crowroad3 (crowroad3) wrote,
crowroad3
crowroad3

Fic: Gloryland

Title: Gloryland
Characters: Sam and Dean and Lucifer and Sam's visions
Rating: PG
Word Count: 2300
Warnings: child endangerment & disappearance
Spoilers: S11, 11x9, 11x10
Notes: Written for spn_summergen.Thanks to the mods!
So many thanks to laughablelament for conversation/inspiration.
Title from Gloryland.

Summary: Children are disappearing in West Virginia. Visions aren’t always wrong.

On AO3


Children were disappearing all over in those days, Missouri said. But that was a long time ago, before Sam knew—blood, or god, or blood. Before they knew anything. Before there was a devil, before the earth opened into heaven, hell.

Children are disappearing all over, the witch in West Virginia said, it’s always been.

Sam’s clothes still reeked of hell-border and craft, of devil’s breath.

(It was me, Lucifer said, it was always me.)

It’s not the first time, said the psychic witch, and made a sign in the air.

She kept in her barn a barn owl.

*
The Bunker goes heart-shaped, sometimes, contracts. That’s when Sam laces up, wipes the flop sweat and goes--healthy salts, winds, exertion and the prairie, the stone road and the miles under.

That’s when he hunches, sweat-stained, pinches his nose over the empties, elbows patched-out on the table, lets Dean roll in to eye-question, brew some up black.

I thought it was god, Sam says, simple, plain like linens on line, way they can’t often speak to one another, and Dean’s face goes laundry-day, just like that.

I really thought it was--

Yeah Sammy, I know.

Dean made food, in the aftermath of hell, sliced up bananas; the peanut butter was all-natural. There was a storm coming up outside, freehand lightning, electric memory. Sam kept his mouth in a straight line and listened--

Dean doesn’t get it; he’s never longed for god. Or not in the same way, which isn’t to say not at all--

listened for angels in the concrete.


*
When you’re disappointed, dead-terrified: a case. Sam dreams of his brother’s breath; arms bracing him maybe, of the children they once were, might have been.

Chokes awake kicking, thinking the earth might have eaten them long ago, or what if it had, forest or prairie, what if it had.

The earth is a cage—ribs, jails, strata.

It holds us, its children.

That’s the voice in his dreams; that’s what Dean wakes him from, pets him once, clavicle-squeeze, puts him to the map and the mountain counties, speaks the names:

Goshen, Heavener Grove, Ivy, Five Forks, Hemlock, White Oak.

Six kids, gone in thirty days. Crystal Givans, seven, the latest. Rocky Ford.

Sam washes the sleep out with spring water.

They roll out into the cold Kansas dawn, turn east for the hills.

*
Cas could always sorrow with the best of them.

Random thing to think, on the road, when they’re rolling, West Virginia-ing:

Farmers’ markets, Sam says, lots.

Slaw dogs, Dean says, and some kind of pepperoni thing—it’s, like, the state food.

Mushrooms, Sam says.

Yeah, they’re never gonna agree on road eats, on what states have best to offer.

You hungry at all, Dean says, eyes a mile mark. Baby still shudders a little these days, way she did when the Dark broke out, when they unlocked her.

Could be some rogue ghouls, Dean says, gives the seat a pat, better not be fairies.

Buckhannon, Sam thinks, Knobly Peak, the graves at Hinkleville--and Sago Mine, and Upper Big Branch, where forty souls, more maybe, were lost to the earth, and only one survived.

*

There are weeping women all over the state, not just at that grave in Parkersburg, far to the west.

There’s a ghost, up Mineral way.

Here: frantic parents and farm food, cold creeks and deeper shade. Town hall that peaked in the sixties, peaks now in clouds out of the damp gap.

Claws and heart-shaped faces, someone says. Red eyes, says another, I saw ‘em. Tobacco-breath, big wings,moving lights. Banshee-shrieks.

Laundry whistles on lines, ghost-sheets. The air smells like lightning and shale.

These people have read a lot of local lore, Dean says, deflects Sam’s side-eye, made themselves a nice lore casserole.

You think it’s some kind of psychic projection. Like a collective—

Hallucination. Yeah, maybe.

Like a sacrifice, Sam says. There’s a sweatlet between his shoulder blades, little tributary.

The earth is a cage.

We are its children.

You OK, Dean says, gives him the eye again. It’s not hot out here, far from.

Not demons, weres, no fairy-tale oven-stoker.

Not a serial, no evidence. Their children just wandered out into the dark, changeling-ghosts, and disappeared. Maybe no monster they’ve known.

The land’s been hollowed out, it gets hungry; people see red eyes, women weep.

Sam says yeah, I’m fine.

Shakes it off.


*
Crystal Givans was born on a Wednesday, with a single red hair and eyes too dark to be blue. Crick-eyed, her mama said, and named her for one she knew as a girl.

You boys ain’t FBI, she says, plucks a piece of down from Sam’s suit, but the government’s not gonna find my girl now, is it.

Her house smells burnt; her husband, Ray, weighs his shotgun, heavy-hearted.

We’re hunters, Sam says, doesn’t know which way she takes it.

Dean raises an eyebrow, cups a creased photo (Crystal, five then, blackberry patch) in his palm.

She was just gone in the morning, her mama says, like tears or the moon.

Been a lot darker around here, lately, says her mama, and it’s not like we ain’t used to it.

Yeah, Dean says, we know.

We’re gonna get her back, Dean says.

Sam sits, doesn’t think why, takes her mama’s hand.

*
This is the Cardinal Motel. Old-school. Dean drinks, lightly (he picked up a six of Almost Heaven, looked sheepish, set it back down, grabbed a can with a mothman on it, shuddered, went for an old reliable), looks out at the lot with its dusked-up edges. Paler, Sam thinks, his brother is, even the smile less sure.

Sam lies down and dreams of earth, its twisted roots, its prisons.

Sam wakes up hot, stung in the third eye.

(It was me, Lucifer said, it was always me.)

Aftertaste of the devil is cold cinnamon, coal, ice-burnt coffee dregs, leaves you blackened as trunks, flattened for sentinels.

Sam, Dean says, from the other bed.

Sam sits up, flips the laptop up, open.

All of these kids, Sam says, born on Wednesdays.

Doesn’t say: there’s a voice in there, in my head, again-- not god, not the devil.

I’m listening.

*
The state’s dark with idled mines. Closings and shutterings, out-of-works.

Upshur, Sam says, the county, founded by two brothers, soldiers, who lived in a sycamore, hunted rabbit ‘til they ran out of ammo, left the woods to find out the war had passed them by.

Dean laughs at that, fusses with the radio, says, too many ghosts and no freaking leads. Dean drives them out to Leer and Three-Fork, where they boot up, walk the bank.

Buckhannon, where Crystal’s daddy fished muskie and sunfish, where they track for nothing in the foothills of the Alleghenies.

In the morning Route 4, Flatwoods to Ireland, a Shoney’s, biscuits and gravy, the ultimate breakfast buffet, Dean says.

Burnt coffee.


*
Sam drinks soft water at Crystal’s mama’s table, breathes in the scent of fire.

Crystal could call the crows home when she was three, her mama says, see weather before it came on.

There was a blue-tick puppy followed her home; he’s a hound now.

You’re not gonna believe this, Sam says, takes a sip, but—I’m hearing something, a voice; only lead we’ve got.

I believe you, Crystal’s mama says, just—

Find her.

*
Annis Birch has music on her porch at night, and fireflies.

Songs about strawberry roans, whiskey before breakfast, walking in Jerusalem.

Oh, she says, when Sam pulls up, been waiting on you.

The house is bible-black, ash-color roof.

Don't you bring that sorrow here, boy, Annis says. Flowers and vines twine up her face.
Oak blossom, broom, meadowsweet maybe, from the old country.

How did you—Sam says, did you speak to me, in my dreams.

These hills like their gospels, Annis says, winks.

You’ve met an angel, she says, more than one.

You’ve died, and will again.

There’s more, she says, much more.

Yeah, Sam says, there is.

You think we don’t know darkness, these hills, Annis says, but we’ve always had her here. Just now things are waking up. The earth is.

What things, Sam says, wonders at the prick of his knife, the weight of his weapon, the way spells weigh on the memory, the spice-burn of hex.

There are candles guttering in Annis’ fissured windows, faint singing, holes in the ground and sun-don’t-shine.

You know where she is, Sam says, Crystal, maybe the others.

This is gloryland, Annis says, people love their god around here, and hate the devil, but not all the witches are burnt, natural or borderer.

I can see that, Sam says.

There’s foot-a-night vine, there in the yard, dried out. There’s an owl out in the gray barn.

I can help you, Annis says, come in.

*
Pale. Dean’s face; light at the Cardinal Motel.

Who is she, Dean says.

You’re saying you just knew which house was hers, Dean says, and you heard her talking about …cages and the earth, in your sleep. You knew her name.

Yeah, Sam says, and there’s the pinch between the eyes, old familiar.

I don’t like it, Dean says, grouses really, into his cup.

We don’t need another witch right now.

Yeah, Sam says, I know.

We got no collar for this one, Dean says.

Doesn’t say: we don’t need more voices, either, or visions.

No, Sam says, and I don’t trust me right now either. But--

Trust you anyway.

Yeah, Sam says.

*
All of these kids, Sam says, born on Wednesdays. Their fathers had worked the earth, ‘til the mines closed. Six of them’ll never be seen again, he knows it.

But this one.

Crystal’s sister died when she was two, born too soon.

Her mama said: I tried to tell her she was alright, told her save her tears, she weren’t different enough to disappear too; I tried to tell her she’d grow up strong, mountains in the blood and all.

Winchesters: don’t got mountains in the blood, but they got something.

Or I do, is what Sam thinks, maybe says aloud, never have shed it.

*
Sam drives slow, blinks against the sundown.

Annis makes him tea, bloodroot.

I can take care of that headache, she says.

Devil’s afterburn, she says, that’s what it is; drink this.

Were they all special, these kids, Sam says; wants to say, like we were special, all those years ago, demon-touched; hunted, haunted.

Not in the way you mean, Annis says.

I can almost see them.

There’s a way, Annis says. It’s not too late.

What’s that, Sam says.

You know.

Blood, Sam says.

Bleed then, Annis says, bleed.

And spreads out the map.

*
They make six cuts, true enough, set flashfire to the yellow paper.

Dark veins to dark veins; anthracite, psychic ley lines.

Sam bleeds.

When Dean finds him on Annis’ porch it’s going slow earthquakes, rivulets over the scorched map, blood-branches snaking to the idled mine, big sycamore just by.

Jesus shit, Dean says.

Takes Sam’s cold shoulders, shakes his head at the last drops.

Catch those, Annis says, points to the map, and go quick.

Not, Dean says, a big witch fan.

Doesn’t say: stopped this kind of flood, too many times.

We gotta go, Sam says.

Your brother is, Annis says, presses into Dean’s hands a leaf, two, bitter and broad.

They wrap Sam’s opened veins; drive, drive, let Baby shake them out at the rusted sign, mine: tunnel here.

Dig Crystal out of the roots, from under the big tree, humus-haired, breathing.

*
Sometimes, Annis said, the earth eats its own.

They came out of the earth, shed what passed for the cage, wondered where Cas had gone.

(It was me, Lucifer said, it was always me.)

Dean sliced bananas, made some kind of homegrown sandwich. Said Sam should go to bed. Said Sam should shower, lie down.

Says now: I might have fallen for the darkness but you –

(Had to see him again. Had to say no. Had to think you were wrong.)

--nearly bled out, Dean says, again.

He’s never longed for god, not in the same way. But these hills love their their gospels, their ghosts.

Six empty graves, weeping women and one live girl, kicking. Crystal Givans, cuckoo-eyed and wild, to her parents’ arms. Songs on the porches of houses, and down at the mill.

Stands of basswood and ash; a roadside cross on Route 4.

Nightjars, the call of a mark to its maker, curses to the earth.

Folded bills on the nightstand, Cardinal Motel, flickery tealwing neon.

I was wrong, Sam said, when they got back from hell.

The earth is a cage—ribs, jails, strata.

It holds us, its children.

*
Dean cleans him up, makes him drink. Drives them at dawn to the burnt house.

Zep sings “Gallows Pole”, the way folks on these porches sang about friends in eternity, just voices howling at the dark, harmonies worrying, houndpack, at the beyond.

Annis’ house is boarded up. Daytime fireflies.

Barn owl nest fallen to dust, out in the barn.

Witches, Dean says, lights up the old map.

Thank you, Crystal’s mama said, and gave them back their hands.

*
Oh, boy, Missouri said, when she swept Dean’s soles off her table, all those years ago. If Sam had listened harder he would have heard her tell it: you don’t need any blood other than your own to see, to see.

Don’t you bring that sorrow here boy, Annis said, don’t you do it.

The owl called in the barn.

You’re gonna find your god, boy, one of these days. You’ll see.

*
Ohio and Kaw, Allegheny, Mississsipi; land rises between in hills and sinks and darks and hollers, goes flat, flat, ironed out in miles and miles, rivers, dreams.

That was, Sam says, and hears—

god and the devil, demon maybe, an angel—

the whole history of his burnt blood.

You’re not wrong, Sammy, Dean says, turns the radio down.

You were never wrong.

Dean’s hands rest in what might be prayer, three and something, there on the wheel.

And you’re not wrong now.

Sam leans into the window, eye to the sky.

The road, heaven and earth, hell and heaven, gloryland, rises, as it will, up to meet them.
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