Peering through the shed's shattered doorway, the brothers could see, not the dust-coated workbench and discarded tools that they had previously been looking at, but into a small town; more specifically, its market square.
Dean blinked. He glanced across at Sam and then blinked again.
The exercise didn't change anything; they were still looking at a market square.
It wasn't just any old market square; it was clearly a very ancient one. The muddy ground was uneven and well-trodden, coated with the detritus of life; straw and horse dung in particular, along with a few stray cabbage leaves which lay abandoned between the cobbles, gently composting away to themselves.
In the centre of the square stood an old well; a plush coat of greying moss clinging to its decaying, slightly crooked stonework. It seemed strangely forlorn standing beside an equally decrepit horse trough. The faint creak of the bucket which swayed gently in the breeze as it hung from the well's sagging wooden canopy only adding to the sense of deslolation that pervaded this strange place.
"Where is everyone?" Sam whispered absently, not sure whether Dean was listening or not.
A haphazard jumble of wattle and daub buildings formed the boundaries of the market square. Both brothers could see that some were simple dwellings but that others, from the faded signs hanging about them were stores: a cobbler, a greengrocer, a tailor and a lorimer among them.
Whatever they were, there was one thing they all had in common. They were all closed up, dark and silent; brooding in the palpable despair that smothered this place.
The bucket creaked softly in the breeze again.
"This is ..." Sam began.
"Don't say it!" Dean snapped.
They both turned on hearing a harsh snort, and saw that the only sign of life in the square appeared to be a stray cow, previously unnoticed by them. The great dun beast stood motionless except for the rhythmic grinding of her jaw as she calmly ruminated, staring back at them from under long coarse lashes.
Tossing her head, she registered her opinion of the mysterious interlopers by letting loose a clarion blast of a fart.
Dean wrinkled his nose in disgust; "I don't think much of your date," he snorted, goading Sam with a grin, expertly calculated to be as annoying as possible; "I'd much rather go and find mine."
Turning around, Dean glanced back into the forest behind him and took a deep breath before he tentatively stepped forward into the strange old world.
Sam reached out to grab the back of his jacket in an attempt to stop him; "hey, what d'y think you're doing?"
"I'm takin' action, that's what I'm doin'," Dean countered, shaking himself free of Sam's grip.
"But Dean," now it was Sam's turn to glance round furtively into the forest behind them; "you've no idea what's through here."
"Yeah, I do," Dean replied firmly; "a woman who needs our help, that's what's through here."
Now standing fully in the mysterious cobbled square, Dean took a moment to scan his surroundings. As he did, he looked back through the weathered doorway that framed Sam's concerned face, all hint of humour erased from his expression; "so are you comin' with me or am I doing this solo?"
Sam hesitated as he mulled over Dean's words, then wilted, sighing quietly. He knew Dean was right, and worse still, Dean was determined; so this hunt, quest, job, whatever the hell it was, was happening one way or the other, whether Sam approved or not.
Scraping a clammy hand through his hair, Sam stepped over the threshold.
Standing in the square, Sam scanned his surroundings just as Dean had done a moment ago, and allowed the soft breeze to disturb his hair. His first awareness was of the smell of the place; a smell of brutal reality carried on the air. Heavy and earthen, it was the smell of mud and dung and decay.
It was a smell that didn't instill him with great optimism.
Behind them they heard a shuffle as the cow began to wander away. Clearly unimpressed by her visitors, she quietly disregarded them; her attention instead transferring to the withered shrub she had just uprooted.
Looking back over Dean's shoulder, Sam could see the doorway that they had just stepped through. Unsurprisingly, it seemed to be the entrance to some kind of workshop. Inside, he could see a workbench, and various tools, very similar to those they had been admiring in the old shed. He also realised that if he could see the interior of the building they had just stepped out of, that meant he could no longer see the forest that they had just emerged from; the forest that marked their way back to their world and their lives. He mentally added that small fact to his 'things to freak out about if we don't find a few answers soon' list.
"Okay, lets go," he sighed.
"Go where?" Dean responded.
Sam shrugged; "no idea," he glanced around the forlorn little marketplace again; "it's not like there's even anyone around we could ask," he muttered to himself; "hey Dean, perhaps we should try to find out where everyone is before ..."
His words trailed into nothing as he realised Dean wasn't listening to a word he was saying, and seemed far more occupied by other matters.
Sam looked up to see Dean frantically waving his arms in front of his face.
"Freakin' bugs," Dean snarled, lashing out at some unseen flying menace; "why can't they leave me the hell alone? Haven't the little sonsofbitches taken enough friggin' bites out of me today?"
Sam could hear it, a buzzing sound, but not the faint, energetic hum of a wasp or bluebottle; this was guttural, far more substantial. The deep, echoing thrum sounded more like something that required a pilot than anything of insect origin.
Dean stumbled backward over a loose cobble as whatever the thing was buzzed past his head close enough to ruffle the spiky hair at his crown.
"freakin' flying douchebag," he roared, arms flailing wildly over his head like he was sending some kind of demented death threat in semaphore. "I'm not getting any more goddamn bug bites!"
Sam ducked as it flew back toward him. He felt the draft of its presence on his face, and this time he could see it; a blinding bright aura of light, that seemed vaguely human in shape, although no bigger than a newborn baby. He recoiled in pain as its powerful rasping buzz filled his ears to bursting.
A frantic dance ensued as both Winchesters dodged and feinted, trying to get away from the glowing being which was either the biggest friggin' bug in the history of, like, ever or something far - well - weirder. It swooped and soared around them, blinding them with crystal bright glowing energy and outsmarting their every dodge, without ever actually making physical contact.
Eventually it stopped. Suddenly it was nothing more than a gently bobbing ball of light hanging in the air between the two panting, rubber-legged figures, its harsh drone softened to a hum.
They watched it suspiciously, hearts pounding as wary anticipation crackled through them, fearful of what it might do next.
Thankfully, they didn't have long to wait as it suddenly addressed them.
"Do you two idjits want my friggin' help or not?"