Whew--Thursday I'm writing a REAL post!
Attack of the Sock-Gnome
Part 3: Revenge of the Whoopty 12s
It was hard to plan as they heard the ominous thud-smack-bump-crack of the golem rolling around the enclosed space. Occasionally it would hit one of the wheeled baskets and the cart would squeak lazily until it hit something and stopped.
"Do we have all that?" mom asked when the boys were done, and Dean said, "Oh yeah--that shit didn't get wet."
"Except..." Sam looked at his brother and grimaced, and Dean did one of those mind-reading-things that the two of them excelled at, and finished his sentence.
"Yeah--I think they're too blunt too."
"What's too blunt?" mom asked. "The stakes? Do they have to be wood?"
"Well," Sam pulled his upper lip up in thought, "since we're going to torch it too, I don't think so..."
"Doesn't matter," she interrupted. She had the look of a stockboy doing the math. "Okay, guys--give me your keys and I'll get your stuff."
Dean looked at her, his face going hard and hunting for the first time that night. "Lady, my baby's been through enough."
The woman rolled her eyes. "Look, sparky, I'm not going to hurt your car--I just don't think you can find what I've got in mind."
"Lady, I don't care if it's in a violet flowered quilted bag, I'll take your word for it--just give me your damned keys. What am I looking for?"
The woman's eyes were wide. "It's in a violet flowered quilted bag--how did you know that?" She was whispering as she handed over her keys. Dean shook his head and muttered and cursed, running outside wrapped in a baby blanket and a thong and wondering which seal of Hell this particular night was violating even as he ran to the Impala first, mostly to make sure it was alright.
The inside of the minivan was just as chaotic as she'd promised--she and her family must have eaten almost as much fast-food as Dean and Sam. There were blankets, toys, books, soccer chairs, and a flannel sheet that made Dean think dark thoughts about soccer moms and their perverted senses of humor, making a man wear a pink baby blanket when he had flannel as an option. And then he found what she'd asked him for, and he checked on the contents even as he hotfooted across the broken concrete of the parking-lot.
"Aww, Fuck." He reminded himself to have Sam coldcock him if he ever got drunk and started spilling this story to Bobby.
"Knitting needles?" he barked as he cleared the threshold. Mom, kid, and Sam were all crouching on top of the washers, making him think the thing had been back as he'd gone for supplies, and he got to see way to much of his brother than he'd planned on as he scrambled up with is armload of shit. "You had me rifle through the crapmobile for knitting needles?"
"Not just knitting needles!" she barked back, peering over the edge of her washer. "They're sized whoopty-fucking-twelves... they're hella thick, made of bamboo, and there's six of them--they'll skewer that thing better than a big man-sized vampire stake any day of the week!"
"Do you really think they hunt vampires?" her kid asked, looking back at the two young men with a whole new hunger in her eyes.
"Do you really think they don't?" mom snapped, taking the long sized 17 needle her daughter passed her. "Are we ready for me to lay the bait?"
It took some scrambling from washer to washer, but mom had eventually managed to lay a trail of yarn from the back of the drier to the middle of the washer bank. Dean pursed his lips as he looked at it.
"It's kind of pretty," he muttered, shrugging to Sam, and then flushed when Sam shook his head.
"Just sayin'--it's not worth dying for but it's not bad..."
Sam pinched the bridge of his nose and shut his eyes in pain, so Dean shut up.
They hovered there, above the washers, waiting. And then they heard it.
It was the sound of a hundred tiny earring posts grinding together--it was a crunching, and mom whimpered.
"Well, I guess that means he was going to eat it," she said disconsolately, and everybody glared her into silence.
Slowly, as though savoring a particularly sweet dessert, the sock-golum flip-swooshed over the washer bank. It didn't pay the humans any attention as it saw the bag with the half-finished sock in it spilled out on the dirty linoleum. Instead, it let out a sound of pure greed, and lunged.
And then the humans lunged after it.
It screamed pitifully as the little hunting party skewered it with the 'whoopty-twelve' knitting needles, and again as the girl pulled hers out and stabbed it again viciously, getting a little revenge for the slice on her hand, but the screaming wasn't all it did.
"Crap this thing can fight," mom grunted.
"C'mon," Dean ordered, "lets get it out back!"
Their progress was hindered by the guys bare feet, and it became a giant push-me-pull-you struggle, but eventually the little party made it to the patch of broken concrete behind the laundromat, where Dean coated the golem with lighter fluid and Sam lit it on fire. Everybody let go of their skewers and hopped back as it wriggled on the ground, but most of the socks were made of cotton or nylon, so it burned to ash in a hot hurry, even the lost earrings that made up its teeth.
The two hunters and their helpers watched it in fascination, but after the ash had blown away and there was a little bit of light in the sky, it was time to go in.
"Dad's going to wonder where the hell we've been," the girl said as she and her mother were heaping clothes into trash bags.
Mom laughed. "We can tell him we were partying with beefsteak until the sun rose."
The girl had apparently had enough that night, because she started giggling and didn't stop until mom rooted through the bags and pulled out a couple of pairs of old jeans and some X-large T-shirts.
"They're too big," mom said bluntly, throwing them at Sam and Dean. The boys had opened the washer, taken one whiff of what was in there and started the wash cycle again with an extra heaping helping of fabric softener--but not before Dean had a chance to see that one of their woolen camp blankets had disintegrated, leaving everything in his washer coated in fine woolen lint.
"They're too big around the waist and too short at the ankles," mom was saying about the clothes, "and they've got holes, and I'm giving you my cell phone number so you can give them back if you've got a mind too. My husband won't miss them until he mows the lawn next week--and you guys need them, right?"
The boys were going to throw them back--they were. But the woman had pulled out a pen and a gum wrapper and was scrawling her cell number. As she shoved the paper into Dean's hand, she said, "You've got honor, guys--I refuse to believe you're going to make off with my laundry after helping me defend it from a sock-gnome."
The kid stopped giggling in time to correct her mother. "I thought it was a sock-golem."
"I'd rather sacrifice semantic accuracy for poetry, do you mind?"
Dean looked at Sammy for help with that one and Sam mouthed, "I'll tell you later," and the woman bobbed her head, grabbed her laundry, and they left.
Dean and Sam wiggled the jeans on over their borrowed underwear and under the baby-blankets--she was right, the pants were too loose. Dean used the extra room to snap the thong strings, and was relieved to find he could breathe a whole lot easier. They were carefully folding the baby blankets--handmade, and they met eyes as they looked at the tiny stitches. Well, shit. So much for just making a run for it in Mr. Soccer Mom's used jeans. Quietly they programmed her number into their cell phones, which had survived the soaking fairly well, even though they still stunk to heaven.
"We'll call her before we leave town," Dean said quietly, and Sam nodded. Her words about having honor rang in both their ears.
Three days later they called her and arranged a meet--and they even learned her name. She arrived at the wash-n-dry with two younger children in the back of the van and a bag full of stuff just for them.
"There's some new clothes," she muttered, embarrassed, "and a shitload of lasagna in little tupperware containers. You got a cooler? Good, put it in there and let it chill, or it will go bad."
She blushed and jumped in the car, gracing them both with one last grin, before Dean could get to the bottom of the bag.
He started to laugh and Sam turned around to see what was so funny. Dean put the bag on the ground and started to pull something out. It was thick yarn, double stranded and obviously knit in a hurry, but it looked to be a very large afghan in about ten different colors of something wool. Pinned to the blanket was a handwritten note--"That's what whoopty-twelves are REALLY good for."
Dean had spent the last three days bitterly complaining about that wool-blanket-lint, and he and Sam met eyes and didn't say a word as they packed up to leave the suburbs for a while. A poltergeist at a college in Milwaukie, Oregon--time to go.
They stopped up near Crescent City after a day of driving, and ate the lasagna cold. It was better than diner food and went pretty damned good with beer, and they called it good.
That night they parked the car under a bridge to sleep, Sam in the back, where the steering wheel didn't get in the way of his long legs, Dean in the front, in the driver's seat, where he was comfortable.
After a few moments of silence, Dean spoke up reluctantly. He had a new wool blanket, the smell sharp and acrid, and he touched it reluctantly.
"Is there... you know. Enough of that blanket to..."
Half the blanket sailed over the back of the seat and smacked Dean in the face. He snagged it and pet it as he fell asleep, liking the colors and the feel and even the smell--the family must have had a dog, but they also had baby powder and lasagna and someone had rose-scented hand lotion.
It smelled like home. After a little time around leather, engine exhaust, and gun oil, it would smell like their home as well.