Title: ¿Qué pasiones?
Genre: gen, pre-series, hurt/comfort, monster theory
Characters: the Impala (POV), Sam, Dean, John, Tasha Banes
Word Count: ~1200
Notes: Written for "Seasons," the spnshortstories gen anthology!
Summary: Two boys in the desert, armed to the teeth with nothing they'll need tonight. The first time anyone sees a chupacabra stateside.
Dean, Sam whispers. Don't turn around.
Her cousins tell their stories on their skin--a gourd-colored Jesus with his head angled at an angel, asking questions. A '64 with blue flames that's spent his life between Sonora and El Paso. Her favorite--an uncle in gold-flecked magenta, his hood done up like mariachi brocade, suspension slung so slow he'd make sparks fly from pavement. And he could dance, her uncle, had a chassis outfitted with hydraulics that could bounce him like a bull in flight.
When she rolls into town, they see their own faces reflected in her skin, her black.
Ey, pachuca, you're not from around here are you? they say. They make it sound like a rhyme. They speak an old tongue here, even older than she, but she's carrying an eleven-year old who's learning church Latin. Old is where they live.
This is the story on her skin: Two boys in the desert, armed to the teeth with nothing they'll need tonight. The first time anyone sees a chupacabra stateside, it's her littlest boy, and he sees it in her black.
Dean, he whispers.
Don't turn around.
Dean, her eldest, is too far back, can't see the reflection. But he listens to Sam and he listens for the clatter of claws over sand. Maybe he feels a hot breeze, or maybe it's the thing's hot breath. Either way, he knows whatever's behind him is too close to run from.
You wouldn't think anything could hide in a desert like this, with spiny plants that cut harsh shadows under sun and moon alike, and red earth that crawls up at the horizon into marbled mountains. But things can and do hide, and the chupacabra's spinal ridge perfectly aligns with the cut of the mesas far, far away.
It takes another step forward.
If they'd screamed loud enough, farmers would have come running. They are not as far from town as they think. (They'd spent the afternoon playing hooky in the desert, cruising "low and slow" like locals. They'd spun doughnuts when they got bored. Kid stuff. Dean promised he'd teach Sam how to drive like that one day.)
But Dean doesn't scream, and neither does Sam--not even when Dean slowly, slowly slips the keys from his jeans and arcs them toward Sam's back. Sam sees their reflection in her black and reaches a hand behind him without turning around. They land in his palm, light and quiet. He's supposed to run now, take her and run. But he's eleven, and Dean hasn't taught him how to drive yet. Dean won't ever, because he's about to be eaten alive.
Sam takes one step forward. He's close enough to latch his hands around the chrome handle of her front door.
The chupacabra pounces.
The last thing Sam sees before he takes a dive into red dirt, scrambling under her belly, is the chupacabra's shadow sweeping over Dean. Its knee clips Dean on the back of the head and he eats shit, too.
Had the chupacabra known where to look, it would have seen Dean in her black, his gun drawn but arms wavering as his vision blurs and his world spins. Monster clipped him good. His first bullet shatters her window--he pulled high. His second punches a deep gouge in her door, lodging in her leather deep inside. Sam's screeching plenty now, but a good farmer knows better than to come running when bullets start flying. This is the border.
Dean's third bullet hits the chupacabra's flank, and it howls, and no farmer, good or bad, would rush toward a sound like that.
The chupacabra leaps onto her hood, claws shrieking against her steel. It's looking for her neck, a vulnerable place to plunge its fangs, clamp down and shake. Her shocks keen under its shattering weight.
Sam feels her undercarriage press against his shoulders and he shoots out from beneath, leaping into her front seat where he's less likely to be crushed to death. And Dean, because he is fifteen and it seems like a good idea, takes a running leap at her--sails headfirst through her shattered window. He and Sam collide with a crack, bone against bone, shards of glass between them, Sam jamming the keys into the ignition, shoving Dean back towards the driver's half of the bench and Dean flooring the gas.
She shoots straight into the desert. Drag race. Then she brakes so hard Sam flies into her windshield. The chupacabra flies off.
She's the bull; it's the cowboy.
It's Lane Frost.
She charges. No brakes, full impact. Its spine twists and its legs swing up, puckering her hood. The rest of it sucks under her chassis and she mows it down. Her front tires spin in air above it. Her rears dig grooves in the dirt.
Inside, her boys are more shock than damage. A few cracked ribs, sternum versus steering wheel. Bruises and blood. Glass buried like sand in their hands and cheeks.
Are you okay? Are you okay? she hears over and over again, as both boys ask but never answer. Their panic is choral.
Hey Sam, Dean pants with shallow breaths, ribs rioting in a chest cavity he's not sure still exists. He puts her in reverse, guns it, but it's no use. They are beached on a chupacabra in the desert.
Dean says without saying, Sammy, you're driving.
Dean, outside, hands on her front, slips in the chupacabra's blood as his feet sink into its mangled body. Dean pulls at the monster and Sam pounds the gas, and nothing happens, and nothing happens, until suddenly she careens wildly backwards. Sam goes fetal, and she goes still.
She bleeds oil into red sand, roars loud through her torn exhaust. The whole operation smells so flammable Dean's fine leaving the corpse for morning.
Scaly! Like a lizard, Dean tells John, once they're back in town. Sam frowns. No--it was like a giant wolf. Dragon? Dean supplies. THERE IS FUR--IN THE HEADLIGHT--Sam shouts in exasperation, and there is. But then, there's leathery lizard-hide caught in the left caliper, too.
The witch John is actually here to see--Miss Tasha Banes--has some ideas. A herd of goats was slaughtered a few weeks ago, by what a farmer's Houston wife swore was an alligator and what he--from Taos--knew to be a rabid coyote. His mother in Chiapas--she'd seen the same thing happen when she was a girl.
They call them chupacabra, says Miss Tasha. Apparently, they came with the Catholics. They prey on goats, mostly.
So why did they try to eat me? Sam asks.
Dean looks at John, and John refuses to look back.
Some people, says Miss Tasha, believe that because chupacabra eat goats, and maybe snakes, and came with the Catholics, they've come to eat the Devil out of things.
So they came to eat the Devil out of all the snakes and goats, Sam says.
Yes, says Miss Tasha.
They came to eat the Devil… out of me, Sam says.
Your father and I talked about that, says Miss Tasha.
This is her story, which she tells with her skin: Entrails, gluey beneath her. Blood matte against her black. She bears no reflections anymore, but for the gashes and bullet holes, her mirror surface dulled by the scrape of the sand against her skin. Tonight, she is not beautiful. But her two boys are safe inside her.
Where you been at, vata? You look like you seen some action, her cousins call. ¿Qué pasiones?
She keeps her stories secret.