Part VI - Chapter 35 – Out of the Frying Pan

Ellie awoke in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. She sprang out of bed as an inexplicable shiver began to wind its way up her spine. She moved to the window of the hotel and saw a giant purple haze in the distance. Etiquette be damned, she left the corset and simply threw on a pair of trousers and boots before wrapping a shawl around her shoulders and ran out of the room.

As Ellie rushed down the hallway, she looked down at her keys momentarily debating if she should turn back to lockup her room. A figure in the dark stood in front of her, blocking her path. Ellie decided to not turn back and tried to step aside for the stranger but he only blocked her in the other direction. Too worried about the mansion, Ellie looked up to give the stranger a piece of her mind and perhaps a bloody nose, when the man began to whistle.

“Are you sleep walking, Ellie? I always assumed that in dreams, I’m with you, but I never thought you’d come greet me in your sleep.”

To Ellie’s relief, the nighttime jokester was only Brisco who was apparently unphased by his long journey. Ellie looked down at her own outfit and blushed. The fact that she had not changed into a blouse but stayed in the nightgown with the shawl, pants, and boots, meant that she must have looked ridiculous.

“Come here and give a guy some sugar, it was a rough drive,” laughed Brisco.

Brisco gave her a hug before she shoved him away and began to quickly move down the hallway.

“Is your car outside?” she called over her shoulder.

“Ellie?” called Brisco. “C’mon talk to me!”

Ellie kept rushing down the hallway and didn’t respond.

A confused Brisco, grabbed Ellie’s shoulders and turned her around. “Is this about your visit to Hollywood last year?” A confused Brisco asked.

Instead of answering, Ellie brushed off Brisco’s hands before asking, “Are the keys in the ignition?”

“Listen, I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings when I said everything was just ‘pillow talk, baby.’”

Ellie gave him a small shove away before erupting, “The ego on you! I haven’t seen you a year. In that time, I’ve continued to grow my own business, solved Pete’s mysterious bracelet, essentially lived my own life, but clearly I’m still so hung up on you that I would run out of a hotel in the middle of the night, dressed in a nightgown, simply to avoid you?”

“Well, you’ve got to admit, you were a bit cold on the call…”

“I don’t believe this,” muttered Ellie. She took a cleansing breath with her hands on hips to keep from shaking Brisco.

“Okay, so not cold. Distant.”

“Distracted away from your ego, perhaps?” Her eyes narrowed as Brisco’s silence grew. “Never mind. I don’t have time for this. Does your car need keys and if so, give them to me,” she demanded.

“You aren’t taking my newly acquired car anywhere without me,” Brisco retorted and pushed past her towards the exit. “You can fill me in on the way.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Viva ran into the kitchen to find Lenore and her staff clustered together with their backs toward the center of their huddle. There was a circle of salt surrounding the group and several members of the kitchen staff were holding various sized containers of salt and a few held a variety of kitchen knives. Lenore was in the center holding a shotgun and wearing a bandolier filled with rounds. Viva smiled to himself, of course, Lenore would have found a way to sneak a shotgun into the kitchen. Cover story be damned if the lives of others were at risk.

Viva then noticed that a large dark cloud was seeping towards the kitchen from the main house. There was another blanket of darkness drifting down from the belltower. It looked to be slowly following along the salt circle as if testing each spot along the salted perimeter. There was a consciousness to the darkness and if it was looking for a way around the salt to attack the staff gathered together under Lenore’s care.

Viva shook himself out of his trance as the darkness was now almost halfway around the group. Viva ran towards the small party and began shooting salt rounds at the darkness to keep it at bay long enough to allow him to join the group. He did not particularly aim at anything beyond the general direction of the sentient cloud which seemed to temporarily shift back. Viva jumped inside the circle and had just enough time to laugh in relief when someone managed to throw pepper directly into his eyes. Viva howled in pain.

“Scott!” Lenore’s voice shouted over the commotion. “One, we are throwing salt, not pepper right now. And two, he is clearly a person and not a ghost or part of the darkness!” chided an exasperated Lenore.

Viva reached his hands up to his eyes in an attempt to rub out the pepper and alleviate the pain in his eyes.

“Viva, don’t touch your eyes! You’ll only make it worse!” commanded Lenore and he felt her pull his hands down and away from his face. He felt a liquid begin pouring down his face and he assumed it was water. “I know it stings but as a cook, I have seen my share of accidental salt or pepper in the eyes!”

Since Viva could not see and was worried for the group’s safety, he began to anxiously explain, “Lenore, you need to ensure that there is a solid circle of salt around you. The darkness is looking for a way in!”

“Really, Viva?” muttered Lenore. She seemed to have finished pouring water down his face. “You think that after raising a boy, marrying a sheriff, running a town as mayor, and owning my own business that I can’t put two and two together in a time of crisis?” as Lenore finished scolding Viva, he could feel the cloth from her apron gently pat his face dry. “Okay, you can start opening your eyes.”

Viva began to slowly open and close his eyes. They were still stinging and he could feel tears brimming his eyes. “Don’t be cruel – let me rub eyes now, please?”

Lenore closed the water canteen that she had thought to bring into the circle before cautioning, “With all of us playing with salt, I wouldn’t touch your face, much less, your eyes right now. And that goes for the rest of you.” While her words addressed the group, her face and warning was more for Scott than the rest of the individuals in the circle.

In an attempt to change the subject, Viva mused aloud, “That’d be one fiiiine way to control people.”

“How’s that?” asked a nearby circle occupier.

“Well, if we were to maybe add some liquid to it, we might use pepper as a way to peacefully tame masses.”

“Sounds like it would limit people’s ability to protest peacefully or stand up for equal rights. That’s one coming thing that you should forget this instant!” snapped Lenore. Her nerves were frayed and any thought of danger towards peaceful protestors or anyone under her care, was too much for her in this moment. She took a deep breath before taking a mental checklist of her crew. Viva studied her and based on her look, her staff were all accounted for and she was working to determine a next plan.

Viva then looked past her figure and noticed that the dark cloud had indeed fully encircled the group. There was no top above them aside from the ceiling. Clearly the darkness could not pass below or above the circle. They were safe, as long as the circle remained unbroken. Just as Viva made the deduction, one of the girls in the group reached her hand towards the darkness in awe.

“Girl, how stupid are you?” asked Lenore incredulously as she yanked the girl’s hand back. Lenore then turned to the small group, “Everyone stay away from the salt circle. Keep your hands and arms inside. We want to stay away from the darkness and not bring it in,” commanded Lenore.

Viva stood up to take a better look at the group. These were all individuals who were terrified and none of them had ever faced this kind of conflict or evil before. He and Lenore would have a long night ahead in keeping this group safe and within the circle of salt.

Lenore and Viva exchanged glances and shared the same thought, “Hopefully help is on its way.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

It felt like an eternity to Ellie for Brisco to drive from the hotel to the mansion. Ellie’s heart sank to see her fears confirmed, the purple haze was indeed coming from the mansion. When they pulled up to it, they were able to see that the odd colored glow arched over the house. To Ellie, it looked like a beautiful dome filled with the kind of darkness that caused shivers through a soul.

“What is this?” Ellie asked in a whisper.

Brisco had pulled the car up to the train tracks next to the house as it felt hidden away from any main thoroughfares. He turned off the car and the two began to slowly walk towards the dome. The odd color surrounding the property made the mansion and gardens on the other side look blurred. Ellie could barely make out any movement on the other side. It could be a tree waving in the wind or a giant doing jumping-jacks, it was too distorted to clearly see what lay on the other side. To make things more eerie, the incessant hammering had finally stopped. For the first time in decades, there was silence at the Winchester property. It was as if the mansion was tucked away in a world all its own.

Ellie inched up to the material. It looked smooth, almost like a giant bubble or a smooth silk had dropped over the property. She held her hand a few inches above the surface and noticed that it seemed to move beneath her hand. Almost as though it was tracking her movement. It fascinated her and she began to move her fingers closer and closer towards the odd surface.

“Ellie, what the hell are you wearing?” came a familiar singsong voice.

Brisco and Ellie turned around to find Pete. He was leaning against the car, arms across his chest in mild amusement.

“Where did you come from?” demanded Brisco. Ellie moved to Pete to inspect him closer. “Pete, are you feeling alright? Are you sure that you should be walking around?”

Pete waved off Ellie before continuing, “Brisco County Jr. Either you are the slowest driver that I have ever seen or that car isn’t all that fast.”

“Are you saying you followed us?” asked Ellie.

“Not exactly. I was already walking this direction to see what all the random colors in the sky were about but caught sight of you on the way and thought it’d be more fun to sneak up on you.” He gave a taunting laugh that Brisco knew all too well.

“When did you wake up?” asked Ellie as she continued to study his face.

“According to Socrates, you showed him how to remove the bracelet, thanks for that by the way,” Pete added sarcastically, “and he left a note on my hotel room desk stating that he confiscated it. So, our dearly departed legal counsel had both the bracelet and my piece during his interview with Mrs. Winchester and has yet to return with either of my possessions.

“Socrates was going to find an excuse to spend the night and help with the search for James and the Book of the Dead,” explained Ellie.

“Oh, his note explained all that. In my weakened state, I tried to punch him but clearly, I missed. So, I have spent the post meridian hours recovering so that I can track our Greek philosophizing counsel and extinguish his life force.”

“When you say, ‘departed,’”- began a nervous Brisco.

“I mean, nearly departed. My plan is to get through this effervescent material and help Mr. Poole shuffle of this mortal coil.”

The duo elected to believe Pete’s comment was more as a jest, simply because there was a larger problem beyond interpersonal conflict at present. Was this material safe enough to pass through?

Brisco neared it to study it a bit more and try to find a suitable item to use as a test case before risking the safety of the trio. As Brisco began to study the ground around him for clues on if the dome was expanding and how it might be affecting the grass below, he heard Ellie shout, “DUCK!”

Brisco felt a sharp pain as though he was hit by a two by four and then a feeling of falling forward and melting through a vat of butter before darkness consumed him.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Brisco woke up to see a shimmering sky above him. It was a beautiful display of colors above but it lacked a single star. Clearly, he had fallen to the other side of the dome. He gently sat up and looked back towards where he had come in. He was looking at two shadowy figures but the other side looked dull, like a fogged mirror.

“Are you alright?” the question came from a muffled and distorted voice. It was low but based on the distortion, it could have been for either of them.

“Pete, what the hell?” demanded Brisco.

“Is it safe to come through?”

“Aside from wrist pain-“

“If you are trying to say long sentences, we can only make out one word out of every five.”

“I said, come on through. The water’s fine.”


“YES!” came Brisco’s emphatic response. The pounding in Brisco’s head was still a bit overwhelming so he stayed on the ground as he watched the two figures cautiously pass through the material. As they continued to slowly make their way through, Brisco became aware of the growing pain in his wrist. As he inspected it, he noticed that his wrist was bent the wrong way. Whatever battle that he was about to face would be without his right hand.

“Perfect!” muttered Brisco in sarcasm.

When Pete and Ellie finally made it through, they had both brought all of the guns and ammunition that Brisco had loaded in the car from S-Mart and a box of dynamite from Michael and Fiona.

“What the hell did you do to me, Pete?”

“I theorized that the best method to cross over to the other side was to implement an inanimate or empty object.”

“That’s why I was looking for a tree branch or a rock-“ grunted Brisco.

“I figured your head would be as empty of an inanimate object as the next,” smirked Pete.

At Brisco’s glowering stare, Pete grinned and continued, “You never know what to expect when it comes to Pete Hutter. And let’s be honest, that’s what you love about me.”

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