Dean decided this plan sucked.
He sat at the edge of his hotel bed and stared at Sam's open laptop on the table across from him. He was supposed to be doing some research on the history of murders in the town while Sam scoped out the forest, but Dean couldn't really find the motivation to do it. The two of them totally deserved a vacation, especially after the whole town-smiting thing, and yet here they were again, on another case. This time they had the pleasure of tracking down a bunch of Satanists.
He grabbed the beer bottle at his feet and took a long swig. "Goat loving freaks. Fan –freakin' – tastic."
He sighed and placed the bottle on the floor before he staggered over to the table. He'd already done some preliminary research on the cult that lived right outside of town. Dean figured you read up on one cult, and then you know them all.
They had the same MO as just about any other LaVey wannabe.
With an unsteady push, Dean forced himself to his feet. The movement brought a sharp pang between his shoulders, and he immediately reached back to scratch at the itch. This whole rash thing was starting to get old. Growing up he'd had the chicken pox – thanks to Sam – once. That was it. Now, it seemed like the universe was making up for lost time. Whatever horrible things he'd done throughout his life and through his death, he seemed to be paying for them now. Man, karma was a bitch.
Dean tried to ignore the itch and the soreness near his shoulders and grabbed his beer bottle. He shrugged on his jacket and walked outside of their room, standing to lean on the entryway. The night had that cool chill of a waning fall, sharp enough that it seemed to cut through any of the warmth that was left to the air. Dean could almost taste the cold of winter.
That meant it was time for some defroster for his windshield wiper fluid.
He breathed in the air and shook his shoulders, hoping some of the cold air would soothe the throbbing on his back.
Bobby had told him to just keep putting the disinfectant cream he'd been using to treat the rash. Like Sam, he'd had a bit of a hissy fit over whether it was more ghost sickness or not, even though Dean told him he could feel a difference. It wasn't like the ghost sickness was subtle or nothing. Besides, he'd been cured of the ghost disease ages ago now.
Even so, Bobby was checking for any cases of relapses. While Dean appreciated Bobby and Sam trying to look out for him, it also meant he was grounded for the time being. Neither one of them wanted him out working jobs just in case he panicked or freaked out or some other nonsense. That meant Sam got to do the interesting stuff while Dean got stuck with research.
Dean took another drink from his bottle. He'd been stabbed, shot, hexed, cursed, drugged, tortured, and survived Hell, and it was a rash that kept him from doing his job. Twice.
After a few minutes, Dean realized the fresh air wasn't doing any good so he decided to call it a night. He'd go back inside and find some more tidbits on Satanists and their rituals for Sam, and then he was going to tune into some tasteful porn and go to sleep.
Dean shuffled into the hotel room and locked the door. Once he'd tossed the beer bottle in the trash, he grabbed his gun, his phone, and his flask and threw them on top of the dresser. He winced as he reached over his head and peeled off his shirt, the burn of the fabric only aggravating the sore red spots on his back. Dean tossed the shirt onto his bed and sauntered over to the bathroom. Might as well get it over with.
He opened the drawer and withdrew the bottle. At first he squeezed just a dime's worth onto his hands, but considering how much his back was burning right now, he decided a whole glob of it couldn't hurt. He piled the oily stuff onto his hands, rubbed them, and did his best to reach behind his back to get to the red spots.
The cream offered a brief reprieve. He breathed out and sighed with relief as the cool ointment covered the fire that prickled down his shoulder blades.
The relief was short-lived. Within seconds, the burning overcame the cooling sensation, more emboldened than before. Wincing, Dean grabbed the bottle again, lathered up his hands, and then arched his back for a better view in the mirror.
"What the hell is that?"
The rash had started to blister. Dean noticed that the red blotchy spots had enlarged into huge welts and open sores. With a grimace, Dean reached back to touch the enflamed splotches, frowning when he easily peeled back a layer of dead skin.
He stared at the large chunk of skin in his hand. It was thin and damp, drenched in oils from the cream he'd been using. But it was definitely dead skin, not unlike what a snakeskin looked like after it was finished molting.
Slowly, as if awareness finally came back to him, he brought his gaze back to the mirror. Where he'd stripped the skin from his back, more layers teased at breaking away, leaving a bloody, throbbing mess behind them.
Finally, his senses came back to him.
Dean tossed the shredded skin on the floor and ran into the main room of the hotel. He had no idea what the hell was happening, but Dean wasn't about to waste time dwelling on it. He could have been cursed or bitten by something, but he couldn't remember anything like that happening. He immediately thought of the man-eater and his quick transformation, shivering at the thought. But even closer to the forefront of his mind, the blood and quivering mass on his back reminded him of Hell, the tearing and the ripping and the carving. He couldn't deal with that again.
Dean bolted for the phone on the dresser. He never made it.
The first spasm ripped through him like a knife. He doubled over and cried out, grabbing onto the edge of his bed for support. His muscles burned and jerked, sending a ripple of spasms down his arms and legs. He gritted his teeth and clenched his jaw as he fought the pain, but already he could see black spots forming in front of his eyes.
Somewhere deep inside, he managed to find the strength to pull his shaking body to its feet. He staggered toward the dresser, crashing into it for support.
Dean fumbled for the phone, his uncooperative fingers refusing to press the buttons. He squeezed away the spots and focused on his cell and Sam. He had to call Sam.
Finally, the phone started to ring. He felt a twinge of hope when he heard Sam's voice over the small speaker.
Dean struggled to find his voice, to say anything, but the spasms had reached his throat, holding tight onto his vocal chords. He knew his grip on the phone was tenuous; he wasn't going to last very long.
Dean moaned through his bolted jaw. The throbbing in his back only become more and more intense, and he felt a pushing, like there was something real and alive just below his skin, begging to break through.
God, he had Alien in him.
"Sam," he managed to say, feeling the panic surging through his blood. His voice sounded pained, foreign even to his own ears. He opened his mouth to call for his brother again, but no sound came out.
"Dean, what's going on? Dean?"
He felt the second wave smack him hard and he cried again, his seizing body jerking out of control. His hand thrust out and knocked over the lamp. The cell phone went with it, hitting the carpet with a thud. Dean fumbled for it, reaching out his hands to try to snatch it away from its exile on the floor, but the spasms proved to be too great.
Mustering the last of his strength, Dean launched himself across the room toward the beds and the small table between them. His dad's journal rested right next to the lamp, and he knew there was a Bible in one of the drawers. One of them had to have answers to help him.
The third wave of spasms struck him cold. Dean dropped to the floor, the pain so great that he felt nothing but cold fire threading across his back. The black spots grew and faded into hot white. He tried again to fight against the pain, even though he knew it was a losing battle.
The last spasm burst through his back muscles and he heard a distinctive popping noise. There was a bright flash; a loud thunderous tear ripped through the room and he was gone.