"Okay, Bobby, so how do I kill it?" Traffic had come to a complete stop, not even inching forward anymore. Dean ran a hand over his face. The coffee he'd had this morning had long since worn off.
"That's where the lore gets weird. It says that a word is written on the golem's forehead that keeps it alive. One story says it's the name of God, another says it's the Hebrew word for truth."
"Well, that's fascinating. What does that have to do with killing it?"
"I'm getting to it, smartass. Most sources agree that if you can change that word... like, change the word for truth to the word for death by removing the aleph, you can essentially deactivate the golem. "
"What the hell does that mean, Bobby?" Dean could hear honking and yelling from the cars in front of him. It seemed people were getting impatient with the stopped traffic.
"You got me. I found the information. It's your job to figure out how to apply it."
"Yeah, I know. It's just... it's almost been a day, Bobby. Some of the victims returned after a day. Once the golem finishes taking Sam's form, it won't have a reason to keep him alive anymore." Dean noticed a crowd gathering on the road ahead.
"You can't think like that, boy..."
"Hang on, Bobby." Dean interrupted. He leaned forward, trying to see what was going on, then eased out of the car to get a better view, closing the door behind him. Something was definitely going on up there. "I'll call you back." He snapped his phone closed and slipped it into his pocket. He had only taken a few steps forward when he saw a familiar head towering over the crowd.
"Sam!" He cried and shouldered his way into the crowd. He pushed aside the thought that the man up there could be the golem and not his brother.
He had been running. Running away. Running toward. It didn't matter. Running. He ran down the street, sometimes running through traffic on a crossroad. He didn't pay attention to the shouting or honking, didn't notice the cold air whipping his exposed skin, didn't notice when he left bloody footprints behind.
The traffic grew thicker. Cars and people surrounded him. He slowed to a stop, confused by the sounds and chaos. He tried to move away, needed to get free, but people moved in closer. Hands reached for him. He scuttled away only to find more people, more cars, more noise.
Then one voice rose above the cacophony. A name. It sounded... he didn't know how it sounded, only that he felt drawn to it, drawn to the man who emerged from the crowd. The man approached him slowly, spoke carefully, reached a hand out to him. It felt right, felt normal. He didn't recognize the man, but somehow trusted him.
He let the man take his arm, guide him to a large black car, and settle him into the seat. He rubbed his hand over the leather and stitching of the seat and eased his long legs across the footwell. He looked at the man squatting on his heals beside him. The man clapped a hand on his shoulder, stood, and came around the car to sit beside him on the seat. The man's eyes filled with sadness as he glanced over at him, his voice chattering away. The car rumbled to life, music blasting from the radio. He didn't know much, but he was pretty sure this was what he'd been searching for.
It hovered on the edge of the crowd. No one paid any attention, which was fine. It wasn't there to have fun this time. It was there to get its chosen one back. It heard a familiar voice and turned to see the brother... Dean... approach the chosen.
Sam. It didn't know yet how the man had gotten out, but it would deal with that later. What it needed now was to get the man alone and complete this form. Its frustration grew as it watched the chosen enter the black car... baby... and ride away.
It would follow, find the chosen one, and take what it needed. It would be beautiful again.
Dean guided Sam into the motel room, wincing at his brother's ragged feet, though Sam hardly seemed to notice the damage. Sam didn't seem to recognize anything, including Dean. Dean kept his voice calm and light, trying not to spook his brother. All the while, his mind raced with worry and... if he were honest with himself... panic.
Dean led his brother directly into the bathroom. Telling Sam he'd be right back, Dean went out to the Impala and brought back a set of bolt cutters, which he applied to the band around Sam's ankle. He threw the offending chain and manacle into the corner and turned his focus on his brother. Sam was filthy, his skin covered in a layer of fine dirt. It was thickest on his forearms, where Dean found what looked like the imprints of hands or fingers.
Dean helped Sam out of his jeans and steered him into the tub. Sam's skin felt cold, so Dean let the water warm up before turning on the overhead spray. He was afraid he'd have to wash his brother off, but after demonstrating what to do with the soap, Sam seemed able to handle that part himself.
With the shower finished, Dean gave his brother clean clothes, which Sam thankfully put on himself. While Dean bandaged Sam's hands and feet, Sam watched his brother's face but his eyes held no recognition. Dean continued his soothing monologue, hoping the sound of his voice would jog Sam out of this... whatever-it-was.
"You were at Stanford. Dad and I were hunting a skinwalker in Idaho. Get this... the thing changed itself into a Yorkshire Terrier of all things. Ha! It still managed to do some damage, though. Killed five people before we stopped it. But there was this girl, Sammy. Motel manager's daughter at the dive we were staying in. College girl. Smart, sexy, and legs that went on for miles. You know, she was almost as tall as I was. This one time, she..."
The phone rang, Bobby's name flashing on the screen, and Dean realized he'd left his friend hanging.
"I found him, Bobby." Dean began without preamble. "He doesn't even know who I am, but it's him."
"What? Where was he?"
Dean made sure Sam was settled comfortably on the bed and turned the TV on with the volume low. Sam didn't even glance at it, his eyes following Dean instead. Having the TV on made Dean feel better, though. At least it was another voice in the room. Sam's silence was creeping him out.
"He was wandering in the middle of the street. There's something wrong with him, Bobby. Like he's not really there. He hasn't said a word and he looks at me like he's not sure who I am. What'd that son-of-a-bitch do to him?"
"Aw, hell! I was afraid this might happen."
"Wait, you knew that thing would turn Sam into a walking vegetable but you didn't think to mention it?"
"You had enough to worry about, boy. No point looking for trouble before it happens."
Dean sighed, forcing his panic back down again. "Okay, Bobby. What is this? Can we fix Sam?"
"There's a theory that when a golem takes a form, it takes the person's memories too, leaving the person a drooling mess. It's possible that killing the golem will transfer those memories back to Sam, but Dean, it's a longshot."
"Well then, I'm gonna gank me a golem."