The Black Hole
Dean was in Purgatory.
The sudden silence in the lab after Crowley’s disappearing act was drowned by the garbled screams in Sam’s mind.
Dean was in Purgatory!
Suddenly, alarms all over the building started ringing out in a cacophony of choruses.
The shrill, deafening blast pulled Sam back into his distorted reality. The danger of his position if the human police showed up pierced through to his dazed mind and he stumbled to the nearest pristine stainless steel tabletop, putting out a hand to steady himself. Suddenly his whole body was shaking and he was taking shallow, quick breaths, trying to steady himself. A pungent smell of ammonia reached his nostrils and choked him, rising up from the bottles of chemicals in the shelves of the table. Another familiar smell was there, and his eyes darted across the room, abruptly alert. Was there a gas leak? He tried to move forward and stumbled over a plastic can on the floor. A liquid sloshed inside and he smelt gasoline.
Where could he go?
Where was Dean?
Who had rung the alarms?
The stark white light of the corridor hurt his eyes as he staggered out. Already he could hear sirens wailing in the distance. There was also an odd rumbling approaching the building. It took him a minute to identify the source, but suddenly he knew that it was a helicopter. Were the Special Forces here? He already knew the answer in his mind. Dick Roman was an immensely powerful industrialist and politician. If he had warned them of possible danger ahead of time, Sam was dead the minute the alarms had begun ringing.
After all this, it was practically laughable that it was the human police he needed to be worrying about. Sam moved swiftly down the rear staircase, heading for the rear exit on the ground floor. He had just barely reached it when the first of the black-clad SWAT soldiers smashed their way through to the front of the building.
The glass in the conference centre on the other side crumbled as Sam dove sideways into an ante-room opening across from the rear exit. He slammed the door shut and spun around, finding himself face-to-face with enormous monitors attached to the wall- feeding in footage from the entire campus of Sucrocorp. He was in the surveillance room. The dresses of three security guards lay on the floor, splattered with black goo. Presumably they had been Leviathans and had been sucked back into Purgatory along with Dick.
Along with Dean.
There was a red light blinking on a panel in front of the monitors. Sam didn’t know what it was, but the inky fluid covering it made him think that this was the panic button the guards had hit the moment they had realized something was wrong, before being sucked back in. He could see on the monitors that the building was surrounded on all sides by police and army vehicles. His throat dried up. There was no way he could get out. There was no place to hide. The ante room held absolutely nothing apart from the monitors, and the control table in front of it, both of which were stapled to the walls. There were three chairs, but that was it.
Already a minute or more had passed since the SWAT had first infiltrated the building. The only reason they had not yet found Sam was because they had approached it from the front. And Sam could see why. The rear of the building was enveloped in a security blanket. There was certainly no escape.
That was when he noticed the panel of switches on the wall beside the door. Moving closer, he immediately realized that the main switches, controlling the power in the whole building, were encased there. There was a sliding panel in the wall just below it and just inside, were the transformers. The nerve centre of all the electronics in the building were in this room.
Sam put it all together in a second.
The pungent smell. The gas leak. The switches. The lighter in his pocket. A bank robbery that he and Dean had foiled a long time back, together.
And the laboratory. Right after he’d pulled the silver tape off Kevin’s mouth, the prophet had told him something- something about the lab, and how he had to destroy it. Sam thought about how it was just sitting there. High above the ground on the tenth floor, indifferent and aloof to the horrors it had witnessed. Sam didn’t know what was in there. But whatever it was, he knew it had to go. More importantly, the Sucrocorp headquarters were eighteen floors high. No matter from which side the SWAT approached it- he thought about the helicopters- they would take some time to reach the lab.
13 seconds later, Sam was ready.
He thought he heard the soft tread of a booted footfall outside and smiled in spite of himself. They had made it easier for him. In one swift motion, he reached out and turned off all the switches in the panels.
Abruptly, the whole building plunged into darkness.
For the SWAT soldier right outside, it was like falling straight into a black hole, all the colours and vision from the world suddenly sucked away. He paused for a moment, disoriented and didn’t even have time to take a breath when a blinding pain erupted at the side of his head. It was like being hit with a brick. There was a white flash in front of his eyes, and he crumpled to the floor without a sound. One and a half minutes later, he was lying face down on the monitor room’s floor, stripped to his underwear.
It took Sam five minutes of groping through the pitch-black darkness in the rear staircase to get to the tenth floor. The infra-red goggles helped quite a bit. The eerie, flickering green world they created was jumpy and uncomfortable, but he managed to make his way to the last bend in the staircase without incident. Almost at once he realized something was wrong. The corridor around the corner was emitting a soft light- something which should have been impossible at this moment. He crept around, fingers tense on the trigger of the soldier’s gun and saw that emergency lights had come on all along the floor of the corridor, lighting the blackness with pools of pale yellow light. The lights in the laboratory had not gone off at all. It must have its own generator. It seemed as though his plans for a flashy exit had abruptly hit a dead end. He had seen the low beams of military flashlights sweeping the floors in great arcs right up to the third floor. If the SWAT managed to make their way to the lab before he was done, he would be in serious trouble.
After a second of consternation, he decided to go ahead. It really didn’t make much of a difference. A deathly silence hung about the place, stretching for a minimum of two floors in all directions. Sam pulled off his goggles and strode into the lab.
There were the bottles of cleaners and solvents, stacked up on the table beside the Sucrocorp packaging boxes. There was the can of gasoline on the floor. Quickly, he tore the uniforms of the guards into strips, dipped them into the can and tied them together in knots. He placed one wet end near the door, wound the strips to the area where Roman had stood- and disappeared. He pulled down two more bottles and poured the contents of the first into the second. He placed the bottle in the middle of the area, dipping the other end of the strips into it. He poured gasoline over all the lab apparatus within three feet. Then he tucked another bottle which emitted a choking, terrible smell under his arm, first spraying about half of the contents into the air, all along the outside corridor.
It was done.
Finally, he pulled out the lighter from his pocket.
“You can’t come up here!”
The SWAT units, one on the seventh floor and one on the thirteenth, jumped as a staticy voice crackled out into their ears. Their radios had picked up a desperate plea from a fellow soldier.
“You can’t come anywhere near the tenth floor- the gas lines in the lab have burst and the whole place is flooded with gas; it’s impossible to breathe!” the voice panted. And suddenly, the figure to which it belonged leapt into the green vision of the unit on the lower floors. An impossibly tall figure swathed in a black SWAT uniform. One of their own, and he was giving a dire warning. Both the groups halted, uncertain.
The unit commander on the seventh floor baulked. Here was a stranger, a soldier under his command, giving him orders! “Who the hell are you?!” he demanded, irked.
But for the one higher up, there was no such luxury.
It was an entirely different story up there. They were above the alleged leak, and if there was an explosion, the commander knew there was no escape. The building would cave in on itself and trapped here, they would be burnt alive in a living hell. And now they were on the twelfth floor and he sniffed the air suspiciously. Once. Twice.
The pungent, choking smell of escaping gas punched him straight in the face.
For one second, a cold fear gripped his heart and he was frozen in place. Then he was barking orders into the radio.
“Retreat! Confirmed gas leak – all units fall back from tenth floor immediately! Delta One, follow me!”
The heavy, booted tread of running soldiers echoed throughout the building as the soldiers raced back up the stairs, trying to get as far away from death as possible, to the choppers from which even now, ladders would be dangling, ready to haul up the soldiers from the roof of Sucrocorp. The commander down below blinked in amazement at the dizzying turn of events. Then he, too, was talking into his radio urgently, as he and his unit fell back, dividing themselves between the rear and main staircases, rushing back down as fast as possible. No one spared another look for the mysterious soldier who had sounded the initial warning. And then, just as they reached the first floor, it happened.
The tenth floor blew apart with such fury that personnel on the ground were caught unawares, deafened by the blast. They dodged behind anything they could find to protect themselves on the oncoming rain of metal and glass. The soldiers now safely in the choppers above crashed into each other as the massive Black Hawks trembled from the aftershock; shrapnel pattered against their black casings. The first floor echoed with the boots of the stampeding men as a desperate rush to get out of the collapsing building ensued. The men at the rear exit practically punched the doors out of the way as they flew out of the building. One of them happened to notice the man lying face-down in the ante room and managed to drag him out. The ones from the main staircase ran out of the smashed glass front of Sucrocorp, shattered glass scrunching under their boots.
And then, out in the open, everyone stared open-mouthed as the headquarters of Sucrocorp completed its spectacular demise, crumbling into itself, fire eating into the heart of the building.
No one noticed a tall figure creep to the back of a military truck. No one noticed as he pulled off the SWAT gear and threw it into the back of the truck, and then hauled himself over the black wall, the barbed wire and leapt down onto the other side. Sam, now in his plaid jacket, checked shirt and jeans, ran across the road to where a non-descript blue car waited- an escape plan he and Dean had kept, just in case. Well, the case was here alright. He threw himself in and revved it up. The car roared out into the road at the side of Sucrocorp- the road where Bobby had drawn up in the car, in the maid’s body. There were the chain link fences with the security cameras. The building on the other side of the car park was now a mess, but in front of it, there was the wide driveway with grass swarthes on either side- with the Sucrocorp sign in the middle. There was the spot across the road where he and Dean had sat just the previous night, hacking into the cameras of Sucrocorp. Ad there was Baby, embedded into the sign, smashed and injured. Sam’s heart wrenched into pieces as the car roared by her. He was leaving Baby behind, and Dean was gone, and so was Cas, and so was Bobby! Tears blurred his vision and despair, black and terrible, threatened to suck him in. He had never, ever felt more alone.
But then he had left the crumbling remains of Sucrocorp behind, the roads rushing by as he headed out of state. His jaw was clenched and fire burned in his eyes. His mind was narrowed down to one purpose, and one purpose only.
He was going to find a way to bring his brother back.