God’s Country

Cover

Title: God’s Country

Author: Joylynn Wing

E-mail: aljoyw@a-znet.com

Completed: December 2000

Category: MT, M/S Angst, MSR, X-File

Rating: R for language and violence

Spoilers: Slight references for Rain King

Summary: Mulder and Scully return to the woods once more in

order to investigate the disappearance of a family of three

in Maine.

Archive: IMTP for the first two weeks, then Xemplary,

Gossamer, and EMXC. Any others just give me an e-mail so

that I may visit.

Disclaimer: Mulder and Scully belong to Chris Carter, Ten

Thirteen Productions, and Twentieth Century Fox Television.

They are used here without permission. No copyright

infringement intended. Peter McCallister, Abner Milford,

and other unrecognizable characters belong to me.

Author’s Notes: This was written for I Made This!

Productions as one of their episodes for Virtual Season 8.

IMTP can be found at http://www.i-made-this.com/.

Locations are real, although I have elaborated upon them

somewhat for fictional purposes. No disrespect is

intended.

Thanks: to the IMTP production staff, for allowing me to be

a part of such a wonderful project. To Pita and Trace, my

selfless and untiring betas: any glimmers of brilliance are

due to their combined talents, any mistakes are entirely

mine. To Cindy…I couldn’t have done this without you.

Feedback: Are you kidding? Hit me baby…

~Set me alight

We’ll punch a hole right through the night

Everyday the dreamers die

To see what’s on the other side~

“In God’s Country” by U2

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Midnight

May 12, 2001

Walker’s Summit

Ragged Mountain

Maine

It was the dead of night. A violent gust of wind slipped

through the snow-covered branches of the pine trees, the

ancient twisted limbs dancing in a macabre design. Just

below, the slight form of a young boy walked alone, his

eyes darting about to and fro.

Adam Saunders wasn’t afraid of the dark.

Well — not much anyway.

He was much too old for that. To be precise, he was

more afraid of the beasties and creepy crawlies, which

could skitter about him in the shifting shadows, sight

unseen.

If given a choice, Adam would have remained in the nice,

warm and snug cocoon of his sleeping bag. Tucked safely

away in the musty-smelling folds of his tent. Instead, Adam

found himself traipsing about in the bitterly cold night —

his aching bladder screaming for release. His only

companion, a flashlight to ward off any ensuing enemies,

real or imagined.

He had never been camping during the spring. His adventures

had been limited to the summer and late fall. The wildlife

that would be out during that time would be totally

different from anything that he had ever experienced. Not

only that, but he had never camped in the mountains, let

alone on *the* mountain.

Ragged Mountain…

He had heard stories about it.

Stories told by old-timers as old as the hills themselves.

Stories so scary they could make your skin crawl. He had

been raised on them. Told that if he wasn’t good, the

Oooglie Booglie would come and get him in the night. The only

thing that they would ever find of him was his blood

splashed angrily and thickly across the summit of Ragged

Mountain.

Of course his father had chuffed at all of the stories; had

even gone as far as to call them hogwash. As a tracker and

as a trapper, his father claimed that he knew everything

that walked in those woods. But Adam wasn’t as quick to

discount them as his father was. The heart and imagination

of a child, the fertile fields of creativity.

With each step he took, a nursery rhyme that he had been

taught as a young boy haunted his thoughts…

-You’d better be good if you go out to play,

or the Oooglie Booglie will steal you away-

Suddenly, the loud sound of a branch cracking caught his

attention and he found himself standing as still as death.

As he struggled valiantly to quiet his noisy breaths, he

began to hear the faint sounds of branches rustling under

the still heavy cover of snow, even though there wasn’t any

wind at that moment. Turning his head, he looked about, but

his eyes were useless. The flashlight just wasn’t enough to

penetrate the dense darkness.

Suddenly, from just behind him, he heard the low growl of

something that he definitely didn’t recognize. Something

big; Some *thing* that smelled like a backed up sewer on a

very hot day.

Adam Saunders then did the only thing that he could think

of at that moment.

He promptly began to run as if the devil himself was

chasing him, retracing the very same steps that he had

taken just moments before, his need to urinate long

forgotten.

Adrenaline surged through his veins; his heart pounded

fiercely within the tight confines of his young body.

He continued to run faster and faster, until his legs felt

as if they would fly off and his aching lungs burned like

hot coals.

As he neared the perimeter of the camp, he swore that he

could hear the footfalls of something following him,

something that seemed to have an enormous stride judging

from the time between sounds.

Reaching his tent, he pulled back the flap and with a leap

worthy of any Olympian, he thrust himself inside, landing

square on top of his brother Mark.

“Jesus!” was all that Adam could hear, as the figure

tucked neatly into the bag struggled to get out from under

him.

Adam then launched himself into the back of the tent and

quickly dove under his sleeping bag, his arms and legs

trembling violently. “Mark!” he yelled, his mouth suddenly

dry. “There is something out there, it chased me!” he

screamed again, ignoring the intense throbbing in his

throat. He didn’t care if he lost his voice. He didn’t care

if he could never speak again because whatever *it* was, was

still out there. He couldn’t hear *it* anymore per se but

the night sounds that he had heard earlier had now ceased.

He knew that wasn’t good.

Adam closed his eyes and began to pray silently as he

snuggled further under his bag. “What the hell are you

talking about?” he could hear Mark mumble softly, his voice

full of impatience. “You just had a bad dream, that’s all.

Get back into your sleeping bag and go back to sleep before

Dad hears you.”

Adam let out a deep breath and watched the bag move

about, the heavy coating on the outside crinkling as

his brother presumably attempted to make himself

comfortable once more. He knew there was no way in hell

that *he* was going back to sleep and he was going to make

sure that Mark didn’t either.

He had always known that his brother was a jerk. Mark had

never in his life gone out of his way to be supportive of

him. In fact, he had been at times down right mean to him

and Adam had never called him on it. He had allowed Mark to

treat him like a piece of crap and had never stopped him.

However, this was one time that Adam wasn’t going to back

down. Not while ‘it’ was still out there.

Grabbing the corner of his bag, he tossed it to the side.

“I didn’t have a dream,” he yelled, as he grabbed Mark and

began to shake him like a rag doll. He was going to make

Mark listen, if he had to scramble his brains to do it. “I

really had to go pee so I went out. I tried to go where Dad

told us to go but…but…I heard something. Something

really big and it followed me back here.”

“You’re such a baby,” Mark teased, as he pushed the young

boy away. “I told Dad not to bring you up here. I told him

and he wouldn’t listen. Now when he hears about this he

will never…”

Adam’s eyes grew wide as he heard Mark’s voice abruptly

stop. From outside the tent, he could just make out the

sounds of footfalls and of cracking snow pack. He

swallowed heavily as he watched Mark move closer to the

closed flaps and with a quivering hand, pull them back just

a few inches.

“Hey you!” Mark called out as he looked about outside.

“Whoever you are…you had better get the hell out of here

if you know what’s good for you, before my Dad gets a hold

of you…”

“Adam? Mark?”

Both boys took a deep breath of relief as Robert, their

father, called out to them.

“What is going on out there? You’re supposed to be

sleeping. Don’t make me come out there and…” Their

father’s words became as silent as the night that enveloped

the boys in its arms. In their place, the sounds of a

desperate struggle, accompanied by heavy breathing and the

ripping of cloth.

Suddenly the terrible sound of a scream filled the air.

The two boys sat there silently, as the minutes slowly

ticked by. Fear, thick and ominous like the snows that

covered the slopes about them, filled their hearts. Up

there — in the spring — they were all alone. No one to hear

their screams; no one to help them. If something had

happened to their dad, they were in this alone.

“Shush…d-d-do you h-h-hear anything?” Mark finally asked

nervously, as he brought his hear up to the tent.

“N-n-no,” Adam replied as he brought his face further down

into his sack. “I’m scared, Mark.” As he sat there, his

chest heaved in and out. He could feel his bladder spasm,

releasing his urine to soak into the rough material of his

jeans.

“Me too,” Mark answered. He slowly crawled over to the

younger boy, and looked him in the face. “Look, I’m going

to go out there and get Dad’s rifle. You need to get on

that emergency radio and get help, just like Dad taught

you.”

“I don’t know…”

“There isn’t any time,” Mark brought his hand down on

Adam’s shoulder and squeezed it gently. “Dad needs us. He

is alone with *whatever* is out there. We are here alone!

We have to help him…and ourselves. Just remember, no

matter what happens, don’t stop trying until you reach

someone.”

With that, Mark made his way back to the door and crawled

outside, leaving Adam alone in the darkness. Reaching

behind himself, he grabbed the knapsack and rummaged around

inside of it. After a few moments, he found the short wave

radio and he pulled it out.

Adam wasn’t a stupid boy; he knew that this wasn’t going to

help in the least. He knew that the summit, on which they

had made base camp, was many, many hours from anywhere.

Even the ranger station that he was going to attempt to

contact was over 10 miles away, over very rough terrain.

His plaintive cry for help was to be a moot point. No one

would be there until at best midday.

Taking the microphone into his hand, and bringing it to his

mouth, Adam turned the power on and the faint greenish

light illuminated the dark corners of the tent. In a voice

as soft as he could manage, as he struggled to hold back

his tears, he said, “Mayday…mayday…this is an

emergency. Urgent assistance needed at Walker’s Summit.”

As his mouth continued to plead for assistance, his

thoughts were thousands of miles away in prayer. The

Oooglie Booglie had finally came for him and his family and

that was all that mattered. Now all that stood between him

and certain death was God, that same God that he had prayed

to every night.

…Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of

death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me; thy rod

and thy staff they comfort me…

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Act 1

5:45 p.m.

May 14, 2001

Basement Office

J. Edgar Hoover Building

Washington, D.C.

Tick tock…

Tick tock…

Tick tock…

The slow but steady count of the clock did little to quell

Mulder’s steadily growing enthusiasm. As he sat there

reclined in his quite uncomfortable chair with his feet

perched precariously upon his desk, he found himself

literally shaking from excitement. He had been that way

ever since reading the morning’s news on the Internet.

At first, the headlines about the mysterious disappearances

of a family of three in Maine hadn’t made that much of an

impression. He had just glanced at it while on his way to

the sports page. He had very little time before Scully was

to return from forensics and he knew that if she

caught him once again slacking off while he was *supposed* to

be finishing their expense reports, she would shoot him

again.

This time, however, it wouldn’t be in the shoulder.

But after Scully had called, telling him that she was to be

out of the office longer than anticipated, he had come back

to it. The article spoke of an intense manhunt that was

being conducted to find Robert Saunders and his two sons,

Mike and Adam. The only leads; a garbled short wave radio

plea for help, speaking of something called the Oooglie

Booglie, the sound of gunshots in the background during the

transmission and one very torn up, bloodied campsite.

Although the authorities claimed that they were at a loss

as to what was going on: Mulder wasn’t. In fact, he was far

from it. His photographic memory supplied him with a file

— which he had seen several months earlier — describing a

similar incident that had happened a few years back.

An incident claimed, by locals, to have been perpetrated by

a hairy man-beast: a bigfoot.

From the moment that he had seen it, Mulder knew that it

was too good to pass up. Within minutes, he had filled out

the necessary requisitions and had contacted Skinner. Now

all that was left was to tell *Scully* about it.

However, he knew that it was easier said than done. He only

hoped that she gave him enough time to lay it all out for

her.

“I’ve got the forensics report on the Webber case,” the

honey over gravel words startled him just enough to nearly

topple him to the floor. Recovering quickly, he reached

over and enlarged the window on the screen before him.

“Mulder, don’t tell me that you have spent the whole

morning just sitting there.” Scully chuckled softly, as she

leaned against the door jam. As she brought her hand up to

rest on her hip, the line of her jacket accentuated the

vast expanse of leg revealed by her shorter than usual skirt.

“Please, Scully…” Mulder took in the free show as he

leaned back in his chair. He gestured towards the screen

with his hand, a grin plastered across his face. “How

could you honestly think so *little* of me? In fact, I

have been hard at work doing research and I think that I

may have found our next case.”

Scully slowly walked around to the side of the desk, her

heels thudding softly on carpet below. Putting her hand on

his shoulder, she leaned over and began to read the screen

before him. “Mulderrrr — you’ve *got* to be kidding!”

“Now, Scully,” Mulder admonished softly, as he turned to

face her, brought up his arms and crossed them in front of

his chest. He then looked her straight in the eyes and gave

her his best deadpan expression. “Have you ever known me

to…?”

Mulder’s voice was cut off with the first noticeable twitch

of her brow.

“Don’t answer that,” Mulder then continued, “I assure you

that I am very serious.”

Mulder watched as Scully sat down on the edge of the desk

next to him. “Come on, Mulder. How does a family

disappearing out in the middle of the woods become an X-

File?”

“When it just so happens to have some connection with an

old Native American story that has over the years become a

well known local urban legend,” Mulder retorted, as he

picked up the file that he had readied earlier and handed

it to her.

Always the hard sell, Mulder had learned years ago to never

approach her without some viable documentation.

It paid to be prepared.

Scully flipped it open and began to quickly peruse it.

After a few moments the look of typical Scully skepticism

changed to wide-eyed wonder.

“Now that I have your attention, Scully.”

“Can the attitude, Mulder, ” Scully said as she dropped it

back on the desk and stood up, smoothing down the wrinkles

of her skirt. “Please, just give me the *abbreviated*

version.”

“If you insist, Scully.” Mulder leaned back and brought his

hands behind his head.

“Ragged Mountain, where the Saunders family disappeared, is

a mountain deep in the heart of Passamaquoddy tribal lands.

The mountain itself is believed to be one of their most

sacred of burial sites. The Passamaquoddy legend states

that when the white man moved into the area and began to

explore, trespassing on forbidden soil, a tribal elder had

a dream in which the sky god told him that an ûm’tchutchâkw

or spirit would be sent to protect the earthly remains of

their ancient ancestors.”

“It wasn’t long after that that the first sighting of the

apiktchi’lu-uski’tap or the Piscataquis Skunk Ape aka

Bigfoot took place. Local sociologists believe that was how

the legend of the Oooglie Booglie was born. It is said that

if you are caught out after dark, you better have hope that

you have been good. If you haven’t, the Oooglie Booglie

will come and get you.”

Scully groaned, as she rolled her eyes. “Mulder, that

story sounds like a variation on a dozen or so others that

I have heard over the years designed to scare the living

daylights out of kids in order to keep them in line.”

“Ah, Scully…” Mulder leered at her as he waggled his

brows suggestively, “I can just see you right now…scaling

down from your bedroom window, some lust-crazed teenager

waiting below with visions of doing the horizontal mambo

with you.”

“Why Mulder,” Scully then leaned over and dropped her mouth

right next to his ear, the tiny puffs of air escaping

causing him to shiver noticeably. “It’s funny that you

would mention it. I was just following that specific

scenario that I, as a very young and impressionable

teenager, lost my innocence to a much older boy.”

With those very words, Mulder’s hands fell down back to his

sides, as his jaw fell to his chest. Of all of the things

that he had expected her to say, that had never crossed his

thoughts.

Visions of his straight-laced partner as a teenager, being

seduced by an upperclassman, filled his mind and suddenly

Mulder found the room to be getting a little too warm for

his liking. He could feel the beads of sweat sliding slowly

between his shoulder blades, enhancing the steadily

increasing beating of his heart.

When he had lost control of this situation, he wasn’t

sure but he knew that he needed to get it back and fast.

Otherwise, he might be tempted to say, or worse, do,

something that they both might regret.

He had convinced himself years ago that he would know when

the time would be right to act on his feelings for her. He

knew that if he waited long enough, she would let him know

when she was ready.

From what he had seen until now, she wasn’t. So he needed

to behave himself until it was.

“I had you big time,” Scully said, as she grinned knowingly

and stepped back from him, a most smug look creeping across

her features.

“You had nothing…” Mulder retorted curtly, as he quickly

stood up. He then turned himself away from her and dropped

his flushed face from her view, lest he embarrass himself

more than he already had.

“So do you have any solid evidence other than these

folktales?” Scully trailed her fingers across the top of

the desk and to Mulder she was clearly enjoying herself too

much to be willing to give up the game. To him it seemed

that the years that she had spent with him had taught her

how to play in the big leagues.

He was going to have to do his homework to keep up with her.

“Since you ask…” Eager to get as far away from this

conversation as possible, Mulder took a deep breath, hoping

to center his thoughts.

“Over the past 10 years alone, there have been five

documented missing persons cases. The sheriff’s department

however, believes that the numbers are considerably higher:

since oftentimes hunters and hikers from out of state go up

there without telling others. They have managed to keep

most of these earlier incidences out of the media since

tourism is a big draw in that particular area and they feel

that these occurrences are the result of a serial killer at

work as opposed to our Oooglie Booglie.”

Mulder quickly shoved the file into his briefcase, as he

looked as his watch. “Now, I have taken the liberty of

booking us an early flight out of Dulles to Boston. From

there, we’ll take a puddle jumper to Bangor. Our flight

leaves at 5:45 am.”

Risking a quick glance at her face, Mulder realized that

she was less than convinced.

“Come on, Scully,” Mulder offered her a bright smile as he

brought his hand down to its familiar place in the middle

of her back and then began to walk her to the door. “It’ll

be a nice little trip to the woods.”

“Need I remind you, Mulder,” Scully muttered, “that most of

our *other* little trips have required medical attention or

quarantine?” The look on her face told Mulder that she was

clearly not amused.

“But Scully,” Mulder pleaded, “This time will be different,

I promise!” An evil grin swept across his face as he leaned

over and whispered in her ear, “maybe we will even get

lucky and it will snow sleeping bags!”

Scully dropped her face from view as she walked quickly

towards the elevator. However, her hasty retreat hadn’t

hidden from her ever-observant partner the beginnings of a

full-fledged blush.

“Gotcha big time,” Mulder thought smugly to himself as he

locked the office door.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Act 2

May 14, 2001

2:00 p.m.

Unnamed private logging road

Ripogenus, Maine

“The map says to turn right at the intersection, Mulder.”

Scully shook her head as she leaned back into her seat, the

map that she had been carefully following for hours still

held tightly in her hands.

She had been in Maine for less than a day and already she

wasn’t having any fun: so much for a nice little trip to

the woods.

The commuter flight from Boston to Bangor had been a

frequent flier’s worst nightmare; too many people crammed

into too small of a space. To make things worse, Mulder

could barely fit into his own space and thus had sprawled

out all over her. He complained that she drooled? She ended

up having to change into a new blouse in the Ladies room at

the airport due to his prodigious amounts of slobber.

“The sheriff who contacted me told me to turn left,”

Mulder replied, as he took a deep breath and continued to

squint out the window at the swirling snow, trying to keep

himself on the road.

When they had planned their little trip, they hadn’t

thought about one possibility. Even though it was late

spring in Maine, snow wasn’t completely out of the picture,

just yet.

“At the intersection?” Scully sighed and lifted the map up

once again, the folds of the paper falling onto her legs.

As the navigator on this assignment, Scully had taken the

time the night before to call AAA and get specific

instructions as to how get there since the Bureau wasn’t

always up to date on travel information. But even with her

forethought, things were not going exactly according to

plan.

“Yes,” Mulder replied, as he began to softly thrum his

fingers impatiently on the steering wheel in time with the

steady rhythm of the wipers.

Once they had gotten off of the plane at Bangor, they had

rented a car for the long drive to Harmony. At first it

hadn’t been hard, I-95 wasn’t difficult to find. However,

since getting off at Millinocket, it had been a

challenge. Since it was spring, construction was well

underway to fix winter-damaged roads.

Construction meant detours. Even on private logging roads.

It seems that Harmony wasn’t the little town that Scully

first had pictured. According to the map, it was located on

one of the arms of Chamberlain Lake and it wasn’t even a

town at all. Harmony was literally a settlement for

loggers, hunters, trappers, and campers in the town of T 10

R11 WELS.

“But the map says…” Scully tossed the useless piece of

paper down on her lap as she blew a stray lock of hair out

of her face and tucked it behind her ear. Things seemed to

be going from bad to worse in a hurry as her stomach began

to growl softly. “I think that we’re lost, Mulder.”

It may be the Vacation State to some, but to Scully it was

quickly becoming hell.

“We’re not lost, Scully.” Mulder leaned forward and tried

to wipe away some of the condensation. However his effort

was futile, since all that he was succeeding on doing was

making his visibility worse. Even with the defrosters set

on high, their exhaled moisture was freezing solid on the

windows. “It’s just that all *this* looks the same,” Mulder

continued as he waved a free hand about quite dramatically.

He was right, at least about that much. The landscape, at

least what they could see of it until now, was rows upon

rows of evergreens, covered heavily in a thick blanket of

snow.

Scully glared over at her partner, her eyes burning a hole

into the side of his head. “Face it, Mulder, we’re lost.

Hopelessly, irrevocably lost.”

Even though she respected him more than any other person

that she had ever known, there were some times that she

wished she could just reach over and shake some sense into

him. For an Oxford-educated man, he could be awfully dense

when he chose to be.

From the map she could tell that they were somewhere near

Ripogenus, a small supply and logging stop. Ripogenus was

located about halfway between Millinocket and Harmony. Even

after traveling most of the morning and afternoon, they

still had a long ways to go.

“What do you think?” Scully heard him ask as she watched

him bring his hand up to his head and run his fingers

through his hair. A familiar act that she associated with

him thinking and usually thought nothing of, for some

reason *now* seemed to be doing things for her

that she would rather not think about.

“About being lost?” Scully answered in a tight,

uncharacteristically high voice and she quickly brought her

gaze back down to the map as she felt a bright blush

threaten to creep across her face. She only hoped that he

didn’t catch it. Otherwise, Mulder would not let her hear

the end of it.

“About the family, Scully.” Mulder grinned knowingly, as he

gestured to her briefcase located on the floor near her

feet. “I assume that you have read the file that I gave

you?”

“Yes and I’m not sure,” Scully replied nonchalantly, as she

crossed her feet in front of her and shifted her weight

about in the seat. After sitting for as long as she had,

her bottom was beginning to go numb. “I must admit that you

do plead a compelling case. However, isn’t it more

plausible that they did disappear at the hands of some

unknown human assailant than this…”

“Apiktchi’lu-uski’tap?” Mulder interrupted as he grinned

even wider and waggled his brows.

“This whatever…running amok,” Scully replied, as she

arched a brow. She could tell from the look on his face

that he was having way too much fun with this and she

planned not to give him any more ammunition. It was still a

long drive to Harmony.

“Amok, Scully?” Mulder’s brows shot to the top of his

forehead, and his mouth fell open. He then leaned over

and brought his lips to Scully’s ear, the gentle puffs of

air from his lips causing her to shiver. “Have I ever told

you how very turned on I get when I hear you talk like

that?”

“Shut up, Mulder.” Scully rolled her eyes in mock

revulsion, as she looked back out the window. She only

hoped that they reached Harmony before her patience and

self-control wore out. Otherwise, he might just have more to

deal with than he even realized.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

5:00 p.m.

Howard’s General Store

Harmony

Maine

“Agent Mulder…Agent Scully…here is the information that

you requested about the case.”

Forest Ranger John Reilly held out a large manila

file and dropped it down on the table in front of him.

Leaning back in the chair, he brought his hands up behind his

head as he stretched his legs out.

When Mulder and Scully had finally gotten to Harmony, it

was late afternoon. They had just had enough time to check

into their cabin before they had to meet with the local

authorities. Since there were no county offices in this

neck of the woods, they had ended up in the back room of

the general store.

Mulder took a quick glance out the small window behind the

ranger and he could see that it had finally stopped

snowing. The thick, swirling clouds of snow were now

replaced with bright sunshine. The sun was just starting to

creep into the small room, its gentle fingers caressing the

boxes and shelves that surrounded the three of them.

Considering the long hike that they had ahead of them in

the morning, the storm breaking was a good sign.

Mulder then leaned over and grabbed the file, bringing it

back over to his lap.

“According to the report, the distress call came in on

short wave radio, at 1 a.m. The ranger in charge of

the station had been out most of the day and night dealing

with a poaching problem, so the radio had been on voice

record. The boy identified himself as being Adam Saunders

and that he and his family were in trouble.”

“The recording goes on for several minutes, the boy

apparently not aware that he had gotten through at all.

Much of it is too garbled to understand; the battery on

their radio must have been running low. However, we were

able to make out that his father had been attacked by

something and that his brother went out to see if he could

find him. Just seconds before the transmission stops we

hear Adam scream, followed by several gunshots. He breaks

down, mumbling something about the Oooglie Booglie and then

there is nothing but silence.”

Reaching forward, John picked up his coffee and took a

careful sip. The steam curled around his large face, which

was set off by a small fringe of hair. “I’ve heard the tape

myself, I’m not just going by the transcripts and I must

admit that even after all of my years of service, I’ve

never been so…so…affected by something. I’m not ashamed

to say that it sent chills up my spine.”

Mulder turned his head and glanced over at Scully and from

the furrow of her brow and the twinkle in her eye; he could

see that she was hooked. Although she had razzed him quite

a bit about this case, he knew that once push came to

shove, she would be there right beside him. She was there,

just as he was, to learn the truth. In whatever shape or

form that it might present itself.

Even after finding out the truth about Samantha, they were

both still as driven to find it.

“And the photos…now they are another story.”

Mulder opened the file and turned it slightly so that

Scully could see them and he could see what Ranger Reilly

was talking about. The scene had been literally bathed in

blood. Whatever had attacked the Saunders had been quite

thorough because nothing at the site had been left intact.

Mulder and Scully studied them silently for a moment as the

ranger continued to speak.

“I know that ‘the powers that be’ believe that a serial

killer has been at work for years but I personally don’t

think that any human could do that. Those survivalists are

a strange lot I must admit, but from what I have seen and

heard, they aren’t homicidal. The majority are just war

vets, many of them retired or discharged from the services,

that are just trying to get away.”

“What do you think, Scully?” Mulder asked, as he pointed to

the tattered remains of the tents.

“I’m not sure, Mulder,” Scully replied, as she leaned over

further to get a closer look. “The disarray at the site

could indicate the work of a disorganized mind

however…now I can’t say for sure without seeing them

personally, but from what I can see here, the slashes more

closely resemble some sort of animal claw marks as opposed

to some man made implement.”

Ranger Reilly nodded and leaned forward towards the two agents.

“Now I have managed to contact one of the rangers

originally dispatched to the scene but he will not be

arriving until later tonight. As soon as he does get here I

will send him over to you. He will be the one accompanying

you up the mountain but I must warn you that he thinks it

is an utter waste of time. He feels that the taxpayers’ dollars could

be

put to better use sending more law enforcement up in the

surrounding areas to track down the UNSUB and not paying for

two FBI agents to look for the Oooglie Booglie.”

“Thank you for all of your help, Ranger Reilly. We really

do appreciate it.” Scully smiled as she stood up and picked

her coat up off of the chair beside her.

Mulder took her cue and stood up also. Even though Mulder

was exhausted, they still had a great deal to do before

they settled down for the night. They still needed to get

their equipment together for the trip. But, first things

first and although there were no real restaurants in

Harmony, he had noticed that just down the street was a

nice little diner which he heard served great hamburgers.

“No thanks are necessary, Agent Scully. I’m always glad to

help a fellow officer.” Ranger Reilly grabbed his parka and

draped it over his arm. He then checked the safety on his

sidearm. “Before you go,” he reached into his uniform

pocket and grabbed a small piece of paper, “I have the name

of someone that you might want to talk to.”

“Now, none of the locals that I have spoken to recently

actually believe the serial killer angle. They believe that

the Oooglie Booglie did it. And they ought to know; they

know these woods like the back of their hand. One such

local lives just outside of Harmony. He has lived here all

of his life and he knows just about everyone and

everything.”

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

5:45 p.m.

Abner Milford’s Cabin

Harmony

Maine

“Agents Mulder and Scully, to see an Abner Milford?”

Mulder pulled his coat collar tightly around his neck, as

he shivered violently. Night was still hours away, yet a

bitter wind was already settling in, blowing the still

falling snow into a frenzied dance.

The sheriff had been right; Abner did live a very simple

life. They were standing on the porch of a small cabin,

about 10 by 10 square. From underneath the roughly cut

shingles that covered the entire building, the uneven

surface of pine logs peered through.

As with most of the structures they had seen until now, the

use of windows was minimal: usually one or two in the main

living area, but nothing more. The locals built realizing

that there wasn’t a single window in existence that would

stand up to the harsh cold. In this case, Abner’s cabin

didn’t even have a single one.

Mulder’s mind analyzed the obvious implications; without

any windows, Abner would be effectively cut off from the

outside world. Just as his choice of profession – a trapper–

would indicate, he would by necessity, be a loner.

Preferring the solace of oneness to the comfort of others.

Mulder knew what it was like to feel like that. He had

lived most of his life, shunning the outside world for his

search for the truth: for his quest.

Until Scully.

What would his life had been like, if she hadn’t come into

it? Mulder didn’t even want to go there. Not now, not ever.

On the practical side, he realized there was definitely

more than just energy conservation in mind. There was only

one way out and one way in. Without windows, you would be

very protected. A fortress, built in the middle of nowhere,

designed to keep everything out.

Mulder reached over and knocked again, his knuckles

stinging painfully from rapping on the hard wood. They had

been waiting outside for several minutes and until now the

only indication that anyone was even home was the beaten-up

old pickup truck just across the barren clearing.

“Whatcha lookin’ for him fer?” a male voice, soft and

suspicious, finally replied hesitantly from behind the closed

door.

From about them, the soft murmurings of trees, mixed with

the howling of the wind and the resulting din made it

difficult for them to hear much of anything.

“We are trying to find out more information on the

Piscataquis Skunk Ape,” Scully answered back loudly, as she

stepped forward, the reddish gold of her hair whipping

about her wind chapped face. “We were told that if we

needed any information at all, Abner Milford would be the

man to contact.”

As the door swung inwards, a bright light from inside

temporarily blinded them, and as their eyes finally

adjusted they saw a shabbily-dressed, small man in his

sixties. “Why didn’t ya say so in the first place? Come on

in,” he offered as he gestured for them to come in.

As the agents walked in they realized that the sparseness

of Abner’s landscaping was certainly not indicative of the

inside.

The cabin itself was packed full of stuff. From floor to

ceiling were stacked mildewed and dirty boxes of various

sizes and colors. So many boxes, in fact, that small

walkways cluttered with old newspapers and dirty clothes

had been created to get from one side to the other.

The man shrugged and offered a weak smile, revealing broken

and yellowed teeth. “Sorry to roll you over like that, but

’round these parts yous’ learn that it pays to never be too

careful. It’s been my experience that yous’ can’t trust

anybody nowadays.”

Mulder turned to Scully, his hazel eyes meeting her blue,

as if to say; “You could say that again.:

“So is Mr. Milford here?” Mulder looked about, noting that

other than a small closet to the back, built in one of the

corners, what they saw was what they got. The floor was

made of roughhewn planks, the walls of some material that

could be at best described as “unknown” and the whole thing

was lit up by what couldn’t be more than a 60-watt bulb

hanging from the middle of the ceiling.

All and all, not exactly the Marriott.

“Oh,” the man smiled sheepishly, “yer speakin’ to him.”

Moving over to his left, the man began to throw dirty

clothes, blankets and various other things on the floor.

As he did this, a thick cloud of dust drifted into the air

and dimmed the light further. In a few moments, a small and

very dog-eared sofa came into view.

“Have a seat,” he said as he stepped over to one side and

sat down on a wooden crate. And then, nodding over towards

Scully, he continued. “Sorry about the accommodations

little lady, but we don’t have much call for comforts out

here in the sticks.”

Mulder wasn’t sure about Scully, but comfort was the last

thing on his mind. Safety was his first, since the old

piece of furniture looked more like a health hazard than

anything else. Just looking at the ratty, flea-infested

upholstery alone scared the hell out of him.

But since they needed his cooperation, they knew that they

couldn’t afford to offend him. So both of them sat down,

their combined weight making it moan in protest.

“So what do ya need to know?”

“We are here investigating the mysterious disappearance of

the Saunders family on Ragged Mountain,” Mulder heard

Scully say, as she tried to inconspicuously move herself to

the edge of the cushions.

As Mulder watched Scully wiggle about, wrinkling her nose

and sniffing loudly as she settled herself, Mulder

struggled not to smile. He immediately knew what was

bothering her and he found himself enjoying it immensely.

Not that it wasn’t bothering him at all: for God’s sake how

couldn’t it?

He wasn’t dead: but for Scully, which normally worked over corpses

without flinching, it was quite amusing.

An odor.

But it wasn’t an ordinary odor.

That smell was enough to kill a horse. A mixture of rancid

body odor, dirty clothes, and rotting garbage mixed with

the odor of kerosene, making the air around them noxious.

Road kill had nothing on it.

Even though he knew that he shouldn’t, the acute distress

that Scully was suffering from was just too hard for his

MulderDevil to ignore. Scully was the ultimate neat freak

and he knew that this had to be killing her. The last time

something anything remotely like this had happened, she had

showered for two hours and scrubbed herself until she

was raw. Even after all of that, she had walked around for

days, literally sniffing herself as she went.

It had been quite a sight.

“T’aint nothing mysterious about it,” Abner answered,

oblivious to his guests plight. “I heard all ’bout it

when I went down to the general store a few days past and

from what I hear the Oooglie Booglie got ’em.”

Leaning back on his crate against a cardboard box, he put

his hands behind his head. “Tis a pity…such a nice young

family; their pa a trapper of the finest caliber. Never got

the chance to meet him but word gets ’round. Can’t think

of why it would go after them for, other than the

government had been surveying land on the southern slopes

fer a week before.”

“It being Apiktchi’lu-uski’tap?” Mulder flashed a smug

smile at Scully for the look she had given him off his

words. However, from the queasy look on her face, Mulder

felt a sudden twinge of guilt. As much as he would like to

stay and partake of Abner’s hospitality for a while longer,

he needed to get her out of there before she needed more

than just a breath of fresh air.

“Yup, that’s what the local Native Americans call ’em,” Abner

replied as he ran his dirty hands through his greasy hair.

He took a deep breath and looked off into nowhere, for a

moment as if in thought.

“Oooglie Booglie, Bigfoot, Skunk Ape or that. From what

they tell me, it isn’t exactly their tongue, more MicMaq

than anything else, but they still use it anyways. The

Oooglie Booglie kills the adults ya know, and keeps the

youngin’s fer its own, teachin’ them to live off of and

respect the land.”

“Have you yourself ever seen anything?” Mulder heard Scully

ask softly, her voice nasal and scratchy and he risked

another quick glance at her. Her color was starting to come

back but the look in her eyes told him that he was going to

pay for his earlier amusement.

So much for a quiet evening.

“Yeah, you could say that,” he nodded. “I’ve been trapping

in these parts for nearly all my years and I must admit

that ‘though I have never seen him exactly, I have

experienced some pretty strange things.”

Leaning forward, his eyes grew wide as he continued. “I’ve

found tracks that I don’t recognize as being any animal

from ’round here. I’ve also heard a cry, a cry so loud and

so awful, it would make your hair stand on end. It did

mine. I have found carcasses of big game, bear and alike,

ripped apart like a rag doll. You have to realize that out

here there are miles and miles of unexplored territory. Us

old timers have a name for it, God’s country. God only

knows what creeps about in the shadows, when the sun goes

down.”

Abner stood up and slowly walked over to the door.

“In all of my time up here, I have never been out after

dark for very long. And when I was, I was armed. I suggest

that you do the same, for your sake. God’s country don’t

take kindly to strangers.”

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

8:00 p.m.

Cabin 2

Riker’s Cabins

Harmony

Maine

“Mulder, didn’t you tell me once that you were some sort of

a guide?” Scully walked out of their cabin’s small bathroom,

her face scrubbed pink, her hair slicked back. She pulled

the damp towel from her shoulders and hung it over the

towel rack. “I don’t see that you have made any progress

since I was last out here.”

Mulder leaned back on his heels and ran his hand over the

top of his head in obvious frustration. His face was

streaked with black, and in spite of the coolness of the

cabin, sweat beaded the top of his hairline. “Very funny,

Scully,” Mulder growled. “Do you think that you could do

any better?”

Scully walked quickly up behind him and smoothed down the

dark brown spikes. “Let me give it a try.”

Mulder moved to the side, as Scully knelt down in front of

the woodstove. Leaning over, she rearranged the paper over

the logs, glad for the little diversion.

After their little conference with Mr. Milford, Scully had

felt less than fresh. She swore that she could still smell

that stench on her, even as they drove back into town.

Dinner had been less than pleasant also. It seems that the

diner had never heard of a salad, or anything healthy at

all for that matter. Between the hamburger swimming in

grease and the reek that clung to her like a wet swimsuit,

she couldn’t eat a bite. The only highpoints of her

evening: a hot shower and getting to share a bed with

Mulder.

It seemed, along with offering less than palatable cuisine,

Harmony also had very limited accommodations for out of

town guests.

The local postmaster owned a couple of cabins, both with

double beds. However one had been already rented out to a

couple of honeymooners, so Mulder and Scully had to settle

for the one left.

Not that Scully was complaining. It wasn’t the first time

they had bunked together. After the sky rained that cow in

Kroner, they had cohabitated. Scully had to admit to

herself that it had been nice finally sharing a bed with

someone after all of those years. When she had awakened the

next morning, she had found herself covered with her very

own Mulder-blanket. It had been a little bit of heaven.

However, she would not share that bit of information with

him. She would never hear the end of it.

As it was, Mulder had been making lewd suggestions about it

all evening during dinner. It had gotten so bad, that she

had even considered sleeping on the floor, just to get back

at him. However, after a few moments of contemplation, the

thought of a cold hard floor just didn’t have the curb

appeal that it once did.

Besides, hogging the blankets sounded much more effective

at making her point.

After getting the wood just like her father had shown her

as a young girl, Scully grabbed the lighter, and voila,

instant fire.

“I guess that it just needed a woman’s touch, Mulder.”

As she turned back to him, his sidelong glance told her

that he was a bit more than disappointed. Even when Mulder

was being at his most annoying, his need to please her was

most endearing. “Mulder.” Scully put her hand on his upper

arm and gave it a gentle squeeze. “Don’t worry, I don’t

think you any less of a man. In fact, your persistence was

quite…sweet.”

“Sweet, Scully? Gee, thanks.” Mulder grinned, straightening

his back and legs until he was standing upright and looking

down into her eyes. “I *was* trying more for romantic but I

guess sweet will have to do.”

“Romantic, Mulder?” Scully asked as she raised her hand up

for a lift.

“You never know,” he murmured softly as took her hand. In

an instant, she was on her feet, standing directly in front

of him. “You might get lucky.”

If ever there was a more perfect time to kiss him, it was

then. The tension in the room was thicker than the steam

still pouring out of the bathroom.

The sound of knocking interrupted the moment, and the two

stepped away from one another, dropping their gazes to the

floor.

“Now, I know that I didn’t order any take out.” Mulder

grumbled, his voice registering the disappointment that he

was clearly feeling.

He walked quickly across the small room, Scully tracking

his every movement. She knew the feeling well, but at the

same time she was glad that they hadn’t. There would be

plenty of time for that later. Now, while on the job,

wasn’t the best of times.

“Who is it?” Mulder asked, as he stood in front of the

door. Even out there in the middle of nowhere, Mulder’s

infamous paranoia was at full alert.

“Ranger Peter McCallister — I am here to see an Agent

Mulder or an Agent Scully?” A deep bass voice answered, its

volume filling the room, even with the door still shut.

Mulder reached over and opened the door, a stiff cold

breeze filling the cabin instantly. At six foot six and

well over 275 pounds, McCallister nearly took up the whole

doorframe as he stepped forward.

As Mulder quickly shut the door, McCallister’s bright blue

eyes darted about, taking in with a curious intensity the

garish bright floral bedspread, and the large pile of

hiking equipment that nearly filled the other side of the

room. But his eyes grew wide and his brow furrowed in

curiosity as he noticed the woman with wet hair, dressed in

midnight blue silk nightclothes.

“If I’m interrupting something…”

“Agent Mulder and I were just preparing for tomorrow

morning, Ranger McCallister. I assure you that you weren’t

interrupting anything.” Scully stepped over, apparently not

flustered in the least, to the double bed, and began to

sort the scattered papers that were strewn about upon it.

“Agent Scully?” McCallister replied, “I must say that you

are not exactly what I expected.”

“How so?” Mulder inquired, as he stepped up between the two

of them, the look on his face clearly displayed his

amusement at the situation.

“Well, I…I…expected…”

“A man?” Scully countered, as she pulled her firearm off of

the nightstand and placed it with the clothes that she had

set out earlier for the morning. From the way that

McCallister’s eyes grew as wide as saucers, she knew that

she was getting to him. Obviously, he wasn’t a man that

appreciated the benefits of women being in the field.

By the time she finished with him, he would see things a

*little* differently.

“As you can see, McCallister, Agent Scully is all woman,”

Mulder interjected, his grin even wider. “And probably the

best damn shot that you will ever meet.”

Scully shot him a look that could freeze boiling water, her

ire up even more. Mulder would pay for the first half of

that statement. The second half she would let slip, since

he was only telling the truth.

“I see you have all of the equipment that you will need for

our little expedition,” McCallister nodded over towards

their gear. ” You’d better turn in early, we have a long

drive and an even longer hike ahead of us. I’m staying at a

friend’s, just down the way. I’ll be here to get you at

4:30, so make sure that you’re ready.”

McCallister stepped back towards the door and added,

“Agent Scully, pardon me for being so blunt but…are you

sure that you’re up to this?” He shrugged and shoved his

hands into his pocket, embarrassment tinting his fair skin

pink. “I wasn’t kidding when I said it was a long hike. I

don’t want anyone holding us back.”

“I assure you that I am up to anything that you dish out.”

Scully put her hands on her hips and arched a brow. Would

this man ever quit? You would think that she was used to

such testosterone-induced behavior, but she wasn’t. She had

worked too hard for too long to let it go.

With a nod, McCallister opened the door and left, leaving

Mulder and Scully standing there with the most incredulous

looks on their faces.

Mulder was the first to break the silence. He walked the

few steps over to the bed and sat down on the edge, the

mattress sagging threateningly under his weight. “Speaking

of being up, Scully. We haven’t had the chance to discuss

this but — there’s only one bed. If you want, I could…”

He nodded over to the floor nearest her, a slight blush

passing across his features.

Scully smiled as she reached over and fluffed up the

pillows. Looking over at him, she tilted her head.

“Mulder — there’s plenty of room — and we’re both adults.

Besides, I don’t want to listen to you complain all

tomorrow about how stiff your back is.”

“Are you coming on to me, Scully?” Mulder leaned back and

waggled his brows suggestively.

“If I ever decided to come on to you Mulder, you’d know

it.”

If Mulder’s jaw hadn’t been attached to his face, it would

have fallen to the floor.

With a yawn of false boredom, Scully walked by him with a

smug look. She stepped up to the hiking equipment they had

rented and began to check her pack, as he continued to

watch her, still in shock. Oh yeah, he was going to pay

all right…he was going to pay big time.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Act 3

5:45 p.m.

May 15, 2001

Walker’s Summit

Ragged Mountain

Maine

“It isn’t much further. It should be just up beyond that

ridge.” Peter McCallister huffed as he continued to trudge

up the steep snow-covered trail.

It was late afternoon, the sun casting shadows on the rocky

outcroppings that surrounded the trail. Evergreens, painted

white by the season, were sprinkled about here and there,

providing some protection from the relentless gusts.

As they made their way to base camp, the agents followed

their seemingly driven guide: Mulder just behind, with

Scully bringing up the rear. Mulder would have preferred to

lag behind, just so that he could keep a close eye out for

whatever had attacked the Saunders. However, given the

current situation, he decided that the danger Scully posed

to the ranger’s life was more imminent a problem.

They weren’t there yet, so his life was still worth saving.

The ranger had driven them relentlessly, only stopping for

brief respites. Even with all of the running that Mulder

did, he found himself more than a little tired and a whole

lot sore. But Scully, all five foot plus of her, had lived

up to her promise to take anything that he could dish out.

She had marched just as relentlessly, throwing McCallister

looks that Mulder knew were certain death, the whole way.

The conflict had begun when they had first started their

long trek to the summit. McCallister had made the mistake

of being chivalrous by offering to carry Scully’s pack for

her. It had gone downhill, so to speak, from there.

Now from what he had seen, Scully could have used the help.

Her pack was filled with an equal amount of the equipment,

she had insisted upon it. So when his had started to bother

him, he knew that she must have felt just as bad, if not

worse. It was only logical, given the height and weight

difference, but Mulder wasn’t about to offer anything than

just a smile. He knew better than that. He valued his life

and livelihood much too much.

“Scully?” Mulder glanced at her, his eyes twinkling with

mischief. “Is it just me or do you smell the unmistakeable

essence of manly man?”

“I do smell something, Mulder and for some reason I have

this overwhelming urge to look down at my leg.”

Mulder watched a bead of sweat trail past her arched brow

to go down Scully’s cheek and fall down into the neckline

of her jacket. He then turned away from her and looked at

the trail ahead, never wishing so much in his life to be a

simple bead of sweat.

As they finally made it up past the ridge, the trio came

around a small grove of bushes, and as they passed it, to

their left they saw what they had come all this way to see.

Walker’s summit.

“This is it,” McCallister gestured widely with his hand as

he let out a deep breath in relief. “I’m not sure what you

hope to find, but it is all yours.”

Surrounded by thick, tangled pines and other evergreens,

the summit itself was a large clearing, dotted by the

occasional boulder. On the side nearest them, a ledge of

heavy granite delineated where the cliffs were. The snow

pack was deep, and very much intact at this altitude,

partially obscuring what would have been without a doubt a

more uneven terrain.

“Thank you,” Mulder offered sincerely, noticing the look of

relief that Scully was trying hard to hide. Although not

one of the highest elevations in Maine, Ragged Mountain was

still high enough to wind the heartiest of hikers. The air

was thin and although the climb wasn’t for the most part

overly steep, it did take a bit of adjusting to.

“The Saunders pitched their site over to the far left, just

across the clearing. That particular corner, due to the way

that the wind blows up here, is a natural windbreak. There

would be less of a wind chill, the snow would be less deep,

and any fire would blow away from the site. You can’t

really see it from here, but if you go through a small

break in the trees over on that side, you come to another,

much larger clearing. That’ll be where we are staying for

the night.”

Nodding at each other in understanding, Mulder and Scully

began to walk slowly over to where McCallister had told

them the site had been. As they got closer, they began to

notice that the snow pack was quite matted down due to the

numerous wind blown footprints that were scattered about.

But as they finally reached their intended destination,

that wasn’t all they noticed. “Oh my God…” Scully’s eyes

grew wide, and her breath hitched as she slipped off her

pack and dropped it to the side. She turned slightly to

look back at Mulder, who then walked up to stand beside

her.

“I guess that the cleaning lady hasn’t been by here yet,”

Mulder quipped at her expression, as he wiped the sweat off

his forehead.

Spread about before them, covering most of the area that

would have been the Saunder’s site, were large splashes and

splatters of blood. The stains, once tinged red, were now

almost a black color from exposure. As they looked about in

horror, they could make out bits and pieces of material

clinging desperately to the branches of evergreens too high

for investigators to get to.

“We tried to gather as much of the evidence as we could

after we had finally got here,” McCallister said, as he

walked up from behind them. “However, I must admit that we

weren’t prepared for what we had found.”

“As you know from the crime scene logs and from the

reports out of Augusta: Adam’s, Mark’s and their father’s

blood types were positively identified. However, there were

some anomalous drops that were also found that didn’t match

to any of the victims’ blood types. Further study proved

inconclusive…they just didn’t match anything on file.”

“Inconclusive?” Mulder parroted as he turned to face the

ranger. “Wouldn’t that in itself point to the fact that the

Oooglie Booglie or Pictiquatis Skunk Ape might be involved,

given the history of sightings in the area.”

“You are jumping to conclusions,” Mc Callister replied

angrily, as he shoved his hands into the pockets of his

snow pants and looked at the ground, as if to avoid eye

contact. “None of those sightings were ever substantiated

and besides those samples were flawed.”

Before Mulder could reply, Scully reached over and placed

her hand on his forearm, the warmth of her touch radiating

throughout him, even through the heavy weight nylon of his

jacket. “He’s right, Mulder,” her blue eyes searching his,

“they don’t in themselves prove a thing. After being

exposed to the elements and to God knows what else

overnight, they have to be viewed with a high degree of

doubt.”

“What about the bone fragments and the pieces of human

liver that were found at the scene?” Mulder finally

queried, as he finally caught McCallister’s eyes. From the

look on McCallister’s face, one could tell that he did

indeed know what Mulder was talking about. “Lab tests done

on those samples indicated the presence of digestive

enzymes found in saliva and that DNA couldn’t be

matched to any known animal on file.”

“Where did you get that information?” McCallister

swallowed nervously as he narrowed his eyes in suspicion.

“I know that wasn’t in the file provided to you.”

“I have my sources, Ranger McCallister.” Mulder replied

smugly off of his look. With a wink and a grin at Scully,

he then began to walk slowly about the site, his eyes not

really focusing on anything in particular.

Since the Bigfoot wasn’t human, he couldn’t profile it the

same way that he would an UNSUB. However, where the

creature lived and what he had done to the Saunders had

been enough to get him thinking. Why would this particular

creature be attacking people, seemingly unprovoked? From

most other reported sightings, the encounters although

frightening, were benign in nature. In fact wildlife, with some

exceptions, though unpredictable, would avoid human contact

at all costs. It would not under any circumstances seek it

out.

What then set this creature apart from the others?

“It’ll be getting dark soon,” McCallister growled softly,

as he picked his pack up and slung it over his shoulder.

His fair features were twisted in a particularly

unattractive scowl and his shoulders slumped. “While you

guys go and chase phantoms, I’ll go and get us settled in

for the night.”

With that he made his way quickly over to the path that

would take him through the trees, the snow crunching loudly

under his feet. Mulder and Scully stood silently for a

moment, watching him intently until he was out of sight.

“I’m really beginning to not like that man, Scully.”

Mulder stated and that garnered him an arched brow, as he

slipped off his pack and rolled the tension out of his

shoulders. McCallister was right about one thing, it was

late and they had a scant few hours before they lost what

light they had. The longer they waited, the colder the

trail would be.

The rangers had been thorough, Mulder was sure of that.

There was very little left at the scene. But they hadn’t

really known what to look for. That gave them the

advantage.

“Really? I would have never guessed.” Scully grinned

knowingly at Mulder, as she leaned over and opened her

pack, obviously eager to get to work.

Mulder found his eyes wandering over Scully’s backside and

he shook his head, trying to focus his meandering thoughts

back on the task at hand. He knew that McCallister,

although incredibly annoying, was not going to keep him

from investigating this thoroughly. He owed that much to

the Saunders and to all of the others that this creature

had attacked.

Mulder couldn’t bring them back, but maybe he could stop it

from happening again.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

9:30 p.m.

Walker’s Summit

Ragged Mountain

Maine

“I’ll take first watch…with our killer still on the

loose, its better to be safe than sorry.” McCallister

mumbled into his chest, obviously still angry, as he poked

mindlessly at the logs of the fire. Having cleared a small

area of snow, he had piled rocks of various sizes on top of

one another. Then on top of that, he had made a roaring

fire.

“I’ll go next, Scully.” Mulder offered as he took the last

bite out of his sandwich. “I have this feeling that I will

not be getting much sleep tonight.”

Scully knew the feeling. By the time they had finished

their cursory investigation of the site, the sun had set to

a full moon, the night clear and cold.

Mulder and Scully then had made their way to base camp, and

after getting themselves unpacked, had the challenging job

of pitching their tent in the ever increasing winds that

buffeted the mountain.

After they had set up quarters, the agents had sat down to

a tense and hasty dinner of soup and sandwiches.

All and all, not exactly conducive to relaxation.

“Not a problem, Mulder,” Scully sighed. “I doubt that I

will be either so I guess that I’ll be doing the field

reports tonight. Just make sure you let me know when it is

my turn.”

“May I ask you a question?” McCallister asked pointedly,

as he leaned back and searched faces intently. “What are

you folks hoping to find? It certainly can’t be the

Saunders! After all of this time, if any of them survived

the attack to begin with, they would be long dead. They

couldn’t have survived long against the elements or

predators without gear.”

“We are hoping to find the truth, whatever it is.” Scully

heard as Mulder stood up and put his hands on his hips, the

hostility nearly visible.

At this rate she knew they would probably kill one another

off before the Bigfoot even had a chance to get them.

Scully watched as McCallister stood up, his anger-filled

eyes flashing brightly in the soft light of the fire. “The

truth,” he emphasized, “is that a wacko is stalking people

out here, not a Bigfoot. I can’t believe that my tax

dollars are being spent on this nonsense.”

Mulder took one step forward, his eyes nearly black and for

a fleeting moment it looked as if all of the emotions that

had been stirring deep within were about to blow up all

over the side of the mountain. Scully felt her heart start

pounding and she found herself clearing her throat very

loudly, as if to get their attention.

“I’ll see you later, Scully.” Mulder reassured her, his

eyes now a soft and fathomless hazel. He walked a little

too closely past her, his arm brushing her shoulder. ” I’m

going to go lie down before I do something that I know I

will not regret,” she heard him whisper, his low notes

sending a shiver down her stiff spine.

As she watched Mulder kneel down and crawl into their tent,

heated memories of waking up beside him earlier that

morning surfaced, her face nearly buried into the strong

curve of his shoulder, and she quickly turned away. “You

seem like a reasonable woman, Agent Scully,” she heard

McCallister say, “why do you stay with that nutcase?

If she weren’t such a reasonable woman, and if she didn’t

have to fill out all of the paperwork to justify it, she

would have dropped him right then and there.

“Because he isn’t afraid to look for the truth, wherever

those answers might be,” she answered, pleased with her

self-restraint. Her father would have been proud. Turning

to join Mulder, she added, just for good measure, “That is a

lot more than I can say for you, McCallister. From what I

can see, your head is so far up your ass that you can’t see

straight. Good night, Ranger McCallister.”

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

2:00 a.m.

May 15, 2001

Walker’s Summit

Ragged Mountain

Maine

Peter McCallister had always wanted to be a forest

ranger, even for as far back as he could remember. As a

young, energetic child, he had spent countless hours

exploring the woods behind his house. With his trusty

flashlight and his dog Bow, he had gotten to know every

nook and cranny.

He was familiar with the lay of the land so if there truly

was some strange beast stalking about these woods, his

woods, he would know about it, wouldn’t he?

As Peter stared silently into the fire, he found himself

taking deep, cleansing breaths as he tried to rid himself

of the anger that he felt. As his breathing finally started

to slow, he allowed his eyes to follow the glowing golden

embers that were rising in the air. The tiny specks of

light drifted ever skyward and they twinkled like the stars

that sat deeply in the clear night sky.

What had attacked the Saunders, he wasn’t sure, but he knew

that it wasn’t the skunk ape. *Superstitious hogwash,* he

thought, as he stretched his legs out. He himself had been

raised on the nursery rhyme, just like the other children

of his town had been.

-You’d better be good if you go out to play,

or the Oooglie Booglie will steal you away-

He had to admit that as a child it had scared him enough

not to venture out after dark.

As an adult, however, it was just another childhood memory.

As he took one long last look over at the tent where the

agents slept, he made up his mind to end this travesty.

When the sun came up, he would do his duty and lead them on

one last survey of the area. When that was concluded

however, they were going to pack up and get the hell off of

the mountain. There would be nothing left to do, nothing

left to see.

A bright grin flashed across his face, replacing the sour

one that had previously been there.

*Take that you fibbies…*

Suddenly, the cracking of frozen snow and the sound of

heavy footfalls stirred him from his musings.

Standing up quickly, he pulled his rifle from the ground

and removed the safety. He knew the sounds of all of the

wildlife that lived within the borders of Maine and that

definitely wasn’t one he recognized.

*Aha, so you have returned. Big mistake…whoever or

whatever you are. I’m here and there is no way you’re

getting away.*

Leaning over, he grabbed his pack and pulled out a

flashlight. For a brief moment as he stood up, the thought

of waking the agents up crossed his mind, but just as

quickly as it had come, it was gone. He didn’t need them or

their help. He would do this on his own. He would prove to

them and to everyone that the Oooglie Booglie was just

another tall tale.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

3:30 a.m.

Walker’s Summit

Ragged Mountain

Maine

Mulder unzipped the flap of the tent and pushed it open,

the fresh yet bitter night air replacing the warm, stale

air of his brief sleep. Pulling on his jacket, he turned

his head and took a long last look at his partner. From

where he was kneeling, all he could see was the bright

flash of her hair illuminated by the firelight and the slow

rise and fall of her chest.

The hike had taken a lot more out of her than she would

admit. After only minutes of joining him, while she had

been writing up their field notes, she had fallen asleep

right on top of them.

Although Mulder hadn’t wanted to disturb her, he had no

choice. The night was cold and the clothes that she had

been wearing under her jacket wouldn’t be enough. So he had

ended up waking her and with a little assistance from him

she had crawled sleepily into her bag, mumbling something

akin to “…oh, brother…” as he had zipped her in.

With nothing to do and exhaustion tugging at his attention,

he then had crawled into his own bag and in moments had

drifted off. However, it hadn’t been long before the sound

of footsteps had called him back. He had then spent several

hours going over the field notes, until he couldn’t write

anymore.

As he crawled out and closed the flap behind him, he

remembered when he had last heard her utter those words. In

a hospital, in what seemed a lifetime ago, he had told her

that he loved her. It hadn’t been drug induced, it hadn’t

been as a result of a head injury. It had been borne of his

heart.

Mulder looked over at the fire, the once dancing flames now

a small flicker. Where McCallister had been sitting, now

only his backpack remained, the contents strewn haphazardly

about in the snow. “Oh, shit…” Mulder muttered as he

instinctively drew his gun.

McCallister might be an ass but he wouldn’t just leave his

watch. Mulder knew that in spite of their differences, he

was too much of a professional to do that.

Mulder reached into his pocket, as he held the gun in the

other hand and pulled out his flashlight. After turning it

on, the cold of the plastic already cutting into the palm

of his hand, he moved the beam about, hoping for any clue

as to which direction to go.

After a moment, out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a

fairly fresh set of tracks. They moved across the clearing,

and faded into the trail that Mulder knew went further up

the mountain.

Mulder knew that he should wake Scully up since it was

standard operating procedure to have back up, but he

didn’t.

Instead, he took a deep breath uttered a silent word of

apology and headed out to follow McCallister’s trail.

As Mulder made his way on the uneven terrain, he tried

desperately to keep his balance. During the day, the sun had

melted some of the snow and the result was less than

desirable. To his right, he could just make out the steep

incline that flowed back into the valley. To his left, a

dense wall of snow dressed trees. All about him, silence

floated about, and he swore that he could hear a pin drop a

mile away.

After a few moments of picking his way along, the trail

flattened out and cut off sharply to his left. Just ahead,

he could make out some movement, and he quickly tucked

himself behind a tall pine. Placing his back flat against

the rough bark, Mulder peeked around the corner to take a

look.

He studied the area carefully and after a few moments came

out from behind the tree trunk. The movement that he had

seen was apparently the swaying of some branches, caught

momentarily in the wind. “I really need to get a hold of

myself,” he chuckled softly, as he stepped back on the trail.

From behind him, Mulder heard the cracking of a twig and he

spun around quickly, his gun held tightly. “McCallister?”

Mulder whispered as his eyes darted about, searching the

distance as his ears tried desperately to hear anything

else.

Suddenly, an intense pain pierced his skull and a bright

light flashed before his eyes. Mulder tried to grab for a

nearby tree, as a surge of dizziness hit him like a truck.

However, the tree wasn’t close enough and he fell down onto

the cold snow, his breath hitching with every beat of his

heart.

Mulder couldn’t see a thing, and the ringing in his ears

was downright painful, but he still lifted his gun in a

blind attempt to protect himself. However he felt something

hit his arm, and then something warm and wet trickling down

his side. As the darkness claimed his consciousness,

Mulder’s last thoughts spoke silently in the night…

-You’d better be good if you go out to play,

or the Oooglie Booglie will steal you away-

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

6:30 a.m.

Walker’s Summit

Ragged Mountain

Maine

“Mulder, what the hell do you think that you were doing?”

Scully whispered softly to herself and rolled her eyes as

she made her way along the upper trail. Anger flowed

through every inch of her body and she knew that when she

found him, he would regret for the rest of his natural life

ever pulling such a stunt.

The sun was just starting to clear the horizon, the

oranges, reds and pinks of the newly born day chasing away

the night sky.

It hadn’t been Mulder or McCallister that had awakened her

from her sleep as she had expected. It had been the calls

of some distant birds.

It hadn’t taken her long to find out where the two men had

gone and so here she was, trying to save his ass again.

With each and every step Scully took, a dull ache ran down

the back of her legs. It seems that the hike from the day

before — carrying a pack that could have easily weighed 75

pounds — had bothered her Sciatic nerve. With the way that

she felt, she had no clue as to how she would hike back out

of there.

Maybe she could make Mulder carry her out for his penance.

A small smile crept across her lips but it was quickly

replaced with a grimace. As good as that sounded, she would

never let anyone, let alone a man do that. Not while she

was conscious, anyways.

Just ahead, Scully noted a dark shape, outlined against the

white of the snow. Even from were she was, she could tell it

was Mulder. She would recognize that jacket a mile away.

Ignoring her back, she dropped behind some bushes and

pulled out her gun. As much as she wanted to go to him, she

needed to make sure that the area was secure.

After a few moments of careful observation, she realized

that they were alone, so she carefully made her way over to

him and dropped to her knees, her gun still clutched

tightly in her hand.

Furrowing her brow in concentration, Scully quickly

examined him, as she kept her gun at a ready position.

Mulder was lying on his side, his eyes closed and his

cheek burrowed into the snow. From his arm, a great deal

of blood had oozed from a very sizeable gash and had

stained the ground beneath him. As she reached for his

wrist and took his pulse, she noted that his pulse was

thready.

Fighting the tears in her eyes that were threatening to

fall, Scully whispered softly. “Hold on Mulder, I’m going

to get you out of here.”

How? She wasn’t sure. But she would think of something. She

was nothing if not resourceful.

But first she needed to stop the bleeding. The kit was back

at the site so Scully reached down and unzipped her jacket.

The thermal that she was wearing was made of heavy cotton

and she knew that it would do the job for now. As she

pulled at the hem, she saw some movement behind a cluster

of trees about 50 feet away and to her left.

“Freeze! Federal Agent…put your hands up in the air!”

Scully called out loudly, as she brought her firearm up in

line sight: rear and front, her finger lying on the

trigger. From where she was, she couldn’t get a good look

at it. The trees were thick and provided more than enough

cover. All that she *did* know was that whatever it was,

was pretty damn big and it smelled horrible.

So much for the Oooglie Booglie being just a legend.

In spite of the freezing cold, she felt sweat drip down her

forehead. This was one game she didn’t want to play. If

only it would move out far enough for her to get a clean

shot.

All of a sudden, the shadow let out an inhuman cry and

began to thunder through the trees, right at them. Aiming

her sights at the movement, Scully pulled the trigger.

From behind the bramble, she could hear it scream again as

it turned around and headed off into another direction.

Scully let out a deep breath and allowed her gun arm to

fall to her lap. Whatever it was, she had hit it. They were

out of danger for the moment; the authorities could track

it down later. Her first priority was getting Mulder the

medical attention that he needed, before he bled to death.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

10:30 a.m.

Three miles east of Clarkston Ranger Station

Maine

Being sick was one of Mulder’s least favorite things.

One would think that with all of the hospitalizations that

he had had over the years that he would have gotten used to

it by then, but he hadn’t.

As Mulder attempted to pull himself upright, trying to

take his weight off of Scully’s shoulders, he really didn’t

*know* what end was up. Everything was swirling in a

hellish haze and he was completely lost.

All that he did know was that his head hurt like hell and

that he really needed to puke.

Although Scully had told him that it was only a couple of

miles down Ragged Mountain to an unmanned seasonal ranger

station, Mulder wasn’t so sure *how* he was going to make it.

He had felt like crap when they had first started and now he felt

even worse.

When he had woken up and had found himself back at base

camp, Scully had filled him in as best she could on what

had happened. She had explained how she had shot the

creature and how she had literally dragged him back to

their camp. The bandage on his arm, and the lump on his

head had told him the rest.

They both knew that he couldn’t make the hike back to the

road. That wasn’t an option. The two-way radio that

McCallister had when they had first hiked up to the

mountain wasn’t one either. Scully had searched the camp

high and low. It wasn’t there. McCallister must have had it

on him when he had gone out presumably after that thing.

So that was why they were there, on one of the many hunting

trails cutting through those woods, making their way to

where they knew that they could call for help.

However, the trek hadn’t been easy. Between losing so much

blood and his vision swimming about him, he could barely

stand, let alone walk. His legs felt weak and his knees

felt awkward. Add to that the unevenness of the trail and

the incline of the slope and you would have a *certain*

recipe for disaster. Therefore, to keep him from killing

himself, Scully was walking beside him, his arm around her

shoulders, as she essentially held him up on his feet.

Mulder could feel the warmth of the sun caressing his

unshaven cheeks and he lifted his head further to thaw

himself out. Even with his less-than-perfect vision at the

moment, he could tell that it was an absolutely beautiful

day. Up on Ragged Mountain there had still been quite a bit

of snow, however down here in the valley it was just about

melted. From high atop the trees above, Mulder could hear

the first birds of spring calling out to the lands about

them.

“Are you still with me, Mulder?” Scully asked as she nudged

him gently with her elbow.

“I feel like hell,” Mulder stumbled as he felt another wave

of dizziness rush through him. He could feel her slight

body holding him up, supporting him just as she always did.

She was his rock, his anchor in the tumultuous seas of his

life. If he had no reason to believe in God before, he did

now. He had ever since she had come into his life. “I hope

that you got the number of that truck that hit me.”

“Actually, I didn’t.” Scully murmured, as she took a deep

breath. Mulder could hear the exhaustion dripping from

every syllable she uttered. He glanced down at her and

flashed her the best smile that he could. He could tell

from the look on her face that she was worried about him

and although he couldn’t quite tell her not to in so many

words — he knew that the smile would help.

“I’ve had enough of our little adventure, Mulder,” Scully

grinned in return as she pulled the pack slung over her

other shoulder closer to herself. “Let’s get the hell out

of here, nature boy.”

“Bring it on, Scully. Bring it on…” Mulder whispered, as

looked at the trail before them. Whatever the road ahead

had in store for them for the future, he knew that they

could handle it together.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

11:25 a.m.

May 16, 2001

Eastern Maine Medical Center

Bangor, Maine

Scully looked through the window of Mulder’s room, as she

stood in the hallway. Sunlight poured in from the window

across the room and it gently caressed the man lying in the

bed, surrounded by medical equipment and tubes. Even from

where she was she could see the pastiness of his skin and

the dark circles that sat heavily under his eyes.

She steeled her aching back and stepped into the room, her

shoes clicking softly against the tiles of the floor as she

walked over to him. Taking his limp hand in hers, she

squeezed it gently and she realized that it was still cool

to the touch, even after his transfusions.

As tears filled her eyes once again, she saw his lashes

flutter open, revealing his familiar hazel eyes.

“How are you feeling?” Scully asked, as she sat gently on

the bed next to him.

“Better than I was,” she heard him reply.

“Sorry I wasn’t here sooner, Mulder. They needed me to help

coordinate the search since I was the only one that could

show them where we were.”

“It’s OK,” fell like rain off his chapped lips. She felt

him shift about slightly in bed, turning himself so that he

could face her. “Have they found the creature yet?”

“The apiktchi’lu-uski’tap?” Scully offered, as she smiled

smugly.

“Whatever…” Mulder wheezed weakly, brought his hand up to

rest on her thigh.

“They are still searching for it. They’ve had the scent

dogs out several times, but they keep losing the trail. At

the point on the trail where I shot that thing, they found

a great deal of blood and numerous footprints. They also

found, for lack of a better term, what appears to be a

nest. There they found more blood, bits of bone, hair and

more footprints — three different sets– to be exact. From

the variation in sizes, I would guess a family.”

“That’s why it attacked us in broad daylight,” Mulder mused

out loud. “We came too close to their home. McCallister

must have also — speaking of McCallister…”

“No they haven’t,” Scully shook her head, “and we both know

that they won’t. We found some more of his personal items

and a hell of a lot more blood but that is all,” Scully

felt him snuggle the side of his face into her thigh, and

she couldn’t help but smile. This was her best friend and

he was going to be ok. That was all she needed, to set her

mind at ease.

“I’m sorry,” she heard him say and she arched a brow off

his words.

“For what? What have you done?” Scully reached over and

traced the upper line of his lips, his flesh branding a

trail of fire into her thoughts and her body. Her mind

screamed for her to stop, for her to stop treading in such

dangerous waters. In reward for all of its begging, she

ignored it. This was right. They were right.

“I’m sorry for dragging you into this. I’m sorry that I

didn’t leave well enough alone.”

“Mulder, you never leave well enough alone.” Scully

chuckled as she leaned over and brushed her lips across

his. From beneath her, she could feel his lips move in

response, and she deepened the kiss further. Reluctant to

pull away from him, but knowing that they could go no

further for now, she sat back up and shot him a smile,

teeth and all.

“I’m here because I want to be, Mulder. I wouldn’t want to

be anywhere else.” Giving into her thoughts, she leaned

over and kissed him once again, her lips saying what her

heart couldn’t now.

“Thank you, Scully.” Scully saw him smile weakly and his

eyes close, as he drifted back off into sleep. Reaching

over, she lovingly smoothed down his mussed hair. She would

say what she was feeling *soon*. She promised herself and

him, very soon.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Epilogue

Walker’s Summit

Ragged Mountain

Maine

It was snowing.

Not the heavy, let’s go skiing kind of snow that one would

usually see mid-season. It was the flirty, lacy kind of

snow that heralded *change* — a change that was yet to

come.

*That* snow was the snow that *he* was watching as he sat

silently on a ledge, overlooking Walker’s Summit.

Since the sun was coming up, he knew that he had precious

little time to survey his quickly vanishing territory. In

the distance, he could hear the droning buzz of the loggers

as they cleared the dense forests below in the name of

progress.

*They* were the reason why he had moved his family from the

warmer, more fertile lands further south, up to these dense

forests so many, many moons ago.

When he and his family had first come here, it had been a

flourishing community. But over time, as with all things,

it changed. The walking death had settled in and slowly,

one by one, the others had vanished. They too had traveled,

as once he did, looking for somewhere else to call their

own.

His family was all that was left.

He had tried to stay behind. He had tried to take back the

land and make it his own but he had failed. Nature had

found two *someones* more fit than he to walk these lands.

With a couple of swings of his powerful legs, he stood up: a

dark shadow with even darker eyes. His right arm useless,

hanging limply at his side.

It was no longer safe there. He had his mate and offspring

to protect and nothing was going to stop him. By next moon,

they would travel once again. Following those whom had gone

before them. For now, however, he would rest. Rest cradled

safely by the arms of his Mother Earth.

Only to walk the night as *his* others fed.

Only to face the walking death known as man.

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