Beté Noir


Title: Bête Noire

Rating: PG-13

Category: X, A

Authors: Laurie D. Haynes, Laura Castellano and Katvictory


Info: Specially written for I Made This Productions

Virtual Season 8

Archiving: VS8 gets it exclusively for the first two

weeks, then it can be archived anywhere, but ask us, first.

Summary: There’s a legend of a monster in the swamps along

the Texas-Louisiana border. According to the National

Enquirer, the monster has mated with humans and

its offspring terrorize the small town bordering the

river and its swamps.

Authors’ notes: Special thanks to Dawn, Sally and Mori

for their invaluable beta-reading services.


Bête Noire

By Laurie D. Haynes, Laura Castellano and Katvictory


A swamp near the Sabine River

along the Texas-Louisiana border

6:45 a.m. April 5, 2001

Joe Calderon whistled an old Cajun tune as his boat

puttered along the trot line. He was having a good run.

He’d already found five large catfish on the line. His

Labrador, Beau, who had been lying quietly in the bottom of

the boat until now, suddenly stood up, his ears cocked, and

sniffed the air.

A loud splash came from about 50 yards away and Beau began

barking furiously, the hair on the back of his neck

standing on end.

“Just a gator, Beau. Probably got ‘im a nice fish or a

nutria rat.”

Old Joe peered out over the water anyway, just to make

sure that the alligator wasn’t getting too close. Ripples

spread out from the center of where the splash had been and

Joe spotted a gator swimming swiftly away. He again heard a

splash from the same area, then saw two figures break the

plane of the water. One was another big alligator, but he

wasn’t sure what the other thing was. It had arms and

hands, but it certainly wasn’t human, its skin was a

mottled greenish-black — and it was getting the best of

the gator.

As Joe watched, astounded, a pair of claws slashed down at

the alligator, which went limp, and blood began to spread

out from the reptile.

Beau was still making a racket, but the dog was no fool —

he wasn’t about to jump in the water. The creature took a

bite out of the alligator, then looked up at Joe and the

dog. Its eyes were red and the pupils were tiny black dots.

The old man gasped, turned his engine up full throttle and

headed for home.



Antoine’s Houston, TX

1:05 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, 2001

As he and his partner ate their sandwiches, Mulder looked

over the latest issue of the National Enquirer. They had

just finished a serial murder case and were grabbing lunch

before catching a 4 p.m. flight back to Washington.

Scully was tired and looking forward to going home. Eight

autopsies in two days were enough to make anyone exhausted.

So she was really rather enjoying the silence at the table

— until

Mulder spoke .

“Hey, Scully, look at this!” He held out page 8 so she

could see a blurry photo with a headline saying, “Bog

monster terrorizes East Texas residents!”

Scully sighed. “You know better than to believe anything

you read in those rags, Mulder. You know they make it all


“Sometimes they do,” Mulder admitted, “but they have

actual interviews with witnesses this time. Look, that’s

only about a two-hour drive from here. We can be over there

before dark. It says here that the reporter who wrote this

article is an actual journalist with a newspaper from that


Scully stared at him coolly as she took another bite of

her sandwich. “No way am I going out hunting monsters in

the swamp,” she informed him. “You know Skinner is going

to be expecting our report on the case we just finished. I

highly doubt he’ll give you the go ahead to chase down

another bogeyman.”

Mulder shrugged. “Oh, I’ll use some vacation time. C’mon,

Scully.” He gave her his most charming grin and covered her

hand with his own, but Scully would not be swayed.

“That’s not going to work this time, Mulder. We have

reservations to fly out this afternoon and that’s what I’m

going to do.”

He wadded his napkin into a ball and tossed it easily into

a nearby trash receptacle. “OK, have it your way, but I’m

driving over there. I’ll drop you off at the airport first.”

Pulling out his cell phone, he first called the airline

and canceled his flight reservation. Then he contacted

directory assistance and got the number for the newspaper

the reporter worked for.

“Orange County Record,” an older woman answered.

“Yes, I’d like to speak to Belinda Gaudet, please.”

“Just a moment.”

Mulder heard a click, then another woman came on the line.

“This is Belinda, can I help you?”

“Yes, my name is Fox Mulder and I’m with the FBI. I read

your story in the Enquirer and I’d like to come out and

talk to you about it. I can be there in about three hours.”

He listened a moment, then jotted down the directions she

gave him for the newspaper office. “Great, I’ll see you


Mulder ended the call and looked up to see Scully staring

at him with disapproval.

“You could change your mind, you know,” he said. “Come

on, Scully, come with me. It’ll be fun.”

Scully shook her head. “I’ve got plans for the weekend.

Mom is having a barbecue, and Bill and Charlie are supposed

to be coming in. She invited you, too.”

Mulder grimaced. “Uh, no thanks. You put me and Bill in

the same town, let alone the same house, and you’re asking

for trouble.”

He looked hungrily at the half of Scully’s sandwich still

sitting on her plate. “You going to eat that?”

Scully gave him a half-smile and pushed the plate over to


He proceeded to wolf it down.

“Just promise me you won’t go into the swamps alone, OK?”

she asked suddenly. “You know how you tend to get in

trouble when I’m not there to keep you moderately sane.”

She tempered her words with a teasing smile, but it was

apparent she was truly concerned.

“If you’d come with me, I wouldn’t be alone,” Mulder

mumbled around a mouthful of sandwich.

Scully just shook her head and finished off her chips and



Gate 43

Houston Intercontinental Airport

3:45 p.m.

“Now boarding for Continental Flight 2026 to Washington,

D.C.” came the announcement over the loudspeaker.

Mulder and Scully rose, and she picked up her briefcase as

she prepared to board.

“Sure you won’t change your mind and come with me to check

out this monster?”

Scully smiled and replied, “Sure you won’t change your

mind and come on home?”

“Frankly, I’d rather chase a bog monster than make small

talk with Bill.”

She laughed, then looked up expectantly.

Mulder bent over and kissed her lightly on the lips.

He started to turn to go, but she grabbed him by the tie

and pulled him down for a deeper kiss.

“Just don’t forget where home is, OK?” she said as she let

him go.

“Not a chance. Listen, I’ll call you later tonight, OK?”

“You’d better! And Mulder? Be careful, all right? I mean



Scully snorted, then went on to board her plane.


Orange County Record

Bridge City, TX

6:10 p.m.

Mulder pulled up at the tiny building that housed the

County Record office. The only sign up outside said Dunn

Advertising, but he had followed the directions given him.

A beat-up 1985 Ford was parked outside, and there was a

light on inside the building.

The door was unlocked, so he went on in.

The desk just inside the door was unoccupied, but piled

with phone books and mail. The place reeked of stale

cigarette smoke, and the carpet had seen much better days.

A woman behind a computer monitor called to him from the

room to the right.

“Agent Mulder?”

He entered the room. “Yes, are you Ms. Gaudet?”

“Just call me Belinda.” She moved some layout dummies from

a chair and put them on another desk. “Have a seat. Want a

cup of coffee?”

“Sure, that would be fine.”

Belinda grabbed a Styrofoam cup from a package atop a

small refrigerator, then went into the adjoining bathroom

and returned with a steaming cup of coffee. She handed him

the cup and as he turned to set it down on the desk, she

looked him up and down with interest.

She sat down behind the desk and leaned forward slightly,

wishing she’d worn a nicer outfit to work that day. Maybe

something that showed a little cleavage.

“So you actually read my story?”

“Sure. It seemed pretty factual, unlike a lot of the ones

I see in that particular publication. Your article

mentioned that pets and livestock have been disappearing

around the area. Has there ever been a problem with the

thing attacking humans?”

“Well, Old Joe said he wasn’t sure the beast wasn’t about

to come after him, but it didn’t. It seems to be getting

pretty bold, though, coming up around the houses and fish

camps along the river nowadays.”

“Could we go out and talk to Joe tonight?”

“Sure. I thought you might want to,” said Belinda, “so I

called him earlier. He said he’d be home all night, but he

goes to bed early ’cause he gets up at 4 a.m.”

“Let’s go. How far away is it?”

“About 30 minutes. He lives in Deweyville, just up Highway

87 from here.”


Joe Calderon’s home

Deweyville, TX

6:55 p.m.

Mulder and Belinda knocked on the door of the beat-up old

Airstream trailer overlooking the river. They heard a dog

barking and a man who appeared to be in his late 80s opened

the door.

“Y’all come on in. Hush that barkin’, Beau!”

They stepped into the small trailer, and Beau came up to

sniff Mulder. Apparently satisfied, the dog went back to

lay down beside a worn easy chair.

Joe switched off the television and invited his two guests

to sit.

“You really with the FBI, boy?” Joe asked dubiously. “What

does the FBI want in Devil’s Pocket?”

Mulder pulled out his ID and showed the man, who nodded.

“I read Belinda’s story about your encounter with that

beast in the swamp. I’d like to know more about it,” Mulder

told him.

“Well, there’s been stories about a monster out there for

about the last 50 years. They call it the Bête Noire. I

lived in Orange for a lot of years while I was workin’ for

the DuPont refinery. So I’ve only been livin’ here for the

past 25 years or so, but I’ve fished on that river and in

these swamps my whole life and I ain’t never seen nothin’

like that thing what attacked that gator.”

“You believe there’s just one monster?”

“Well, people claim the Morgan boys are descended from the

monster, and the Morgans’ll tell you the same thing. I hear

tell they’ve been known to kidnap people, ‘specially black

people, and bring them back to hunt for sport. The rumor

goes that old man Morgan and his son, who lives up in

Jasper (and Lord knows how that pug-ugly cuss ever got a

woman to bed him and sire a whelp), were involved in the

killing of that poor colored man up there a few years back.

“They chained the poor guy to the back of a pickup and

drug him down the road. They arrested three of the assholes

that did it, but not O.D. and his son. People around here

say O.D. and his boy were involved, too, but folks are too

scared of them to talk. O.D. brags now that the trials are


and he figures the law thinks they solved the case, that

he and

his boy, Butch, killed two other men that night the same

way. O.D. says they just weren’t so stupid as to pick up a

local man with a family, like them other fellas. And they

didn’t leave enough of the ones they tortured to be found.

“The Morgans are mean, vicious and they’re ugly enough,

but they’re human. Just a bad bunch of river rats. I think

mebbe they just take advantage of that swamp monster story

to make themselves look tougher.”

Mulder bit back his tendency to urge the elderly man to

get to his point. “I’m told that pets and livestock have

gone missing. Couldn’t it just be alligators doing the


“You ever seen an alligator that could take down a 3,000-

pound bull, Mr. Mulder? Yeah, gators could be blamed for

taking the pets and small livestock, but no way they could

get a full-size bull. Somethin’ got Johnny Parker’s bull —

and that thing was a mean sonuvabitch.”

“Is it possible that someone stole it?” asked Belinda.

“Well, if they did, they hurt it pretty bad, because there

was a lot of blood in the pen where Johnny kept it. I SAW

that thing. It was no kind of animal I’ve ever seen before,

and there ain’t anything much fiercer than a big ol’ bull

alligator. That thing whupped that gator easy. It was

shaped like a human in a weird kinda way, but that was no

man. If anything, it looked like it was half alligator and

half man. The skin was bumpy like a gator’s hide and it had

sharp teeth. No snout to speak of but its face did stick

out some.”

“How long ago did you see it?” asked Mulder.

“It was about a month and a half ago — it was early in

the morning and the weather was kind of cool so there

wasn’t nobody else out where I was.”

“And you haven’t seen it since?”

“No, sir! You ain’t gettin’ me back out on that river with

that thing out there!”

“What about your neighbors? Have they seen it?”

“Some of ’em have, but most of those that ain’t seen it

for themselves at least believe something nasty is out

there. Most everyone knows someone who’s either seen it or

lost stock or hunting dogs to it. We were plannin’ on

gettin’ a bunch of us together with shotguns and goin’

after it. But the game warden, Chick Jackson, said he’d

arrest the whole bunch of us if he found us out there with

guns when it ain’t duck season.”

“I take it he doesn’t believe?” said Mulder.

“Nah, he insists it’s just a big gator and ain’t none of

us got alligator tags for huntin’ gators.”

Suddenly, Beau growled, and someone banged on the door.

Shushing the dog, Joe got up to answer it and found a very

wet young man outside his trailer, breathing heavily, the

water dripping from his ripped, sleeveless western shirt

and cutoff jeans.

“Lonnie? What in the hell?” Joe said and pulled the

younger man inside, sitting him down. “What’s wrong?”

“Dickie and me were just comin’ in from fishin’ when

something hit our boat and turned it over!” Lonnie

reported, still gasping for breath. “I managed to swim to

shore, but somethin’ got Dickie. I heard him yell, but

there wasn’t a thing I could do but come get help.”

“Alligator?” Joe asked, reaching for the shotgun he kept

next to the door.

“No, it wasn’t no alligator. I got a glimpse of it. It was

the Bête Noire!”

Joe grabbed a hunk of beef out of his small freezer.

“Maybe we can lure it away from Dickie with this, if it

ain’t too late,” he offerred hurriedly. “You comin’?” he

asked Mulder, “or you afraid of gettin’ that fancy suit of

yours dirty?”

Mulder quickly pulled off his coat, tie and dress shirt

and threw them aside. He still wore his tee shirt, and the

slacks would just have to be sacrificed. “Let’s go.”

“What about me?” asked Belinda.

“You stay here and call the sheriff and the game warden,”

Joe ordered. “Get an ambulance out here just in case we

find Dickie alive.”

A few minutes later, Joe, Lonnie and Mulder were shoving

off from the shore in Joe’s boat. Joe pulled the starter

cord and the outboard roared to life. Joe guided them into

the murky swamp, and Mulder grabbed the sides of the small

boat, thankful the water was smooth.

They soon found Lonnie’s overturned craft and a wounded

Dickie lying on top of it and yelling as loud as he could.

The man had blood flowing from a deep wound in his right

arm, but other than that he appeared whole. Mulder and

Lonnie helped him aboard, and Mulder got him settled while

Lonnie managed to grab the bow rope of the overturned boat.

He threw it to Joe, who tied it to a cleat on the corner of

his own boat, and they set off for shore.

Mulder steadily watched the area from which they’d come,

but it was too dark to see much. He thought he glimpsed a

movement, and something splashed, but he wasn’t sure it was

the Bête Noire; it could have been any of a dozen creatures

that inhabited the swamps.

Once they were safely on their way, Lonnie pulled off his

own shirt, which he promptly tied around the gash in

Dickie’s arm.

“You OK?” he asked sympathetically.

Dickie nodded, but his face was white in the twilight and

he didn’t speak.

When they arrived back at Joe’s dock, ambulance attendants

were waiting for them. They helped Dickie out of the boat

and sat him down on the stretcher. The man was bleeding

badly, the blood soaking through the makeshift bandage

Lonnie had applied.

While the EMTs readied Dickie for transport, Mulder leaned

close to the injured man. “Dickie, I’m Agent Mulder with

the FBI,” he said quietly. “I’ve come down here to look

into all this. Can you tell me what it was that attacked

you? Was it an animal?”

Dickie’s eyes darkened in fear. His breathing had become

labored, and one of the EMTs slipped an oxygen mask over

his face. Mulder could see Dickie’s lips moving, and he

leaned closer to make out the words.

“Bête Noire…Bête Noire.”

“OK, folks, we’ve got to move,” the ambulance driver

insisted, gently shoving Mulder aside and helping load

Dickie into the vehicle.

As the ambulance sped away with Dickie in the back, Mulder

turned to Lonnie. “You said the thing was attacking your


“It was, I swear! I thought sure Dickie was a goner.”

“Why do you suppose it didn’t kill him? It surely had the


Lonnie shook his head slowly. “We had a pretty big mess

of fish in the boat. Maybe it figured the fish were less


“Or it prefers fish to humans?” Mulder wondered.

“He didn’t seem to mind goin’ after Dickie!” Lonnie

objected. “Joe, we gotta do somethin’ about this creature.”

“Calm down, Lonnie. You heard what Warden Chick said.” Joe

had stood silently aside while his young friend was

attended and taken away, and now he spoke calmly to Lonnie,

obviously trying to avert a disaster.

Lonnie barely heard Joe’s reasoning through his adrenaline-

induced frenzy. “Forget Warden Chick! You listen to me,

old man, that thing is gonna kill someone next time!”

Joe maintained his soft-spoken tone, putting a hand gently

on Lonnie’s shoulder to calm him. “Let me and Agent Mulder

talk to the warden and see if we can’t convince him to form

a huntin’ party to go after it. Now, you go on to Dickie’s

house and tell his wife what happened, then get on home and

get some dry clothes on.”

Lonnie agreed reluctantly. “Can you give me a ride? I

don’t feel like it’s very safe walkin’ after dark with the

Bête Noire out huntin.'”

“Sure, go ahead and get in the truck and I’ll be with you

in a minute.”

Lonnie walked away as Belinda came down the stairs to

stand beside Mulder. She handed him his coat, tie and shirt.

“Look, I gotta run Lonnie home, Mr. Mulder,” Joe said as

Mulder began dressing. “Why don’t you give me a call

tomorrow and we’ll go talk to the warden?”

The last thing Mulder wanted was to see the unique

creature destroyed instead of studied, but he knew this was

neither the time nor place to voice those feelings, so he

just nodded his agreement.

“C’mon, Fox, I’ll take you to dinner,” offered Belinda.

“They got some good restaurants in Orange.”

“Mulder, not Fox.”

“Oh.” Belinda’s face fell a bit. “All right.” It seemed

to be the only appropriate reply, so she offered no more

comment as they climbed into her car and drove toward town.


Cody’s Bar and Grill

Orange, TX

9:30 p.m.

Mulder picked up another boudin ball, dipped it in

horseradish sauce and bit into it with relish. His eyes

closed in bliss.

“Hey, these are good! What are they?” he asked


“Sausage, spices and rice dipped in a batter and deep


Belinda took a sip of her beer and leaned forward, her

elbows resting on the table. Again she thought it was a

shame she hadn’t worn her low-cut blouse today, but maybe

Mulder would like what he saw anyway.

Unfortunately, the object of her interest seemed to be

paying more attention to his food than his companion. The

waitress stopped by their table, a perky little brunette,

and Belinda felt herself grow warm as Mulder turned on the

charm. The little waitress practically oozed invitation,

and for a moment Belinda thought he might ask for her phone

number. To her relief, he ordered another basket of boudin

balls to go with his bowl of chicken gumbo.

Maybe he was just shy, she thought. After all, it wasn’t

his fault the little twit had nearly fallen at his feet.

Mulder looked like the kind of man who needed a real woman,

not one who’d be interested in silly high-school girls.

Belinda considered herself a real woman, certainly up to

the challenge. She’d try to draw him out.

“So how long have you been with the Bureau, Mulder?” she

asked, taking a “real woman” sized sip of her beer.

“Fourteen years. I’ll have 15 years in October.” He

didn’t seem inclined to talk about his job, but as she’d so

far discovered nothing else they had in common to discuss,

she tried again.

“I’ll bet you’re really good at your job. I’m sure your

family is very proud of you.”

Storm clouds passed over Mulder’s face.

“My family is all dead.”

Belinda felt her “real woman” smile slipping, and could

have kicked herself. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to touch a


He gave her a forgiving grin and a shrug of his broad

shoulders, and she felt her stomach do a lazy flip-flop.

“That’s all right, you didn’t know. I don’t have any blood

kin, but Scully, my partner, is like family to me.”

“I’m sure you two are as close as brothers. Has he been

with the FBI as long as you?”

Mulder chuckled. “Dr. Dana Scully is a woman. She’s a

brilliant forensic pathologist and one hell of a fine

investigator. We make a good team. And to answer your

question, no. I’ve been in the Bureau longer than Scully,

but we’ve been partners for years.”

He got a faraway look in his eyes that Belinda did not

like at all. This guy was attractive, more so than any of

the other men she knew, and it had only taken her moments

after being blinded by his good looks and obvious

intelligence to notice he wore no wedding ring. Now it

looked as if her hopes, barely-formed though they were,

might be for nothing. He hardly seemed to notice she was

there as he suddenly groped in his pockets.

“Oh! That reminds me. I was supposed to call her.”

He pulled out his cell phone and punched one digit, and

Belinda sighed inwardly as he waited, a look of expectation

on his face. Then he smiled, and she could only assume

Scully had answered. Belinda was no fool; from Mulder’s

expression and the eager tone of his voice, it was clear

there was more than a work relationship between the two


“I’ve got a real X-File, here, Scully! The monster

attacked a pair of fishermen earlier this evening. Thanks

to Belinda, who had taken me down to meet a witness, I was

there when one of the fishermen came running up to get


He seemed to listen for a few minutes.

“Belinda? Oh, she’s the reporter who wrote that article I

showed you. No, she wrote the article for her own paper

originally, then sold it to the Enquirer. She doesn’t

actually work for the Enquirer. Hmmm? No, she’s not that

old — in her 30s, I’d say. What? I don’t know, but it’s a

good question.”

He put his hand over the mouthpiece of the phone and

addressed Belinda. “Say, your husband isn’t going to get

upset about me keeping you out so late, is he? Wouldn’t

want any angry cowboys coming after me with their six-

shooters,” he grinned.

Belinda gave him her best smile in return, the one that

said, ‘No, I’m not easy, but if you want me I’m yours.’

“I’m divorced,” she told him. “And my mom keeps my son

when I’m working, so I’m at your service.”

Mulder spoke into the phone again. “No, she’s not married

and someone’s looking after her kid, so I’m not imposing on

her.” He waited. “You don’t have to do that, Scully, I

can handle this one. You’ve got that family barbecue…

well of course, I’d love to have you, but it’s not… yes,

there’s a victim in the hospital, but he wasn’t hurt that


His smile grew broader and Belinda’s mood more resigned as

the conversation continued.

“Well, if you really want to help me out, you could file a

302 first thing in the morning and come on back down here.

I can always use your help, Scully, you know that. You

will? Great, I was hoping you’d say that. Thanks, Scully,

I owe you! Call me tomorrow and let me know when your

flight gets in. Try to fly into Beaumont. They have a

commercial airport. OK. I’ll see you then. Yeah?” Mulder

smiled. “Me, too, Scully.”

He hung up without saying goodbye, but Belinda had a

feeling any chance she might have thought she had with

Mulder had disappeared with his final words.

Mulder put away his cell phone and looked over at Belinda,

who was sitting with her head leaning on her hand and an

odd look on her face.

“You about ready to go?” he asked. “I need to find a


Belinda perked up.

“…but first I need to drive you back to your office.”

She sighed in disappointment and nodded.


Best Western Inn Orange, TX

9 a.m. May 16

Belinda knocked on Mulder’s hotel room door after taking a

quick look in her compact mirror to make sure her makeup

wasn’t smeared.

“Who is it?” she heard Mulder call.

“It’s Belinda. You ready to go interview some more


The door opened and Mulder stepped out, dressed somewhat

casually in khakis and a black polo shirt.

He noted Belinda looking him over.

“I decided I might relate a little better without the

suit,” Mulder told her. “People along the river don’t

exactly dress up.”

Belinda laughed. “You’re right about that. You’d be hard

pressed to find river rats wearing Armanis.”

They climbed in Mulder’s car and headed north to Deweyville.


O.D. Morgan’s home

Devil’s Pocket

9:37 a.m. May 23

Mulder and Belinda climbed the somewhat rickety stairs to

Morgan’s stilt house. Mulder knocked on the door.

“Whaddya want?” a gruff voice called out.

“FBI,” Mulder replied. “I’d like to talk to you.”

“I ain’t done nothin’! Unless you got a search warrant,

get the hell out of here,” the man yelled back through the

closed door.

“I just want to ask about the Bête Noire,” Mulder told him.

The door opened and an overweight man in a dirty T-shirt,

his belly hanging over his jeans, stood in the doorway.

“Lemme see your ID.”

The agent pulled it out of his hip pocket and showed the

man. “Are you O.D. Morgan?”

The older man nodded and came outside, directing them to

go around the corner and sit on the deck. There were no

chairs, but there were some overturned crates and scattered

empty beer bottles.

Morgan plopped down on one of the crates and nodded for

Belinda and Mulder to do the same.

“Whaddya wanna know about the Bête Noire? I’m

descended from it, y’know?” O.D. reached into a cooler

and pulled out a cold beer and opened it.”

“So I’ve heard,” Mulder replied, successfully fighting to

keep a grin off his face. “How is that?”

“My great-great-granny mated with it. It come into her

bedroom one night and took her right there.”

“I see. What did it look like?”

O.D. took a swig of beer.

“It was a cross between a gorilla and a man. The baby had

a face like a monkey and a hairy body. Weren’t stupid, but

my great-granddad was one mean sonuvabitch.”

“But that doesn’t meet the description of the beast in the

swamp,” Mulder pointed out. “Joe Calderon saw it and said

it looked like a cross between an alligator and a man. It

was living in the water.”

“Ahh, he’s senile — must be almost 90. I wouldn’t put no

store in what he says.”

“It attacked two fishermen last night, and before you say

it was probably an alligator, they said it definitely

wasn’t. They said it was the Bête Noire.”

“Who were the guys?”

“Dickie Johnson and Lonnie Williams,” Belinda told Morgan.

“You’d believe those two lushes? You gotta be kiddin’!”

Mulder turned to Belinda. “I think I’m finished with Mr.

Morgan. Did you have any questions?”

“Yes. O.D., I’ve heard some folks say your great-great-

granny had a black lover. You sure that wasn’t the case?”

Morgan’s face turned red and he jumped to his feet. “The

only thing keepin’ me from sluggin’ you right now is that

you’re a woman. You get out of here and take this Yankee

with you.”

Mulder stood up, purposely brushing his hand along the gun

in the holster on his belt. “Thank you for your time, Mr.


He and Belinda walked back to the car. As soon as they

pulled away, Mulder burst out laughing. “I thought he was

going to have a stroke right on the spot. Where did you get

that information on his great-great-grandmother?”

Belinda chuckled. “It’s a tale that’s made the rounds

about O.D. They say that’s why he hates blacks so much.

Folks say his great-great-grandmother made up that story

when she got pregnant — because her husband was impotent.

Oh, yeah. And the hairiness and monkey face came from HER

side of the family. She was pretty enough, but her brothers

looked like Neanderthals.”

Mulder laughed again and Belinda joined him.

When he finally was able to stop laughing, he said, “Well,

I think I’d like to spend the rest of the day in the

library, doing research.”

“Want some help? I’ve got some comp time coming to me.”

“Sure. We’ll get done twice as fast.”

They drove to Beaumont to use the library there, since it

was bigger than the one in Orange. The two spent the rest

of the day looking through microfilm of old newspapers as

well as articles in magazine archives on CD.

At the end of the day, Mulder drove back to his hotel in

Orange. Belinda dropped several hints about the two of them

going out to eat, but Mulder politely turned her down,

saying he was too tired after poring through the records

all day.

He thought he was going to have to physically put her in

her car when they arrived, but she finally got the idea and




6:27 a.m. May 17

Belinda watched as the small, red-haired woman emerged

from the crowd of people exiting the plane. The woman

looked rumpled and weary, and Belinda was suddenly glad

she’d taken extra care with her own hair and makeup that

morning. Now she stood next to Mulder, breathing in the

heady scent of his aftershave, while the redhead approached

them, her expression bordering upon shrewish.

“Great idea, flying into Beaumont, Mulder,” she said

sarcastically. “If I’d landed in Houston I could have

gotten a flight at a decent time. I could have had a meal.

I could have gotten here in three hours instead of six, and

I could have gotten a nonstop flight, instead of having to

go through Atlanta and Dallas.”

She stopped, as if out of breath, and Belinda stared in

amazement as Mulder responded to this wave of nastiness

with a brilliant smile.

“Glad to see you, too, Scully,” he grinned, ignoring her

outburst. Mulder picked up the bag that had slid off

Scully’s shoulder and swung it effortlessly across his own.

“This is Belinda, the reporter who wrote the story about

the Bête Noire. Belinda, my partner, Dana Scully.”

The two women sized each other up, Scully wearily and

Belinda with a growing sense of futility. She’d managed to

convince herself overnight that she’d been imagining things

during Mulder’s phone call to Scully, but it was becoming

increasingly clear that she was wasting her time. Agent

Scully looked tattered and worn after her all-night

airplane ride, while she herself was fresh and perky, but

Mulder had eyes only for his exhausted partner.

After giving her a brief nod of greeting, Scully turned

back to the tall man at her side. “Bête Noire?” she

questioned, one eyebrow arched delicately.

“That’s what the monster’s called in these here parts,”

Mulder drawled. “It means ‘black beast.'”

Scully ignored his phony Texas accent. “Monster?”

“How about we grab some breakfast, and I’ll fill you in on

our little adventure the other night.”

He quickened his pace, pushing open the door and holding

it for the women before letting it shut behind them, then

starting off for the car he’d parked in a nearby space.

There weren’t too many people at the Beaumont airport at

6:30 in the morning, so finding a close spot had been easy.

Scully hesitated for a moment, closing her eyes and sighing

dramatically before asking Belinda, “Adventure?”

Belinda just shrugged. She’d let Mulder handle this one,


“I’m starving, Mulder,” Scully complained as he opened the

door and waited for her to climb in. “You’d better feed me

before you start regaling me with tales of monsters with

French names.”

Belinda slid into the back seat, privately miffed that

Scully had taken “her” seat next to Mulder, yet unable to

deny that the two of them seemed barely aware of her


“Sure, Scully,” Mulder agreed, backing the car carefully

out of the parking space. “What’s it going to be —

McDonald’s, Wendy’s or Taco Bell? Wait, scratch that. Taco

Bell doesn’t open until lunchtime.”

Scully stared at him with an expression of wounded horror.

“Do you mean to tell me, after six hours of air time and

two layovers, not to mention the fact that I spent the

final leg of the journey next to a man named Max, whose

sole reason for living is his poodle, Puffy, that you can’t

even offer me a decent meal?”

He bit his lip slightly. “Wendy’s serves burgers round

the clock,” he offered. “Quick and cheap. But if you

insist, we can go to a coffee shop. If we can find one


“McDonald’s,” she growled. “At least I can get something

resembling healthy food there. And they’d better have

decent coffee, Mulder.”

Soon they were seated at a table in a local McDonald’s

restaurant, and Belinda watched in careful silence while

Agent Scully underwent a transformation, becoming more

human with every sip of caffeine.

“So,” Scully invited them at last, when nothing was left

of her apple-bran muffin except a few crumbs and she’d

downed her second cup of java. ‘Bête Noire?'”

Mulder nodded. “After you’ve gone to the motel and

freshened up a bit, I’ll take you to meet Old Joe, one of

the locals. He claims he saw the monster himself a couple

of months ago. But the really interesting thing, Scully,

is what happened last night.”

Scully regarded Mulder over the rim of her paper cup.

“What exactly did happen the other night, Mulder?”

Belinda felt a sudden rush of warmth to her face, but

Mulder let the suggestive comment slide.

“The creature attacked a human,” he reported seriously,

stabbing at the crumbs on her napkin and licking them off

his fingers. “Sent him to the hospital.”

“Mulder, that area is swampland,” Scully pointed out

gently. “It seems to me more likely that your monster is

nothing more than a large alligator.”

“You’d think that, wouldn’t you?” he asked, grinning.

She stared up at his teasing eyes for a second. “But what?”

“The people in question have lived around there all their

lives, Scully. I think they’d recognize an alligator if

they saw one.”

“It wasn’t an alligator,” Belinda cut in positively. “It

was the Bête Noire. Everyone from around the Deweyville

area knows about it.” As she spoke, she rested her hand on

Mulder’s forearm, which lay across the table. Then, seeing

the way Scully’s eyes traveled possessively over Mulder,

Belinda quickly pulled her hand away.

“So, tell me all about it,” Scully invited, and Mulder and

Belinda proceeded to fill her in.


Mulder dropped Belinda at her office, then drove Scully to

the motel and checked her into a room on the same floor as

his. He sat on her bed, going over his notes from the

previous evening and trying to puzzle it out in his head

while she showered.

It was odd, he kept thinking, that the creature didn’t

kill Dickie when it’d had the chance. Instead, it had only

injured its prey, leaving him alive and relatively mobile.

Something about that scenario niggled at the back of

Mulder’s mind, but before he could sort it out, his

cell phone chimed.

“Mulder,” he muttered into it, still immersed in the case.

“Hey, Mulder, have we got something for you!” Langly’s

voice captured his attention. The guys never called him on

the road unless it was important.

“What’s up?” he asked, glancing toward the bathroom.

Scully was still in the shower, and he shifted position,

focusing on Langly in order to banish the image of her with

droplets of water beading on her skin.

“Scully told us you were chasing monsters in the Southeast

Texas swamps, so we took the liberty of doing a little

research. Did you know there were reports of an alien

spacecraft crashing there about fifty years ago?” Langly

asked smugly.

Mulder tried to jog his memory, but it was tough when he

heard the water shut off and Scully step out of the shower.

“Uh…refresh me on that?”

Langly snickered. “Three separate reports of a UFO crash

were made on the night of July 18, 1948. Naturally, all

three were explained away by the authorities, but their

‘explanations’ were weak, as usual. Just thought it was

interesting, since you’re hunting for some type of monster

down in those parts.”

“So your theory is this is some kind of an alien that’s

been running around the swamps for fifty years?” Mulder

asked, only half-sarcastically.

“And mating with women to produce offspring, if the

reports are to be believed.”

“C’mon, Langly, even *you* would have an easier time

getting a date, if what I’ve heard of the creature’s

appearance are to be…” Mulder trailed off, his thoughts

beginning to race as he put together pieces.

“Mulder? You there?”

“Yeah,” he responded absently. “Thanks, Langly.” He

disconnected and shuffled through the papers on the bed

until he came up with Belinda’s article, then matched it

with the description Lonnie had given him the night before.

He sat back, his eyes flitting between the two papers, his

brain working at a pace that would have astounded most


He barely noticed when Scully strolled into the room, clad

in her underwear, and began dressing for the day. He

stared at the papers, but his eyes saw a very different

scene, one which had replayed in his mind countless times

over the past couple of years. He remembered the aliens on

the ship, how they had looked through his fear and

determination to get himself and Scully out of there before

they became a wake-up snack to the newly-hatched monsters.

Humanoid shape, tough, hide-like skin, sharp teeth — it

wasn’t exactly as he remembered them, but he had been under

a bit of stress at the time. Also, if the reports were to

be believed, this creature had been roaming the swamps for

fifty years. Why hadn’t it sought out its own, in all that

time? Why stay here? Unless it wasn’t fully evolved, or

perhaps had…

“Mutated,” he muttered to himself.

Scully stopped brushing her hair and glanced toward him.

“What’s mutated?” she asked.

“The alien. Or it could be a different species altogether.”

Now she put down her hairbrush and turned to face him fully.

“Mulder,” she explained patiently, feeling much more human

now that she’d had food and a shower, “nobody has said a

word about aliens. I thought it was a monster we were

looking for.” She kept most of the sarcasm out of her

voice, but left enough so he’d know she was merely humoring

him, that she believed it was definitely an Earthly being

they were seeking, and most likely an alligator.

“Langly called while you were in the shower. He told me

there were reports of a UFO crash nearby about the time the

sightings began.”

She turned back to the mirror and began applying her

makeup. “There were reports of UFO crashes everywhere fifty

years ago,” she commented. “People saw strange lights in

the sky, BAM! They attributed it to a UFO. That doesn’t

mean it has anything to do with this case.”

“I think I want to check into it, all the same,” he

replied, shuffling the papers into a pile and shoving them

back into a file folder.

“We should interview the victim,” she contradicted. “Maybe

he can tell us more this morning about what attacked him.”

“You should do that,” he agreed, slipping his jacket on

quickly. “While you talk to Dickie, I’m going to go

investigate the area in daylight.”

He slipped out the door before she could argue.


After 30 minutes of wrangling with Game Warden Chick

Jackson, Mulder finally talked the man into taking him out

into the swamp. Using a GPS mounted in the warden’s boat,

they soon arrived at the coordinates the Lone Gunmen had

given Mulder.

“Turn on your sonar, Warden, and let’s see if there are

any large structures on the bottom.”

Mulder looked over Jackson’s shoulder as he ran the sonar

and slowly drove the boat around the area.

Suddenly, a large mound showed up on the screen.

“There! Stop here!”

They watched the screen for a moment.

“Damn, I wish I had some SCUBA gear,” Mulder muttered.

“Wouldn’t do you any good. You would barely be able to see

your hand in front of your face because the water is so

murky. Whenever we have teams of divers searching for a

body, they pretty much have to do it by feel. And then they

usually have something to go on, like an overturned boat to

pinpoint the area.”

“Any way we can get some divers out here to take a look?”

“You’d just have to ask for volunteers. After all, it’s

not an emergency situation,” the warden told him.

Mulder considered for a moment. “Throw out your anchor,”

he said at last. “I’m gonna jump in and do a free dive and

see what I can tell. Do you at least have a face mask?”

Warden Jackson’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “You’re

nuts! I wouldn’t get in this water without a full wetsuit.

It’s really not very safe.”

Mulder was already stripping down to his boxers. “I

appreciate the warning. So do you have a face mask or not?”

Jackson sighed and pulled out a diver’s safety vest as

well as a mask, snorkel and a set of fins.

“Thanks,” Mulder said, accepting the gear from the

reluctant man. “Oh, and uh, how about keeping an eye out

for alligators and snakes, huh?”

“On one condition. You tie this rope around your waist so

I can pull you up if you get into trouble,” the warden


Mulder nodded. “Deal. I’ll tug twice if I want you to

pull me up. If you see anything bad, give one good jerk and

let me make sure I’m clear, then haul me in.”

Mulder donned the vest, mask and fins, and tied the rope

around his waist, then swung his legs over the side and

jumped in. The water was only about 20 feet deep so it

didn’t take long to reach the bottom. As the warden had

said, it was all but impossible to see anything through the

murk, but Mulder felt around with his hands and moved along

the bottom, trying to stay down. He grasped at the

vegetation that grew on the bottom, came up with a rock or

two, and hoped he wouldn’t slice his hand open on a rusty

can or broken beer bottle.

Mulder came up for air a couple of times, diving

resolutely back to the bottom, and was almost ready to give

up when he abruptly bumped into something very large and

solid. Feeling it with his hands, he could tell it was

smooth, perhaps metallic, but covered with slime. Wishing

again he had a set of SCUBA tanks, he ascended to the

surface for another breath. Greedily gulping in air, he

looked around for the warden’s boat and saw it, about forty

feet away.

He pulled the snorkel from his mouth and called out to


“I found something! I think it might be some sort of ship!”

The warden shook his head and called back. “You won’t find

any shipwrecks in this water, but I guess it might be an

old sunken boat.”

“Not that kind of ship!” replied Mulder. Putting the

snorkel back in his mouth, he took a deep breath and again

swam down to the bottom.

Mulder had no sooner found the object again and started

exploring its surface, than he felt a sharp jerk on the

rope. He struck the object with his fist. It definitely

seemed to be hard metal, not decaying wood. Something was

happening topside, and he didn’t have time to explore


This time when the rope jerked, he felt himself being

pulled at an angle to the top. He didn’t resist, but

instead turned and swam for the surface.

Mulder had no sooner reached the surface and taken a

breath when something struck him hard from the side. He

turned to see what had happened, confused at the suddenness

of the attack, hoping like hell it wasn’t an alligator.

It was no alligator that ripped its claws down Mulder’s

side. Whatever the thing was, it was large and black and

vaguely humanoid, but with gleaming red eyes. It bared

its teeth, and Mulder cried out, banging his fist in the

attacker’s face as Jackson frantically tried to drag him to

the boat. The monster released him, but soon began

following, keeping back just a pace as the warden hauled

Mulder into the boat. Jackson already had the engine

running in idle so immediately put it in gear.


Once the boat began to move, the monster lunged toward

them, trying to climb aboard. Mulder grabbed a heavy paddle

and slammed it into the Bête Noire’s face. It fell back,

emitting a hissing, screeching sound of anger. Warden

Jackson fired both barrels of his shotgun at the monster

before gunning the boat swiftly away. They hadn’t gone far

when they hit a partially-submerged branch and damaged the


“Oh, shit!” the warden cursed and looked over his

shoulder. The Bête Noire had seen their plight and was

rapidly headed their way. The shotgun didn’t seem to have

caused it any problem.

Jackson quickly began rigging up his trolling motor.

Mulder had kicked off his fins and was helping the warden

hook up the motor to the battery, his eyes never leaving

the monster, when it again tried to climb aboard. The leads

in his hands had not yet been attached to the motor, so

Mulder jammed the two ends into its hide and let it have

the full charge from the marine battery.

The beast roared in pain and fell back into the water.


and Jackson quickly hooked up the spare motor and moved

toward the shore. Their pace was slow, but the monster did

not follow. Instead, it lay floating in the water,


Mulder was sure its head turned and watched them as they

limped away.

As they left the Bête Noire far behind, Mulder sat down

heavily on one of the motorboat’s cushioned seats. The

adrenaline rush was over and his side was suddenly hurting

badly. Glancing down, he saw four rows of bloody claw

marks. The warden glanced at him and threw him a first aid


“Here, grab a wad of gauze and hold it against your side.”

Mulder opened the kit, found a bottle of hydrogen peroxide

and poured it over the wounds on his side, hissing in pain

as the antiseptic burned into the open wounds. The gashes

weren’t deep enough to hit any vital organs, but looked

serious enough to require several stitches. Scully was

going to be pissed, and he wasn’t too happy about it




She stopped in the hospital parking lot, trying to find a

decent signal on her cell phone. The crackling connection

told her Mulder had to be out in the boondocks somewhere,

because she was smack in the middle of town, as Dickie

would have put it, she thought with grim humor.

“Yeah, Mulder, where are you?” She raised her voice,

hoping he could hear her over the sound of the traffic in

the background.

“I’m…Old Joe’s place…,” he answered. “…need you to


“What? Mulder, what happened?” Scully shook the phone

fiercely, as if her anger would make the connection

clearer, then thrust it against her ear once more. “How

badly are you hurt, Mulder?”


The connection died and she slammed her hand in anger

against the hapless phone. Then, hoping her sudden burst

of temper hadn’t damaged it, she dialed information,

obtained Belinda’s number at work, and called the newspaper


“Belinda Gaudet.”

“Ms. Gaudet, this is Agent Scully. I need your help.”

Belinda arrived quickly and Scully jumped into the car.

“He said he was at Old Joe’s place,” she said by way of

greeting. “Does that mean anything to you?”

Belinda nodded and gunned the engine, racing out of town

as fast as her aging Ford would carry them, when Scully had

a sudden thought.

“Wait!” she commanded. “I need to stop off at the motel


“What for?”

“Medical kit,” she replied tersely.

“Is Agent Mulder injured?”

Scully gave Belinda a sidelong look. “From what I could

tell of the conversation, he may be. We had a lousy

connection.” Belinda increased their speed slightly, and

Scully didn’t know whether to be annoyed at this woman’s

obvious preference for Mulder. After all, who could blame


The car screeched to a halt in front of her motel room

door, and Scully was out of the car in a flash. She

grabbed up her medical kit from the table and, taking a

second to wipe the sweat from her face, carelessly tossed

her suit jacket on the bed. No reason to ruin her entire

outfit if Mulder planned on dragging her out into the

swamp, she reasoned, and knowing Mulder, anything was


Feeling instantly lighter, she dashed back to the car and

hopped in. “Let’s go.”

Belinda took off, and within half an hour they were

pulling up to the dirt patch that served as Old Joe’s

driveway. The trailer door opened and a man waved them

inside. Scully wasted no time in making for the door,

Belinda following close behind.

“Mulder!” Scully called as she entered the dimly lit

Airstream. “Where are you?”

“Over here,” he answered calmly from the kitchen table.

Beau sat with his head on Mulder’s knee as the agent

scratched him behind the ears.

She stared at him, sitting there cool as a cucumber while

she feared the worst.

“I thought you were injured.”

He pulled up his shirt to show her the gauze, reddened

from the bleeding which hadn’t quite stopped. “Just a

scratch,” he grinned.

She gaped. “But… when I asked how badly you were hurt,

you said it was bad.”

“I said *not* bad,” he corrected. “Must have been the


“Great,” she muttered, slamming her kit down on the table.

“Well, you’d better let me see it.”

“I’m sorry, Scully,” he said apologetically as he stripped

off his T-shirt. “I didn’t try to get hurt, you know.”

She gave him a look of apology and forgiveness combined,

and her face softened a tiny bit. “What happened?”

He winced as her probing fingers examined his wound. “I

was in the water–”

“The water?”

“Yeah, I found a ship–”

“A ship?”

“–and the Bête Noire sliced me.”

“He gave it a monstrous jolt of electricity, though,”

Warden Jackson cut in, and Scully raised an eyebrow.

“Did you kill it?”

Old Joe laughed. “It’d take more than that to kill the

Bête Noire, Miss,” he told her.

Scully looked dubious and turned her attention to her

partner. “Mulder, this is no scratch. And it’s already

showing signs of infection,” Scully said. “How long has it

been since you were injured?”

“Only a couple of hours.”

“That’s unusually fast for infection to set in.” She

sighed. “I can stitch it up, but it would be better to get

you to a hospital. There’s only so much I can do with this


He opened his mouth to protest, but her face, coupled with

the fact that the pain in his side was growing by the

minute, stopped him and he just nodded agreement.

“Uh…getting to a hospital…that may be a problem,”

Belinda said from the window, her voice noticeably


All eyes turned toward her, while she kept her own glued

to what was slowly making its way toward the cabin.

It was the Bête Noire.

“Holy…” said the warden in astonishment, peering out the

window beside Belinda.

“Joe,” Mulder announced, reaching for his weapon, “we need

to get out of here. That thing’s stronger than the five of

us. Any suggestions?”

“What about calling for help?” Belinda asked, her voice

dripping sarcasm.

“No phone,” Joe replied apologetically. “Didn’t pay the

bill a few months back and the phone company finally shut

me off. I’ve been arguing with them to get the thing

turned back on, but…” He shrugged. “It beats all, I

tell you — a man shells out cash month after month for his

whole life, then he misses one miserable payment and–”

“Scully, where’s your cell phone?” Mulder interrupted.

She reached for it automatically, her face whitening as

she realized she no longer had it in her possession. “Back

at the motel,” she ground out, clearly furious with herself

for this lack of foresight, “in the pocket of my jacket.

Where’s yours?”

“Battery ran down while I was talking to you. Completely

dead, now.” Mulder gave her a pathetic look, and Scully

shook her head in frustration.

“OK, so we have no phone, but some of us are armed and

it’s five against one. How tough can this thing be to


Four pairs of eyes turned to her, clearly implying they

thought she’d taken leave of her senses.

“Fine,” Scully snapped, in answer to their silent

accusations. “But I’m not ready to give up. Has anybody

tried simply shooting this thing?”

“Oh yeah, it’s been shot at before,” Joe replied and

nodded sagely. “Bullets don’t seem to hurt it none.”

At Scully’s skeptical look, Jackson put in, “It’s true,

Agent Scully. I don’t know if its hide is too tough or

what, but I fired at it from the boat, and it only made the

thing pause a minute.”

“Are you sure you hit it?”

“Oh yes, ma’am, I hit it, all right.”

“Well then, we’ll have to think of something else.”

“Electricity,” Mulder said suddenly. “Warden Jackson and

I managed to stun it with electricity. We might not kill

it, but maybe we can put it out of commission long enough

to get away.”

“Well, you’d better think of something fast,” Belinda told

them nervously. “It’s coming closer.”

Mulder thought for a moment. “Joe, have you got some

extension cords?”

“Yeah, sure,” the old man replied and opened up a cabinet

under the sink. He pulled out two heavy-duty extension


“I use them to rig up light outside sometimes for when I

come in late from fishing. What do you want with them?”

“Let’s plug them in and wire them to the metal exterior

walls of the trailer. Hopefully, that will keep the Bête

Noire at bay until we can figure out how to get rid of it,”

Mulder replied.

He stood up gingerly and walked into Joe’s kitchenette.

“Got a sharp knife?”

Warden Jackson pulled his own buck knife from his belt and

Joe handed Mulder a butcher knife.

“Warden, cut off the female end of one of the cords and

strip off the rubber insulation.”

Jackson nodded. “I see where you’re going with this.

Belinda, what’s the monster doing?”

“It’s looking around, like it’s sniffing in the air,”

answered the reporter. “Uh, oh, it’s headed for our cars.”

They all heard a loud crash from outside. The warden and

Mulder worked frantically on stripping the extension cords,

while Joe and Scully peered out the small windows.

Scully watched as the Bête Noire bashed in the top of

Belinda’s Ford, then actually picked up the vehicle and

threw it on top of Joe’s pickup. Both vehicles exploded in

flames as the gas tank of the Ford was ruptured and the

gasoline ignited.

“I thought that only happened in the movies,” Scully


As they watched, the flames spread through the dry grass

and began licking at the tires of Mulder’s rental. The

monster seemed surprised and fascinated by the rising

flames. It stepped back a few paces and just stood watching

the vehicles burn.

In the meantime, both the warden and Mulder had finished

exposing the wires. Mulder opened the door a crack and

peered out. His jaw dropped as he saw all three vehicles

burning and the monster staring in rapt fascination.

“Holy shit!” he muttered as he held the cords’ stripped

ends between the door and the door face. He shut the door

and locked it for good measure to help keep the wires in

place. The warden plugged both cords into the trailer’s

floor sockets.

“Nobody touch the door or windows,” Mulder warned. “That’s

a lot of juice going into the metal parts of the trailer

right now.” The interior walls had wood paneling that Joe

had installed himself, so they should be safe as long as

nobody did anything stupid.

That job completed, Mulder leaned heavily against Joe’s

kitchen table. The adrenaline rush was dying down and his

side was bleeding freely again and burned painfully.


Now that they were relatively safe from the creature

outside, Scully could concentrate on her partner. She took

a long look at him, and what she saw alarmed her. His face

was ashen and he was sweating, his breathing was slightly

labored, and the tightness around his mouth told her of the

discomfort he tried to conceal.

“Sit down, Mulder,” she ordered, pointing at a nearby sofa

covered with a ragged, hand-crocheted afghan. The fact that

he obeyed without argument did nothing to reassure her; it

was obvious the pain from his wound had grown much worse.

Mulder’s hand was clamped over the makeshift bandage, and

he was bleeding badly from the deep gashes which had been

aggravated during his earlier exertion.

Scully dug into her medical bag, ignoring the way his eyes

flicked over the suture kit she pulled out, then fixed

themselves on the wall ahead. She’d only stitched him up

once before while they were in the field, when he’d come

too close to an assailant’s bullet and they’d been unable

to reach a hospital quickly, but this injury was much

worse. She had a small amount of the mild anesthetic she’d

use to deaden the area, but not enough. No matter what she

did, Mulder was going to feel this.

“I’m sorry, Mulder,” she apologized, looking up at him

from her position on the floor, and he answered her with a

fleeting smile.

“Don’t worry about it, Scully. Just don’t make me watch,

and tell me when you’re done.”

She nodded, grabbing a small bottle of betadine and some

gauze and beginning to clean the area thoroughly. The

scratches were red and swollen, and Mulder winced when she

pressed on them. She wrinkled her brow in thought — the

wounds were showing advanced signs of infection, and it had

come up very quickly. Without a lab, there was no way she

could determine what had caused the rapid infection, but it

was clear Mulder couldn’t wait much longer before receiving


As she prepared to begin stitching him up, Scully thought

conversation might be the best distraction. She’d given

him the local and waited for it to take effect, but there

was no way that small amount of medicine would deaden the

entire area. Starting in a spot she thought would probably

be the least painful, she began.

“So tell me about this ship you say you found,” she said


“I dove into the water at the coordinates Langly had given

me. It was there, Scully, I swear. I couldn’t see because

the water was too–” he gasped, clutching the back of the

sofa tightly as she reached a particularly sensitive area,

then continued. “–too murky, but I could feel. Round,

metal, strange markings etched into the surface…”

“Sounds like it could be anything,” she observed.

“Yeah, it could have been anything, but it *was* a ship,”

he replied flatly.

Belinda joined them, sitting carefully on the sofa beside

Mulder, and held out a strong hand.

“Need something to squeeze?” she offered, and he accepted

gratefully, grabbing at her fingers and clenching them

tightly between his own.

Scully finished with the first gouge and began on the

second, hoping the local would keep working for a little

while longer.

“What are we going to do about this thing out there?”

Belinda asked them both, her eyes darting from one agent to

the other quickly. “We can keep it out of here, but for

how long? And how long can we stay inside this trailer?

We’re not exactly fixed for a siege here.”

“I’ve been…thinking about that,” Mulder gasped. “Damn

it, Scully, hurry up!”

“Then hold still!” she snapped, putting a hand on his

abdomen to stop his involuntary writhing. “I can’t stitch

a moving target.”

“Sorry,” he whispered, leaning his head against the back

of the sofa and breathing slowly and deeply. “Didn’t I see

some kind of lot filled with old junk cars nearby?” he


Joe, who had been watching the proceedings with

interest, answered. “You sure did. Right out behind

my trailer, as a matter of fact. It’s an old wrecking yard,

although they don’t get much business these days. But how

does that help us, Agent Mulder?”

“What if we managed to rig up one of the vehicles like we

have this trailer, then lured the creature inside?”

“Lured him how?” Belinda asked, interested.

“We’d have to have some bait,” Mulder said after a few

seconds during which Scully finished his second laceration

and started on the third, the deepest of the four.

“What kind of bait?” Scully asked suspiciously, waiting

while he caught his breath before proceeding.

“The one that got away,” he replied stoically. “Me.”

“The one that got away?” The tone of her voice told him

just what she thought of his idea, so Mulder explained


“It could have killed me, Scully, but it didn’t. It could

have killed Dickie, but it didn’t.”

“So, it’s not very smart,” she argued. “That’s no reason

to give it another chance.”

Mulder shook his head. “I don’t think it’s that. I think

this creature likes to hunt. It wounded me, that’s all. If

Warden Jackson hadn’t been there to pull me on board his

boat, it could have toyed with me indefinitely before it

finished me off. I think it was enjoying the thrill of the

chase. All I have to do is let it chase me into a trap.”

“How do you keep from getting electrocuted yourself?”

asked Belinda.

“Tires,” put in the warden, who had finally taken his eyes

off the creature. “Lots of them in a wrecking yard. We

could make a pile of them so Agent Mulder would have a safe

place. The electricity won’t conduct through them. But I

think I should be the bait,” he continued. “You’re in no

condition to escape from the monster, in case our plan


“If it backfires, whoever’s out there is dead meat

anyway,” Mulder argued. “I’m the one it’s hunting right

now. It’s drawn my blood. I think it wants to finish the


Scully looked away, tying off her final sutures, and

compressed her lips together in order to avoid further

protests. Mulder would never listen to her anyway. It was

in his nature to sacrifice himself for the good of others.

There was no stopping him.


The fire had burned the grass within its reach and been

stopped by the wide expanse of dirt around the Airstream.

Now, it was beginning to die out, and the Bête Noire had

taken a renewed interest in the occupants of the trailer.

Belinda had taken up residence beside the window again,

keeping a careful eye on its movements, and suddenly she

screamed and backed away. The monster was charging the

trailer, and as they watched, it thrust its arm through the

window, scattering smashed glass around the room. It

grabbed for Belinda, but before its claws found purchase,

its body came into contact with the metal exterior.

The scream the creature emitted was deafening, and it

backed away furiously. They watched to see if it would

fall to the ground, but instead it glared at them, then

began circling the trailer purposefully.

“It’s looking for another way in,” Joe said grimly.

“You OK?” the warden asked Belinda, and she nodded shakily.

“I’m fine, I…” She stopped suddenly as they were plunged

into darkness.

“Bad news,” Mulder commented weakly, but before he’d

completed the short sentence, the lights had come up again,

dimmer this time, but still working.

“Generator,” Joe told them proudly. “We have flaky power

out in these parts.”

“Is the generator outside?” Scully asked quickly, but Joe

shook his head.

“Nope. It can’t get at it, don’t you worry.”

“How long will it last?”

Joe’s face fell. “Only a couple of hours,” he answered

Mulder’s question.

“Then maybe we should consider putting my plan into action.”

“Mulder, you’re too weak!” Scully protested. “You can

hardly stand on your own, let alone outrun that creature to

lure it into a vehicle.”

“Where are you going to find a vehicle large enough,

anyway?” Belinda put in. “It’d have to be–”

“A bus,” Joe interrupted. “There’s an old school bus in

that junkyard, ought to do nicely.”

“And even so,” Belinda continued, “where are you going to

get the electricity? I doubt Joe has that many extension

cords. And what happens if you only manage to stun it? Our

cars are destroyed, and the only way to safety from there

is a two mile hike through snake-infested woods. Besides,

Agent Mulder, we’d have to practically carry you.”

Mulder gave Scully an exasperated glance. “Dr. Scully,

I’m just wondering something.”

“Yeah, Mulder?”

“Is pessimistic second-guessing of a man’s plans a gender-

related trait?”

Scully rolled her eyes, then her worried frown slipped

back into place.

“OK, does the bus move at all? Maybe we can get it closer

to O.D.’s power lines — he’s got to at least have a

generator, doesn’t he?”

Joe grinned at Mulder. “She reminds me of my Ruby. That

red hair keeps their brains cooking. I’ve got my last two

tractors stored in a shed out there. The green John Deere

still runs fine, and that’s where we get the juice. That

dump is where everybody brings their cars when they die; we

just might find a few diehards still with a little zap, so

this is looking promising.”

“But how are we going to get out there without the Bête

Noire attacking?” Belinda asked.

“I’ll try to distract it while you and Scully fill some

coolers with water and see what we can rig up here. We need

some kind of switch we can pull once it gets on the bus. If

we soak the floor with the water, it’ll make an excellent

conductor. Maybe the monster won’t have a chance to get to

close to me before you three trigger the juice.”

Scully’s frown darkened. “So you’re determined to be the

bait? Mulder, you’re weak, if something happens, if it

doesn’t take him down quickly enough…or at all, you

aren’t moving fast enough to get away.”

“Scully, if we’ve got the current flowing through the

wreck that I hope we’ll get, I don’t think I’ll want to

move anywhere but the tires we can rig for me to be safe.

And anyway, I’m the one he’ll be coming for. At least at

first. He knows my scent. He marked me.”

“We’ve got to get it away from here long enough to get to

the junkyard and rig up our trap,” Mulder said.

“Why don’t I toss out everything in my freezer — keep him

busy eating for a while?” asked Joe.

“Good idea,” noted Warden Jackson. “But how are you going

to get it far enough away from the door?”

“Somebody will have to get out there and throw it away

from the trailer,” Mulder replied, rising slowly from the


“You’re not moving fast enough, Mulder, forget it,” Scully

insisted. “I’ll go.”

“No. I was an all-state quarterback in high school,”

Jackson told them. “And I still run a pretty quick mile.

Joe, give me the food, and I’ll sneak out the back door and

run around front and let him see me throw the food out.

What have you got?”

Joe sighed. “I have a real nice pot roast I was gonna cook

up for Sunday dinner, a five-pound pack of hamburger and a

lot of fish.”

“Lonnie said he thought the thing chose the fish in their

boat instead of coming after him — at least right away,”

Mulder noted.

“Well, he can have it all,” Joe said. “I do believe I’d

rather let that thing have my dinner than have me for


“I heard that!” agreed Jackson.

“But if we get out of this alive, you feds are gonna owe

me for a freezer full of meat,” Joe added with a grin.

“It’s a deal,” Mulder replied. “I’ll personally stock it

with prime rib and T-Bone steaks.”

Joe loaded up a cooler with every piece of meat and fish

he could find in the freezer.

“Hope it don’t mind they ain’t thawed.”

“No time for that,” said the warden. “Give it to me.”

Cooler in hand, the warden nodded to Mulder and Scully who

unplugged the electricity long enough to allow the warden

to get out the door.

They watched out the window as the warden ran around the

side of the trailer and yelled, “Hey you nasty son-of-a-

bitch! You hungry?” He tossed a frozen fish at the feet of

the Bête Noire.

The monster eyed the warden, then decided to take the food

which was closest. It snatched up the fish and crunched it

up quickly. Joe threw the next fish several feet past the

monster and it watched and followed the food.

Mulder, Scully and Joe slipped out the back, leaving

instructions for Belinda to plug in the electricity, then

unplug it when the warden came back.

Their walk to the junkyard was not swift by any means.

Scully helped Mulder along, but was grateful for the feel

of his strong arm holding her much more firmly than his

injuries or weakness should allow.

So they began. Joe and Scully found five serviceable

batteries, made Mulder a tire and bus seat bed and got the

magnetos set up. Scully and Mulder got the water, rigged

three switches and the able-bodied conspirators started

lugging the pieces of their trap to the site. Scully was

glad to see Mulder catching some sleep while they worked.

He felt a bit feverish to the touch when she came in to

wake him near dusk. She forced some Tylenol down him.

Night was falling as they loaded Mulder on the bus, then

dumped the barrels of water. “Do you think the beast will

catch your scent even in there?”

“Scully, it craves the odor of fear. I think right now, it

could pick up that particular bouquet from me if it was

down in Galveston.” His partner caught the glazed look of

terror in the man’s fever bright eyes and forced a

consoling smile, a game attempt to disguise her own fear.

“Hey, you be careful in there, OK? I plan on putting in

for a vacation for us when we get home. This time it’s my


“I’ll follow you anywhere you wanna go, Scully. Maybe with

you making the plans we won’t be eating hospital food for

half our stay.” He tried to grin but the gesture didn’t

quite make it to the corners of his mouth, which had become

frozen in a tight-lipped slash of pain. She reached a hand

to squeeze his arm, then suddenly pressed her lips against

the smooth, too warm skin of his forehead.

“Checking for fever?” he asked, in a weary, slightly

bitter tone. His grimace died instantly, morphing into an

almost boyish grin of sheepish surprise, when his partner

cupped his face and softly, lovingly kissed him. The oral

caress lasted but a heartbeat before she pulled away. Her

eyes were bright and somewhat damp.

“You need to get to your place, hurry!” he whispered. Her

reply was a quick nod, and she scurried out into the muggy

evening, the light fading quickly behind the dense, lush

forest. She jumped when a loud, almost human howl of pain

was carried on the warm, heavy breeze from the direction of

Old Joe’s house. Joe heard the agent in the bus stumbling

to his feet at the sound, seeing his wide eyes stare

through the dusty, mud splattered windows.

“He must have touched the trailer again,” Scully

whispered. “I hope the warden made it back in.”

The sun was just beginning to hit the horizon when Scully

heard the low, deep-throated growl of an animal,

approaching from behind her. Burying her face in a sparse,

soft patch of grass by her head, she tried to muffle the

harsh, frightened gasps of her breathing. Neither she nor

Joe could risk distracting the Bête Noire from its prey or

their plan would fail. Nor could they chance that the

monster would not have the wits to suspect a trap had been

laid, should he realize that his intended victim was not

alone. Hearing the shuffling steps move past her in a

hunched, hurried sprint, Scully cautiously raised her

head. The sight that greeted her was a horrific beast.

The creature’s thick, green-black hide glistened in the

faint illumination. It looked as though a gel or resiny

secretion covered its rough skin. The sight she caught of

the Bête Noire’s face as he paused, not more than a stone’s

throw from her place, to sniff the hot, sultry night air,

made her turn away. There was something familiar about the

monster’s appearance. She had seen one of these somewhere

before, but couldn’t place the memory.

The powerfully-built creature let out a guttural hissing

sigh, seeming to finally catch the odor he’d been searching

for –distinctly enough to pinpoint its exact location. The

teeth that filled the lipless grin were at least two inches

in length and so sharply pointed she wondered how they

didn’t rend the flesh that was stretched so tightly against

them. It moved deliberately, if not quickly, toward

Mulder’s bus.

Mulder found himself dozing, and the fear that he was

losing his fight against his ever increasing weakness

brought a sudden surge of adrenaline which allowed him to

push himself up to sit. His insulated tire perch raised him

enough that if he craned his neck he had a dark, dirty but

almost 180-degree view of the area outside the bus. He saw

the smooth, fluid movements of a dark blur rush toward him

across the field and felt a burning, watery wave of terror.

The walking nightmare had returned. Clawed feet scraped

against the wet metal floor. The agent had noticed in the

dim, rapidly fading light that his friends had somehow

scraped off what little rubber had remained of the bus’

center aisle so nothing but cool metal lay beneath the thin

layer of water.

Harsh pants of excitement echoed through the hollowed-out

wreck, growing louder and more filled with a damp, lustful

hunger, as the shadowy, fetid-smelling form drew closer.

The agent closed his eyes, forcing himself to remain still,

struggling against the instinct to bolt in the direction of

the rear exit door; praying that everything his friends had

set up worked as planned.

His eyes popped open in stunned awe as he heard the animal

sounds stop to be replaced by what could only be described

as a triumphant chuckle. The sound came deep from within

the beast’s throat, and Mulder no longer thought of

fleeing. He was frozen to the spot, his mind numbed along

with the deadly paralysis of insane fear that grew greater

each passing second as the fierce creature like those he

and Scully had barely escaped in Antarctica, drew close.

He could feel its breath against his skin, smell its

stench, and the light scratch of a needlepoint claw traced

a line across his neck, and once more, the agent closed

his eyes. This was the ending of a nightmare that had

plagued his slumber all too often. This was what would

have come had he not always awakened to his own hoarse


It happened so quickly Mulder wasn’t certain which had

come first — the acrid smell of ozone scented electricity,

the low buzz of flowing current interspersed by quick snaps

and pops as magnetos arced, or the ghostly touch of the

creature’s fingers against his neck. His lids slid open at

the sudden burst of heat, and at seeing the bright flash of

flame through a blood-filtered curtain. Bête Noire had

burst into flames, the cremation fueled by something within

the creature’s unique body chemistry.

Mulder fell back, almost toppling from his vulcanized cot,

but hastily grabbed hold of the battered, vinyl-covered

seat before he hit the deadly fluid conductor. The moving

fireball thrashed madly about and Mulder flinched as

singeing ash was thrown off by this wild dance of death,

peppering him with a searing rain that instantly formed

blisters every exposed place it landed.

“Mulder!” Scully’s voice called out a few minutes later,

and he lifted his head from the huddled ball into which he’d

curled for protection. The organic torch had fallen at

last, and it cast harsh, bright light against the walls of

the bus. He saw both his partner and old Joe standing at

the now-opened emergency exit. “Come on, it’s safe.”

Unfurling his long limbs, Mulder lurched to the doorway,

almost toppling through when he swayed from his fevered

weakness and the bone-deep weariness that was beginning to

take hold now that the crisis was over. Scully didn’t reach

his chin and Joe was several inches shorter, but both

helped him to the ground, their grasps feeling strong and

protective. Allowing himself to be supported by them, an

arm thrown across each pair of shoulders for balance, the

survivors made their way back toward the metal Airstream


Belinda and the warden had seen them coming, so they

opened the door to let them know it wasn’t still


Jackson helped Joe and Scully get Mulder settled on the


“Is it dead?” asked Belinda.

Mulder nodded, and Joe replied, “We fried that sucker

good! Burned him up and there was nothing left but green


The warden sighed in relief and said, “Thank God! Looks

like you need a hospital. I’ll take Joe’s boat over to my

office and call an ambulance. Joe, I’m sorry I didn’t

believe you guys.”

“That’s OK, Chick. It was pretty unbelievable, I know.

Just goes to show there’s a lot about these swamps man

hasn’t learned yet.”

“The Bête Noire may be a longstanding legend,” Mulder told

them, “but that thing was not native to this area.”

“How do you reckon it got here?” asked the warden.

“Somebody brought in another species from South America or

somethin’? But I gotta say, I have never heard of anything

quite like this.”

“Let’s just say it seemed unearthly and leave it at that,”

Scully said, and gave Mulder a meaningful glance.

The warden shrugged and left. After a few minutes, they


Joe’s boat engine start up.

An hour or so later, an ambulance had pulled up at Joe’s

trailer. Mulder was lying on the couch quietly, the pain

and fever dissuading him from any more talking.

The paramedics took a look at the wounds and one of them

whistled at the sight of the infection present.

“Nice stitching job, but you should have got treatment

several days ago when this happened.”

“He was wounded this morning,” Scully told them. “The

infection set in that quickly. And a wild creature had us

trapped here and we couldn’t get away until we killed it.”

The paramedic looked up in surprise. “Sounds like quite a

story.” His partner finished putting a clean bandage on

Mulder’s wounds, then they loaded him on the stretcher for


“I’m coming with you,” Scully insisted. “I’m his doctor.”

The paramedics exchanged a glance and the one who had

spoken earlier, shrugged and replied, “OK, as long as you

know we gotta take our orders from the emergency room doc

at the hospital.”

Scully nodded agreement and accompanied them out to the


Belinda followed them out as well, then reached down and

squeezed Mulder’s hand.

“Sorry you got hurt, Mulder. I’ll come check on you at the

hospital later and then maybe when you get out we can have


Mulder sighed and answered, after first looking at Scully,

“Thanks, Belinda. I appreciate the offer, but that won’t

be necessary. Scully will take good care of me.”

Belinda nodded in disappointment and waved at Mulder as

they loaded him in the ambulance.

As the ambulance drove away, the warden, who had driven

his Jeep and led the ambulance to the trailer, walked up to


“You know, I’d love to grab some dinner in town,” he told

her. “Gets kinda lonely out here sometimes.”

Belinda brightened up and seemed to notice the well-built

warden for the first time. She also noted he wasn’t wearing

a wedding ring.

“Why, Chick, that sounds wonderful! And I’ll interview you

all about our adventure.”

Old Joe smiled as Jackson and Belinda walked to the

warden’s Jeep.



Two days later

Baptist Hospital-Orange

Scully stuck her head in Mulder’s hospital room to see him

channel-surfing. He was still receiving antibiotics

intravenously, but he was doing well and set to be

discharged tomorrow evening.

“What’s the matter, can’t find a ball game?”

Mulder turned to see his partner standing in the doorway.

“No,” he sighed. “Just can’t find a decent game in the

middle of a weekday. What’s up?”

“Just checking in on you, making sure you’re behaving.”

“Did you bring me anything to eat? Hospital food leaves a

lot to be desired.”

“As a matter of fact, I did,” Scully replied, holding up

two Styrofoam containers. “Belinda said you loved the gumbo

and boudin balls from Cody’s, so I picked up an order of


“Ahh, Scully, marry me!”

Scully chuckled. “You can’t afford me. Besides, you know

very well that for you, the pursuit is 90 percent of the


Mulder patted the side of his bed and invited her to sit.

Scully set the food down on the bedside table and sat down

beside him.

“You’re saying the monster and I had something in common?

You wound me, Scully.”

Scully seized on the opportunity to change the subject. “I

made Belinda promise not to write this story up in the


“Why did you do that?”

“Do you really want people swarming down here to these

swamps, looking for monsters?”

“I imagine the area would like the tourism money.”

“Yes, but the swamps aren’t safe. How many people would

get hurt looking for such a monster? And are we sure that

is the only one?”

“Good point. You know that was an alien, don’t you? That

thing is not native to these swamps. I saw them before —

hatching out of humans in the pods on that ship in

Antarctica, and I saw one with Gibson in the nuclear power


Scully looked dubious.

“Oh, c’mon Scully, surely you remember something?”

She shook her head.

“I think it was on that ship that crashed here years ago.

Something happened to keep it from maturing into the gray

aliens. I guess we’ll never completely understand why.”

Scully picked up the Styrofoam cup, opened the gumbo and

handed it to Mulder, hoping his hunger would take his mind

off aliens.

“Mmmmm,” he said around a spoonful of chicken and sausage

gumbo. “Scully, you should try some of this.” He offered

her a bite and she bent down and sipped some from the spoon

he held. Some of it started to drip down her chin, but

Mulder wiped it away, then caressed her cheek. He set the

cup down with one hand, and with the other, drew her into a

deep kiss.


Journal of Belinda Gaudet

I know this record will never be published, but it was

written for other than my own eyes. A copy of these pages

will find a home in a neatly labeled, filing cabinet drawer

which is located in what I’ve been told is a too small,

somewhat cluttered, basement office of the Hoover Building,

home of the world renowned FBI. I’m rather proud of

myself. My literary genius has been featured in Texas

Monthly, Reader’s Digest, The Orange Leader, both the

National Enquirer and the Midnight Globe, and now my

work is officially part of The X-Files. Mother would be so


I do feel I should add a note here, Agents. I’m hoping

your little R & R was refreshing because there might just

have to be a bit of follow-up on this case. At least I

don’t believe WE should deem this file officially closed.

The French are the ones who started up the more commonly

told legends, and, of course, we know now that gruesome,

vicious, ogre-like monster from these fairy tales wasn’t

our monster. Did Bête Noire really venture out to raid the

villages and snatch up the naughty children who ventured

out after dark for mischief? Why else would a kid go out

after sunset back then except to find mischief? There

wasn’t much else out there. I know this area didn’t get a

drive-in until the mid-1960s, and the first arcade didn’t

come until the disco era. Mischief was all I ever found

after dark while I was growing up around here. I could show

you a few of the spots to find it, Mulder — that is, if

the lady ever gets bored with this humdrum lifestyle you

two share, and leaves.

Still, as I said, this child-snatching ghoulie really

doesn’t seem to share the behavioral patterns that we saw

and more modern tales attribute to the black beast. Perhaps

it did feed on an unattended child or two that wandered

down and got lost in whichever bayou he’d claimed as his

lair at the time, but the lust for the hunt must have been

more muted then, for a lost baby would hardly be the prey

that would satisfy this mismatched animal/human-like


I’m now convinced that what we dealt with was not of this

world. I’ve done my research and found the records of the

meteorite that crashed in the swamp. Did it carry some sort

of eggs that later hatched? I guess we’ll never know.


Deep in the cypress swamps along the Texas-Louisiana border

A green-black head broke the surface of the water, red

eyes looking around for a meal. The other had been the

better hunter, but the other never returned from its foray

into the soft ones’ territory. Instinct told the creature

not to make the same mistake — but to stay far away and


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