Title: Psi Time for Skeptics
Author: Vickie Moseley
Summary: Mulder and Scully, on vacation
at Disney World, stumble onto a case of
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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,
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
“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.”
“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
“Is that a pet name, or did you forget
how to use the phone to get room
service?” she grinned at his retreating
“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
“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
“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
International House of Pancakes
“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
“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
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
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
“No, I think you forgot to pass on that
information,” she said through gritted
“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
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
“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
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
“A ‘what’ experiment?” she asked, taking
the clipping into her hands and squinting
“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
“Eastern Standard Time,” Frohike
“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
“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
“And remember, Scully. We’re here for
the week. C’mon. I’ll even go shopping
with you one afternoon to make up for
“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
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
“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
“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
“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
“The article says they used psychics in
the first experiment,” Scully countered,
flipping back to a different page in the
“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
“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
“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
“Look, Mulder! They have a shuttle to
Disney World, too,” she pointed out
“C’mon, Scully. You promised. You can’t
weasel out now. Just play it low key,”
“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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
“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.
“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
“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
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-
“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
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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
Kissimmee City Morgue
“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
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
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
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
“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
“OK, so there were a lot of psychics,”
“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
“And what theory is that, Mulder?”
“That psychic ability is real, and
This time she rolled her eyes. “So why
kill only Victor Anton? Why not kill all
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
He handed her a slip of light blue paper.
She skimmed it quickly and looked back at
him. “A memorial tribute to Lydia
“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
“This says she died peacefully at her
home,” Scully read from the blue sheet.
“Last . . . Mulder, this was just two
“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
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
“Scully, I’m just saying this looks like
it could get interesting–very
“I think this is an incredibly bad idea,”
Scully groused as she stood in front of
the hotel desk, signing the registration
“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
“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,
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
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
Hyatt Suite 1156
“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
“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
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
Scully shook her head. “Those things
always give me gas,” she said with
disgust. “I want something light-and not
“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
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
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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
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
Scully swallowed hard. “I don’t know.
Let’s get in the van, I need to get to
that hospital. And Frohike-you drive.”
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
“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
“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
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
“Yes, he’s my partner, and I’m his next
of kin,” she said impatiently without
going into details. “What are his
“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
Scully blinked, but drew herself up to
her full 5 foot 2 inches. “You
administered antacid for a heart attack?”
“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
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
“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
He closed his eyes and absently stroked
her hair. “I know, Scully. Believe me,
Kissimmee City Morgue
“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
“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
“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
“I never said it was a group, Scully. I
believe the evil eye acted alone on this
Scully closed her eyes in defeat. “You
have absolutely no proof of that
statement,” she said with an exasperated
“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
“Let’s go back to the motel and go to
bed,” he said tenderly, pulling on her
“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
“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
“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
“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’
“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
“Don’t you forget it,” she said, pulling
him down to kiss him on the lips.
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
“Debate?” Scully asked, looking over at
Mulder, who was still carrying the
convention folder with all the
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
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
“It’s not biting we’re worried about,”
said an unidentified voice from the
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
“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
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.
“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
“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.
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
“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
“Not this time,” Scully growled and
grabbed the door before it could close
her out and away from her partner. “I’m
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
“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
“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
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.
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
“You’ll stay with him?” she asked in a
“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.
“At the first sign of any change, I
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.
Kissimmee Police Department
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
“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
“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
“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
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
“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
Yappi smiled sadly. “Not all skeptics
are what they appear,” he said
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
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
Kissimmee Memorial Hospital
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
“Mulder, what is all this about?” Scully
demanded before Zelda had a chance to go
“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,
“You know him well, do you?” Scully
asked, one eyebrow reaching for her
“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
“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
“Done away with?” Scully asked
“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
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,”
“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
“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
“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
“What?” Mulder asked in shocked
“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
“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
“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
“You can’t keep me here,” Mulder said,
shaking his head. “I won’t stay.”
“Then I’ll sedate you,” Lomb said
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.
“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
“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,
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.”
“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
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
“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
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
“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,
“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
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
“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
“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
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
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 . . .”