Photographs & Gasoline

Lexanna Raen was born into a normal family - a normal family, that is, until the death of her mother leads her father back into a dark life he never thought he would have to return to. Moving around throughout her entire adolescence was normal to her, but watching her father being murdered by an unnameable creature from hell was definitely not. With new knowledge of who her father was, and who her siblings were raised to be, Lexanna sets off on a journey to find the supernatural creature that murdered her father and return the favor. However, she's not the only "Hunter" out there. Though she had knowledge of the infamous Winchester family, she never thought she would come across them. Until she did, of course, and then there was no going back. Now traveling with Sam and Dean Winchester; Lex must struggle to keep the secrets of her horrific past in the dark.

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5. The Bird and the Worm

After spending three days on the road, I still had no leads on where to find Danielle. The feeling of doom was lingering within the pit of my stomach; daring to offer a solution as to why I couldn't find her. The only answer I could think of was that she was dead, but that wasn't an answer I was willing to accept. While part of me insisted on her lack of existence, another part of me merely hoped she was alive—somewhere. I hadn't thought to track our conversation, and even if I had, the call hadn't lasted enough for me to have successfully pinpointed a location. Still, I hope—prayed, even—that she was out there. Somewhere; anywhere. All I had to do was find her, and I was going to try my damnedest to do so.

As I was driving throughout the state of Oregon, a familiar feeling washed over me. It was the same feeling I experienced when I felt myself losing lucidity. I closed my eyes tightly; briefly; before opening them again. "You're okay," I muttered to myself. "You're going to be fine. You're not going to black out."

Despite the attempt at reassurance, the feeling continued washing over me. I inhaled sharply and exhaled equally as heavily. I smacked my right hand to my cheek. I needed to do everything I could to keep myself from fading away, but, with the feeling looming over me, I knew the darkness would soon dare to encompass me. Soon, the same feeling I experienced when the darkness overtook me spread throughout my body. Yet, to my surprise, there was no blackness.

'Malheur County,' whispered a voice in my head.

I furrowed my eyebrows at the words. I placed my palm against my forehead and shook my head briefly. I mumbled to myself, "You're going crazy, Lex."

'Malheur County,' came the voice again.

As desperately as I wanted to pretend as though the voice wasn't there, and that I hadn't heard anything, I had the desire to listen to its instructions. At some point, I knew I was going to lose my sanity entirely—permanently, and if listening to one of the voices in my head was going to push me over that edge, at least it would have happened while trying to do right by my only friend.

I pressed my foot harder on the gas pedal and searched for an exit to Malheur County while my car sped up. After nearly forty-five minutes, I saw a small white side on the left side of the road informing me that I would be in Malheur County within the next six miles. I leaned back against my seat and exhaled slowly. I was hoping this was where I would find Danielle. I was hoping this was where she would still be alive.

Six miles later, I was in Malheur County with a population of about thirty thousand people. I pulled my car into the parking lot of a Motel 6, silenced the engine, grabbed my bags, and went into the building. I made my way to the front desk, where a woman near to my age was flipping through a magazine. I placed my card down in front of her and investigated my surroundings as well as I could while standing in one place.

She took the credit card, began entering my information, and slipped a laminated motel-card towards me. "Could you please fill one of these out, Miss Kelly?"

I grabbed a pen from the nearby holder and began jotting down my information as quickly as possible. I heard the woman mutter something to me while I wasn't listening. I lifted my head and cocked an eyebrow at her. "Pardon?"

"I asked if there was some sort of special occasion going on."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, some girl checked in about a week ago by the name of Virginia Kelly. I kind of assumed she was your sister or something."

My eyes flashed to her. "Which room was she staying in?"

"Thirteen," she answered, shrugging. "She hasn't checked out yet, but I haven't seen her recently, either. Wonder if she got caught up with that guy who came by for her or something."

"What guy?" I asked urgently, leaning closer. "What did he look like?"

"He was tall, dark brown hair, brown eyes," she said, looking up to me. "Kind of looked like you, actually, but not exactly, you know. Are you all siblings, or something?"

"Or something," I said, flashing a quick smile. "If you don't mind, I'll room with Virginia. She is my sister, after all."

"What's up with the names?" she asked, handing me a spare key to the room.

"Names?"

"You know. Georgia and Virginia. Were your parents obsessed with the states?"

"Yes," I answered slowly. "Big on traveling."

"Well, it's weird. Anyway, enjoy your stay."

I rolled my eyes, snatched the key, and quickly found the room. I unlocked the door and went inside. There was nothing unordinary about the room; nothing that would give me a lead as where Danielle could possibly be. I threw my luggage down on the bed and began to scour every nook and cranny for the reason she was in Malheur County.

I searched everywhere I could possibly think of—from under the bed, the closet and the drawers of the dresser. There was no sign that Danielle had ever been here. The feeling of doom returned to the pit of my stomach. I was at the point where I could no longer try and deny the fact that she was, very possibly, perhaps, in fact, dead.

I flung myself down on the bed and placed my head in my hands. "Goddammit, Dani," I whispered to myself, feeling my emotions beginning to overwhelm me. "Where the hell are you?"

Moments after talking to myself, my cell phone began to vibrate in my pocket. I quickly scrambled to pull it out, rip it open, and shove it to my ear. "Hello?" I called desperately into the speaker. "Thelma, is that you?"

"Oh, Lexi," said a masculine voice with a patronizing tone. "These little nicknames really are quite pathetic."

I frowned at the familiarity of the voice. I recognized it, but I couldn't put my finger on who it could possibly be.

"Oh, Lexi?" it came again. "Are you there, Lexiloo?"

My heart skipped a beat at my childhood nickname. "Kimber?" I asked incredulously. "Is that you?"

"I am truly disappointed to know that you didn't figure it out sooner," he answered, then clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth. "Anyhow, a little bird told me that you were in town. Have you come for your little pet?"

"My little pet?" I mocked. "Where is she?"

"Well, if you really want to know, I suppose we'll have to meet again, won't we? It's been quite some time, hasn't it? Five years, give or take. Do you remember our lasting meeting, Lexiloo?"

I pressed my lips together and lingered in silence for a few moments. "Yes, I do."

"Of course, you do," he said, the patronizing tone returning to his voice. "It wasn't the ideal separation, but I'm sure you know that."

"Kimber, you can't think that I—"

"—now, now, no time for remorse, Lexi. I know how eager you are to see sweet, little Danielle again. If you want that to happen, you'll meet me at the nearest warehouse in the county."

"What have you done with her?"

"We'll just have to find out, won't we?"

"Kimber," I growled. "What has gotten into you? Where the hell is Danielle?"

"The nearest warehouse, Lexi. I'll be waiting."

Before I could slip in a response, the call died out. My heart began to palpitate in my panic. I rose off of the bed and ran out of the motel as quickly as my legs would allow. I completely ignored the thought of taking my car and began running down the street, looking for any warehouses I could find.

I ran and ran until I noticed a warehouse in the distance. It looked to be abandoned. Whether or not this was the correct place, I didn't know. All I knew is that I would search Malheur County up and down until I found Kimber and Danielle alike. I ran to the building and threw myself inside. The door slammed shut behind me and echoed off of the walls. I looked back and forth, but there was no one inside. It was obvious that this facility hadn't been used in years.

"Kimber!" I yelled out to the echoing walls. "Where the hell are you!?"

There was nothing—purely silence. I took a few steps forward and peered into the darkness for any signs of movement. The air was still and the rooms were silent. I figured I had gone to the wrong place. As I was turning around to head to the next warehouse, a metallic objected smashed into my skull, rendering me unconscious.

---

In the near distance, there was a repetitive dripping of a leaky pipe. Plop, plop, plop into the same puddle, one after another. It was enough to drive any person insane, especially for someone who barely had sanity left to cling to.

I slowly began to open my eyes. My head was throbbing with sharp pain. I craned my neck to turn my face upwards. I forced my eyes open and squinted at the beam of sunlight shining down from part of the roof that was missing. It was aimed directly at me, as though I were placed in a spotlight. I attempted to move my arms, only to find that I was bound to a chair.

"Kimber," I muttered. "You did this, didn't you, you bastard?"

"It's not very kind to call people vulgar names, Lexi," his soft voice came from in front of me. I opened my eyes further, looking into the darkness, but I couldn't spot his shape. I could feel his presence near, however.

"You asked me to meet you," I said hoarsely. "Why smack me in the head and tie me to a chair? This isn't a very civil meeting."

"I don't know what gave you the impression that this meeting would be civil. I had no intentions of it being so. How foolish of you to assume such things."

I cleared my throat. "Cut the shit. You baited Danielle to get me here—now I'm here. What do you want?"

"To have a little discussion."

"About what?"

"In due time," he said.

Kimber stepped forward; into the light. There was something different about him—darker. Some part of him that I had never remembered seeing, even throughout my childhood. He stared at me with dark, angry eyes. I lifted my eyes to meet his. Whoever this was, standing before me, was not Kimber—not anymore.

"Where's Danielle?" I demanded.

"You should worry about your own wellbeing and not Danielle's. She's not the only tied to a chair, now is she?"

"That whole phone call—it was staged, wasn't it? Was that even Danielle?"

"Oh, yes, of course. It was very much Danielle. It's hard to fake a voice without the voice itself, don't you think?"

"So, what was it—you kidnapped her—forced her to call me?"

"Something of that sort, yes," he nodded, then tilted his head slightly. "I did, in fact, kidnap Danielle. From the Motel 6 that you're currently staying at. I brought her back, tied in her the same chair in which you are sitting, held her cell phone to her ear and, say, gave her a script. She did very well. I am so proud. She would be a fantastic actress."

"What is going on, Kimber? Why the hostage situation? If you wanted to talk to me, you could have called me. This isn't like you."

"Many things have changed in five years, including the two of us. I'm not the same person you remember, nor are you the same person I remember. You haven't been the same since we last saw one another."

"No matter how much you would have changed in five years; you wouldn't have become this. This is the work of…"

"Of what?" he asked.

"A monster."

A devilish smile spread across his lips. "A monster," he repeated, nodding his head a few times. "You've hit the nail on the right head, Lexanna. The work of a monster this situation is, indeed. However, you're quite mistaken. I'm not the monster here. That would be you."

"I'm a monster?" I laughed. "How do you figure?"

"Oh, little sister, your naivety is truly uncanny."

"Naivety?"

"Lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment."

"Thank you for the grammar lesson," I grumbled. "You know what I meant."

"Your ignorance is pathetic, Lexanna. Not to mention, something I have very little patience for," Kimber said. "Think, little sister. When was the last time we were face-to-face? What happened?"

She closed my eyes for a moment. When I opened them again, I looked up to him. "It was the night Dad died."

"I think you mean the night Dad was murdered."

"Yeah, the night Dad was murdered."

"Why ever did that happen?"

"I know you're hinting that it was my fault, but how could it have been? I wasn't the one the clawed him to death."

"Perhaps not, but you were the one that sat roadside as an audience member. Do you think that doesn't make you equally as responsible? You did nothing to stop it. You simply watched. You may as well have had a bag of popcorn resting in your lap."

"There was nothing I could do!"

"Do you mistake me for a fool?"

"Kimber, I tried to help him. I wanted nothing more than to stake the thing that was tearing him apart, but I couldn't. I can't explain what happened. I tried to move, but there was nothing. I stayed perfectly in place."

"Mm," he nodded. "How fascinating."

"Please believe me," I begged. I looked up at him and swallowed the hard lump in my throat. "I didn't want him to die. I wanted to help him."

Kimber stared at me with his dark eyes for several moments before beginning to walk circles around my chair very slowly. "You know, Lexanna, birds are truly intriguing creatures. Many mistake them for being unintelligent, but they're rather cunning," he said, then paused in front of my chair. He leaned forward, placing his hands on the arms, and inching his face close to mine. "Did you know that birds, while hunting for worms, will try and snatch them from the ground? If the worm digs itself deep enough into the soil, to where it's safe and unreachable, birds will tap the concrete with its beak so that the worm thinks it has walked away? Then, when everything is quiet, and it thinks it is safe, the worm will poke its head out from the soil, then the bird will snatch it from the ground."

I stared into his eyes and furrowed my eyebrows. "What's your point?"

"Well, my point is that; you're the worm, and I'm the bird."

"The bird and the worm," I nodded. "How clever of you."

"Why, thank you. I do find myself to be quite bright."

"What was the point of bringing me here? To confront me about Dad's death? Could have been done easier with a phone call."

"No, no," he shook his head, backing away from the chair. "This isn't a confrontation. This is an act of revenge."

"Tying me to a chair and forcing me to listen to your voice is an act of revenge?"

"You've always thought of things so simply, little sister," he said, a smirking rising along his lips. "I admire you for that, but no, tying you to a chair is no way to be vengeful. No, this is much more—a façade, if you will."

"Where's the underlying appearance beneath the concealment, then?"

Kimber flashed a quick smile. "That would be this," he said, removing a handgun from the pocket of the pea coat on his body. "This is the silver lining."

I pressed my lips into a thin line at the sight of the gun. "Silver linings usually entail a positive outcome, you know."

"This is a positive outcome," he said, feigning confusion. "You see, as my act revenge for allowing our father to die, I'm going to kill you."

"What?"

"I'm sorry, am I not being understood?" he wrenched his face into concern before placing the barrel of the gun to the middle of my forehead. "Let me make this easier to understand: I am going to pump an iron round directly into your skull."

"No, you won't," I shook my head, looking up to him. "I'm your baby sister. You won't kill me. You don't have the audacity."

"Let's not beat around the bush, here. You're saying I don't have the balls, but you're wrong. I have been meticulously planning this for months. I am very much audacious enough to kill you here and now. Which is what I intend to do."

I shook my head several times. "No. No, you won't."

He stared at me for a few long seconds before raising the gun and releasing a bullet into my leg. I screamed out in pain and looked down to the bleeding wound. I took a few sharp breaths and glared up at him. "Have you lost your fucking mind!?"

"No, I'm very sane. Quite clearheaded, in fact."

I looked down to my leg with my jaw clenched. I took a few heavy breaths before looking up to him. "That was just my leg. You love me too much to shoot me in the hit. Right, big brother?"

"It's not wise to patronize someone with a gun."

"You won't do it—you can't. I'm your little sister. You love me."

"No, you see, I love Acelyn. At one point, yes, I did love you. However, that's no longer the case. I feel no love for the person who sat by and watched my father die."

"Jesus Christ, Kimber, you can't be serious. I tried to help him! I did everything I could, but I was frozen in place! I'm sorry, okay? I'm sorry that he died. I'm sorry that I stood there. I didn't want that to happen!"

"Look into my eyes and tell me if I am serious," he said blankly with his eyes locked on mine.

I shifted my gaze to match his. I looked into his eyes—studied the darkness in them. As much as I wanted to continue tantalizing him; I knew there was nothing but seriousness lying within his brown irises. There was no remorse; no love—merely the intent to murder.

I looked away from him and drew in a sharp breath. Where had my brother gone?

"I know," I said quietly. "I know you're serious—I can see that now, but I'm begging you; don't do this. Kimber, please, don't do this. I did something horrible; I know that. I allowed someone so important to all of us meet his demise, and I'm sorry for that. I'm sorry for being an accomplice to murder. I'm asking you, please, don't hurt me. If you feel any love for me, somewhere deep down; let me go."

My brother watched me in silence for several dragging minutes. Within his eyes, it looked as though he was at war with himself. His eyes shifted between hardness and softness. The softness, however, was quickly overturned by the hardness. His eyes flashed cold again. "That's the predicament," he began. "I feel nothing but pure hatred for you. There is not one single ounce of love or forgiveness in my soul for you."

I opened my mouth to speak, but I pressed my lips back together when he brought the gun level with my chest. We held a stare as he placed his index finger atop the trigger. I used my eyes to plead with him, but his gaze held nothing in return. As Kimber's index finger began to pull the trigger, I allowed my eyes to close. "I'm sorry," I whispered to anyone I had ever wronged, even though they would never hear it.

For a few seconds, the sound of nothingness lingered in the frozen air. As I sucked air into my lungs—the last breath I would take—the thunderous crack of the bullet launching from the barrel of the handgun echoed through the air. The rushing of the bullet ripping through the air, towards my body, pierced my eardrums. The scene was agonizingly slow. There was no way to calculate the impact of the bullet in a moment of lethargy such as this.

My bones rattled viciously when the bullet punctured my torso, and white hot pain went radiating throughout my body. The impact of the bullet sent me flying backward. The chair slammed into the ground, causing my face to scrape against the rough concrete floor. Warm, thick blood began to pour out of my body from the space between each side of my ribcage.

Kimber's feet shuffled slowly towards me. I forced my eyes open and looked up. He was squatting before me now, studying the state I was in. An evil smile split across his face before he spoke calmly. "Sleep now, little sister."

He reached forward and pulled my eyelids down.

I washed away with familiar darkness. The sound of his footsteps faded away until I was left in the silence with my body growing cold as unconsciousness and death crept over me.

This is what it was like to die—silent and numb.

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