SUPERNATURAL returns Friday, Sept. 23 9/8c.
“You boys up for a drive to Colorado?” Bobby Singer asked in Dean’s ear. Dean punched a button to put him on speaker.
“Machete Mime’s in our rearview. What’s in Colorado?” he asked.
“Clayton Falls,” Bobby said. “Giant lizards. Headless horseman. Hit-and-run car with no driver. Definite weird-meter stuff.”
Sam got up from his bed to position himself closer to the mic.
“Mass hallucinations?” he said.
“Wasn’t no hallucination that run down a kid fresh outta high school.” Bobby responded.
“We’ll check it out, Bobby,” Dean said, ending the call. He turned to Sam. “I’ll get coffee. Wanna see what you can find online before we hit the road?”
Sam nodded. “Sure. Wi-Fi hotspot here’s not half bad.” As he opened the laptop and powered it on, he added wistfully, “Now that I can sleep again, I can’t find the time.”
Dean paused in the doorway on his way out.
“Sleep’s overrated, right?”
Several hours later, the sun was up, the coffee was long gone, and Dean was behind the wheel of the Impala, riding I-80 West out of Nebraska. In the passenger seat, Sam had the laptop computer open to review the pages he’d downloaded for offline viewing before they’d left the motel.
Dean glanced over at him. “Anything?”
“Not much more than what Bobby gave us.”
“So Spielberg wasn’t in town filming giant lizards?”
“Homeless man complained to a beat cop that he was chased by a giant Gila monster.”
Dean raised an eyebrow. “Homeless guy?”
“That’s what it says. Gavin Shelburn.”
“Anyone else see Godzilla?”
“Maybe chalk that one up to Gavin hitting the sauce a little hard.”
“Maybe,” Sam said noncommittally. “Steven Bullinger, eighteen, hit-and-run victim. Head trauma. Pronounced dead at the scene. Before he died, Bullinger told a witness the car had no driver.”
“You did say ‘head trauma?’”
“Yeah,” Sam said, conceding the point. “But… another witness tried to grab the license plate number on the car.”
“Okay, that one sounds clear-headed.”
“She says the car disappeared. There one minute, gone the next.”
Dean tapped the steering wheel. “Phantom car. Okay. What about the headless horseman?”
“Apparently he chased the daughter of the chief of police. Lucy Quinn.”
“So we got something.”
“Something,” Sam agreed. “Dean, I’ve been reading through old articles. Lot of press about a garment factory explosion six months ago. Gas leak. Partial building collapse. Trapped a lot of people. Sprinklers malfunctioned. Those who weren’t killed by the initial explosion and fire died from smoke inhalation.”
“Thirty-two dead. All locals,” Sam said. He clicked on another saved page. “Lots of editorials. Worst catastrophe in town history. Human interest stories about each of the victims and their families. Petitions for a memorial. Public debate about the location of the memorial. At the site of the explosion or opposite the town hall. Articles on the bidding and construction. Looks like the town hall location won.”
“Public grieving,” Dean said. “Think there’s a connection?”
“It’s something to consider.”
The Winchesters reached Clayton Falls by early afternoon and, after a brief stop at the Liquor Barn, checked into the StarBrite Motel, their room an instant sixties flashback with framed flower-power prints on the walls, tie-dyed pillowcases, bedside lava lamps, peace sign drawer handles and mirror decals, and a colorful beaded curtain doorway for the closet.
Clutching a brown paper shopping bag in one arm, Dean took in the rainbow color scheme with a frown.
“Place looks like they provide LSD tabs instead of complimentary soap,” he said.
“Might explain some of the weirdness in town,” Sam replied with a shrug.
Reaching into his Liquor Barn bag, Dean removed three bottles of whiskey and two six packs of beer, lining them up on the dresser beside the secured television.
“Planning a bender tonight?” Sam asked.
“No,” Dean said, determined to avoid any further mention of his evaporating alcohol dream. “This is my… strategic reserve.”
“Worried about a shortage?”
“Keeping my options close at hand. Timesaver. That’s all.”
“Alright,” Sam said, smiling as he nodded. But he let it go.
They changed into their FBI suits and drove to the municipal building to check in with the chief of police. Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” was playing on the local classic rock station when Dean turned off the Impala’s engine.
They climbed out of the car and crossed the parking lot. The sky was a crisp blue with a staggered line of cottony clouds. To the west, the Rocky Mountains loomed but their edges seemed muted, slightly out of focus.
“Look,” Sam said and pointed to a curved brick wall, five-feet high, fifteen-feet wide, with flagpoles at each end, one flying the US flag, the other the state flag of Colorado. The concave front of the wall faced the brick municipal building, with a lofty white clock tower rising from the middle, on the other side of Main Street. “The curved wall’s the memorial. I recognize it from the online photos.”
They circled around to the front of the memorial. Mounted in the center of the wall was a bronze plaque which listed details about the explosion. On either side of the main plaque were smaller bronze plaques, side by side, with portraits of each of the victims, their names, ages, birth and death dates. The death dates were identical. At the base of the wall fresh bouquets of flowers, along with stuffed animals and framed portraits of the victims or their relatives, filled the open space and spilled out onto the sidewalk.
“This new every day?” Dean asked.
“Flowers are fresh.”
A sign directed them to the police entrance in the back of the municipal building. A short corridor led to a small lobby adjacent to the dispatcher’s elevated area behind bulletproof glass. A gray-haired woman sat on a chair wearing a lightweight headset while she knitted. Next to a microphone in front of her, a nameplate read “Millicent Perkins.”
Dean tapped the glass to get her attention and flashed his counterfeit FBI credentials.
“Ms. Perkins,” he said.
She leaned forward, switched on the microphone.
“Oh—oh, my! How can I help you?”
“FBI,” Dean said. “Agents DeYoung and Shaw. We need to see Chief Quinn.”
“Just a moment. I’ll see if he’s available.”
She turned to the side, picked up a phone and spoke into it. With the microphone off, her voice was too muffled for him to distinguish individual words.
Dean looked around. The lobby held some framed newspaper articles highlighting the police department’s activities in the community. A wall-mounted display rack held various informational pamphlets: how parents could recognize drug use in their children, how to form a neighborhood watch, emergency preparedness checklists, and gun safety tips.
The inner door, beside the dispatcher’s booth buzzed, then opened to reveal a trim man with gray hair in a charcoal-gray police uniform.
“I’m Chief Quinn,” he said. “You are?”
Dean flashed his ID again. “Agents DeYoung and Shaw.”
“Didn’t realize we had a Federal matter here in Clayton Falls.”
Dean exchanged a glance with Sam, who cleared his throat and said, “Homeland Security. We believe—”
“That’s quite enough.” Chief Quinn held up his hand to interrupt. “Let’s take this back to my office.”
Quinn led them down a short hall, past a row of desks with computers, two of which were occupied with uniformed police officers, and stopped at a door affixed with a gold door nameplate: “Chief Michael C. Quinn.” He ushered them into his spartan office: law books and police manuals on one bookcase, several framed photos of Quinn at community events or posing with local dignitaries, coat rack in the left rear corner, U.S. flag on a stand in the right.
Quinn closed his office door and motioned them to the two padded chairs in front of his desk. He sat in the much more comfortable chair behind it.
The contents of his desk formed an organized triangle, a desk blotter holding a monthly calendar with a Cross pen in the center, a stack of file folders at the right corner, and a high school graduation photo of a young woman with red hair and green eyes to the left. The chief’s daughter, Lucy, Dean surmised.
Chief Quinn leaned forward, forearms angled against the edge of his desk, hands loosely clasped.
“Apologize for cutting you off out there. Millie isn’t the town gossip, but not for lack of trying. You were about to mention something related to Homeland Security.”
“We need to question any witnesses to the unusual… events of last night,” Dean said.
“And read any statements that were taken,” Sam added.
“As far as I know the only real incident was a hit-and-run fatality,” Quinn said. “Hardly a Homeland Security matter.”
“We read reports of a giant Gila monster, and a head—” Sam began.
Quinn held up a hand. “Let me stop you right there, Agent Shaw. There is no giant Gila monster in Clayton Falls.”
“Gavin Shelburn…” Sam stopped as the chief’s hand came up again.
“Shelly isn’t the town drunk but—”
“Not for lack of trying?” Dean finished.
“Exactly,” Quinn said, not taking offense. “Nobody else saw such a thing. How far is it from pink elephants to giant lizards? One bottle or two?”
“Lucy Quinn, your own daughter, reported being chased by a headless horseman.”
“My daughter…” Quinn sighed. Leaned back in his chair and stared off into space for a few moments before he spoke again. “Lucy is an only child. She came to my wife and me later in life. A surprise. Pleasant one, mind you, but we never thought…” He cleared his throat. “Lost my wife to breast cancer when Lucy was five. That was hard on Lucy, hard on both of us. Don’t think you can come out of something like that unchanged.” He picked up the Cross pen and tapped it against the paper of the calendar. “Then, last year, Lucy lost someone else close to her. What I’m trying to say is… I don’t think Lucy would intentionally lie about this, but…”
“What? You think she imagined it?” Dean asked.
“I’m not so foolish to think that she might not experiment… that she might have been involved in something she’d rather not tell her old man about.”
“Headless horseman’s one hell of a cover story,” Sam said.
“The boy who was killed by that driver ran out into the middle of the street and stopped there,” Quinn said. “He’d been with Lucy and another boy in Founders Park. I know for a fact that drinking was involved. We certainly found enough beer cans out there. Possibly drugs.”
“A witness said the car disappeared,” Dean said.
“Witnesses are, as a rule, unreliable,” Quinn said. “No surprise to a couple Feds, I’m sure. All of which brings me back to my first question. What’s the connection to Homeland Security?”
“We don’t want to alarm you or the citizens of Clayton Falls,” Sam said. “We know this town has been through a lot.”
“The factory fire,” Quinn said, nodding. “Many residents lost someone, or know someone who did. Hell of a thing.”
Sam cleared his throat, about to launch into their cover story. “We have information from credible sources indicating a terrorist cell might be testing a weaponized airborne hallucinogen here.”
“Weaponized airborne hallucinogen? In Clayton Falls? Why?”
“Small population, out of the way location, easy to monitor results,” Dean said with a shrug.
“Obviously, we don’t think Clayton Falls is the ultimate target,” Sam said. “Their ultimate objective would be a large metropolitan area.”
“And how, may I ask, did you come by this information?” The chief looked startled, as though uncertain how to react to the information.
“Most of the details are highly classified, but…” Sam said and paused for a moment, as if debating how much to tell the local police chief. This was also part of the plan. “What I tell you must be handled with the utmost discretion.”
Quinn leaned forward and nodded. “Of course.”
“We’re relying on some ECHELON chatter and reports from some deep cover operatives.”
The chief nodded and leaned back in his chair.
“I’m convinced, you’re convinced,” he said and cleared his throat. “But I’m a skeptic at heart.”
Sam reached into his suit pocket and produced a credible facsimile of an FBI business card and pushed it across the desk.
“Our supervisor, Agent Tom Willis, working out of the St. Louis field office, can clear up any jurisdictional concerns,” he said. “Possibly provide you with more detailed threat assessment information than we’re authorized to reveal.”
Quinn picked up the business card and examined it for a long moment with one eyebrow arched before sliding it into a shirt pocket.
“Thank you. I’ll take that under advisement.” He stood abruptly; Dean and Sam rose with him. “Regardless, I see no reason why you can’t read the statements or interview witnesses.”
Dean glanced meaningfully at the photo of Quinn’s daughter. “Even…?”
“Legally, she’s an adult,” Quinn said. “Might do her good to learn the… consequences of this type of report.”
He shook hands with both of them.
“I do have one reservation.”
“This is a quiet town,” Quinn said. “I’d like to keep it that way. Wasn’t always like this though. As I’m sure you’re aware, Falls Federal Prison is just outside the town limits. Couple of years ago, they added a supermax wing. Worst of the worst locked up in there. Had folks in town jumpy as frogs on a hot skillet. Protests, picketing, demonstrations—and not always peaceful. Time passed. Falls remained secure. Life goes on. That’s where we are now. Peaceful, quiet and orderly. What concerns me is that talk of a terrorist attack here could cause a panic.”
“Understood,” Dean said.
“But if we’re right, Chief Quinn,” Sam added, his deep voice serious, “this could turn dangerous.”
“Noted. Keep me informed.”
Chief Quinn opened the door and looked out into the bullpen area. Only one uniformed cop remained along the row of desks: mid-twenties, buzz cut, earnest.
“Jeffries. Give these FBI agents—DeYoung and Shaw—copies of the witness statements from last night.”
“Warts and all.”
“Yes, sir. Oh, and Lucy’s…?”
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