Part VI - Chapter 32 - Shop Smart, That's S-Mart

On the highway

Brisco had pulled over to catch a couple hours of sleep when he heard someone tap on the driver’s side window. Brisco lifted his hat which had been shading his eyes as he napped but the angle of the sun made the individual’s face a mere shadow. Brisco rubbed his eyes in an attempt to better shake off the grogginess and better see his visitor.

“Hello, Brisco-“ came a familiar singsong greeting.

“Pete, you idiot! You’re supposed to be in San Jose!” growled Brisco as he sat up, frustrated at Pete’s lack of concern for James.

“I am there,” came the riddled response.

Brisco gave a frustrated groan as he was too tired to process riddles and shoved the door open. Pete only had moments to move out of the way or he would have been hit by the door. Brisco didn’t care and almost wished he had hit Pete for waking him.

As Brisco got out of the car, he got a better look at Pete. Pete looked aged, old even. “Has the bracelet aged you since the last time I saw you?”

Pete waved his hand to dismiss the question. “Just a different point in my time stream.”

“Time stream?”

“Essentially, I’m a future version of the Pete you know. I have come back in time to help you protect the group. I would hate to not make it to this moment in my life because you screwed up.”

Brisco pinched the bridge of his nose before asking what felt obvious, “If there’s danger, why not just hop to that point in time and take everyone out of there?”

“Long story and most of the science will go over your head.”

“Try me,” retorted Brisco.

“Alright. Due to the high EMF at the Winchester Mansion, it causes to much friction with the time and space dimensions of the bracelet. Only instead of the contradicting frequencies creating a wormhole, the mansion acts like a deterrent. If I were to try to teleport in, I would forcefully repel me.”

“So, James can’t get in?”

“Unless the mansion’s EMF locked onto him and pulled him in,” responded Pete, ominously.

Brisco leaned against the car and crossed his arms across his chest. He was much too tired to follow Pete but asked anyway, “How does a mansion yank someone with a time traveling bracelet to itself? It’s not like houses have souls.”

“Most don’t,” shrugged Pete.

Brisco couldn’t decide if the shrug signified a lack of knowledge or an evasion to the question but decided to change tactics. “Couldn’t you just teleport near the mansion and get everyone out?”

“No, because that’s essentially where my younger version is.”

“And that’s bad?”

“Do you want to risk ripping a hole in all of time and space?”

“Why can’t you just teleport outside of town, telegraph Socrates and tell everyone to get out?”

“Partially because this has already happened and I am here to ensure that everything goes according to plan. And, as I mentioned earlier, I need to ensure that you don’t do something stupid and kill me-“ Brisco opened his mouth to protest but the older man held up his hand with an authority that forced Brisco to be silent. “And because I know that James is at the house. Right now.”

“When I called Ellie at the hotel she said that no one had seen a James at the house or even in the town.”

Pete was losing patience and lectured, “Listen, County! I can either give you all of the answers or I can cut to the chase and give you what you need to know! I have only got so much time before I need to move on.”

“Aren’t you strapped to a time machine? Doesn’t that give you have all the time in the world?” asked Brisco sarcastically.

“Have Ellie explain time travel to you over drinks in a week or so,” commented an annoyed Pete. However, something about Pete’s response created a certain feeling of relief came over Brisco. “So, Ellie and I are going to live through this. Anyone else?”

“County, get a pen and paper because I’m outta here in about 30 seconds and here’s what you need to know – shop smart. S-Mart. It’s in the next town and it will gear you up for the Winchester Mansion. You are going to fight ghosts and one of the best defense options are rounds filled with salt. Salt is the only deterrent that will keep you safe from the darkness. The book of the dead will be opened and all kinds of evil will be let loose, so stick together as often as possible.”

A plethora of questions filled Brisco’s mind as he listened to Pete’s crazy advise but the only one that he could muster was, “Why can’t I just wire the group that the book can’t be opened?”

“You can try. But know that in my past, the book has already been opened.” Suddenly, Pete disappeared and left Brisco alone in the middle of the road trying to sort out Pete’s odd shopping list and cryptic advice.

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

Brisco rushed to the next town and found a telephone to call the group at the hotel. The hotel desk rang for several minutes before picking up and a desk clerk was able to connect Brisco to Ellie. Brisco hurriedly told Ellie about his encounter with the Pete of the future. Ellie was silent for a few moments after Brisco apprised her of the situation.


“I’m processing Brisco. Lenore and Rachel are repacking to move into the house, so I’ll have to see how I can help them carry guns or salt around without blowing their covers. It’s not like a maid and a head chef can carry guns while making beds or throw salt around the bathroom. Besides, Viva and Whip are already working at the house and won’t be back until tomorrow. I’ll have to figure out how to get the boys their shotguns as well.”

“What about Socrates? Socrates could smuggle in guns. Although, he’s usually nervous around guns, he redefines gun-runner,” laughed Brisco sardonically.

“Leave Socrates to me. Have you found this S-Mart yet?”

“Not yet because I wanted to talk with you first. Warn you about the Book of the Dead.”

“I’ll have to see if I can do some research on it so we know what to look for.”

“Look for?”

“Brisco, that place has over 100 rooms and there were numerous shelves and areas for books to lie around on. We have to know what it is to destroy or protect it before it gets opened.”

“What are you going to tell the group in the meantime? Stay away from books?”

Ellie paused for a moment before stating, “They should at least keep an eye out for any books that have razor sharp fangs and will attempt to bite your hand if you don’t open it correctly.”

“That would certainly be a telling sign,” came the laugh from Brisco. For a moment, he was able to forget the troubles and stress and just talk with his friend.

“I’ve missed this,” Brisco stated as he looked down at his feet and shuffled them slightly.

“You say that to all the girls.” Ellie’s eye roll was almost audible over the line.

“No really. You were the girl that I could talk to about Professor Wickwire, about hunting Bly’s gang, about working for the government.”

“About all of your girl problems?”

“Sometimes, yeah,” Brisco admitted.

Ellie didn’t reply and the silence on the other end was uncomfortable for Brisco.

“Did I lose you?” observed Brisco.

“Thanks for the update but really think I’ve gotta wrap up this call,” Ellie quickly stated to change the subject. “Besides, I’ve got to get the ladies ready before they move in and I’ve got to figure out how to pack ammunition shells with salt.”

“I’ll see you soon.”

“Sure,” came the short response from Ellie and then the line clicked.

As Brisco replaced the receiver, it dawned on him that he didn’t ask why she was not moving into the mansion as well.

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

Brisco found the general store easily enough although the sign was a bit odd. It looked like it used to say “Shirley’s Marketplace” but it was in the process of being painted over. The only thing that remained was “S Mart.” From the outside, it looked like your average town store and seemed like an odd detail for Pete to emphasize.

As he purchased shot guns and ammunition, Brisco decided to ask the manager about the sign.

“Shirley is my departed wife,” explained the manager as he calculated Brisco’s total.

“I’m sorry to hear about your loss.”

“Not dead, son. Just departed,” the man stated it so matter-of-factly that it threw Brisco for a moment. “It’s the West, son. Sometime a marriage sticks. Sometimes it don’t. But when she took off, I decided that I was going to paint over the name.”

“And you decided on S-Mart?”

“Actually, I hadn’t decided on anything.” After a moment or two, the man looked up from his calculations and asked, “What’d you say?”

“Well, right now, the guy outside has only painted over some of the letters. The remaining letters up there are ‘S-M-A-R-T.’” As Brisco began to dig money out of his billfold, he quoted Pete, “Shop smart. That’s S-Mart.”

“You know that’s got a nice ring to it. Can I keep it?”

“Sure,” responded Brisco as he waved to the merchandise. This conversation was intended to be polite but already felt like a waste of time with the possibilities of Pete’s other clues being just within reach.

“So, how much is the damage?” inquired Brisco.

“Huh?” the man seemed to emerge from a daydream about the success of his shop following the name change. “You sir have just saved my life and my business!”

“I don’t know about that-” responded Brisco, mildly entertained by the hyperbole of the little shopkeeper.

“For you, 50% off!”

“Huh,” commented Brisco before he added, “if that’s the case, I need a few more boxes of ammunition and an extra few guns.”

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