INFO: Written for I Made This Productions Virtual Season 8
CLASSIFICATION: X, M/S UST
ARCHIVING: Two weeks after first appearance, OK to
Gossamer, Xemplary and Ephemeral. All others please
DISCLAIMERS: Mulder and Scully belong to CC, 1013, and Fox.
No infringement is intended, no money is being made.
Written for the I Made This Productions Virtual Season
Eight. Places are real, events are not.
SUMMARY: The cemetery is dark. A child’s cry echoes across
the tombstones, originating from below the ground. She has
been buried alive. Her premature burial opens the coffin on
a conspiracy of grave proportions, revealing the
machinations of a man who will stop at nothing to create a
cure for the black oil virus. Mulder and Scully stumble
blindly for answers as the Consortium eliminates its
My deepest gratitude to XochiLuvr, for a critical and
sharp beta-read, and for the support I never deserved.
St Bartholomew’s, Edgbaston, England
Warm summer sun shine kindly here:
Warm summer wind blow softly here:
Green sod above lie light, lie light:
Good-night, Dear Heart : good-night, good-night.
August 11, 2000
Colma Necropolis, CA
The summer sun was late in setting, forcing the lateness
of his arrival. He wasn’t sure if many kids got their kicks
by haunting cemeteries at night, but he knew his time was
short. The backpack was heavier than he had anticipated.
The walking stick caught on a flat headstone and he
tripped forward, managing to keep himself from falling, but
scraping his knuckles against the statue of an angel. He
hissed in a breath and sucked on the angry red wound,
wincing with the sting of it. Shuffling forward again, he
blew out a long breath and shook his head.
At least it wasn’t hot, he told himself. The breeze was
skittish, tumbling over tombstones and mausoleums, and the
night was leaching cool air from the dead. Consulting his
directions once again, the hiker turned left along a small
row and counted the plots as he moved. Four, five, six, and
then a sharp right.
He sighed. Poor baby girl. She was going to be scared to
death — no pun intended, he added mentally, glancing
around guiltily. It was just after twilight, when a
grieving man could swear the cemetery was giving off
darkness to the sky rather than the night falling upon the
earth. The hiker was presently in the shadows of two large
trees and hunched along the cover of the child’s family
plot. She had some affluent relatives. Her own stone was
two feet high and still the bright white of newness.
Kneeling to the ground, he propped his walking stick
against the tombstone and shrugged off the backpack. His
breathing sounded too loud in his ears, but there were no
longer any mourners in this section of the cemetery. The
zipper caught on the edge of the bag, and he growled as he
ripped it free, tugging ferociously in his haste.
He was rather close to panic. If they caught him here,
Best not to think. Concentrate.
The battery-powered drill tumbled from the bag and clinked
too loudly against a neighboring headstone. He winced but
plunged his fist into the bag once more, coming up with
three lengths of three foot metal pipe. His hands were too
sweaty. He was going to fumble this if he didn’t calm down.
Keep it simple. Concentrate.
He pulled out a schematic from his left front pocket,
unfolding it carefully and laying it out along the brown-
tinted new sod, still loose in places. The coffin was here,
he thought, pointing out the place on the map, outlined in
a dark green. The lid of her coffin was about six inches
thick, padding and all, and her shoulder should be…
He marked the exact spot with a knife, digging into the
sod through the paper. Once a good sized chunk revealed his
target area, the hiker quickly folded the paper back up,
but put it into the backpack and not his pocket. He would
need to burn this later.
Wiping the trickling sweat from his eyebrows, the hiker
attached one length of pipe to the hollow drill bit, and
then he attached that to the drill itself. The diameter of
the pipe was about the size of a hole for a doorknob; it
looked ridiculously large to him now. Licking his lips, he
rose to his feet for a better angle, then jammed the pipe
into the place he had marked.
The hiker paused for a moment, glancing around, then
closed his eyes. The drill sounded like the gates of Hell
itself had come crashing down, but he only winced and kept
drilling. The pipe slid into the ground, down, down into
the resting place of the child.
This was taking too long, too long.
He unlocked the first pipe from the drill, allowing four
inches to remain above the slightly damp grass. Then he
locked the second pipe onto the drill bit and slipped the
free end over the exposed pipe. It slid on easily and he
smiled crookedly. Easy, easy? this wasn’t easy. He was
risking his life, digging into graves.
He nearly choked when he heard a car coming.
The darkness was absolute now. Somehow, the night had
fallen over the cemetery and he hadn’t noticed at all. The
car was creeping along the lane, but it stopped far from
him and he breathed out, returning to his drilling. It was
at the third and final pipe when he heard the change: the
pipe had hit the outside of the coffin now, it seemed to
shriek painfully in the darkness.
God, oh, God, please.
And then a puff of noise and he stopped the turning motion
of the drill to gently prod through the layers of lace and
trim and padding that the girl’s coffin contained. His
muscles were so tense that he could feel tiny tremors
racing through his jaw and exploding against his skull. He
unlocked the last pipe from the drill and bit, and both
slipped through his sweaty nervous fingers. He could hear
A camera flash.
Oh God, no! He was screwed, he was really screwed. If
someone got a picture…
The hiker fumbled in the bag, looking for the bottle and
needle, but then he remembered he hadn’t shoved the dirt
Growling curses under his breath, he grabbed his walking
stick and pulled the pipe up a bit. He slowly threaded the
stick through, shoving the dirt down the pipe, and
hopefully, God, hopefully, spilling the dirt harmlessly
inside. If he had calculated wrong … off a few inches and
the dirt would be covering her eyes and nose and mouth.
Stop thinking. Concentrate.
Clenching the stick tightly, he pushed the bit all the way
through, then hit something soft, pliant, yet firm.
Please, God, let that be her shoulder. If it was her eye…
He shivered as he quickly yanked the stick back up through
the pipe. Grabbing the end of his former walking stick, the
hiker taped a small tube down its length, then attached the
needle and serum to one end, connecting it to the tube. The
release pump attached firmly on his end, and the stick went
slowly back down the pipe.
Voices. Flashes of a camera.
A woman. God, please.
He hit that same soft, pliant hardness, and at his
perfectly vertical angle, the hiker took a deep breath and
jammed the needle down into the skin. He hoped it was skin.
Wiping his sweaty hands on his pants, he tried to block
out the darkness and the two voices getting closer and
closer to him. Please not yet. There was him and the little
girl down there and he had to do this. He had to do this.
Three pumps to prime the injection. He could hear his
heart beating overly loud in the dark, feel his hands
trembling with cramps from his tight, clawed grasp on the
stick. His breath came in tight gasps as time dragged away,
then the spit and hiss of pressure pushing down, down, down
the tube and forcing chemicals through the needle just as
it sunk in.
10:13 p.m. August 11, 2000
It was dark and thinly damp. A tattered sky misted rain
and dewed the grass. When he stepped onto the soft, almost
spongy ground of the park, he could almost taste the decay.
The arched gates of the cemetery rose before him like rusty
trap doors and he licked his lips, frowning.
He hated doing this in the dark. He hated looking over his
shoulder every five seconds for the guards or the
caretaker, but he couldn’t help his nervousness. It wasn’t
like what they were doing was illegal, but sometimes it got
“Johnny, come here for a second!”
John glanced to his wife and sighed, but dutifully
followed her into the cemetery. The darkness was like a
green veil over their eyes, the ground was sloping and
humped with stones and monuments. It was warm for a late
summer night, and the wind from the bay was sharp when it
fluttered over them. He could make out the Gothic-like
angels and shepherds, the dark stones, the knobs of grass
covering the dead.
It was so dark. So dark. Like a tight blanket around
everything, around his eyes and suffocating all common
sense. His pictures when they came out, they were good,
spooky and frightening, just like the graveyard here. He
slowly turned with a practiced photographer’s eye. He could
get some good shots of Joe DiMaggio’s tomb tonight, maybe
even Wyatt Earp, and sell them down in the Haight for five
bucks. Tourists were suckers for freaky things from the
Terra’s hand was warm when she reached for the paper and
the charcoal, her fingers sliding past his with possession.
He jiggled the camera in one hand and adjusted the lens
manually, not leaving it to the whims of automatic focus.
The glowering tombstone was crumbling and dingy white in
the darkness, like a tooth jutting from an old man’s mouth,
single and spooky.
“Did you get it?” she whispered.
“Hold on,” he muttered and snapped the picture, squinting.
“Okay,” she said and kneeled next to the marker, spreading
the thin paper over the engraved letters with precision.
She rubbed the charcoal lightly and quickly and the words
came up in bold white amidst the black of the pencil.
“Matthew Arnold,” she muttered. “Wonder if he’s any
relation to the British poet and critic?”
“Right. And he’s buried here in our friendly neighborhood
“Died 1932. Oh, too bad. This is an old one. I don’t see
any of the earthquake graves, though.”
“They’re over there,” John said and pointed to the
southern section of the cemetery. The graves from the 1908
San Francisco Earthquake were marked with bright yellow
ribbons and the survivors all got together on the
anniversary date at five in the morning to remember. Their
reunion was getting smaller with each passing year.
A whisper of wind brought a noise to John’s ears and he
paused, still and breathless in the night. The moon was
darkened by storm clouds and the earth was warm beneath his
shoes. He gripped the camera tighter and glanced around,
The faint cry came to him again and he felt his blood
“Terra! Did you hear that?”
“Almost finished, John.”
“No. No, stop.”
He grabbed her arm and hoisted her to her feet, pulling
her into his side. His dark eyes seemed to reflect the dark
of the night around them and she shivered, pushing a strand
of brown curly hair behind her ear.
“What?” she hissed.
The sound was continuous now, a wail almost, heart rending
and so cliched for a cemetery at night. But thoughts of
cliches vanished as he stood there listening, hearing that
frail sound reverberate around the granite and marble
markers and deep into his bones.
“It sounds like a child,” Terra said, and moved forward.
“What are you doing?” he hissed, and grabbed for her.
“No. It’s just a little kid. Probably lost and afraid.”
She began stepping through the rows of graves, treading
over the bodies of the dead with faultless steps and
precise movements. He didn’t understand how she could be so
relaxed, so intent on finding what was making that cry.
“Terra, I think we should go.”
She had stopped at one of the markers, her hands were
trembling and he could hear the paper fluttering with the
“Oh, God,” she whispered and he saw a blur detach from the
shadows of bush and race for her.
“Terra!” he screamed and ran forward.
The dark shadow of a man pushed into him solid and hard
and he felt the sting of something sharp in his thigh, and
then the ground was meeting the back of his head. He heard
the man running off and scrambled to his feet, groggily
shaking the blur from his vision. His head thumped hard
with the blood and adrenaline and he crawled to where Terra
was sprawled on a granite marker.
“Ter?” he whispered and put a hand to her cheek.
She groaned and pushed herself up with her scratched
“Who the hell was that?” she said and angrily swiped at
the grass stains on her jeans.
“I don’t know,” he said and pulled her to stand.
He rocked slightly on his heels with his panting breaths;
her hand was still warm against his but her rubbings were
ripped and fluttering in the wind that lifted from the bay.
John turned and hunted for his camera, cursing the man
who’d barreled into them both.
Grass was lodged firmly in the shutter case, but the lens
didn’t seem to be cracked and the automatic focus still
worked. He sighed with relief and glanced up at his wife.
“You hear it?” she said.
Her face was intent and still again, her breaths
controlled to minimize the noise.
But he did, just then. It was less frightening and more
“It is a kid,” he said and crept up next to her, hearing a
muted cry just below his breathing.
She started forward again, but he held back, still shaken
up by the sudden attack. He could hear it still, the
faintness of it like the kid was far, far away. He wondered
if the blur that had attacked them had something to do with
“This is where that man came from. He was behind the
bushes, at this grave.”
“Yes, but where is the sound coming from?”
“Here, Johnny. I said that.”
“Come here, come here,” she said and motioned him forward.
He moved through the graves, being careful not to step
where he thought the ground covered a body, unlike her
methodical and direct walk through the dead. He could still
hear it, and when he came to where she was, he knew she was
The ground was fresh with dew, the soil sparkled like tiny
diamonds. A mound of earth covered the grave abnormally,
and the dirt was loose and freshly dug.
“Is it a ghost?” he whispered.
Her mouth puckered and she dropped to her knees to inspect
“It’s a little girl’s grave. Madison Hall. Born in 1994.
Died … died two days ago.”
John looked down at the grave, but he could still hear the
sound of the girl’s crying through the ground. Through the
“Oh, God,” Terra said. “Oh, God, she’s alive under there!”
Her face came to look at his, their eyes met across the
John glanced down to the loose sod that stained his jeans
with wet dew and dark soil. He blinked, then cautiously
touched it with a shaking hand.
“Madison?” Terra yelled.
Shocked from the reverie of it, John grabbed her arm and
hissed at her.
“What are you doing?”
“John, she’s been buried alive!”
They both blinked, thrown by the reality of it, then began
to dig furiously, their fingers scraping through the soil
and the wetness. He could hear his ragged breath just above
the sounds of the sobbing and at some frightening point, he
couldn’t hear it any longer.
“No, no, we need help,” he whispered. “Terra, go call 911.
Call the police, anybody!”
She jerked to her feet and ran for the cemetery entrance,
hurtling over tombstones and markers as if the ghosts
themselves were spurring her on.
John kept digging, the darkness of the night spread over
his maniacal movements like a cloak.
The only sounds were his breath and the dirt scraping
through his fingers.
August 13, 2000 2:37 p.m. Colma Necropolis
Dana Scully fingered the photocopied newspaper article in
her hands with a sigh and stepped from the taxi cab into
the light of a summer California day. Hillside Boulevard
fell away in a long hill of marble and lawn and memorials
and she heard the cab creak as she slammed the door. The
driver sped off before she had fully moved away, and she
frowned to herself.
She glanced up to see Mulder pacing himself as he loped
down the hill. His tie flapped in the breeze coming in from
the ocean or perhaps the bay, and the smell of salt water
and concrete came with him.
“Is your mom feeling better?”
Scully flushed and nodded.
“What are we doing here?” she asked, shading her eyes with
“Did you know that operating a cemetery is illegal in San
“No, aren’t there two cemeteries in the city, now?”
She leaned slightly to the left to look around him,
wondering at the absolute stillness of the place.
“Well, yes, but they don’t take any more … ah, bodies.
San Francisco bought all this land out here because things
were getting crowded. Colma is a necropolis.”
“A city for the dead?”
“All the city’s cemeteries moved here: Eternal Home,
Golden Hills, Olivet Memorial. Wyatt Earp is buried in the
Hills of Eternity. His tombstone has been stolen so many
times, they had to finally set it in concrete. Hugh
O’Brien, the actor, offered a $500 reward for its return in
She glanced up at him, eyes slanted with silent laughter.
“Wyatt Earp? Still have some of those childhood OK Corral
He tossed her one of those absurd grins and turned back
around to the cemetery sloping up before them. His back was
broad and dark against the outline of the sun, and the
varied memorials offered a backdrop of bizarre reality in
the golden dusk.
“Did you read the article?” he finally said.
“This is the Holy Cross Cemetery, where the couple was
attacked, and then afterwards they found the little girl.”
He turned around to look at her.
“Buried alive, Mulder?” she asked gently.
He nodded, squinting his eyes at her, then looking back to
the graveyard. The fence was made of stone and wrought
iron, with ivy growing thickly all over. The wall rose as
the street fell, creating a flat surface for the dead to be
He started for the gate, expecting her to be behind him,
as she always was. With a brief rebellion, Scully stayed
rooted to the sloping sidewalk, staring at his back, then
she sighed and followed him into the relative cool of the
Huge twisting oaks grew thick and dark, with occasional
palm trees that had been planted by the bereaved and the
little fuchsia trees that brightened the graves with a
flowering cheer. Elaborate meditation circles were clipped
into the grass with jade bushes and cinerarias.
High class Catholic graveyard, Scully thought to herself.
A huge gaping hole of dark dirt marred the beauty of the
place and she followed Mulder over to its side, slipping a
little in the damp grass with her heels sinking slightly.
He moved away so she could peer into the hole, then raised
his eyebrows at her.
“So what are we doing here, Mulder?”
“The girl the Kesslers found, Madison Hall, is now at the
hospital, being kept for tests, but seems to be whole and
Scully only raised her eyebrow.
“They thought she was dead, Scully. The family buried her.
The doctor signed her death certificate. What do you say to
“I’m glad they didn’t have her cremated,” she muttered.
He glanced to her with mock-sickened shock, as if amused
at this new wicked Scully who had come to meet him.
“How did this happen, Mulder?”
“Her family thought she was possessed.”
She glanced up at him through slitted eyes, blinking out
the brightness of the day and the absurdity of his claim.
“Yes. They called the Catholic church and asked them to
perform an exorcism. The priest there wouldn’t do it, so
they went to the Grace Episcopal church.”
“And they buried her?” she asked, trying to hurry along
“No. They performed an exorcism. And they said it seemed
to work. She stopped being violent, but she slept all day
long, and was wide awake at night. Then she slipped into a
coma and died. Well, they thought she died.”
“Her family … called you?”
He shook his head and took the article from her fingers.
It was limp and soft from her handling it on the plane, on
the cab ride through the crowded, dangerously hilly streets
of San Francisco and then down to the City of Colma, south
of the bay city. She had asked to drive through the city;
she had wanted to see San Francisco one innocent time
before the case took over her perceptions of the place.
“This article was emailed to me, Scully. From an
She frowned and looked over the side of the empty grave,
down into its cool, dark depths.
“Someone’s giving you clues?”
“Looks like. And I only get clues, Scully, when there’s
something more going on.”
She looked up at him finally, the sarcasm, the
“Here we go again.”
Across the large expanse of green was an old and pitted
mausoleum, and a shadow seemed to grow from the side of the
monolith. In the midst of sunlight and marble, this dark
figure watched the pair of agents with calm serenity and
keen intelligence. His shoulders were hunched slightly, but
he made no attempt to hide his presence or his interest.
Had either Mulder or Scully, perceiving someone was
watching them, looked up and across to the low, long house
of the dead, they would have most clearly seen the man.
However, his dark features and dark clothes and blank
average face would neither have interested them nor allowed
them to recognize him at a later date.
He was content to watch.
5:39 p.m. August 13, 2000
John and Terra Kessler’s home
Pine Street, San Francisco
The apartment buildings on Pine Street were crowded close
and tight, like stiff old men hunched together in line
outside a soup kitchen. The Victorian architecture was
limited by the space available, but the windows had opulent
and gaudy moldings, with ledges and trims in a riot of
colors. It was one of those cities were pink and red
collided and no one really noticed.
The Kesslers lived on the second floor front apartment, so
the FBI agents were heard outside before they actually rang
the bell. John, who had been people watching at one of the
three windows in their front bedroom, called to Terra to
buzz them in.
His wife stepped around the corner from the kitchen,
bringing her into the small hall that led to their
apartment door, then buzzed the agents in. She unlocked the
door and opened it a crack, then took two steps back into
the living room. The entire apartment had a fraction of the
space most people would have paying the same rent in
She sank down on the futon they used as a couch and guest
bed, and turned the television off. John slipped into the
living room and tapped her head as he passed. She smiled
faintly and sighed.
They could hear the agents walking up the narrow, creaking
stairs, the soft murmur of their voices carrying through
the slightly musty smell of summer in San Francisco. Terra
leaned back against the futon and listened to John pour
himself a glass of green tea from their plastic pitcher.
The windows were all open and a bay breeze meandered from
their bedroom into the living room. It caressed her over-
heated skin and made her eyes drift shut.
She jumped up at the sound and went to open the door,
letting in the two agents.
“Call me Terra. You’re the one I talked to on the phone
Mulder nodded and introduced himself and his partner as
the woman led them into the small, tight living room. It
was dwarfed by their black suits and serious looks, but
John appeared from the kitchen with tea for everyone and
the agents seemed to relax.
“This is my husband John,” Terra explained, taking a glass
from him and smiling.
He sat down on the floor next to the television and the
agents took the lumpy futon. Terra was left with the wicker
arm chair, which made her taller than everyone else in the
room. The agents looked somewhat ridiculous in the
cramped apartment, their knees coming to their chests on
the low futon.
“Do you mind answering some questions?” Agent Scully
“No, go ahead.”
Scully opened her notebook and balanced it precariously on
one knee. She could feel Mulder’s elbow digging painfully
into her side as he shifted for more room. She glanced up
at the Kesslers.
John was quiet and one of those dark, handsome types,
Scully immediately noticed. He sipped his tea and watched
his wife talk with Mulder; if he offered any details, he
did so infrequently. He looked cool and calm and brooding
at the same time. She could see that rebel and good girl
attraction in their relationship, but they’d been married
for seven years and seemed steady and strong.
“So, when this, uh, dark blur, rushed you …?”
Mulder gestured at Terra to complete the details.
“Oh, well, I saw him first, bent over in the bushes. I
thought it was a kid getting sick. Gross. And we’d been
hearing this weird noise, just the kind you expect in
graveyards, you know?”
She grinned and sipped at the tea for a moment, pausing in
“So I’m standing a little ways away from John and the
darkness sort of rippled, and he was a lot bigger than any
kid getting sick. I know I screamed. He scared me. And then
he knocked me down and I heard John coming up behind me.”
“And then it ran into me as well,” John added, with his
slow cool eyes and beatnik rhythm.
“Did the person say anything? Do anything afterwards?”
“Don’t know,” John replied. “I went to see if Terra was
hurt, and by that time the thing was gone.”
“Thing?” Mulder said, tilting his head.
“Whatever it was. I went to get my camera and that’s when
Terra heard the sound again.”
“Yeah. It sounded so frightened.”
“It made you afraid?” Scully asked.
Terra turned her head to look at Scully, frowning.
“No. The girl, it was a little girl down there … she
sounded frightened. In my mind, I connected her crying with
whatever that man had been doing. I went back to where he’d
been bending over or hiding and that crying was coming from
“It took us a moment to realize the girl was alive. And
then Terra ran off to call 911 from the pay phones outside
the Colma Museum while I dug.”
“Did you dig her up or did the firemen?”
“The firemen. When they came I’d only gotten a foot or
two. They had shovels, and eventually one of those machines
“A backhoe?” Mulder supplied.
“Something like that. It’d been in the caretaker’s shed.
They had to break the lock, I think. We stayed until they
got her out. I couldn’t go home knowing that girl was still
Scully nodded and turned to Mulder, indicating that she
had no more questions. But her partner was looking
speculatively out the window and he idly put the tea to his
lips and sipped.
“How much do those photos of yours sell for, John?”
Scully was surprised at the question but John just gave a
grim smile while the ice clinked against his glass.
“Usually five dollars. The cemetery probably has some kind
of rights over them, huh?”
“Probably,” Mulder said, noncommittal.
Scully knew he didn’t mean the comment as an accusation,
but the husband and
wife looked nervous.
“Have there been a lot of child deaths here recently?”
John frowned and took a long draught of the tea. He looked
exhausted, and Scully could understand the trauma of their
discovery that night. Dark circles looped under his already
dark eyes and sallowed his skin. She wondered if he was
getting any sleep at night, or if nightmares kept him up.
“Actually,” Terra said softly. “I remember there being
something about a small outbreak at a school near here. One
of those private schools. Catholic, I think, but I don’t
remember which one. I don’t think that any children died,
but some of them caught one of those old-fashioned
“Old-fashioned?” Scully inquired, raising her eyebrow.
Terra smiled and shook her head. “Old-fashioned. Like
polio or whooping cough or smallpox. Something all the
children died from in the frontier days. But not now, and
certainly not in this country. That’s why there was a news
story about it.”
“Smallpox?” Mulder said, leaning forward. The movement
caused his knees to jut out awkwardly and his right leg
smacked into Scully’s. She stilled him and smiled at Terra
as the woman shrugged at Mulder’s question.
“Well, thanks. You have our number, should you remember
anything, or need our help.”
“Yes, thanks,” Terra replied and stood as the agents
pushed off the futon. John got to his feet slowly and
steadied himself against the wall, sipping the tea again.
His glass was nearly empty.
Mulder and Scully left more quietly than they had arrived;
the near darkness of the setting sun made them hushed and
the information they’d gathered tumbled around in their
minds. Their rental car was parked two blocks over and on a
hill, but Scully followed Mulder in silence, suffering in
her high heels.
7 p.m. August 13, 2000
St. Francis Memorial Hospital Room 223
“We appreciate allowing us to interview you so late
tonight,” Scully said politely, nodding to the couple as
they clutched things: plastic chair, each other, hands,
They seemed nervous and edgy, their faces lined with
something akin to horror or possibly relief, and their
movements belied the icy anger churning through their blood.
“They said she was … gone. They told us that. Are you
going to prosecute them?” Kris said in a tight, nearly
“Prosecute?” Mulder said, surprised at their closely
“The … doctors, all of them said she … It’s been a
very frightening and horrible … I don’t want this to
happen to anyone else, and they caused such grief … You
don’t know what it’s like to lose a child.”
“Mrs. Hall, right now no one is being brought up on
charges. But we are here to keep this tragedy from
Kris seemed barely holding together her fragmented control.
She glanced to her husband, then squeezed her 6-year-old
daughter tighter. The girl, growing petulant from all the
cuddling and attention, pushed on her mother’s shoulder and
shrank back into the hospital bed. She looked thin and
wispy, as if a ghost.
Mulder smiled softly at her and she looked at him with
wide, almost frightened eyes. She was shyly fingering the
edge of the white hospital sheet, glancing up at him
occasionally only to hide her face again.
“Well, what can we help you with? We’re so grateful to God
for this miracle. Talitha cumi: Little girl, get up. We
know the power, we know it for sure now,” Kris said and
stroked the top of her child’s head.
Scully glanced around the private room and noticed the
many lighted candles, the pictures of Christ’s Agony, the
Holy Cross tacked to the wall, saints’ icons displayed on
the bed tray, and the rosary hanging like an ornament from
the bed railing. Their miracle might have been equal to
She knew the story the couple spoke of: Jairus’ daughter
was sick and so the official went to Jesus seeking healing
for his child. Jesus was stopped along the way, so that
when he arrived at the house, the women were weeping
outside and said it was too late for him, that the girl was
dead. But Christ went into their house and took only her
parents and a few disciples with him into the girl’s
bedroom. In order to heal her, he spoke in Aramaic, saying,
“Talitha cumi.” Literally, “Little girl, arise.” And the
child woke as if from sleep and asked for food and water.
“Do you mind,” Mulder was asking as Scully began paying
attention again. “We’d like to ask Madison some questions
“She’s been frightened terribly by all this.”
“Can I see your badge?” Madison said softly, leaning
forward to tug on Mulder’s jacket.
They room was stunned for an instant, but Mulder pulled
out his badge and flipped it open for her.
She traced the
outlines with her
glanced up at the
man before her,
“I can talk, Mommy,”
she said, although she
was looking at Mulder.
“Well … okay, baby.
Daddy and I will be
right outside. You
don’t have to answer
any questions you
don’t want to. Isn’t that right, Agent Mulder?”
“That’s right, Madison. Just what you feel comfortable
Scully watched as the parents left, quite anxiously glancing
behind them — Dave Hall as silent and stoic as before.
When they had clicked the door shut, Madison crawled to
the side of the bed and rested her head against the sheets.
She fingered the badge again and sighed.
“There was an angel with me down there.”
Scully quirked an eyebrow at Mulder but answered the girl
“Did the angel help you to not be scared?”
“The angel woke me up. He was not white. He was very dark
and I only heard his voice.”
“Well,” Scully said very gently, “it was very dark where
you were. Could that have made it hard to see him?”
“Well, yes. That’s what I mean. Angels glow, but my angel
Mulder chewed on his lip and touched the girl’s knee.
“What did he say to you, Madison?”
“He told me he woked me up. When I woked up and it was
dark down there, I started to cry a little bit, but he told
it was okay. He said he was getting me out of there.”
“Was that John, Madison? The man who found you?”
“No, no. John’s got a very low smooth voice. Have you met
him? He’s got a low smooth voice.”
Scully smiled at that description and stroked the girl’s hair,
smoothing a stray dark wisp. The hospital gown shifted and
dropped off her shoulder; Scully pulled it back up gently, but
not before noticing a large bruise.
“You’re very right, Madison. If John’s voice is low and
smooth, how did your angel’s voice sound?”
“Far away. Like when Micah and I talk through tin cans.
It’s so cool.”
“Micah is your friend?”
“Yup. He lives next door to me, and we both go to Sacred
Heart Cathedral. I’m six and I’m going into first grade
She pushed away from the bed and went to the window.
Scully noticed that her enthusiasm was flagged by the
trauma; she seemed to struggle to move fluidly. Madison
touched the pane of glass and her fingers made smeared
“At home, I have a tin can next to my bed and we can talk
back and forth — even when we’re supposed to be in bed.”
She looked back to Scully and gave her a sly smile. Scully
came towards her and looked out the window, then leaned
against the sill to see the girl’s face. The gown was again
slipping off her shoulder, revealing the purple mottled
“When Micah and I were sick, we talked when we were
supposed to be resting.”
“Micah was sick too?” Mulder said, leaning forward in the
“Yes, but he got better.” Madison looked back towards the
bed, but she leaned so heavily against the window that
Scully had a feeling she was too tired to move. She picked
the little girl up and cradled her close as she moved back
to the hospital bed, placing Madison on top of the twisted
Scully sat down on the bed next to the girl and brushed
her dark hair from her face. “So, Madison, is that what the
voice sounded like? Far away like the tin cans?”
“Yup. He was very nice. But then he stopped talking to me
and I got afraid and cried again.”
“And that’s when John and Terra found you.”
She nodded and bunched the white sheets with her thin
“They digged me up, but the angel woked me up.”
Mulder looked at Scully over the girl’s head, the
questions in his eyes matching hers exactly.
Who was this angel who had awoken the sleeping girl, and
was he also the dark blur who had raced at John and Terra?
Mulder laid his hand on Madison’s shoulder and the girl
winced, dipping away.
Scully frowned and her fingers curled along the bed.
“Can I look at your shoulder, Madison?”
The girl glanced up and nodded, tugging down the hospital
gown so that her right shoulder was exposed. The bruise was
about the size of a dollar coin, maybe larger, and seemed
to form a ring right below her collarbone. Scully carefully
touched the sensitive area, then leaned down to see it
A needle mark.
Blinking uncomprehendingly, Scully glanced up at Mulder.
She opened her mouth, then stopped and looked once more to
the little girl.
“I bet that hurts, doesn’t it?” she said sympathetically.
“It should be better in a few days.”
Scully quickly pulled Mulder to the side and licked her
lips, her eyes worried and her mind hesitant to explore
this new revelation.
“She has a puncture wound on her shoulder, Mulder,” she
hissed, her eyebrows raised in concern and disbelief.
“In the middle of that bruise?”
“Yes. I’m going to go find her doctor and see if we can
get a tox screen done on Madison. They might even have some
samples of blood from when she first came in. You can
finish up with the parents.”
With that, Scully was slipping out the door. Mulder turned
back to the little girl and sighed.
Angels and shadowy things, needle marks and premature
burials — and still, his informant had remained unseen and
unheard since that first furtive email.
5:35 am August 14, 2000
Beresford Hotel Room 329
The third floor smelled like mold. He told himself that
was why he couldn’t sleep. The real reason, he had a
feeling, was because of the two agents that slept four
doors down from him. He couldn’t believe that FBI agents
would choose a cheap place like this for their
accommodations, but it was just his luck.
Thankfully, he’d heard that the little girl had been
brought up safely, without any injuries. He had gone
yesterday to the hospital to see her but she was being
watched over by her parents; he hadn’t felt comfortable in
coming closer. It had been a foolish thing to do anyway. As
he’d left through the garage entrance, there were three men
glancing suspiciously up the stairwell.
He’d been stupid from the beginning. Thinking he could do
this on his own.
The girl was still alive. No sleeping sickness, thanks to
But the FBI agents. They were going to dig around, they
were going to look for things, they were going to find him
and then he was dead. Dead.
He should leave. But there were men looking for him, men
much more deadly than the agents sleeping peacefully not a
floor away from him. Airports were covered, trains, buses;
he knew the drill — that had been him not two months ago.
Doing what he was told because he had once believed that
this was right.
He was stupid. The ignorance didn’t excuse what he’d done,
and saving that little girl didn’t repay the debt he owed.
But there was something about death that was ultimately
very real, and very frightening enough to make him want to
escape, to run, if only to live the rest of his life in
Pathetic, but he had always been one of those kind. He had
about four hundred dollars left of the cash he’d taken from
the joint bank account with his wife. *God forgive me,
she’s very likely dead.* And that was going to run out soon
and he’d be on the street. That might be better, but he was
going to fade out without effecting any kind of change.
That’s what made him want to weep. For decades this had
gone on, and there had always been men like himself who had
managed to save one life, but lost a thousand more. He
would die, he would either be shot by the men hunting him
or he would kill himself, but he would die.
And nothing would change. The world would keep on turning
vainly around the sun while the men beneath it plotted
horrible and cataclysmic things.
What the hell. He was a dead man.
5:55 a.m. August 14, 2000
Beresford Hotel Room 335
“You’ve got to be kidding me!”
They paused — Scully sitting up straight and still on the
bed, laptop balanced on her knees, while Mulder was
slouched moodily into the chair, his finger hovering over
the mute button on the remote.
Suddenly, he gave her a sly grin and she smiled back. The
tension flowed smoothly and quickly from anger and
frustration to something like amusement. She brushed her
hair back with an impatient hand; he tossed the remote onto
the bed and stood up. She was just beginning her argument
“If bees had attacked these kids at Sacred Heart
Cathedral, there would be something…”
“It doesn’t have to be bees, Scully.”
She stilled and his hand brushed the top of her bare
shoulder. A sleeveless shirt in a San Francisco summer and
he was trying very hard not to notice.
“What else then? Why change the mode of attack now?”
“They’re ruined — burned. How many are left? We know
Cancer Man is still out there. You take what you can get.
Sacred Heart’s absence records indicates that a great many
of these children were out of school for a two-day period.”
“Kids get sick. Kids give other kids what they got sick
with. It doesn’t mean they’ve been infected with the black
He shook his head and peered at the laptop over her
shoulder. Her bare skin was a bright distraction at the
edge of his vision but he ignored it.
“Keep looking, Scully. There’s got to be something on
Sacred Heart Cathedral.”
He noticed that she merely shook her head and kept
searching through the FBI database. She had dark circles
under her eyes and she was still in her pajamas, but
neither of them had been able to sleep. He had stolen into
her room earlier that morning, searching for something.
Mulder worked his fingers around his temples, pressing
deeply to ease the building pressure behind his skull.
“Maybe these kids … I can’t figure this out. What makes
Madison Hall so different? Why did she get so sick?”
“It’s obvious now that Madison was simply in a coma, and
not dead as others had thought.”
“A wannabe Juliet?” Mulder tossed to her.
She glanced up, ice in her eyes. A whirring of her
computer made her glance down in surprise.
He took two strides and was at her side. “What ‘oh’?”
“A local pharmaceutical company gave the children of
Sacred Heart free immunization shots.”
“For what? MMR, boosters?”
She shook her head. “I think hepatitis. There has been
some recent outbreaks in Memphis and other cities. I didn’t
know it was a problem here.”
“Free hepatitis shots? Did Madison Hall happen to be
absent that day?”
Scully’s eyes slid up from the screen to meet his, and
Mulder felt a strange chill crawl up his neck and lodge
in his brain like a whisper. He didn’t like the answers
they were finding.
“The records you requested from the school are on the
table,” she said. Mulder was at the table in seconds,
flipping through the sheaves of papers and racing his eyes
across the words. Somehow, he knew what the answer was
before he found it.
“She was absent. She missed that day of school. She was
the only one.”
“She’s been the only kid to get so deathly sick as well.
Her friend, Micah, was sick but he recovered.”
Mulder was surprised that she had acknowledged that point,
but it was a fact. A solid, provable fact. No other child
had exhibited such severe symptoms as Madison Hall, and no
other child had been buried alive.
“I think those immunization shots were for more than
hepatitis,” Mulder said. “And somehow, all these kids were
exposed to the alien virus in some form — this time not by
bees — and Madison nearly died.”
“But … but she was in a coma. She was very, very sick,
Mulder. I can accept what you’re saying, but what I don’t
understand is how she woke up. How could she have possibly
gotten better on her own if she missed getting innoculated?”
He was grinning at her despite her frustration, grinning
because she had accepted it — maybe not the origins of
that virus, but she was beginning to believe. Impulsively,
he pushed away a stray hair from where it had caught and
clung to her lips, then squeezed her bare shoulder.
“Put on your blackest clothes, Scully. We’re going to call
on the dead.”
7:08 a.m. August 14, 2000
She shivered again and crossed her arms as Mulder led the
way from their car to the grassy sloping hill of the
cemetery. The sun was just beginning to lighten the sky
with a chilled warmth, and Scully could hear birds calling
in urgent and reproaching tones. She idly wondered whether
the birds were warning her and Mulder or merely acting out
their role in nature.
“What are we doing, Mulder?” she asked again, knowing full
well that he wouldn’t answer her until it was most
convenient to him.
“Discovering the real origins of this deus ex machina.”
“What?” she said, bewildered. Latin, she thought
automatically. Something about gods and machines.
“It’s a term in the theater — when the conflict is
resolved through some outside force: the gods decide to
save the hero, the prince grants a pardon, the girl is
miraculously raised from the dead.”
She nodded. “So, we’re looking for evidence of the Shadow
He shot her an unamused half-grin, then shook his head.
“It’s too early for obscure comedy, Scully.”
She had the sudden urge to roll her eyes at him, but of
course, she didn’t do that. Instead, she walked on just a
little behind him, following him up the slope to the rows
of graves and family plots. She glanced out across the
relatively flat expanse of green grass, black and white
marble, and grey granite. The view was interrupted by the
four trees on this plot of land, each skinny and daintily
shading the deceased, and then the bright yellow police
tape, undulating, like thin fingers of the sun, in a slight
Even if Mulder did not have the way to Madison Hall’s
former burial plot memorized, it would not have been a
difficult thing to find, not with the flapping yellow tape.
Scully winced at the discord it caused on a landscape that
was vainly trying to remain peaceful and serene. She felt
her blood crawl as they came closer, until finally she was
shivering again and they were at the edge of the grave.
“What are we looking for?” she asked, trying to hide her
“Ah … I’m not sure yet.”
She glanced up at Mulder’s grim, yet somewhat amused eyes.
This was just like him. She no longer questioned.
“Scully, mind jumping in the hole?”
She frowned ferociously and glanced down into the gaping
darkness of the grave. She looked up again, over to where
the coffin lay beside the large hole; the ropes used to
pull it up were still threaded around its short length.
“Why me?” she asked, glancing suspiciously back to Mulder.
“Because it’s over eight feet, and while I’m certainly
taller than you, it would be difficult for me to get back
out. However, I can easily pull you back out of there.”
She sighed at the logic of his answer: had Mulder gone in
there, he would be unable to simply scramble back out, and
she wouldn’t be strong enough to pull him out.
“Wait,” he said, “Let me help you — it’s a long jump.”
She scowled at him. “I wasn’t about to just jump down
He smiled winningly and grabbed her waist, then dropped
his hands. “How should we do this?”
Scully was glad she’d changed into jeans and a t-shirt:
dirt stains like this were not going to wash out easily.
“Here, I’ll sit on the edge and sort of slide in, while
you hold on to my hands and lower me the rest of the way.”
It was awkward, but she ended up sliding on her back
against the side of the grave while Mulder’s large fingers
were wrapped around her wrists, letting her down slowly.
She had still not touched bottom when Mulder’s chest came
to meet the ground at the side, so she instructed him to
let her go carefully.
“No way, Scully. If I can’t reach you, then I can’t pull
you back out.”
“There’s rope around the coffin. You can use that. I’m all
Sweat was rolling into his eyes as he held on tightly, but
he saw the ropes wound around the coffin and licked his
lips. He wondered if he was bruising her wrists. This might
have been a stupid idea.
“Okay. I’m going to slowly let you go.”
He let go of one wrist first, his fingers sliding through
hers in a last touch that made him nervous, then he
released her other wrist, finally easing the stress on his
shoulder joints. She wasn’t heavy, but his arms ached now.
He laid there for a moment, waiting for her to say
“I’m okay. The bottom was about six inches below my feet.
What do you want me to look for?”
Mulder pulled his arms out of the dark hole and glanced to
the slowly rising sun, whose rays had not yet made it high
enough to pierce the grave. He dug a hand into his pocket
and came out with a flashlight.
“I’m going to drop the flashlight down to you. Look for
anything … that’s not dirt, I guess.”
He eased the flashlight down the hole, then dropped it. He
heard it clunk into hard packed dirt and then her fingers
scrambling over it.
“Mulder, you have a reason for coming out here and
dropping me down a grave, don’t you?”
She sounded a tad angry and then the flashlight came on
and he could see her staring up at him, lips pursed and
“Of course. I think our mystery man left something behind.
In fact, I’m fairly certain he did.”
Mulder smiled at their positions; he lying on his stomach
talking to her down a hole.
“And, Mulder, my neck’s starting to get a crick, so make
your explanation fast.”
He grinned at that and propped his chin on his fists.
“Well … in that case. Here are my reasons. One, the
Kesslers evidently interrupted the Shadow Man, as you call
“Why do you say that?”
“If we stop for explanations, your neck’s going to be
“Okay, okay, get on with it.”
“And two, Madison heard voices very clearly. Enough to
know that John’s voice was low and smooth, that her angel’s
voice was different. Why is that? She was in a coffin with
about eight feet of dirt on top of her.”
“Ah … and her angel, if he’s really no angel, must have
gotten some kind of medicine down to her. She had an
injection mark on her shoulder, Mulder, but she was woken
up before the men raised her out of the grave.”
Mulder smiled. “Precisely.”
“Okay, so let me start looking.”
Mulder cocked his head to the side, then nodded, and
Scully looked around at the dark dank hole. She could hear
her partner scramble back from the edge,and then begin
inspecting the coffin. It was very startling how clear
sounds came to her through the opening to the sky, how
distinct the noises Mulder made unthreading the rope or
opening the lid of the coffin were down where she was. For
Madison to have heard those voices, there must have been a
hole to the outside, to the night air and the living.
“There’s a hole in the coffin.”
8:13 a.m. August 14, 2000 San Francisco Police Dept. #57
After changing from their muddy jeans and shirts, they
took a taxi to the police station, feeling ridiculous in
her suit jacket and skirt when the temperature was reaching
the hundreds and women in bikini tops were threading
through the crowded sidewalks in all their golden glory.
She wondered if their motel had a pool; a nice cool swim
with Mulder would be the kind of relaxation she needed.
Scully smiled to herself and tugged at her jacket as the
cab pulled to a stop outside station house 57.
Mulder led her around to the back elevators, where they
rode up to the fifth floor in relative silence. Her fingers
were raw and aching from where the rope had slid through
her hands, and she knew that her partner’s shoulders had to
be sore from pulling her up. But the evidence they had in
plastic bags was enough to warrant filing it with the SFPD.
A drill bit, about the size of the hole in the coffin, two
lengths of three foot pipe bent by the backhoe, and
definite prints on both. Obviously, the Shadow Man had been
interrupted in his resurrection of Madison Hall and had
left behind objects that could implicate him in…
Scully paused in her train of thought. Implicate him in
what? The Shadow Man hadn’t murdered anyone, and he hadn’t
even endangered the little girl’s life — on the contrary,
he had most likely saved her.
“Mulder, what exactly is the crime in this case?” she said
hesitantly, watching his hand spell out the long lines of
his signature. The evidence was placed in double bags and
labeled with a neat, secretary’s hand, and then put in
lockers with a case file code. Mulder was then given the
receipts even as he tried to answer her question.
“I think it’s plainly obvious that government testing is
still going on, Scully.”
“To us, Mulder,” she hissed and pulled him into a short
hallway away from the milling police officers. “Maybe to us
this is obvious. But we have no evidence whatsoever that
testing is occurring.”
“Madison Hall is plenty of evidence.”
Scully shook her head. “No, she isn’t Mulder. She’s a
little girl who got very sick, and then was discovered
alive and well. There’s no hard physical proof.”
“The pharmaceutical company that sponsored the shots…”
“I looked. They’re completely legitimate. And they have a
good reputation for customer satisfaction, which means that
it would be difficult to cast any shadows of doubt on their
“Well … Scully, you know this is happening. We can’t
just let it go because you don’t see tangible proof. No one
in this organization is going to connect the dots for you!”
She leaned away from him, shocked and slightly hurt. But
instead of turning away, she merely fought harder.
“Proof, Mulder. No one will be punished if we don’t have
proof. It’s been our constant problem all these years, and
you know it. If we had proof of any of this, the men
responsible would be in jail.”
He turned away from her angrily, moving to leave the
police department. She was partly right, and he knew that,
but he was also disgusted with her attitude. Couldn’t
she just back him up for once?
“Mulder,” she said softly. “It’s not that I don’t agree
with you. I think you’re right; I think they’ve tested
their cure for this on these kids, and then released the
bees. Or whatever the carriers were. I know this is what
happened. But no one else is going to believe us.”
His shoulders slumped and he turned back to her, looking
as if he didn’t understand her words.
“Believe us?” he said, and she wondered if her words had
“No one is going to believe us. Just like I didn’t believe
it before. Until it happened to me, until I saw it with my
own eyes. We need proof.”
“Proof,” he repeated, looking dazed. She was beginning to
think he had never known of her faith in him.
“You know, Mulder, there’s a saying: Innocent until proven
guilty. I believe that’s what the justice system would need
to convict these people — proof.”
He shot her a long, slow smile, as if guessing that she
was kidding with him. He walked up to her and grabbed her
waist, darting down to kiss her lips, quickly and lightly.
“Thanks,” he said and stepped away from her.
Shocked, she opened her mouth to say something, anything,
to this sudden public display, but a police officer
appeared at Mulder’s shoulder.
“Uh, agents? Your Shadow Man has confessed. He’s in the
Holding Room C
“As my partner would say, we don’t have enough solid
evidence to convict you, Mr. Fitz, other than your
testimony. These days, that’s easily renounced.”
James Fitz shook his head and glanced warily to the glass
mirror. He wasn’t an idiot; he had seen enough cop shows to
know there were police officers, maybe more FBI agents
behind it. He had to do this, they had to put him away for
awhile. Lock him up where none of *them* could get to him.
At least, he didn’t think they could. Surely…
Surely their power didn’t reach this far.
He looked back to Agent Mulder and shrugged. “It’s all I
have. I wasn’t expecting to turn myself in for crimes
Agent Scully glanced to him with a frown, then to the
report before her. His ‘confession’ was all typed out
there, neatly and in such precision, despite his rambling
and his fear and the attack of conscience he had when he
was giving it.
Some of it he had made up to get the officers to pay
attention to him.
“So, you’re willing to testify that this drug company,
Sharf-Appen, sponsored the immunization, but had no
knowledge of the contents of the medicine given?”
“Yes, right. It was all the institute.”
“And this institute is…?”
Agent Scully looked up at him and he sighed. He’d been
asked this question four times.
“The Center for Antiviral Drug Design, which is located at
“University of California is part of this conspiracy to…”
“No. No, I didn’t say that. The institute isn’t entirely
corrupt. The part that is associated with the university
doesn’t know anything. It’s like the left hand doesn’t know
what the right hand is doing.”
“So what is the right hand doing, Mr. Fitz?”
“Experimenting on children. Senior citizens. Whomever they
“For what purpose?”
Fitz thought Agent Mulder’s face looked like a
thundercloud, as if he were ready to storm on the people
responsible, hurling down lightning and rain like he was
some Roman god. The atrocities that had been done upset him
as well, but Fitz was too tired of running, of being
afraid, that the horrors done to children just didn’t have
the same affect as before.
“How did you learn of these experiments?” Agent Scully
said, cleanly taking over for her partner.
“I was involved. I’m a scientist. All this sneaking around
is too hard — that’s why I turned myself in.”
Fitz winced at this near-truth and covered his mouth with
his hand, rubbing his chin with shaking fingers. This
wasn’t going as well as he had expected. He thought they’d
be glad to have his information, that they would
immediately go arrest those more responsible than he. And
he’d be safe.
“How were you involved?”
“Preparing the project. That’s what he called it. The
“Who called it that?” Agent Scully jumped in, eager now.
“The man. He’s old … we all took orders from him. But he
didn’t really deal with us directly. Just in the shadows
most of the time. I … I was always … he has power. He
Fitz stopped. There was no use at all. How could he
explain to them what he knew about this man? About the
darkness that surrounded him.
“Did he smoke?”
Fitz looked up. “Yes. He was always with this man, Allan,
who he had healed with the technology we were trying to
perfect. Allan used to be really sick. He had lung cancer
and miraculously, he was well again. Mr. Walker, the man
who smoked, he always lugged Allan around, trying to
“Motivate you for what?” Agent Mulder asked, frowning.
“I guess for the job. I mean, *I* knew what we were doing
was wrong in some ways, but seeing Allan well again — it
made me stop questioning.”
Fitz sighed and rubbed his temples. “He’s gonna kill me.”
“Why do you think that?”
He looked up at the male agent, shaking his head. If the
man didn’t understand, there was no way he could explain
it. The power behind the old man was enough to keep him
cowed and doing the job. It still kept him cowed, but now
he just couldn’t do the job anymore. He had to stop. *It*
had to stop.
“He’ll kill me. It’s only a matter of time.”
10:13 a.m. August 14, 2000
Mulder was still shaking his head over James Fitz’s
explanation of Madison’s resurrection. The extreme
attention to detail that this kind of plan must have
involved baffled him. He wondered why Fitz had chosen that
time to rebel against his captors, to once more be on the
side of good. Fitz was the epitome of the absent-minded
professor: fumbling manner, intelligence without much
common sense, and not a very careful observer.
Fitz had told them that he hadn’t known what the Center
for Antiviral Drug Design was doing with the tailor-made
antivirus he had worked on for ten years. All he had known
was that there was a new disease, a lethal disease with
certain attributes, and unexplainable behaviors. Even
though all the scientists were on a ‘need-to-know’ basis,
the information they did know about the alien virus was
Mulder was surprised they had lived this long, that some
rebel alien force hadn’t wiped them out or the project
leaders hadn’t long ago decided to eliminate evidence.
“Do you think that the old man Fitz talks about is Cancer
He glanced up to see his partner heading towards him; she
had just finished the long interrogation of James Fitz
while he had run down some minor details. He smiled briefly
at her and sighed.
“Ah, finally, a woman who thinks like I do,” he retorted,
tapping her shoulder. “It seems too close to be
They were standing in the far corner of the large
conference room on the fifth floor, Mulder able to see
right down the hallway to the interrogation room she had
just come from. The observation room, which connected to
the holding room by the two-way mirror was a little to the
left of his vision. Both doors were closed now, and Scully
again came into focus next to him.
She brushed off his comment and continued with her train
of thought. “Do you think he’s right, Mulder? That it’s
“His story checks out, Scully. The center, or institute as
he calls it, does have a contract with the Department of
Defense to produce certain Antiviral drugs. Of course, I
wasn’t given the names, but I talked to Byers and asked him
to run it down for me, if he could.”
“Mulder, that information is very closely guarded. If they
do manage to hack into something like that, there’s going
to be all kinds of traps.”
“I know,” Mulder said, shrugging. “I told him as much. I
think Frohike is aching for a challenge ever since that
video game fiasco.”
He leaned against the small desk that SFPD had allotted
them, the computer at his back making a tired humming
noise. Scully stood just off to his right, her hip pressed
against the desktop. He realized that her stance gave her
the impression of standing up straight, while his just made
him look sloppy and exhausted.
But he *was* exhausted. He hadn’t been able to sleep much
the night before, and then he’d gone into her motel room to
discuss the case at four in the morning. After that, they’d
searched the little girl’s grave, thoroughly interrogated a
suspect, and it was only 10:30. He was needing a second
The beige and blue color scheme of the fifth floor was
making him sluggish, and he had stared at the computer for
at least as long as he’d talked to Fitz in the holding
room. Mulder rubbed his eyes and felt a shadow pass over
his face. He glanced up.
“But do you think it’s over here, Mulder? That they’ve run
their tests and seen that the drugs work, and they’ll
He noticed she was leaning in rather close to him, so he
hooked a finger in her suit jacket pocket and tugged
playfully. She frowned and pulled away, resting against
“I think they’ll disappear, but I don’t think this is
over,” he said finally. “In fact, it feels very unfinished.
Lots of loose ends. That’s not like them at all.”
“Fitz thinks they’re going to kill him.”
Mulder turned a pale face towards her once more, rubbing
“He’s definitely a loose end.”
She nodded and glanced warily to the holding room, chewing
thoughtfully on her lower lip. In a sudden fit, she jumped
up and made her way down the hall towards it, Mulder
following behind her, his thoughts running in the same vein
as her own.
When they reached the door, it was locked. Their eyes met.
“What?” Mulder hissed and rattled the knob. “It’s not
supposed to lock *us* out.”
Scully ran around to the observation room adjoining it,
leaving Mulder to find a key for the door. Stepping into
the room, she noticed immediately that Fitz was facing away
from her, his hands in his lap and his head tilted forward.
She couldn’t tell if he was being remorseful … or already
Outside, she heard Mulder berating an officer about the
key to the room, and the bewildered answer in the negative.
She turned and peered out of the open door to see Mulder
searching through a key ring, his hands frantic in his
A scraping wrench of the chair caused her to turn and look
at Fitz again, in time to see his body spasm and blood spew
from his mouth and splatter the wall like a modern art
painting. She froze, her instincts telling her to run, run
far, but she could not even speak.
Seizures wracked the man’s small frame for a full minute,
and then he vomited his intestines.
She prayed he was dead.
“Scully, I’ve got the key.”
“No! No, don’t open the door, Mulder.”
She hurried into the hallway, yanking the keys from his
fingers just as he pulled them away from the lock.
“He’s been infected.”
“With what?” Mulder said, his face going into that shocked
and panicked blankness that she knew so well in him. She
knew it too well.
“I don’t know. But I think he’s dead. Or will be soon.”
She tugged on Mulder’s hand and he followed her into the
“Oh, my God. They found him. I don’t know how, but they
Scully shivered. “What were you saying about loose ends?”
Mulder grabbed her arm and dragged her from the room, she
stumbling after him and pulling her arm back.
“Scully, Madison Hall.”
“What? What are you talking…”
“Madison Hall is the only loose end left. We’ve got to get
over there right now.”
Scully glanced once more to the closed holding room door,
and then shook her head.
“You start without me, Mulder. I have to call the
paramedics, the CDC, get this contained just in case its
airborne. I don’t know what they injected him with, but it
could be anything. They have the entire arsenal of the
institute behind them.”
Mulder nodded. “See if you can get the security tapes as
well … maybe we can find out who did this to him. Someone
had to have seen a cop or detective enter that room and
maybe inject Fitz with something.”
Scully watched him hurry down the hallway, his tie
flapping behind him as he ran for the elevators. She was
partially in shock after this, not having expected
something so violent and final to happen to their only
witness. And their only proof of hard evidence.
She frowned and pulled out her cellular phone, herding
people away from the door and the sight of the man’s guts
splayed along the opposite wall in vivid reds and purples
and pinks. She was about to call the CDC for a containment
and clean up team, when she remembered.
Madison’s blood tests were due back that morning. And
while these men were tying up their loose ends, or rather,
obliterating the loose ends completely, those tests could
be solid proof of experiments. Madison’s blood contained
both the disease and the antivirus; those results were
Mulder was surprised they had released Madison Hall from
the hospital so soon, but the nurse he had talked with on
the phone had alluded to a fight between her parents and
the doctors. He could understand though. The girl wasn’t
sick any longer and all the doctors did was order more
tests. So when the taxi pulled up to her house, he was
pleasantly surprised to find her outside helping her
parents with their car.
As he paid the driver, Mulder watched the little girl
deliberately soak herself with the hose and then run around
the car, splattering the sides with sudsy water and her
smiles. Her parents seemed to be indulging her today, and
he hated to intrude on their family moment. Madison’s
bright purple swimsuit was an odd spot of brightness in the
horror of this case.
“Mrs. Hall?” he said loudly, to be heard over the spray of
water and the bass line of some song on the radio. The heat
was oppressive and he wiped his hand across his forehead,
regretting the suit. His jacket was back at the station
house, draped over a chair. He wondered if Scully would
remember to bring it with her when she caught up to him.
“Oh, Agent Mulder. How are you?”
Mulder nodded to the still tense woman and fondly patted
Madison’s head when she came to inspect him.
“Not so good, Mrs. Hall. Can I talk to you and your
The blind fear that raced explosively across her face made
Mulder wonder what was going on in this family.
“Uh, actually, I’d rather not…” she said softly, and her
tone seemed desperate. She dropped the hose to the sidewalk
and rubbed her forehead. Finding some new strength, she
called to her husband and he came over to sit next to her
on the front steps, rubbing her back. Madison continued to
dance around the car in time to the music tumbling from the
“Is this okay?” Kris said, and her words were low and
“It’s not ideal, but it will work. Can you tell me your
reasons for taking Madison out of the hospital?”
Kris bit her lip and shook her head fiercely. “No reason.”
She should have made up some kind of excuse, elaborate or
not. Her terse reply told Mulder for certain that something
had happened, that they had been threatened into keeping
silent for some reason.
Dave seemed to recognize this and he shook his head. “We
just wanted to get out of there, Agent Mulder. You
understand that, right?”
Mulder nodded slowly, thinking quickly.
“Hey Madison!” he called then, and she came prancing over to
him, her face no longer the ghost white as it was at the
hospital but a gleaming healthy pink.
“Yup?” she said and grabbed his hand, swinging it and
hanging on to him.
“Madison, don’t pull on Agent Mulder,” her mother chided.
“Madison, do you remember the day all the other kids got
the shots at school?”
“Yes. I stayed home.”
“Why did you stay home, were you sick?” Mulder asked
softly, bending down to look into her face.
“No, Momma made me.”
11:28 a.m. SFPD
“What do you mean the results have already been picked
up?” Scully shouted, one hand pressed against her ear so
she could hear the medical technician’s voice on the other
The CDC had completely taken over the fifth floor, and
after all the officers and personnel had been thoroughly
decontaminated, herself included, she had gotten a long-
winded and cruel lecture for letting Mulder run out of the
building. She knew that Mulder was not infected, and she
had tried to explain her theory, but no one was listening.
She had just now gotten a chance to call the lab.
“Agent Scully, the woman who came in showed proper
identification and had the right to take the test results.
There’s nothing we can do about it.”
“What was her name?” Scully asked, with a sinking feeling.
“Kris Hall. The girl’s mother.”
11:28 a.m. Hall residence
They were still outside, the water still running and the
suds a little flat, the music loud and tinny sounding, but
Madison was inside the house, in her room. Her parents
still sat on the stoop, Mulder towering over them, but now
he knew and understand more than he did before.
They were talking outside because they claimed their house
was bugged, and the running water and the loud music were
good at covering whatever they might say. Dave and Kris had
been washing the car as a pretext for discussing their
options; they were considering running away.
Mulder wondered bitterly if his parents had ever done this
— recognized the trouble they were in and held secret
conversations while their children were oblivious to the
danger. Somehow, he didn’t think so. He wasn’t sure his
mother knew that much about the project, and his father
hadn’t cared that much for keeping him out of trouble.
Dave had told him the long, miserable story of their
involvement with the project, of the man in the shadows who
had proved his power to Dave by healing a co-worker after
long months of illness. Mulder was sure the ‘kind’ old man
was Cancer Man, the same man that James Fitz had seen.
Eight years before, Dave Hall had been a contract worker,
a specialist in computer imaging but not making much money
because he was hired only for occasional jobs by Bay Area
companies. One of those companies was the Center for
Antiviral Drug Design, and his work was so good that he was
noticed by Cancer Man, who called himself Mr. Walker.
“He healed a man, my co-worker Allan, who had cancer. He
and his wife would come by the offices, telling everyone
that Mr. Walker had healed him. It impressed me. It also
kind of scared me,” Dave said.
Mulder looked to Kris, who was angrily and shamefully
looking at the concrete underneath her feet. She seemed
“He told me that he knew that Kris and I were having
trouble getting pregnant, and he knew we didn’t have much
money at all. Not enough to live in San Francisco. He
offered to sponsor us as candidates for a new kind of
fertilization method. He said it was the same kind of
research that had made Allan well again.”
“Just out of the blue like that?” Mulder asked.
“No, no. This was after I’d been there a year I think. He
also said not to worry about money, because I’d have the
imaging job permanently. He was being generous, I thought.
He talked and acted like he was my father, like he was
looking out for me. The institute doesn’t have a need for a
full time design imaging operator, but he was promising me
a place in his company.”
“So he offered you a permanent job and money and a chance
to have the child you always wanted?” Mulder said softly.
Dave nodded. “We talked it over and eventually agreed to
it. It was a new method, he said, and just approved by the
government. He said it was a pet project of his. We soon
discovered that this project was a lot more than just
helping women get pregnant.”
He elaborated on some of the details, about how they had
gotten slowly sucked into allowing tests and other things
on their child, a little girl whose ‘grandfather’ was
always there watching. Dave explained that recently, the
tests had made Madison come home crying and they just
couldn’t allow it any longer. So they had kept her home
from school, the private school paid for by Cancer Man, on
the day the other kids were to have shots.
“And that’s how this all happened. I don’t know what
exactly they’ve done to her, but she’s … not like other
kids. She’s very special. We just wanted to keep her safe.”
This was sounding a lot like what he and Scully had
discovered about Emily Sims, about the tests she was
subjected to and her adopted mother’s fight to keep her
child away from the doctors. He wondered how many of these
Mulder sighed just as his cellular trilled anxiously from
“Excuse me,” he said and turned to answer the phone.
“Mulder, it’s me.”
“Where are you?” he said, looking at his watch.
“On my way. Listen, Mrs. Hall took the blood test results.
You have to be careful.”
“Don’t worry. They’ve kind of confessed.”
“I’ll explain when you get here. I’m at their home.
Madison was released from the hospital. Do you know what
killed James Fitz?”
“Not yet. The CDC is all over the place. They want you to
come in and get checked out.”
“Did you tell them I wasn’t infected?”
A sigh came over the line. “I tried. Look, I’ve got to let
you go, Mulder.”
“All right. I’ll be here.”
She hung up and he shook his head, sliding his phone back
into his pocket.
When he turned around, he felt the hard press of a gun to
his neck and saw the fearful, sickened faces of the Halls
“Walk inside the house,” came a cool and precise woman’s
voice, and Mulder knew there was a lot more to this than he
had been told.
It was Marita.
Madison looked like she was either going to run screaming
out of the room or break down in sobs. Mulder knew the
feeling. She was held tightly by Marita, her hand pale and
bloodless in the woman’s grip. The little girl was barely
moving, her eyes wide and frightened and locked on Mulder.
Kris Hall was openly sobbing for her child, leaning into
her husband and crying entreaties to the cold Marita.
Mulder had bound her and her husband with duct tape while
Marita held the gun on the little girl; he had done the job
right. He didn’t need the two of them trying to be heroes.
Slowly, he stood up again, then laid the tape on the end
table next to the couch where the girl’s parents were
sitting. Madison was staring up at him as if he were
betraying her, and Mulder softly shook his head.
“Why is she so important, Marita?”
The perpetually calm woman merely looked at him. “Stalling
for time, Agent Mulder?”
Mulder opened his mouth to deny it, then shook his head.
She was clever and not prone to making many mistakes. She
had nearly died once, he knew that much, and she was not
willing to take the stupid chances any longer. She had
learned a lot from Cancer Man and Krycek. Krycek…
“Did Krycek put you up to this?”
“Poor Krycek. He has no idea whose side he should be on,”
she said softly, and knelt down next to the little girl.
“Madison, please go over there with Agent Mulder.”
The child ran to him, and buried her head into his legs.
He sank to his knees and hugged her tightly, trying to calm
her down. Mulder realized that by placing Madison with him,
he could not very well rush Marita. Not without risking the
girl’s life. Marita was very smart in this game.
“Why don’t you just let the family go, Marita? And then
you and Cancer Man get off clean and easy,” Mulder said
“You don’t understand the game any longer, Agent Mulder.”
“So explain it to me,” he said, hoping that when Scully
arrived, she would provide enough of a distraction to let
him take Marita down.
“This isn’t just colonization anymore, this is war. And we
need all the weapons we can get.”
Mulder held Madison tighter in his arms, certain that he
was not about to let this little girl go. He had lost too
many children to them.
“Why is she a weapon? A child isn’t a weapon.”
Marita was busy doing something with the laptop computer
she had brought in with her; it was plugged into the wall
outlet beside the couch, where she could keep an eye on
both the parents and Mulder and the girl. Her back was to
the front door, and Mulder could see outside through the
curtains on the front picture window.
“She’s a step in a long staircase, Agent Mulder. Just as
your sister was a step, as Gibson Praise was a step, as you
were a step. We have moved beyond mere telepathy, beyond
limited physical and mental abilities.”
“But Madison doesn’t display these abilities. She’s not
“Not yet,” Marita said and cast a bitter look to the
Halls. “Her parents interrupted the program we had her on.
She’s more important to us than anyone else, Mr. Mulder,
for precisely the reasons you said. She was not born with
Mulder felt the blood drain from his face.
“She’s valuable because she’s proof that with a minimal
amount of genetic tampering, humans can *grow* the
necessary abilities. Humans can adapt into hybrids. And
survive the colonization.”
Madison was crying softly into Mulder’s shirt and he had
not noticed until now. He didn’t know what to do, but rub
her back and awkwardly smooth down her hair.
“Someone will be here to pick us up shortly, Agent Mulder.”
“What? Why am I going?”
“Like I said, you’re a step in this great staircase to the
stars. You’re a portion of our Tower of Babel, and we’re
going to need you.”
Mulder shook his head, refusing to believe that
colonization could be so close, that Cancer Man’s
horrendous plots could still be going on, despite the fire
at El Rico, and despite the many losses the project had
taken. It was more extensive and far-reaching than he had
And they needed him.
His phone began to ring.
When the taxi pulled up in front of the Hall’s small
house, Scully had a feeling that something was dreadfully
wrong. It looked deserted, as if the entire family had
dropped everything and run. The stereo was outside and
blaring Backstreet boys or some similar pop group, and the
water was creating a river of the driveway. No one was
She paid the taxi driver and checked the address again,
then walked dutifully up the sidewalk. She peeked into the
garage first, but saw no signs of life. She pulled out her
weapon and checked to make sure the safety was on, then
kept it at her side as she walked back to the front.
There were curtains pulled over the front windows, but she
could detect hazy outlines through their white silk layers.
It looked like they were talking, on the couch or
something, but it stilled seemed very odd to her. Things in
the air just seemed out of place, and besides that, Mulder
was not answering his cell phone.
She walked back to the side of the house, not wanting to
be seen on the street, or from the house, just in case. She
pulled out her cellular and called Mulder again. After five
rings without an answer, she assumed the worst and headed
back to the front again.
Weapon drawn, she climbed the front steps and licked her
lips. There was no storm door, only the old wooden portal
that looked as if it had weathered far fiercer storms than
the ones she was imagining. She put her hand to the knob
and took a deep breath, then shoved it open.
Dark. She couldn’t see.
“Scully, get down!”
She dropped and felt something hot and terrible tearing
into her. Then the explosions of sound that meant shots
were being fired at her. The darkness was more than just
lack of sunlight, it was enveloping her in a thick fog of
confusion. She rolled to the side, grunting when she hit a
wall, but feeling relatively little.
“Here…” she whispered and moved to pull herself up.
When she had banged open the door and come in, weapon
drawn and ready, Mulder had tackled Marita, yelling for
Scully to drop to the floor. Marita had gotten off three
shots before he had wrestled the gun from her, managing to
knock her unconscious as he did so.
He had never punched a woman in the mouth before. It felt
vaguely dishonorable, but he was worried more about Scully.
She was crumpled against the wall, her weapon loose in her
“Scully?” he said, hoping to hear her answer him. He
grabbed the duct tape from the end table and quickly ripped
off a long piece, fitting it tightly around Marita’s
wrists. He then jumped up and ran to Scully, his hands
“Scully?” he said and lifted her upper body into his lap,
looking for blood.
She moved against him, then hissed in a breath.
“Mulder … Mulder, stop!”
He moved away, and saw that her thigh and shoulder had
been grazed by bullets, and her face was growing rapidly
pale. His trembling fingers grabbed for his cell phone and
called for paramedics and the police, then loosened her
suit jacket to staunch the flow of blood.
“I’m okay,” she said and winced as she tried to lean
against the wall in the entryway. “They almost missed me.”
“Really, I’m okay,” she said, but gritted her teeth.
He frowned, but ran to the Halls and ripped the tape from
their wrists. Madison crashed over his legs and climbed
onto the couch with her parents, receiving a desperate
embrace. Mulder extracted himself and rushed back to Scully.
She was slumping down, her eyes closed as if in
concentration. He cradled her head, helping her stay
upright along the wall, then brushed his bloodied fingers
over her cheek. She smiled brokenly at him.
He leaned down and kissed her lips very softly. “Looks
painful,” he whispered.
She curled her lips and clutched his shirt with her good
hand, shaking her head.
Mulder gave her the best smile he could and glanced up to
the Halls, watching them cradle their daughter in relief.
He heard the sounds of squealing tires and glanced through
the thin gauzy curtains to the road in front of the house.
A car was speeding away just as three police cars with
their lights on lumbered up the street, an ambulance coming
in fast behind them.
“Looks like her ride left her,” Mulder said and moved to
open the front door.
The sun shone in brightly from overhead, hot and thick in
the air. The heavy rays illuminated the dark red stain of
Scully’s blood and the white blonde hair of Marita
Covarrubias. Mulder wondered if it was truly over now, or
if he would always be following the wake of the project as
it sped through the waters of the world.
1:07 a.m. August 15, 2000
Saint Francis Memorial Hospital
Consciousness dashed into her like a cold ocean wave; she
was drowning in unfamiliar sounds and feelings and
impressions. She ached, she wanted to cry, she couldn’t
feel her hand at first, her leg felt thick and swollen and
She turned her head to the side, fighting tears of
frustration and pain and… and…
It was one in the morning, she could tell from his watch,
and he was crouching next to her hospital bed, fearful of
waking her. Too late.
“Mulder, what are you doing?”
“Marita is gone. Looks like her ride *didn’t* leave her.
She was in the hospital’s security ward, but someone got
her out. There’s a man on the security tapes, coming in to
see her. . .I think it’s Cancer Man.”
“Cancer Man got her out?” Scully asked, feeling sore and
confused and tired.
Mulder nodded grimly and pulled a chair up to her bedside,
taking her hand between his two warm palms. He looked out
of breath and just as exhausted as she felt.
“What about Madison? She could be in trouble again.”
“I sincerely hope not. Her family decided to enter Witness
Protection. The city is charging the institute with about
six hundred counts of criminal negligence, voluntary
attempted manslaughter, and some others. One for each child
from Madison’s school. Her family will testify.”
Scully nodded. The feeling of needing to cry had passed
for the moment; it was only the pain and the grogginess of
waking up in darkness and fear. Mulder’s hands felt
calming, but sweaty.
“Did you discover what killed Fitz?” she asked, looking
toward the window and the dark night beyond it.
“Yeah. The autopsy showed strains of the ebola virus, in a
mutated form. The CDC found out that Fitz had been working
on this prior to his death, so it’s being assumed that he
contracted the disease at work.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Scully said, disgusted. “He didn’t…”
“Well,” Mulder said softly, smoothing a piece of hair
along her forehead. “We know that, and the CDC probably
even knows that, but the city wants to quiet this aspect of
the case. They can’t have people afraid that ebola is going
“Yes but…” she sighed again and looked back to the
window. “Cancer Man has escaped prosecution, I don’t doubt.”
“Yeah. They can’t even issue a warrant for his arrest,
since there’s no record of a Mr. Walker, and the people who
work at the institute are mostly innocent. Nothing’s going
to change, really, but at least this is better than before.”
Scully sighed and closed her eyes.
“Oh. You probably want to get some rest.”
She shook her head and tugged on his hand as he attempted
“No, not yet.”
He looked at her for a long moment, then sat back down and
leaned in close. She smiled softly at him and glanced down
to her thickly-bandaged leg.
“Any surgery?” she said softly.
He shook his head. “Just stitches. For both. You were
lucky — the bullets only scraped past you.”
She licked her lips. “Still hurts.”
He laughed and leaned forward to kiss her forehead very
“I’m sure it does. You’ve got a massive bruise on that
Her smile unfurled slowly from her lips, causing her
entire countenance to transform, almost magically. He
grinned back and couldn’t help pressing a kiss to that
smiling mouth. Scully brought her hand up to caress his
cheek, and when he pulled back, her eyes were closed.
“Sleep, Scully,” he whispered and leaned back in the
plastic, scratchy chair to keep his silent vigil.
The darkness was relieved by a full orange moon peeking in
through the hospital room window. It framed the bed and
bathed Scully’s face in fiery fingers, soft and delicate as
“Goodnight,” Mulder whispered, and the room and the moon
seemed to echo it around him.
end adios RM