As Sam forced his way to wakefulness, the darkness tried to keep him down.
His mind stubbornly clawed its way out of the black abyss it had been cast into. All he knew was that the darkness wanted to keep him for eternity.
Though he was the youngest of the family, the trademark brand of Winchester stubbornness was no less potent. It was that determination that made him open up his eyes.
The darkness persisted.
Long shadows climbed the walls around Sam. A wood grain pattern covered the surface instead of the tacky motel room wallpaper he was expecting. The air had a chill that stood out in stark relief compared to the warmth of the days he remembered. The darkness continued to try and close in, but it wasn’t as absolute as it had been while he slept.
Sam let his head fall back down on the bed. Just the energy needed to look at his surroundings sapped him. His arms and legs went limp as he sucked in deep breath.
“Dean?” Sam’s voice was high-pitched and wavered with his worry. The flat, dead air around him swallowed the sound greedily.
Sam gulped. Where was he? Where was his family?
The memories that shoved their way into his mind didn’t help clear things up. A woman, standing in their room. Angry voices shouting back and forth.
Dean, pinned to a wall. Squirming helplessly with murder in his eyes, but he might as well be just a fly for all the good it did.
“Dean!” Sam’s second cry for his brother was stronger as some of his strength began to return. His throat was dry, keeping him from a full shout of desperation. Sam shoved himself up from the bed he was laying on. He needed to find Dean.
That was when the strangeness of his surroundings really started to sink in.
Artwork by creatorofuniverses
The surface he was laying on wasn’t a bed. In fact, as best Sam could tell, it didn’t seem to be more than a mass of blankets. Practically a nest of fabric that conformed to his body. There was no mattress below the covers. Just more covers.
The rest of the room made just as little sense. Dim light filtered through cracks in the walls and ceilings, illuminating motes that drifted peacefully in the air. A large blanket was draped over the only exit from the room, serving as a door.
Sam’s breathing quickened. No matter where he looked, nothing made sense.
Nothing was familiar.
As though summoned by the third call for Dean that died on Sam’s lips, a small woman bustled into the room.
Blonde hair cascaded over slim shoulders. Standing straight, she wouldn’t reach past Dean’s chin, despite the fact that at fourteen years of age, he wasn’t yet done growing. It made her one of the most petite women Sam had ever met.
He had no idea how true that was.
The woman’s blue eye were warm and soft as they landed on Sam. A silvery cup was held in one hand, nearly overflowing with water. She offered him a welcoming smile.
“Thank goodness you’re awake,” she breathed, perching on the edge of the fabric nest. Up close, Sam could see that her clothing was all handmade, lacking the straight lines and sharp corners he was used to. The fabric was thicker than his as well. Perhaps it was because of how cool the room was.
The metal cup of water was held out in his direction. Realizing how thirsty he was, Sam accepted it eagerly, gulping down the cool liquid.
She went on as he drank. “We almost thought you wouldn’t wake. It’s been a week since we saved you.”
While she talked, another figure appeared at the doorway, leaning against the wood frame. Tall and stern, this man was almost of a height with Sam’s dad. His blond hair and blue eyes triggered a chord in Sam’s mind
Like he’d seen him before.
None of that vied for Sam’s attention the way her words did. “A… week?” Sam asked, lowering down the strange metal cup. It bent a little in his hand as he tightened his grip, but he didn’t notice.
The woman’s blue eyes were soft as she nodded solemnly.
“B-but…” Sam stuttered as he recalled the rest. “Dean. What happened to Dean?! He should be here, did he get hurt?!”
The woman and the man shared a look that was heavy with meaning, and the man came over. He was so much taller than she was, but even his stern demeanor softened at the sight of the scared child sitting in the fabric nest.
“Sam,” he said softly, “do you remember me?”
Sam shook his head, tears welling up in his hazel eyes.
The blue-eyed man brushed Sam’s messy hair back. “My name’s Walt, and this is Mallory,” he introduced, his voice remaining level. “A few days ago, you and your brother got attacked. Do you remember that?”
Sam nodded mutely.
“That lady… the w-itch…” Walt was uncertain as he enunciated the word as though he’d never said it before. “She hit you with something. Some… spell. After it was cast, your brother couldn’t see you.”
Walt swallowed thickly. “We got you out before you got hurt more… but Sam… your family. They’re gone. The witch ran and they chased her.”
Sam’s eyes started to spill over. “N...no,” he mumbled. “Dean wouldn’t leave me. They wouldn’t abandon me!” By the end, he was shouting, his thin voice going up an octave in his panic. The memories in his mind clamored for attention. They overlapped and caused his breath to hitch.
The memory of holding a tiny man named Walt in his hands was swept away by rising panic.
Both Walt and Mallory flinched at the sound of his shout, eyes nervously flashing to their ceiling. Mallory put a delicate hand on Sam's shoulder. “Sam, they never wanted to,” she said in her lyrical voice. “They thought the witch killed you and just wanted to…” She trailed off, her eyebrows furrowing with uncertainty.
“She cursed you, Sam,” Walt cut in gruffly. “Everyone you knew is a giant. That’s why they didn’t see you and that’s why we had to get you out of there. They’re dangerous.”
A silence stretched out between them. Sam’s hand started to shake, more of the cup crumpling inwards as a tear slid down his cheek. “G-giants?” he asked timidly.
Something in his mind clicked before Walt could get out another word. “No! ” Sam stated firmly. “Dean’s not… Dean would never...” His words jumbled and he started to hyperventilate.
Sam shoved the covers off. His water splashed out of the deformed cup. Droplets of water spilled onto the wooden flooring.
Hot. He was too hot.
The world was too cold but he was too hot.
Walt just barely managed to catch the metal cup as it fell, but it was too late.
Sam stumbled out of the bed… nest… fabric. He almost fell over to dodge a well-meaning grab from Mallory, her face covered with sympathy. Sam squirmed between the two people that had saved his life, his desperation giving energy to his escape.
He needed to go. Dean was out there, he had to be.
Sam just had to find him.
Shoving the fabric draped over the door frame, Sam ignored the cries of alarm that came from his former room. His eyes darted around the new room, and he quailed at the sight of a penny casually kicked against the side of the wall.
It was large enough to serve as a dinner plate.
No, they’re making it up. They’re lying, they have to be!
As soon as he saw another door frame, Sam ran for it. He had to get out before they grabbed him and put him back in bed. There might not be another chance for escape. Dean always told him to watch out for himself. A hand brushed reflexively against the knife tucked away in his soft tan jacket and Sam prayed he never had to use it.
There was a block in front of the door. It was heavy, but Sam shoved it to the side. The adrenaline filling him made his hands shaky, but it gave him energy he could draw on. He needed to get away, he needed to escape.
A dark passageway arched overhead. The panic that Sam was drowning in refused to let him really see it. He couldn’t make out the cobwebs that lurked in the unreachable corners. The nails in the wooden walls were bigger than his hand but his eyes just brushed over them. He needed to run.
And so he ran.
Wind whipped Sam’s hair into a frenzy. In the distance, the sound of boots came. He was being followed. Panic lent speed to his strides, and Sam pushed himself like he’d never pushed himself before. It was a race. He needed to find a way out of this dark world before that Walt could catch him. It was as simple as that.
Sam’s eyes flashed from side to side as he searched for a way out. The dark walls were dusty, but footprints could be made out in the thick dust. Sam set himself to following them, driven by desperation. He was only ten, and his legs weren’t as long as Walt’s. If it took him too long to find help, he’d lose the race.
“Sam! Wait up, please! You don’t understand!”
Sam pushed the voice out of his mind and ran even faster, if that was possible. A wood splinter jutted out, nearly tripping the young kid up, but he only stumbled, scraping one hand against the ground. The skin was raw and red as he forced himself to run again.
He spotted a light in the distance, and a tiny bubble of hope filled his chest.
A way out.
There was another shout in the distance, but Sam didn’t even hear it this time. The wall gave way to an opening where the light was, and Sam felt triumph fill his chest as it turned out to be warm motel room light. He was safe. He could just walk out the door and go search for…
Any thought he had in mind trailed off as Sam skid to a halt.
Something was more than wrong. The room was distorted, the beds and walls arching up over his head by what seemed like miles. He’d run right past the gigantic nightstand, thinking it was just another hallway, leaving him exposed in the center of the floor.
Sam froze, his entire body filling with fear as he realized that Walt may have been telling him the truth.
The Kansas summer heat didn't reach inside the room, with the air conditioning unit cranked up and humming away by the window. Murmured voices could be heard outside, the deep bass of a man and the softer warble of his wife chatting with some of the locals. Jacob only heard them because he knew they were there, but the sound was faint indeed.
He didn't particularly mind. He was busy tracing two toy trucks along the pattern of the worn out carpet. One in each hand, he also created sound effects of his own, mumbling out engines and tires screeching as the little vehicles chased each other around at his direction.
There was a park down the road from the motel, and Jacob wanted to go and play there, but his parents told him they'd do that later. Something about waiting for the afternoon when the sun wasn't beating down from straight overhead.
They'd put a stop to him running his trucks around on the sidewalk in front of their room very quickly. His mama had coaxed him back into the room with an apple juicebox, a bribe which he happily accepted. He thought absently that he should go and peek outside to ask her for another one.
One of his trucks drove right over his leg with a make-believe rumble of the engine, and then a made-up crashing sound as it hit the carpet on the other side.
"Oh no!" the invisible driver of the other truck said breathily, as it took a long route around to go and check on its fallen friend.
"We got it," they determined, while one truck flipped the other over again. Jacob grinned proudly. He shifted to get his feet underneath himself, propping his hands on his little toy trucks.
"Let's race," the pretend drivers said to each other, before Jacob pushed the toys along the carpet with more sound effects.
He exited his corner of the room near the table, and the trucks made a drifting turn as he rounded his parents' bed. Jacob almost stumbled, his sneakers hitting the carpet hard for a few steps, but he kept on and pushed the trucks around the foot of the bed.
He angled sharply to take his trucks through the space between the beds, but stopped abruptly. Something in his path drew his attention like a lightning rod, and Jacob's mouth formed a small 'o' as he stared.
It looked like a tiny little action figure, but it wasn't one of Jacob's. His eyes were wide with wonder as he stared. The small figure stood mere feet away from him, and Jacob's face slowly broke into a grin.
The tiny person was staring back, and that meant they weren't a toy. They were real!
Suddenly, the race between the toy trucks wasn't important at all. Jacob took his hands off them and simultaneously sprang forward. He landed with an oof, but he still smiled, for his hands had formed a dome over the small figure.
“No, no, no,” Walt said under his breath as he tried to keep up with Sam’s fleeing figure. He needed to catch the kid before he stumbled himself ass backwards into trouble. The problem was Sam might be scrawny, but he was fast.
After losing Bree so recently, Walt refused to lose another kid like this. Even one that was a human so recently. Big enough to grab Walt up in a fist, and keep him trapped.
Yet Sam had snatched him off the ground, all by accident, and hadn’t tried to keep him at all. Just talked, and put him back down. The kid had a kind soul, and Walt could believe that some humans might actually be trustworthy.
Trying to warn Sam’s family of the witch that was going to attack them had ended in failure. Walt was too late. He’d found the room in chaos, the older brother shouting his heart out in a thundering voice, and Sam…
For a moment Walt had feared the child was already dead. Spotting the tiny figure on the ground had solidified his determination, and he’d dared to dart out into the open to haul Sam out of the way. The father of the boys had come in, saving Dean at the last second.
If Walt hadn’t taken Sam, the boy’s own father might have unknowingly stepped on him.
“Sam! Wait up, please! You don’t understand!”
Walt’s shout was ignored. The tiny figure running from him veered for where a crack was letting in light, and his heart fell. That opening lead to one of the closer motel rooms. Sam was defenseless if he stumbled into it.
By the time Walt made it to the room, it was already too late.
He squirmed his own way into the room, the leather bag over his shoulder almost catching on the opening. Sam was out in the center of the floor, frozen in fear, and at the end of the towering beds, was…
A human kid, younger than Sam, staring in disbelief at the tiny child.
Walt tossed himself against the back of the nightstand as he heard the human moving.
I failed him…