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Thin Are the Walls Between Worlds

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It had been a long three days and Miguel was glad for the chance to finally sit and eat something without rushing for a change. He hadn’t even bothered to remove his mask and cape after the last match. When the server — suspiciously giggly with bloodshot eyes and a distinct smell about him — delivered his food, Miguel simply thanked the guy and turned his attention to his food. Blueberry pancakes topped with strawberries, bananas, and whipped cream, two eggs, hash browns, and two strips of bacon, all got slathered in syrup.

His fork sank through the stack of pancakes (and a slice of banana) with just the right amount of resistance. The last diner they’d stopped at had made Miguel wary for life, but there were no gooey undercooked pancakes here. He had his knife in hand about to cut off a delicious mouthful of sticky goodness when the door opened.

Normally, he would have ignored such an occurrence — doors opened at Denny’s all the time and Miguel was hungry — but experience had made him wary. He couldn’t pinpoint the source of his unease, but he had the inexplicable feeling that he should be on the alert for vegetables. Possibly also cars.

There were no vegetables. There were cars outside, but they stayed outside. Miguel would have been relieved if the person who came through the door didn’t look like the result of thousands of hours of CGI. Seriously, how did she(?) have windswept hair, glowing eyes, and blue toned everything in a Denny’s at 10 pm?

Miguel opted to pretend he hadn’t seen anything. He was starving and his pancakes weren’t going to eat themselves (he hoped).

*

Straightening his tie, Garth stepped out of his car and studied the diner. He had given up hunting and wouldn’t have taken this case at all, except it was practically in his backyard and he didn’t want anything threatening Bess and their pups. Besides, the Winchesters had enough on their plates these days, what with Men of Letters and the actual spawn of Satan to worry about. He could handle one little hunt on his own.

Setting foot inside was almost enough to change his mind. Between the team of construction workers still dressed for work despite the late hour, the luchador still in costume, and the crowd of goth kids, it was hard to know where to start. He’d been eating beef hearts so long, he’d forgotten what to expect at a Denny’s.

Evidently, he stood there long enough for a bored-looking server to wander over, grab a menu, and ask, “Table for one?”

Garth had initially intended to walk in as FBI and interview all the employees (even though he hated the way the suit looked on him) but he wasn’t even sure what he was hunting anymore. He needed a few minutes to reevaluate and reconsider which questions to ask. A bit of surreptitious surveillance couldn’t hurt.

“Yes please, ma’am,” Garth replied, but the woman was already turning away to lead him to a table.

Once seated, he ordered a coffee — which was provided almost immediately — and took a better look around. The new location afforded him a better view of tables he couldn’t see before, but that only made things worse. In the low-light section, he could just make out a police officer who could have easily been a monster, since more than a few enjoyed posing as authority figures. Over by the windows sat what looked like a cosplayer dressed like that elf lady from Lord of the Rings when she gets all scary. If he wasn’t on a hunt and trying to stay under the radar, he might have asked if he could take her picture to send to Dean.

There was something about her scent that wasn’t quite right, though. It had taken Garth a while to get used to the confusing array of smells he could pick up with his werewolf-enhanced senses, but he had a decent handle on it now, and the elf lady was definitely something else. Cosplayer or not, he wasn’t likely to smell smoke and ash, milk, and flowers all on the same person, and especially not in February when there weren’t any flowers blooming.

Just then, the elf lady noticed him staring. She appeared to consider him, her luminous white eyes catching and holding his gaze until she was satisfied, releasing him with a tiny nod. While Garth was still trying to figure out how he had missed such a significant detail as that, she picked up her bowl of fruit and carried it over to his table.

“I will sit with you,” said the elf lady, combining words and action so the only way to deny her would have been outright rudeness.

Garth was many things, but rude was not one of them. “Heck, you coulda just asked, ma’am, but sure, I don’t mind.” The combination of smells was frustratingly buried in the back of his head, something he was sure he’d read about at some point, but couldn’t quite recall. “Back before I met my wife, the most wonderful person I know, I used to get lonely, too.”

Elf lady’s clothing somehow billowed in a non-existent breeze. “I do not lack companionship. I know you, hunter, and I know your quest. I come to inform you that I am not the one you hunt.”

“Now, I wanna believe you. I really do. But you’ve gotta admit, you don’t exactly blend in here.” Garth had his suspicions about the woman, and he was beyond glad to have recognized enough to at least make him watch his tongue. His natural politeness could have gotten him into a whole heap of trouble.

Her eyes flared brighter. “I am the goddess of springtime and this is my holy day. Mortals once left me offerings, invited me into their homes in the hopes that I might bless them and their lands with renewed fertility.” Between one sentence and the next, she seemed to deflate, her eyes dimming and the invisible wind machine switching off. “This year, however, all I find are mortals dancing around bonfires, as if they expect my blessings without offering anything in return. I fear they have forgotten the old ways.”

The description was the information Garth needed. “Pleased to make your acquaintance, Brigid. You’re even prettier than the stories say. You can call me Garth.”

“Garth.” She said his name as if trying out the sound of it. “You know our ways well, Garth. What seek you here?”

“Y’know, I’m not even sure there’s a case here now,” Garth reluctantly admitted. “I’ve been following reports of a person showing up on camera with bright glowing eyes. I’ve got my computer set up to tell me when things like that happen, just so I can keep my loved ones safe. Thing is, they keep cropping up in diners, so when the trail was pointing here, I figured I’d better come take a look. Better safe than sorry.”

Brigid eyed him with speculation. “I can provide you with the information you seek, if you swear to tell at least a dozen people the proper rituals for my holy day.”

“I agree on one condition.” Garth took a sip of his coffee before continuing. “You gotta tell me what those rituals are, so I know what information I’m supposed to be sharing.”

Brigid smiled and it was almost not scary. “I agree to your bargain. The one you seek is garbed for combat, in the traditional manner of his people, but has come to this place only to eat.”

“You mean, he’s here now, hunting?” Garth bumped his knee on the table trying to get up too quickly, causing his coffee to splash over the edge of the cup a bit.

While Garth mopped up the spilled coffee with a napkin, Brigid shook her head, her smile widening. “I fear you have misjudged your quarry. He is here for food, purchased with ordinary mortal coin, and when he has eaten his fill of pancakes, he shall depart.”

Garth chuckled to himself. “Shucks, if anyone can understand what it’s like being misunderstood, it’d be me. Would it offend you if I invited him to share our table? Or I could go sit with him instead, if you’d prefer. I wanna go talk to him, just to make sure the fella’s got all the support he needs. Must be hard being different all on your own.”

Standing, Brigid picked up her bowl of fruit once more. “We shall sit at his table so that you might speak with him. When you are satisfied, I shall educate you in the ways you must share with others.”

Standing more carefully than before, Garth lifted his coffee off the table and took another look around the room. Suddenly the luchador costume made so much more sense. Garth replied, “I agree to your terms.”

As they crossed the room to meet with a shapeshifting luchador, Garth realized that Denny’s was probably the only restaurant where someone like that could sit at a table with a lycanthrope and a Celtic goddess and not have to worry about blending in. It was both unsettling and oddly reassuring.

*

PLGURTHRLLYLC was pleased. They had been promised a place in a story, and while the others might not remember, PLGURTHRLLYLC was incapable of forgetting. There were a great many things they could have been, but the great Denny’s was beyond their expectations. Tasting each of the beings inside their structure, PLGURTHRLLYLC considered eating one, just because they could.

The one called Garth said something that made the others smile. PLGURTHRLLYLC stroked their heads with incorporeal tendrils instead of devouring them. There was always tomorrow. Of course, PLGURTHRLLYLC would no longer be the great Denny’s then. There was a palpable sense of impending conclusion in the air.

Extending their senses through the earth, PLGURTHRLLYLC reached out with thoughts and tentacles to their kin. When they made contact, PLGURTHRLLYLC proclaimed, HELLO. LOOK, PLGURTHRLLYLC IS IN A STORY TOO!

Through their bond, PLGURTHRLLYLC felt approval from the one currently called The Bunker.