PRESENT DAY- October 2008
I pressed my palms up against the tinted window. My eyes darted back and forth with the cars passing us, searching for the one I was desperate to find. I knew my chances weren’t that good. They didn’t know I was gone. And besides, if they did know, what were the odds that they’d be on the same road, at the same time? It just didn’t make sense. It wasn’t possible. It wasn’t probable.
But my breath caught suddenly and I slapped my hands against the glass. The Impala had just rocketed out of a parking lot and was zooming to catch our tail. Do they know I’m gone, then?
“Sam! Dean!” I wanted to shout, but my voice was strangled with a very small hint of relief and a large amount of that holy-crap-I’m-dead feeling.
I wanted to pound through the glass and reach my hand out, maybe jump through the window and into the car that I knew would get me away from this guy as fast as possible. But all I could manage was a small sob.
I climbed out of the Oldsmobile and stood with the door open. I wasn’t sure what to do next. Run or scream. Because I wouldn’t get far, and no one was around to hear me. Perfect.
The driver walked behind the car and stopped at the back, resting his elbows on the trunk.
“Come here,” he instructed. I shook my head. “You’re going to get into the trunk. Without a fuss, got it?”
He pushed off from the trunk—the car sprung up—but didn’t walk over to me.
“I think I’ll stay here,” I told him, gripping the top edge of my door.
“No, you need to get in this trunk.”
“Why don’t you get in the trunk?”
“Please, I don’t want this to be any harder than it has to be,” he said. A muscle in his jaw twitched.
I resisted the urge to take a step back. “I’m not getting in that trunk,” I said.
“Yes, you are.”
“No, I’m not.”
“I’m not supposed to hurt you. So please, make my job a little easier?” he asked, narrowing his eyes slightly.
He was getting annoyed but he still hadn’t pulled a gun or anything. Which was good for me. Still, I had to be careful.
“Please,” I said softly, “don’t make me do this. Please.”
I gripped the door harder and actually felt myself slide a few inches backwards when he shut his eyes and grimaced.
Opening them again, he said, “Fine. Don’t let me do my job.” He paused. “I supposed you’d like some food, then?”
I shook my head. “Please, just let me go.” I glanced over to the small diner across the parking lot. It was so far away, I’d never make it; his legs were much longer than mine.
“No. I can’t,” hissed the man, and he banged on the trunk with his fist. In a horrible flash, his eyes turned the color of night and his face twisted.
I gasped and recoiled against the door, accidentally slamming it shut; I pulled my fingers back just in time. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t recognized him before. He was the one who’d nearly killed me back in April.
The man reached into his shirt pocket and I waited for the glint of silver or the cock of a hammer. But instead he produced a pack of cigarettes.
“At least have a smoke?” he asked, still sneering, his black eyes glinting.
He held out the pack.
“No,” I whispered, my lips trembling with the denial.
The man hissed and shoved the pack back into his pocket. “Let’s go, then. Don’t want to be late.” The black left his eyes.
He strode over to me, grabbed my upper arm and pushed me ahead of him. “Act normal,” he snapped, “or I end you at the entrance.”
We walked into the diner and sat down. The man smiled at the pretty waitress behind the counter and picked up the menu in front of him. He pointed to mine. I slid it into my clumsy, shaking hands. The waitress walked over to us and the man stood. Dropping his unread menu back onto the table, they both walked over to the kitchen and disappeared into it.
I continued to sit at the table, my mind working frantically. Could I run for it? Or was that waitress another demon? I didn’t know how many of these people were on his side, and I knew I couldn’t exorcise them all without help. I’d have to find something sharp and hack my way out. But then I wouldn’t save any of the people the demons were possessing.
A movement ahead of me caught my eye. It was Sam and Dean, sitting casually at the table in front from me! How hadn’t I noticed their car in the parking lot? Hadn’t they followed us the entire way, or had we lost them down that dirt road a mile or two back?
Dean shunted a bit to his left so that he could see me past Sam’s head. He winked and fell back to his original position before I could say anything.
I looked over my shoulder nervously before looking back to the brothers and making a small hand gesture to Dean, hoping he was the only one who could see me. Dean’s face reappeared on the other side of Sam again.
“It’s a demon!” I whispered, barely moving my lips.
His eyebrows cocked. “What?” he whispered back.
Sam’s shoulders moved and his head tilted to the side, like he was listening, which meant that he knew I was behind them, too.
“It’s a demon! The demon!” I hissed again, a little louder this time. “Help me!”
The man came out of the kitchen quicker than I had anticipated. And quieter too. Neither the brothers nor I had noticed. He had his hand over my mouth and an arm around my middle, dragging me out of my chair, before I’d even blinked. Sam and Dean scrambled up from the table.
But they froze. A dozen or more people were now standing, surrounding us, staring at us.
“Don’t think of trying anything,” the man holding me said.
The brothers had their hands up, surrendering. “Hold on,” Dean said. “Hold on.”
“Step back,” the man said and pulled me a step back with him. “She’s ours.”
Sam looked around. “Just let her go, alright? We just want her back,” he said.
I yanked at the man’s arm. It was a stupid move. The demon holding me let go of my mouth and grabbed my throat, strangling me slightly.
“Hey, easy!” Dean and Sam protested, more to me than him, I think. I shook my head the slightest bit.
The demons around us sneered.
I tried to hold back the tears. If I was going to go out, it wasn’t going to be in front of Sam and Dean. It wasn’t going to be in a room surrounded, helpless, lifeless as a ragdoll. I was going to fight my way out, singlehandedly if I had to. I was going to save them. They weren’t going to save me. I had never intended for them to come get me. I had planned on fighting my way out myself. I was going to save myself. I never wanted them to get hurt. But I’d prayed that they’d come. Because they would have anyway. I’d wanted someone to be there with me. To hold my hand after I’d fought and slashed and shot and exorcised, while I bled to death. So I knew without a doubt that I had had some people who cared about me. Loved me.
“Let them…go,” I whispered.
The demon hadn’t recognized me—not seriously—yet. Maybe this was just a ploy to get Sam and Dean. I was the decoy. I had to convince him that I hadn’t put two and two together yet.
“Oh?” The demon holding me smushed his face into my cheek. “Did you say something?”
“I said—” I choked and squirmed, feeling my face burn red.
The demons snickered. The man loosened his grip. “You were saying?” he sneered.
I pictured his expression: wrinkled and sarcastic. “Let them go. Please.”
Sam and Dean started. “We’re not leaving—”
“Shut it!” the man snarled. “They’re not leaving,” he hissed in my ear, “because you’re not leaving.”
“Let them go,” I pleaded, not taking my eyes from my friends. I couldn’t falter now. I had to keep going for their sake. I couldn’t let them die here.
No, Dean’s eyes begged. Don’t give up.
Sam’s puppy-dog expression was breaking my heart. But I just couldn’t give in.
“You can have me. Just let them go,” I repeated firmly.
I knew I was signing my own death certificate. I knew it deep in my gut. The man chuckled and his hot breath made me gag more than his hand had.
I think the demon knew it too. I think he finally figured it out.