Psi Time for Skeptics

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Title: Psi Time for Skeptics

Author: Vickie Moseley

Summary: Mulder and Scully, on vacation

at Disney World, stumble onto a case of

mind-blowing proportions.

Spoiler: None, but a couple of old

‘friends’ pop up.

Rating: PG 13

Category: Humor, MSR, MT/SA

Archive: Two weeks, Virtual Season 9,

then just let me know.

This story is produced for the enjoyment

of the viewers of Virtual Season 9, I

Made This! Productions. No copyright

infringement is intended and no animals

were harmed in the production of the

episode.

Timeline: VS 8 and 9 diverge from the

television series right after the 7th

Season episode Je Souhite.

Many thanks to my first run betas: Deb,

Jan, Ten and Frances for such quick work!

Thank you, thank you!

Dedication: This story is dedicated to

everyone involved in I Made This!

Productions-VS9. I love you and thank

you for keeping the dream alive.

Teaser

Monday, 3:15 pm

Lydia Forby lived in a red brick, two-

story house on a quiet street in

Winnetka, Illinois. In the summer, her

front porch came alive with red geraniums

and the window boxes overflowed with

white, red and purple petunias. In

winter, a birdfeeder just outside the

front picture window was a constant

source of nourishment for cardinals, jays

and the occasional squirrel. Even though

the neighbors knew full well that Lydia

dabbled in the occult, no one thought ill

of her and her house was still a ‘must

stop’ for all the children of the area at

Halloween.

On this windy afternoon, the sunlight was

warm through the picture window, even

though the trees on the boulevard beyond

held the stark charcoal outlines of

winter. A ghost of steam still wafted

from her rapidly cooling teacup, placed

absently on the table by the window,

clouding the glass with frost. The scent

of cinnamon and apples filled the room,

as it would for another day or so, from

the tea and the potpourri that filled the

small bowls and vases scattered around on

tables and bookshelves.

Lydia sat at the table near the window.

Tarot cards, old and yellowed with age,

but edges sharp, in near perfect

condition, lined across the starched

cotton tablecloth with the blue and white

crocheted edging. Her gray hair, held

back from her face with a headband, was

streaked with the raven black that had

once been her trademark. Her eyes were

closed, and if someone had walked into

the room right then, they would have

assumed her to be deep in thought,

concentrating on what the cards before

her foretold.

But she wasn’t concentrating. And she

was not sleeping. She was stone, cold

dead. No spark of life in her. The

coroner’s report would show that she died

of natural causes, even though he would

be hard pressed to point to which natural

cause it was. She was 78 years old, her

heart had given out, a stroke had ended

her existence painlessly–take your pick.

She had just died, sitting in the house

she’d lived in for 53 years, doing what

she’d always done on cold, sunny winter

afternoons since she’d turned 34 and

someone had told her she had ‘the sight’.

If anyone had bothered to look at the

cards under her hands, they would have

known she hadn’t just died. Lydia had

been murdered. What is more, she knew

who her killer was and that they would

not stop with her death, but continue on.

And because Lydia took that knowledge

with her to her grave, her killer would

roam free, able to kill again.

Act I

Sheraton Hotel

Kissimmee, Florida

Tuesday, 8:53 am

The room was colored by the soft light

coming through the heavy drapes.

Sunlight found a single opening and

pushed through to dart a straight line

across the floor, just barely touching

the foot of the bed. The only sounds

were the quiet breathing of two sleepy

people.

Fox Mulder ran his hand along the bare

thigh of the woman lying next to him in

the king sized bed.

“Where are we again, Scully?” he asked

languidly as he watched his hand dance

lightly over her skin, leaving a trail of

goose bumps and an arousing pink flush.

“Kissimmee, Mulder,” she sighed.

Immediately, he leaned over and captured

her lips in a passionate kiss. Almost

devouring her for several heartbeats, he

finally broke away, and lay back on his

pillow with a satisfied smirk on his

face. “Just gotta love the name of this

town!” he exclaimed gleefully.

Her put-upon sigh didn’t completely cover

the happiness twinkling in her eyes. She

propped her head up on her hand and

stared him straight in the eyes.

“Mulder, if I’d known . . .”

“What?” he laughed. “You aren’t going to

try and convince me that you would

actually prefer to stay someplace as

mundane as ‘Or-land-o’,” he drawled

with exaggerated slowness, “when you

could sleep each night and wake up each

morning in . . . what is the name again,

Scully?”

She closed her eyes, trying with all her

might to keep the smile off her face.

This vacation was exactly what they

needed. The images of trying to find him

during his capture by their last suspect

had not left her mind, but they were

growing dimmer. Each sight of him as he

was now, this playful Mulder who begged

to go on Space Mountain one more time,

was helping to fade those awful

memories.

“St. Cloud,” she teased and was rewarded

instantly with long fingers digging into

the muscles just under her ribcage. The

full throated shriek and peals of giggles

that followed were punctuated by her

partner’s insistent questioning.

“Say the name, Scully.”

“Fl-fl-Florida!”

“You know better, G-Woman,” he told her

but his stern words lacked any

conviction. “Now, what is the name of

the town we are currently residing in?”

“Alexandria. Oh, right, you live there.

I’m in Georgetown.”

More vicious tickles and somehow a pillow

got swept up in the act.

“The name, Scully! I want the name of

the town this hotel is in!”

She was kneeling in front of him, eyes

wide, hair that looked like it had been

through a blender, her chest heaving from

the exercise. She licked her lips and he

knew he was in trouble. But maybe he

didn’t mind that kind of trouble.

“Kiss. A. ME,” she purred and just as

suddenly as he had tickled her, she

lunged forward and pinned him to the bed,

this time taking her time to let her

tongue become more than intimately

acquainted with the roof of his mouth and

the back of his teeth.

Half an hour later, he crawled out of

bed, heading for the bath. “Coffee,” he

mumbled.

“Is that a pet name, or did you forget

how to use the phone to get room

service?” she grinned at his retreating

bare bottom.

“I’m about to keel over from dehydration,

woman, and it’s all your fault! The

least you could do is phone down for some

coffee.” After finishing his morning

ritual, he started the tap and rummaged

through his shaving kit for his razor and

shave cream. Concentrating on lathering

his face, he jumped several inches when

her bare arms snaked around his middle.

“I have a better idea. I’m famished. I

want food. There is an IHOP just two

blocks from here.”

“All these years, Scully, and I never

would have guessed you for a maple syrup

junkie,” he grinned through the lather.

“OK,” he caved, rather easily she

decided. “You jump in the shower while I

shave.”

“You could join me,” she said coyly,

again licking her lips.

His smile lifted her spirits even more

than they already were. “Scully, you

said you were hungry,” he reminded her

playfully.

“We’re on vacation, G-man. We can do

anything we want. We can play around the

room all morning and eat all afternoon.”

He finished up the lather on his chin

faster than she could remember seeing him

in all their years together. He turned

and pushed aside the shower door.

“Good point. Move over. And hey, wash

my back?”

International House of Pancakes

1:45 pm

“Are you going to finish that, Mulder?”

All around them was the chatter of

voices, the clanking of dinnerware and

glasses. The room smelled of maple and

the strong odor of French Roast coffee.

He shook his head slowly, holding back a

smirk. His diminutive partner had just

shoveled a buttermilk pancake combo with

two eggs over easy, two strips of bacon

and two sausage patties into her mouth in

rapid succession and was now eyeing the

remains of his skillet omelet.

“Aren’t you hungry, Mulder?” she asked,

after swallowing the mouthful

of food.

“I think I got filled up earlier,”

he said with a wry smile.

She raised and eyebrow, but surprisingly,

didn’t blush. “That’s why I want you

to take it easy this week, Mulder. We

need to fatten you

up!”

His eyes widened. She seldom got this

playful in public. He fought his own

blush and decided to give the double

ententre a rest. “So I can spend the

next

two months running the track? Great game

plan, Scully. So where are we going

this afternoon? We’ve seen the Magic

Kingdom. It’s a little too late to do

Epcot, isn’t it?”

At that moment, their table was invaded

by three all-too-familiar individuals.

“Geez, Mulder, make it hard to find ya,”

Langly announced without greeting.

“Mulder, all your message said was IHOP.

There has to be a dozen IHOPs in the

greater Kissimmee-St. Cloud area,” Byers

noted, as if anyone really cared.

“But only one two blocks away from the

Kissimmee Sheraton,” Frohike added as he

pulled out the chair opposite Scully and

sat down. “Mulder, you need to put on

some weight, man. A strong wind would

blow you away.”

“Mulder?” Scully’s voice was both

question and warning.

“Uh, Scully. Did I mention the guys IM-

ed me last night when I was online in the

hotel room?”

“No, I think you forgot to pass on that

information,” she said through gritted

teeth.

“Well, um, they did. And would you

believe it? They were here in Florida!

Is that incredible or what?”

“What do I get if I say ‘or what’?” she

asked, gracing their new companions

with

an acid glare. “And I’m to guess you

told them where we were having brunch?”

“While you were putting on your makeup,

yeah, but the really incredible part

is-”

“Agent Scully, this is a chance of a

lifetime! Even you will be impressed,”

Byers cut Mulder off as he slid a

newspaper clipping across the table

within reach of her hand.

“We are on vacation,” she told them all,

making her intention crystal clear.

“Yeah, that’s the great part! This isn’t

really an X-File,” Langly chimed it

eagerly.

Scully pursed her lips, glanced at the

clipping and then switched her gaze over

to her partner, who sat chewing the

cuticle of his left index finger.

“The guys are here to witness a psi

experiment, Scully,” he informed her

sheepishly.

“A ‘what’ experiment?” she asked, taking

the clipping into her hands and squinting

at it.

“A psi experiment. Psi, P-S-I, for

psychic. ESP. Telepathy. It’s going to

set the world of parapsychology on it’s

ear!” Langly exclaimed happily.

“Mulder.” The inflection was meant for

him and him alone.

“Scully, it’s all set up. It’s at the

Hyatt down the road. The experiment is

part of the convention sponsored by the

Skeptical Inquirer. This afternoon

at 2:30-”

“Eastern Standard Time,” Frohike

cheerfully supplied.

“Mulder, we were going to Epcot this

afternoon,” she said, hating the whining

tone in her voice.

“Scully, the rest of Walt’s World will be

there tomorrow,” Mulder chided tenderly.

He reached across the table and took her

hand in his. “The experiment will only

take about an hour. Then we can high

tail it over to Disney and still see the

Electric Light Parade. Now, whaddya

say?”

“Mulder,” she sighed, tilting her head in

that way he found totally irresistible.

Finally, she heaved a deep sigh of

resignation. “An hour.”

“From the minute we hit the hotel door

until we are on the shuttle to Mickey and

Minnieland,” he said solemnly, holding

his right hand high in the same way he

did when he was on the witness stand.

His little display earned him a quick

glare.

“And remember, Scully. We’re here for

the week. C’mon. I’ll even go shopping

with you one afternoon to make up for

it.”

“Shoe shopping?” she counter offered with

a gleam in her eye.

He winced but finally nodded. “Yes, I’ll

even hoist, er, carry home the bags. You

do this and I’ll do anything you want for

the next five days.”

“Be careful, Mulder. I have witnesses,”

she said, pushing the check across the

table and giving him a wink.

Much to Scully’s chagrin, the boys had

driven to Florida. The Vanagon created a

homey eyesore in the parking lot filled

with Ford Expeditions and Lincoln

Navigators. On the way over to the

Hyatt, Frohike attempted to fill Scully

in on the experiment.

“Basically, it’s like a game of

telephone, only without the tin can and

string,” he said, handing her an issue of

the Skeptical Enquirer and pointing to

the cover.

She flipped pages to the story and

skimmed it before looking up. “So they

did this already?”

“Well, they did one like it,” he amended.

“See, in the last experiment it was only

pictures projected on a flat screen.

This time the experiment will focus on

the use of video, including sound and

action.”

“Let me get this straight,” Scully said

with a frown of concentration. “There

are 100 people sitting in an auditorium

in Kissimmee, and another 100 people

sitting in a separate auditorium in

Tampa. And someone projects pictures on

a screen in Tampa, then the ‘receiving

end’ group in Kissimmee must ‘visualize’

the images in their minds and describe

them on note cards which are then

recorded?”

“That was the first experiment, yes,”

Byers confirmed from the driver’s seat.

“But it was, well, not very successful.”

“Only about one quarter of the receivers

got the right images,” Langly said with a

sigh.

“But this time, they upped the ante,”

Frohike said with a devilish grin.

“Upped the ante, how?”

“This time, they invited only known

psychics to be the receivers,” Mulder

interjected.

“The article says they used psychics in

the first experiment,” Scully countered,

flipping back to a different page in the

magazine.

“Well, all you had to do was say you were

a psychic in the first experiment.

Naturally, you got a lot of wanna-bes

that way,” Byers said with a sad shake of

his head.

“Naturally,” Scully answered, and

wondered if her sarcasm was always lost

on these three.

“This time, you have to give references,”

Frohike assured her.

“Oh, I’m sure that’s going to make a

world of difference,” Scully deadpanned.

As they exited the Vanagon in the parking

lot and made their way to the lobby

doors, Mulder pulled on Scully’s arm and

they dropped back from the group.

“One thing, Scully. We’re playing this

low profile,” he said, his voice dropping

to an almost whisper.

“Low profile?” she asked, confused.

He chewed briefly on his upper lip. “If

it got out in the convention that you and

I were here . . . Let’s just say it

would draw quite a bit of unwanted

attention.”

“You’re telling me you don’t want to meet

with your fan club, Mulder?”

“Very funny. And for your information,

I’m not the only one with a fan club in

this hotel. The SI invited a number of

known skeptics as well, to witness the

experiment and ensure that it’s on the

up and up. You might find yourself being

worshipped from afar here. Or much

closer.”

“Look, Mulder! They have a shuttle to

Disney World, too,” she pointed out

hopefully.

“C’mon, Scully. You promised. You can’t

weasel out now. Just play it low key,”

he admonished.

“How low is low key?” she asked, giving

him the look he’d come to know all too

well as her ‘death stare’.

“It’s just for the afternoon . . .Laura.”

“Tonight, you’re painting my toes . . .

Rob,” she shot back.

Scully hung back while Mulder registered

them as ‘guests: Laura and Rob Petri’.

The Gunmen were already listed as

conferees. Each was given a packet of

material including the names of the

experiment’s participants in both

Kissimmee and Tampa as well as a

corresponding list of witnesses.

Witnesses were assigned places to one

side of the room, while ‘receivers’ were

seated in chairs in the center of the

room. An area in the back was reserved

for ‘guests’. The room was not unlike

any other hotel ballroom that Scully had

ever been in, set up for a typical

conference. Even the attendees seemed

more normal than what she expected.

“Looking for something, Laura?”

Mulder asked as she craned her neck

around to see all the people in the room.

“Definitely looks more normal than the

‘Def Con’ I was tricked into attending

back in ’99,” she whispered.

“I should hope so,” Mulder hissed. “You

know, just because someone has psychic

abilities doesn’t make them a crackpot.

Remember Clyde? Typical insurance agent.

And the serial killer/psychic turned out

to be a bellboy.”

She pursed her lips and glared up at him.

“Thanks for reminding me, Rob. Let’s

just hope we don’t have a repeat of that

little escapade.”

With a quick glance to make sure the

‘boys’ weren’t looking, he kissed the

crown of her head. “Not to worry, Laura.

This time we get to sit back, relax and

enjoy the show, which looks about ready

to start.”

A man walked up to stand in front of the

white projector screen at the front of

the room. Immediately, Scully recognized

him. It was the Stupendous Yappi.

“Oh God,” she moaned.

“He’s just the MC, Scully. He’s not even

in the experiment.”

“But we’re in the same time zone, Mulder.

I never wanted to be in the same time

zone with that man again . . .”

“Shhhh, he’s starting,” Mulder shushed

her.

“Thank you, thank you all for coming,”

Yappi droned on in his hard to pin down

European accent. “I am the Stupendous

Yappi.” He paused, waiting for the

applause to die down. The frown on his

face indicated the crowd’s reaction was

much less than he’d expected, but he

continued. “My book Psychics Are Better

Lovers is available for purchase in

the Exhibitor’s hall. There will be a

book signing tomorrow afternoon . . .”

A series of coughs from the direction of

the skeptics table drew his attention

and

Yappi got back to business.

“As you all know, this is an experiment

of the highest historic order. We plan,

without a doubt, to prove today the

existence of remote telepathic connection

between not just two individuals, but

between two groups of individuals.”

His remarks garnered sporadic applause.

“Our team of witnesses includes some of

the most skeptical minds in the world,”

he waved absently over toward the table

of a dozen people. “And our test

subjects are all renowned psychics from

all over the planet.” More applause

from the thirty or more gathered guests

at the back of the room.

“We will be projecting a 15-second clip

on the screen in Tampa. It will

include

music and action. Although we will be

receiving the images, it is our hope that

our combined efforts can visualize and

actually project some, if not all, of

those images on to the screen here in

Kissimmee. I have to ask for absolute

silence for the next ten minutes. Test

subjects, I will give you one minute to

clear your minds and prepare to receive

the transmission.” He held up his hand

and then brought it back down swiftly

cutting through the air, like a starter

at a NASCAR race.

“Mulder, this is the biggest waste . . .”

“Shhh,” he hissed back again. She

sighed and was quiet.

The concentration in the room was

electric. On small, closed circuit

television sets over on the skeptic’s

table, the witnesses were shown the

images being projected from Tampa. Since

they alone had the benefit of earphones,

none of the guests were privy to the

information.

The seconds seemed to drag by. Scully

found her seat to be uncomfortable and

couldn’t resist a small squirm. Mulder

shot her a fierce glare, which she

grinned at, but kept silent. Just when

she thought more than ten minutes had to

have gone by, someone behind her gasped

and drew her attention

to the screen at the front of the room.

Ever so faded, the images of two people,

one on top of the other, appeared on the

screen. It was so faded, it took her a

moment to realize that she knew the

footage. Knew it all too well. Gary

Shandling and Tea Leoni in a coffin–

“Oh for Pete’s sake!” she exclaimed

loudly, drawing annoyed shushes from

people seated around them.

“Laura,” Mulder said in a warning tone.

“But Rob–” she hissed back. Before she

had a chance to point out the total

humiliation they were facing, a loud pop

reverberated from the skeptic’s area.

One of the women at the table screamed as

a man slumped forward and smoke billowed

from the television just in front of him.

A tall man at the end of the table jumped

up and put his hand to the fallen man’s

neck. “He’s dead!” he called out and the

room exploded into pandemonium. People

were out of their chairs as Scully tried

to move past a knot of bodies to get

to the skeptic’s table. In the rush,

Mulder was slammed into a chair, fell and

pinned his wrist underneath him.

Scully finally got past the crowd, using

her credentials as a battering ram. “I’m

a medical doctor, please let me through,”

she shouted to anyone who would listen.

Finally, she was at the table and moved

around to the injured man.

The television screen was intact, which

confused Scully for a moment. She

assumed the television had exploded and

the resulting jolt of electricity from

the earphone might have been enough to

electrocute the man. She placed her hand

on his neck, feeling for a pulse. None

was to be found. Then she peeled back

the man’s eyelids. The whites of

both eyes were filled with red. As she

moved the head slightly, a trickle of

blood ran out one ear.

“Has someone called 911?” Scully shouted.

“And everyone, get away from those sets!

There could be another power surge.”

The witnesses scrambled away from the

table, someone had the presence of mind

to disconnect the power strips that the

television sets were plugged in. There

was a lot of milling around as people

tried to determine exactly what had

happened.

From the crowd, Langly made his way over

to Scully. “Uh, you better come quick.

Mulder got hurt in the scuffle.”

“What?” she asked, annoyed and worried at

the same time.

“He’s says he fell on his arm. Judging

from the pain he’s in, I think it’s

broken. Pretty bad, too.” Langly was

turning an interesting shade of pale

green.

“I’ll be right there.” Security from the

hotel had arrived and Scully felt

reasonably sure that they would control

the crowd for the time being until the

ambulance and coroner arrived. She

noticed the hotel maintenance people were

already checking out the televisions and

the electrical cords.

“Where is he?” she asked, but it didn’t

take long to spot him. Mulder was

sitting on one of the chairs reserved for

the test subjects, his right arm cradled

to his chest. His face was pale gray and

sweat was dripping down his temple. He

looked up at her with pain filled eyes.

“I think I did a number on it, Scully,”

he said, foregoing their aliases.

Gently, she reached out to run her hand

over the injured limb, but he flinched

back and gritted his teeth at her

slightest touch. “Christ, I’ve never had

a break hurt this bad,” he panted.

“Easy, Mulder, just take it easy. OK,

guys, here’s the deal. This place is a

mad house at the moment and it would be a

lot easier if we just drove him to

the hospital ourselves. Byers, get the

van and pull it up under the lobby

awning. Langly, see if we can clear a

path through this crowd, I don’t want him

jostled in any way. Frohike, go get some

ice, fast. I want to ice it down to

reduce the swelling.” She still hadn’t

had a really good look at the arm, but

from his reaction to the pain, her

thoughts were reeling with images of

compound fractures and displaced bones.

Sheraton Hotel

8:45 pm

“Easy does it, Mulder. Just lie down and

I’ll prop your arm up on these pillows.”

Mulder complied, anger and pain still

warring in his features. “I can’t

believe this, Scully. I just can’t

believe this shit!”

She poked a pill out of a plastic

blister pack and got a glass of water

from the bathroom. She handed them to

him and watched as he swallowed the pill

before sitting down next to him.

“A sprain! Can you believe I passed out

from a sprain?!”

“Mulder, sprains can be more painful than

breaks,” she said, but even she could

tell she didn’t sound too convincing.

“It could be a side effect-”

“That was days ago, Scully, and I haven’t

had a single symptom,” he cried, lying

back on the pillows and searching for a

comfortable position.

“At least you aren’t in a cast,” she

pointed out hopefully.

He glared at the Ace bandage wrapped

around his wrist and the blue generic

sling holding his arm in position.

“Yeah. I can take a shower. If I can

stand the pressure of the water on my

skin,” he growled back. “What is wrong

with me?” he cried out, closing his eyes

and shutting out the world.

She patted his leg. She wondered the

same thing, but didn’t dare give voice to

her concerns. Mulder had vomited during

the ten minute ride to the hospital. In

the ER, he had actually passed out from

the pain. She had been certain the x

rays would show a displaced bone,

possibly even a Jones fracture or other

equally painful break. Instead, the

black and white photos showed absolutely

no damage.

The swelling was minimal and the doctor

on call had been generous in giving the

diagnosis of a sprain. In reality it was

more of a bruise than anything else.

Scully had hated the looks the nurses had

given her partner as they prepared to

leave. She heard one of the nurses at

the desk grumble about ‘hypochondriacs

taking up all their time’ and almost

went back to give the woman a piece of

her mind. She knew Mulder too well to

think he was faking his pain in any way.

She couldn’t help but remember how he’d

been incapacitated by the drug he’d been

exposed to just a short week before.

The drug had worn off, or so they

thought. Now she was uncertain what they

should be doing. She had asked for a

blood workup at the hospital, which

the doctor had thought fairly useless,

but had agreed to reluctantly. They

promised to call her with the results as

soon as they were back from the lab.

Two hours later, a knock at the door

startled her. Mulder was sleeping, out

for the night under the influence of the

painkiller the ER doc had given him.

Scully was online, searching through

medical sites for any information on

‘brain enhancing drugs’ and their

possible side effects. She went to the

door, half expecting the Gunmen, but not

entirely pleased to see them.

“He’s asleep, guys. Come back in the

morning,” she told them through the half-

open door.

“Agent Scully, we’d never intrude, but

this is really important,” Byers pleaded,

his hand on the doorframe. “Please, we

won’t take up more than a few minutes of

your time.”

Scully glanced over to the bed, where

Mulder was still snoring softly. Shaking

her head, she let the three conspiracy

geeks into the room.

“Out with it. You have 10 minutes

and then you are gone,” she said tersely,

sitting down at the desk by the window.

“After we dropped you off at the ER, we

went back to the convention,” Byers

started.

“And it was just as chaotic as when we

left,” Langly chimed in.

“But all hell broke loose when someone

heard that the hotel electrician told

housekeeping that it wasn’t a power surge

that caused the TV to explode,” Frohike

added.

“Well, it was a power surge,” Byers

corrected. “Just not in the direction we

all figured it would be.”

Her neck was hurting from following the

conversation bounce back and forth

between the three men. She stood up with

her hands on her hips. “What the hell

are you trying to tell me,” she blurted

out a little louder than she’d wanted.

Mulder moaned, rolled over onto his

side, but didn’t awaken. “Now, tell me-

quietly-what the hell you are talking

about,” she hissed, dragging Byers over

to the far side of the room.

“According to the electrician, the

television did not experience a surge of

electricity from the outlet.”

Scully shook her head as if trying to

clear cobwebs, or possibly improve her

hearing. “So it wasn’t a power surge

that killed the witness?”

“No, it was most definitely a surge of

electricity,” Byers corrected. “Just not

from the outlet.”

“Then from where?” Scully asked

impatiently. “The sky?”

“No. From Victor’s earphone,” Byers

explained excitedly.

“Victor?”

“Victor Anton, the witness. The man who

died. You might have heard of him. He’s

known theatrically as the Amazing Victor.

He did Leno about six months ago. Opens

for Copperfield in Vegas occasionally.”

“The victim is a . . . what? Other than

a skeptic?”

“He’s a magician. To be honest, quite a

few magicians find themselves in the

skeptical ranks. They know the tricks,

or they figure they do. They consider

self-proclaimed psychics to be hustlers

and view them

very unfavorably,” Byers continued.

“Wait. You said the surge came from the

earphone. Then it came from the

television,” Scully reasoned.

“No, Agent Scully. That’s what I’m

trying to say. The power surge went

through the earphone into the television.

The surge itself came from Victor.”

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Scully said

seriously. One look at the bearded man’s

face and she had her answer. “You aren’t

kidding. But how could the electrician

know that?”

“The way the wires were melted,

apparently. And when we heard that,

well, we figured maybe you could go over

to the morgue, take a look at Victor’s

body. I mean, if Victor caused the power

surge during the experiment, do you have

any idea what this could mean?”

“It could mean Victor Anton had psychic

powers. Or it could mean we have a

murder on our hands,” said Mulder from

the bed.

Act II

Kissimmee City Morgue

12:45 am

“Mulder, are you sure-”

“Scully, asking me that question yet

again is not going to change the answer!

I feel fine, and I mean that in the most

literal sense of the word! Aside from a

little light-headedness, which is

probably from that Tylenol 3 I took, I

feel great.”

Scully gave him a worried look and then

returned her gaze to the body lying on

the table in front of them.

“So, were the boys right? Did Victor

just . . . implode?”

“Mulder, this makes no sense. I’ve never

seen a brain look this scrambled! I

don’t understand what happened. It’s not

just an aneurysm, it’s like the brain

just . . .”

“Popped?” he supplied. “That’s probably

the sound we heard just before he slumped

over.”

Scully pulled the safety glasses off her

face and stared down again at the body.

“OK, I have to say he died of some sort

of electric charge which seems to have

originated in his own brain. But Mulder,

how does that equate to him being

murdered?”

Mulder had hopped up on a nearby counter

and was swinging his legs, bumping his

sneakers against the metal drawers.

“Scully, look at the circumstances.

We were in the presence of over 100

psychics-”

“Exactly 100, Mulder,” she corrected.

“Not if you include those members of the

guests who might exhibit psychic ability

but didn’t make the cut, and don’t forget

the 100 in the hotel in Tampa,” he

reminded her.

“OK, so there were a lot of psychics,”

she admitted.

“So, this experiment has gotten a lot of

play in the community, Scully.”

“What community, Mulder? The greater

Orlando Metro area?” she snorted.

“No, the paranormal community. For many

of these people it was ‘put up or shut

up’ time. When the last experiment only

proved marginally successful-”

Her snort caused him to roll his eyes,

but didn’t stop his monologue.

“They knew this experiment had to prove

the theory.”

“And what theory is that, Mulder?”

“That psychic ability is real, and

quantifiable.”

This time she rolled her eyes. “So why

kill only Victor Anton? Why not kill all

the skeptics?”

Mulder shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe

their powers have limits. But Scully,

look at this. I found it in the packet

we received when we registered as

guests.”

He handed her a slip of light blue paper.

She skimmed it quickly and looked back at

him. “A memorial tribute to Lydia

Forby?”

“Lydia Forby was a very well known

skeptic. For that matter, although it’s

always been rumored that Lydia herself

had psychic ability, she was the person

responsible for gathering the group of

skeptics who acted as witnesses this

afternoon. She’s had several articles

published in the SI stating unequivocally

that psychic ability is nothing more than

a circus act and basically hogwash. She

did her doctoral dissertation on that

very subject.”

“This says she died peacefully at her

home,” Scully read from the blue sheet.

“Last . . . Mulder, this was just two

days ago!”

“Yeah. I thought it was odd that she

wasn’t at the skeptics table. I hadn’t

heard of her death.”

“You would have recognized her?” Scully

asked with a raised eyebrow.

Mulder found his shoelace incredibly

interesting at that moment. When he

looked back up, his eyes were shy.

“Let’s just say I find strongly skeptical

women extremely attractive,” he said,

punctuating the comment with a randy

wink.

That got him a smile and a shake of her

head. “But Mulder, this has her date of

birth. The woman was almost 80 years

old. She probably died in her sleep,

of a stroke, a heart attack, any number

of natural causes.”

“Makes it pretty easy to cover up her

murder, huh?” Mulder winked again.

“I think you’re reaching,” Scully said,

her arms crossed firmly in front of her

and one eye brow cocked and ready to

fire.

“Scully, I’m just saying this looks like

it could get interesting–very

soon.”

Kissimmee Hyatt

3:00 pm

“I think this is an incredibly bad idea,”

Scully groused as she stood in front of

the hotel desk, signing the registration

form.

“It’s not like this is a flea bag,

Scully. Sheez, you get to stay in three

really nice hotels in a row and you’re

complaining! Next time, we stay in our

usual budget fare,” he warned, his eyes

twinkling.

“It’s not changing hotels that has me

worried, and you know it! I don’t like

the fact that we’re now front and center

at this convention. And the fact that no

one else has died casts a bit of a shadow

on your prediction of last night . . .”

“The night is young, Scully. The last

death was just 24 hours ago,” Mulder

pointed out defensively.

“And there is only one more day left of

the convention,” Scully reminded him.

“So, we stay here one night and then we

go back to the Sheraton. What’s the big

deal? Scully, even if there are no more

deaths, we still have one to look in

to. Two, if you count Mrs. Forby,” he

said shaking his finger at her.

“We are on va-ca-tion, Mulder. That

means we are not working. Do I have to

spell this out to you again?”

“Right here? In the lobby?” he leaned in

and whispered in her ear. “Let’s spell,

G-Woman!”

Thankfully for Scully, the desk clerk

looked up at that moment. “Mr. Petri,

you have a message.”

Scully’s eyebrow reached an all time

high. She waited, not too patiently, as

Mulder read the pink slip of paper.

“It’s from the guys. They’ve invited us

to a hospitality suite tonight. Langly

says it’s better than going out to eat,

they have tons of free food. It starts

at seven.”

Scully’s face was impassionate stone.

“There will be a lot of people there,

Scully. If this killer intends to strike

again, that might be the logical place.”

Scully glanced down at her watch. “It’s

3:15. Since we don’t have to worry about

dinner reservations,” she said with more

than a hint of sarcasm, “that gives us 3

hours and 45 minutes. Just enough time

for two coats of nail polish to dry.

Move your fanny, Rob. You have work to

do!”

Hyatt Suite 1156

8:15 pm

“So, you read or do you just feel?”

“Excuse me?” Scully asked, somewhat

startled that the tall man with shocking

white hair and a fake bone necklace had

decided to strike up a conversation with

her. Mulder had gone off to get drinks

over 10 minutes ago and in the throng of

bodies, she’d lost sight of him

completely. To be honest, she couldn’t

even tell what direction the bar was in.

“I asked if you read, you know, tarot,

crystals, tea leaves. Or do you get your

images by feel?” His accent sounded

almost Jamaican, but she couldn’t be

sure.

“Um, I don’t,” she said simply.

His smile grew brighter. “Ah! You’re

one of ‘them’, are ya now? Fascinating.

And your lover, is he also a non

believer?”

Scully’s tongue found the hollow place in

the middle of her front molar and smiled.

“I think I need a drink,” she announced

and hastily got to her feet.

A knot of people carrying wine glasses

and coming toward her gave her somewhat

of a guide. She headed past them and ran

directly into Frohike.

The little man dropped his eyes at first,

then his head jerked up and he grinned at

the agent. “Nice foot fashion, Agent

Scully. Is that ‘To Die For Red’ by

Revlon on those toes?”

Scully just raised half an eyebrow.

“Focus, Hickey. Where’s Mulder?”

Frohike had the good grace to swallow any

retort and nodded over his left shoulder.

“He was about four people behind me in

the line. And I think the chickadee in

front of him was ordering for a table.

He might be a while. In the meantime,

care for a Harvey Wallbanger?” He

offered her the drink in his hand.

She shook her head with a sigh. “The

food table looked great, but I couldn’t

get within five feet of it,” she huffed.

“Too bad, the jalapeno poppers are

fantastic!”

Scully shook her head. “Those things

always give me gas,” she said with

disgust. “I want something light-and not

greasy.”

“Oh, well, they have cheese and crackers

and those little pieces of chicken on

sticks. You should be able to find

something, eventually. I think the whole

convention is packed in here. But wait

till Langly gets back. He knows how to

work a buffet table, he’s bringing a

plate. Hey, a couple of seats just

opened up! Let’s grab ’em.”

Scully was about to object and go off to

find Mulder when there was a scream

somewhere in one of the small alcoves to

the left of her. Instinctively, she

reached for her gun, which was not at her

hip because she had left it at home. It

was when a man’s voice called for a

doctor that she forced her way through

the crowd.

This time some of the attendees

recognized her and helped her through the

throng of people. When she reached the

center of all the attention, she found a

woman lying motionless on the blue plush

carpet.

Quickly, Scully dropped to her knees

beside the woman and felt for a pulse

while listening for any breath sounds.

She found neither, so she immediately

started CPR.

“The ambulance is on the way, Dr. Petri,”

one of the conference staff members

assured her. She ignored the use of the

alias Mulder had picked out and continued

her efforts for a moment. Sitting back,

she did a cursory exam and found blood in

the ears and in the whites of the eyes.

“I’m afraid it’s too late,” she said with

a heavy sigh.

Another staff member, one she recognized

from their check in, was suddenly at her

elbow.

“Dr. Petri, your husband has taken ill!”

Just through the sea of faces, Scully saw

someone familiar. “Byers! Come here and

keep all these people back!”

The bearded man looked first shocked and

then slightly dismayed at his sudden

responsibility.

“I need to get to Mulder,” Scully added

through gritted teeth.

“Of course, Agent, er, Doctor Petri,”

Byers agreed and started moving the crowd

away from the body with his arms

outstretched.

“It’s not like you haven’t seen a dead

person,” he was saying to the others as

Scully pushed her way through, trying to

follow the young man who had told her

Mulder was sick.

She found her partner sitting on the

floor, leaning against the bar, doubled

over. He was panting heavily and his

arms were holding his stomach as if he’d

been gut shot and was trying to stop the

bleeding. She knelt down beside him and

touched his arm.

“Mulder, what’s wrong?” she asked gently.

“Gut,” came the one word response. He

didn’t even look up, his face still

hidden from view as his chin was pressed

into his chest.

“Your stomach? Where? Where is the pain

located?”

“Sick!” was all the warning he gave her

and she grabbed an ice bucket off the bar

counter, tossed the melting contents onto

the floor and got it in his hands just in

time for him to begin retching.

There was another crowd gathered, this

time around the sick man and the gall of

these people was past getting on her

nerves. “Get everyone out of this room,”

she hissed to the staffer, who was still

standing, wide-eyed, next to her.

“Yes ma’am!” he answered, obviously

relieved to have something to do.

“Awright, clear out, everybody! Show’s

over. Sorry for the inconvenience. Hey,

don’t forget the tarot card readings at

breakfast start at 9 sharp, so you want

to get some shut eye. Everybody out!”

By the time the room was empty, except

for Scully, Mulder and the Gunmen, the

paramedics arrived. The pain in his gut

had moved up and Mulder tried, through

clenched teeth, to explain the pain in

his chest.

“Crushing,” he gasped out and his eyes

rolled back in his head.

The paramedics loaded him quickly on a

stretcher, hooking up monitors and IV’s

as they moved and before Scully could

insist on going with them, they were

gone.

She stood in the driveway to the hotel,

holding back tears.

“Do you think it was a heart attack?”

Byers asked softly, a stricken look on

his face.

Scully swallowed hard. “I don’t know.

Let’s get in the van, I need to get to

that hospital. And Frohike-you drive.”

Doctor’s Hospital

Kissimmee, Florida

10:45 pm

Scully was ready to start breaking down

walls. Byers had gone for coffee, had

gotten lost and had been escorted back by

a security guard. Frohike had asked the

admissions clerk out for drinks after her

shift. Langly had crashed out in front

of the television set in the ‘children’s

lounge’ during a Dexter’s Laboratory

marathon. And there was still no word on

Mulder.

“I’m going back there,” the agent

declared with fire in her eyes.

Byers started to reach for her arm to

pull her back, but her burning glare

stopped him short. “Agent Scully,

please. The nurse said they would notify

us the minute the doctor has a diagnosis.

We just have to be patient,” he pleaded.

“I’ve been patient,” she hissed. “Now,

I’m taking action.” She headed for the

double doors toward the Emergency

Department and shoved the release bar

with all her might. It held fast. A

quick glance to the side wall revealed a

keyboard and slide card lock.

“To hell with this,” she spun around,

looking for anything to pry the door

open. She’d picked up a small wire trash

basket and was attempting to unravel the

mesh when the doors opened and a

disheveled young man in green scrubs

entered the lounge.

“Mrs. Mulder?” he asked, eyeing the

wastebasket in her hands with obvious

trepidation.

“My name is _Doctor_ Scully,” she said

evenly as she shoved the wastebasket in

Byer’s direction and walked closer to the

man. “Where’s my partner? What’s his

condition?”

The young man seemed a little perplexed

by her attitude and her questions, but

struggled to keep in control. “I’m Mark

Lomb, I’m the head resident in the ER.

I’ve examined your-did you call him your

partner?”

“Yes, he’s my partner, and I’m his next

of kin,” she said impatiently without

going into details. “What are his

vitals?”

“Well, his vitals, now, are quite good.

He’s breathing was never a question, his

ox sat never dropped below 96 percent, BP

shot up for a little bit, but dropped

back to 118 over 80 and the pain in his

chest and stomach seems to have

dissipated with the administration of 80

mg of Simethicone and 750 mg of calcium

carbonate.”

Scully blinked, but drew herself up to

her full 5 foot 2 inches. “You

administered antacid for a heart attack?”

she growled.

“Well, it would appear that your

‘partner’ was suffering from severe

indigestion. When we got him in the

treatment room and on a monitor, his

heart rate was rapid, but not irregular.

We did a EKG and a CT scan and found no

abnormality. Then I tried the antacid.

He, uh, expelled quite a bit of gas, and

now he’s resting comfortably. You can

take him home as soon as we wake him up

and get him dressed.”

Scully continued to glare at the young

man to the point where he started

searching out the pattern of the floor

tiles. “It’s an easy mistake to make,

really. The gas was trapped in the

stomach and large intestine, causing

pressure to build up on the diaphragm.

That, in turn, caused pressure on the

heart and of course, the lungs-”

“I know what happens when you have

indigestion,” Scully spat out. “But the

pain was too intense. Besides, he

vomited at the hotel!”

“That’s not uncommon, either. It’s quite

possible that the gas trapped in the

large intestine wasn’t affected by the

vomiting,” Lomb added helpfully.

Scully was way past playing with her

molar. She was well on her way to

drilling a hole in her tooth with her

tongue. “Thank you, Doctor,” she replied

icily. “If you’d be so kind as to take

me back to see my partner, I’ll take it

from here.”

She was escorted back into the ER

treatments rooms to find that Mulder,

looking rather sheepish, was pulling on

his sneakers and tying up the laces.

“I’m really sorry about this,” he said

quietly, staring at his shoe.

“Mulder, I don’t know what happened back

at the hotel, but that was not

indigestion! You get gas from time to

time, especially when you insist on

getting green salsa on your nachos, but

that pain was off the chart. It was

something entirely different!”

He looked up, fear in his eyes. “I

really thought it was the big one,

Scully,” he admitted in a whisper.

She reached out and put her hand on his

shoulder. “So did I,” she nodded and

fought back the tears that were choking

her throat. He pulled her into his arms,

holding her close.

“Shhh, it’s all right. I’m fine,” he

assured her.

“But it’s not all right,” she objected,

her voice muffled by speaking directly

into his shoulder. “Mulder, that’s the

second time in two days. This has to

stop!”

He closed his eyes and absently stroked

her hair. “I know, Scully. Believe me,

I know.”

Act III

Kissimmee City Morgue

1:45 am

“I want you to go back to the hotel and

get some sleep!”

“I’m fine, Mulder,” she said, rolling her

shoulders again. “I just want to see if

the blood work-”

“Scully, you know as well as I do that

the lab won’t rush this. Elizabeth Mason

appears to have died of natural causes.

No way are they gonna drag someone out in

the middle of the night to test blood

unless there’s a gunshot or knife wound

somewhere in the mix. Besides, you’re

dead on your feet,” Mulder accused.

“Are you just trying to get me in bed,

Agent Mulder?” she asked with a coy raise

of one eyebrow.

“Always, Agent Scully, but this time I’m

serious. Look, the Medical Examiner

already thinks we’re two tacos short of a

combo plate and you’ll be here all night

looking for something you’re not going to

find.”

“And what, exactly, would that be, this

elusive something?” she asked, arms

crossed in a very defiant posture.

“A scientific explanation,” he said as he

walked up behind her and massaged the

area right between her shoulder blades.

“Scully,” he whispered as he leaned into

her ear, his breath raising goose bumps

across the back of her neck. “These

people’s deaths can not be explained by

mere science.”

“You say it like it’s hokum, Mulder.

‘Mere science.’ I’ve spent my life, my

career, oooh, yeah, right there, no, no,

to the left, yeah . . .” she said with a

contented sigh as his long fingers

continued to work their magic on her

tired muscles. After a few minutes,

though, she came back to herself and

pulled away from his hands.

“Thought you had me that time, didn’t

you, G-Man,” she accused.

“Who, me?” he replied, holding his hands

up in surrender. “Scully, I know it’s in

your nature to search for the scientific

explanation, but look at the facts. Poor

Ms. Mason died in exactly the same manner

as our buddy Victor Anton. You said

yourself that you’d never seen a brain so

completely scrambled. I’m willing to bet

the contents of my bottom desk drawer

that poor old Lydia was killed by the

same person. Did some lost KGB agent,

not knowing the Cold War is over, come in

and hit each of them with a microwave ray

gun? I mean, face it, that’s a touch

more outlandish than the obvious answer.”

“The obvious answer being that a psychic,

or group of psychics, turned the evil eye

on the opposition, is that what you’re

saying, Mulder?”

“I never said it was a group, Scully. I

believe the evil eye acted alone on this

one.”

Scully closed her eyes in defeat. “You

have absolutely no proof of that

statement,” she said with an exasperated

huff.

“Yeah, well, since we have no proof of

any kind, save for dead bodies stacking

up like cord wood, I would say mine is

the most viable explanation because it

doesn’t require physical proof!”

She stared at him a full minute before

opening her mouth. “You know, as tired

as I am right now, that almost made

sense.”

“Let’s go back to the motel and go to

bed,” he said tenderly, pulling on her

hand.

“Shouldn’t we be calling someone? The

Kissimmee Police Department, the Osceola

County Sheriff’s Department, . . .

Skinner?” she asked, allowing him to pull

off her safety glasses and tug off her

lab coat.

“Why? When did you start to like being

laughed at by local law enforcement? Do

we need to be seeking professional help

for this condition?”

“But if there have been three murders . .

.” Her comment was punctuated with a

long yawn.

“When we can prove they were murders, and

when we can hand over the UNSUB, then

we’ll call in the troops. For now, we

might as well just keep a low profile and

observe.”

“Low profile. Mulder, you’ve been

carried out of the hotel twice already.

Once on a gurney to a waiting ambulance.

You don’t think that’s just a tad ‘high’

profile?”

“It’s a great cover, Scully. Who would

ever think that such a hypochondriac

would be a federal agent?”

“They are psychics,” she countered.

“Humor me,” he pleaded.

She reached out to take his hand and

clutched it to her cheek. “That scares

me, too, Mulder. I don’t know what’s

happening with you.”

He tried to look braver than he felt, for

her sake. “So far it looks like there

are no lingering ill effects after these

attacks,” he pointed out.

“Still, I want you to take it easy. We

seem to have no idea when an attack will

take place. And when we get home, you’re

going to GUMC for another full battery of

tests,” she ordered.

“You’re the doctor,” he said with a wink

and placed a quick kiss on the crown of

her head.

“Don’t you forget it,” she said, pulling

him down to kiss him on the lips.

Kissimmee Hyatt

10:50 am

Frohike spotted them from across the

convention lobby. “Hey, there they are!”

His two companions quickly followed him

toward the two agents, who were

attempting to turn back and get on an

elevator, any elevator.

“You missed the tarot card reading,”

Langly accused as Mulder tried to hide

behind a potted palm. Scully tugged on

his arm and pulled him out into the open.

“We were tired after last night,” she

explained lamely. “The autopsy . . . and

everything . . .”

“Tired. Right. And I’m the Secretary of

Def–” started Langly.

“The debate is starting at 11,” Byers

interrupted before Langly could earn

Mulder’s wrath, and Scully’s. “We need

to get into the auditorium if we want

good seats.”

“Debate?” Scully asked, looking over at

Mulder, who was still carrying the

convention folder with all the

information sheets.

Mulder shuffled some papers and found the

schedule. “Let’s see. Debate. A panel

of two psychics and two skeptics are

going to debate the use of psychic

ability in law enforcement.” He looked

up and grinned. “Sounds like it’s just

up our alley, Scully, er, Laura.”

“After this vacation, Rob, you owe me a

vacation,” she growled.

Byers led them to seats in the auditorium

near the middle aisle. Scully looked

around, seeing many of the same faces

from the hospitality suite the day

before.

The mood of the crowd was somber. It

certainly didn’t mirror the carnival

atmosphere of the Defense Contractor’s

convention she’d been lured to in Las

Vegas two years before.

A young woman took the podium to the left

of the table with the panelists and

tapped on the microphone.

“If you could all please take your

places. I believe there are still some

good seats up front, if any one wants to

come a little closer. I promise, we

don’t bite,” she said with a good natured

smile.

“It’s not biting we’re worried about,”

said an unidentified voice from the

crowd.

The young woman smiled nervously and

cleared her throat.

“As we all know, law enforcement from

time to time calls upon those of us with

psychic ability to help them in solving

crimes and finding missing persons. Some

feel this is a waste of precious time and

resources. Others think it is the only

way some criminals will ever be brought

to justice. Today, we are honored to

have two individuals who have actually

been called in by the police and have

successfully led them to capture

criminals. On my right, nearest to me,

is The Stupendous Yappi.” The audience

applauded while Yappi stood up.

“I think I’m getting sick again, Scully,”

Mulder whispered in her ear. She shot

him a worried look, only to see that the

cause of her partner’s ‘illness’ was the

man standing at the panelist table.

“Me first, Mulder.”

“Shhhhh!” hissed Frohike as the young

woman went on to introduce the remainder

of the panel.

One hour and forty-five minutes later,

the debate was over.

“Well, wasn’t it surprising to find out

that Yappi led the cops right to that

murdering bellboy in Minneapolis?” Mulder

asked sarcastically as they left the

auditorium. “And the FBI’s involvement

wasn’t even mentioned.”

“I’ll make sure to amend that report the

minute we get back home,” Scully said

dryly. “But more to the point, did you

notice anything interesting in there?”

“I think that was a botched dye job. I

don’t think it’s possible for a person to

have naturally purple hair,” he replied

with a grin.

She faked a laugh. “No, think about it.”

“Nobody died. I did notice that. Every

other time there’s been a general session

or gathering, there seems to be a death.”

“I think that lends just a little

credence to my contention that these

deaths were of natural causes and their

grouping was just coinci-”

Scully was interrupted by shouts coming

from the convention area lobby. Before

long, someone called out ‘Fight’ and

everyone started running.

Mulder was the first to arrive at the

scene and stood wide-eyed at the boxing

match before him. The Stupendous Yappi,

his hair mussed and his ascot just barely

looped around his neck, was in the

process of strangling Martin the

Marvelous, a two-bit carny magician and

freelance contributor to the Skeptical

Inquirer who had been one of the skeptics

in the debate. Martin was busy getting

his own kicks in, literally, making

contact with Yappi’s shins with each

blow. The two men were obviously intent

on beating the crap out of each other.

“Mulder!” Scully yelled, to get his

attention. “All right, let’s break this

up,” she directed at the two combatants,

who ignored her completely. “I said,

break this UP!” she shouted and proceeded

to wade into the fray.

The two combatants seemed to not hear the

shrill warning of the red-haired woman

and continued to pummel each other. As a

result, Mulder felt duty-bound to weigh

in on Scully’s side. Grabbing Yappi by

the ascot, he yanked up, dragging the

famous psychic away. As he did,

something incredible happened. Martin,

who was being held now by Langly with

Scully helping to hold him back, tried

one more lunge at Yappi. Just as he did,

there was a enormous roar, like a sonic

boom, and Martin was torn from Langly’s

grip, thrown through the air across the

lobby, and landed in a crumpled heap near

the doors of the elevators.

Yappi seemed as shocked as everyone else,

but didn’t really have time to react.

Mulder, who had him in a choke-hold,

suddenly careened to the left, falling

unconscious to the floor of the lobby.

Yappi struggled to free himself from the

agent’s grasp, and was finally

successful. His freedom was short-lived,

as Scully immediately ordered a recently

arrived hotel security guard to restrain

him.

“I want you to call 911, call for police

and two ambulances,” she barked. “Tell

them two men are down, one a Federal

Agent and we have the suspect in

custody.”

The gathered crowd stared on in silence.

Scully caught Byer’s eye and jerked her

head, indicating that she needed his

help. The nervous editor nodded in

compliance and hurried over to where

Mulder was still slumped on the floor.

That gave Scully an opportunity to check

on Martin, who was, as she suspected,

dead. Before she had a chance to check

more than the man’s eyes and ears, Byers

was calling her.

clip_image002

“Agent Scully, something’s wrong!” Byers

shouted and immediately started to

administer CPR to the fallen agent.

Scully was beside him in a flash, ripping

Mulder’s shirt open and then checking for

a pulse.

“Damn it, what is going on?” she

demanded, but really never expected an

answer. She moved Byers back, motioning

for him to continue chest compressions

while she did respirations. They worked

as a team until the paramedics arrived

less than ten minutes later.

Doctor’s Hospital

Kissimmee, Florida

12:10 pm

Dr. Lomb met her at the doors to the ER.

“I got the call and recognized the name.

What is it this time?” he asked with one

eyebrow cocked.

“Arrhythmic and not breathing at scene,

200 joules got a rhythm, still no resps,

so we bagged him enroute,” answered the

paramedic before Scully had the chance.

“BP’s high, 150 over 110 and he’s

unresponsive to any stimulus.”

That seemed to convey the seriousness of

the situation to the doctor. “Dr.

Scully, I’ll be out in a little while to

talk to you,” Lomb said in clipped tones

as he swiped his cardkey and held the

door open for the paramedics and the

gurney.

“Not this time,” Scully growled and

grabbed the door before it could close

her out and away from her partner. “I’m

coming, too.”

Two hours later, Scully walked beside

Mulder’s gurney as he was moved to a room

in the hospital. Lomb was on the other

side of the gurney, still shaking his

head.

“I don’t understand it. He’s exhibiting

all the symptoms of severe electric

shock. But you say he wasn’t near any

electric power source. And there are no

contact burns.”

“I suspect, Dr. Lomb, that the shock was

administered by an individual. Someone

the police have in custody.”

“Dr. Scully, a stun-gun didn’t do this,”

Lomb chided. “I would dare to say a high

power line, but not a stun-gun.”

“I’m not saying it did, Doctor. But how

he was attacked makes no difference in

his treatment. What do you intend to do

for him?”

Lomb looked down at his patient and

heaved a sigh. “For now, we treat the

symptoms. I intend to replace lost

fluids, keep him on the respirator and

the heart monitor. We’ll continue with

the Mannitol to bring his pressure down.

We’ll watch him closely and hope he comes

out of it on his own. I really don’t

know what else do to for him, Dr.

Scully.”

When they were settled in the room,

Scully pulled a padded chair over, sat

down and reached through the bed rail to

take her partner’s hand.

“I said this had to stop, Mulder,” she

whispered, a tear hanging valiantly to

her eyelash before plunging to the metal

railing with a silent splash.

“I just don’t understand it. I know you

said this was probably the work of a

psychic, someone who could mentally cook

someone’s brain from a distance, but

Yappi, Mulder? The man is not a

certified psychic. Just plain

certifiable, yes, but psychic, I don’t

think so! So how could he have done

this? And don’t take this the wrong way,

but why are you still alive? Not that

I’m complaining, mind you.” She gave him

a teary smile. “I’m just

trying to work this all out.”

She took a moment to check all the

monitors. Everything was in order, at

least for the moment. There was a soft

rap on the door and she looked up,

expecting to find a nurse. Instead, John

Byers stood in the door and grimaced at

his own intrusion.

“Sorry. I hope I’m not disturbing you,”

he said hurriedly.

Scully swiped at her eyes quickly and

sat up straighter. “We’re just trying

to discuss the case, but Mulder seems

to want to withhold information,” she

said lightly, trying to conceal the deep

worry she felt.

Byers stepped into the room and stood at

the foot of Mulder’s bed. “After you

left, the police took Yappi into custody.

He was asking to talk to you while they

were escorting him out to the squad car.

Well, actually, he was screaming to talk

to you. He kept saying he could help you

find the real killer. I just thought, I

mean since Mulder can’t tell us anything

right now . . .”

She shook her head. “I can’t leave right

now, John,” she said firmly.

“Agent Scully, if Mulder’s right, he’s no

safer here than he was at the hotel.

Bars do not a prison make when the killer

has the ability to toss a person across a

room with his mind.”

Scully closed her eyes, hoping to think

of any reasonable argument to that

statement. None came to her. She opened

her eyes slowly, but still looked only at

Mulder.

“You’ll stay with him?” she asked in a

cracked whisper.

“Until you return, yes, of course,” Byers

quickly assured her. “And I’ll call you

if anything develops. Immediately.

Agent Scully, the Police Department is

only a few blocks from the hospital. In

an emergency, you’d be back here in less

than five minutes. Frohike and Langly

will wait for you right outside the

station, they’ll even keep the van

running, if you want.”

She sat there, not moving for several

seconds. Finally, she stood up and

leaned over, kissing Mulder on the

forehead. “If you do anything while I’m

gone, Mulder, it better be an

improvement,” she warned and then kissed

him again before turning to Byers.

“You’ll call-”

“At the first sign of any change, I

promise.”

To the bearded man’s surprise, she

reached up and squeezed his shoulder.

“Thank you, John. You’re a good friend.”

She then kissed him lightly on the cheek.

He sat down, stunned and smiling as she

left the room.

Act IV

Kissimmee Police Department

3:06 pm

Scully’s posture was hard as steel when

Yappi was brought in wearing an orange

jumpsuit and looking terrified.

“Thank you, I’ll let you know when I’m

finished interrogating the prisoner,”

Scully said tersely to the guard.

The guard looked dubiously at the agent

and then at the prisoner. “What about

his lawyer?”

“I waive my right to a lawyer if I can

just talk to Agent Scully,” Yappi said,

in amazingly clear English completely

devoid of an accent, except for a slight

Midwestern twang.

“Rudy Randolph Yapinski?” Scully asked,

regarding the folder in front her on the

table with a disdainful expression.

“I took the name Yappi when I went into

show business. Easier to spell,” Yappi

explained with a shrug. “Agent Scully,

you know me. I didn’t kill those people.

I’m not capable of killing those people.”

“You mean you don’t have the nerve to

take someone’s life?” Scully asked

mockingly.

“No. I just plain don’t have the

ability! Agent Scully, what you are

proposing is someone with incredible

psychic power. Why, someone like that

could do anything they wished. I’m

definitely not the killer. I am not that

person!”

Scully crossed her arms, unconvinced.

Yappi shook his head at her and rolled

his eyes to the ceiling. “If I had that

kind of power, do you honestly think they

could keep me here without my consent?”

“I don’t know what powers you do or do

not possess, Mr. Yapinski,” Scully said

with a sneer. “All I do know is that my

partner was trying to subdue you in order

to keep you from hurting another

conferee. Suddenly, the person you were

fighting was thrown across the room, died

of a massive brain trauma, and my partner

was taken to the hospital to be treated

for severe electric shock. Now, the only

person to touch either of those two men

was you. Why should I believe it was

anyone else, regardless of how incredible

I think the nature of these attacks

were?”

“I know you think I have incredible

powers, Agent Scully,” Yappi said

remorsefully. “But you have to believe

me. I couldn’t ‘psi’ my way out of a

paper bag! There are others at the

conference, though, who do have psychic

ability, and would do anything to keep

that ability a secret.”

Scully’s head jerked up. “What are you

talking about?”

Yappi smiled sadly. “Not all skeptics

are what they appear,” he said

cryptically.

Before she could question him further,

the guard appeared at the door. “Agent

Scully, the Desk Sergeant says there’s a

call for you. A Mr. Byers, says you

should come back to the hospital

immediately.”

Scully stood and was halfway to the door

before she remembered her suspect. “I’m

not through with you, Yapinski,” she

warned him with a pointed finger.

Yappi shook his head at her as she

hurried out of the room. “Now that is

negative energy,” he told the guard.

“Ya think?” the guard replied gruffly,

pulling the prisoner to his feet and

shoving him out the interrogation room

door.

Kissimmee Memorial Hospital

Room 306

Scully wasn’t too surprised to see Mulder

sitting up in bed. She’d made a quick

stop at the nurses station to confirm his

improved condition before she’d gone on

to his room. She was a little concerned

by his other visitor.

“Scully, this is Zelda of Armenia.

Zelda, Special Agent Dana Scully. Yes,

that one,” Mulder said with a wry grin as

both women sized each other up. He made

no explanation for the fact that he

looked much better, Scully would have to

wait for that.

Zelda was sporting all the accoutrements

of a gypsy fortune teller, down to the

flowing paisley floor length skirt,

brightly covered scarf on her head and

large gold hoop earrings. She smiled

excitedly at Scully.

“I’ve been wanting to meet you forever!”

she exclaimed in a distinctly West Texas

accent. “Ever since I heard you worked

with Agent Mulder here, I’ve just been

dyin’ to meet you. Oh, and by the way, I

think it’s just wonderful that the two of

you are finally, well, you know,” Zelda

hooped her index and ring finger and was

fully prepared to insert her other index

finger in the circle when Scully jumped

in.

“Mulder, what is all this about?” Scully

demanded before Zelda had a chance to go

any further.

“Zelda, or Elaine Tripp of Odessa, Texas

as her kith and kin know her, came to see

me about half an hour ago with quite a

story to tell. She’s convinced we have

the wrong man in custody, Scully. And

after hearing her out, I’m beginning to

think she might be right.”

Scully drew in a deep breath and pulled

up a chair. With a quick look to her

partner, confirming that he was much

better after his latest attack, she

folded her arms and sat back. “OK, hit

me with it.”

“Yappi couldn’t mind bend a spoon, much

less toss people across the lobby or cook

their brains up like chicken fried

steak,” Zelda said, pacing a short

distance at the foot of Mulder’s bed.

“He’s a charlatan. Couldn’t guess the

number of jelly beans in a jar at the

local Wal-mart. But he’s harmless,

completely harmless.”

“You know him well, do you?” Scully

asked, one eyebrow reaching for her

hairline.

“Sweetie, we’ve had a dance or two,”

Zelda answered with a wink. “But more

importantly, it couldn’t have been Yappi.

Because I know who did this.”

Scully’s tongue found that hollow spot.

Was it her imagination, or had the spot

grown slightly larger in the last few

days? “And that person is . . .”

“Jean Pierre LaFeete. He’s one of the

men who acted as a skeptic at the

experiment. Tall fella, hair as white as

Don King. Kinda scary, all the way

around,” Zelda said with a knowing nod of

her head.

“He’s a skeptic?” Scully asked,

remembering instantly the tall, strange

man who asked her if she ‘read or felt’

at the hospitality suite. He’d given her

the creeps, but not because she thought

he was a killer.

“He’s from Jamaica, the son of a Voo Doo

priestess and a powerful Voo Doo priest.

Word is he was conceived in some long

lost ritual that would ensure the

resulting child had the key to the ‘other

side’. But by the time he was 16, he’d

had enough of his parents and their

religion. He denounced his heritage, got

a fancy-schmancy degree from the

University of South Florida and teaches

Behavioral Psychology or some nonsense.”

Mulder shot Zelda a wounded look, but she

didn’t notice and carried on.

“He’s been a skeptic for years, but

really turned rabid just recently. He’s

been publishing articles and giving

speeches everywhere. I’m surprised you

haven’t crossed paths already,” Zelda

concluded with a shrug.

“So, just because the man has an odd

background and is now a confirmed skeptic

of paranormal abilities, that makes him a

killer,” Scully stated derisively. She

looked over at her partner and frowned.

“Did the doctor have a chance to take a

good look at your head before you and

Zelda had your little chat?”

Mulder looked sheepish and started to

speak, but Zelda held up her hand and cut

him off. “He’s powerful, I tell you.

And he’s got the control of his

abilities. He’s got so much control, he

can take out two people at once.” She

looked purposefully over at Mulder who

had the good grace to look innocent.

“You think he’s been attacking Mulder at

the same time he’s killing these other

people?” Scully demanded, rising to stand

protectively near to her partner.

“Why not just kill me, too?” he asked,

and winced at the killer look Scully shot

him. “Not to give anyone any ideas, mind

you,” he amended quickly.

“I think you fascinate him,” Zelda

offered with a shrug. “Or maybe, you

scare him. Hell, he might not even be

after you. It could just be that you’re

sensitive to all that energy. I don’t

know. But he’s killing people who know

he’s got the ability and, sad to say,

that list includes me. I want him caught

and done away with before he comes

after me.”

“Done away with?” Scully asked

incredulously

“OK, drugged to the gills. If he can’t

think straight, he can’t hurt anybody,

right?” Zelda countered. “Well, as fun

as this has been, I gotta run. I’m gonna

cast a nice protective spell around my

room and hide out there until this thing

all blows over. In the meantime, I

suggest the same for you, Agent Mulder.

I sure would hate for LeFeete to get

carried away and fry your brains, too.”

She patted Scully’s arm as she was

leaving the room.

“Next time you’re feelin’ frisky, try for

the spot right behind his knee. It’s his

most sensitive tickle spot and sweetie,

you will not be sorry,” she winked and

smiled and left the room.

Scully turned to glare at Mulder, who was

already in a defensive posture, holding

up his hands to fend off the attack. “I

have no idea how she knew that, Scully,

honest to god!”

“You believe her,” Scully said

disdainfully.

His eyes twinkled as he answered. “Well,

it does kinda fire my rockets, but you

have to hit the spot just right. I mean,

if you tickle too hard-”

“Mulder,” she warned.

“Yes, I believe her. Scully, face it,

Yappi is definitely a pain in the butt,

but a killer? He probably calls an

exterminator to get rid of the flies in

his basement! And whoever did this has

to be very powerful.”

“The son of two Voo Doo practitioners who

wants to keep his parentage a secret,”

Scully provided.

“Works for me,” Mulder said with a

shrug. “You know how hard it is to get

published in JAMA.”

Scully stood up and walked to the window,

spinning to confront him. “OK, let’s

assume for the sake of argument that Jean

Pierre LaFeete is an extremely powerful

psychic. So powerful, he can kill with

his mind. How in the world do we catch

him, Mulder?”

“Ever hear the expression ‘takes a thief

to catch a thief’?”

Scully merely rolled her eyes.

Dr. Lomb was not as easily convinced

an hour later when he stopped by to see

his patient.

“No! Unequivocally, unconditionally, no.

I cannot in any way release you from this

hospital, Agent Mulder. You’ve been seen

in the ER three times in the last 36

hours with three separate illnesses, a

new record for this hospital. I have no

idea why you continue to have these

attacks, but I can tell you they are

increasing in severity. I want you here,

under observation, for at least the next

48 hours. If you manage to stay

conscious and breathing during that time,

I’ll reassess. But for now-”

“I’d like to request to be released

against medical advice,” Mulder said

coolly. He’d already changed into the

clothes Scully had Langly bring up to the

hospital. The clothes he’d put on in the

morning were little more than rags after

the ER department had finished cutting

them off him earlier.

“Absolutely not,” Lomb said, crossing his

arms.

“What?” Mulder asked in shocked

disbelief.

“You heard me. I will not let you walk

out that door. I will not be brought up

on charges of endangering the life of a

federal officer!”

“I wouldn’t-”

“I’m sure you wouldn’t, Agent Mulder, but

I am pretty sure your partner would!” He

glanced nervously around, looking for the

partner in question.

“She’s bringing the car around,” Mulder

said evenly.

“Well, she can park it back in visitor’s

parking, because you are not leaving here

today. Now, I suggest you get back in

the hospital gown, or I’ll have to call

an orderly.”

“You can’t keep me here,” Mulder said,

shaking his head. “I won’t stay.”

“Then I’ll sedate you,” Lomb said

defiantly.

Right that moment, Scully walked in the

door. “Mulder, are you all set?”

“Why don’t you direct your question to

the good doctor here,” Mulder said,

leveling his gaze at Lomb.

Hyatt Hotel

Kissimmee

5:30 pm

“So, Mulder’s pretty pissed, huh?”

Frohike asked as Scully lead the way to

the front doors of the hotel.

“In a manner of speaking,” she said. “He

definitely wasn’t happy when I told

him I wanted him to stay at the hospital.

But I think Dr. Lomb was correct.

Besides, if this LeFeete is as powerful

as everyone seems to think, I don’t

want them in the same building. Mulder

is safer in a hospital room.”

“Yeah, but how safe is the hospital room

from Mulder,” Langly whispered to Byers

before Scully shot him a dagger-like

glare.

“John, did you get a chance to ‘rally the

troops’?” Scully asked, finally deciding

to let Langly live-for the moment.

“They’ll be in the Grand Ballroom A in

one hour. But Agent Scully, don’t you

think this is, well, a little far

fetched? I mean, what if this LeFeete

person figures out what’s going on?”

“That’s why we have to set out some

bait,” Scully said confidently. “Now,

I’ll

make sure LeFeete is there at 6:30 sharp.

Just make sure the room is ready.”

After she left, Byers looked sadly at

Langly. “You know what Mulder’s going to

do. He’s gonna kill us when he finds out

what the plan is.”

“Which is why we create a diversion,”

Langly said with a nod. “Let’s just hope

Frohike doesn’t let us down.”

6:30 pm

“So, that’s the general idea behind my

thesis, Ms. Petrie,” the tall, dark

skinned man said with a feral smile.

“Fascinating,” Scully sighed. “And

please, call me Dana. ‘Petrie’ was just

a ruse dreamed up by my friend. You have

no idea how refreshing it is to find a

like minded person in all this-” She

waved her arm toward the hallway.

“Rabble,” LeFeete supplied. “Yes, it is,

isn’t it? But you seem to have been

uncompromised, even though you have a

relationship with a confirmed believer in

psychic powers.”

Scully looked at LeFeete and smiled.

“He’s a recent acquisition, I assure

you.” She sipped her wine. “I’m

famished. Would you consider having

dinner with me?”

“We could order room service,” LeFeete

offered with that same feral smile.

Scully could feel the blush on her

cheeks.

“Maybe dessert,” she crooned and rose

quickly to the door. “Please, I hate the

smell of room service in the morning,”

she tossed over her shoulder.

“Of course, how silly of me,” LeFeete

chuckled.

As they approached the first floor,

LeFeete started sweating.

“Are you all right?” Scully asked, hoping

she sounded concerned.

“Is it warm in here?” LeFeete asked,

pulling at the collar of his shirt.

“No, I’m fine. Well, here’s our floor.

Now, the restaurant is just over there,

past the ballrooms.” Scully led the way,

but stopped outside Ballroom A. “I just

heard something,” she said, looking

suspiciously at the double doors.

LeFeete’s eyes widened. “Surely, it’s

nothing,” he concluded and grabbed her

arm to propel her toward the restaurant.

“No, I’m certain I heard something. I

want to see what’s going on in there,”

she said firmly, pulling away from her

companion. “Let’s see what it is.”

LeFeete held his ground, but his demeanor

changed from nervous to angry. “I know

exactly what you’re doing, Agent Scully

and I can assure you it won’t work.”

“Oh, I think it will,” Scully said with a

faint smile. “Byers, Langly, now!”

The doors flew open and over one hundred

people stood before them, eyes closed,

humming. LeFeete squared his shoulders,

drew in a deep breath and slammed his

eyes shut as if exerting extreme energy.

Suddenly, he was lifted off the floor by

an unseen force and tossed across the

foyer to the ballroom. He fell to a

crumpled heap on the floor.

Byers ran over to LeFeete and gingerly

placed a hand to his neck. “He’s out

cold,” he reported.

“But this doesn’t exactly prove he’s

guilty,” Langly pointed out to Scully as

a rousing cheer grew up from the

assembled psychics.

“No, but a notebook with the names of the

victims, each with a red line crossed

through it, along with a few other names,

including Mulder’s, will go a long

way to convincing a judge to at least

hold him.” Scully tossed them the book

checking on LeFeete.

“Won’t he get away? I mean, he still has

all that power,” Langly continued,

unconvinced.

“Not anymore,” Zelda said triumphantly,

holding a loft a bloody, headless

chicken, still sporting all it’s

feathers. “I did some research on the

net this afternoon. I think we’re safe

now.”

Epilogue

Kissimmee Sheraton

Two days later

Mulder tossed the white plastic bag

inside the door to the room and stalked

into the bathroom.

“I’m taking a shower,” he said as he

slammed the door.

Scully picked up the bag and peeked

inside, noting the same wash basin and

generic tissues that were standard

hospital ‘parting gifts’. She dropped

the bag and it’s contents into the small

trash can near the door. When she heard

water running, she went over and tried

the doorknob. As she suspected, it

was locked.

“Are you planning on staying mad at me

for the rest of our vacation? Because if

that’s the case, Frohike wants me to give

him a call and we can do Epcot without-”

The door opened suddenly and a dripping

wet Mulder grabbed her and dragged her

into the bathroom.

“Mulder, you’re wet!” she cried as he

crushed her against the tiled wall.

“OK, Scully, you win. I’m not mad

anymore. Now, tell me exactly what

happened while Frohike was beating me at

Hearts.”

“Well, I went back and talked to a few of

the psychics, at Zelda’s urging. They

convinced me that though they might not

be able to overpower LeFeete, but they

could possibly block his power and use it

against him. He was knocked out cold by

his own force, or so said the psychics,

and when he came to, he was babbling

about losing his ability.”

“Cool. Defensive posturing. But how did

you lure him down to the room? Why

didn’t he sense there was a trap being

set?”

Scully wrapped her arms around Mulder and

started to nibble on his neck. “Don’t

worry about that part, Mulder. It’s all

in the past and LeFeete is in custody.”

Mulder pulled back from her embrace to

look at her. “You didn’t.”

She looked up into his eyes, all

innocence. “What are you trying to do,

Mulder? Read my mind?”

His eyes narrowed and grew dark. “If I

find out that you coerced him down there

with your womanly wiles, you’re gonna

wish you had the power to block me,” he

said gruffly.

One small leg shifted and wrapped around

his much longer one and before he knew

what hit him, he was on the floor of the

bathroom, Scully straddling him.

“Consider yourself blocked, Mulder. Now,

about that shoe shopping trip . . .”

The end

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One thought on “Psi Time for Skeptics”

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