22 March 2010 @ 12:43 pm

 This is the last finished chapter so far. I'm still working on it, writing when life gives me the chance, so I'll be posting chapters as soon as they get finished. Enjoy!
 

 

Chapter 7


The Ballard house sat a couple miles west of town on a road that looked like it barely saw any traffic. It sat back away from the road on a good sized parcel of land that butted up against a large stand of trees, the house big enough for a growing family. It wasn’t exactly what either of them thought of when the term “domestic bliss” came to mind, but for the Ballard’s it obviously was.

Dean looked over the light blue two-story house as he stepped from the car, glancing toward Sam. “I’ll tell you one thing, Sammy. I don’t think I could ever live in a place like this.”

“Why’s that?” Sam glanced over the roof toward his brother. “Too quiet?”


I’m not a country person.” Dean replied. He looked across the nicely kept lawn and flowerbeds, moving for the flower-framed concrete path toward the house. “This is too close to living on a farm for my tastes.”

Sam straightened his tie as they walked toward the front porch. “You don’t exactly scream 'farm boy,' and somehow, I can’t see you in a cowboy hat either.”

“Exactly my point,” Dean commented. He motioned toward their surroundings, giving a half shrug as he looked at Sam. “This…this is someone else’s idea of life. And that‘s fine for them. Not my thing.”

Sam chuckled as they walked up the home’s porch, reaching for the doorbell. “You’re more New York City than Green Acres.”

“Damn straight.” Dean nodded as he heard footsteps approaching the door, flashing Sam one of his cocky grins. “I’ll take cops over cows any day, Sammy.”

The front door opened as a slender woman came into view, looking at the pair quizzically. “Can I help you?”

“Are you Sarah Ballard?” Sam questioned.

She looked to be in her early thirties, her brown hair pulled up in a messy ponytail as her hazel eyes examined the pair. Her grey shirt and jean looked dusted with flour as she stood looking at them in the doorway. She finally nodded, wiping her hands on the dishtowel she carried. “Yes. And you are?”

With practiced skill the two flashed their badges, Dean introducing them. “I’m Agent Mercury, this is Agent May. FBI. We’d like to ask about your husband’s disappearance.”

***


The kitchen they followed Sarah Ballard into was nice-sized and, to Dean’s enjoyment, smelled of pie baking. The counters were cluttered with baking supplies as the subtle smell of cinnamon and apples filled the air around them. The kitchen table was filled with a handful of cookie boxes and a few loaves of cooling breads, making the kitchen seem more like a bakery.

“I’m sorry about the mess. I’ve been busy helping with a couple funeral dinners. I‘m the one who gets the baking duties,” Mrs. Ballard said as she moved toward the kitchen island. She turned to the pair and motioned to the stools. “Can I get you some coffee?”


Only if it’s not any trouble.” Sam took a seat and gave the woman a kind smile as Dean sat next to him. “We’ll try not to take up too much of your time, Mrs. Ballard.”

She poured out two mugs of coffee and set them in front of the pair, shaking her head. “Please, call me Sarah. I’ve never been one for the formal name thing unless you’re one of my daughter’s teachers.”

Dean gave her a thank you nod as he took his mug, watching her step around the counter. “You seemed a little surprised to see us.”

“A little.” Sarah wiped up the flour from the counter, shrugging as she turned her attention back to the pair. “When everything started happening in town, I thought they completely forgot about Marc’s case. I hadn’t heard anything from anyone in months about it.”

“Well, it wasn’t completely forgotten about,” Dean said with a smile.

Sarah gave them a warm smile, relief showing in her eyes.

“So, Sarah, did Marc ever take off without telling anyone before?” Sam questioned, setting his coffee down.

“No. He’s always let someone know if he’s going to head off somewhere in case there’s a call,” Sarah answered calmly. “And he’s never been gone this long before.”

Dean exchanged a look with Sam, his brow knitting. “But he has taken off before?”

“On hunting or fishing trips with a couple friends. Either Dave or Ryan.” Her eyes moved from one to another as she answered, her hands resting on a bowl of apples in front of her. “But it’s not hunting season yet, and none of the guys called to plan a trip to the lake.”

Sam took a drink as a kitchen timer went off, Sarah excusing herself long enough to pull the pie she was baking from the oven. “The file said he went out with some buddies the night he disappeared.”

Sarah nodded as she set the pie on the counter to cool before she turned around. “Yeah. That was Dave and Ryan. Ryan just found out his wife is expecting, so Marc and Dave decided to take him out and celebrate. He called me to let me know he was going to be late.”

Dean looked toward his brother for a moment, his eyes falling back on Sarah. “But you waited up for him anyway?”

“Our daughter, Morgan, was sick, so I was up and down with her all night.” Sarah paused, taking a breath as she glanced at her wedding band. “But I would have waited for him anyway.”

Both men regarded the woman silently, their next question hanging heavy between them. They couldn’t help but catch the pain that still lingered in her voice as she looked at her ring. They weren’t exactly sure how to ask it without upsetting her further.

Sam measured his words, giving the woman a kind look. “I’m sorry to ask this, but do you know if your husband had any enemies? Anyone who would want to hurt him?”

Sarah shook her head slowly, sadness clouding her hazel eyes.

Dean watched the woman quietly, his eyes moving to scan the kitchen after a moment. He knew from experience that the outlook wasn’t good for her husband at this point. If he had taken off on his own then maybe there was a chance he’d turn up, but given the circumstances, that “maybe” wasn’t looking so good.

As his eyes scanned the room, they caught a glimpse of scribbled construction paper fastened to a small easel in the corner. “Who’s the artist?”

Sam glanced toward the corner as Sarah’s eyes warmed. “My daughter, Morgan. Can’t keep enough paper stocked sometimes with her.”

Dean turned back to Sarah as did Sam, nodding toward the easel. “How has your daughter been handling her father’s disappearance?”

“For the first couple days she wasn’t sleeping well; kept asking for him and asking when he was going to come home.” Sarah looked at them both, sighing slightly. “I knew what to say if he had been injured in a fire, but how do you explain that daddy disappeared and no one can find him?”

Sam glanced over at his brother, remembering how Dean had broken the news their father was missing when he had shown up at Stanford and gotten him. He couldn’t imagine how difficult it would be for a mother to explain to a little kid that their father was missing. However, it was a good bet the phrase “he’s on a hunting trip” never entered the conversation.

“Then Morgan made a new friend and she started doing better,” Sarah explained.

“It’s surprising how quick kids can bounce back sometimes.” Dean turned in his seat to get a better look at the drawing. “Is that a tree?”

Sarah nodded as Sam turned to really look at the drawing. “She’s been drawing a lot of tree pictures lately. All different shapes and colors. I think she’s trying to make her own story book.”

Sam took a long look at the drawing before he turned back, taking a drink of his coffee.

“And her new friend has some interesting stories for a 7-year-old. I think that’s where Morgan got her ideas for the tree drawings – from a story Nona told her.”

Dean’s brow knit as he turned back, watching Sarah start to clean up the counter a little more. “That’s a strange name for a little girl.”

“That’s what I thought when I heard it too.” She looked up at the pair as she paused her cleaning. “But I guess it’s her parents' call.”

Sam was silent for a moment as he stared at his coffee cup, his finger tapping the side of the cup.

Dean recognized the look on Sam’s face, turning to Sarah calmly. “So we heard about all those deaths in town lately. Weird about how many keep happening.”

“It’s a shame. In a town this size, everyone knows everyone. I went to school with Catherine, the woman who was electrocuted the other day. I couldn’t believe she died and I wouldn’t wish that way to go on anyone.”

Dean watched her clear the counter as Sam finally looked up from his coffee. He glanced toward his brother with a questioning look as Sarah’s back was turned, getting little more than a scowl in return. He simply shook his head as Sarah turned back around.

“Honestly, if these freak accidents keep up, this town won’t have anyone left,” Sarah muttered.

Dean’s eyebrow rose at the rather ominous comment as Sam cleared his throat.

“This may sound strange, but have you seen anyone... off around town lately?” Sam finally questioned.

Sarah looked at him a little puzzled, thinking for a moment before she shook her head. “I can’t remember seeing anyone.”

Sam reached into his jacket, pulling out some photos and placing them on the counter. “Have you seen any of these people?”

Dean’s eyes moved briefly from Sarah to the photos Sam had printed out before they left the motel.

While Dean was busy getting the burning flesh smell out of his suit, Sam had been busy printing out photos of the trio they were after. He had found every shot they had shown up in, every disguise they had used from the school girls to the little old ladies Sam had noticed in some photos. It took a little work to get the accident scenes they had showed up at cropped out and their faces zoomed in enough they could be recognized but he eventually did it.

Sarah examined the photos for a moment, nodding. “I don’t know who the other two are but that’s Morgan’s friend Nona.”

Sam and Dean exchanged glances as Sarah pointed at the blonde in the school uniform.

“You’re sure?” Dean questioned.

“Yes. She has the prettiest blue eyes of anyone I’ve seen,” Sarah replied.

Sam nodded slowly as he gathered up the photos, looking up at Sarah with a kind smile. “That’s all I was wondering.”

“Well, I think we’ve taken up enough of your time,” Dean said clapping his hands together slightly. “Do you think we can get the names of your husband’s friends so we can go talk to them? Maybe they can help shed some light on his disappearance.”

“Of course.” Sarah grabbed a pen and a scrap of paper nearby, writing down the information. “They usually hang out at a bar called Walt’s after work if you can’t find them at work or at home.”

The pair stood as Sarah handed Dean the paper.

“If we have any more questions or find anything out about your husband, we’ll give you a call,” Sam said with a nod.

Sarah walked them to the door, giving them an appreciative smile. “Thank you.”

They walked onto the porch, Sarah standing in the doorway as Dean tucked the slip of paper into his pocket. Sam was on the steps as Dean paused and took a deep breath, turning back.

“Sarah, we know you want your husband to come back, but it wouldn’t be right to give you false hopes.” Dean looked at the woman, his voice kind as he spoke. “It’s been 3 months since he went missing; that’s not exactly good news. We’ll see what we can find, but we can’t guarantee anything.”

Sarah didn’t say anything, but the look in her eyes showed that, sadly, she understood.

“We’ll be in touch.” He gave her a small nod as he turned and moved down the steps toward the driveway.

 

Sam followed as they moved to the driveway, his voice low enough for only Dean to hear as they walked the concrete path. “Looks like your hunch was right. Ballard’s disappearance is tied to those three showing up.”

“I wish I had been wrong, Sam.” He reached for the driver’s door as Sam made his way around the hood, glancing back at the house one last time before he slid behind the wheel. “I had really hoped I was wrong about this one.”

Sam looked at his brother as he shut the passenger door. “You think he was actually the first victim?”

The Impala rumbled to life as Dean turned the key, shaking his head. “I hope to hell not.”

“Well, we do know one thing for sure,” Sam muttered, Dean turning the car around and starting back down the driveway.

A smirk crossed Dean’s lips as he stopped at the end of the drive, seeing Sam pull out the photo of the three schoolgirls. “We’re looking for a girl named Nona.”

***


Urd watched the children on the playground from her spot beneath the large maple tree, her arms crossed over her chest as she leaned back against the trunk.

Any other day she would be out in the sea of faces, hidden in plain view. She’d be playing their games; talking with the ones who always seemed drawn to her no matter what. Any other day she would be out keeping Morgan company in the little girl’s hiding spot beneath the wooden play castle.

She sighed, tugging at the iron ring sitting at her neck. “Damn thing.”

Her gaze moved back to the schoolyard as she sunk to the ground, her shoulders sinking.

Children were her norm, her ‘element’. No matter how old she truly was or how humans thought to portray her, she was, in essence, childhood. All humans, no matter what race, sex, or religion, spent time with her; just as they spent time with each of her sisters. Keeping her from her element, even a little bit, was punishment.

She watched the children play as she flicked the ring with her finger, her eyes narrowing.

No matter what any of them did, those rings would not come off. Moreover, it was the most annoying thing in the world. It was heavy, it chafed against bare skin, and it was itchy. That wasn’t even including the whole servitude thing.

Urd took a deep breath as her fingers wrapped around the metal, letting it out in an almost too calm sigh. She took another as her grip tightened, the calmness from before slipping away quickly as she fought to remove the ring. Where once a calm figure sat, now was little more than the scene of a spastic, swearing body.

In the back of her mind, Urd was glad no one could see her current state, shifting effortlessly from young woman to old woman to schoolgirl as she tugged feverishly at her ‘necklace’. The fight probably looked like some kind of seizure as she pulled at the iron ring but the quick change she was doing would have been unexplainable. The human shift was one thing but when her elderly form became a golden-feathered bird, any human would have truly begun to question their sanity.

After a five-minute struggle, the bird lay unceremoniously on its back in the grass. The small body elongated and filled out, the wings thinning as the tip feathers curled into fingers. The beak opened as the face became human, the screech it emitted finding its verbal equivalent as Urd finally finished the change; the little girl lying on the grass in its place.

“FUCK!” Her composure in the small body was short lived as she threw a tantrum that would make a true 3-year-old proud, kicking and pounding at the earth beneath her. “Son of a fucking bitch.”

She pushed herself up after a moment, running a hand back through her hair as she calmed her breathing.

“I could have told you that wouldn’t work.”

“Shut up, Verdandi.” Urd scowled as she looked toward the playground, dusting herself off as she sat there. “Don’t you have some place to be loitering?”

The young woman grinned as she jumped from the shadows above, landing beside the girl. “Not at the moment.”

“Oh joy.” Urd fell back in the grass, closing her eyes as her sister sat down. “This damn thing feels like it's getting heavier.”

Verdandi plucked a blade of grass from near her leg, rolling it between her fingers. “Children shouldn’t swear.”

“Bitch.” Urd’s leg swept out and caught her sister’s knee, delivering a hard kick. “You forget who’s older.”

“Older isn’t the same as mature,” Verdandi muttered, rubbing her knee. She paused for a moment as she measured her words carefully. “You haven’t found anything in the books yet, have you?”

“No. I have not.” The tone was so matter of fact and the voice so young that Verdandi couldn’t help but look up to make sure she was talking to her actual sister. “Did you find the book she used?”

“I checked every book in that fucking house and not one of them was a spellbook. Bitch has a shitload of cookbooks, though.” Verdandi huffed as Urd raised an eyebrow. “I haven’t once seen her cook since we got here.”

Urd raked her teeth across her top lip as she took a deep breath, shaking her head. “Ya know, I think we have other things to worry about besides her cooking.”

“I thought it was interesting,” Verdandi mumbled.

“Fascinating,” Urd replied flatly. “Where’s Skuld?”

Verdandi looked toward the playground as the school’s bell rang and called the kids back to class. “Watching the morbid little power monger as we speak.”

“I’ve got one more place to look before I look elsewhere,” Urd explained, her features changing as she became a young woman. “I hope that source doesn’t let me down.”

Verdandi watched her sister flick the ring around her neck quietly.

“I know you want to ask, so you might as well. Skuld has already,” Urd commented, her fingers tracing the ring at her throat.

“We can’t leave this town. We’ve each tried and you know it. So what is this other source you plan on using?”

Urd stood and dusted her jeans off, looking at her sister. “I’ll tell you the same thing I told Skuld: it’s a human I met years ago. That’s all you need to know.”

Verdandi’s jaw set as she looked up at her sister, letting out an annoyed growl. “I’ve been walking this world for as long as you have, sister. I’ve come across my share of humans, and I will admit, I’ve had my fair share of favorites with these mortals. Hell, I still have my favorites. But I haven’t once come to the point of trusting one of them.”

“But that’s you.” Urd watched her sister stand, looking her in the eyes. “You should really try to see these humans for the individuals and not the group.”

Verdandi shook her head. “I haven’t seen any redeeming qualities so far.”

Urd opened her mouth to speak but found no voice, worry in her eyes.

The conversation abruptly stopped as the iron rings around their necks snapped tight, bringing the pair to their knees. Their fingers clawed at the rings, each fighting for air and freedom. They doubled over gasping for breath before they vanished.

They reappeared side by side in a darkened room, Skuld beside them. Each fought for a breath that didn’t come as slender fingers continued pulling at the metal that would not budge. The pressure at their throats continued until they each saw the telltale black spots before their eyes, letting up just as abruptly as it started.

The trio remained where they appeared, their gasps and coughs filling the air as they caught their breaths.

A new sound caught their attention in the darkened room, three sets of piercing blue moving toward the source of the footsteps.

The redhead that stood in front of them didn’t look so intimidating. She looked like the kind of person who could simply get lost in a crowd: medium build, with plain features that didn’t attract much in the way of attention. Even her clothing made her seem no less ordinary than anyone else, almost librarian-like.

She looked at the trio calmly as she crossed her arms over her chest, the wood and metal objects in her left hand catching the trio’s eyes briefly.

“I have a job for you.”


Chapter 8

 

 
 
 
Current Music: Train Train by Blackfoot
Current Mood: tired
 
 
( Read comments )
Post a comment in response:
From:
Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
User
Account name:
Password:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
Subject:
HTML doesn't work in the subject.

Message:

 
Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.