It was barely half past eleven at night in the modest police department. Most desks were empty, the holding cells quieted down for the evening. But interrogation room 1A was the place to be for the majority of the late-night staff. A rookie patrolman trudged out to the break room to refill his yellow coffee mug while four other officers remained gathered in the observation room on the other side of the two way mirror. Inside the interrogation room, a blinding block of fluorescent light illuminated a middle aged sergeant sitting across the table from a curvy woman with hair that seemed to have multiplied in curliness due to stress.
“Mrs. Ellis, let me run through the facts with you one more time, just to be sure we’re on the same page here. I understand you’ve had a rough evening, but… please be honest.”
“I’m not lying, you moron! You’re not listening to me!” the woman shrieked hoarsely, slamming her hands on the table.
The officer set his notepad aside and rubbed his temples wearily. Anymore of this nonsense and he might as well take up a post on Sesame Street.
The armored door buzzed open and a patrolman held it open. Two broad men in suits stood behind him. The sergeant raised his head inquisitively.
“Give it a break, Sarge. Insurance investigators are here,” the patrolman announced.
The sergeant gave Mrs. Ellis’ face one last look before happily gathering his things and vacating the interrogation in favor of a nice, long coffee break. The man with close cropped blonde hair brought over the spare chair from the corner and took a seat next to his partner.
“Gina Ellis? I’m Tom Wyatt, this is my partner, Neil Erikson,” the blonde introduced them right off the bat. Gina was pleasantly surprised by the lack of derision in his smile. “I understand someone broke into your house?”
She watched Neil take out a memo pad and pen, all business about him.
“That’s not all they did,” she muttered, then frowned at them. “I uh… I didn’t call my insurance company…”
“We don’t take chances with our favorite customers.” Tom flashed her a charming smile, folding his hands on the table. “Why don’t you tell us what happened.”
She fluttered slightly under his charm. “I, uh… well it’s kind of hard to believe.” She shot a glare over at the officer. Her frizzy hair bobbed when her head jerked. “I was just putting away the groceries, and something seemed… off about my room. I noticed a few little items missing… then when I went into the living room, there was this strange feeling… like walking through molasses.”
Neil scribbled away in his memo pad. “Did you feel anything else when that happened… like a cold spot, for instance?”
“No, nothing like that. But then it was like everything went inside out, and I found myself somewhere… else.” She rubbed her arms, smoothing down the hairs.
"You were drugged?" Tom suggested.
Gina shook her head adamantly. "No, nobody touched me. I would've remembered."
She took a steeling breath, gathering the courage to once again come to terms with her bizarre reality. Gina glanced over at the guard, then leaned in close over the table. "Fellas, I think I got lost in Kim Kardashian's closet."
For the first time, the men's confidence flickered. Tom blinked and gave her a strange look. "Did you say Kim-"
"Kim Kardashian, yeah. You should see the number of shoes she owns- good Lord that woman has more pumps than people living in Montana."
The men exchanged dubious looks at length. Seeing their doubt made her will double in an effort not to lose their interest too.
"So... you were kidnapped, then," Tom said reluctantly.
Gina nodded. "I was walking around for at least three hours... It didn't seem real." She shivered. "And that laughter kept following me around."
"Did you get a look at your kidnapper?" Tom asked.
She shook her head. "Never saw his face."
Neil squinted his eyes at her thoughtfully. "The laughter... did you recognize it?"
"No, no." She furiously shook her head, making her curls fly into disarray. "Never heard anything like it in my life. It was... weird. High pitched, sometimes childish... sometimes more... eerie... and the worst... was when it came from right over my shoulder. Like someone was there, but when I looked, there was nothing at all." She folded her hands on her lap to keep them from twitching while she talked, interlacing the fingers. A chill went up her spine at the memory.
"So you were in there for three hours... do you remember how you got out?" Neil held her gaze with wide-eyed concern, giving her hope that he, at least, believed her.
Gina held tight to his attention, feeling the spark of hope ignite within her that maybe she wasn't suffering from a sudden mental breakdown.
"A mouse hole,” she muttered. "The laughter it... it kept getting louder. I couldn't take it anymore. I went for the first opening I saw in that maze and got the hell out of there. Next thing I know, I'm waking up face-down on the floor of my living room."
"That's a pretty big mouse," Tom remarked with the crooked smile of a man trying to crack a joke. Gina pursed her lips and looked away uncomfortable. His smile dropped.
"Uh...right. At any time during all this did you smell sulfur?" Tom asked.
The guard gave the blonde investigator a strange look, but bit his tongue.
"Sulfur?" she echoed. "Isn't that near volcanoes or something?"
"Has the common odor of rotten eggs. More common with these things than you think,” he replied easily.
Gina frowned, racking her brain. "I can't remember. I'm so sorry. Everything else is so clear to me but I wasn't thinking about what he smelled like..."
"That's alright, ma'am." Tom exchanged a look with Neil, coming to the silent conclusion that they were finished here. "Well it certainly seems like your claims will go through. We'll be in contact within the month. Thanks for your time, Mrs. Ellis."
Sam frowned down at the scrawled notes he had laid out on his lap. "This case is weird," he muttered as he glanced through everything. He grabbed a few sheets, leafing through. "Laughter that follows you, an invisible stalker, a mouse hole bigger than Gina... oh, and don't forget that this all took place in Kim Kardashian's closet, just to top it all off." His eyes flicked up to Dean. "Is any of this making sense to you?"
"Sure, if she was strung up." Dean heaved a frustrated sigh. "But, the tox report came out clean. So that leaves us at square one."
He flicked on the blinker and pulled into the grand entrance of the Motel 6 they had settled on. The exhaustion seemed to kick in the moment Dean shut off the engine.
"It's not just desserts, so probably not trickster. Djinn suck you dry once they've got a hold on you. Honestly, I think the woman's off her rocker. Just your run-of-the-mill crazy."
"Yeah." Sam stifled a yawn into his shoulder, eyes growing heavy. He'd spent the whole day staring at reports and computer screens so far, and he honestly couldn't remember the last time he'd eaten. He blinked at the motel that came into view. For a moment he'd forgotten they were still driving. He'd been completely absorbed in the research. "You getting us a room?"
"Yeah. We'll get out of here tomorrow morning."
Dean left the keys in the ignition as he got out of the car. He stole a glance over his shoulder at his brother's sleepy expression and had to bite back a chuckle. Even after all these years, nothing knocked Sam better than a little drive around the block.
"You staying for the month?" The clerk at the desk could not be rushed. For the heart of California, this town sure had an Old-South pace about it.
"No, just the night." Dean answered, handing over a credit card under the name Jake Klifferman.
The clerk gave him a look over her wire rim spectacles. "Just make sure your lady friend cleans up after herself. Sign here."
Dean scrawled the fake signature onto the receipt. "Uh no, it's not like that. It's a family thing."
"Uh-huh." The clerk rolled her eyes and took her time about finding him the proper room key. Finding the key identified as room 108, she passed it off and collapsed back into her rickety seat.
"Thanks," Dean muttered.
He supposed it could have been worse- she could have assumed that he was the night entertainment, like that drunk waitress from Ohio. Once he reached the edge of the sidewalk Dean stopped short, a deep frown dropping onto his face.
This was worse: the Impala was gone.
He paced up and down the entire line of cars, double checking that the dark hadn't been playing tricks on him. Coming back in front of the empty space, Dean held out his arms in confusion, walking onto the parking space as if the impala might merely be invisible. It had been right here! What on earth would possess Sam to drive away like that? And where had he gone?
"Dammit, Sam,” he hissed under his breath. He pulled out his cell phone and speed-dialed the number he knew by heart.
Sam squirmed in the seat, trying to get comfortable in the small area. The fog of exhaustion fell over his mind while he waited for Dean to get back, drifting in that twilight realm between sleep and waking. He had no real idea how long it'd been since his brother had left to get them a room. He was slowly tipping further into sleep when he heard it.
It teased his brain, staying in the far corners of his mind. Not malicious laughter, but the unrestrained laughter that comes to you in a moment of pure happiness. Sam's lips twitched in his sleep, momentarily disturbed.
At last it faded, leaving him alone in his mind once again. The peacefulness of the moment drew him farther away from wakefulness as time passed by.
It wasn't long before his sleep was once more disturbed. This time a rumbling built up from the ground, shaking both the Impala and her one passenger. Sam groaned, trying to focus his sleep deprived mind back to alertness.
He sat up in his seat. Was that an earthquake? It came again, shaking the keys in the ignition.
"Dean?" he managed to mumble, rubbing his eyes. They snapped open the second he got a good look outside.
The motel was gone.
Before he could properly digest that fact, he spotted the source of the earthquake - a huge wall was coming right at the Impala.
Wait, that's not a wall... that's... boots...
Sam dove for the ignition at the same time as his phone started ringing, desperate to get the car out of the path of the boots. Ignoring the phone in favor of the more urgent problem of he and the Impala's imminent crushing, he practically punched the horn, blaring it at the same time as he turned the car on.
Sam slammed the car in reverse right as the enormous boot - a huge wall of leather and rubber nearly twice as long as the Impala itself - hesitated in midair, bare seconds from crushing them both. Heart in his throat, Sam hit the gas, tires screeching as he backed out from under it, swerving on the thick, bumpy ground that had replaced the smoother asphalt that he remembered Dean parking on earlier. Dean's gonna kill me if I ruin his car, popped inanely into his head. He pushed away those thoughts. Dean couldn't kill him if he got crushed first.
Dean, where are you...
Whipping the car around, a rumble shook the car when the boot hit the ground behind the Impala. He switched into drive, flooring the accelerator. At the back of his mind, he realized his phone had stopped ringing, most likely gone to voicemail.
His thoughts were pulled away when the car shook again. His breath hitched with sudden fear as he glanced out the rearview mirror, afraid of what he'd see.
"Sam. Cut the crap and get back to the motel. If this is--"
Dean gasped, a deep yelp escaping him as a tiny, angry sounding horn sounded out underfoot. A toy car sped out from the shadow of his next step. His balance wavered, the suddenness quite nearly knocking him flat on his ass.
Voicemail abandoned, Dean's eyes bugged out in utter bewilderment as he watched the little thing speed towards the end of the parking space. Without thinking, he lunged towards it, grabbing it before it could get into the middle of the lot. No more than seven inches long from bumper to fender, Dean's hand easily wrapped around the top of the car and over the side windows. He was halfway wondering what idiot kid was playing with a remote control car this late at night when he caught sight of the license plate: KAZ - 2Y5.
"What?" Dean mumbled, eyes racing over every detail of the car... his car. He knew every detail of the precious vehicle like he knew the freckles on his face. What the hell was a miniature version of his baby doing out here?
The tiny tires smoked as it desperately tried to accelerate out of his grip. The acrid smell of burning rubber wafted up. He frowned, spotting movement through the back window. Something was in there. Dean hastily shut his phone and pushed it into his pants pocket.
With his newly freed hand, he whipped out a penlight, shining it through the back window. A tiny silhouette in the front seat cringed as the light hit it. Dean's heart leapt in his chest, time seeming to stand still as he shifted on the ground to pick up the tiny car and turn it around. There was no way there was actually someone driving this mini-Impala, except maybe Papa Smurf.
Dean leaned in close and angled the light in through the driver's side window. The tiny face was illuminated as the white light shone in. A green eye dilated outside the window, widening with horror. In a split second, he had dropped both car and penlight in his shock, scrambling backwards in a kneeling position to distance himself.
No fucking way. He breathed heavily for a moment, his heart hammering in his chest as he came to terms with what he’d witnessed. When the car didn't disappear, Dean cautiously lowered himself back to the ground, his cheek practically against the asphalt to level himself with the tiny car.
A pair of minuscule, equally horrified hazel eyes peered out from the window, solidifying this nightmare into reality.
"Sam," Dean croaked.