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Sam Winchester's Guide to Blood Magic, or How the Rockies Were Made

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The last page was bloody and torn out.  The journal dated from 2006, soon after John's death.  Dean stared at it, his name clearly legible on the pebbled cover, and shoved it back inside the lining of the trunk, deciding he must have been drunk when he wrote it.  He would have remembered bombing Las Vegas.

He'd put it out of his mind until he discovered that room in the Bunker.

Every Man of Letters was required to keep a journal of their exploits upon joining the brotherhood. The official number of members tallied at eighty-five, but the number of journals in the Bunker's windowless storage room...reached the ceiling.  

Dean clicked on his flashlight and picked two journals from the pile at random.  The author was the same, but kept writing different accounts for the same dates.  Dean couldn't decide which was worse, that the author's memory might have been altered, or that something had been sitting on this pile and writing their own contributions in the dark.

After dinner, Dean dropped their dishes in the sink and went to check his journal, the one Sam insisted he begin keeping after the first Croatoan sighting, under his mattress.  Flipped through it, the newspaper clippings and case notes styled after John's journal.  No bombs, no bloody tear-outs.  Nothing seemed out of place.  

He went up to the library, where Sam sat reading in a wing-backed chair by the fire.  "Hey Sammy, check out this room."

Sam marked his page with a scrap of notepaper.

“What’s in it?” he asked, but he had his answer soon enough; the room was crammed with handwritten journals, the bindings old and rich. Sam wiped his nose against the tickle of dust in the room and ran his fingertip gently down a row of book spines.

He eased a book out of its place on the shelf and opened it to a page recounting research into fairy magic, the handwriting bold and spiky. “This is amazing,” he said, his voice full of awe.

Dean chewed his lip, scanning the W's for their grandfather's name.  "Look, here it is again, somebody keeping two journals at once."

He pulled the books down and blew off a cloud of dust.  Professor Whistler's first journal covered all his 1928 research, with a seemingly identical journal beside it except that the first was a labored year-long account on Kentucky ghost trains, while the second journal was written in code and stopped on October 1st, 1928 with the cryptic note, 'The same nightmare as yesterday, Arkham is active.  See File L-355'.

Dean flipped through the remaining blank pages.  "Sammy, you're a nerd, do nerds write their dream diaries in code?"

Sam gave Dean a half-frown, then took the journal from him. “I guess they do if they want to protect the information from others.”

He flipped through the age-worn pages, which were a jumble of nonsensical letters like the cryptograms Sam used to work in the daily paper, then stopped at the last entry, intrigued. “We should check out that file.


Sam pulled the L file box from its shelf while Dean cleared space on the library desk and set down two mugs of coffee, eyebrows raised hopefully at Sam's interest in the case.  "You're um...you're looking better."

A beat, and then Sam said, “I’m feeling better.”

“Here we go,” Sam said, lifting the lid off  the box. Inside were a number of file folders, and Sam flipped the first one open to reveal a sheaf of old, handwritten letters. He accepted a cup of coffee from Dean with an upflick of his eyes before he began thumbing through the letters.

“This is... “ he flipped from first to last pages, then said, “about ten years’ worth of correspondence between Whistler and a man named Marston.” He slid a file folder to Dean. “Check this one out.”

Dean skimmed the letters, much of which complained about the Men of Letters inability to keep linguists on the payroll for more than a few months, especially when it came to the native dialect of Port Benbow, California.  

"August 2, 1918.  First recorded account of sailors returning from uncharted island (see Map A) with Benbow dialect.  Though lacking in formal education, their knowledge of the language is complete and eidetic."

"January 9, 1919.  Pastor in town's single church has vanished, new pastor has razed the chapel and commissioned a larger building closer to the ocean.  The liturgy is not in Latin or vernacular or anything I've come across.  The two linguists I sent inside returned with no memory of what they had seen except for some drawings I dare not show here. They died three weeks later of unknown causes."

"March 5, 1921.  In the cells.  My trial begins Monday, though surely they'll see it was no fault of my own.  Father Gregory had just finished listening to a phonograph recording of a Benbow church service, when he stood up, laughed to himself, then pulled out his sidearm and killed five men in the library before turning it on himself.  Please bring tobacco."

"March 19, 1921.  Trial delayed.  Father Gregory exhumed, autopsy shows advanced decay and large blue parasite attached to his spinal column.  All tests to kill said parasite, including stabbings, burnings, suffocation, and negative psychic energy have had no results.  Recommend burying it before Doctor West gets any ideas about cloning."

Dean skipped ahead.  "Ah, there it is."

"January 5, 1928. Visit to Arkham for lunch with HPL, sickly young squire never known to travel outside New England, but able to provide detailed illustrations of both the interior of the Benbow church, translations of the liturgy, and historical accounts of the uncharted island dating back to pre-Adamite times."

Dean rifled through the folder, where several black and white photographs of HPL's  illustrations lay.  

"When asked how he knew all this, HPL claimed..."

Dean took a breath.  "...he claimed angels told him."

He held up the photos for Sam to see.  The sketches were an excellent likeness, the brothers portrayed in profile against a church backdrop.

Dean turned to the last letter from Marston, addressed to a senior official within the Men of Letters.  "December 15, 1928.  Further research in Arkham on hold, advise class A amnesiac for Prof. Whistler."

Dean ran a hand over his mouth.  "What are we looking at?"

“Huh.” Sam blew out a huff of air. “That’s us, all right.”

He took the last sheet of paper from Dean. “Class A amnesiac.” He stared at it in thought, eyes unfocused.  “Do you think this HPL was a prophet? I mean, he could have been a psychic, right? I wonder why Cas never told us about him, if he knew about us. This seems like it would fit right in with the ‘Winchester Gospels.’” He made air-quotes around the words, never having been able to take himself so seriously as to accept a gospel written around him.

Then he frowned. He reached for the picture, studied it. “Dean, I don’t remember this church. It’s pretty unique-looking, I think I’d remember it.”

Dean surveyed rambling transcripts of the end times beneath a blurry photo of HPL.  He pushed them away and sipped his coffee.  "Dang man I can only take so much paranoid rambling from a man in a bowtie.  So, okay, you check the maps for this island, if it even exists, I'll look and see if that church service recording is collecting dust in the basement, and...and..."

Dean stared at his coffee.  Had he always drunk it black?

"...and who knows maybe it's garden variety demon possessions and the drawings are just..."

He always drank it black.  Unless someone had told him he always did...

Dean set down his mug.  Reached across the table and took Sam's wrist.  "Sammy I gotta show you something in the garage."

Sam let himself be led away from the library, taking long strides to match Dean’s fast pace. “You know, he could have been wrong. The picture. Being psychic isn’t an exact science. I think we should try to figure out who… “

Sam slowed to a stop when they reached their car. “Dean, what is it?”

Dean placed his hands flat on the trunk of the Impala.  "You gotta believe me when I say I forgot all about this until today."

He lifted the trunk, straight-arming it as he rooted under the lining with his other hand.  "It was a little after we got the Colt.  I was just out of the hospital, we were back on the road, and with Dad gone, I didn't want anything distracting from the mission."

Pulling a battered journal from inside, he shut the trunk and finally met Sam's eyes.  "You know there's not another man alive I'd trust this sorta thing with.  You know that Sammy."

Dean opened it toward the end.  "I got another journal under the bed I been keeping since John died, and the first few entries sync up, word for word.  But then everything goes sideways and the army's on the phone..."

Flipping toward the back of the book, Dean pointed to a paragraph summarizing 'Executive Order 3783' . The order to bomb Las Vegas. "I mean, you think the President really signed this?"

"This is... really bizarre. I mean, this couldn't have happened, right? But... " Dean trailed off, reading the last page again. "It's like those other journals. It doesn't match.

"But it can't be a coincidence, can it?" Sam blew out a sigh. "We've got to figure out what the hell is going on here.”

Dean searched Sam's face for any trademark tells, finding none.  Animated with relief, Dean rocked on his heels and deferred to Sam, eager to dissect the problem with a partner in tow.  "Yeah, yeah exactly, so what should we check out first, the map or the recording?  Here, you get started, what do you wanna eat, I mean, ya know, real food, I can't think straight on frozen waffles."

Back in the kitchen, Dean was halfway to getting the apron over his neck before Sam could reply.

Sam followed him in, watched him root around in the refrigerator. “Whatever you want. But make me a salad, too.”

Sam stood in the doorway, his mind half on Dean and half on this disturbing mystery. “I think I’ll start with the map. And maybe try to figure out who this HPL was, if you’re not ready yet. I kind of think we should both be there for the recording, just in case. It doesn’t sound pretty.”

With Dean’s distracted nod, Sam took himself to the files, searching for Map A. When he couldn’t find it, he searched for maps of the Western U.S. He gathered up as many as he could find, pillaging several storage rooms to get to them, and spread them out on a library table, the unfolded maps overlapping. None of the maps held any clues except for one: a water-stained, crumbling, hundred-year-old thing, that had a notation in the Pacific. Benboa, it said in a wide, untidy scrawl, but there was no outline, no point, just the word floating in the middle of the ocean in what could have been a few dozen miles, or a hundred, off the coast of California.

So there was some clue, at least, that the letters hadn’t been complete nonsense, connected to nothing. He was buried deep in the files, searching through the L’s when Dean showed up with lunch.

"Sir's rabbit food."

Dean slid a plate across the desk, tomatoes  and red cabbage and grated carrot and more color than Sam was used to seeing from Dean.  Dean wiped his hands on his jeans and perched on the edge of the chair beside Sam, tearing into a porkchop.  "I don't think you got enough stuff on this table, lemme go find the Sunday comics."

Sam laughed and carefully shuffled some of the maps aside, keeping the brittle old map on top. He took a bite, crunched the veggies in his mouth, making a pleased noise and nodding at Dean in thanks, then pointed to the crumbling map.

"It's the only one I could find," he said, "And it looks like it's old enough to match up with the journal entries."

Dean opened the bloody journal, where a circle on a scrap of gas station map circumscribed four points: the island, Port Benbow, Las Vegas, and a red X in the Sierras.  He pointed to the X.  "Betcha a dollar this is Fort Cloud. Dad used to whine about this place, they'd send up Marines for high elevation training. It should still be operational, maybe we can call and ask if Agents Smith and Wesson breezed through in 2006," said Dean.

Dean wrinkled his nose, glancing first at his map and the old one at Sam's elbow, "These maps suck, the rivers are all wrong and you can't even see the mountains."

“Huh,” Sam said. “You’re right. Look at the Colorado. It skips Nevada entirely, Goes nowhere near Vegas, and goes straight up through Utah. That’s some sloppy map-making.” He twisted his lips. “I don’t know if we can trust this map, then. But we should hang onto it anyway, for the Benboa reference.”

He finished off his plate, scraping a forkful of lettuce and carrot around to wipe up the last of the dressing, thinking nebulous thoughts about Las Vegas. “Why don’t you make the call, and I’ll keep digging.”

Affecting a Texas twang, Dean called from one of Bobby's military intelligence phones.  He twiddled a pencil between his fingers. "Mornin' this is Lieutenant Richards, is uh..." he checked Bobby's rolodex, "General McKenzie in his office?  We sent two men for recon at Fort Cloud back in' 06, but there's a discrepancy in our records and we....yes I'll hold."

Dean stared at the phone.  "That's weird."

After a few seconds, an older voice sounded on the other line, a few rapid words, and then a dial tone.  Dean turned off the phone.  "Well that number doesn't even work, I got transferred to some spook in Virginia and all he said was 'classified schmassified' and the Fort's been decommissioned since the Cold War and if I call again he'll fry my ass from space."

Sam looked up from the maps, which he’d been rearranging again. “That’s strange. Didn’t you say Dad used to bitch about the place? Maybe he got the name wrong.” Sam frowned. “I’m starting to think he didn’t, though.”

Sam spread three old maps out. “A lot of stuff isn’t adding up. Or rather, it is adding up, just in a really weird way. You know what you said about the mountains missing? It’s not just the one map. Look.”

He splayed his fingers wide on a map of North America. “This one’s from 1920. It shows the Appalachian mountains in the eastern U.S., but it looks like everything west of the Mississippi is pretty much flat. It’s not like this was Lewis and Clark times, either; if it existed, it’d be here. And these are the same,” he said, waving his hand to encompass the other maps. “1914. 1928. 1946. This one’s old, but no date. All the same, the Colorado all twisted up wrong, and missing half the mountain ranges. There’s not even a Grand Canyon. But why?” he asked, almost to himself, his brow furrowed in concentration.

Dean thought back to John's old campfire stories.  The snowstorms at Fort Drum.  The toothless rednecks at Fort Benning.  What else had Dean invented from thin air, when even written accounts were suspect?  

Dean walked along the bookshelf, fingering a library copy of Kafka's The Trial he'd swiped in high school.  He opened it, found all the sex parts underlined.  Some things never changed.  "Let's check out that recording. I'll prep a room---salt, water, iron---and if that doesn't lead us anywhere," he said, setting Kafka back on the shelf, "I say we pay Fort Cloud a visit."

Once Sam finally found the phonograph in a locked storage closet, inside a heavily warded box, he met Dean in the media room. The screen was furled up on the far wall, and Dean had stacked the plastic chairs in the dark corners and placed the record player in the center of the room, its cord trailing off into the darkness. Sam stepped over a salt line to enter the room, and he noticed paint drying in Dean’s knuckles, as well as sigils on the walls warding against angels and various other evil entities, supplementing the devil’s traps that were already permanently part of the room.

“Good idea,” Sam said, nodding toward them. “I found it, and it was warded against just about everything. There were some signs I didn’t even recognize. We should copy them down sometime and figure them out,” he said, then he shook his head. “Not right now, though. Here.”

He handed the record to Dean. “Remember, a priest allegedly shot several people and himself after listening to this. Do you think you should wear earplugs and just let me listen?”

Dean walked to a mop bucket and poured paint thinner over his hands.  "Yeah okay, but gimme your cell phone.  Anything smart enough to manage mind control from a record, well, I don't wanna think what it could do with modern tech.  Steal an image and crawl right out of the screen like some Asian midnight movie," said Dean, taking out his own smartphone and turning his back on Sam. "Just a sec, gotta *cough* clear my browser history."

Sam smirked, and waited until Dean had pocketed both of their phones, then screwed the earplugs Sam handed him into his ears.

He looked at Dean, who gave him a nod, then he placed the needle on the phonograph.

It crackled and hissed for three slow turns, then there was the sound of instruments tuning up. The pastor said something in a voice that Sam couldn’t quite make out, and then the church musicians started in on a weird, discordant song. Sam squeezed his lips tight as he listened, slightly disturbed already by the tidal rhythm and the chords that weren’t in tune, but which seemed to create their own harmonies nonetheless.

A crash of instruments made him jump, and then another, and he looked back at Dean to let him know he was alright. The music swirled down, deeper and deeper, and there were voices interspersed throughout, strange ones, and Sam could feel a cold stirring in the pit of his stomach.

When it finally ended in a crash of piano and horn, Sam relaxed. But only until the pastor began speaking. He greeted his flock in a high, reedy voice, the glottals sticky and guttural in contrast. He spoke of the sea, he spoke of a mother and a father who would take them back, that no one need die, that they would be enfolded into the waters when their time came, to worship at the shrine of Dagon.

 

Sam frowned. He’d heard of many gods, but Dagon was not one of them. And the sermon, the pastor’s droning voice, were creeping into him, chilling him.

Then the speech changed, distorted. The pastor led the group in a series of chants in a language Sam had never heard, never heard anything like, could barely process the consonants and vowels of.

Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!” the pastor said, and his congregation repeated it in many voices, as discordant as the music had been.

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu P’lyeh wgah--

There was more, but Sam didn’t hear it. He felt it, curling and swelling inside him, this presence, this sickly seawater presence darkening his bones. He both yearned for the sea and hated it, both yearned to see these gods that the congregation worshiped and feared them. He held on tightly to his core being, fearful of being swept away. Mankind was pitiful and to be subjugated. Their world was but a tiny speck in the universe, and outside of the universe there were things he could not imagine. The sea called to him.

He choked and it tasted like salt, and suddenly he was furious, furious that he was being violated. Thrice he’d been possessed, and he wouldn’t be possessed again. Rage filled him. These gods could go and shove it where the sun didn’t shine.

And so could Dean, who had forced Gadreel upon him, who had let in this wgah-nagl.

He turned on Dean, the whites of his eyes swirling with muddy brown.

Before Dean had time to react, Sam had him by the wrists and was wrestling him down to the floor.

“You did this to me!” he yelled. “You let him in, ph’nglui mglw’nafh, and I didn’t have a say!” Spittle flecked his lips and sprayed onto Dean’s face, and Sam tightened his sweaty grip on Dean’s wrists, pinning him hard to the ground with his body. “Never again! Never!”

Sam choked. An arm snaked around throat, Dean clearing the length of the room before he could suck in his next breath and then Sam was looking at the ceiling, Dean's boots scoring black hatchmarks on the floor as he struggled to keep Sam in a headlock.  Flipping them over a hundred and eighty degrees, Dean grabbed the back of Sam's shirt and flung him belly-down on the table, knocking the bare lightbulb in a wide arc.

Sam panted, sweat rolling down his face, shadows dancing across his features beneath the swinging light. Cold iron cuffed his wrists, manacles dangling from the table legs with sigils newly carved into the locks.

Dean steadied the lightbulb.  Pulled out a straight razor. Set his teeth against Sam's ear.  "You're not gonna like this next part."

He pulled Sam's hair away from the back of his neck, counting vertebrae with the tip of the razor, some jointless thing worming under the skin. The lyrics from 'Cheek to Cheek' came to him, and he had to remind himself this was surgery and not wetwork.  

"I owe you a shirt dude."

Dean make a small cut, blood spraying everywhere, and retrieved his two other tools from a back pocket, a stick and a plastic baggie full of dog treats.  He shook the baggie at the open wound. "Baaaaacon?"

A blue worm poked its head out of Sam's neck, sniffing the air, and grabbing it Dean twined the worm around the stick and, slowly, began twisting it away.  He flung it in a jelly jar.  The manacles came off and a vodka bottle landed beside Sam's face.

Five minutes later Dean was waving a suture needle over a lighter flame, black thread between his teeth.  Sam was pale but himself again.  "It's kinda cute," said Dean, nodding toward the jar, "You think it'll go crunch when we step on it?  It doesn't look crunchy."

Sam shook his head, winced, reached up to touch the back of his neck. His fingers came away bloody, and he glanced at the blue thing in the jar again. “Where the hell did that come from? Did we summon it?”

He saw Dean approaching with the needle and held up his hand, took three long slugs of the vodka, and motioned Dean forward again. He felt sick and cold and shaky, even Dean’s hands brushing the hair away from his neck hurting. He reached up to hold his hair out of the way and winced when the needle went in.

“You know I didn’t mean what I said, right?” Sam asked, though it wasn’t entirely true. If forgiveness was as easy as pushing a button, he’d have pushed it long ago. But it still crept up on him sometimes, the anger, the distrust. That Dean had allowed an angel to possess him, and hadn’t told him.

He felt none of that now, though, the rage torn away with the parasite. He felt Dean tie off the last suture, felt him pat Sam’s shoulder.  Dean smiled.  "Hey we still got the right number of holes in our heads."

Dean put down the sewing kit.  "As to what it was, I never seen anything act so quick.  Not like smoke flew through an air vent and crawled  down your mouth.   And it wasn't hypnosis, unless you've been spending your summer doped up in a CIA jail with somebody telling you to go Terminator every time you listened to a Friday night tent revival.  Whatever that guy said laid eggs in your head," said Dean, tapping his temple, "The words were infected."

A neat row of stitches crossed the back of Sam's neck.  Dean sluiced vodka over the wound, flinching in sympathy, and when he looked around and could find no more clean rags he pulled off his flannel and folded it into a compress, biceps bulging in his shirt sleeves as he bent to his task. The worm writhed in the jelly jar, slowly scooting itself across the table.

"I didn't know that was gonna happen Sammy," Dean whispered, "I'da known I would have taken it on myself."

But you’ve never been possessed, Sam thought. You don’t know how to fight it. But he said, “If it was you, this might have all gone differently. Better, worse, we can’t know. I say this is an acceptable outcome,” Sam said, gesturing to the worm that had been successfully excised from his flesh. “A couple words, a little blood. And now we have the thing.”

He took a deep breath and placed his hand over Dean’s on the compress on the back of his neck. “And now we have at least some idea of what we’re up against. It’s still all in pieces, but if just listening to words can do this to you, then we have to figure out where those words came from. And figure out where this… specimen came from.”

For answer, the jelly jar clattered to the floor, landing on its side and changing direction midway until it faced west.   It rolled into the shadows, out of sight. Holding tight to Sam's hand, Dean listened to it, the grinding of glass against stone as it rolled up the wall and smacked the ceiling over and over in the same spot like a bee trapped in a hot car.

Dean wet his lips nervously, but walked over with a lid and plucked the jar from its hiding place, the glass blood-warm where the worm had touched it, and screwed it shut.  Flipping it on its side like a game of Spin the Bottle, he watched it stop and turn and surge toward the same spot, where a groove was starting to wear.

He went back to tend to Sam. "Did that recording...show you anything?"

Sam screwed up his face, watching the worm. “It was like… impressions. That humans were insignificant except to be preyed upon and used for vessels of worship. That there was more to the universe, outside the universe, than man could ever comprehend. It’s hard to explain.

“And toward the end I saw this… vision, like I was deep under green water, and there was this huge, and I mean inconceivably huge, gargantuan, shape moving through the water and blocking out all the light. I didn’t know what it was, but it felt evil. It was terrifying.”

He cleared his throat, pressing Dean’s rolled-up shirt to the back of his neck. He still felt cold and shaky, still keenly felt the horrifying vestiges of his experience, though it had lasted only minutes. “I could feel it. Getting inside me. Trying to, to wear me.”

Dean's heart ached at this, Sam's weary voice, the hairline wrinkles around the corners of his eyes. He wanted to take Sam out of this haunted place and wrap him in a blanket and hold him until they both fell asleep, not that it would change anything, not that there weren't more monsters coming over the hill.  

Still, the instinct never left him, and Sam did not pull away when he felt arms tighten around his waist.  Dean would carry that infant with him wherever he went.

"Sammy don't let them get to you.  So the odds are against us, so every Big Bad wants a shot at you in the ring.  So what? That doesn't make you weak," said Dean, whispering into Sam's hair,  "It makes you a worthy opponent."

Before Sam could answer, Dean moved away from him, mercifully cutting off the conversation.  Action would count more to Sam than Dean's fortune cookie wisdom.

Dean snatched up the jar and studied the worm.  "Damn Sammy.  You make ugly babies."

A horrible notion lit Dean's eyes.  "Is that why I blanked out in the other journal?  What if they got me too?  For all I know your ocean princess roofied me in 2006 and now I got neck-babies in the..." He totted up the years on his fingers.  "...in the third grade, sniffing glue and cutting out paper pumpkins and listening to Daft Punk."

A new zeal lit his eyes, the worm flopping against the glass.  "We can't sit here.  It's pointing us to its mama, I'll eat my boot if it isn't.  Come on Sammy," said Dean, hand slapping the table, "Let's go hunt the Little Mermaid."

Sam gave Dean a smile, one that was thanks, for everything, and let the compress drop away from his neck, trying not to wince. “Give me a bit. I wanna find some reading for the road.”

Sam climbed the ladder to a high shelf in the library, running his fingers over books so worn they'd been rebound and the titles stamped by hand.  Though the music had faded, the pastor's words still floated in the back of his mind, and he felt that failing to understand them would be to their disadvantage in a fight.  This was no different than memorizing a Latin incantation or an Egyptian summoning spell.  He stared at the corner of the shelf, thousand of tiny dimensions curled up inside the intersecting right angles, closed off to mortal ken.  He wondered which word would open them.

By the time he emerged, the Impala was packed and Dean was silently playing air guitar to 'Under the Sea' with his feet kicked up on the dashboard. He opened his eyes into Sam's one-sided smirk and shook his head.  "Don't judge man."

He pushed open the passenger door and eyed Sam's tower of books.  "Took you long enough, what'd you get?"

Dean opened the top volume. "Lovecraft?"  He flipped to a woodcut of something halfway between an octopus and a dragon, a waterfall of slime beneath its cold stare.  "Dang man you found vintage tentacle porn on your first try?!"  Dean held up his palm. "High five little bro."

Sam scoffed and batted Dean’s hand away, awkwardly balancing the rest of his books. He managed to get the back door open so that he could carefully place them in the back seat. All but the one in Dean’s hand, which he took and opened.

“So apparently,” Sam said, “Lovecraft, that’s HPL by the way, was a published author. Dozens of books, and published in lots of magazines, too. But you know what? I’ve never heard of him. Don’t look at me like that, I’m not saying I know of every author ever, but I would have heard of this stuff. You know how I chewed through sci-fi and horror in middle school.”

He flipped through the pages. “The thing is, the internet’s never heard of him either. Something this weird, and I mean, his stuff is weird, would be a cult classic kind of thing. Maybe taught in college. And even if it wasn’t, there’d at least be traces of it, right? You could buy it on Amazon, or find it in libraries. But it’s like Howard Phillips Lovecraft never wrote a single word.” He looked over at Dean, his eyebrows raised. “Things just keep piling up, don’t they?”

Dean tapped the worm jar, a laser-mounted compass from one of his hunting rifles attached to the lid.  It wasn't an exact science, he had to pull over every hundred miles to stare at a map and get his bearings, but eventually the corn fields turned to rolling hills and then the flailing blue sky behind the Rockies.  He said nothing, drumming his fingers to the music as he stole glances at Sam and the growing inkstain on his right hand as he wrote in a spiral-bound notebook, diagramming an unnatural history of America.