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“I really think you boys should be going the other way.”

            “Nobody’s asking you to come, Bela,” Dean said, his voice dripping with annoyance.

            “And leave you two—” 

            They paused their conversation to hide in a dark room as some demons approached.  The three stood motionless, holding their breath to avoid detection by the denizens.  The wait caused their attention to waiver and they each slowly became aware that they seemed to be moving against their will.  The ground, dark and shadowed, was shifting.  Bela, the first to be aware of it, climbed the tallest thing she could find, and hopped on Sam’s back.  Both Winchesters shut their eyes and tried not to think about the sensations they felt of something crawling over their feet.

            Finally the demons passed.  The three waited a few more seconds to be sure they were clear then Dean darted out of the room, slapping his legs and stomping his feet to clear them of any crawling things.  Sam shuffled out almost as quickly, slowed only by the thief on his back.

            “Really, Bela?” he asked, pushing her off and checking that his own feet were clear.

            “Those Hell… nasties consume souls and demons,” said Bela.  “You’re both lucky they have no taste for actual flesh.  I did what I had to do to survive.  It’s what I’ve always done.  It’s… what I’m best at.  Anyways, both of you blokes are going to need some competence on your side down here.”

            “Last time we saw you, you sold us out,” said Sam.

            “Well a few years of torture changes a person.  Maybe it taught me that one should ask for help when they need it.”

            “You don’t even know what we’re doing,” said Dean.

            “No, but it’s clearly something to spite the ones running this joint and that’s something I can support.”

            “Where in the hell is...” Sam muttered to himself in frustration.  He unfolded the map two more times.

            “Sammy, what are you doing?”

            “I know we keep going down, but I swear it feels like we’re going in circles.”

            “Of course you are,” said Bela.  “That’s all Hell is.  One.  Big.  Circle.  It’s an ingenious design that keeps anyone from escaping.”

            “But we need to get to somewhere,” Dean said with a growl of frustration.  “How can we do that going nowhere?”

            “Weren’t you both here before?”

            “We try not to think about it,” said Sam.

            “Didn’t do a lot of moving,” said Dean.

            “Everything has its place.  You want to go somewhere, you need to belong there.”

            The brothers mulled over her words.

            Sam spoke first saying, “So if we need to ‘belong’ somewhere, we need to simulate the conditions that will… draw out or ‘bait’ the target.”

            Dean nodded in understanding.  “That one we can reach easy when… Sam, how long?”

            Sam pulled out the pocket watch.  “One hour from now on the surface.  Where we are now, this level of Hell, it takes ten seconds for one second to pass on the watch.  I’d say that gives us ten hours from our relative perspective.”

            “That gives us time to handle the other two first and save that guy for last,” said Dean.

            “That means we need to get sick or starve before then,” said Sam.

            “Which will take longer than ten hours,” noted Dean.

            “I’m surprised we haven’t run into Famine already.  Not like there’s a lot of food in Hell except… what… we… brought,” Sam said, trailing off as his mind worked.  He then yanked his duffel bag open and began rummaging in it.

            “What are you doing?”

            “We need to dump our food.”

            “This is going to suck,” Dean muttered as he began scavenging through his own bag for every last morsel of food and water.

            Digging through their bags, both pulled out the beef jerky, MREs, water and a few other supplies they had brought along.  Sam gathered it all up and tossed the lot into the writhing room.

            “Have you boys gone completely mad?”

            “A few times,” said Sam.

            “Now…” said Dean, “which way?”

            Sam looked at the map again.  Maybe he was going mad with wishful thinking, but he swore there was a path on the map that wasn’t there before.  Pulling out the compass, he led the way there.  The path was little more than a walkway between two sheer walls so narrow the brothers had to turn sideways to follow it.  It opened up again at a Y intersection.  Sam veered to the right and they once again found themselves in another of the twisting, changing halls of Hell.  As they walked, the old stone halls seemed to melt and give way to a section with large stone columns that held up a ceiling so high it couldn’t be seen.  From there the landscape twisted and mutated into an underground tunnel that was so cramped the boys had to duck to make it through.  Dean had taken the lead through this tunnel, so he was the first to be confronted by the large hell-hound guarding the path.  He reveled in the chance to make short work of it, though he took a bite to his leg in the process.  The tunnel melted away to a place where the floor was level but the walls skewed at odd angles.  The boys had to shut their eyes to avoid vertigo, leaving it to Bela to lead them through.  When they opened their eyes again, they found themselves in a wide, circular area.  The ceiling looked like it was slowly bleeding; the falling blood drops forming grotesque, red stalactites hovering over their heads like teeth poised to bite.  Under the red ceiling, rotting plants surrounded them.  Stalks of barley and corn were interspersed here and there throughout a field of decaying fruit trees, their ruined produce dragging down their branches.  As they walked, they occasionally spotted the bones of an animal, usually cattle, lying on the parched ground.

            “Oh no,” muttered Bela.

            “You know where we are?” asked Dean. 

            “Maybe.  I think I do.”

            Dean stared at her.  “Well?”

            “Dean look!” Sam said, holding up the map so his brother could see.  They were standing in a large circle with only a dead end, but there was a smaller circle drawn inside, close to the far edge.

            “The… ‘Hunger Pit’,” Dean read off the map.  “Sounds like a place to find Famine.”

            “Where are we now?” asked Bela.

            Unable to read the label, Sam had to unfold the map a bit.  “This is... ‘Hell-Hound Den.’”

            All three looked around as several growls echoed about them.

            “Oh hell,” all three said simultaneously.

            “These sons of bitches must be kept ever hungry,” Dean realized as he readied the First Blade.

            “That keeps them motivated to find those who made a deal,” Bela said with a touch of fear.

            “Oh I’m going to enjoy this payback you bitches.”

            “Get down!” shouted Sam.

            Dean didn’t respond.  Sam grabbed his brother’s shoulder and pulled him back with one hand as he tossed a demon bomb with the other.  The bomb landed in the middle of the dozen hounds that were closing in on them and detonated, vaporizing them instantly.  The edge of the blast touched Bela’s skin.  She recoiled with a shriek.

            “What the hell!” shouted Dean, swinging wildly.

            “We don’t have all day for you to fight ever hound in here ‘Mr. Liam Neeson’,” Sam said, barely avoiding Dean’s clumsy attack.

            “Right.  Sorry.”  Dean looked sheepish as he flipped the Blade into a reverse grip.  “Which way?”

            Sam pointed and his brother led the way.

            “You’re almost full demon, aren’t you?” Sam asked Bela quietly as they fell in behind the elder Winchester.

            “Despite my best efforts.”

            “So you’re following us...”

            “Hoping you’ll do me a favor at the end,” said Bela.

            They stopped talking as they reached a wide depression in the ground.  Around the edge of it, brush and bramble grew so thick they couldn’t see what awaited them within.  However there was a single path cleared through the brush.  An arbor of dead plants stretched over the path, forming an archway taller than the brush and brambles, making an entryway into the pit.  Dean led them down.  At the bottom, in the center of the pit, they found a large throne.  It was constructed of farming tools of every age from the first spade chiseled from rock to engine parts of the modern tractor – but all of them were rusting and rotten.  On the throne a thin old man sat majestically.  He was dressed in a simple black and white suit.  Thin grey hair covered the back of his head and as he breathed, his entire body rattled with the effort.

            “Has it been so long?” wheezed the old man.

            “Hello, Famine,” Dean said, raising the First Blade.

            A laugh rattled the Horseman’s body.  “This is the first time I’ve ever met someone twice.  Have you both grown so tired of living you seek me in my own home?”

            Dean assessed the surroundings as he said, “We came for your ring.  You can hand it over, or we can do this the fun way.  I got to admit, I’m kind of hoping you choose the fun way.”

            “Yes I suppose you do... what with the Mark of Cain and all... You hunger for violence, don’t you?”

            Dean smiled and took a step forward.  “Yeah.  So try super charging my bloodlust.  Go on.  I dare you.”

            The old man sneered, as he said, “Oh I shall.”  Famine raised his arm.  A loud growl from behind them caused them all to jump.  Turning around, Sam and Dean saw the shape of a monstrous hell-hound waiting on the other side of the arbor, its shoulder almost as tall as them.


            But it was too late.  His brother couldn’t resist the call for revenge and slaughter.  Raising the First Blade, Dean let out a cry and ran towards the hound, leaving Sam and Bela alone to deal with the horseman.

            “Dear Sam.  Thirst no more?”

            Sam swallowed as he remembered those dark days.  “I’ve been purified and found peace.  You have no power over me.”

            “Nor you over I,” said the horseman.  “So we wait here until judgment day 2?”

            Sam looked back, acting concerned for Dean’s welfare as he slid Ruby’s knife from its sheath.  Moving fast, he raised the knife and charged the throne, but the old man was quicker than he expected and caught him by the throat.

            “I only appear weak in my own domain,” Famine laughed.  With his other hand he reached towards Bela, and she was paralyzed where she stood.  “Though I am hungry...”

            “Sam!  Help me!” cried Bela as she was dragged forward despite her struggles.

            Desperate, Sam plunged Ruby’s dagger into Famine’s shoulder.

            The horseman laughed harder as the knife stuck and Sam was unable to pull it free.

            “I’m so sorry about your shoulder!  Please!” Bela said, begging as she fought the horseman’s pull.

            Sam decided to try something else and pulled out his Taurus PT-92.  He fired into Famine’s chest but it seemed to have no effect.  Taking aim, he shot the horseman’s eye.  Famine barely flinched and his grip on Sam’s throat didn’t waiver.

            As he fired the gun with his right hand, Sam used his left to grab at the vice slowly chocking off his air.  He blindly felt along the fingers, seeking any weakness that could save him.  Suddenly Sam realized that all he was feeling was dry skin pulled taut over brittle bone.  The fingers were bare – there was no ring!  He glanced at the hand Famine held out for Bela.  Its fingers were also bare.  Sam, vision growing blurry, tried to figure out where the ring could be.  He looked again at Famine’s throne.  It was an amalgam of farming tools, rusted and broken, but at the top of it, the pinnacle of the chair’s back, were brown, dead leaves and stalks of corn twisted together.  At first glance, Sam had thought they were nothing more than decoration for the throne.  Now he realized it looked very much like a crown – a crown with a black jewel resting in the middle of it.  A black jewel he had seen once before many years ago.  Raising his pistol, Sam fired.

            Famine’s grip on Sam and Bela waivered as he spun around.  The bullet hit the crown, sending it flying from the throne.  Coughing and gasping for air, Sam kept his eyes on the crown.  Its construction looked flimsy, yet it had remained intact despite the impact.  Realizing that conventional weapons might not harm it, Sam grabbed a mattock attached to the throne.  He managed to wrench the tool free, though the handle shattered in half.  Holding onto the remains of the wooden handle, Sam ran after the crown.

            Sam ran as fast as he could, but Famine materialized beside the crown right before Sam could reach it.  The horseman bent down to pick up his treasure, but Bela slammed into him, her half smoke form trailing behind.

            “Hungry!” Famine shouted, his mouth opening wide to eat Bela whole.

            Sam raised the mattock, and brought it down on one side of the black jewel.

            Famine froze as part of the crown broke.

            Sam raised the mattock again, and chopped the other side, severing the jewel from the crown.

            Famine screamed an earth-shaking, wretched cry that sounded like all the cries of every child that ever had to go to sleep starving, as Sam picked up the jewel.  Freed from its bindings, the tattered remains of the crown stuck to the jewel twisted and joined to form the shape of a ring.  Famine shoved Bela away.  Sam opened his hand, revealing a second ring already in his possession – this one made of pale white bone.  Famine’s ring joined the ring of Death, magnetically drawn to its side.  The horseman took a step forward in an attempt to retrieve the source of his power.  Sam raised his pistol and fired.

            Without his ring, the bullet shattered Famine who disintegrated into the dust of long dead fields.  Ruby’s knife clattered onto the floor.

            “Thanks for the help,” Sam said as he retrieved the knife.

            “Figured I owed you,” said Bela.

            “Let’s go see if my brother’s still alive.”

            Walking out of the pit and through the decaying arbor, they found Dean splattered with splotches of black and red blood.

            “Dude, how much of that is yours?” asked Sam, racing over to see if Dean was injured.

            Dean, wearing a satisfied grin, looked down and noticed how he looked.  “Oh yeah.  Most of this is his.”  He pointed behind him at the remains of a hound larger than he was, even when it was dead and laying on its side.  “A few tried to help, but once the big alpha went down, they scattered.”  Now they could see the bodies of over half a dozen other hell-hounds littering the ground.

            Sam looked at Dean’s smoking double-barreled shotgun, the missing shells on his ammo belts, and the blood pouring off the First Blade.  Dean’s left pants’ leg had been torn and it looked like there was a gash around the shin.  Sam did his best to bandage it as he asked, “You killed the alpha hell-hound?”

            “What?”  Dean glanced at the remains.  “I don’t know.  I meant alpha as in, ‘pack-leader’.  Might explain why he’s so big, though.  You two get Famine?”

            Sam finished the first aid then held up the joined rings.


            “What’s that other one?” asked Bela.

            Sam stuffed the rings into his pocket as he stammered for an explanation.

            “It’s Death’s ring,” Dean answered.

            “How in the world did you two get it?”


“You have got to be joking,” said the entity known only as Death.

            Dean held up his hands.  “No tricks.  No binding spells.  Not even bribery.”

            “Though we did bring a pizza if you want it,” said Sam.

            “I don’t.  What do you want?”

            “To borrow your ring,” said Dean.

            “You miss being me, Dean?”

            “It’s for both of us,” said Sam.

            Death turned his ancient eyes to the younger Winchester.

            For the first time in many years, Sam felt very small.  “We... just need it... for a day,”

            “To rid yourselves of one of your many enemies?”

            “No,” said Dean.  “We swear, we won’t use it to do your job or anything.”

            “Then why do you need it?”

            They told him.

            Death stared at them, but neither brother flinched.  He couldn’t help it as pearls of laughter started spilling out of him, the ancient entity thankful he had brought his cane along this time to keep standing as the laughter nearly doubled him over.  “For giving me a laugh I haven’t had in centuries – and because I’ve got to see this – it’s yours.”  Death held up his right hand so they could see the ring wrapped around his middle finger.  It had returned to its pure form, a simple, perfectly circular band of bright white bone. 

            Removing it, Death tossed it to Dean.

            “In twenty-six hours I will have it back,” said Death.  “Whether you are done or not.”


# YellowEyedSam 2016-01-09 11:29
Hey, whilst the plot didn't keep me going I just wanted to say it was nicely written and I hope I see more of your fics :D