Heaven

Music filled Lily’s ears. A bright, familiar tune that always made a smile stretch wide across her face. She walked with the crowd along the pristine street. The sun was shining and sounds of joy floated on the warm, summer air. Pink and purple blossoms dripped from baskets, and the brass on the lampposts they hung from, positively gleamed.

Lily gazed up at the sky. It was the most perfect shade of blue she had ever seen. “Of course, it is,” she thought. “Could the sky here, be any other way?”

It was still early, so she joined the waiting throng of humanity, soaking up the buzz of their anticipation. Their excitement. Their hope. Their dreams. This place was always awash with dreams. She looked at the little girl beside her, bouncing up and down in a pink, princess gown, her hair piled on top of her head behind a diamond encrusted tiara. She was beaming. Everyone was beaming. It was the only place Lily knew for sure, where everyone was always happy.

Lily closed her eyes and enjoyed the hum of the people around her. She imagined the taste of deep-fried dough and the feeling of its sticky, crystals of sugar that would inevitably wind up coating her lips. The sweetness as she licked them clean. A rush of pleasure whizzed through her at the memory.

Then suddenly, the crowd began to cheer. It was rope drop time and Lily opened her eyes just as the Cast Members cried out, “Five, Four, Three, Two, One! Have a magical day!” A sea of bodies surged forward, and an army of prams barrelled past as they raced towards their favourite land.

But no one saw Lily. Because technically, Lily wasn’t there. Not in the living sense, anyway. Lily died just over a week ago. But a little dying wasn’t going to keep her away from Disneyland.

She drifted through the park, silent and invisible, remembering the irresistible scent of the churros, and the cold tang of Dole Whip ice-cream on her tongue. She remembered how the wind had felt in her hair, as she sat unseen beside a single rider, and raced around the Thunder Mountain Railroad track, screaming unheard screams. She jumped the queue at the Haunted Mansion, and floated amongst the spirits in the ballroom, and laughed as she stood thumb out beside the famous hitchhiking ghosts. She skipped down Main Street at the front of the parade and giggled like crazy as she danced with an oblivious Mickey Mouse. She stood on the castle bridge, and watched in awe, as the fireworks exploded above her in deafening bursts of spectacular colour.

Lily had always said she didn’t believe in Heaven, but the truth was, she always did. And as she sat on a bench with the statue of Walt and Mickey behind her, and her ashes secretly scattered in the flower bed below, she now knew she was right. This was it. This was her very own Heaven. And it was the Happiest Place on Earth.

© Amy Hutton 2020

Happy Endings

The sound of horses whinnying jolted Max awake. Groaning, he swung his long legs out of bed. There had been coyotes in the area, which was why his horses were stabled instead of grazing in the fields. He shimmied into his well-worn Levi’s, picked a t-shirt up off the floor and pulled it down over his broad shoulders. Padding sleepily to the door in his socked feet, he slid into his boots, grabbed his rifle and a torch, and stepped into the night.

With his torchlight bouncing across the ground, Max quickly made his way to the stables. Cocking his rifle, he gripped the iron handle of the heavy door and slowly yanked it open. Taking a breath to ready himself, he slipped inside and flicked on the lights.

“Oh!” came a voice to his left.

Max swung around; rifle raised. Standing before him, in a gown of blue satin and clouds of tulle, was a woman. She was startlingly beautiful, with brilliant eyes, and golden ringlets around her face. In her hand was an ivy wrapped twig with a large sunflower on the end, and though he knew it couldn’t be true, Max swore the woman was twinkling.

“Ma’am?” Max said, as calmly as possible, “Is there a reason you’re in my stables at two in the morning?”

The woman blinked.

“Ma’am?”

“I don’t suppose you were going to a ball?”

“Excuse me?”

“A ball?”

“Ma’am, the only kind of ball I know anything about, is a football.”

“Oh dear. I think I made a wrong turn,” she said, as she waved her twig above her head. A shower of stars burst from the sunflower and a map appeared in the air.

Max lurched backwards, tumbling over a bale of hay and landing with a thud.

“I see what happened,” the woman muttered to herself, “I zigged when I should have zagged.” She waved the sunflower again, causing the map to vanish with a ‘pop.’

“Who are you?” Max stammered, as he hoisted himself off the ground.

The woman glanced around the room, “Is this your kingdom?”

“My what?”

“Your kingdom. Your realm.”

“No Ma’am, this is Iowa.”

“So, you’re not a Prince?”

“No, Ma’am.”

“Well you’re handsome enough to be a Prince,” she said, casting an appraising eye up and down Max’s tall form.

“Are you flirting with me, Ma’am?” Max said, a grin stretching across his face.

The woman threw her head back, laughing with a sound like wind chimes in a soft breeze. “Well, you are cute and very polite, so if you ever need a fairy godmother…” She handed Max a card.

Max looked at the card in his hand. “Ma’am. You may want to rethink this card.”

“Why?”

“Someone could…um…misunderstand.”

“Could they?”

“Yeah. ‘For a happy ending call 555-FAIRYGM?’” Max said, eyebrows raised. “Happy ending…?”

“But, doesn’t everyone love, a happy ending?” and with a wink the woman vanished in a spray of glitter.

Max looked down at the card again, “Well, I can’t argue with that,” he said, and shrugging, he slid the card into his pocket, and headed back to bed.

-FIN-

© Amy Hutton 2020

 

The World of Wikis

yellow pikachu plushmascot
Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

So, you sit down to watch the new season of The Walking Dead, you wish you’d had time to do that rewatch of last season like you meant to do, but oh well, you’ll be fine, after-all, you love this show! Then suddenly, you’re confused because there’s a guy saying stuff about a thing and you know you should know who he is, but you just can’t place him. Is he from The Kingdom? Or was he a Saviour? Was he even in last season? You’re sure you’ve seen him before but…WHO IS THAT GUY?!

Never fear, the wiki is here!

Wiki’s have become a stable in the lives of fans. A central encyclopaedic housing of information about television shows, movies, gaming, book series, anime and even entertainment brands. A wiki is a free, collaborative space that brings together detailed knowledge, and passion under one umbrella of awesome.

A wiki can feature anything from episode breakdowns and transcripts, to cast and character biographies. They explore the canon and lore of the Universe they’re dedicated to, and catalogue weapons, vehicles, animals, music, and some even document fan life and fan projects.

But with so much information to cover, what makes a good wiki, and what does it take to manage a wiki and ensure it remains relevant.

A good example is Supernaturalwiki, which went live in August 2006, just shy of a year after the TV show premiered. It is an independent wiki, that is not-for-profit and ad-free. With over 3700 entries, and around 40,000 visitors a month, the Supernaturalwiki, AKA SuperWiki, is not just a source for fans worldwide, it is also used by the media, and the people who produce Supernatural including the writers, production crew and cast.

With over 2000 users having contributed to the site, Managing Editor, Jules Wilkinson knows that a good wiki must not just be accurate, it must also be detailed, well-organised, and importantly, up to date.

“Keeping the site current is a challenge,” Jules says. “As people can choose to contribute what they contribute and when, so a particular entry or category may languish as editors change. We do have an organised roster for completing episode recaps and transcripts, in order to ensure they are updated soon after an episode is broadcast.”

Part of Jules’ role is to support new contributors, helping them to learn how to code, and understand the Wiki conventions and helping them get the most out of their involvement. In any given week there are usually around 20 people actively working on the SuperWiki, all adding their own perspective and talent to it, whether that’s copy editing, or contributing their expertise on Egyptian mythology or Simpsons references.

For Jules, “Being an editor should be creative and enjoyable and people should feel they can make their mark on the site. I review edits for accuracy and appropriateness and identify areas of the SuperWiki which need updating. We have always been a very harmonious site,” she adds. “It’s only very rarely there will be conflict over some interpretation of canon.”

What makes the SuperWiki unique though, is that it documents the Supernatural fandom alongside the show. It not only covers what happens on the show, it covers behind the scenes, conventions, charity projects, fan fiction, shipping and other creative fan endeavours whether it’s a cookbook or a podcast.

“These aspects are not kept separate,” Jules says. “For example, you can read an entry about the character Jack Kline on the show and follow links to the JackLovesNougat roleplaying account on Twitter.”

Another thriving wiki site is Fandom, an international entertainment company and the home of wiki pages formerly housed by Wikia. It is a free of charge and for-profit site, which currently hosts several thousand wikis in all different languages.

Like Jules from the Supernaturalwiki, Fandom’s Managing Editor of Australia, Jeremy Ray believes in the importance of keeping a wiki current and ensuring its accuracy.

“I love it when a wiki is very up-to-date,” says Jeremy. “And of course, accuracy is very important. It’s very helpful to know when you can reliably check a wiki for the contents of the latest weapon crate in CS:GO, or to find out all about the new Overwatch character.”

At Fandom the larger wiki admin teams function somewhat like mini-governments. They meet regularly and vote on policy decisions, manage and assist newer members, and moderate contributions from the public, liaising with the content team as necessary.

Primarily the wiki admins own their space at Fandom, if they feel rumours, guides, tips, etc have a place within that space, then that’s their prerogative. Though some prefer to keep their spaces for lore only.

“Like our Wookiepiedia,” Jeremy says. “Which refers to the events of Star Wars as if it’s actual history.”

One of the complex issues a wiki editor may face is where there are multiple entries for the same character, or brand. For example, on the SuperWiki, if there are alternate reality characters do you house their information on the original version of that character’s page, or do they have their own page, because in essence they are their own character, even though they share a character name and actor. Or at Fandom when you have a character/brand overlap, which means there’s a Mario page on the Nintendo wiki, the Mario wiki, and the Smash Bros wiki. This is why structure and organisation are so important. A fan is not going to use a wiki that is difficult to navigate, so part of the editing and management of a wiki is discussing and dealing with these types of issues, to ensure the fan experience is protected.

“We try to assist in those situations,” Jeremy says. “To make sure the content can easily be found by both the user and Google.”

Jules adds, “There is on-going discussion with editors about whether it is better to have one large entry on a topic or several smaller pages and how to catalogue something within the site so people can find the information. Accessibility also includes ensuring images are properly captioned for those with visual impairments.”

 Both Jules and Jeremy agree this teamwork is vital in running a wiki as it’s simply too much work for one person to handle, but more importantly that wikis would not function without the support of the fans who have helped to grow and develop them.

“We fund our web hosting and tech support costs through donations,” says Jules

A wiki is there to empower fans to dig deeper into the thing they love and follow their passion by contributing their own knowledge and unique set of skills to the larger community. The people who build and shape the wiki pages dedicate thousands of hours to ensure that the latest information is available when someone needs to check an item of lore in Final Fantasy or find out how many times the Winchester brothers hugged in season 14. Fans can build their own wikis, create their own spaces, contribute entries that reflect their own particular interests, or simply explore the thousands and thousands of pages of information about that thing they love by people who love it too.

“It might be cheesy,” Jeremy concludes. “But we had an old motto that was to “help fans be better fans,” and I think that sums it up.”

So, next time you can’t remember who that character is, or you need to know how you kill a Leviathan or get a detailed family tree of the Great Houses of Game of Thrones, check out a wiki! They’re the ultimate in fans giving back to fans.

Thanks to the SuperWiki and Fandom for their help with this article
and to the fans for all the work they do.
Follow on Twitter - SuperWiki @SuperWiki and Fandom @getFANDOM

© Amy Hutton 2019

 

 

Nothing Ever Really Ends: Thoughts On The Final Season of the TV Show, Supernatural

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Season 15 will be the final season of Supernatural. It’s the final year. The final page to this chapter of this story. There has already been so much final talk. It’s final this and final that, and as a fan, I wonder how I will take another nine months of this.

It’s already been an emotional year.

Im March I was at the Supernatural convention in Las Vegas. The first convention after the final season announcement. There were tears. On stage and in the audience. It’s not that the fans asked the questions, it was that stars, Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki gave the answers. Like they needed to talk about it, and we were the first group of fans they’d seen since announcing they were hanging up their boots.

I attended Jensen’s meet and greet and cried. It was always going to happen. Talking about his character Dean Winchester’s journey, and both of us being so thankful for it…how could I not tear up. How could Jensen not tear up? That meet and greet was all about the end. But once again, that was Jensen. Like he needed to talk about it.

I was at the Chicago convention a couple of weeks later, and thankfully, the subject of the imminent final year barely came up! That convention was full of another kind of emotion. There was a freak snow storm and flight cancellations. I was on a rollercoaster. I was on my own and exhausted from a long holiday. Then my flight out of Chicago got cancelled, meaning I couldn’t make my flight home to Sydney. In amongst this trauma, Jensen and Jared decided that this would be the convention they’d call me by my name. It only took meeting them 20 times! It was Amy this, Amy that. I nearly laughed out loud when Jensen greeted me at his autograph session with a hollered, drawn out, AMYYYYYYYYYYY. The fact that he blew me a kiss and told me he loved me just kind of ended me. I was already on the edge. His kindness pushed me over. I cried a lot in my hotel room that night. About my show. About my guys. About who I’d be without this thing in my life. About being stuck 9000 miles from home. About the friends and strangers who reached out to help and comfort me.

In May I was in Melbourne when the boys came here for the Australian convention. Yes, I asked Jensen and Jared a question about the end. Sorry. They tortured me over it. Poking fun at me mercilessly. Thanking me for bringing down the mood. It went on and on. Bless their hearts. But they answered honestly. Eventually. I hugged them every which way I could that weekend, because I feel the need to hang on to them right now. Hang on tight. Like they’re slipping away from us….

In July I was in San Diego, at Comic Con for the final Supernatural Comic-Con panel. I was anxious all weekend. I was terrified something would happen and I wouldn’t be there. I was stressed and fretting. I don’t know how my friends put up with me. But they did. And there I was. In amongst the nearly 7000 people. There to celebrate this thing we all love so very, very much. I cried. A lot. When the cast came on stage. When they cried. When they couldn’t talk for crying. When my friends were crying. When the cast got a standing ovation. When they left that stage for that last time. I cried. So many tears. Then my friends and I all went for food. But mostly drinks. And we all cried some more. I think we were crying sad tears for the loss of something so monumental in our lives, and how scared we were about what that means, but also happy tears, for ever having had it, and for having each other. In that moment, one of the shiniest moments of my life, my gratitude just kept running down my face. I will always be thankful for that day.

Now I sit in my home in Sydney, reading the quotes from the last Supernatural Television Critics Association panel. It’s final this and final that, and I wonder how I will take another nine months of this. But then I think about what Jensen said, “This is a long journey that I don’t think is ever going to be over…”

It is a long journey. It’s the best of journeys. From that Monday night in 2006, when Supernatural first aired in Australia, to now and on into the future. The best of journeys. A journey through a story that has both lifted me up and crushed me. A story that has led me all over the world. On road trips through Texas, up Mount St Helens, down the waterways of Chicago in freezing sleet, up mountainsides in Vancouver, to the beaches of Hawaii, and next year, the grandeur of Rome. A story that has brought into my world so many friends. The best of friends. The kind that understand me on a level most people never will. The kind that reach out to me when I’m hurting, even if we’ve never met in person. The kind that will forgive me when I rant, will hold me when I cry, will make me laugh until my drink comes out of my nose. The kind that knows how to sit silently with me, because we don’t need words to connect what’s between us.

This story, this epic story has changed my life and the trajectory of my life in ways that sometimes I can’t even fathom. This spectacular story. It has opened my heart and my mind. It has brought a world of diversity into my world. A world of charity. A world of creativity. I am better for this story. In every possible way.

So how do I say goodbye? How do I say goodbye to the defining experience of my life? How do I ever let it go? I don’t. Because there are no goodbyes. These characters, they will always be with me. In my mind. On my TV. Alive in my soul. Their hearts beating in mine. These friends, they will always be with me. They are lifelong friends. They are forever. These actors, they will always be with me. I will follow their paths, where ever it takes them. I will champion them until the end of my days. Because they deserve that. Because they gave me so much. These memories. These beautiful, rich, and magnificent memories, they will always be with me. They will carry me through my future, with the downs it’s bound to bring, and the ups that will come along with them. Golden, emotion dripped memories. The memories that are still being made.

I have learned so much in the last 14 years. About myself, about people, about love, about loss, about the world, and one thing has been ingrained into my very being… Endings are hard, but then again, nothing ever really ends, does it?

We’ll carry this precious cargo with us every, single day.

It’s going to be a tough year of final this and final that, but I feel so blessed to feel so sad about this au revoir.

© Amy Hutton 2019
Supernatural Season 15 - The Final Season airs from October 10 2019.
Listen to Amy's thoughts on Supernatural, along with Jules Wilkinson
from the Supernatural Wiki, on The Women of Letters Podcast, available
on iTunes. 

 

 

 

The Happiest Place: A Supernatural Fan Fiction

“I’m not wearing them, Sam!”

“Dean, you’ve gotta wear them! It’s kinda the rules.”

It was the Winchester brothers’ second day on the road, and they’d been bickering pretty much the whole time.

“You know, we’re going within spitting distance of Vegas. We should go to Vegas,” Dean said.

“We’ve done Vegas this year. You said you were up for something new.”

“Yeah, new like, some beach resort with cocktails with those little umbrellas. Or, I don’t know, Reno.”

“Just think of this as Reno with rides,” Sam said, looking down at his phone.

“Pretty sure they’ve got rides in Reno,” Dean grumbled.

“Well then, more rides. Do you need to take a break, you seem tense.”

“I’m not tense Sam, and no I don’t need a break, I’m just… I’m not wearing them.”

Dean reached for the radio and turned up the volume.

Sam shook his head, conversation over.

 

“Where do we park?” Dean asked.

“I’m just figuring that out, we want the one closest.”

“It’s early, we should go get a burger or something first.”

“No, we can eat there, the earlier we get there, the less crowds.”

“Great. Crowds,” Dean groaned.

Sam sighed. “I swear Dean, you’re gunna have a good time.”

Dean humphed.

“Okay, take the next left, that’s the best place to park. The Mickey and Friends carpark.”

Dean shook his head and gunned it, laying a bit of rubber on the road just for appearances.

 

“Jesus, there’s more security here than the bunker! Hey, maybe we should install metal detectors at the bunker door.”

“Not a bad idea,” Sam said.

“I was kidding, Sam.”

“Still not a bad idea.”

They headed to the no bag check lane.

“Empty your pockets into the bowl please gentlemen, and walk through,” the ever so perky woman, who was apparently named Mabel, said.

“You left your weapons in the car, right?” Sam whispered, wondering if Dean had packed the demon killing knife or his Colt 1911, just in case.

“I’m not an idiot, Sam.” Dean dropped his wallet and Impala keys in the bowl. “I don’t like going in naked though,” he said over his shoulder, before throwing Mabel an awkward smile. Mabel didn’t even flinch, her badge said 27 years of service, she’d heard it all.

 

Dean went through the metal detector and the alarm went off.

“Anything in your pockets, sir?”

“No”

“Belt?”

“No”

“Over there, please.” The security guard motioned Dean in the direction of a guard with a hand held sensor.

“Arms up, sir.”

Dean rolled his eyes and lifted his arms. The guard scanned Dean.

“Hey Sam,” Dean said. “Maybe we can make one of these that scans for monsters!” He looked at the guard who ignored him.

The scanner alarm went off over Dean’s boots.

“Steel caps,” Dean said.

“I’m going to need to pat you down, sir.”

“Are you going to buy me dinner after?”

The security guard looked up at Dean, definitely not smiling.

“Just kidding, dude.” Dean mumbled, as the guard patted down Dean’s legs and socks.

“Okay sir enjoy your day at the park. Oh, and about that dinner?”

Dean froze.

“Just kidding, dude,” the security guard said sarcastically, as he turned to help the next customer.

“Way to make friends, Dean,” Sam whispered. “Let’s get on the tram.”

“The tram….” Dean felt like his day was going from bad to worse.

 

“Did you download the app like I told you?” Sam said as they stood in the queue at the gates.

“Yes, mom.”

“So, you’ve got your ticket up?”

“Yes, mom.”

“Just checking,” Sam sighed.

Dean got to the turnstile.

“Scan your ticket hon, and then smile here,” the woman at the gate said. Her name was Shirley and she’d given 16 years of service.

“You’re taking our photos? How come?” Dean asked.

“So you can go in and out of the park,” Shirley explained. “You okay having your photo taken sweetie? You’re not a vampire or anything are you?” she winked at Dean.

“Not currently,” Dean said, winking back. “But you never know what’s around the corner.” He gave her his best smile and walked through the turnstile.

There in front of him was a huge Mickey Mouse face made out of flowers.

 

“Welcome to Disneyland!” Sam said, slapping Dean on the back so hard Dean stumbled. “What do you want to do first?”

Dean threw his arms in the air. “Your show, man. You pick.”  He gazed around in astonishment at the throng of people and prams making their way into the park.

Sam looked at his phone. “How about Indiana Jones?”

Dean turned to look at his brother. “Indiana Jones has a ride?”

“Did you even look at the app?”

“No.”

 

The brothers walked under the arch and into the park, heading toward Main Street, U.S.A.

“What’s happening over there?” Dean pointed to a small crowd of people.

“It’s Mickey Mouse!” Sam had a touch too much excitement in his voice. “Do you wanna get a photo with him?” he said before thinking.

Dean stared at his brother like he was from another planet. “Ah, no Sam, I don’t.” Then he remembered something. He remembered back to when they were kids, to when Sam had Mickey Mouse pyjamas. He remembered being in the back of the car, his dad driving them…somewhere, Sam was in his Mickey pyjamas bugging the hell out of their dad to take them to Disneyland. Sam had looked it up on the map and knew where they were heading wasn’t too far away from where the park was located. He went on and on and on about it, until their dad finally promised he’d take them another time. Of course, another time never came. They grew up; they hunted. Why had Dean not remembered that before now? Sam used to love Mickey Mouse. Sam had always wanted to visit Disneyland.

 

Dean stopped walking and grabbed his brother’s arm. “Wait. Do you want to get a photo with Mickey Mouse?”

Sam rolled his eyes. “No Dean. Ha ha. I was just joking.”

“Well, I’m serious, dude. Do you? Because I remember… I mean, you know…it’s cool if you do…”

Sam looked at his brother, and then turned back to look at the crowd. “Um,” he paused, looking at Dean again. “Nah, let’s head to the ride before it gets busy.”

 

“This is pretty cool,” Dean said as they walked through the tunnels on their way to the Indiana Jones ride. “I mean, the detail. Pretty cool.”

“Yeah it is,” Sam said, pushing on a pole and hearing the noise of rocks falling.

They got to the area with the safety video.

“What kind of ride is this?” Dean asked.

“Like the movie. Not a rollercoaster, I think we’re in a jeep.”

“I get to drive.” Dean said.

“I don’t think anyone gets to drive, Dean. It’ll be on a track.” Sam said as they moved forward in the line.

They followed the directions and headed into another room, where they could now see the ride vehicles.

“There’s a steering wheel, Sam, so I drive.”

“It depends if we’re in the front or not,” Sam tried to explain as they walked up the stairs and down the other side.

“How many?” the ride attendant asked.

“Two,” said Dean. “And I want to drive.”

“Number one,” the attendant said pointing them to the row at the front.

Dean looked at Sam and elbowed him in the ribs with a, see, expression.

 

When it was their turn, the gates opened, and Sam and Dean got into the jeep, sliding across to their spots.

Dean put his hands firmly on the wheel. “Dude are you even going to fit?” he said, watching Sam fold himself into the seat.

“I’ll fit,” Sam said, arranging his legs and trying not to bump the lady next to him.

“Please secure your belt,” the attendant called out. The brothers secured their belts.

“Pull on the yellow tab for me,” the attendant called. The brothers pulled on the yellow tab.

After a few moments the car started moving. “Here we go!” Dean said with a little too much enthusiasm, as they headed into the darkness of the tunnel…

 

“Dude!” Dean said, slapping his brother on the arm. “That was freakin’ amazing! We gotta go on that again!”

They’d finished the ride and were heading out the exit.

Sam laughed. “Yeah, it was pretty cool. Maybe we’ll try and get on again later.”

“Maybe? I’d say definitely!” Dean turned to look at Sam. “What’s next?”

“Well, Pirates of the Caribbean is just there, or the Haunted Mansion?”

“Haunted Mansion? Seriously? That’s our life. I think we can skip that one.”

“It’s supposed to be pretty great.”

“Dude, I do not need a ride with ghosts! We’ll go on the Pirate one.”

“Okay, but I still think we should do the Haunted Mansion, I mean, it’s one of the original rides and, you know, has great history, and…”

“Okay, okay. Geeze. Pirates first, then ghosts. I can’t believe what I’m even saying…”

 

Sam and Dean walked off the Pirates of the Caribbean ride beaming.

“Yeah, okay, that was awesome,” Dean said. “I’ve got a wet ass, but it was awesome,”

Sam laughed.

“That Johnny Depp robot really looked like the guy,” Dean continued talking as they wandered towards the Haunted Mansion. “Not sure I’m ever gunna get that song out of my head though. Was that in the movie?”

“Yeah I think so,” Sam said looking at the Disneyland app. “Okay, there’s not too much of a wait today, which is great, so let’s go do the Haunted Mansion then after that our Fast Pass for Space Mountain should be ready.”

“Okay, tour guide,” Dean said, getting into the spirit of the day. “Lead on!”

 

Sam and Dean squeezed into one of the Haunted Mansion’s little round Doom Buggies as it moved along the track.

“Man, they do not make these rides for large humans,” Dean grumbled as he adjusted himself.

“No kidding,” Sam said, slouching down a bit to fit in.

Their Doom Buggy travelled through the corridor of knocking doors, past Madam Leota’s floating head and into the ballroom where all the ghosts were dancing and having a feast.

“Holy crap!” Dean laughed. “Where the hell is my salt gun when I need it!”

“It wouldn’t be so bad if the ghosts we dealt with were all like this,” Sam yelled over the music.

 

The brothers laughed and pointed at pretty much everything as they travelled through the ride.

“Whoa check out that skinny dog,” Dean said, as they moved backwards under some creepy trees.

“Oh my god, it’s the singing heads!” Sam yelled, nearly jumping out of the Buggy with excitement.

“Look at that guy!” Dean laughed, pointing at a skeleton popping up and down out of a grave.

 

As they came to the end of the ride they heard the narrator say, “There’s a little matter I forgot to mention — beware of hitchhiking ghosts!” Then the boys’ Doom Buggy swung around to face the mirror and squeezed between them was a fat ghost in a top hat.

“I’d pick another car if I was you, dude!” Dean yelled at the mirror.

Sam and Dean cracked up.

 

“Oh man,” Dean said as they stumbled back into the light. “That was ridiculous! We might have to go on that one again too!”

“At this rate, we’ll need to be here another day,” Sam said, shooting his brother a sideways glance.

Dean shrugged his shoulders, before suddenly yelling, “CHURROS!”

 

Sam and Dean walked across the park eating their foot long churros and enjoying the sunny day.

“So, Space Mountain?” Sam asked.

“Sure, what is it again?” Dean said, round a mouthful of sugary dough.

“It’s a rollercoaster…err…in…side.”

Dean stopped. “Like…. how high a rollercoaster?”

“It’s in a building, so not very high.”

Dean nodded. “Okay. As long as it’s not one of those 20 million foot drop coasters.”

“Definitely not 20 million foot drop coaster.”

“Okay. Cool.”

 

“THAT WAS NOT COOL!” Dean spluttered as he stomped his way out of Space Mountain.

“Wait,” Sam said. “There’ll be a photo!” Sam was loving his big brother being freaked out just a little too much.

“Dude. I do not want to see what I look like screaming IN THE DARK!” Dean said.

Sam laughed. “Come on, Dean. It was fun!”

“Flying through the dark at a trillion miles an hour, is not my idea of fun, Sam!”

“Okay, okay.” Sam laughed again. “Hey look! There we are!” Sam pointed to a photo on one of the screens.

“Oh good. I’m screaming like an infant.” Dean shook his head.

Sam slapped Dean on the back. “Never mind Dean, I look cool.” In the photo, Sam had his arms in the air and was grinning from ear to ear.

“Yeah, you look freakin’ great. Can we go now? What’s next? And NO MORE ROLLERCOASTERS IN THE GOD DAMN DARK!”

 

The brothers went from ride to ride. Debated whether to build their own lightsabre, fought over who was the best shot on Buzz Lightyear, ate an ice cream sandwich in the shape of Mickey’s head and laughed out loud at the bad jokes on the Jungle Cruise. They braved The Matterhorn and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, though Dean gave an emphatic nope to Splash Mountain. They folded themselves into the tiny seats on Finding Nemo and pretended to race each other on Autopia. They even went back for a second ride on the Haunted Mansion, and giggled all the way around.

 

When the fireworks started, they sat on the edge of the gutter lining the road and looked up at the sky, as the coloured lights exploded in a shower of stars above their heads.

 

Heading back down Main Street, U.S.A., tired and achy from a long day, they compared their favourite moments. From Star Tours, to Mr Toad, to how damn delicious Dole Whip is. Dean even laughed at the photo of him screaming on Space Mountain (though he swore he’d never go on that hellish ride again).

 

As they neared the exit, Dean excused himself to use the restroom.

“Just wait here,” he said to Sam.

“Okay, mom.” Sam said shaking his head.

When his brother returned, he was carrying a bag.

“You went shopping in the restroom?” Sam asked, pointing at the Disneyland bag in Dean’s hand.

“No, but I just thought I’d grab a souvenir, you know…,” he trailed off.

“What cha ya get?” Sam asked, reaching for the bag.

“None of your business,” Dean said, swatting Sam’s hand. “By the way,” Dean deftly changed the subject. “The woman in the shop told me that Mickey Mouse should be down near the exit, if you wanna get a photo…”

Sam looked at Dean. “Nah. I mean. Nahhh.”

Dean rolled his eyes. “Dude, we’ve come all this way, we might as well do it. Admit that you like the Mouse, so we can all move on.”

“Well, I guess we can see how long the line is?” Sam said as they walked towards a small crowd.

 

The brothers stood in the queue, conspicuously large compared to the mostly mums and kids on either side of them. When they got to the front, Mickey Mouse opened his arms and Dean shoved Sam towards him.

Sam spun around. “Dude! “You’re coming in the photo too!”

“Hold your horses,” Dean said. He handed his phone to the young woman helping to take pictures, put down the Disneyland bag, and pulled out two pairs of Mickey ears. “Here you go, Sammy,” Dean said, placing the ears on Sam’s head. Sam’s mouth hung agape. Dean then put the second set of ears on his own head, angling them jauntily. He looked at the young woman with his phone. “How do I look?” he asked with a smirk.

“Surprisingly good,” the young woman replied.

“I thought you’d never wear them, Dean,” Sam said over Mickey’s head.

Dean just shrugged. “Okay, Mickey,” he said. “Let’s do this.” Dean reached his arm around Mickey Mouse and placed his hand on his brother’s shoulder.

 

Sam and Dean both shrunk down so they didn’t tower over the diminutive mouse and smiled as their photo was taken.

“You know,” Dean said to Mickey Mouse, as he stepped aside. “My brother there, he’s a bit of a fan.”

Sam started to stammer something but before he could get far, Mickey had him in a hug.

Dean laughed, “There you go, Sammy.”

 

Sam and Dean dropped into the Impala with a groan. “Jesus,” Dean said. “That was exhausting. But I’ve got to say, it was a pretty awesome day.”

“So, you like Disneyland now,” Sam said.

“I did not hate it.” Dean started up the car. “Let’s see if we can find a cheap motel around here somewhere…or maybe we should crack out the cards and live it up a little!”

Sam yawned. “I don’t care, as long as it has a hot shower and beds!”

Dean nodded. “Amen to that.”

 

As Dean drove out of the carpark, and down Disneyland Drive, he turned to his brother, “You know, there’s nothing much on the radar at the moment, and I hear the other park has some cool rides too, and beer, they have beer. Maybe we should, I dunno, check it out tomorrow?”

“You want to do another day at Disneyland?”

“Well, I mean, we’re already here.”

“You think you’re up for the Guardians of the Galaxy ride?”

“Star Lord? Hells yeah! Bring it on! Wait. It isn’t a rollercoaster in the dark, is it?”

“Nope.”

“All right then!”

“You ever going to take those ears off, Dean?”

“Probably not.”

“You’re going to sleep in them?”

“Maybe.”

“You can get another set tomorrow.”

“Do they have Star Lord ones?”

“They’ve got Star Wars ones.”

“Yeah? What are you going to get, Little Mermaid?”

“Ha ha Dean, maybe you should get Goofy. Or Princess Jasmine.”

“Okay. All right. You stick with the princess ears, Rapunzel”

“Ha ha very funny.”

“Well you’ve got the hair for it….”

-FIN

   © Amy Hutton 2019
   Story by Amy Hutton based on characters created by Eric Kripke.
   More Supernatural Fan fiction by Amy can be found here

 

Avengers: Endgame Review (No Spoilers)

Release date: 24 April 2019

Avengers: Endgame, I love you 3000.

I saw Avengers: Endgame twice in 12 hours; that should give you a pretty good sense of how I feel about this movie. The first screening was in a packed house on opening night, the second was early the next morning with a much smaller crowd. Both experiences were different, but both were acutely affecting, and satisfying.

There’s no doubt Avengers: Endgame is a love letter; a love letter to a decade of story, to the myriad of characters, and to the OG Avengers, the original six that started it all. But it’s also a love letter to the fans; a walk through the movies of the past, the triumphs, failures, and odysseys of a strangely human bunch of super-human/alien heroes, all coming to a head in a massive brawl that’s an absolute cracker. It’s a deeply rewarding finale, a beautiful conclusion to this once in a lifetime, cinematic journey.

I’m not going to give away any spoilers here, I’m tempted to because there were some spectacular character arcs, as well as brilliant comedic scenes, (let me just say that Chris Hemsworth is a national treasure), and I want to talk about it all to anyone who will listen. I came home and blurted everything out to a family member who couldn’t have cared less, then spent until well after midnight talking online, burning up my DMs with friends who, like me, saw it on opening night. I want to share, damn it, but part of the joy of this movie was the not knowing, so being spoiler free for that first viewing is and was a gift. It was the nerves, the anticipation, and the excitement. It was worrying if my fave was going to make it. It was being side swiped by feelings I never saw coming. It was laughing so hard I literally slapped my thigh.

In amongst the action sequences and epic battles, there is space for genuine emotion, and that, quite frankly, caught me off guard. I’m not going to tell you I cried, because in all honesty, at times I sobbed, and not just because there were some sadder than sad moments, but because there were some glorious moments that made my heart swell with love and happiness, and my eyes leak all over my face. I wasn’t the only one (thankfully), I was surrounded by snuffles and sniffles, and at least one rather loud, anguished, cry in the dark. But even when things seem their bleakest, there’s a lot of unexpected humour to balance it out. This movie is damn funny, with some laugh out loud sequences and wonderful, witty, and of course, snarky banter. It’s something the MCU has done beautifully through the series, blending the drama with the playfulness, as well as keeping the separate Universes and character tones true to their individual franchises, even when they’re all mixed in together. Infinity War shone at that, and here, Endgame perfects it.

In a story chocked full of everything and everyone shiny, the script is somehow the superstar; not something you usually say about big, glossy, blockbusters, but there was nothing in this movie that felt hokey or heavy handed to me. There was a honesty to the Avengers’ post Thanos snap struggles that was unanticipated and refreshing. These are characters we’ve grown to love over the past 10 years, and seeing their trials as well as their victories, so beautifully rendered, punches you right in the gut. Be prepared for a good deal of feels, but remember, you won’t be alone.

Getting to sit with a group of fellow aficionados and watch the thing we’ve all been waiting for is so special. To hear the authentic gasps, the concerned mutters, the cries of “noooo”, then the spontaneous and enthusiastic applause as the credits roll; it gives the event a true community feel, like we’re all in this together, like we’re with each other ‘til the end of the line.

Avengers: Endgame left me less emotionally devastated than I expected and more overwhelmingly thankful. Thankful that I got to experience this epic tale of heroes and mega villains; thankful for Cap, Tony, Bruce, Nat, Thor, Clint and everyone in between, and though I know we have more Marvel movies coming down the line, for some of these characters, some of my cherished favourites, their stories are done, and that truly is a hard pill to swallow. I will miss them terribly, but I’ll be forever grateful for the ride they took me on.

As a wise and somewhat sassy man said, “the end is part of the journey,” and what a glorious journey it’s been.

P.S. See the movie before you’re spoiled, because the surprises are everything, and stick around for the credits to see a lovely tribute to the Avengers cast, but there’s no mid or end credits scene in this one, so if you need to pee after the 3 hour running time, you don’t have to wait!

© Amy Hutton 2019

 

Still Us, Just Different: A Supernatural Fan Fiction

“I’m still not sure this feels right, Dean.”

Sam Winchester looked at his brother; worry lines swirling on his forehead.

“Dude, we talked about this.”

“I know, I know, but…” Sam chewed on his lip. “We know not all monsters are bad. We know some good ones out there; there must be more.”

“Yeah, sure, and most of the good ones we knew are long dead,” Dean shrugged. “Look man, I get it, but that question we keep asking, what if we could stop all the evil in the world, this is it, this is our chance. This is what we’re here to do, our purpose, or whatever, and neither of us has to die or sell our damn souls. This is a freakin’ gift. To us and humanity. Right?”

The brothers sat in the bunker, nursing a couple of whiskeys; a piece of parchment on the table between them. Sam turned the document to face him and looked at it.

“Could it be this easy? I mean. This seems too easy, Dean.”

Dean nodded. His brother was right, it seemed too easy, but they’d researched it every which way, and it came up good every time.

“Sammy, we’ve looked into it. You’ve gone through every angle, and I trust you. It’s legit. You know it, I know it. This is what we’ve wanted our whole lives, right?” he looked at Sam for reassurance as much as anything else.

“Yeah. It’s what we’ve always dreamed of, I guess.”

Sam and Dean sat in silence for a moment; the weight of their decision settling into their bones.

“It’s just,” Sam said. “What do we do then…”

That was it; what do they do then? Dean had been wondering exactly this for days, for weeks, ever since they found the spell locked in a box in an old shed. They’d been chasing down a demon making bad deals in a small town, when Dean literally tripped over the thing, spilling the contents across the dirt floor. It was Sam who realised it was something special. He spent sleepless nights translating it. They spent sleepless nights discussing it. They’d run the spell past the witch, Rowena and she said it was the real deal. She said she’d heard that such a spell may exist, but she always thought it was a fancy. Sam and Dean talked through the ethics of casting the spell; is it the right thing to do, is it taking what they do too far? For weeks they hashed it out over and over, always coming back to the same place; now they have it, how could they not use it? How many people would continue to die if they didn’t? How many lives could they save with just a few words of Latin.

But it wasn’t just a question of right or wrong that was keeping them awake at night, it was their mutual existential crisis; what would their lives be without this thing driving it? This thing that was their every, single day, their whole lives, their whole world, their constant. Everything they know, everything they were born to be, everything their father taught them. If that went away tomorrow, what then? Who were they if they weren’t hunters?

Dean drained his glass and reached for the bottle. “I dunno Sammy, I dunno what we’ll do when it all stops, but we’ll work it out together, like we always have.”

“I know we will,” Sam sighed. “And I know it’s right, I know it Dean. But all this…” he waved his hand around the bunker.

“This is our home, it’ll still be here, we’ll still be here, that’s not gunna change, what we’ve built that’s not going away, what we’ve achieved together, that’s always gunna be us. It’s just… It’ll be different…”

Years ago, Dean thought, if you’d have asked him or Sam if they had a chance to get out of the life, both of them would have jumped at it. But that was before they’d carved out a place for themselves, and understood their reason for being. That was before they accepted who they were, and were good with it. That was before they’d saved the world, twice.

“We keep saying there’s no cost to this spell, no deals, no downside,” Dean said. “But this is the cost, I guess. The world we built; our identities. We have to give part of that up for the greater good, and it ain’t gunna be easy. But it’s the job, man; just on a bigger scale, and it’s right.”

“Yeah,” Sam said, running a hand down his face. “And Kate, Garth, Mia are we sure they’ll be okay? They’re not just monsters, Dean. Are we sure we’ve looked after everyone?”

“Hopefully, Rowena’s spell will hold,” Dean said. “But we’ve warned them, that’s all we can do. It’s bigger than them, they know that. We’ve protected who we can the best we can. Sammy, I know you’re worried, but we can’t do any more.”

Sam nodded at his brother, before picking up his glass and gulping down the rest of his whiskey. Standing up, he grabbed the parchment from the table.

“Right. The longer we wait, the more people die. We got work to do.”

 

Sam and Dean stood in a grove of trees behind the bunker. A small fire burned in a circle, a bubbling pot suspended above it, the pungent aroma of herbs filling the chilled, night air. Dean held a piece of paper covered in glyphs. He turned to his brother.

“This is it, Sammy. We do this, it’s the end of everything we’ve ever known. You ready for that?”

“No,” Sam said. “But I know it’s right, and I know you and me, that doesn’t change.”

“No, it doesn’t, and it never will,” Dean said. He tossed the paper into the fire.

Sam held up the parchment and chanted the incantation, “Abominationes impietatis animalia quae non. Qui non ex simplici. Ad te ab abyssum irent. Ab hoc mundo. Et abierunt!”

He threw a small, leather pouch Rowena had prepared for them, into the flames. There was an explosion of white, blue light. Then silence.

“That it?” Dean said. “Every evil son of a bitch… gone?”

“That’s it, Dean…”

The brothers stood for a long time, should to shoulder, quietly watching the dying embers.

 

Dean woke up and stretched his back, wincing at the loud crack. Swinging his legs over the edge of the bed, he stood with a groan. He grabbed a pair of discarded jeans off the chair in the corner of his room and pulled them on, before taking a clean, black t-shirt from a draw and slipping it over his head. He picked up a pair of socks off the floor, holding them to his nose, before tugging them onto his feet. Putting on his boots, he grabbed his Colt 911 from the nightstand and tucked it in his pants. Opening his bedroom door, he walked down the bunker hall. He found Sam sitting in the kitchen, a steaming coffee mug in front of him, his laptop open.

“Morning, sunshine,” Dean said, heading directly to the coffee pot. “What’s happening in the world?” He slid onto the chair opposite his brother, pulling his Colt from his belt and setting on the table next to Sam’s gun.

“Usual crazy stuff.” Sam said.

“Our kind of crazy?” Dean said, eyeing his brother.

“Just normal, human crazy,” Sam said. He closed his laptop.

Dean nodded. “Good. So… What we doin’ today?”

“I still have a whole bunch of boxes of lore from the back room to go through and catalogue,” Sam said. “So, I might as well get into that. You?”

“Baby could do with a clean, might give a few of the other cars a once over too.”

Sam nodded. The pair sat, drinking their coffee, the occasional slurp echoing in the silence.

“Before I do that though,” Dean said. “I might run into town, pick up some supplies, this kitchen is getting a bit low on just about everything. Fancy going for a ride?”

“Sure thing,” Sam said.

Standing up they both reached for their guns.

“Wait,” Dean said, his hand hovering over the weapon. “Do we still need these?”

Sam looked at him.

“Probably not.”

They stared at each other across table.

“Nah,” Dean said, sliding the gun into the back of his belt.

Sam laughed and did the same.

“See Sammy, still us.”

“Yep Dean, still us.”

-FIN-

  © Amy Hutton 2019
  Story by Amy Hutton based on characters created by Eric Kripke.
  Dedicated to Supernatural and the Supernatural fandom, after the
  announcement that Supernatural will finish after it's 15th season.
  More Supernatural Fan fiction by Amy can be found here