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Supernatural The Unholy Cause
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Supernatural The Unholy Cause


  ALSO AVAILABLE FROM TITAN BOOKS:

  Supernatural: Heart Of The Dragon

  by Keith R.A. DeCandido

  Supernatural: War of the Sons

  by Rebecca Dessertine & David Reed

  SUPERNATURAL

  THE UNHOLY CAUSE

  JOE SCHREIBER

  Based on the hit CW series SUPERNATURAL created by Eric Kripke

  TITAN BOOKS

  Supernatural: The Unholy Cause

  ISBN: 9781848569249

  Published by

  Titan Books

  A division of Titan Publishing Group Ltd

  144 Southwark St

  London

  SE1 0UP

  First edition April 2010

  10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  SUPERNATURAL ™ & © 2010 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

  Cover imagery: Front cover image courtesy of Warner Bros.; grunge flag © Shutterstock.

  Visit our website: www.titanbooks.com

  * * *

  What did you think of this book? We love to hear from our readers. Please email us at: [email protected], or write to us at the above address. TO receive advance information, news, competitions, and exclusive Titan offers online, please sign up for the Titan newsletter on our website: www.titanbooks.com

  * * *

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

  A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library.

  Printed and bound in the United States.

  For my brother Dan

  ON FAME’S ETERNAL CAMPING GROUND THEIR SILENT TENTS ARE SPREAD AND GLORY GUARDS WITH SOLEMN ROUND THE BIVOUACS OF THE DEAD.

  - Plaque at Gettysburg

  CONTENTS

  ONE

  TWO

  THREE

  FOUR

  FIVE

  SIX

  SEVEN

  EIGHT

  NINE

  TEN

  ELEVEN

  TWELVE

  THIRTEEN

  FOURTEEN

  FIFTEEN

  SIXTEEN

  SEVENTEEN

  EIGHTEEN

  NINETEEN

  TWENTY

  TWENTY-ONE

  TWENTY-TWO

  TWENTY-THREE

  TWENTY-FOUR

  TWENTY-FIVE

  TWENTY-SIX

  TWENTY-SEVEN

  TWENTY-EIGHT

  TWENTY-NINE

  THIRTY

  THIRTY-ONE

  THIRTY-TWO

  THIRTY-THREE

  THIRTY-FOUR

  THIRTY-FIVE

  THIRTY-SIX

  THIRTY-SEVEN

  THIRTY-EIGHT

  EPILOGUE

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  ONE

  Beauchamp was ready to die.

  He stood at the top of the hill, staring down the wide green slope to the creek, silent in the midday heat. The birds had fallen quiet in the live oaks, and even the breeze had gone still, creating a deep, expectant hush that enveloped the entire field below. The world seemed to be holding its breath.

  Then he saw them—soldiers in blue lining up along the rocky rampart on the other side of the creek. Even from this distance Beauchamp could see their muskets and the buttons on their uniforms glinting in the sun.

  A moment later, they attacked.

  Beauchamp didn’t think. He charged full-tilt down the hill toward the high grass along the creek. His vision jostled, jerking up and down and side-to-side with the force of his own velocity. He could see the muddy creek water now, glinting through the reeds like broken glass. Grasshoppers and tiny insects flew out of the path of his boots. His legs felt as if they had detached from him, pinioning forward hard and fast, gobbling up swathes of the uneven field in long, hungry strides.

  Behind him, there was a roar as his men launched themselves over the hilltop and followed him in his headlong charge.

  Down below, Union riflemen rose up and fired from the other side of the embankment, the cracks of their guns sounding like heavy books being dropped on a library floor.

  Then he was in the middle of it.

  Beauchamp’s own soldiers began firing back, running while they were shooting, stopping only to reload or when minie balls found them and pitched them permanently to the ground with unuttered cries of pain still lodged in their throats. Men were screaming now, letting out the Rebel yell or shrieks of agony.

  Often it was hard to tell one from the other.

  He sprinted the final few feet to the bottom of the hill. Breathing hard, staggering a little, he slowed his step until he was trotting, and then came to a complete halt in the middle of the clearing. All around him, his men were skirmishing hard and close, engaging the enemy on either side, filling his peripheral vision with the blurring, grunting work of hand-to-hand combat. A soldier flew past him and hit the ground, clutching his chest.

  Beauchamp flicked the sweat from his eyes, focusing all his attention on one of the Union sharpshooters who stood behind the ridge, not twenty yards away.

  He felt himself going absolutely still. Time seemed to freeze in its traces. He could smell the dust and gunpowder now, the cypress trees and the slow muddy odor of the creek, the smoke, sweat, and horses and coppery fresh blood, everything heightened to an almost agonizing degree. Everything else—the orders he’d been given, the town below that they were sworn to defend, the lives of the men around him—disappeared.

  Even the sounds of battle dropped away until all he could hear was the pounding of his own heart.

  The sharpshooter was a farm kid not much older than Beauchamp himself. He could see the Yankee’s musket, a .58 caliber Springfield like his own, pointing right at him. He saw the rifleman relax a little, confidence easing into the kid’s face as he drew a bead on his target. From this distance it would be almost impossible to miss.

  Crack!

  That was the Yankee’s musket, accompanied by the muzzle flash bright in the midday heat. Beauchamp saw the little puff of smoke drifting upward.

  Smiling, he waited for it...

  And felt nothing.

  The Union soldier blinked, waiting for him to fall. Still smiling, Beauchamp reached down to pull out his bayonet. It was sharp enough that he could see the honed bevel, and he admired the way it caught the light.

  Do it. Do it now.

  Working carefully, he drew the tip across his own wrist, cutting through the skin so that the blood dripped directly onto his musket, running down its barrel. Then he pointed it at the Union soldier, drew in a breath, letting it out and squeezing the trigger at the same time.

  The musket kicked hard against his shoulder, and the bluecoat’s head disappeared in a cloud of blood and skull fragments, his entire body blown backward by the force of the shot.

  Beauchamp breathed.

  Time broke and began to flow forward again. The sounds of the day returned. All around him, men were screaming—his men, the enemy’s men, all the men in this insane, blood-choked world. It made Beauchamp feel dizzy and ecstatic and drunk at the same time, as the 32nd surged past him to overwhelm the Yankee rampart.

  Bea
uchamp raised one hand and visored his eyes against the glaring sun. Up ahead, in the direction of Mission’s Ridge, the Confederate flag was still flying high. Glimpsing it there, unfurled across the wide blue sky, he felt the walls of his throat tighten with emotion. He raised his musket again, but didn’t reload.

  Instead, he aimed the barrel outward. Somewhere to his left, one of his fellow soldiers, a private named Gamble, was staring at him, mouth half-open.

  “What—” Gamble was struggling to breathe, “what happened?”

  Beauchamp just grinned at him. He could feel the air around his face vibrating a little, almost as if it was coming alive against his skin. The enigmatic majesty of the day was booming through him, like a shot of adrenaline straight to his neural plexus.

  “I shot him.”

  “You killed him?”

  Beauchamp’s grin didn’t falter.

  “That’s right,” he answered.

  “But how?”

  “Easy as pie,” Beauchamp said, and he turned the bloody musket around so that the bayonet was pointed straight at the private’s disbelieving face. With a thrust, he shoved the blade straight into Gamble’s right eye.

  The private screamed, but it didn’t sound like a Rebel yell anymore—it was a yodeling squeal of pain and terror.

  Like the noise a suckling pig makes beneath the butcher’s cleaver, Beauchamp mused.

  Gamble collapsed, cupping his eyes, blood pouring through his fingers, and rolled onto his side. Beauchamp rammed the bayonet between his ribs, rolled him over, and stabbed him in the heart.

  Silence.

  Beauchamp looked up.

  A hush had swept across the open field again. There wasn’t even so much as a whisper of breeze. All around him, on both sides of the barricade, men had lowered their weapons and were staring at him with expressions of sheer disbelief. It was as if God—or some other deity—had pulled the plug on the entire enterprise.

  From where he stood, alone in the open field, Beauchamp looked past the rampart to the sawhorses that divided the field from the parking lot where rows of cars and RVs and motorcycles glinted in the sun. Spectators—men and women and kids—were all gaping at him. Some of them turned away, covering their children’s eyes.

  A radio played tinny music. He could hear a woman’s voice, very clearly.

  “That’s real blood, ain’t it?”

  “Dave...?”

  Another man in a Confederate uniform and slouch cap came jogging toward him, haversack slapping against his left hip. He stopped when he saw Beauchamp standing over the bleeding corpse of Gamble at his feet. His face looked pale, and for a second he couldn’t even speak.

  “Dave. Jesus. Dude... what did you do?”

  Beauchamp twisted his head around. He grinned again, placing the tip of the bayonet under his own chin, feeling the sharp tip against the soft part of the flesh.

  “War is hell,” he said, and he shoved the blade upward.

  TWO

  Sam Winchester was dreaming.

  He dreamt he was standing in front of a picture window in a high-roller’s suite at the Bellagio, with all the gaudy lights of Vegas spilled out below him like a handful of cheap jewelry.

  Behind him, a smooth voice on the flat-screen plasma TV was giving him instructions for blackjack, an in-room tutorial that played twenty-four-seven on this particular channel.

  Sam wasn’t listening.

  Somehow, in the dream he understood that he’d come here to gamble and that he’d won—won big. Turning around, he saw piles of chips and cash heaped on the unmade bed next to an empty champagne bottle that nestled in a chrome bucket full of half-melted ice.

  The voice on the TV droned on in the easy, mellifluous manner of a lounge magician’s patter.

  “When the player chooses to double-down, it always behooves him to look at the dealer’s card first, and then his own.”

  The voice changed, brightening a little.

  “How about you, Sam? Do you know what the dealer’s holding?”

  Sam glanced up at the screen. The face he saw there was familiar, from other dreams and nightmares through which he’d been suffering every night.

  Lucifer.

  “Sam?”

  “Go away,” Sam said. His voice was pinched tight. A feeling of tension was gathering around his throat, hot friction taut against his skin, constricting his vocal cords. “Leave me alone.”

  “Afraid I can’t do that, Sam,” Lucifer replied. “Not now. Not ever.”

  Sam tried to respond, but this time nothing came out. He couldn’t even breathe.

  “Look at yourself,” Lucifer said, and then he was standing next to Sam. “Take a good long look in the mirror and tell me what you see.”

  Look at himself? That was easy. There was no shortage of mirrors in the suite.

  He turned to the nearest one, fingers already clutching for whatever was tightening around his neck. But all he could detect in the mirror was a faint rippling of the skin around his throat.

  Behind him, Lucifer started laughing.

  “You won’t remember most of this when you wake up,” he said, almost sympathetically. “But you’ll know that I’m coming for you.”

  Sam still couldn’t speak. Deep bruise-colored marks were appearing like a collar around his neck. He saw them darkening, forming like the imprints of invisible hands.

  Fear—panic—sprung up in his belly like a cold spike.

  He wanted to scream.

  Somehow he understood that if he could just manage to make a noise, it would stop. The marks would vanish and he’d be able to breathe again.

  But he couldn’t.

  And he couldn’t.

  And he—

  “Hey! Hey, Sam. Drooler.” There was a hand, shaking him, and none too gently. “Yo! Wake up.”

  Sam grunted, jerked backward and opened his eyes, lifting his head away from the window. Behind the wheel of the Impala, Dean regarded him with a look of brotherly amusement.

  “Wipe your face off, man, you look like a freakin’ glazed donut.”

  Without saying a word, Sam grabbed the rearview mirror and tilted it down, lifting his chin to look at his neck. It was unblemished, the skin normal. He let out a breath and sank back into his seat, feeling more wrung-out than relieved.

  Dean glanced over at him again, his expression carefully neutral.

  “Bad dream?”

  “You could say that.” Sam could feel Dean waiting for more, but the imagery was already starting to fade, leaving only a nebulous sense of dread. Trying to articulate it now would only make his brother more suspicious. “Anyway, I’m fine.”

  “Yeah?” Dean didn’t sound convinced.

  “Yeah.”

  “Good.” That was that.

  Dean reached down to turn up the radio, where Lynyrd Skynyrd was trucking through one of the final iterations of ‘Sweet Home Alabama.’ The song had played twice in the last half-hour, but Dean dialed it up anyway, filling the silence with guitars and drums.

  Sam found a fairly clean fast food napkin on the floor and wiped the corner of his mouth, then balled it up and peered out of the window at the scenery. Georgia pines and scrub oak flashed by—heavy forest. Beyond it lay miles of swampland interrupted only by the occasional plantation house, creeks, and hills—the same terrain that had challenged the soldiers of the North and South almost a hundred and fifty years earlier.

  “How much further?” he asked.

  “Shush, I love this part.” Dean turned the guitar solo up, lost in the moment, then came out of it. “Sorry, what’d you say?”

  “You do realize we’re not in Alabama, right?”

  “None of Skynyrd was from there, either.” Dean shrugged. “But you know where they recorded the song?”

  “Let me guess—Georgia?”

  Twenty minutes later they arrived at the cemetery.

  * * *

  The state police had cordoned off the front gates to keep the TV reporters out, along w
ith what looked like at least a hundred curious onlookers. Some held homemade signs: “Cemetery Boy, We Love You” and “Come Home, Toby.” Driving through the crowd, Dean reached out of the window and flashed an FBI badge, and a trooper waved them through with the tired expression of an official long since exhausted with his duties.

  Sam didn’t blame him. It was a zoo out there.

  The graveyard itself was a sprawling old stretch of moss-covered swampland, dotted with ancient gray headstones, many of which sloped sideways or had fallen over, disappearing into the soft earth. The names had disappeared completely off many of the stones, leaving only smooth amnesiac marble.

  Dean parked the Impala under a tall oak tree and he and Sam climbed out, wearing ill-fitting suits that clung to them in the heat. They walked toward the police cruisers and blue uniforms clustered a hundred yards ahead.

  “So,” Dean said, “this kid, Cemetery Boy...”

  “Toby Gamble,” Sam said.

  “Four days ago he disappears from the house.”

  “Right.”

  “Nobody sees a thing.”

  “As far as I know.”

  “And then, yesterday morning...”

  They stopped in front of the mausoleum where a few of the cops were gathered, drinking coffee. Most were staring at the words that had been scrawled directly on the stone in childish, dark reddish-brown letters.

  HALP ME

  “Kid isn’t much of a speller,” Dean commented.

  “He’s only five.”

  “Probably a product of home-schooling.”

  “So are we.” Sam checked the pages he’d printed out earlier. “His mom confirmed that it’s his handwriting.”

  “And the blood?”

  “Sample’s still at the lab.”

  “So that’s all we got?”

  “That,” Sam said, “and this.”

  He pointed over the hill. Dean looked at the headstones that stood on the western edge of the cemetery.

  “Oh.”

  The stones, dozens of them, were all splattered and streaked with the same crooked, spidery childish handwriting.

 
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