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Twelve Steps

By Isabeau Marie

Drama / Horror

Chapter 1

The day John Winchester died was the day I lost the closest thing I had to a father. He reminded me what having family was like. Despite our differences and arguments, at the end of the day we still had each other. I can’t say he was the easiest man to get along with, but he always made sure I was cared for and that was more than I could’ve hoped for. My only regret is that I wish we had met under better circumstances.

I remember the heat of summer trying to control the evening chill. I remember shivering but not feeling cold; the hair on the back of my neck stood in warning. I felt large, sweaty hands yank my arm into the alley next to the bar I was leaving. It was pool night and I needed to head home before work the next morning, not that I wanted to. I never made it home. It happened in such a blur, the man shoved me into the building, pressing himself against me, panting in my ear.

“No one tells me ‘no.’ I know, a little mouse like you wants to go wild,” he whispered as he hiked my skirt up around my thighs and unzipped his jeans.

I recognized his voice belonging to a guy at the bar. My friend and I had played pool with him earlier. Not only had he lost the game, I also rejected his offer to buy me a drink. I whimpered against the hand that covered my mouth. The music from the bar poured out as I felt him shove himself inside me. Hot tears ran down my cheeks and I heard a different sound. Voices came closer to where I was being held, in that moment I was able to to fight back. He swore when I bit down as hard as I could.

“Help me! Somebody please help me!”

“Stupid bitch!”

He slammed my head into the brick wall and I was knocked out cold.

When I came to, I saw dark eyes in a hard face. The world shifted and my stomach expelled the bar appetizers I had consumed earlier. The man held a trash can up to me and pulled my hair away from my face. My body ached all over and the wracking spasms seemed like they would never stop. I couldn’t grasp what was going on around me. Where was I? Who was this man before me? What happened while I was out?

Finally, my body relented and I fell back into the pillows. I took a long look at the room around me. I was in a motel room with two queen sized beds, one of which I had been laid in. The room was simple, sage walls, a small table in the corner, another door leading to a bathroom, and another man. While the first man had been hard and steely, the younger man had soft green eyes and a chiseled face that had yet to be hardened by the world. My eyes briefly locked with his before I turned my attention back to the first man who looked about twenty years older than the other.

“Who are you?”

“I’m John Winchester. This is my son, Dean,” he gestured to the younger man leaning against the wall. I nodded trying to catch my bearings.

“Where am I? What happened? Where is my-?”

“Whoa! Slow down there. One thing at a time. You’ve had quite an… eventful night,” John said choosing his words carefully.

Everything rushed back. I had left before Sondra because she had decided the bartender was cute. I left alone knowing it was risky. Turned out my paranoia was justified. I could feel his body pushing against me, his warm breath on my cheek all over again. I heaved again and John was there waiting with the trash can. The sobs burst from my chest without warning.

“I know better! I set myself up! This is my fault! Oh my God!”

“How is this your fault?” John asked me gently.

“Because I know better! A-a-and I’ve trained to defend myself! I keep a knife in my purse for Christ sake!” I paused and wiped the snot from my nose. I know better.

The younger man pushed himself off the wall and sat on the bed across from John and myself.

“You were pinned to the wall. You did what you could,” he said. His green eyes focused intently on my face. I hung my head despite his comforting words. I felt ashamed despite the fact I knew he was right.

As much as I wanted to believe I could have kicked him or even flung my head into his jaw, he had been holding me just too tight.

“What’s your name?” Dean’s low voice sent a shiver down my spine. It was comforting and warm even though it looked like he worked hard, manual labor.

“Lara,” I mumble through my tangled hair. Then it dawned on me. These men, these strangers, had saved me. Then brought me to what appeared to be their hotel room. But why? Did they want a turn? I started to panic, my breathing becoming labored and my eyes darting all over the room trying to find an escape route.

“You have nothing to fear from us, Lara.”

John must have noticed the change in my demeanor because his voice was even gentler than before.

“How are you feeling now? Anyone we need to call?”

“Now you want to call someone? Why didn’t you call 911 to begin with? Wait, what happened to…”

My voice trailed off at that point. What did you call the man, for lack of a better term, who violates you? “Rapist” is the technical term for him, but I didn’t think that fully captured the extent of all the damage he had caused.

My hands fiddled with blankets covering me while I contemplated my situation. I felt the eyes of both men nervously flicker between me and each other.

“Well?”

Dean hung his head and glanced at his father who nodded.

“Ok, you’re right. We should have taken you to the hospital. But here’s the thing, we don’t do well with the police, and as for that son-of-a-bitch? We took care of him. You won’t have to worry about him. Now, who do you need to call?”

I stared at Dean in wonder. I was jealous. Here was a man who took care of things in his own way, he had freedom that I craved. He had been able to do to that slime ball what I couldn’t. Suddenly I was furious, why couldn’t I do the same.

“No one, there’s no one to call.”

“What about the girl you were with at the bar?”

“Sondra? No, we just play pool together. I’m tired, may I stay here?”

John looked at me thoughtfully, contemplating what was wrong with me and finally nodded.

“Thank you. I can sleep on the floor.”

“No, I will.”

Dean stood up, grabbed a pillow from the head of the bed and an extra blanket from the foot, and laid them down between the two beds. John had gone out to the car for their bags, leaving us alone. I heard him chuckle and sigh while fluffing his pillow.

“What?”

“I’m just trying to imagine you with a knife.”

“Oh.”

We laid in silence and I wondered if I had made the right choice by staying. I had done one reckless thing tonight, why not another? What could be worse than what I had already experienced? Maybe John and Dean were psychos and would finish me off.

The next morning, I awoke groaning, feeling disappointed that I was in the motel and that the previous night wasn’t a nightmare. I heard the men moving around, gathering their things, getting ready to leave.

“Take me with you?”

John looked startled at the question.

“No, Lara. You need to go home, find a way to move on. Besides your family would miss you.”

“I don’t have family. I hate my job; I have nothing to hold me here.”

“Why would you want to come? You don’t know us.”

“I know you saved me and didn’t have to. And,” I ducked my head embarrassed by this next part, “And I just have this feeling and the last time I ignored my gut I was attacked in an alley.”

“You good with that knife?”

“Dad, you can’t be serious!”

“Lara?”

“Pretty good. I took a couple of boxing classes, too.”

“Let’s get your stuff; we can pick more along the way.”

“Oh, thank you!”

I jumped out of bed grinning, maybe there was a way I could get through this with them.

“On one condition, you train and follow my rules.”

I nodded my head vigorously. If they were psychos, then I had to be as well, because what normal person runs away with strangers.

It took less than twenty minutes for us to get their car packed. I had been quite impressed by the black Impala waiting in the lot. The car looked like it had been taken care of over the years.

“So where are we headed first?”

“To pick up your stuff, I guess,” Dean said turning to face me from the passenger seat.

“Oh sure, which motel are we at?”

“The one on Main Street. What is it... Rusted Inn?”

“Okay take a left, like you’re headed back to the bar, then a right on second street.”

We drove in silence until they made the turn, watching the town I had lived in pass by. Nostalgia rolled over me and I wondered again if this was the right thing. I had had feelings of intuition before and things never went well when I ignored them. No, staying was not an option.

“It’s the yellow house on the left.”

John pulled over and I got out, walking up the drive for the last time.

“Do you want us to come in with you?”

“No, I’ll be fine,” I called over my shoulder to John.

The porch steps creaked as I made my way up to the door. I had only lived here a few months and it didn’t feel like home, nowhere really had. I passed through the threshold, closing the door behind me. I walked the hallway to my room feeling more tense as I went. Something wasn’t right. I shook my head, trying to calm myself so I could be in and out. I tossed a duffle from my closet onto the bed and started packing. Clothes weren’t a big thing; I wore the same five outfits. What concerned me were the books. Books had been the one thing in my life that were consistent, that I could always rely on. I decided I would bring my Nook and three of my favorites. I could always download the others later onto the Nook. I straightened to move to the bathroom for my other necessities when I heard tinkling from the kitchen. I peeked my head out of the room hoping it was just my imagination.

“Hi.”

I screamed when I saw the man from last night in front of me. He looked as if he hadn’t been touched and from what Dean had said, that was inconceivable. He rushed me shoving me back into my room onto the bed.

“You stupid whore!” He slapped me across the face twice before closing his fist and hitting me again.

I cried out, screaming for help, begging for him to stop.

“I thought we took care of you!”

Dean pulled my assailant off of me punching his jaw then kneeing him in the stomach. The man fell to the floor exposing his perfect face.

“What the hell! Dad!”

John rushed into the room, took one look at my attack and pulled a knife.

“John you can’t!”

As much as I appreciated the heroics, I couldn’t let them hurt him further. I wanted to call the police.

“Lara, this is one of those times I need you to take orders,” John said from his crouched position next to the passed out man on the floor, running the knife across the other man’s arm. The flesh sizzled and puckered causing me to gasp. The next thing I knew, John plunged the knife into the attacker’s heart.

“Wh-wha-what the hell! What just happened?”

“That Lara, was a shapeshifter,” said John.

“We’ve gotta go, someone may have heard us,” said Dean grabbing my duffle.

“I need my toiletries.”

I raised myself off my bed making my way to the bathroom. I came back a moment later with my supplies and dumped them in the bag. Next, I faced my standing mirror. It was made of oak especially for me, a gift from my grandfather. I slid open the face with the mirror revealing an array of knives and two styles of machetes. I heard Dean give a low whistle.

“Think we have enough room for all of them?” I asked turning my head to them, feeling a corner of my mouth tug upwards.

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