Cerebral Sustenance

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Title: Cerebral Sustenance

Author: Frances Hayman Smith

E-mail: fi.smith@gte.net

Finished: September 2001

Written for: I Made This Productions Virtual Season 9

Category: X-File, MT, MSR

Spoilers: Excelsis Dei, Fight The Future (movie), Agua Mala,

Biogenesis, The Sixth Extinction, Amor Fati

Summary: Mulder and Scully are sent to Dallas to explore the

deaths of several people with Alzheimer’s disease

and Down syndrome whose conditions improved

dramatically just before they died.

Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully, Skinner and the X-Files (and all other

references to anything in the X-Files) belong to Chris

Carter, Ten-Thirteen Productions, and Fox. They do not

belong to me. Neither do M*A*S*H, MAPSCO, King of the

Hill, Winnie the Pooh, the Discovery Channel, Disney

World, or Animal Planet. They are used without

permission. No copyright infringement intended and

no money made. All those new people are the creation

of the author.

Distribution: IMTP until October 12, 2001, then it can go

elsewhere. Just keep my name with it and let me

know where it goes.

A Note on Terms and Spelling: In researching this story I discovered

that there are several accepted spellings for the syndrome

caused by the chromosomal abnormality Trisomy 21. Some people

prefer Down syndrome, others Downs syndrome, and still others

Down’s syndrome. It may seem like a small point, but I wanted

to get it right. The majority of my net research came up with

“Down syndrome” so that is what will be used in this story.

CEREBRAL SUSTENANCE

TEASER

Screaming. He heard screaming coming from a warehouse. The old man

walked toward the worn gray building, listening. He looked up the dirty

gray walls, into the gray rolling clouds above and heard more screams,

painful screams. Surely someone’s being tortured in there, he thought.

He made his way to a grimy window, wiped off a small area and tried to

look in. What he saw was a big room with a few metal barrels and wooden

crates scattered around. He stood on tiptoe and wiped a larger area,

this time seeing a door on the far side of the room. He cocked his head

and noticed that the screaming had stopped. The door across the room

opened, and a handsome young man walked out mopping his face with a

handkerchief and breathing hard. The younger man stood for a moment,

shakily bracing himself on the doorknob, then walked out of the old man’s

sight. The old man sighed, shrugged, and backed away from the window to

resume his walk. He looked down and noticed that his slippers were

quite wet.

“Now why did I wear these slippers today?” he said to himself. “And

where am I anyway?” He fingered the laminated tag on a lanyard around

his neck, brought it up to his face, and saw the picture of a smiling

man looking back. He read the name and address under the photo.

“James Baylor, Preston Ridge Adult Care Facility.” He paused and

frowned.

“Excuse me, sir. Are you lost?”

James Baylor turned around and saw the smiling face of the young man

he had seen through the window. “I, I think, so, son.” He held up

the tag. “I think this is where I’m supposed to be.”

The younger man looked at the tag. “You’re a long way from there,

Mr. Baylor. How did you get here?”

Baylor dropped the tag. “I remember getting on a bus, to go to my office.

I got off and just started walking. Seemed like a good day for a walk.”

He smiled and looked up at the rolling clouds. “Doesn’t seem like such

a good day for walking now, though.”

The younger man followed his gaze up. “I think you’re right there, sir.

Why don’t you come with me? We can get a cup of coffee and see about

getting you back to Preston Ridge. How’s that sound?”

“That sounds really good, son. Thank you.”

X X X X X

ACT ONE

X-FILES OFFICE

Monday morning

Mulder walked into the office balancing coffee, a bag of donuts, and

an armful of files. “Good morning, Scully!”

“My, my, aren’t we cheery this morning,” said Scully, eyebrow slightly

raised. “Looking forward to some vacation time?”

“Yes on both counts,” said Mulder, smiling brightly. He set his load

down on the desk then leaned in close to Scully. “You’re reason enough

to make anyone cheery, even without the prospect of time off.”

Scully blushed, but looked pleased. “Why, thank you, Mulder.” She

rose from her chair and sat on the corner of his desk. “But there

must be something else.”

Mulder held his hand over his chest. “Scully! That’s all the reason

I need,” he said in a slightly offended voice. “But, you’re right.

There is something else.”

“And that would be, what, exactly?”

“How does a long weekend in Florida sound?”

“Mulder, we’re NOT going looking for mothmen again, are we?”

“No, no, Scully! Strictly vacation. Soaking up sun on a beach, or

maybe we could visit the Happiest Place on Earth.”

“Really? Disney World?” said Scully, smiling broadly.

“Whatever you want, partner,” said Mulder, nearly matching her smile.

“We just have to make it until Thursday without getting into a big case.

I’ll call and make some arrangements this morning. Sooooo, what’ll it

be? Beach or The Mouse?”

“Umm, The Mouse, I think. I haven’t been there in years. What about

you, Mulder?”

“Disney sounds good to me. I’ve never been there.”

“Never?” asked Scully.

“Never. I guess I just haven’t had a lot to be happy about until

lately. Didn’t think I’d really fit in there.”

Scully laid a hand on his arm, her eyes bright. “Oh, Mulder. We both

have a lot to be happy about now. I just know you’ll have the time

of your life.”

Mulder picked up her hand and placed a kiss in the palm. “Anytime

we’re together is the time of my life, Scully.”

They sat quietly looking at each other for a moment when the phone

began to ring. Still, they sat there.

“I guess we better answer that,” said Scully.

Mulder sighed. “Okay. But if this is a big, involved case, you’ll

be sorry!”

Scully laughed as she picked up the phone. “Scully.”

“Agent Scully, this is Kim. A.D. Skinner would like to see you and

Agent Mulder in his office right away.”

“Do you know what it’s about?”

“No, I’m afraid I don’t. But he doesn’t look angry, if that helps.”

Scully smiled. “It does, Kim. Thanks.”

Mulder looked at Scully. “Skinner want us in his office, right?”

“Yes, but according to Kim he doesn’t look angry.”

Mulder rose. “At least that’s something.” He took a sip of coffee.

“If he sends us to Timbuktu, Nowhere on a long, drawn out case, I might

just have to kill him.”

“Mulder!” said Scully as she whacked him on the arm. “You’ll have to

get in line behind me.”

X X X X X

A.D. SKINNER’S OFFICE

“Good morning, Agents,” said Skinner. When Mulder and Scully were

seated, he picked up a file. “I know both of you put in for some

vacation time, but we have something here that you need to look into.”

Mulder and Scully quickly exchanged looks before Skinner looked up.

“What is it, sir?” asked Scully.

“It’s a death. Actually several.”

“A serial killer?” asked Mulder.

“We don’t know. Four people have died in the Dallas area over the

last four months under somewhat similar circumstances. No connections

have been established between the victims. One was a confirmed case

of Alzheimer’s, two were suspect, at least before the autopsies, and one

young adult with Down Syndrome.”

“Two suspect?” asked Scully.

Skinner nodded. “All of the victims, except for the one confirmed

Alzheimer’s patient, were homeless people.” He handed her the files.

“The latest victim was the father of a neurologist.”

“Anna Jane Baylor,” said Scully. “I went to medical school with her.”

“Well, maybe that will help, Agent Scully. Mr. Baylor also had some

pretty highly placed friends who have requested our help. All the

information we have is in the files. You should get to Dallas as soon

as possible.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Scully as they rose to leave.

“Sorry to ruin your weekend,” said Skinner, smiling weakly.

They walked out of Skinner’s office, Scully’s head still down, looking

through the file.

“You know,” said Mulder, “I think he really was sorry to mess up our

plans.”

“Hmm?” said Scully as Mulder steered her away from a wall, still

reading.

“Why don’t you wait until we get back to the office to read that.

I wouldn’t want you to fall down some stairs or impale someone with that

pen in your hand, Scully.”

“Oh, sorry, Mulder.” Scully closed the folder. “This could be

interesting.”

Mulder punched the button for the elevator. “Why do you say that?”

“Mr. Baylor experienced a dramatic improvement in his condition in the

weeks preceding his death.”

“That’s pretty rare, isn’t it?” asked Mulder.

“Yes. The usual course is a gradual decline over several years.

Sometimes people seem to stabilize at a certain level for a while and

they may have some days better than others, but they don’t improve this

dramatically.”

They stepped off the elevator and navigated through the boxes and shelves

to their office.

“I wonder if someone was feeding him funny mushrooms,” said Mulder.

“Like at that nursing home we investigated several years ago?”

Mulder nodded. “The Excelsis Dei Convalescent Home.”

“I suppose we should make sure the victims are screened for ibotenic

acid,” said Scully, again flipping through the file. “But I doubt we’ll

find that.” She looked up. “I mean there haven’t been any ‘ghost

attacks’ reported in the area.”

“Have there?” Mulder grinned. “Something else for us to check out. I’ll

make our travel arrangements,” said Mulder.

Scully looked up quickly, eyebrows raised. “No seedy motels, Mulder.

It sounds like we may be talking to some rather influential people and I

don’t want to look, well -”

“Trashy? You don’t want to look trashy? I doubt we’ll be conducting

interviews at our hotel.”

“I was thinking more about what moths did to one of my suits at one of

‘your’ hotels,” said Scully, smiling.

Mulder sat at his desk, a pout forming on his face. “Okay, then, would

you like to approve my choice before I make the reservations?”

Scully looked thoughtful. “I think that will be acceptable.”

X X X X X

DALLAS POLICE AND COURTS BUILDING

Monday afternoon

Mulder held the door open for Scully as they walked into the Dallas

Police building. They introduced themselves and were directed to the

detective in charge.

“Detective Burns?” asked Mulder as they stepped into an office crammed

with folders, coffee cups, and photos.

A slightly disheveled, heavy man with thinning red brown hair rose from

the chair behind the cluttered desk and offered his hand. “Yes! And

you must be the FBI agents from Washington,” he said with a broad smile.

“Welcome to Texas.”

“Thank you Detective Burns,” said Mulder as he took the offered hand.

“I’m Special Agent Fox Mulder and this is my partner Special Agent

Dana Scully.”

“A pleasure, ma’am,” said Burns as he took Scully’s hand gently, but

firmly. “And please, call me Frank.”

Mulder raised his eyebrows slightly and Frank laughed. “Yeah, Frank

Burns, just like on M*A*S*H. But I try not to be so irritating.”

Scully grinned again. “I can tell already you’re nothing like that

character. I’m sure we’ll all work together just fine.”

Frank sat heavily in his chair and motioned for them to sit as well.

“Well, I sure am glad to have some help on this one.” He propped his

elbow on the desk and rubbed at his jaw. “I didn’t even think this

was a case until Anna Jane contacted me.”

“Dr. Baylor contacted you?” asked Scully.

“Yes ma’am. She told me she thought there was something fishy about

her father’s death.”

“Sounds like you know Dr. Baylor,” said Mulder.

“Yes, sir. I met her about three years ago when one of my daughters

starting having headaches that turned out to be a brain tumor.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” said Mulder.

“No reason to be sorry,” said Frank. “Anna Jane, Dr. Baylor to me

then, took it out. It wasn’t cancer so she’s doing just fine now.”

“What made Dr. Baylor think there was something wrong in her father’s

death?” asked Scully.

“Jim Baylor was a healthy man, except for the Alzheimer’s disease.

He died pretty suddenly, with no previous sign of a problem. I know

that’s not too unusual for an older man, but it was the remarkable

improvement in the weeks before his death that really had her

thinking.”

“And then you connected it with the homeless people who had died, and

shown an improvement in their conditions prior to death?”

Frank nodded. “Yes. Ordinarily, I probably wouldn’t have even heard

about those deaths, but my wife and I do some volunteer work at a

couple of shelters in the area. We were at a volunteer meeting a month

or so ago and a couple of the shelter managers mentioned that they’d

seen some people with Alzheimer’s and Down syndrome show big

improvements. Then, a few weeks later, each of them were found

dead. There was no evidence at the time of foul play. But when

Anna Jane’s father died under similar circumstances, it just seemed

to be too much for a coincidence.”

“Have you found any other connections between these cases?” asked Mulder.

“Not too much. There were some similar things found at autopsy. I’ve

got copies of everything for you here somewhere.” He began rummaging

around on his desk. “Ah, here we go. Police and autopsy reports, and

what little I’ve gotten from interviews.” He handed the files to the

agents. “There’s another employee at Preston Ridge who’s been on

vacation that I still need to talk to.”

Scully immediately flipped to the autopsy reports. “Would it be

possible for us to talk with the medical examiner?”

“Yes, Agent Scully,” said Frank. “I believe he’s tied up this afternoon

in meetings. I talked to him this morning and he said he’d be in his

office in the morning if you want to talk to him then.”

“Great,” said Scully. “That’ll give me time to go through these in more

detail.”

“That person at Preston Ridge I’ve been waiting on, ah,” Frank shuffled

through papers, “John Bowman, is due back at work at 10am tomorrow. I

figured you two would like to come along for that interview.”

“Yes, we would,” said Mulder. “Thanks.” He leafed through the files

for a moment. “You’ve talked to some of the people who knew the first

three victims?”

Frank nodded. “Didn’t get much. The only thing anybody really had to

say was how much better each of them seemed in the weeks preceding their

deaths.”

“No mention of anything else strange happening?” asked Mulder.

“Strange? Like what?”

“Ghosts, attacks by something unseen?”

“Um, no. Well, not anymore than usual anyway.”

Mulder sat up slightly and leaned toward Frank. “What do you mean, not

more than usual?”

“Agent Mulder, a lot of these people are into all kinds of drugs and

alcohol pretty heavily. Sometimes hallucinations get reported if a

cop is nearby, but it never amounts to anything. I mean, I’ve seen my

share of strange stuff, but I haven’t heard anything that would have any

bearing on this case.”

Mulder sat back, a bit deflated, rubbing his hand thoughtfully across

his mouth. “Nothing reported consistently by several people?”

Frank sat back, thinking. “Not that I can recall, but I can find some

of the guys who patrol that area. It’ll take some time to run ’em down,

though. Tomorrow okay?”

“That’d be fine. Thanks.”

“Anything else I can help you with today?” Frank looked at his watch.

“Don’t mean to rush you off, but I’ve got a departmental meeting in a

few minutes.”

“There is one thing,” said Scully. “I’d really like to talk to Dr. Baylor.

We went to med school together but I haven’t seen her in years.”

“Sure thing, Agent Scully. I’ll call her and let her know you’re coming.

And I guess you’ll need some directions. Are you familiar with the

Dallas area?”

Scully grinned and looked over at Mulder. “We’ve been here before, but

it’s been a few years.”

Frank pulled a book off a shelf beside his desk and handed it to Mulder.

“‘Mapsco’. Don’t leave home without it.”

Mulder opened the book and looked at page after page of maps. “This is

the whole Dallas – Fort Worth area?”

“No, sir,” said Frank, “just the Dallas area. Fort Worth has a ‘Mapsco’

all it’s own.”

X X X X X

“Do you remember traffic being this bad when we were here before?” asked

a squinting Mulder.

“Yes, it was. Just as bad as D.C. in some areas,” said Scully, turning

the map book in her hand. “It should be the next street left, then the

third house on the right.”

Mulder nodded and soon turned the Lariat rental Taurus into the concrete

driveway of a brick two-story house. As they got out, he looked up and

down the street to see many similar houses, with similar lawns and

similar mailboxes, not to mention landscaping and fences. “Wow, ‘King

of the Hill’ is alive and well.”

“What?”

“‘King of the Hill’, the animated show on Fox about a family that lives

in a neighborhood near Dallas, much like this one.”

Scully shook her head and closed the door.

“What?” asked Mulder in an injured tone.

Scully sighed and muttered something that sounded an awful lot like,

“Can’t take him anywhere,” to Mulder. They walked to the front door and

rang the bell. Scully cut another scathing look at Mulder. “What?” he

said again, a totally innocent look on his face. He was saved from

further reproach as the front door opened.

“Dana Scully? Is that really you?” asked the young blond woman who

opened the door.

Scully smiled broadly and stepped forward to hug her classmate.

“Anna, I’m so sorry about your father.”

Anna broke the embrace and motioned them in. “Thank you, Dana. It’s

been hard, but death always is.” She led them into a comfortable living

room. “Please, have a seat. Frank, um, Detective Burns, called and told

me you were on your way.”

“It really is good to see you, Anna. I just hate the circumstances.

How have you been doing?”

“Professionally, great. Busy practice, good partners, plenty of

patients. Personally, right now I’m pretty much a wreck. Mom died

about 7 years ago of a sudden heart attack. In many ways I’m glad she

never had to see Daddy in the last few years. But, as an only child, it

was tough for me to take care of him alone. Taking him to Preston Ridge

was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I know it was the right

thing, really the only thing I could do, but it still hurt.”

“How long was he there?” asked Mulder.

“Oh, I’m sorry, Anna,” said Scully. “This is my partner, Fox Mulder.”

Mulder reached across the coffee table and shook Anna’s hand.

“Nice to meet you, Fox.”

“Just Mulder,” he said, smiling.

“Nice to meet you, Mulder,” said Anna. “Now, you were asking how long

Daddy had been at Preston Ridge?” Mulder nodded. “He’d been there

about eight months when he died.”

“And he had shown remarkable improvement in the weeks before his

death?” asked Scully.

Anna nodded. “Yes. It was truly remarkable. For the last

three weeks, he was almost back to the Daddy I’d always known, and

then,” she paused and sighed, “they found him dead in his room. A

ruptured aneurysm of the abdominal aorta was what the autopsy showed.

But it also showed many small cerebral aneurysms. Dana, he didn’t

have any of the big risk factors for aneurysms.”

“They do happen sometimes without those,” said Scully.

“Yes, I know. I suppose I’m just trying to find a reason that I lost

him.” She shook her head and wiped at her eyes. “It’s just not fair.

He was doing so well. I need to know.”

“We’ll do all we can to help you find out,” said Scully.

“Had you noticed anything else different about him? Any people he

talked about that you didn’t know?” asked Mulder.

“One thing did kind of puzzle me. When he was doing so well I talked

to him about coming back here, to live with me. He wanted to stay at

Preston Ridge. He said the people there were really helping him. He

talked a lot about a man named Jeff that I think worked there.” She

looked down and smiled. “All that time I was torturing myself about

putting him there, but in the end, that’s where he wanted to stay, even

when he knew what was going on. I’m not sure if that makes me feel

better about Preston Ridge or worse about myself.”

“I’m sure he was just doing what he thought was best for both of you,”

said Scully. “He had to realize that the improvement was likely only

temporary.”

“I suppose,” said Anna. “But you didn’t see him, Dana. He was just

so, so -”

“Normal?” asked Mulder.

“No, more than just normal. He was vital, almost sparkling, if that

makes any sense. Even though his body was that of an older man, it was

as if his mind was soaring.” She took a deep breath and looked at Scully.

“I suppose it could have been something like a moment of final lucidity,

but that just doesn’t happen with Alzheimer’s, and not for several weeks.

As a neurologist, I don’t know what to think. As a daughter, I am

glad I had my father back, even if it was for just a little while.”

“Did Detective Burns tell you about the other people who died under

similar circumstances?” said Mulder.

Anna nodded. “Yes. He asked me some questions about whether Alzheimer’s

or Down syndrome patients ever improved dramatically. The answer of

course is ‘not usually’. But you can never say never or always in

medicine.”

“Did you know any of the other victims?”

“No. I even looked back through my records to see if any of them had

been my patients, but they weren’t.”

“Anna,” said Scully, “I know this is hard, but we may need to come back

and ask some more questions after we get into this. Is that all right?”

“Absolutely. I’d really like to know what happened to Daddy. If we

can find out what caused the improvements, it could revolutionize the

treatment of many neurological problems. People with all sorts of

things that limit comprehension and social interaction could really

benefit.”

X X X X X

TRAIL DUST STEAK HOUSE

Monday night

“You’re awfully quiet,” said Scully as she watched Mulder chew his steak.

Mulder swallowed. “I was just thinking that we had to come all the

way to Texas to get a good steak.” He smiled and took another bite.

“And that I’m really glad I took my tie off before we came in.”

He looked around at all the ugly ties tacked to the walls around them.

They had been cut off people, with a pair of sheep shears, who were

wearing them when they came in.

“Yes, Mulder. It sure would be a pity for you to lose your Flying Toilets

tie.”

“Now, Scully, that tie’s a classic! Lots of people have Flying Toasters,

but how many people have Flying Toilets?”

“Not many, I hope,” said Scully. “No, really, Mulder. I know that look.

What were you thinking?”

“I was thinking about what Anna said right before we left.”

“About finding the cause for her father’s improvement?”

Mulder nodded. “If there is a specific agent involved, it really could

improve a lot of people’s lives.”

“Or kill them. Don’t forget that all these people are dead, Mulder.”

“All the people we know about. Scully, there could be more people

who are better, but still very much alive. And I’d like to try to find

some of them.”

“If they exist,” said Scully.

Mulder nodded again. “Do you have any ideas right now about causative

agents?”

Scully wiped her mouth with a napkin and sat back in the booth. “A

chemical compound or drug, environmental contaminant, viral infection -”

“What about an alien viral infection?”

Scully’s eyebrow lifted. “I hadn’t even thought of that, Mulder. It

would be a vastly different presentation of that kind of virus. What

we’ve seen so far really wouldn’t seem to support that.”

“Don’t discount them, Scully. We’ve seen many times before how they can

conduct experiments with no one the wiser.” He turned his attention back

to his steak. “Maybe they’ve found a way to control what happened to

me before they cut my head open.”

Before Scully could reply, Mulder’s cell phone rang. “Mulder.” He sat

for a moment and listened. “What’s the address?” He hastily scribbled

on a napkin on the table. “We’re on our way.”

“What’s going on?” asked Scully.

“That was Frank. They’ve found another body.”

X X X X X

ACT TWO

DOWNTOWN DALLAS

Another alley. Frank looked around, then up at the sky, hoping that

they’d finish gathering evidence before the rain started. Thunder

rumbled through the alley again. He looked up as two people approached

the scene.

“Agents,” said Frank. “Sorry I had to interrupt your dinner, but I

figured you’d want to see this.”

“What have we got here, Detective?” asked Mulder.

Frank motioned for the pair to follow him. “We had reports of a

disturbance in the area. Weren’t really sure if it was a mugging or

what. Turned out to be a one car accident.” He stopped and pointed

to a dark sedan with the front crunched up against a large dumpster.

“The horn blaring was the disturbance.”

“What does this have to do with our case?” asked Scully.

Frank smiled. “I’m glad you asked that, ’cause I’ve been asking myself

that for the past hour. I sure didn’t think a car accident went along

with everything else, but one of our astute observing officers found

some things that may link this to the other victims.”

“May?” asked Scully. “What is it?”

Frank nodded. “I’m getting to that. The driver, dead when the officer

found him, was identified as Joe Shaw, a pharmaceutical rep.”

“What company?” asked Mulder.

Frank looked pulled a pad out of his pocket. “Ah, Roush Pharmaceuticals.”

Mulder and Scully exchanged looks. Frank noticed. “Is that significant?”

“It might be,” said Scully. “Any indication of what happened?”

Frank nodded. “Looks like a pretty clear case of driving under the

influence. You can easily smell alcohol on the body. There was an open

bottle of vodka on the seat beside the driver and there’s a bar just

around the corner where he’d been drinking until the bartender refused to

serve him any more.”

“What connects him to our other victims?” asked Mulder.

“Well, it’s pretty circumstantial, and it may have nothing to do

with it,” said Frank as pulled open the front passenger door. There

were file folders scattered all over the place. “There’s a file here,

right on top, for Preston Ridge, the facility where James Baylor spent

the last few months of his life.” He picked up the file with a gloved

hand.

Scully snapped on gloves of her own and took the file. She looked

closely at the pages. “This seems to be a record of drugs and supplies

ordered from Roush for the facility.”

Frank picked up a piece of yellow paper in a bag of it’s own. “There

was this sticky note on the first page of the file.”

Mulder looked at it. “Jeff, warehouse at 5pm, enhancement trials update.”

“We’re looking into that now,” said Frank. “We’re checking out

warehouses in the general area, owners, uses, all that stuff. Should

have something on that sometime tomorrow. And we found something

else.” He picked up another evidence bag and showed it to the pair.

“It’s a broken vial. Still had a little brownish liquid in it, but

it looks like most of whatever was in there is gone.”

Scully took the bag. “We need to get an analysis on this right away.

And see if there’s any in the carpet on the seats. We need as much as

we can get to tell what this is.”

Mulder was still looking at the note. “Jeff, Jeff. Didn’t Dr. Baylor

Say something about a guy named Jeff? Her father talked about him.”

Scully handed the bag with the vial to a waiting forensics officer.

She turned to face Mulder. “Yes, she did. She said that she thought

it was someone who worked at Preston Ridge.”

“Another question to ask tomorrow morning,” said Frank. “I just wish I

knew this really had anything to do with the case you two got dragged

down here for.”

“Every piece of the puzzle is important,” said Mulder.

“Yeah, but is it the same puzzle, or a different one?” asked Frank.

Mulder smiled. “That’s why they pay us the big bucks, Frank. To

figure that out.”

X X X X X

GRAND KEMPENSKI HOTEL

Monday night

Mulder yawned and stretched as they walked into the hotel room. He

turned around and looked at Scully. “Ok, does this past muster?” he

asked, motioning around the room.

Scully smiled and walked slowly around Mulder. “Well, it is better

than you usually do -”

“Aw, come on -”

Scully turned quickly and kissed Mulder. Her hands laced around the

back of his neck as he cupped the back of her head. Reluctantly, Scully

pulled back. “You did good, Mulder. Too bad I’m too tired to make good

use of the Jacuzzi tub tonight.”

“Maybe tomorrow?” asked Mulder hopefully.

“Maybe,” said Scully. “But right now, we better get some sleep. We’ve

got a full day ahead of us.”

Mulder sighed. “You’re right. You want the shower first?”

“Mulder, there is a shower in each room. We could actually shower at

the same time.”

Mulder lay down on the bed. “Now, that would be a nice shower.”

“Mulder!” said Scully. “You know what I mean.”

“It sure would be nice if we could quit wasting the taxpayers’ money

and just get one room. But, I know we can’t do that. Yet.”

“Not yet.” Scully sighed. “Anyway, I’m going to shower now.”

Mulder yawned. “Just don’t use up all the hot water.”

“I won’t,” said Scully, knowing from the sleepy quality in Mulder’s voice,

he’d be asleep before the water even warmed up.

X X X X X

HOTEL RESTAURANT

Tuesday morning

Mulder sipped coffee as he watched Scully push a piece of cantaloupe

around her plate. Scully looked up to see him watching her.

“Want some?”

“Eck, no. I can’t handle healthy food this early. Besides, I think

I had enough pancakes and bacon to last me for a while.”

“I noticed,” said Scully. “You do know that it’s entirely unfair that

you can eat all that food and still stay looking so good. If I ate that,

it would go straight to my thighs.”

“Scully, you’re beautiful, and you will always be beautiful,” said Mulder,

reaching across the table to hold Scully’s hand.

Scully blushed a little. “Thank you, Mulder.” She glanced down at her

watch. “We better get a move on. I need to talk to the medical examiner,

and we need to meet Frank to go to Preston Ridge this morning too.”

Mulder took the last drink of his coffee. “Why don’t I drop you off there.”

“Where are you going?”

“I thought I’d go to the shelter where the Down syndrome victim, Pamela

Parker, was found dead. See if anyone could tell me more about her.”

Scully nodded. “Sounds like a plan.”

X X X X X

DALLAS COUNTY MORGUE

“Dr. Wylie?” asked Scully as she stepped through the door to the medical

examiner’s office.

“Yes,” said a small thin man with a bushy gray handlebar mustache from

behind a desk. He pushed rimless glasses up his nose, rubbed a hand

across his balding head, “Oh, you must be Dr. Scully from the FBI.”

He stood and offered his hand to Scully.

“Yes, I’m Special Agent Dana Scully,” said Scully, sitting when he

motioned her to one of the chairs in front of his desk.

“Detective Burns tells me you’re here looking into James Baylor’s death,

as well as those of several homeless people.”

“That’s right. I looked over the autopsy reports and had some questions

for you.”

“Ask away,” said Wylie, leaning back in his chair.

“On James Baylor, you determined the cause of death to be a ruptured

aortic aneurysm.”

Wylie nodded. “Oh, yes. His abdomen was full of blood. The rupture

was really quite dramatic. Biggest one I’ve seen in a while.”

“Do you think he should have exhibited some sign of problem related to

this prior to his death?”

Wylie pursed his lips and looked thoughtful. “Hard to say. Most of

these cause at least some abdominal pain, but a lot of people dismiss it

as a GI ailment they already have, or, in the case of Alzheimer’s

patients like this, unless someone witnesses them in pain, they could

just forget about it.”

“What about the reported improvement in his Alzheimer’s in the weeks

preceding his death? Did you find anything to explain it?”

“No. His brain looked like that of most other Alzheimer’s patients,

although he didn’t seem to be as advanced as his history would have

led me to believe. Plus he had all those cerebral aneurysms. You

don’t often see so many in one person. It’s a wonder he didn’t

rupture one of those, too. Some of ’em were pretty big.”

“And you found no toxins or drugs in his system that shouldn’t have

been there?”

“Nope. Of course, we didn’t even test for any of those until it was

connected to the other deaths. But when we did, we didn’t find anything

except medicines he was supposed to be taking.”

Scully nodded. “And nothing unusual in the other three victims?”

“Well, let’s see. One of ’em, the girl with Down syndrome had several

AVM’s in her brain.”

“Arterio-venous malformations?” asked Scully. “That’s an abnormal

collection of blood vessels that’s usually congenital, isn’t it?

“Yes, although sometimes they can result from trauma. One had

hemorrhaged quite a bit. She had pneumonia as well but the bleeding

in her brain was what killed her.”

“What about the other two?”

“Both had classic Alzheimer’s lesions, plus a bunch of cerebral

aneurysms and one had a huge basilar one. They each died when an

aneurysm ruptured. As I said, you usually don’t see that many aneurysms

in one person. To see it several times in just a few weeks, now,

that’s kinda strange.”

“Do you have any ideas why they could have developed so many?” asked

Scully.

“No, ma’am, I sure don’t. But since all these people experienced great

improvements in their conditions otherwise, well, it just seems to me

they might be related.”

“Yes, it sure does seem that way.”

“I was talking to a neurologist buddy of mine yesterday about these cases,”

said Wylie. “He told me if we ran across anyone like that and they were

still alive he’d love to run ’em through some tests in his department.”

“I’m sure he would. A treatment that could improve patients’ symptoms

that dramatically would be quite a breakthrough.”

Wylie nodded enthusiastically. “You better believe it!”

“Just one more question about the victims,” said Scully. “Would it be

possible to test for ibotenic acid in each of them?”

“Sure. Mind me asking why?”

“My partner and I ran across a case several years ago where a number of

patients in a nursing home, some of whom had Alzheimer’s disease,

experienced dramatic improvement in their conditions. Ibotenic acid

may have been why.”

“Isn’t that found in some kinds of mushrooms?” asked Wylie.

“Yes, it is. And that turned out to be the source in this case. But

it caused, ah, other things to happen as well. Not like what we’re

seeing here, but -”

Wylie nodded. “You’re wondering if someone found a way to use it

without those side effects.”

“Exactly. Of course, taking into account that all these people are dead,

it seems that whatever is involved here has its own set of problems.”

Wylie chuckled. “I’d have to agree with you there, Dr. Scully.” He

shook his head. “Don’t mean to rush you, but I’ve got an autopsy waiting.

Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“Is that the DUI drug rep from last night?”

Wylie flipped through some paperwork. “Um, yes, it is.”

“Mind if I watch?”

“Not a bit. An extra pair of experienced eyes and hands is always

welcome.”

X X X X X

SHELTER OF HOPE

Mulder closed the door of the rental car and walked to a door that read

“Shelter of Hope”. He opened the door and walked into a large room

filled with tables. People of all ages were scattered around the room.

Some people were eating, some talking, some drawing and painting. A

woman got up from one of the tables and walked toward him.

“May I help you?” she asked.

“Yes,” said Mulder, pulling out his ID. “My name is Special Agent Fox

Mulder with the FBI. I’d like to talk to someone about Pamela Parker.

I believe she was a resident here for a while.”

The woman put her hand over her mouth then sighed. “Poor Pam. I’d be

happy to answer any questions you have.” She extended her hand. “I’m

one of the managers of this shelter. Mary Webb.”

Mulder shook her hand. “Nice to meet you, Ms. Webb.”

She motioned him to follow her into a small office. “Just Mary,” she

said. “Please have a seat.”

“Thank you,” said Mulder as he sat on one end of a rather worn couch.

“I take it you knew Miss Parker?”

Mary nodded. “Oh, yes. She’d been coming here off and on for about

two years. She was such a free soul. I believe she’d lived in a group

home for a while, and had spent much of her early childhood

institutionalized. Her mother surrendered her as an infant, so

she never had any family to watch out for her.” She smiled and shook

her head. “Pam was never good at following other people’s rules. She

liked to make her own. And she didn’t like to be confined. I guess

that’s why she drifted in and out as the mood struck her.”

“I understand that she had Down syndrome,” said Mulder.

“Yes, but she was quite high functioning. She held jobs in housekeeping

at hotels, worked at an animal shelter, even helped out in a library once.

She always got good recommendations from her employers, but she’d quit,

and move on to something else.”

“Did she like working in the library?”

“Oh, yes. She loved books, especially poetry. She didn’t always

understand the words, and she had trouble reading them herself sometimes.

I spent many an hour right here in this office reading to her.” She

paused and turned around in her chair to pull two small books off a

nearby shelf. “These were hers.” She handed them to Mulder.

“One is a book of poetry that I gave her. The other is one she wrote

her own poems and thoughts in. I haven’t had the heart to read any of

it since she died.”

Mulder took the books. He laid aside the well-worn copy of “Happy Poems”

and looked at the journal. Winnie the Pooh grabbing for a balloon graced

the cover, with the words “Pam’s Book” written in a childish scrawl across

the top. “Do you mind if I take a look?”

Mary shook her head. “Oh, no. Of course not.”

“Maaary. Mary where are you?” came a man’s voice from the other room.

Mary stood up and went to the door. “What is it Harold?”

“We need some more paper and paint and juice -”

“Alright, Harold. I’ll get it for you.” She looked back at Mulder.

“Will you excuse me for a moment?”

Mulder nodded and turned his attention back to Pam’s book. He flipped

through the pages and saw drawings, short poems, and some entries of

what appeared to be happenings on specific dates. He went to the end

and noticed that even though the writing was the same, the words were

more complex, the poems more abstract.

Mary returned in a few minutes. “I’m sorry about that, Agent Mulder,”

she said smiling.

“That’s alright,” said Mulder. “I don’t want to keep you from the

people who need you. But I do have a few more questions.”

“I’ll do my best to answer them,” said Mary.

“Were you the person who found Pam’s body?”

“Yes. She’d been fighting a cold for a couple of weeks and having bad

headaches.” Mary looked down at her hands. “She hated doctors and

every time I asked her about going to get some medicine for her cold, she

adamantly refused. They told me that when she died she had pneumonia. I

wish now I’d pushed harder for her to get some help.” She wiped at her

eyes. “Anyway, I went to wake her up one morning, and she was dead. She

was just lying there clutching her books.”

“Is there anyone she talked about that you didn’t know? Anything strange

that happened before she died?”

Mary wiped her eyes again. “You mean, besides her improvement?”

Mulder nodded. “And I’d like for you to tell me about her improvement.”

“I don’t recall her talking to me about anyone in particular. You might

want to talk to Harold out there,” she inclined her head out the door.

“He was one of her friends here. But the change in her was, was -”

“Sparkling?”

“Yes, that’s it! It was as if so many things she’d struggled all her

life to understand were suddenly clear to her. She took great delight

in everyday things. Sometimes she would just sit and listen

to other people talk or watch birds and bugs outside.” Mary laughed.

“After she started getting better, she sat in front of the TV in the

big room here and dared anyone to change it from the Discovery channel.

She was like a sponge, just trying to absorb every bit of information

she could.”

Mulder nodded. “Could I talk to Harold for a moment?”

“Sure. Let me get him.” Mary went out of the office and returned

with a balding middle-aged man wearing a bright orange T-shirt and

jeans pulled up too high. He appeared to be another Down syndrome

resident of the shelter. “Harold, this is Agent Mulder. He’s a

kind of police man, and he wants to ask you some questions about Pam.”

“Pam didn’t do anything wrong!” he said. “But she died.”

“I know, Harold. Pam didn’t do anything wrong, but we want to find out

more about why she died.”

“She was sick. Real sick.”

“Did she talk to you about that?”

Harold nodded. “She said her head hurt real bad a lot and she coughed

and coughed. Then she’d just cry it hurt so bad.”

“Did she tell you about anybody she had met that may have given her

something?”

Harold sat quietly and looked from Mulder to Mary. “She told me it

was a secret.”

“What was a secret, Harold?” asked Mulder.

Harold just shook his head and made a zipping motion over his mouth.

“Harold,” said Mary, “I think Pam wouldn’t mind you telling her

secret now.”

“Really?” asked Harold, looking intently at Mary.

“Really,” said Mary. “Tell us what Pam’s secret was.”

Harold looked back and forth between Mary and Mulder. “Well, I guess

if you think it’s ok, Mary.” Harold sighed and looked down at his hands.

“She told me there was this man who gave her pills that made her feel

better.”

“Do you know who it was?” asked Mulder.

Harold shook his head violently. “Oh, no! I told her not to talk

to that man! You shouldn’t take things from people you don’t know!

Pills can hurt you!”

“That’s right, Harold, they can. But Pam said they helped her?”

Harold nodded. “She said she could under, under-”

“Understand?” asked Mulder.

“Yeah, understand stuff better.”

“And you don’t know the man’s name, or where Pam went to get the pills?”

Harold shook his head again. “No, no. I didn’t want no pills from him!”

He stood up. “I gotta go now.” He walked out of the room.

Mary looked at Mulder. “Well, that’s the first I’ve heard about any

pills. But if Harold said he didn’t know who she got them from, I believe

him.”

“No pills were found in any of Pam’s belongings?” asked Mulder.

“No, nothing like that,” said Mary.

“Would you mind if I kept Pam’s book for a while. I’ll get it back to

you.”

“That would be fine. I want to help in any way I can,” said Mary.

“Do you think you can find out what happened?”

“We’re going to try,” said Mulder.

A middle-aged woman walked into Mary’s office as Mulder was getting up to

leave. “Mary, have you seen Jo Jo?” She stopped suddenly when she saw

Mulder. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were talking to someone.”

“That’s all right, Carol,” said Mary. “We were just finishing.” She turned

to Mulder. “Agent Mulder, this is Carol Pierce. She’s one of our

volunteers. Carol, this is Agent Mulder. He’s an FBI agent that’s looking

into Pam’s death.”

Carol extended her hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Agent Mulder.”

Mulder shook her hand. “It’s nice to meet you, too. Did you know Pam?”

“Yes, I did. She was one of my son’s best friends. They really

seemed to have a connection.” She looked down and wiped at her eyes.

“Since Pam died, Jo Jo’s just been beside himself. He’s a handful

anyway, and he’d been doing so well. I suppose he still is, but it’s just

not the same.”

“Excuse me for asking, but does he have some sort of problem?” asked

Mulder.

“Yes,” said Carol. “He’s autistic. He’s been in all kinds of therapy

most of his life, but since we started coming here to help, he’s just,

blossomed. He’s talking more, he’s interacting better with other

people. He’s just a new person. He slipped back a little right after

Pam died, but now he seems to be making progress again.”

“Do you know why?” asked Mulder.

“No,” said Carol, “and frankly I don’t care. For the first time in his

life my son is able to communicate and participate easily. It’s like a

miracle. But right now, my miracle boy has wandered off. He may have

improved a lot, and he may technically be an adult, but he’s still my

son.”

“I haven’t seen him at all today,” said Mary.

Carol shook her head. “He must have taken off right after we got here.

I saw him talking to Harold and I just thought he would stay there. I

got busy in the kitchen and lost all track of time.”

“How long do you think he’s been gone?” asked Mulder.

“Oh, maybe thirty or forty-five minutes,” said Carol.

“I’ll help you look,” said Mary.

“I could give you a hand, if you’d like,” said Mulder. “Do you have

a photo of him?”

“Oh, thank you!” said Carol. She reached into her apron pocket and

removed a small purse. “I have a picture here that was taken about

a month ago.” She removed the photo and handed it to Mulder.

The photo showed a shy looking young man with brown hair sitting on

a porch. “Maybe we should start with Harold,” said Mulder. “You did say

Jo Jo was talking to him when you first got here, didn’t you?”

“Yes, that’s right,” said Carol.

They walked over to the table where Harold was happily painting. “Harold,

have you seen Jo Jo?” asked Carol.

Harold looked up and nodded. “He was here a little while ago.”

“Did he say if he was going anywhere?” asked Mary.

Harold shook his head. “No.” He went back to his painting.

“Harold,” said Mulder, “did Jo Jo say anything to you?”

Harold nodded again and smiled. “He said my painting was pretty.”

Mulder smiled. “Did he say anything else?”

Harold sat for a moment, thinking. “Oh, yeah. He said his head hurt, and

he was gonna go look for his Mommy.”

Carol looked worried. “He didn’t find me, Harold. Where was he going to

look? Did he say?”

Harold shook his head again. “No.” He turned back to his paints.

Mulder looked up at Carol. “Any idea where he might have gone?”

Carol bit her lip, worry evident in her face. “I told him I was going

to be in the kitchen today. The only time I wasn’t was when I took the

garbage out. And he didn’t tell me he had a headache. He’s had a few

pretty bad ones lately. He used to have them a lot, but they got better,

until the last few weeks. I never would have come in today if I’d known

that.”

“How about if we split up and look around here first,” said Mulder. “He’s

probably still in the building.”

“I sure hope so,” said Carol.

Mulder began opening doors as Mary talked to other people in the room, and

Carol looked in the sleeping areas. He looked in a few offices and a

a linen closet with no result when he noticed a door at the end of the hall

that was slightly open. He pushed on it carefully and walked into a

dark room. “Jo Jo? Are you in here?” There was no response. He

found a light switch near the door and flipped it on. The room was full

of old furniture and cleaning equipment. He looked quickly around and

was about to leave when he saw a splash of color in the back corner. He

pushed through the stuff in the room so that he could get a closer look.

It was a red high-top shoe similar to the ones he’d worn when he played

basketball in junior high. He leaned over to pick it up but his hand

never reached the shoe. In the corner beside the shoe, lay Jo Jo. He

was curled into a ball with his hands over his head. Mulder carefully

approached him. “Jo Jo?” He didn’t move. Mulder knelt beside him and

reached for his arm. When he touched it, it fell and Jo Jo began to

fall with it. Mulder caught him and tried to push him back into the

corner. Jo Jo was dead.

clip_image002

X X X X X

DALLAS COUNTY MORGUE

“Well, Dr. Scully,” said Dr. Wylie, “I think we’ve got a pretty clear

case of traumatic death here.” He pointed at the open abdomen in front of

him. “Ruptured his spleen and damaged his liver when he hit the steering

wheel.”

“Not to mention what the windshield did to his head,” said Scully.

“Would you mind still running toxicology and -”

Wylie nodded. “And we’ll check for ibotenic acid too. ‘Course his

blood alcohol level will probably be through the roof.”

Scully’s cell phone chirped in her pocket. She stripped off her

gloves and backed away from the table to answer it. “Scully.”

“Hey Scully,” said Mulder, “you about done slicin’ and dicin’?”

Scully smiled. “I think so. That drug rep apparently died from

injuries he suffered in the accident. They’ll run toxicology,

too, but -”

“It doesn’t look like he was murdered,” supplied Mulder.

“Right. Did you find anything?”

“Yep. Another body,” said Mulder. “And a journal kept by Pam.

According to one of her friends, she was getting pills from someone.”

“Wait, wait,” said Scully. “Did you say another body?”

“Yes, I did. It was the son of a volunteer here. Scully, he was

autistic, and he’d gotten a lot better. Sound familiar?”

“Yes, it sure does,” said Scully. “Did I hear you say something about

pills?”

“Yes, ma’am, you did. But none were found in Pam’s belongings and the

mother of this latest apparent victim doesn’t think her son was taking

anything he wasn’t supposed to. Feel like doing another autopsy?”

“Send it on. Maybe we can get some answers now that we have some

idea what we’re looking for.”

“So you found some connections?”

“All of these people had massive hemorrhages and aneurysms. Whatever

this stuff is, it must weaken blood vessels, especially in the brain.”

“The body should be there soon. They just took it away and are cleaning

things up here.”

“Are you on your way here?”

“Yes, ma’am. I don’t think I’m going to get much else out of the mother

right now and Frank said he’d meet us at Preston Ridge in about an

hour. Hopefully, we’ll make it there by then.”

“Better call him and make it two if you want me to do this autopsy,” said

Scully. “And don’t worry, Mulder. I’ll read the map and navigate for you.”

Mulder chuckled. “Thank you, Scully. I knew there was a reason we

make such a good team.”

X X X X X

PRESTON RIDGE ADULT CARE FACILITY

“Mornin’ Agents,” said Frank brightly. He was standing in front of a

clean two story brick building holding a cup of coffee.

Mulder and Scully walked up the sidewalk past well-manicured lawns and

heavily mulched flowerbeds. “Good morning, Frank,” said Scully.

“Findin’ your way around okay?”

Mulder nodded. “Thanks to the ‘Mapsco’. It’s been a really big help.”

“Don’t mention it,” said Frank. He pushed the glass door open and

motioned the agents in. “That was bad about Jo Jo this morning. I bet

poor Carol’s beside herself right now.”

“Do you know her?” asked Mulder.

Frank nodded. “Met her at volunteer meetings. That boy was her life,

Agent Mulder. I sure hope we can find out what happened to him.

Did y’all find anything else this morning?”

“Yes,” said Scully. “The drug rep died of injuries sustained in the

accident, and Mulder found out that one of the victims had been getting

pills from someone to make her better.”

“Really,” said Frank. “Well, providing it wasn’t your usual kind of

feel good pills, we may have something to go on. No clue where she

got ’em, I suppose?”

“No, afraid not,” said Mulder.

“What about Jo Jo, Agent Scully? What did you find?”

“He had hemorrhaging AVM’s in his brain, like Pam did.”

“What are AVM’s?” asked Frank.

“They’re abnormal collections of blood vessels. When they are present,

they are commonly found in the brain. Most of the time the person

is born with them. Sometimes a penetrating trauma like a gunshot

wound can result in an arterio-venous fistula, but it’s different. Not

a true AVM.”

“So, it was something he was born with?”

“Possibly. But they’re not all that common. I just can’t help thinking

that two people who knew each other and died in the same manner – that’s

just too much coincidence. What about that broken vial from last night?”

asked Scully. “Any results yet?”

Frank shook his head. “Not yet. There wasn’t much there and we didn’t get

anything else useable off the seats or carpet. It was all pretty much

soaked in vodka.”

“Maybe we can find out something else here,” said Mulder.

“Let’s hope so,” said Frank. He directed them to a reception desk in the

lobby. A distinguished looking silver haired woman looked up as they

approached. “Mable, how are you today?”

Mable smiled. “Why Frank Burns, you old devil. What are you doing

here?”

“Business, I’m afraid.” He turned to Mulder and Scully. “Mable, I’d

like you to meet Special Agents Mulder and Scully. These fine people

are from the FBI and have come all the way from Washington to give me

a hand.”

“Well, it’s nice to meet you both,” said Mable. “I suppose this is

about Mr. Baylor?”

Frank nodded. “Yes, it is.”

Mable shook her head. “He was such a wonderful man, even when the

Alzheimer’s had him strong in its grip.”

Frank nodded. “He was that. I was wondering if we could talk to

John Bowman. I believe he was due back today from vacation.”

Mable looked down at a chart in front of her. “Um, yes, he’s here.

He’s in the recreation room at the moment. You can go on through.

You know the way don’t you, Frank?”

Frank smiled. “I think I remember. Straight down the hall, then

left?”

“That’s it!”

Frank led the way down the hallway and into a large room with tables,

a television, couches, and a piano. At one end of the room a still life

of fruit and wine was set up with several people painting the scene. A

younger man with longish brown hair was helping one lady and had his

back to the door. When he stood up, Frank cleared his throat. The man

walked over to them, a friendly smile on his face.

“Good morning. May I help you?”

“John Bowman?” asked Frank.

“Yes,” said John.

Frank pulled out his ID, as did Mulder and Scully. “I’m Detective Frank

Burns from the Dallas Police Department, and these are Special Agents

Mulder and Scully of the FBI. We’d like to talk to you about James

Baylor.”

“Certainly,” said John. “Just give me a minute to let the class know

I’m leaving.” He walked to the still life and looked at the people

who were painting. “Ladies and gentlemen, I need to step out for a few

minutes, so you just go on with what you’re doing.”

A small gray haired lady raised her hand. “John, can you help me for

just a minute before you go?”

John looked at Frank and shrugged. “Sure Bea, what do you need?” He

squatted beside the lady.

Mulder looked around the room and noticed a man who had been watching

television turn slightly around to look at them. He smiled at the man.

The man smiled back and motioned for Mulder to come over.

“Are you really from the FBI?” asked the man.

“Yes, sir, we are,” said Mulder.

“I heard that other man askin’ John about James Baylor.”

“He did. We’re helping him look into Mr. Baylor’s death,” said Mulder.

“Did you know Mr. Baylor, Mister -”

“Adams, Chester Adams,” said the man, offering Mulder his hand.

“Yes, I knew Jim. He was one of my best friends in this place.”

Mulder shook the man’s hand. “You don’t like it here?”

Chester motioned for Mulder to sit down. “Nah, I like it fine here.

Just miss having my own place. Jim sure made it nicer though. We

talked about all kinds of stuff. ‘Course, a lot of times, Jim

wouldn’t remember what we’d talked about the day before, but he was

a grand guy. Good friend.”

Mulder glanced up at Scully and with a look, let her know he’d stay here

while they interviewed John Bowman. “Mr. Adams, do you recall anything

strange happening in the weeks before Mr. Baylor died?” He watched

Scully and Frank go out of the room following Bowman.

“You mean besides him getting better?”

“Yes. Did any people come around you didn’t know? Was Mr. Baylor

taking any pills other than his prescribed medication?”

“I don’t know about pills, Mr. Mulder. We all take so many that an

extra one could get thrown into my own pile and I might not notice it,”

he chuckled. “Jim mostly just had his daughter coming to see him. A

few times people he used to work with came. And then there was that

young fellow, ah, what was his name?” Adams screwed up his face then

shook his head. “Ah, I don’t remember. Heck, maybe I never even knew.”

“Was he a friend, relative, co-worker?” asked Mulder.

“Don’t know. He’d just come and sit and talk to Jim. Come to think

of it, that was about the time Jim started getting so much better.”

“Do you remember what he looked like?”

Adams nodded. “He was, oh, about 30, 35, short real curly blond hair.

Fair skinned, dressed nice. Sometimes he was wearin’ a suit, sometimes

not, but neat all the same. Real friendly. Jim always seemed to enjoy

his visits.”

“Did you see his car?”

“No, sir. I’m afraid not. Always just saw Jim sittin’ with him.

Introduced myself once, and he was real polite.” Adams paused. “Maybe

I did hear his name. Seems like it was Josh, or Jeff, or Gene. Somethin’

like that.”

Mulder nodded, thinking of the note they’d found in the drug rep’s car.

“So, Mr. Baylor didn’t talk about him?”

“No. He was pretty tight lipped about stuff most of the time. He

seemed a little upset or something that time I introduced myself.” He

shook his head. “But Jim wasn’t always quite all there. You know,

the Alzheimer’s.”

Mulder nodded. “Anything else you can think of?”

Adams sat thinking for a moment. “Yeah, there is. A week or so

before Jim died I saw him doubled over in his room, like he was in

terrible pain. I asked him what was wrong and he just kept saying he

was fine. When the pain let up, he made me swear not to tell anyone

about it. He said his health was his own business.”

“So he never told anybody about it either? Never tried to see what had

caused the pain?”

“Nope. I asked him about it again the next day and he said he was sure

it was just somethin’ he’d eaten. And that he was so happy to have his

mind back.” Adams paused. “That was after he’d gotten a lot better.

I remember him saying several times how he’d rather have his wits about

him, even if he was in pain, than to live in the fog the Alzheimer’s

caused him.”

X X X X X

“Please, have a seat.” Bowman motioned Frank and Scully to chairs in

front of his desk. “What would you like to know about Mr. Baylor?”

“Did you know him well?” asked Scully.

Bowman nodded. “Pretty well. He participated in activities when he

was able. He seemed to enjoy painting, and he was pretty good at it.

He told me many times that he wished he’d discovered painting when

he was younger.”

“Did he have a lot of paintings?” asked Frank.

“Yes, quite a few. I believe his daughter has them all now.” Bowman

paused. “Mable told me that she displayed some of them at his wake. I

really hate that I missed his funeral.”

“You were on vacation when he died?” asked Frank.

“Yes. Visiting some family and friends out in New Mexico. Most of the

time I was up in the mountains near Ruidoso, so my cell phone didn’t

work. I didn’t hear about his death until I called in a couple of

days ago.”

“Mr. Bowman, do you know of any strange things that happened to

Mr. Baylor while he was here?” asked Scully.

“No, not that I can recall. Although, he did give us quite a scare

several weeks ago.”

“What happened?”

“He wandered off for a few hours one day. We believe he got mixed

in with a crowd gathered out front to go to a mall. When the bus

arrived to take the group on the mall outing, he didn’t get on. As

near as we can figure, he walked down the street to a DART bus stop.”

“DART?” asked Scully.

“Dallas Area Rapid Transit,” said Frank. “So, he got on a bus?”

Bowman nodded. “That’s what the man who brought him back told us.

By that time, Mr. Baylor couldn’t quite remember.”

“You’re lucky someone brought him back safely,” said Frank.

“Yes,” said Bowman. “We all were. As a rule, we keep up with our

residents quite well, but people are unpredictable. Especially

those with Alzheimer’s.”

“Did his daughter know about this incident?” asked Scully.

“Oh, of course,” said Bowman. “I told her myself. I remember her

saying that he had done things like that a number of times before he came

here. We were all just so happy to see him back, safe and sound.”

“Who brought him back?” asked Frank.

“I don’t recall his name,” said Bowman. “It should be on file in the

main office. I think he came to visit Mr. Baylor several times after

that.”

“Do you remember what he looked like?” asked Frank.

“Mid thirties, fair skin, curly blond hair, nice suit,” said Bowman.

“I can have them look up the report in the main office if you’d like.”

“Yes, please,” said Scully. “I have one more question. Do you know

if he was taking any medication?”

“Of course he was. There should be a list in his records. All

medications are administered to residents on schedule. So many here

would forget to take it or not take the right amount. Our nurses and

aides make sure everyone here gets what they need at the appropriate times.”

“So Mr. Baylor wasn’t taking any extra supplements or vitamins?”

asked Scully.

“Even vitamins are handled by our nursing staff. As I said, it

should all be in his records.” He turned and picked up the phone.

“I’ll call the office and have them pull that incident report. You

can look at it on your way out.”

“Just one more question,” said Frank. “Do you have an employee here who

may have worked with Mr. Baylor named Jeff?”

“No,” said Bowman. “I don’t know of anyone with that name who works

here.”

“Thank you, Mr. Bowman,” said Scully. “If we have any more questions,

we’ll let you know.”

X X X X X

Mulder was still talking with Mr. Adams when Scully and Frank trailed

Bowman into the room.

“Pretty lady,” said Adams. “Is she your wife?”

Mulder smiled. “No, she’s not my wife. She’s my partner.”

“Judging from the look in your eyes, son, I’d say she really is your

partner. Take good care of her.” Adams wiped his face with a

handkerchief. “Lord knows, I miss my wife. Best partner a man could

ask for. You take care of yours, now, son.”

“Oh, I plan to do that for a long time, Mr. Adams.” They shook hands

and Mulder walked across the room to the door where Scully and Frank

stood. “Find out anything?”

“Maybe,” said Scully. “We need to pick up a report on the way out.

What about you?”

“Maybe,” said Mulder.

They briefed each other on the interviews as they walked back to

Mable’s desk.

“So, the visitor Mr. Adams talked about could be the ‘Jeff’ that

Anna told us about, and is probably the same man who brought him back

when he wandered away that day,” said Mulder.

“Probably,” said Scully. “Let’s just hope the report gives his name

and address.”

As they approached Mable’s desk, she got up and waved some papers.

“I have the report you want right here. One of the girls in the office

brought a copy over a minute ago.”

“Wow, that was fast,” said Frank as he took the papers. “Y’all wouldn’t

want to come work down at the police department, would ya’?”

Mable blushed and laughed. “Aw, Frank! You know I couldn’t leave these

nice people here.”

Frank laughed and nodded. “Thanks again, Mable.” He flipped through

the pages as they walked to the door. “Name here is Jeff Smith. Home

address is in Plano.”

Mulder looked over Frank’s shoulder after they exited the building.

“There’s that name again. Is there a phone number?”

“Yep, here it is,” said Frank, pointing to a number.

Mulder quickly dialed the number on his cell phone. He waited for a

moment before he punched a button and put the phone away. “It’s not

a working number.”

“Ten to one the address is bogus too,” said Scully. “And probably

the name.”

“One way to find out,” said Frank. “I’ll call in and run a check

on Jeff Smith.”

“We can ride by the address,” said Mulder.

“Then, I want to go back and talk to Anna again. Maybe she knows

something more about this guy,” said Scully.

“I’ll call y’all when I find anything out. Could take some time, though.

I bet there are at least 100 Jeff Smiths in the Dallas area.”

“Oh, Frank, one more thing,” said Mulder. “Did you ever talk to any

of the officers that patrol areas where some of the victims were found?”

“Sure did. They didn’t remember anything stranger than usual for that

area. No ghosts, ghouls, or zombies sited,” he laughed and waved at the

pair as he got into his car.

They got into the car and Scully opened the “MAPSCO”. She quickly found

the street they were looking for and they headed for Plano. Forty-five

minutes and several construction zones later, they arrived only to find

a park. Mulder pulled the car over and they sat looking at children

playing on a nearby soccer field while a buxom young woman jogged past

with a pair of sleek red Doberman pinschers.

“Nice,” said Mulder.

“Mulder, you’d better consider your next words carefully.”

“What? I was just going to say nice dogs. Now, you can’t tell me those

weren’t nice looking dogs, Scully.”

“Since when did you become a dog expert, Mulder?”

“You don’t have to be an expert to appreciate good looking dogs,” said

Mulder, “although I have been watching some of the dog shows on Animal

Planet lately.”

“Yeah, right,” snorted Scully. She looked around again. “I don’t think

this is Jeff Smith’s house.”

“Not unless he likes living in the open,” said Mulder. “Why don’t we go

talk to Anna again.”

Scully called Anna while Mulder drove slowly through the crowd of mini

vans and SUVs discharging more kids in soccer uniforms.

Around the corner behind them, a fair skinned man with curly blond hair

jogged along the sidewalk. The woman with the dogs waved to him from

the tree where she’d stopped to rest. “Hi, Jeff!”

X X X X X

ACT 3

DR. ANNA JANE BAYLOR’S HOUSE

“Anna, I’m sorry to disturb you again,” said Scully. She and Mulder

stepped into Anna’s living room.

“It’s fine, Dana,” said Anna. “I told you I’d help in any way I could.

So, what can I do for you today?”

“We were at Preston Ridge earlier. John Bowman told us about an incident

when your father wandered away.”

“Oh, yes. That was scary. But at least I didn’t have to look for him

alone, like I did when he was living here with me. We were just so

lucky that man brought him back.”

“Did you meet him?” asked Mulder.

“No, I didn’t. I was on my way to Preston Ridge when they called and

told me Daddy was back. By the time I got there, the man was gone

and Daddy was pretty fuzzy about what had happened. The only thing he

remembered was that he had been trying to get to work and got lost.”

“Do you know if this man ever visited your father after that?”

asked Scully.

“I don’t think so. At least, not that Daddy mentioned.”

“Anna, we asked about an employee named Jeff. There isn’t one,”

said Mulder. “Do you think he could be the man that found your

father and brought him back?”

Anna sat on the couch in thoughtful silence for a moment. “I don’t

know. I suppose it’s possible. From the way Daddy talked about

him helping so much, I just assumed it was someone who worked there.”

“Did he say how Jeff helped him?” asked Scully.

“Not specifically. I guess that’s why I thought it was someone who

worked at Preston Ridge.”

“Mr. Bowman also told us that your father painted a lot while he was

there,” said Mulder.

Anna nodded. “Yes, he did. And he was pretty good. I’ve got his

paintings upstairs.”

“Would you mind if we looked at them?” asked Mulder.

“No, of course not,” said Anna. She led them up the stairs to a

bedroom. “This was Daddy’s room when he lived here. I put all of his

things in here. I suppose I’ll have to go through everything sometime

soon.” She motioned to the far side of the bed. “The paintings are

over there.”

Mulder and Scully moved to the stack of canvases and rolls of paper.

They saw several still-lifes similar to the one they’d seen earlier in

the day, some landscapes, and a few people. “Do you know all of these

people?” asked Mulder.

“Most of them. Some are residents at Preston Ridge, some are family, and

I think one is of a staff member.”

“Was it someone you know?” asked Scully.

“No. I guess that’s why I assumed it was a staff member.”

“Could you show us that one?” asked Mulder.

“Sure.” Anna picked through the paintings until she found it. “Here

it is.” A man with curly blond hair smiled up at them from the canvas.

Mulder and Scully looked at each other. “Jeff?” asked Mulder.

Scully raised her eyebrow and looked at Anna. “You’re sure you don’t

know who this is?”

“Quite sure,” said Anna. “Do you think he could have had something

to do with Daddy’s death?”

“We don’t know yet. Do you mind if we hang on to this for a while?”

asked Mulder.

“Be my guest,” said Anna.

X X X X X

DALLAS POLICE and COURTS BUILDING

11:49 AM

9/23/01Tuesday afternoon

“Well, well, if it isn’t my two favorite FBI agents,” said Frank as

Mulder and Scully entered his office. “Was the address bogus?”

“It was a park,” said Scully. “Did you find anything about Mr. Jeff

Smith?”

“Not at that address, obviously. I was wrong about the number of

Jeff Smiths. It was a hundred and seven, not a hundred. So far we’ve

found a couple with police records, but nothing earth shattering.

One’s a small time crook; the other had one arrest for indecent exposure.

Seems he mooned his girlfriend at the wrong time.”

“Those don’t sound like the kind of man we’d be looking for,” said

Mulder. “I was thinking more along the lines of a doctor, a chemist,

or some sort of biomedical scientist. If he is giving out some drug

that causes people with brain problems to get better, he’s got to have

some way of formulating and making it.”

“Not necessarily, Mulder,” said Scully. “Lots of people make all kinds

of drugs in kitchens and bathrooms. They’re just following a recipe

someone else came up with.”

“I don’t think this guy is like that,” said Mulder.

“Well, the name is probably not his real name anyway,” said Frank.

“I think the Jeff part might be right,” said Mulder. “That name

just seems to keep popping up.”

“Yeah, but with the descriptions we got at Preston Ridge, we could

bring in a whole bunch of people.”

“How about a picture?” asked Mulder.

“You’ve got a picture of this guy? Why didn’t you say so?”

“Well, it’s a painting actually, and we don’t know for sure it’s him.

But it’s a place to start,” said Scully.

“What about the warehouses? Anything on that yet?” asked Mulder.

“Well, we’re running down ownership on lots of warehouses and empty

buildings.”

“Any Jeff’s in the bunch?” asked Mulder.

Frank looked down his list. “There are a few. I suppose we could

concentrate on those.”

“Look for someone with a medical or science background,” said Mulder.

“A doctor, or pharmacist, or chemist -”

Frank nodded. “I get the picture. And speaking of pictures, what

about that painting?”

“Right here,” said Mulder. He propped the canvas on Frank’s desk.

“Could we get a picture of this? I’d like to take it back out to

Preston Ridge and see if anyone recognizes him.”

“Sure thing.”

“Mulder,” said Scully, “I really need to go talk to the ME again, see

if any strange substances have turned up in our victims.”

“I’ll drop you off there, and go on to Preston Ridge. I’ll be back to

pick you up when you’re done.”

X X X X X

DALLAS COUNTY MORGUE

“Dr. Wylie?”

“Yes, Dr. Scully. Nice to see you again.”

“You too, Dr. Wylie. Have you gotten any more results on foreign

substances in any of the victims?”

“Yes. I was just about to call you. We found something resembling

ibotenic acid in the blood of all the victims. And there seems to be

more to it. We’ve got people working on that now.”

“Great!” said Scully. “Mind if I look over the reports?”

“Not at all,” said Wylie. He handed her a small stack of folders.

“Make yourself at home here. I’ve got to go back down to the morgue.

If you need me or any other information, just check with my assistant

out front.” He turned to leave, then stepped back into the room. “One

more thing. The lab wasn’t able to determine what the substance was

that was found in the vial of our DUI victim’s car. There was too much

vodka mixed in with it. Sorry.”

“I was afraid of that,” said Scully.

Dr. Wylie shrugged. “We’ll just have to keep on looking.” He walked

out of the office.

Scully opened the top folder and began reading. All five bodies showed

some level of these compounds, along with other things as yet

unidentified. The levels had been measured in blood, but she wondered

if the amount in the brain might be even higher. She stepped out of

Dr. Wylie’s office.

“Excuse me,” she said to the man sitting at a computer.

“Yes, Dr. Scully,” said the man. “What can I do for you?”

Scully looked at the nameplate on his desk. “Justin?” He nodded.

“Justin, could you tell me where the lab area is? I’d like to see

about running some other samples. And I have some ideas of other

things to test for.”

“Sure thing.” He removed a small map from a file on his desk.

“Okay, here we are, and here’s the lab. Just go down the hall and -”

Scully looked closely at the map. “It’s near the autopsy bay

area, right?”

“Yep,” said Justin.

“I think I can find it. Thanks,” said Scully.

X X X X X

PRESTON RIDGE ADULT CARE FACILITY

Mulder knocked on the door to Mr. Adams’ room.

“Come in,” said a voice from inside.

Mulder walked in and saw Mr. Adams sitting in a chair in front of a

television. “Mr. Adams?”

“Agent Mulder, please come in,” he attempted to stand up.

Mulder motioned him to remain seated. “I didn’t want to disturb you,

but I need to ask you another question.”

“Sure. What is it?

Mulder removed the photo of the painting he’d carried in his suit pocket.

“Do you recognize this man?”

Mr. Adams pushed his glasses up his nose and peered closely at the photo.

“Well, it looks like that fellow that visited Jim. Mind you, I only

saw him a few times, and mostly from a distance, but it looks like him to

me. Was that one of Jim’s paintings?”

“Yes, it’s a photograph of one his paintings.”

“You think that man did something to Jim, don’t you Agent Mulder?”

“We think it’s possible. If you can think of anything else about him, it

would be very helpful.” He handed one of his cards to Mr. Adams.

Mr. Adams shook his head. “Nothing else comes to mind right now, but if

I think of anything I’ll let ya’ know.” He looked closely at the photo

again. “It just burns me up how some people take advantage of other

people.”

“Me too,” said Mulder. “That one of the reasons I do what I do.”

“I guess it would be.”

Mulder next looked up John Bowman, to see if he recognized the man in

the painting. He told Mulder he thought he’d seen the man, but couldn’t

be sure where. Mable, the receptionist, also confirmed that she’d seen

him and that he had visited Mr. Baylor. He was on his way out the front

door when his cell phone rang.

“Mulder,” he answered.

“Agent Mulder, this is Frank Burns. I’ve got some information on a couple

of warehouses. A Jeff Maxin owns one. He’s a doctor. He inherited the

place from his grandfather who was in the import-export business years

ago. The warehouse hasn’t really been used for much in years, but he

still pays taxes and insurance on it.”

“That sounds promising,” said Mulder. “What’s the other one?”

“An old building owned by a Jeffery Stevens. He was a biochemist, but

is retired. He bought the place a couple of years ago and has filed

permits for renovation, but no work has been done yet.”

“Also promising. Any other information on these two men?”

“Both men live within a 10 mile area of that park that ‘Jeff Smith’

gave for an address, and both men are fair skinned and blond.”

“Any resemblance to the painting?”

“Some on both accounts. Maxin has curly hair, but Stevens’ eye color

matches the painting. Stevens is older than Maxin, but only by 8

years. They both have facial hair in the DMV photos, and the painting

doesn’t.”

“Well, at least we’ve got a couple of good leads,” said Mulder.

“And I sure am glad,” said Frank. “Look, I’ve got yet another meeting

to go to. How about we meet up later and go check these guys and

the buildings out.”

“Sounds good to me. Could you give me those addresses? It may take

me a little while to figure out where they are in the ‘MAPSCO’.”

X X X X X

DALLAS COUNTY MORGUE

Scully sat at a lab bench while waiting for the latest batch of

results. She’d had a few ideas about what the compound found in

James Baylor and all the other victims might be. They were testing for

these things now, but the waiting was hard. She was looking over more

paper work when her cell phone rang.

“Scully.”

“Agent Scully, this is Frank Burns.”

“Hello, Frank. Any news?”

“Well, that’s what I called to ask you.”

“They’re still running tests, but we have some ideas. It may be

tomorrow before we know much. What about you? Anything on the

warehouses?”

“Yes. I talked to your partner a little while ago and told him about

two possible places and people. I thought we’d ride by the buildings

and try to run down the people a little later.”

“Sounds good,” said Scully. “I’ll call Mulder and have him pick me

up.”

“No hurry,” said Frank. “I’ve got a couple of things to take care

of here before I can go.”

“We’ll meet you at your office in a bit then.”

“Great. I sure am glad you two came down. I don’t think I’d have made

this much progress on my own.”

Scully smiled. “I’m glad we could help, Frank.” She ended the call,

then hit the speed dial for Mulder’s phone. It rang several times

before going to voice mail. She frowned and waited for the beep.

“Mulder, it’s me. Call me as soon as you get this. You better not

have lost this phone, or turned it off. I bet the battery ran down.

Just call me, OK?”

She shook her head, wondering if he’d ever remember to charge his phone

at night. Maybe she’d just have to start fishing it out of his pocket

and putting in on the charger herself. A sly smile crept across her

lips. Fishing it out of his pocket might be a fun start to the

evening.

X X X X X

SOMEWHERE IN DOWNTOWN DALLAS

Mulder stopped at a red light and took the opportunity to look at

the ‘MAPSCO’ again. He made a right turn then began looking for the

warehouse. He drove past it, looking carefully. “Looks like nobody’s

home,” he said to himself. He drove down the street further and found

a small pay parking lot. He jammed money in the slot numbered with the

place he’d parked the car and walked back toward the warehouse. He

fumbled in his jacket for his phone and punched the speed dial

number for Scully. Nothing happened. He stopped and looked at

the phone. It was dead. He sighed and put the phone back in his

pocket. He’d just look around for a few minutes and go pick up Scully.

There would probably be nothing to see here anyway. It wasn’t like he

was ditching her or anything; he was just doing his job. He walked

first to a door sporting a chain and padlock.

“Well, I guess I won’t be getting in that way.”

Mulder looked carefully at the door, then continued around the building.

It was a dull gray color, matching the clouds that had rolled over

downtown in the last half hour. Thunder rumbled and a flash of

lightening reflected in a window. Mulder looked up, promising himself

he’d just take a quick look in the window, then leave before he got wet.

He stepped up to the window and saw where a small area had been rubbed

clean. Well, maybe not clean, but cleaner than the rest of the window.

He wiped it with his hand and looked inside. He saw things that should

be in a warehouse like barrels, crates, and boxes. He was about to step

back when he noticed light coming under a door on the far side of the

room. He was looking closer when a bone-chilling shriek caused him to

stand very still. He continued to stand there, watching and listening

when he saw the door open and a man with curly blond hair step out.

“Jeff, I presume,” said Mulder softly. He watched as the man walked

across the warehouse floor to another doorway. Mulder quickly stepped

back from the window and walked around the corner just in time to see

the man coming out.

“Dr. Jeff Maxin?” he asked.

The man looked up at Mulder as he was locking the door. “Yes.”

“Dr. Maxin, I’m Special Agent Fox Mulder of the FBI.” He removed his

ID from his pocket and showed it to Maxin. “Could I ask you a few

questions?”

“What’s this about?” asked Maxin.

“I’m helping the Dallas Police investigate some deaths of people in

this area, and I’d like to ask you if you’ve seen anything unusual.”

“Oh, well,” said Maxin, “I’m not really here that much. I’ve got a

little apartment set up inside and just come here to get away. I’m

sure you know how it is. You just need a little space to yourself

sometimes.”

Mulder nodded. “Yes, everyone does now and again.”

“Is this about those homeless people they’ve found dead?”

“Yes, it is,” said Mulder. Large drops of rain hit the concrete all

around them as thunder shook the small window beside the door. “Could

we go inside to continue this?”

Maxin stood still for a moment then shook his head. “Oh, of course.”

He unlocked the door and opened it, motioning for Mulder to go in ahead

of him.

“Nice place you’ve got here,” said Mulder turning around to take in the

layout.

“I inherited it from my grandfather several years ago. Never quite

knew what to do with it, so I decided to make it into my personal

retreat. Not the best area of town for relaxing, but I may eventually

remodel the whole thing into a place to live.” He watched Mulder look

around. “What exactly do you want to know Agent, ah -?”

“Mulder,” said Mulder. “I suppose you read about the deaths in the

newspaper?”

“Yes. It’s quite sad. People living and dying on the streets like

that.” He shook his head and looked sympathetic.

“So, you didn’t know any of them?”

“Me, oh, I don’t think so. I may have seen them around, but I never

really paid that much attention.”

“What about James Baylor. Did you know him?” asked Mulder.

“No, that name’s not familiar.”

“Then, could you tell me why Mr. Baylor painted a portrait of you?” He

showed Maxin the photo of the painting.

Maxin looked at the photo closely. “I guess it does look something like

me.” He stepped back. “I have no idea why he painted it. Perhaps this

person knows someone who looks like me.”

Mulder pocketed the photo. “Would you mind if I take a look around

Dr. Maxin?” He began to stroll away from the door.

Maxin followed him. “What you see is it, Mr. Mulder. Just a dusty old

warehouse no longer in use.”

“What’s in these barrels and crates?”

“They’re empty.”

“Didn’t you say you had an apartment here?” Maxin nodded. “Where is

it?”

Maxin pointed at the door that Mulder had seen through the window

earlier. As Mulder took a step toward it, Maxin gasped and clutched his

head. He stumbled back into a crate and sat on it.

“Are you all right, Dr. Maxin?” asked Mulder.

Maxin swallowed hard and took a few deep breaths, still holding his head.

“Migraine. I get terrible migraines.”

“Is there anything I can do for you?”

“I have some medication in the apartment.” He stood up, and with shaking

hands fumbled through his keys. He stood and moved slowly to the door.

After a couple of attempts, he got the key in the lock and opened the

door. He walked in, followed closely by Mulder. “I’ll just get my

medication out of the kitchen.”

Mulder watched him walk into a small kitchen and open the cupboard beside

the sink. He walked further into the small room observing the comfortable

furniture, television, DVD player, and complete stereo surround sound.

“Nice set up you’ve got here.”

Maxin emerged from the kitchen still holding a glass of water.

“Thank you. As I said, it’s my little retreat. I was watching some

horror movie just before I left. The screams are quite realistic with

this system.”

Mulder nodded. “I’ll bet.” He wandered around the room. “What’s

through that door?” asked Mulder, pointing to a closed door.

“Bedroom, bathroom. Nothing special.”

Mulder moved toward the door, but Maxin stepped in front of him. “It’s

a private area, Mr. Mulder.”

“I was just going to use your bathroom, unless you have something to

hide.” He pushed past Maxin and opened the door. Inside he saw an

elaborate lab set up. “Interesting bathroom you have here,” said Mulder.

Maxin took his hand out of his pocket and before Mulder could turn

around, he jammed a needle into his arm.

Mulder stumbled back holding his arm. “What did you do to me?”

“I told you this was a private area, Mr. Mulder.”

Mulder lurched away from Maxin, knocking over a row of glass beakers

on the lab counter. “Is this where you decide how smart to make

someone? Who has to die to gain knowledge?”

“Oh, now that’s not fair Mr. Mulder,” said Maxin, slowly following as

Mulder moved away from him. “My goal is to help people know their full

mental potential. Most of us only use a small portion of our brains

but I suspect you use a bit more than a lot of people.”

Mulder looked around. Maxin stood between him and the door to the

apartment but he saw another door and bolted for it. He swung the

door open and stumbled into another small room. The light was low but

he was able to see a human shape on a cot. He bent down to get a closer

look and realized that the shape was covered head to toe with a white

sheet. He turned around as Maxin blocked the light from the lab.

“What did you do?” Mulder growled. “Is this one of your test subjects?

One of your lab rats?” He tried to stand up straight but dizziness

washed over him and he grabbed for the edge of the cot.

“That is one of my friends. A friend with some problems that I was

able to help.”

“Help? Looks to me like you killed your friend.” Mulder took a deep

breath, trying to focus on Maxin.

“It is unfortunate that he died, but I can assure you that I did not

kill him. He just couldn’t take the pain.”

“What are you talking about?” asked Mulder, groggy now and trying to

keep Maxin in sight.

“There’s a trade off for great intellect and insight, Agent Mulder.

This man’s body just couldn’t bear that cost any more.”

“Death seems like a big price to me.” Mulder’s vision blurred and he

sank to the floor.

“You shouldn’t have opened that door. But don’t worry, you won’t

remember any of this.”

X X X X X

ACT 4

DALLAS COUNTY MORGUE

Tuesday afternoon

Scully was getting worried. That Mulder sense that she’d developed over

the years was sending shivers up her spine. She looked at her cell phone

one more time to make sure it was working and nearly dropped it when it

rang. She took a deep breath and without even looking at the display

answered it. “Mulder, you had better be on your way here.”

“Ah, Agent Scully, it’s Frank.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I’ve been expecting Mulder to call.”

“So have I,” said Frank. “I thought you’d both be here by now. I tried

his phone, but all I got was voice mail.”

“Me too,” said Scully. “His phone battery probably died. But he still

should have been here by now.”

“Yeah, even if traffic was slow. You don’t think he could have gone to

check out any of these buildings, do you?” asked Frank.

“Did you give him the addresses?”

“Yes,” said Frank. “He said he wanted to try to figure out where they

were.”

Scully sighed. “He probably did go to one of them on his own. Would

you mind picking me up here?”

“Sure thing. Then we’ll see if we can figure out where he is.”

X X X X X

MAXIN’S WAREHOUSE

Dr. Jeff Maxin watched Mulder closely as he lay on a cot in his lab.

Something was wrong. He should have been coming out of it by now. He

had thought he’d just incapacitate him for a few minutes then get him

out of the warehouse. When the agent woke up, he’d have no idea what

had happened in the half hour or so before he’d stumbled onto the lab.

He had no wish to harm the man. After all, he was a doctor and had

taken an oath to help people. That’s just what he intended to do –

to continue doing. But he still had work to do on the brain enhancing

drug. He had to refine it. He’d been hoping to get more support from

Roush Pharmaceuticals, but that lush of a rep had to go and kill

himself in a car accident. He checked Mulder’s pulse and opened his

eyelids. What was wrong? Mulder’s respiration was shallow. He put an

oxygen mask on Mulder’s face.

“This shouldn’t be happening,” Maxin said to himself. He pushed

equipment over to the cot and began pasting electrodes all over Mulder’s

head. “Let’s just see what’s going on inside here.” Maxin watched the

display on the machine closely. “No, no, this is all wrong. You can’t

be in a coma, Agent Mulder. Not from a sedative.”

Maxin stood up and paced back and forth. He knew he had to get the agent

out of there, that others probably knew where he had gone. He picked up

a bottle from a shelf and withdrew some of the amber liquid inside.

“I guess you’ll just have to be another test subject, Mr. Mulder.”

X X X X X

DALLAS COUNTY MORGUE

Scully stood in front of the building, trying to stay out of the rain.

Frank Burns pulled his car to the curb and opened the door, motioning

Scully to get in. Scully sprinted through the rain and into the car,

wishing that she had an umbrella.

“Nasty weather!” said Frank as Scully wiped at the water running off her

face. “Sure wish it could’ve held off for a few hours.”

“Any news on Mulder?” asked Scully.

Frank shook his head. “Afraid not. I’ve got officers checking out the

residences of the two men I told Mulder about. We’ll check out the

warehouse and the other empty building.” He handed Scully the file of

information. “I thought we’d go to the building owned by Jeffery

Stevens first. It’s closer.”

Scully nodded. “Let’s go.”

The rain slowed the already congested traffic, but they made it to the

building relatively quickly. They got out into the blowing rain and

ran for the shelter of the building. Frank knocked on the front door

as Scully rubbed the glass of a front window and looked in. No one

came to the door. Frank stepped beside Scully and looked in too.

“Doesn’t look like anyone’s been in there in a while,” said Frank.

Scully nodded. “Let’s go around back and see if there’s another way

in.”

“Okay, but at least take my umbrella. My hair takes a lot less time

to dry.”

Scully smiled and took the umbrella. “Thanks, Frank. How about if I

go around one way and you go the other. We’ll meet in the back.”

“Sounds like a plan,” said Frank.

They set off in opposite directions. Scully rounded the corner of the

building and saw a side entrance. She ran to the covered entry and tried

the door. It was locked. She peered into a window in the door and saw

only a dusty hallway. She sighed and tried to wipe rainwater off of her

face again. Her Mulder alarm was really going off now and her heart beat

faster. She just knew that he’d gotten himself into trouble, again. She

looked out into the pouring rain then sprinted to the next corner. Frank

waved to her from a doorway at the rear of the building as she approached

him.

“This door’s locked too,” said Frank. “It really doesn’t look like

anyone’s been in this building recently.”

Scully nodded. “There’s a side entrance that was locked and looked

the same.”

“On to the warehouse?” asked Frank.

“Yes, and quickly. I have a bad feeling,” said Scully.

Frank nodded. “I know what you mean.”

They made their way back to the car and tried to shake off some of

the rain. Frank’s radio crackled to life and Frank answered it.

Scully listened as Frank was informed that the officers had talked

to Jeffery Stevens but could not locate Jeff Maxin.

Frank looked over at Scully. “10-4. Please dispatch two units to

the Maxin warehouse,” and he gave the dispatcher the address. “I’ll

meet them there. Do not enter the building until I arrive. Repeat,

do not enter the building until I arrive.”

X X X X X

MAXIN’S WAREHOUSE

Maxin stood over Mulder, monitoring him impatiently. “Come on, now,

Mr. Mulder. That should have given you quite a jump start.” He peeled

back Mulder’s eyelids again. “Come on!” he shouted. Maxin stalked away

from the cot shaking his head. He walked back to the shelf and picked up

the bottle of amber liquid again. He inserted a needle into the bottle,

intent on drawing more out when he heard a rustling noise. He turned to

see Mulder moving slightly on the cot. He set the bottle down and went

back to check Mulder again. When he tried to look at Mulder’s eyes, a

hand weakly tried to brush him away.

“Go ‘way, Scully. Jus’ let me sleep,” Mulder mumbled.

“Oh, no, Mr. Mulder. You can’t go back to sleep, now. It’s time to

leave,” said Maxin.

Mulder opened his eyes and squinted at Maxin. “Where are we goin’?”

slurred Mulder.

Maxin slipped an arm around Mulder’s shoulders. “Now don’t worry about

that. Just come along.”

Mulder shook his head as Maxin pulled him up. “Who, who are you? An’

where’s Scully?”

“Come on, now, we need to go.”

“Where are we goin’?” asked Mulder again, this time a little clearer.

Maxin half dragged Mulder from the lab into the apartment. He leaned

Mulder against the wall as he opened the door into the warehouse.

X X X X X

Scully wiped fog off the car window and looked into a parking lot as

they approached the warehouse. “There’s Mulder’s car!”

“Are you sure?” asked Frank.

“Pretty sure. It’s a Lariat rental car, same make and model as the one

we rented.”

“Well, I guess that means he’s probably here.” Frank spotted two Dallas

Police cars at the curb beside the warehouse and parked behind one. One

of the officers approached the car as Frank got out. “See anything?”

The officer shook his head. “The door in the front is chained shut, but

we did find another entrance on the side.”

“Great,” said Frank. “Agent Scully and I will go in first. You come

in behind, okay?”

“Okay.”

Frank and Scully approached the door with guns drawn. Frank motioned

one of the officers to open the door then he and Scully sprang through.

They stopped and looked at barrels and crates. Frank pointed at

a closed door across the room. Just as they started moving toward the

door, it opened. They held still for a moment as a man with curly

blond hair came out dragging Mulder.

“Hold it right there!” said Scully gun pointed at Maxin. “Let him go!”

Maxin immediately let go of Mulder, and he slumped onto the floor.

“Move away from him slowly,” said Frank, gun also aimed at Maxin. He

motioned for the officers to come in. Maxin backed away from Mulder

as the officers rushed in and grabbed him.

“Hey!” said Maxin. “Leave me alone! I’ve done nothing wrong. I

helped him.”

Scully put her gun away and ran to Mulder’s side. “Mulder, can

you hear me?”

“Scully, ‘s that you?” Mulder said thickly.

“Yeah, Mulder, it’s me. Are you okay?”

Mulder yawned. “I’m jus’ so tired.”

Scully looked up at Frank. “Call an ambulance.”

“Is he okay?” asked Frank.

“I don’t know. He doesn’t appear to be bleeding anywhere.” She ran

her hands down his arms.

“Ow!” shouted Mulder. “That hurts!” He clutched his arm. “Ya’ didn’

haf ta hurt me!”

“It’s okay, Mulder,” soothed Scully. “Let me look at it.” Frank

helped her sit Mulder up and she took off his coat then rolled up his

shirtsleeve. “There’s a bruise and what looks like a puncture wound.”

She got up and walked over to Maxin. “What did you give him?” Maxin

looked away. “Answer me!” shouted Scully.

“He’s fine,” said Maxin.

Scully grabbed his shirtfront. “I asked you what you gave him!”

Maxin stared back at Scully silently. She let go of his shirt and

went back to Mulder. “Frank, would you sit with him here? I need

to find out what he was given.”

Frank nodded and Scully walked into the open door of the apartment,

then into the lab. She searched the shelves and saw several bottles

of sedatives, a large bottle of capsules that was not labeled and a

vial of amber liquid. She turned around and saw a rumpled cot with

several discarded syringes nearby. She picked up the syringes and

put them into a plastic bag that she’d found on the counter then

walked back into the warehouse. She handed the bag to Frank and

turned to Maxin.

“Are you Jeff Maxin?” she asked. He nodded. “Jeff Maxin, you have

the right to remain silent -”

“Am I being arrested?” asked a surprised Maxin.

“Yes,” said Scully coldly.

“On what charge?”

“Suspicion of murder and assault of a federal officer for a start,”

said Scully. She finished reading him his rights as the ambulance

arrived.

X X X X X

BAYLOR UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER

Tuesday night

Scully sat beside Mulder’s bed, watching him sleep. She sighed and sat

back in her chair, relieved that he seemed to be okay. Analysis of the

syringes she found detected Versed, a powerful sedative, in one, and the

substance they had found in the victims in the other. Mulder’s blood

had shown both of these. The doctors had recommended that Mulder be

hospitalized until he slept off the effects of the Versed. Scully

wanted him kept here until they determined exactly what the other

substance was and how it might affect him. She knew she’d have a fight

on her hands once he woke up, but she would insist.

Mulder stirred then opened his eyes. He saw Scully smiling at him and

smiled back. “Hey, Scully,” he croaked.

“Hey, yourself, Mulder.” She leaned over and kissed him gently.

“Mmmm. What’d I do to deserve that?”

“You woke up,” said Scully.

Mulder looked around. “I’m in a hospital?”

“Yes, you are. Do you remember what happened?”

Mulder frowned. “I remember talking to Mr. Adams about the painting,

and then, um, it’s all fuzzy and mixed up.”

Scully sat down on the bed and held Mulder’s hand. “You did something

stupid.”

“Again?”

Scully smiled. “Yes, again. You went to check out a warehouse, alone,

with a dead cell phone. Jeff Maxin attacked you.”

“What’d he do?”

“Apparently he injected you with Versed.”

“That’s, um, a sedative or something, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Then he gave you some of the same substance we found in the

victims.”

Mulder tried to sit up straighter. “Why? Why did he give me that?”

Scully shook her head. “I have no idea. He’s in custody now. I had

planned to go down and question him as soon as I knew you were all

right.”

Mulder nodded and pushed the covers off his legs.

“Just what do you think you’re doing, Mulder?” asked Scully.

“Getting up. It’s going to be hard to question Maxin from here.”

He swung his legs around.

Scully got up to stand beside him. “Mulder, you’re in no shape to get

out of this bed. You’ve had a pretty big dose of Versed plus the other

substance. We have no idea what effect that might have on you.”

Mulder looked Scully in the eyes. “Scully, you just said yourself that

I’m all right.”

“I said no such thing, Mulder. What I said was that I was going to

question Maxin as soon as I knew you were all right. I’m still here.”

“I feel fine. Sleepy, yes, but fine.”

The door to Mulder’s room opened and Anna walked in. “Well, I see

you’re awake now,” she said.

“Awake and trying to leave,” said Scully as she frowned at her

partner.

“I don’t think that’s such a great idea,” said Anna. “You’re bound

to still be feeling the effects of the sedation. And, I was hoping you

could help me out with something.”

“What’s that?” asked Mulder suspiciously.

“I’d like to run some tests.”

“Oh, no. I’m fine. Just fine, thank you. If one of you will hand

me my pants, I’ll be on my way. We have an investigation to finish.”

“Mulder, listen to what she has to say,” said Scully.

Mulder looked from Anna to Scully. He sighed and sat back in the bed.

“Okay, I’ll listen, but I make no promises about staying here.”

Anna stepped forward. “Mulder, this is a big opportunity for us. You’ve

been given a drug that seems to greatly enhance or perhaps even restore

brain function. We need to find out what’s happening in you right now.”

“But I feel completely normal,” said Mulder. “I’ve had no brilliant

insights, made no great discoveries, heck, I can’t even remember what

happened to me.”

“That’s probably due to the Versed, Mulder,” said Scully. “People who

get it usually don’t remember it.”

“Mulder, please. Let me run a few tests and see what’s going on in that

head of yours. It could help a lot of people,” said Anna.

Mulder looked closely from Anna to Scully. “You really think it might?”

“It could, Mulder. You told me yourself that this could improve a lot

of people’s lives. How about it? Will you help?”

Mulder lay back on the bed again. “Okay, okay. You’ve ganged up on me,

used my own words against me, and talked me into it. On one condition.”

“What’s that?” asked Scully.

“That you go now and question Maxin. I don’t want anything to happen

to him before we can find out more about what he was doing.”

“Are you sure you don’t want me to stay with you?” asked Scully.

“I’m sure.”

X X X X X

LEW STERRETT JUSTICE CENTER

“Dr. Maxin, my name is Special Agent Dana Scully. I will be questioning

you regarding your attack on Special Agent Fox Mulder a few hours ago.”

Maxin nodded. “He is all right now, isn’t he?”

“He seems to be. Dr. Maxin, we need to know exactly what happened.”

“I’m not a bad man, Agent Scully. I just want to help people.”

“So you tried to help Agent Mulder by sedating him, then giving him some

other substance.”

Maxin shook his head. “You’ve got it wrong. All of you. I never

wanted to hurt anyone. I just wanted to help.”

“You keep saying that, Dr. Maxin. What, exactly did you do?”

Maxin looked down at his cuffed hands. “Agent Scully, have you ever

seen a brilliant person ravaged by disease? A disease that robs them of

the thing that makes them who they are? Have you?”

“If you’re talking about Alzheimer’s disease, yes, I have.”

“My father was a neurologist. He was a wonderful doctor and father.

He saw people every day whose minds were dim and getting dimmer with

each passing day. He wanted to find some way to help those people regain

what they’d lost, and in some cases, what they never had.”

“That’s quite an admirable goal, Dr. Maxin, but what does that have to do

with what you’ve been doing?”

“Everything! Don’t you see? He did it!”

“I don’t understand. What did he do?”

“He came up with a drug that gives the brain a boost but he was never

able to test it on human subjects. Except for me. I’ve been taking some

form of it for the last several years. You see, Agent Scully, I’m a man

of quite average intelligence, but with this drug, I could continue my

father’s work. I just wish he’d had the chance to try it himself, before

he died. You see he had Alzheimer’s disease, too.”

“Are you telling me that you’ve been testing an unapproved substance

on human subjects?”

“With consent, of course, but yes.”

“With consent of people who were not able to understand what you were

asking of them!” said Scully.

“Perhaps, at first, but when they could understand, they all wanted to

continue the treatments.”

“Until they died.”

Maxin shook his head. “It is unfortunate that some of my subjects died,

but they all died of natural causes. Agent Scully, I am not a killer.

I am a doctor. I help people. And I’d be able to help many more if the

drug company I’ve been talking to will back my father’s discovery. If

only that representative had not killed himself with alcohol, we might

already be on our way. Besides, not all of my subjects are dead. I’m

not dead.”

“There are other people who have been receiving this drug?”

Maxin nodded. “Oh, yes. Including Agent Mulder.”

“And we’re back to Agent Mulder,” said Scully. “What happened? He

discovered your little lab, didn’t he. So you drugged him!”

“I only wanted to subdue him so that I could take him out of my lab.”

“So you injected him with Versed?”

Maxin nodded. “Quite a safe drug. One I’ve used many times. But he

didn’t react well to it.”

“What happened?” asked Scully.

“He didn’t wake up. He was, in fact, comatose. It is a possible, if

unlikely reaction.”

“So, instead of calling for help, you gave him your drug?”

“Yes. It had the desired effect.”

“Are you aware that your ‘wonder drug’ may cause vascular abnormalities?

Abnormal vessel growth and weakening of arteries?”

“I think you’re mistaken,” said Maxin smugly.

“I don’t think I am,” said Scully. “Ruptured cerebral and aortic aneurysms

killed three of your victims. Two more died when AVM’s hemorrhaged.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“I don’t care what you believe. You have been killing people in the so-

called name of science, but it stops here.”

X X X X X

BAYLOR UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER

Mulder pulled on his pants and was looking for his shirt when a wave

of dizziness washed over him. He slid into a chair and closed his

eyes, willing the dizziness to pass. After a moment he opened his eyes

and found that the room wasn’t moving anymore. He let out a big sigh

and rubbed his temples. A headache was building that reminded him a

little of what had happened when he’d seen that rubbing from the alien

spacecraft, but at least he wasn’t hearing any voices. He sat back in

chair and stretched his back, realizing that he ached all over. The

places where Maxin had injected him and where the IV had been were

hurting more than anything like that had ever hurt him in the past.

He knew he was all right because Anna had just told him that all of his

tests were normal, but he couldn’t help wondering what Maxin’s drug

might really do. He knew Scully would be wondering the same thing.

But he was fine. Really.

Scully walked into the room.

“Have you already finished questioning Maxin?” asked Mulder.

“For now. He’s safely behind bars. I wanted to come check on you.”

Mulder leaned over and picked up his shoes. “I’m fine, Scully.

Just like I tried to tell you.”

“He’s right, Dana,” said Anna as she entered the room. “All the scans

were within the normal range.”

Mulder smiled. “That’s me. Mr. Normal.” He looked at Scully. “Can

we go now? I’ve got a few questions I’d like to ask Dr. Maxin myself.”

“Do you really think he’s okay now, Anna?” asked Scully. “You didn’t

find any evidence of aneurysms?”

“No, Dana. We didn’t find anything. Now get out of here,” said Anna.

She smiled and handed Mulder his discharge papers.

Mulder smiled broadly and got to his feet. He held the papers to his

chest. “I’d like to thank the academy for this award.” Scully hit him

on the arm. “Ow!” It was a standard response when she playfully

whacked him, but this time it had really hurt.

“We’ll be leaving now,” said Scully. As she helped Mulder gather the

rest of his things, the phone rang.

“I’ll get that,” said Mulder, still rubbing his arm. “Mulder.” He

paused. “What? When? Are they bringing him here? Okay, we’ll be

there as soon as we can.” He hung up the phone.

“What happened?” asked Scully.

“That was Frank. Another prisoner attacked Maxin. They’re taking him

to different hospital.”

“Let’s go.”

X X X X X

PARKLAND HOSPITAL

“Over here,” shouted Frank from the ER waiting area as Mulder and

Scully walked in.

“What happened Frank?” asked Scully.

“Maxin had a run in with another prisoner. The officer who was there

said some words were exchanged, then the guy decked Maxin.”

“What else?”

“That’s it. At first Maxin just seemed dazed then he started wailing

like he was in horrible pain. I know that getting hit in the face

hurts, but this guy was going overboard.”

“If he was acting, why was he brought here?” asked Mulder.

“That’s just it, Mulder. He wasn’t acting. He was really in agony.

They were trying to settle him down when he started going into shock.”

Mulder looked at Scully. “Is it possible for someone to die of pain?”

Scully raised her eyebrow. “Well, I suppose that the pain response

could trigger other things, maybe even shock.”

“So it is possible?”

“Maybe, but not probable. Mulder, being hit in the face wouldn’t cause

that level of pain.”

“What if something made Maxin more sensitive to pain?”

Scully looked closely at Mulder. “Are you saying that Maxin’s drug

causes increased sensitivity to pain?”

“It could. Scully, when I talked to Chester Adams about James Baylor

he told me that he’d seen him doubled over in pain. When Adams asked

him what was wrong, he just blew it off and told him not to tell anyone.

He said that he’d rather live in pain than live in the Alzheimer’s fog.”

“Mulder that pain was probably from the aneurysm. They often cause

abdominal pain.”

“And what about Pam Parker, one of the other victims? She was in a lot

of pain as well and refused to seek help. Scully, don’t you see, it’s

as if they both knew that the pain was part of their new awareness.”

Scully shook her head. “Mulder -”

A nurse approached Frank. “Detective, the doctor wanted me to tell you

that your prisoner is stable now, if you’d like to see him.”

Frank, Mulder, and Scully got up. “Yes, please.”

Then nurse led them down a hallway into a treatment area. Jeff Maxin

lay on the bed with his arm handcuffed to the bedrail. He did not

open his eyes. A doctor stood next to the bed with a chart in his hand.

“Detective Burns?”

“Yes,” said Frank, extending his hand. “This is Agent Mulder and Agent

Scully.” He motioned toward the pair. “What’s happening here, Doc?”

“His nose is broken and he has some contusions on his face, but that’s

about it.”

“Why was he in so much pain?” asked Mulder.

“I don’t know. But he did show all the signs of someone with a massive

trauma. At first we thought he was acting, but he wasn’t. It took some

pretty powerful drugs to calm him down.”

“Tranquilizers?” asked Scully.

“Pain meds,” said the doctor. “He’ll probably be out for a while.

I suppose he’ll be moved to the secure ward?”

“Yeah,” said Frank. “Will he be okay there?”

The doctor took another look at Maxin’s record then set it down. “I

don’t see why not.”

“I’d like to stay with him,” said Scully.

“I’m staying too,” said Mulder.

An orderly arrived a few minutes later with a uniformed police officer.

They all escorted Maxin to his new room.

“I have to hit the road, guys. We still need to clean up at the

warehouse. It sure looked like there was a lot to go through there,”

said Frank.

“Be sure to get all his notes and computer files,” said Scully. “This

could still be quite a medical breakthrough.”

“Will do, Agent Scully.”

The agents sat in silence for a few minutes after Frank left.

“You don’t think the drug is responsible for Maxin’s reaction, do you,

Scully?”

“I don’t know Mulder. I do know that messing around with brain

chemistry and function could have undesirable effects. I suppose

it’s possible.”

“It is possible,” said a weak voice from the bed.

The agents stood next to the bed. “What is possible?” asked Scully.

“Pain. Severe pain. But most of my subjects were willing to endure

the pain if it meant they could be, enlightened. Even I have been

through a lot of pain. Migraine headaches can be quite debilitating

under normal circumstances, but what I suffered was agony.”

“Was it worth it?” asked Mulder.

“Oh, yes. A few hours of pain was not too high a price for genius

intellect. I’d do it again.”

“Well, you won’t have that opportunity, Dr. Maxin,” said Scully.

“Everything in your lab is being confiscated as we speak.”

“Perhaps someone else can carry on the work,” said Maxin. He put

his hand to his head and gasped.

“Dr. Maxin,” said Scully, “what’s wrong?”

Maxin’s hand dropped and his body seemed to go slack. He slumped further

into bed as his eyes rolled back.

“Mulder, get some help!”

Mulder rushed to the door. “We need some help in here!” He went back

to Scully’s side. “What’s happening to him?”

“I don’t know,” said Scully. She opened one of Maxin’s eyes. “This

pupil’s dilated, eye’s bloodshot.” She opened the other one. “This

one’s not. Mulder, I think he’s just ruptured an aneurysm.”

The door burst open and a crowd of doctors and nurses rushed in. “He’s

not breathing!” said one nurse. They immediately set to work on him,

but he did not respond. After a grueling half hour, the doctor

pronounced him dead. Scully talked with the doctor and made arrangements

for an autopsy to be done. They walked out of Maxin’s room just as Frank

stepped off the elevator.

“What happened?”

“That’s a question we seem to be asking a lot,” said Mulder.

“Maxin’s dead,” said Scully.

“What? How? He was only hit in the face for goodness sake!”

“It looks like he may have had a cerebral aneurysm that ruptured,” said

Scully. “We’ll know more after the autopsy.”

“Did you already get the warehouse cleaned out?” asked Mulder.

“The warehouse was cleaned out, all right, but not by us.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that a bunch of people claiming to be a forensics crew dismissed

the officers who were watching the warehouse. When the real forensics

crew arrived, all they found was a whole lot of nothing.”

“Do you have any clue as to who might have done this?” asked Scully.

Frank shook his head. “I was kinda hoping you guys might.”

“I have some ideas, Frank, but nothing I could ever prove.” Mulder

turned to Scully. “They did it again. Ripped all the evidence away

from us.”

“Mulder, it could have been anyone. It could have even been Roush.”

“Exactly,” said Mulder.

X X X X X

EPILOGUE

THE GRAND KEMPENSKI HOTEL RESTAURANT

Wednesday morning

“What, no pancakes?” asked Scully after the waitress had taken their

orders. “Mulder are you feeling all right? Tell me the truth.”

Mulder sighed. “I’m just not hungry this morning. Besides, you’re

always telling me I should eat healthier.”

“I don’t really call coffee and a donut ‘healthy’ Mulder.” Scully sat

back in the booth. “You look tired, Mulder. Maybe you should go back

to your room and rest while I finish up with Frank this morning.”

“I’m okay, Scully. Really.” She frowned at him. “Okay, okay. I am

tired. I just couldn’t get comfortable last night so I didn’t sleep

very well.”

“And?”

“And what?” he asked. Scully continued to frown at him. “And my head

hurts.”

“Is that all?” asked Scully.

“Yeah,” said Mulder. “That’s all. I’m tired and sore, but would you

expect any less knowing what happened to me yesterday?”

Scully looked closely at her partner. “I suppose not. But, Mulder, I

really need to know if something’s wrong. We don’t know exactly what

Maxin gave you or what it might do. You will tell me, won’t you?”

“Scully, I’m fine. Anna told you that last night. Maybe I’m sore

because of that exaggerated pain thing Maxin talked about, but that’s

all, Scully. Really.” And he hoped it was.

X X X X X

DALLAS POLICE AND COURTS BUILDING

Wednesday morning

“Well, if it isn’t my FBI friends. Come on in,” said Frank.

“Have a seat.”

“We just wanted to finish up with this case before we headed back

to D.C.” said Mulder. “Have you found anything else in the warehouse

or who it was that cleaned everything out?”

“Not a thing, I’m sorry to say. Looks like the only evidence we have

of Dr. Maxin’s brain enhancing drug was in the syringe that he injected

you with. And we wouldn’t have even had that if Agent Scully hadn’t

picked it up.”

“Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to do a very good analysis. I doubt

anyone will be able to reconstruct the compound. At least not yet, but

it will provide a good starting point for further research,” said Scully.

“Oh, I almost forgot!” said Frank. “Your boss, A.D. Skinner called

this morning. Seems he couldn’t get either one of you on your cell

phones last night, so he wanted to leave a message.”

“What did he say?” asked Mulder cautiously.

“He said to tell you that if you wanted to go ahead with your vacation

plans, you could just email or fax your reports in to him and leave

from here.”

“Wow,” said Scully.

“Double wow,” said Mulder.

Frank smiled. “He sure sounds like a nice guy.”

“He is,” said Scully. “And we’ve got a report to finish so we can start

our vacation. Right, Agent Mulder?”

“Oh, right, Agent Scully. Right!” said Mulder. “Frank, do you have a

place I can plug in a laptop?”

X X X X X

DISNEYWORLD

Thursday afternoon

Mulder stood at the cart, waiting for lemonade. He shielded his eyes

and looked around watching happy people walk and talk all around him.

Today he was one of the happy people. He took off his sunglasses and

rubbed his eyes. He’d have been happier still without this headache.

He knew he should have bought a hat on Main Street because if he had a

hat that would cut down on some of the glare that was surely causing

this headache. He put his sunglasses back on and looked back at

the bench where Scully sat. She certainly seemed to be having a good

time and so was he. He’d never imagined a theme park could be this fun.

Well, except for maybe the ‘Tiki Birds’ and ‘It’s a Small World’. Those

were just a bit too, uh, sappy. But ‘The Haunted Mansion’ and ‘Peter

Pan’s Flight’, and of course ‘Splash Mountain’, those were fun. And

they still had so much left to do. He got the lemonades, popped a

couple of aspirin into his mouth, took a drink, and walked back toward

the bench.

Scully sat back on the bench in the warm sun and sighed. It was so good

to relax. She was still concerned about what affects Maxin’s mystery

drug might have on Mulder, but he seemed to be doing quite well now.

She watched as he brought back two large lemonades for them and

plopped down beside her.

“Ah, Scully, this is the life. I’m beginning to see why Arthur

Dales retired to Florida.”

“Mulder, he retired to a trailer park, not Disney World.”

Mulder shrugged. “Still, the weather is nice here.”

“Except when there are hurricanes.”

“There is that,” said Mulder. He took a long drink of his lemonade.

“So, what do you want to do next, Scully? The ‘ExtraTERRORestrial

Alien Encounter’? ‘Space Mountain’?”

“Again, Mulder? I was thinking maybe we could find some lunch.

I’m getting hungry.”

Mulder pulled a map out of his pocket. “It says there’s a place to get

something to eat near ‘Space Mountain’. Let’s ride those two things -”

“Again,” said Scully.

“Again,” said Mulder, “then you can get something to eat.”

“Aren’t you hungry, too?” asked Scully. “You only had a piece of toast

and coffee for breakfast. That was hours ago.”

“What can I say?” said Mulder. “I guess I’m just too excited being in

the Happiest Place on Earth.” He took Scully’s hand and pulled her off

the bench. “Besides, I was thinking I might try to talk to someone

about the ‘Alien Encounter’. I think we could give them some pointers.”

THE END

AUTHOR’S NOTES:

Special thanks to the crew at IMTP. Without your invitation to submit

a pitch, I probably would never have written this. And to my sister,

Erin, for doing the artwork and trailer, to my husband, Len, for his

technical (and other!)support. And to Vickie Moseley for her help and

wonderful suggestions. I couldn’t have done it without all of you.

The inspiration for this story was an article in THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS

on February 12, 2001. The title is “Pumping It Up – Efforts to boost

mental performance raise sticky ethics issues” by Sue Goetinck Ambrose.

I am not a neurologist (I’m a veterinarian), so I made up effects that

this mythical drug could have. However, DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit),

Baylor University Medical Center, Parkland Hospital, the Dallas Police

and Courts Building, the Lew Sterrett Justice Center, the Grand Kempenski

Hotel, and Trail Dust Steak House are real places/entities. And yes,

they really do cut ties off of people who wear them into the Trail Dust,

with the patron’s permission. The patron gets a free drink in exchange

for the tie as well as applause from everyone else. It’s really quite a

production. And my husband does actually have a Flying Toilets tie.

Some of you may also remember that Parkland Hospital was where JFK was

taken after he was shot.

I used my husband’s knowledge and the “Mapsco” to find everything! (As a

resident of the DFW area, I can tell you that these books of maps are a

MUST if you want to get anywhere. I only wish you could get daily updates

for them.)

My apologies to anyone who knows a lot about Down syndrome, Alzheimer’s

Disease, and autism for any misrepresentation or inaccuracy. My

information came mostly from the web. I have very little personal

experience with any of these problems.

All inaccuracies are my own fault.

Feedback appreciated.

Frances Hayman Smith (fi.smith@gte.net)

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