Title: 'On the Wind'
Summary: Written for fhionnuiscetine's 'Macabre March Madness' prompt o'er at sharp_teeth (whole shebang found here.)
What's that I thought I heard you say?
Lunarscape and cold winds on their way
Whistling banshee through the screen
Salt air and isolation sting
Melon seed-spitting wars
Toys lost in the sand
Innocence is scorched
Summer leaves its brand
-Carbon Leaf, 'Summer Song'
Characters: Sam, Dean
Wordcount: 1371 thus far (Part 1?)
Disclaimer: 'Supernatural' is not my creation. Would that it were. All characters used with great appreciation to Kripke and Company. Amen.
Warnings: Pretty tame for horror, I'm afraid. If I get around to Part 2, it'll get twitchier. Promise!
Author's Note: Beta? We don't need no stinkin' beta! Okay, I prolly do, so if you have concrits, please feel free to slap 'em down thar. (I'm particularly consterned about my use of tenses in the first paragraph.) For the still-unborn (as opposed to still-born!) Part 2, I might do an illustration instead; we shall see! Wow, I can yak.
It had begun as a good day, if not a particularly thrilling one. Dean had purchased steaks and cheap Mexican beer, though he had refused to indulge Sam’s request to grab limes for the Corona because “Real men do NOT fruit beer, Sammy.” And while Sam had spent the afternoon at the Kill Devil Hills’ Historical Society doing the perfunctory research on local siren and mermaid legends, Dean had been tooling around in the Impala, interviewing high school drop-outs who swore up, down, and sideways they saw a phantasmal woman who cried piteously and tried to woo people to their watery deaths. It was just business as usual in the life of the brothers Winchester. But in this moment, it was a good day.
Summer was dying, segueing into autumn with a sunset that sedimented in layers of crimson and pumpkin and slate. The wind held in it the damp bite of oncoming frost, and despite the shiver that intermittently raced up Dean’s spine, he indulged Sam’s wish to keep the windows of the beach house open. The kid always ran a few degrees hot, and since he didn’t get his limes…
The air also carried faint strains of music, the attempts of a local bar band to ape Foghat’s “Slow Ride”. But any stab at live classic rock was Dean’s cue to search out the source and drag Sam, metaphorically kicking and screaming, to an evening of whisky, chicks and bad cover songs.
“Sammy, you about done there? I’m not getting any younger. Prettier, maybe, but not younger.”
“Yeah, yeah, gimme a sec, Dean. If tonight’s anything like last night, they’ll be making cats howl until two in the morning. Cool your jets.”
“All work and no play makes Sam a dull boy.” Dean exhaled loudly and, collecting his coat and beer bottles, rocked up from the old couch. “I’ll be on the porch. Don’t drag ass, okay?”
The screen door slammed and rattled as Dean left. Sam heard his heavy footfalls on the stairs, then the chime of glass as his brother deposited the bottles into a bin for recycling, at the end of the sandy, unpaved driveway.
Sam had two more articles to skim, one about a local drowning and the other concerning a “woman in white” folktale. Certainly not-Foghat could wait that fifteen minutes. He vultured over his laptop at the small, scarred dining room table, eyes darting, face illuminated by the sterile, blue-ish computer glow. Moth-eaten curtains, propelled by the cold air from an open window, licked at the back of his neck and made the fine underhairs stand on end.
“Theodosia, huh?” He murmured as another Outer Banks ghost story unfolded on the screen. This sounded promising.
Controversial vice-president Aaron Burr had a daughter, Theodosia, who vanished, along with the schooner Patriot, in 1812. Likely the ship went down in a storm off the barrier islands, lost to history under the shifting shoals and sands, but there was also tell of a former pirate, one “Old Frank” Burdick, who confessed, on his deathbed, to boarding The Patriot and forcing Theodosia to walk the plank.
“She strode calmly over the side, dressed entirely in white…” Sam read aloud in a reverent tone, to match the peace that had fallen over the stilted fishing shack in Dean’s absence. The patience of Dean Winchester was solely reserved for stalking otherworldly creatures; when it came to waiting for Sam, Dean was a bundle of conspicuous fidgets and hums and any other articulation guaranteed to irritate his brother. It was their little ritual when Sam wouldn’t leave a stone unturned. The current silence, thick and cushioned by the fall of night, was not only a rare and wondrous event, it was…unnatural. Sam looked up from the laptop to the rickety screen door, and then the porch beyond. No shitty bar band, no disgruntled Dean, not even a single moth thrumming against the rusty mesh. Only the tender, monotonous whispering of the surf. And the wind. And a voice on the wind.
Wait. Sam stilled his breath and listened hard, head canted, eyes still staring into the black. He considered the voice might simply be pareidolia, or the mind’s natural desire to find familiarity in random stimuli, in this case sound. Seconds drifted by. There it was again. For real. Far off, unintelligible, but real. Sam stood up slowly. Three quiet steps, and he was at the door, creaking it wide and scanning for Dean on the porch. Nothing but an old rocking chair, an empty ash tray. He would call for Dean but the keening came more clearly now, a languorous hymn that sent gooseflesh over Sam’s bare skin when even September couldn’t.
The waning crescent moon, wearing its ashen glow from earthshine, did little to illuminate the dunes between shanty and sea. Here in this remote corner of the Outer Banks, North Carolina, there was neither city luminescence nor street lights, but on the up-side this allowed for Sam’s eyes to adjust quickly to the dark. He perched on the edge of the porch, leveling a gaze across the beach’s horizon as the freezing wind buffeted his hair every which way. This was not going to be even the slightest bit amusing if Dean was jerking his chain, hiding behind a copse of sea grass and moaning like a God-damned banshee.
Sam huffed in irritation and considered going back inside for his coat. Something shimmered. There, in the water, farther out than the whitecaps. A shimmer. Pale, bilious green, the size of a melon or a balloon. Maybe a jellyfish? But they didn’t really glow like that, did they? Sam descended the weathered wooden stairs, stopping but for an instant as the orb began rising from the sea to reveal shoulders, a fragile torso webbed with weedy filaments of light, a woman. And then something, someone else, moved from behind the far side of a dune and into Sam’s view, as solid as the ghost was ethereal. It took Sam exactly one blink to recognize the silhouette, with its barrel chest and bowed legs.
“Dean!” Sam bellowed, leaping the remaining stairs three at a time and hitting the cold, soft earth. Running through the stuff was torturous, affording little traction, shifting under his boots like a living thing hell-bent on thwarting progress. Dry quicksand.
Dean entered the surf, fully clothed. He didn’t look back, he looked only at the ghostly woman, who lifted her graceful arms to him. Blonde-white hair, like spun glass, wafted about her head as though caught in water, despite the fact only her lower half was submerged in the ocean, bobbing there, iridescent.
Sam shouted again, to no avail, his voice carried off by a sharp gust. He clawed up the steep dune that separated the house’s ground from the beach, long legs sinking. Nettles bit at the bare skin on his arms, but Sam was freezing cold and far too full of adrenaline to care. When he finally crested the ridge, Dean was waist-deep.
“No no NO, Dean!” Sam plowed through a half-rotted fence and threw himself down the other side of the dune, sand sticking to every clammy square inch. Rolling, sputtering, springing to his feet, he charged, gaining marginal purchase as the ground firmed up.
Then she opened her maw.
The ghost, gesturing with elegantly tapered claws, beckoned to Dean and began wailing. It was soft, at first, an almost lullaby. So heart-breaking it made Sam’s breath suddenly hitch in his chest. He stumbled at the edge of the surf. White foamy tide lapped at his boots.
Dean kept resolutely advancing. The water centered at his chest.
“No…Dean…” As Sam tried another step, the ghost’s song lost its melancholy. It bloated itself with desperate need, with longing, suffocating any other sound. It insinuated into every pore and tangled through his hair, somehow echoing incense at a funeral.
He could barely see for the hot salty water, welling fast and fat, in his eyes. Tears mixed with the sweat and the grit, stinging Sam’s entire face mercilessly, but he could do nothing save drown in the smothering misery carried by the ghost’s song. Sam dropped to his knees at the water’s edge and wept.