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Author's Chapter Notes:
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Kripke
Written for: spn_xx 2007
Prompts:

028. The hunter Samuel Colt made that gun for was a woman.
149. “Spelling” Margaret Atwood



"Spelling" Margaret Atwood

My daughter plays on the floor
with plastic letters,
red, blue & hard yellow,
learning how to spell,
spelling,
how to make spells.

I wonder how many women
denied themselves daughters,
closed themselves in rooms,
drew the curtains
so they could mainline words.

A child is not a poem,
a poem is not a child.
there is no either/or.
However.

I return to the story
of the woman caught in the war
& in labour, her thighs tied
together by the enemy
so she could not give birth.

Ancestress: the burning witch,
her mouth covered by leather
to strangle words.

A word after a word
after a word is power.

At the point where language falls away
from the hot bones, at the point
where the rock breaks open and darkness
flows out of it like blood, at
the melting point of granite
when the bones know
they are hollow & the word
splits & doubles & speaks
the truth & the body
itself becomes a mouth.

This is a metaphor.

How do you learn to spell?
Blood, sky & the sun,
your own name first,
your first naming, your first name,
your first word.
I.

New Mexico, August 2007

“I’ll have that back now.”

“What’s that, sweetheart?” Dean grinned, and tipped back his beer. “I’ve got something you want?”

“No.” Her voice was cool, and she watched him with hooded eyes. “You have something of mine, and you’re going to give it back.”

“Oh am I now?”

“Yes.” She leaned closer, and he could smell her breath, spicy with things he didn’t recognize, herbs and the black bite of tar. She said his name slow, every letter the binding of a spell, every syllable an order, “Dean Winchester, give me back my gun.”

He knew exactly what she wanted, and he couldn’t help himself; he walked her out to his car, and retrieved the gun from the trunk, where it had waited ever since he fired the last bullet, lucky number thirteen.

Dean wanted to tell her it was useless, but his mouth wouldn’t form the words.

The gun very nearly hummed in his hand when he held it out to her; the instant her fingers touched it, there were sparks, barely visible and hot when they arced onto his skin.

She cupped both hands around the Colt and let out a low sigh.

“Thank you,” she said in a whisper, and rested her cheek against the barrel for a second. Her eyes reflected the streetlights, tiny sparks, and the smell of her mixed with metal made him dizzy.

She walked away and whatever was hanging over Dean started to lift.

“Wait,” he said, and started toward her, but he couldn’t move, not any direction but back toward the bar. “I need that.” He meant to say it was used up, broken, but his mouth wouldn’t obey.

There was a small smile on her face when she turned toward him; she faced him just for a second, teeth bright white and sharp, eyes filled with the remnants of the sparks.

“Maybe,” she said, “but it was made for me.”

II.

England, October 1835

They whispered a spell for each meteor in the sky.

Each was a layer, a letter of a call for a weapon they named. They spelled it out with fingertips and vowels, tongues curved behind teeth, and each flash of light arcing through the sky meant they would succeed.

They would finally fight back the darkness.

~~*

England, 16 November 1835

Samuel Colt did not look like a man who made a gun to kill the demons of the world.

He didn’t look like a man to ask questions during a secret exchange, either, but that was precisely what he did.

“Who are you?” he asked. “Let me see your face.”

Aeron Walker pushed back the hood of her cloak. She was dressed as a man, her hair hidden beneath her hat, but the shirt and coat did not hide the fullness of her figure. She towered over him from the back of her horse.

The Walker women feared no man.

He didn’t touch the gun; it sat in a box, which he opened to show the weapon. It gleamed in the light from his lantern. Somewhere overhead, hidden by the trees, Halley’s comet stretched through the night sky. There were spells yet to be cast, to be carved into the metal.

Colt held it up to her and she took it, tucked it away out of sight beneath her cloak.

“You a hunter?” he asked, and she nodded. “Kill a lot of things?”

“Monsters by the dozens,” she whispered. “Thank you for your work.”

“Don’t know why I did this, made it and the bullets, and gave it to you.”

She smiled, and put the hood up again. “Maybe someday you’ll know.” Likely he would not. There were always stories, but they twisted in the telling. She did not expect her name to be remembered except in her daughter, and her daughter’s daughter, and so on, until they rid the world of evil.

Or until the world ended.

“Let me tell you how it works,” he said, and she waved him away. There was much to do, and the night was short. She guided her horse with her legs, left her hands free to weave spells.

Colt would not be able to follow her, even if he had any such plans.

There was magic on the wind, and written into the darkness between the stars.

III.

Soviet Union, 1933

She was ten when her mother died, and she spelled her name, and she fired the special Colt. It was her first time shooting it, and the fourth bullet fired by a woman named Aeron Walker.

She did not want to shoot the monster with the Colt. The first lesson she learnt was that it was a last resort type of weapon, and not just a last resort where she made some sort of mistake and didn’t want to die. No, it was a last resort where nothing else would kill that thing.

Considering she had already emptied a shotgun and two TT-33s into the creature, and set it on fire twice, she thought it probably was a last resort of the latter kind, especially since her mother threw her the gun while yelling for her to get a clear shot.

It killed her mother as she shot, took off her head with one blow.

Somehow the bullet passed through the falling body and hit the monster’s mouth, filling it with sparks. The spells her mother activated lit it up. As it died, the ground shuddered, and whatever it had pulled up from underground – demons, hundreds of monsters like itself, the center of the earth to turn everything inside out – fell back beneath the surface, locked away.

The world was safe again, from that threat, for that moment.

The others, her sisters and aunts and cousins, salted the ground and threaded spells through the roots of the plants. If her mother had lived, they both would have joined them, mother and daughter, closing the circle of power.

Instead she knelt next to the body, next to her mother, a woman who lost her name, who breathed the letters out into the air for the daughter to collect. She claimed them, gathered them to her with her tongue, pulled the name close like a weapon, like the Colt she holstered after she fired the shot, number five of thirteen. They count down every shot.

Blood from her mother’s body soaked into the dirt. She put her fingers into it, and smeared it on her eyelids and lips.

“Aeron Walker,” she whispered, and felt it settle over her like a cloak.

IV.

America

Aeron Walker never visited her mother’s grave.

She could not and would not. The former because she didn’t know where it was located; her mother fell in battle and she, half the world away, woke gasping her mother’s name. She was called Sarah Walker then, and had a life and a boyfriend at school, but the moment the words left her lips, she became someone new.

For awhile, Aeron hunted, halfhearted. She had no choice. Her mother’s hunters, Aeron Walker’s hunters, her sisters and aunts and cousins, traveled across the distance between them to join her, to fight at her side. Not one of them cared that she had moved so far away because she did not want to fight in a war she couldn’t care less about. It had never been her battle.

Together her family vanquished monsters and saved people’s lives, as they had done for hundreds of years, with and without their secret weapon. The others enjoyed their lives. Sarah had been happy; Aeron was not.

Maybe she would find happiness when she was a mother, she thought, because, just like fighting, it was coded into her genes, the need to continue the family line, to birth the next generation Aeron.

Her pregnancies were rough, and she lost two babies before she finally had a daughter, an extraordinary child. She named her Erin, and made a secret, unvoiced wish that, by twisting the name, she would break the line.

Erin whispered her first word too young, too soon, and Aeron can see their lives stretched before them, magic and blood and death, just as their family history stretched behind.

~~*

“I know what you want,” she said, but the man in the diner ignored her. “John Winchester,” his name was a spell, a call for his attention, and he looked up at her, his fork halfway to his mouth, “I know what you want. I have it, I have the Colt.”

Just like that, like magic, he listened.

~~*

“It’s gone,” she told her hunters – she told Aeron Walker’s hunters. “I’m done. I am Sarah Walker, and you are welcome at my home, unless you try to tell Erin about the family, the lies of our history.”

She moved them to Boston, went back to school, met a man, got married. They had kids together, all of them but Erin named Masters. Erin wanted to be a Walker, always, and Sarah, despite her misgivings, couldn’t take away the last of her history. The kids grew up together, and they never heard the stories, she made sure of it.

Eventually, they left her to go to school themselves. She basked in being just Sarah, in love with her husband, a simple, normal woman.

She thought she was safe. She thought she had changed fate.

The demon, when it came, gave her a private hell of bone and flesh, blood and fear, and the knowledge she had ruined the world, handed it over to the monsters, to the evil swarming through it.

When she died, she whispered her name, her real name, to the stars she could not see, a talisman of protection if only Erin could hear.

V.

America

Her family had a saying; her mother whispered it when she was born, cradled the baby in her arms and whispered the words directly into her her.

“Non timebo mala,” her mother said, just as her mother before, and her mother before, and so on, and so forth. “I will fear no evil.”

“Mala,” Erin said, her first word, and pointed to the dark birds circling overhead. She was young, she shouldn’t have been able to speak, but she was right, she named them for what they were, and they led her mother to a line of human sacrifices, and a demon rising into the world.

Her mother’s hunters said it was a sign, and she would lead them to glory.

When she was older, and they took her to the zoo, or the movie theater, to cover their secret lessons, they told her she would get back their secret weapon, their missing weapon, the one her mother lost.

They said it like that, the one her mother lost, but Erin knew the truth. Her mother gave it away, she reminded herself. She let it go, she handed it over and walked away. She pretended they were normal, and had no family history.

Erin knew, too, it was her fault. She sent her mother’s hunters, Aeron Walker’s hunters, to war before she had her first birthday, and her mother was afraid. She saw a life stretched out before her daughter, a life of war, and she didn’t want it. She gave it away.

It was not so easy as that.

They were light to the darkness of the world; if they were not hunters, they were hunted.

Erin knew the truth long before her mother, who died to learn the same.

In that moment, Erin took her mother’s name, the name she had been taught, in secret, by the others, the rest of her family spread around her, all who swore to her mother they would tell her nothing, all who broke their promises.

The name road the air to her, and she curled her tongue around the letters and drew them inside like smoke.

Aeron Walker gathered her hunters and entered the war again.

She tattooed designs from the missing weapon onto her flesh, secret patterns and rituals which wrote magic and murder into her skin.

They searched for a long time, but in the end, it took an outsider to find it.

One of her aunts had a friend she had met while hunting, an Ellen Harvelle, who called in August with an unbelievable story.

Aeron believed.

“A couple of hunters have the gun,” Ellen told her aunt who told Aeron. “All thirteen bullets have been shot. They think it’s useless.”

Aeron smiled, and packed a bag.

If she hurried, she could have the gun in time to cast a spell.

~~*

New Mexico, 13 August 2007

The bullets fell like meteors from her fingers, the blood of her family inside the metal, the marks of spells carved into the ends.

Each was a layer, a piece of a hundred blessings. Bullets poured during the Perseids were not as strong as a set made during the Orionids and spelled beneath Halley’s Comet, but she did not need the extra power. She was not making something new.

All she had to do was remind the gun of what it was once, and what it would be again.

Then she planned to fight; she would unfetter her tongue and spell her name and become light to the darkness.

End


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