Apocalyptic Love Songs 4


The quest for the grail is not archeology, it’s a race against evil. If it is captured by the Nazis the armies of darkness will march all over the face of the earth.

Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade, Steven Spielberg/Philip Kaufman

By the time they reached America’s Stonehenge in New Hampshire it was too late to be admitted to the park, and Dean’s leg was screaming with the need to stretch. They got burgers at a drive-through and found a motel in Salem, and ate while Dean propped up his wounded leg on the bed and Sam used the motel’s internet connection to look up more information on the site.

“I don’t know what we’re going to find up there, Dean,” he said at last as he leaned back in his chair and ate fries. “As far as I can tell it’s just a lunar calendar — I don’t know how that’s going to help us any.”

“It’s where we’re supposed to go, Sam.” He nudged his leg against the briefcase to reassure himself. “I don’t know what we’re going to find up there, either, but it’ll help us along the way.”

“How can you be so sure of that?” said Sam. “We got this intel from a waitress in a diner.”

“She was telling the truth. It doesn’t matter what she does for a living.” He finished his burger and crumpled up the paper to drop it into the bag. “Besides, she . . . knew stuff. She knew my name.”

Sam was silent a moment. “What else did she know?”

“She knew what we’re looking for and why, and she told me to not be afraid of the dark.”

“You’ve never been afraid of the dark.”

“It’s a clue, I think. Whatever we find up there, we’re going to have to go into the dark to get it.” He pushed himself up from the chair and picked up the paper bag. “You done?”

“Let me do that.” Sam took the bag from him. “You relax. We’ve got a hike ahead of us tomorrow.” He took the bag and dropped it into the garbage can in the bathroom.

“Thanks,” Dean said, frowning, and moved to the bed so he could lie down. His leg felt stiff, the wound burning, but when he inspected his leg it looked fine — there were no signs of gangrene or infection. As long as he kept the stitches cleaned he knew he should be fine, though it was hard to wait for it to heal when there was so much to do.

He pulled off his t-shirt and propped a pillow under his knee, and pulled a blanket over himself. Going into the dark, he thought. Sam had shown him the pictures of the site, the chambers and caverns . . . We’ll go into those, he thought, and see what we find.

“Hey, Dean?” said Sam. “You asleep?”

“Nope,” Dean said, forcing his eyes open. “What’s up?”

Sam flopped onto the other bed, which shifted under his weight. He propped up his head on his arm. “When we find all this stuff, when we find the castle, what happens then?”

“I don’t know. You know the stories, right? What happens in them?”

“In the poems? Most of them are unfinished.”

“Oh, that’s helpful,” Dean muttered.

“Yeah. In the ones that are finished, the Fisher King gets healed or Percival becomes the new Grail king.”

“And that’s it? Who’s the Fisher King?”

“Yeah, that’s it.” Sam sat up a little, alert with interest. This was his kind of geekdom. “The Fisher King is a king who’s been wounded badly, but not so badly that he dies. His lands have become wastelands — scholars think because the Celts tied the strength of the king to the health of the land — and when Percival asks the Grail question, that somehow enables the king to be healed and the lands restored.”

Dean digested this. “So what’s the Grail question?”

“‘Whom does the Grail serve?'” Sam said.

“‘Whom does the Grail serve?'” Dean repeated. “What does that even mean?”

“I have no idea. That’s the thing — there’s no answer to that question. Just asking it is the important thing. You gotta keep in mind, Grail lore is kind of . . . dreamlike. Archetypical and symbolic.”

“And yet,” Dean said, wrapping his arm around the briefcase, “we’ve got the actual, physical thing. Not a symbol, an actual cup.”

“And no idea what to do with it,” Sam said, his mouth grim.


Dean fell asleep with his arm over the briefcase like a pillow. He dreamed he was in the burned forest again, every bend in the path hidden in thick fog. The air reeked of smoke. He could hear footsteps behind him — the heavy plodding footsteps of something that was big and in no hurry.

He followed the path through the forest, and reached a river. There was a man in the river, fishing from a skiff, and he watched Dean as he walked past. Dean raised a hand to him and the man raised his hand in return, and paddled the skiff to the riverbank where Dean stood. “Come with me,” he said, so Dean climbed into the skiff.

“Can I help?” he said, and the man shook his head as he paddled them to the opposite side of the river. There was a dock, where the man tied up the skiff and then climbed up, awkwardly and carefully, and led Dean up a path to a castle — an ancient-looking stronghold with towers and a single large gate.

Leave a Reply