Connor, where do you think we should start?” he asked him.
Connor looked up, shaking his head a bit. “Uh…well, maybe…” His forehead creased. “Why are you asking me? I’m the one who came to you guys for help,” he said.
His fingers played with the tattered hole in the thigh of his dark but faded jeans.
“Start at the beginning,” Dean suggested.
Connor looked back up at the three hunters around him. “I guess it started…two days ago? With the poltergeists in Washoe. Mrs. Bowers used to do séances after her husband died, and when she kicked it I guess she haunted the second floor of their mansion for a long time. Both of them are buried in the graveyard behind it.”
Connor paused for a moment. “People who’ve lived there say they could see glowing figures near the graves whenever it was a new moon. I took care of Mrs. Bowers’ and her husband’s ghosts, burning their remains and such, because the couple before the Munroes almost died of a heart attack.”
“So?” Dean asked. “What does that have to with the case?”
Connor glanced at him sideways. “They had seen the ghosts one too many times. That’s why they sold the mansion to the Munroes,” he explained. “And then the poltergeist moved in.”
Sam shrugged and made a face. “Makes sense,” he murmured. He looked to Bobby. “So, what’s the plan? Where do we go from here?”
“Looks like…” Bobby took the map from Connor and held it out. “Henderson, Nevada.”
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